Companions of the A’raf [a boundary between Hell and Paradise] are of various types. Some of them are as follows:
 People whom the message of Islam did not reach in the first place, such as residents of mountain tops who have not associated anyone with their Lord nor rejected [His existence] but they have also not believed in Him. They are like animals which do not turn to God, neither in negation nor confirmation. They pay attention to the things of their interest only.
Or it is such that they received the message of Islam but they did not derive benefit from it on account of their ignorance, such as those people who did not understood the language of Islam nor did they grasp its argument.
Or they were brought up heedless towards such deep thinking. The extent of their knowledge was that Muslims are people whose turbans are of a particular type and whose shirts are of a particular sort and who eat certain things and hold certain others as forbidden.
Or they are the people who engage with us in combat over kingdom, thus unavoidably we must fight with them. Despite all this, they had not associated anyone with God and were like animals even though they were constitutionally sound.
 People who are defective in intelligence, such as children, the insane, the mentally handicapped, farmers and slaves, i.e. those who are unable to distinguish right from wrong and are hardly able to recognize their Lord and worship Him. They are like water which on account of its weakness cannot be printed upon. From such people it is only sought that they bear resemblance to Muslims and obey their manifest orders so that the True Word not be divided. This much faith is enough for them which the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) considered enough for a black woman who when asked where Allah was had pointed to the sky.
As far as the first kind of people are concerned it is necessary that they are explained the truth clearly, so that they may be able to understand it, and the argument and the guidance is unambiguously proved before them as true.
(Al-Budur al-Bazighah, p. 163-164)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.