The People of Bliss can be divided into two categories.
The First Class of Happy People
The first class consists of people who possess the quality of intellectual independence; they are described by Allah as follows:
“The first and foremost [to embrace Islam] of the muhajirin [those who migrated] and the Ansar [helpers] and also those who follow them in the best way; Allah is well-pleased with them, and they are with Him.” (Surah at-Tawbah 9:100)
These are the happy ones for whom Allah’s acceptance is confirmed. They are the Companions of Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, and those who follow them until the Day of Resurrection.
The conventional expression ‘Tabiun‘ applies to the companions’ followers who have met with them in person. However, the description here is not restricted to them, but includes anyone who righteously follows their way; and any such person is of those with whom Allah is pleased and who are pleased with Him.
- Following with Ihsan
The manner of following the Sahabah (in this ayah) is not ambiguous. It is restricted by Allah to being ‘the best way’. It cannot be fulfilled merely by wishes, or by adhering to them in some matters while rejecting them in others. It should always be done with Ihsan (goodness, righteousness and in the best way); this is a condition to deserve Allah’s acceptance and His gardens. He said:
“He it is Who has sent among the unlettered a messenger [Muhammad] from among themselves, to convey unto them His messages, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in the Book and the Wisdom, although they has been before in manifest error. And He has sent him also to other people who have not quite reached them (the Sahabah); He is All-Mighty, All-Wise. That is the bounty of Allah which He bestows on whom He will. Allah is One of great bounty.” (Surah Al-Jummuah 62:2-4)
The first group of people mentioned here are those who met the Messenger, peace be upon him, and accompanied him. The latter are those who did not meet the first group, this applies to anyone who comes after them and adheres to their way, until the Day of Resurrection. This group falls behind the first group (the Sahabah) both in era and in stature, even though both groups are of the happy ones.
- Three Kinds of Hearts
A third group of people would be those who reject the Guidance that Allah sent with His Messsenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, or who do not benefit from it. Those are described by Allah in the following:
“The likeness of those who were entrusted with the responsibility of the Torah, but who subsequently failed in that, is as the likeness of a donkey which carries a huge burden of books [but understands nothing of them].” (Surah Al-Jummu’ah 62:5)
The Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, 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 has sent me is that of a rain that falls on different kinds of land. One land is good, it accepts water and produces vegetation and grass in plenty. Another land is dry with a solid bed that reserves water so that people can drink and irrigate with it. 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 has sent me, and of those who do not take heed and who insist on rejecting Allah’s Guidance.” (Recorded in Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The Messenger, peace be upon him, 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, peace be upon him, also likens the hearts to different valleys, as Allah said:
“He sends down water from the sky, making different valleys flow according to their different natures…” (Surah Ar-Rad 13:17)
Thus there are three kinds of land and three kinds of hearts:
1) The first is a good land which accepts water and is ready to produce vegetation. When rain falls onto it, it absorbs the eagerly, giving rise to all sorts of pleasant vegetation. This is an example of one with a pure, healthy and intelligent heart, which embraces knowledge and is guided by its true intelligent nature, blooming by that wisdom and true faith. Therefore, it is eager to take the knowledge, and ready to bear the fruits of its good nature. It is also like a rich businessman who experience in different trades and investments, and knows how to invest his wealth and bring the best profit from it. In this life, this is the heart of the learned one who teaches knowledge and calls people to Allah with clear guidance, such people are the inheritors of the Prophets, peace be upon them all.
2) The second kind of land is hard and solid and prepared to keep water. It benefits people who visit it to drink and irrigate. This is the example of one whose heart preserves knowledge and safeguards it so as to convey what it hears, without changing it. It is like the rich man who does not possess the knowledge or experience to invest his wealth but know 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 on it, it will not benefit it. This is the example of one whose heart does not accept any knowledge or wisdom. It is also like a poor man who neither possess wealth nor knows how to preserve it.
The Second Class of Happy People
The second class of Happy People consists of the believers’ followers from their offspring who die before reaching the age of maturity. They will be with their parents [in the Hereafter], as Allah said:
“As for those who believe and whose offspring follow them in faith. We shall untie them with their offspring, and We shall not let any of their deeds go to waste, every person is responsible for that which he has earned.” (Surah At-Tur 52:21)
Allah tells us that He unites the offspring with the parents in the Jannah, just as he united them in faith. And because the offspring did not do deeds that would make them deserve this high honour, Allah informs that this union does not waste any of the deeds of the parents. They receive their full reward for what they did, plus the bonus of uniting them with their offspring.
Thus this ayah covers all people, the miserable and the happy – those who are followed and those who follow them. Let the prudent person who cares about their well being look to which class they belong. Let them not be influenced by habits or ruled by laziness. If they find they belong to the happy class, let them strive to move to a higher rank, seeking Allah’s help and facilitation. And if they find that they belong to the class of miserable people, let them strive to move into the happy class while it is still possible, and before they are left to say:
“Oh! Would that I had followed the path shown to me by the Messenger.” (Surah Al-Furqan 25:27)