The Classification of People According to the Guidance
Excerpt from Ibn al Qayyim's "Ar-Risalat Ut-Tabukiyah"

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) also classified people into three groups based on their response to his Message and Guidance.

He said:
"An example of the guidance and knowledge with which Allah (azza wajall) has sent me is that of a rain that falls on different kinds of land: 1) One land is good; it accepts water and produces vegetation and grass in plenty. 2) Another land is dry with a solid bed that reserves water so that people can drink and irrigate with it. 3) The third kind is a porous land that can neither retain water nor produce vegetation. This is an example of those who acquire the knowledge of the Din and benefit from that with which Allah (azza wajall) sent me, and of those who do not take heed and who insist on rejecting Allah's (azza wajall) Guidance." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

The Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) likens the knowledge (with which he came) to rain, because both are causes of life. Rain is the cause of life for the body, while knowledge is the cause of life for the heart. He (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) also likens different hearts to different valleys, as Allah (azza wajall) said:

"He sends down water from the sky, making different valleys flow according to their different natures..." (Ar-Ra'd 13:17)

Thus, just as there are three kinds of land, there are three kinds of hearts:

1) The first is a good land which accepts water and is ready to produce vegetation. When rain falls on it, it absorbs the water eagerly, giving rise to all sorts of pleasant vegetation.

This is an example of one with a healthy, pure, and intelligent heart, which embraces knowledge, and is guided by its true intelligent nature, blossoming by that wisdom and true faith. Therefore, it is eager to take the knowledge, and ready to bear fruits because of its good nature.

It is also like a rich business man who has experience in different trades and investments, which enables him to invest his wealth in that which brings the best profit.

2) The second kind is a hard, solid land prepared to preserve and keep water: It benefits people who visit it to drink or irrigate.

This is an example of one whose heart preserves knowledge and safeguards it so as to convey it just as he hears it, without changing it or deriving conclusions from it. This is also described in another hadith:

"There is often one who conveys knowledge to one who is more knowledgeable than himself; and there is often one who carries knowledge when he himself is not knowledgeable." (Narrated by Zayd bin Thabit, Anas bin Malik and others; recorded by Abu Dawud, at-Tirmithi, Ahmad, and others; authenticated by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 404).

It is also like a rich man who does not possess the knowledge or experience to invest his wealth, but who knows very well how to preserve it.

3) The third is a barren land which is incapable of holding water or producing vegetation: no matter how much rain falls, it does not profit by it.

This is an example of one whose heart does not accept any knowledge or wisdom. It is also like a poor man who neither possesses wealth nor knows how to preserve it.

The first of the above three examples applies to a learned man who teaches knowledge, and who calls people to Allah (azza wajall) with clear guidance; such are the inheritors of the Prophets.

The second applies to one who preserves the knowledge, and who transmits what he hears precisely; he carries to other people precious goods that they can use for trade and investment. The third applies to one who neither accepts Allah's Guidance nor benefits from it.

Thus, this hadith covers the different types of people and their different attitudes towards the prophet's dawah, which make them either happy or miserable.



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