Four Categories of People In Society – [Those Similar to Essential Nourishment, Those Similar to Medication, Those Similar to The Different Diseases and Those Similar to Poison]


In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.

Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said:

The First Group: They are those whose company is like nourishment which one cannot do without in the morning and evening. One leaves it after fulfilling his need and returns to it when he is in need [again]. The people (intended in this similitude) are those who know Allaah, His commandments, the plots of His enemies, the diseases of the hearts and their remedies [i.e. the scholars]. They are sincere to Allaah, His Messenger and His creation, and there are comprehensive benefits in their company.

The Second Group: They are those whose company is similar to medication that is needed during illness. So, as long as you are healthy, you are not in need of intermingling with them. They are those you cannot do without in the beneficial things of livelihood and fulfilment of various dealings, partnerships, consultation, medication and the likes.

The Third Group: They are those whose company is similar to the different types of diseases and the differences in their severity and mildness. Amongst them is one whose company is similar to chronic illness – this one does not benefit you; neither in the religious nor worldly affairs together with the fact that you either might incur a loss in both your religious and worldly affairs or in one of them. So, if intermingling with him is made possible, it would be like the disease that will lead to death. And amongst them is the one whose company is similar to a tooth ache whose pain becomes severe, but when it leaves you the pain abates.

The Forth Group: They are those whose company is absolute destruction and intermingling with them is similar to eating poison. How common is this similitude within the people! May Allaah not make them numerous, and they are Ahlul Bidah Wad Dalaalah [The people of innovation and misguidance]. They are those who hinder [people] from the path of the Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] and call to that which is in opposition to it. They are those who hinder [people] from the path of Allaah and seek to make it cooked; so they present innovation as Sunnah and Sunnah as innovation, and they present virtue as evil and evil as virtue. And when you established Tawheed amongst them, they say: You have degraded the Awliyaa (friends of Allaah) and the righteous people. And when you establish ittibaa [correct adherence to the path of the messenger with evidence] they say: You have invalidated [the affair] of the followed Imaams. And when you command that which Allaah and His Messenger command and forbid that which Allaah and His Messenger forbid, they say: You are from those who put people to trial. (1)

Behaviour of a Forbearing Leader Towards Those Under His Authority

Allaah [The Most High] said: [ خُذِ ٱلۡعَفۡوَ وَأۡمُرۡ بِٱلۡعُرۡفِ وَأَعۡرِضۡ عَنِ ٱلۡجَـٰهِلِينَ – Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish]. [7:199]

The Imaam said: There is no doubt that the one who is obeyed by the people (finds himself in) three situations: Firstly, he commands them [to do good] and forbids them [from evil] for their own welfare. Secondly, he obligates on them that which they must do to obey him [in good]. Thirdly, the people with him are divided into two categories: The loyal ones- those who agree with him, and the obstinate ones- those who oppose him. Both groups have rights he must fulfil. His duty with regards to commanding them to do good and restraining them [from evil], is that he commands them to bring about rectification for them in their personal affairs and forbids them from what is in opposition that.

His Obligations towards the Obedient Ones: He enjoins on them that which is easy [i.e. within the boundaries of halaal and haraam]. He should be generous to those who are submissive and are not hesitant to obey him [in good], and he should not burden them with hardship and difficulties, and thus corrupts their affair.

His Obligations towards the Foolish Ones: His obligation towards the foolish ones – those who act foolishness towards him- is that he turns away from them, neither responding to them in like manner nor taking revenge against them for himself. Indeed, Allaah [The Most High] said to His Prophet: [خُذِ ٱلۡعَفۡوَ وَأۡمُرۡ بِٱلۡعُرۡفِ وَأَعۡرِضۡ عَنِ ٱلۡجَـٰهِلِينَ – Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish]. And what is intended [in this ayah] is not that [you] turn away from the one who has no knowledge and refrain from teaching and guiding him; rather what is intended is that [you] turn away from the foolishness of the one who behaves foolishly and not to respond to him in like manner.

This Aayah embodies the affair of excellent social relations with the people – fulfilling their rights and safeguarding oneself from their evil. And had all the people adhered to this ayah, it would have sufficed them and brought them close to one another, for indeed being forgiving [in reality] is to overlook the [bad] manners of the people and being tolerant towards their characters. (2)


[Ref 1: An Excerpt from “Badaa’i At-tafseer Al-Jaami Limaa Fassarahu Al-Imaam Ibnul Qayyim Vol: 3 Page: 467-469- slightly paraphrased]

[Ref 2: An Excerpt from Badaa’i At-Tafseer Al-Jaami Limaa Fassarahu Al-Imaam Ibnul Qayyim Al-Jawzee: Vol: 1: page: 434-436. Slightly paraphrased]

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