The four categories of Muslims are as follow:
al-Qisam al-Awwal (The First Category):
1. They do not want by this from the people a recompense or thankfulness, and nor do they seek a high position with them, and they do not seek praise and position in their heart, and they are not fleeing from their rebuke. Verily, they see the people [who are alive] in the position of the people of the grave, those who do not control for them harm or benefit, or life or death, or resurrection. So actions for the people, and seeking a position with them,and hoping in harm or benefit from them [i.e. the general people], is not from them [i.e. these category of people]. Verily, it is from those who are ignorant of the situation and ignorant of their Lord. And whoever knows the people and puts them in their proper places, and knows Allah , is sincere in his actions and his statements and his givings and his forgivings and his love and his hatred. So no one does actions and deeds for the creation other than Allah except that he is ignorant of Allah and ignorant of the creation. For verily, the one who knows Allah and knows the people prefers actions and deeds for Allah over actions and deeds for the people.
2. So their actions, all of them, are for Allah, and all of their statements are for Allah, and their giving and their forgiving is for Allah, and their love is for Allah and their hatred is for Allah, and their actions, both in the apparent and the hidden, are for the face of Allah alone.
3. Those who have gathered between Ikhlas (sincerity) and Mutaabi’ah (following the guidance of the Prophet).
4. And like this their actions, all of them, and their worship is in agreement with the command of Allah, and with what He loves and what He is Pleased with. And Allah does not accept from the people any action except this. And Allah has tested His servants with life and death, so He said: Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. (Al-Mulk 67:2)
And He has made that which is upon the earth as a beauty for them upon the earth so that He may test them which of them are best in actions and deeds. al-Fudayl ibn ‘Iyyaad said: A beautiful action (al-‘Amal al-Hasan) is that which is sincere (Akhlasuh) and that which is correct (Aswabuh).
They said: Oh Abaa ‘Alee, what is sincere and what is correct? He said: Verily, if the action is sincere (Khalis) but it is not correct (Sawaab): it is not accepted (Lam Yuqbal), and if it is correct but it is not sincere: it is not accepted, until it is sincere and correct. And a sincere [action] is: that which is for Allah, and a correct [action] is: that which is upon the Sunnah.
And this is mentioned in His statement:
So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord. (Al-Kahf 18:110)
And in His (ta’ala) statement:
And who can be better in religion than one who submits his face (himself) to Allah (i.e. follows Allah’s Religion of Islamic Monotheism); and he is a Muhsin (a good-doer). And follows the religion of Ibraaheem (Abraham) Haneefaa (Islamic Monotheism – to worship none but Allah Alone). (An-Nisaa’ 4:125)
So Allah does not accept from the actions except that which is done sincerely seeking His Face, and that which is in agreement with His Order, and other than this is not accepted, rather it is repelled back on the person who does it at a time when he is in most need of it, and it is turned intoscattered ashes.
And in as-Saheehayn [i.e. al-Bukhaaree and Muslim] from the narration of ‘Aa’ishah (radiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) who narrated from the Prophet (Peace be Upon him), that he said: ((Whoever introduces into this affair of ours that which is not from it will have it rejected)). And in the narration from Muslim: ((Whoever does a deed that is not ordered by us will have it rejected)).
So every action that is not in agreement [with the Sunnah], then it does not increase its doer except in distance away from Allah, for verily Allah (ta’ala) is only worshipped with what He has ordered to be worshipped with, not with opinions (Aaraa’) and desires (Ahwaa’).
al-Qisam ath-Thaanee (The Second Category):
1. Those who have no sincerity and have no adherence to the Sunnah,so their actions and deeds are not in agreement with the legislation, and they are not sincere to the One who is worshipped.
2. They are like the ones who beautify themselvesto the people, showing-off to them with that which Allah has not decreed and that which the Messenger has not informed the people of. And they are the evilest of creation (Shiraarul-Khalq).
3. And they are the most disliked and the most hated of people to Allah (‘azza wa jall), and they have the biggest portion of His (ta’ala) statement: Think not that those who rejoice in what they have done (or brought about), and love to be praised for what they have not done,- think not you that they are rescued from the torment, and for them is a painful torment. (Aali Imraan 3: 188)
4. They are happy with what they do from innovation (Bid’ah) and misguidance (Dalaalah) and association (Shirk), and they love that they be praised as they are the followers of the Sunnah and the people of sincerity – and they are not from the people of the Sunnah or sincerity (Ahlus-Sunnati wal-Ikhlaas) –
5. And this category of people are numerous, from the people who have gone astray from the ones who are alienated from the people of knowledge (‘Ilm), and poverty (Faqr), and worship (‘Ibaadah), from the Straight Path (Siraatul-Mustaqeem).
6. For verily they do actions of innovation and misguidance to show-off and to be heard-off, and they love to be praised for that which they have not done from the following of the Sunnah, and possessing sincerity and knowledge. So they are the people of hatred and misguidance (Ahlul-Ghadabi wad-Dalaal).
al-Qisam ath-Thaalith (The Third Category):
1. The one who is sincere in his actions and deeds,but his actions and deeds are not in agreement with the order of Allah.
2. And they are like the ignorant worshippers and the ones who are from the path of abstinence (Zuhud) and poverty (Faqr).
3. And they are the ones who worship Allah with other than what He has decreed and legislated, and they believe that their worship is bringing them close to Allah.
4. And they believe that listening to clapping and whistling is bringing them close to Allah, and being isolated and leaving off the Jumu’ah [i.e. the Friday prayer] and the Jama’ah [i.e. the mandatory prayers] is also being close to Allah, and continuing the fast until the night is also being close to Allah, and fasting the two holidays (Siyaam al-‘Eedayn) of al-Islaam is also a way of being close to Allah.
5. And they try to get close to Allah with actions of innovation (Bid’ah) and disobedience (Ma’aasee).
6. So the sincerity of a person in this state does not benefit him because these actions that he does are from the actions of innovation. And the actions of the innovator are not accepted, and the proof being in the Hadeeth of Umm-ul-Mu’mineen ‘Aa’ishah (radiyAllaahu ‘anhaa), raised to the saying of the Prophet (Peace be upon him): ((Whoever introduces into this affair of ours that which is not from it will have it rejected)). Agreed Upon [i.e. reported by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim].
al-Qisam ar-Raabi’ (The Fourth Category):
1. The one whose actions are in accordance with the Sunnah, but they are for the sake of other than Allah.
2. Such as obedience of the ones who show-off, and like the ones who fight to show-off, and because of great pride and great courageousness. And he does the Hajj so that it may be said that he has performed the Hajj.
3. And he reads the Qur’an so that it may be said that he reads the Qur’an.
4. And the actions of these people, from the apparent they seem righteous, but they are not righteous since they are performed for other than the sake of Allah, so they are not accepted. Allah (ta’ala) said: And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him). (Al-Baiyinah 98:5)
5. So they have not been ordered except that they worship Allaah with that which He has legislated and with sincerity to Him in all their worship.
And the people of sincerity and adherence (Ahlul-Ikhlaas wal-Mutaabi’ah), they are the people of:You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything). (Al-Faatihah 1:5)
Class 42 from Lessons on Tawhid – Approximately 50 Classes – from Dar-ul-Hadith, Dammaj.
These were lessons conducted on the book ‘al-Qawl-ul- Mufeed Fee Adillatit-Tawhid’ [Beneficial Speech in Establishing the Evidences of Tawhid] written by one of the major scholars of the Sunnah in Yemen, Shaikh Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab al-Wasabi (may Allah preserve him).
End of excerpt from the book Madaarij as-Saalikeen of al-‘Allaamah Ibnul-Qayyim(rahimahullaah) (1/95-97).