1) The description of the “Strangers”, as mentioned by the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
2) Aspects of the estrangement in the Muslim communities.
3) The great reward for the strangers.
Brothers in faith! We notice these days that the one who adheres to his religion, maintains the commandments of Allaah and follows the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam appears very abnormal and strange, and many people are shocked by his appearance and his words. Not only that, some would actually dispraise and blame him, saying that he is not upon the correct path, and that he is an extremist.
This situation saddens the believer, but he must know that this is the way of the ways of Allaah, by which He tests the believers, to expose the truthful from the liars.
Dear brother! By adhering to the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and following his guidance, you will be tested and face many difficulties, but if you persevere you will have great reward in the Hereafter.
Slaves of Allaah! Allaah says, which means, “So why were there not among the generations before you those of enduring discrimination forbidding corruption on earth – except a few of those We saved from among them? But those who wronged pursued what luxury they were given therein, and they were criminals.” (Hood: 116) It is a call from Allaah to the people that they should have a group amongst them who enjoin good and forbid evil when people become corrupted, and such people are the ones who will be saved from the punishment of Allaah in this life and the Hereafter. But who are these people? What are their descriptions?
They are the strangers, who rectify what people ruin. They are the ones who the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, mentioned in different Ahaadeeth, as when he said, “Islam started as a stranger (few people believing in it) and it will eventually go back to being a stranger as it started (few people adhering to it), so Toobaa for the strangers”. The companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, asked these strangers were, so the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, “They are those who maintain themselves upon righteousness when people become corrupt” (Ahmad), (Toobaa is a tree in Paradise which takes a person riding on horseback one hundred years to pass its shade).
In another narration ‘Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said while we were with him, “Islam started as a stranger and it will eventually go back to being a stranger as it started, so Toobaa for the strangers”. The companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, asked, ‘Who are these strangers?’, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, “They are individuals from different tribes” (Ahmad & Ibn Maajah).
‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said while we were with him, “Toobaa to the strangers” the companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, asked, ‘Who are these strangers?’, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, They are righteous people amongst a great number of evil people; those who disobey them (when they invite them to righteousness) are greater than those who obey them” (Ahmad).
In another narration the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, “Islam started as a stranger and it will eventually go back to being a stranger as it started, so Toobaa to the strangers”. The companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, asked, ‘Who are these strangers?’. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, “They are those who revive my Sunnah and teach it to people”.
How many people fit the descriptions of the stranger which were mentioned by the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam in the different narrations? How many people have rectified themselves when people have gone corrupt? How many people rectify what others ruin? How many people today, revive the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam? How many people today, spread the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam and teach it to others?
Honorable brothers! The above are the strangers who were praised, and because they are few in number they have been called strangers, because the majority of people have characteristics other than theirs. Muslims are strangers between people. Devoted believers are strangers between Muslims. Scholars are strangers between believers. The followers of Sunnah are strangers between them as well. Those who call people to the Sunnah and persevere through the harm caused by those who oppose them are the most estranged. But these are truly the people of Allaah, and should not feel estrangement, because the majority of people are like Allaah has described them. Allaah says, which means, “And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allaah. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying.” (Al-An’aam: 116).
The strangers feel no alienation in their estrangement but are rather cheerful, because their ally is Allaah, His Messenger and the believers, even if most people become his enemies and desert him. Al-Hasan, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said, ‘The believer in this life is like a stranger who does not worry about its humility, and does not compete to gain honour in it. His situation is different from that of people’s. People are not disturbed by him, but he exhausts himself (by continuously blaming himself and accounting himself)’.
Among the characteristics of these strangers, whom the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam praised, is that they adhere to the Sunnah when people abandon it, and they abandon what people innovate even if it is commonly known and practiced among people. They fulfil Tawheed, even if most people do not. They abandon affiliation with other than Allaah and His messengers; they are affiliated to Allaah by their servitude to Him and to the Messenger by following his Sunnah. Indeed, it is as though they are holding onto lit charcoal, and many people will accuse them, and consider them abnormal and deviant.
Yes they are strangers, and why would they not be considered so when they are one group distinct from seventy two other groups. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam informed us that the Jews got divided into seventy one sects, and the Christians got divided into seventy two sects and that this nation will divide into seventy three; seventy two sects will go to the Fire and one group in Paradise.
That is why a sincere Muslim who adheres to Sunnah in our time gets the reward of fifty of the companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, as narrated by Abu Tha’labah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, “You have before you days which will require patience (while practicing your religion). Patience during these days is as difficult as holding onto a lit charcoal, the reward for those who practice is equal to the reward of fifty people doing the same deed” I said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah! Fifty people from their time?’ the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, “Fifty people from you” (Tirmithi).
If a believer, who is guided by Allaah, wants to take this road, then let him be ready to be dispraised and mocked by the ignorant people and innovators, and their warning people against him. He will be a stranger in his religion because their (understanding and practice of the) religion has become corrupt as well as their beliefs. His prayers will appear strange because the people’s prayers are improperly performed. He is a stranger in his path because they are upon the corrupt path of misguidance. He will be a stranger in all his affairs of this life and the Hereafter. He will not find supporters or helpers, as he will be literate amongst ignorant people; a person following the Sunnah amongst innovators; a person inviting to Allaah and His Messenger between people who follow their desires and innovations. He will be forbidding evil between people who consider good as evil and evil as good.
Dear brother! Know that people in this life are all strangers, and that this life is not a lasting one, nor is it the life for which they were created. ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said to him, “Be in this life as though you are a stranger or a person who is passing by” (Bukhaari & Muslim).
The estrangement of Islam from the rest of the world has returned today as the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said. It is an estrangement that has occurred after a long period of shortcomings and abandonment within the ummah. A religion which filled earth with justice, mercy and happiness has become a rejected stranger. We testify that what the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam came with is the truth, and we become more certain of that everyday.
O Muslims! The estrangement of the religion that has appeared today is the result of the ignorance of many Muslims regarding the simplest issues in religion, like prayer for example. This becomes clear when you see many people rejecting the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. It is evident in the Muslim communities dissolving in the morals, values and principles of the western communities and their traditions. You see it in the spread of sins and shameless disobedience committed openly by some Muslims. You see it in the Muslims’ appearance’s resemblance to the disbelievers, and admiration and imitation of the enemies of Allaah and being attached to them. You see it in many Muslims giving preference to this life over the Hereafter, ignoring that this could result in the anger of Allaah.
If you want to know the level of estrangement the believer feels and the grief he suffers while he is between his own people and family, ask a stranger who has left his family, loved ones and hometown, then he passed by a town were no one knows him, so its people took his money away, beat and humiliate him, and he could not find anyone to help him or support him. How would he feel? Wouldn’t he stay awake while people are asleep? Would he stop crying while they are laughing? You should see him supplicating to Allaah with his eyes full of tears, complaining of his estrangement and grief; complaining about his weakness and incapability; complaining about his humiliation. You will always find him absent-minded, not knowing what to do. He has no one to help him except Allaah. This is the condition of a stranger. If you ask someone who has experienced this himself, your heart would break for him. This is estrangement regarding this life, how would the estrangement in religion be?
O stranger! These words came to you from another stranger who is suffering as you are. One’s heart breaks when he sees the situation of our nation today. He almost doubts himself and feels as though he would go mad from what he sees of the great spread of corruption and the small number of those whom Allaah preserved. One almost gives up if it was not for the reminder of Allaah, Allaah says, which means, “And keep yourself patient (by being) with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever (in) neglect.” (Al-Kahf: 28)
After this, the Hadeeth which is narrated by Al-Miqdaad Ibn Al-Aswad, may Allaah be pleased with him, brings a bright hope where the Prophet sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, “There will not remain a house on earth, made of clay or wool, but Allaah will make Islam go into it, with which He will honour with those who accept Islam, or humiliate those who reject it” (Ibn Hibbaan).
The promise of Allaah is coming, His words will overwhelm, and He will grant victory to His religion although the disbelievers hate it.