Categories of Fear:
- Secret fear (it should be entertained for Allah alone): it is an act of worship through which a servant worships Allah and draw himself closer to Him. This fear exhorts a person to refrain from disobeying his Lord, fearing His wrath that He afflicts upon the sinners by His will.
This category of fear must be entertained to Allah alone since it has a lofty status among the acts of worship, it is one of the greatest jobs of the believer's hearts and it is one of the pillars of worship. Whoever fears Allah in this way is considered a sincere believer.
On the contrary, a person who fears others than Allah commits a major sin of Shirk [associating partners with Allah]. This is the act of the polytheists [mushrikeen] who attribute power to their deities and threat the friends of Allah [Awliya] by this false belief.
Allah mentioned in the Qur'an that the people of His Prophet Hud threatened him by their false deities. They said to their Prophet: "All that we say is that some of our gods (false deities) have seized you with evil (madness)" [Hud: 54].
The same applies to those who worship the dead and seek their intercession in times of distress.
- Fearing Allah's wrath: Allah promised to afflict His wrath upon the sinners. This is the highest category of fear.
- Prohibited fear: This kind of fear is represented in abandoning one's obligations such as Jihad [fighting in the cause of Allah], joining what is good and forbidding evil without having an excuse except fearing people. Likewise the case with those who run from joining he armies in war out of fearing meeting the enemies. This is a prohibited kind of fear; yet it does not reach the state of Shirk.
- Human innate fear: It is a natural praised kind of fear such as fearing wild animals, enemies, destruction, drowning and the like. Allah mentioned this kind of fear in the Qur'anic verses which talk about Prophet Musa (peace be upon him). Allah Almighty says: "So he [Musa] escaped from there, looking about in a state of fear" [Al-Qassas: 21]. Allah also says: "So Mûsa (Moses) conceived a fear in himself" (Taha: 67).
This category of fear also includes the fear that precedes meeting the enemy or giving a speech which is regarded as natural innate feeling and it is praised when exhorting a person to prepare himself; otherwise it will be dispraised if it leads to retreatment.
- False fear: this category of fear has no reasons or very weak ones. That's why it is a dispraised kind of fear that leads a person to cowardliness. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) sought refuge in Allah from cowardliness since it is from among bad manners. Therefore, sound faith [Iman] and complete trust in Allah are the greatest factors that push this kind of fear away and fill the believer's heart with courage. The more one's faith increases, the more false fear runs away from his heart and the vice versa.
Therefore, the fears of the believers who possess strong steadfast faith turn into safety and tranquility due to their sound faith and absolute trust in Allah. Allah says: "Those (i.e. believers) unto whom the people (hypocrites) said, "Verily, the people (pagans) have gathered against you (a great army), therefore, fear them." But it (only) increased them in Faith, and they said: "Allâh (Alone) is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs (for us). So they returned with Grace and Bounty from Allâh. No harm touched them; and they followed the good Pleasure of Allâh. And Allâh is the Owner of Great Bounty" [Al-Imran: 173-174].
All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, peace be upon His Messengers and peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad.