‘AWÂM - عوام
The class of a community, who have no profound knowledge. One who is unlettered. In tasawwuf, one who could not reach complete haqiqah, and not learn the profound haqiqahs of Tawhîd.
There are differences between the ‘awâm of an Islamic community and the ‘awâm of a fitnah community. For in the Islamic community, most of the conversations are about religion and the âkhirah, and the understanding of goodness and badness is according to the injunctions of the Sharî’ah, and community inculcates virtues like the sense of responsibility and religious zeal. For example, concerning the abode of Islam that is the Islamic community:
“In the Abode of Islam, the environment gives the instruction of the abbreviated meanings of those sacred words to the people of Islam through the language of being. The conversations of people of Islam about Islamic traditions and Islamic history and all the shaâ’er of Islam and all the pillars of Islam, continuously instil into the people of îmân the concise meanings of those blessed words. In this country, besides the places of ‘ibâdah and the madrasas, even the gravestones in the graveyards are like teachers instilling those sacred meanings in the people of îmân and recalling them to them.” The Letters (507)
As a comparison of the Islamic community and the community of fitnah:
“Just as varying goods in the market are sought after according to the season; they are in demand one after the other, so in the exhibition of al-‘âlam and market of human society and civilization, every century different goods are sought after and are in demand; they are displayed in the market, demand attracts them, gazes are turned on them, minds are drawn by them. Like at the present time the goods of politics and securing the life of this world and the demand of philosophy are sought after, for example. And at the time of the Salaf as-Sâlihîn and in the market of that age, deducing from the Word of Al-Khâliq of the samâwât and the Earth His wishes and what He wants of us were the most sought-after goods, and obtaining the means to gain through the nûr of nubuwwah and the Qur'an, eternal happiness in the world of the âkhirah, which had been revealed to such a degree it could not be concealed….
...At this time, however, due to the domination of European civilization and the supremacy of natural philosophy and the preponderance of the conditions of worldly life, minds and hearts have become scattered, and endeavour and ‘inâyah divided. Minds have become strangers to ma’nawî matters.” The Words (496)