Parable of Three Types of People

The example of the first type is like a man who was granted a spacious land to farm and was supplied with all the instruments of need – tools, seeds and water – to help him with his work. After he prepared the land for farming, he planted all the varied types of vegetation, and he then surrounded the land with a big fence and hired guards to protect it. He kept a constant watch on his farm and looked after it; fixing any spoiled parts, replacing dead plants with fresh ones, removing the harmful weeds that grew around his trees, and spending from the profit he gained from selling its harvest towards its maintenance.

The example of the second type is like the man who after he got his hands on the land, made it into a sanctuary for dangerous beasts and animals, a site for dumping corpses and rotten bodies, and a hideout for thieves and very evil and abusive person. Even worse, he put all that he had been given to help him farm the land at the service of the evil ones dwelling in it.

The example of the third type is like a man who neglected the land and wasted the water in the desert and became regretful afterward.

These examples represent the three types of people: those who are mindful, the people of treachery, and the heedless one respectively. The mindful ones are always ready and prepared to fulfil the purpose for which they are created unlike the treacherous ones who betray the trust placed in them and the people of negligence and heedlessness.

The affairs of the righteous people, be it their repose or activity upon taking a bite of food or a sip of drink, in their words or silences, in a state of sleep or awakening – is always earning them reward and counted in their favour. And their worship and remembrance of Allah draws them nearer to Allah. In contrast, the actions of the people of heedlessness are recorded against them and bring them nothing but failure and loss, not to mention distancing them from Allah.

And the actions of those who betrayed the trust are performed while they are being engulfed by their inadvertency and dominated by their idles and recklessness.

The grace surrounding the first group is a natural result of their obedience and acts of worship while the misery of the second group is a natural result of their transgression and treachery because Allah did not grant them all that they have in order that they use it disobeying Him – which is a betrayal of the trust assigned to them by Allah. And, the heedlessness of the third group is a result of their being unmindful, and driven by their base-desires, therefore their failure and loss are notable as they waste their lifetime serving their own pleasures and overlooking the best of all trades (i.e. trading with Allah).

The wisdom behind Allah calling His believing slaves to the ritual of salah five times a day is to manifest His Mercy upon them; hence he had facilitated for them within it a diverse abundance of actions and rites of worship so that His believing slaves may enjoy the reward of every word, action, silence and movement practiced therein.

Inner Dimensions of the Prayer by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah p23-24