The Companions, the Successors, Successors of the Successors
The Companions (الصحابة):
This term applies to any Muslim who met the Prophet (peace be upon him), whether the meeting was long or short, and who ultimately died while still professing Islam.
The Successors (التابعون):
The term is attributed to a person who was in the company of a Companion of the Prophet, i. e. whoever belonged to the first generation after the Prophet.
Successors of the Successors (أتباع التابعين):
The term applies to any of those who did not meet the Companions, but met and narrated from one or more of the Successors, i. e. those belonging to the second generation after the Prophet.