One of the most awful experiences I constantly go through is living far away from my family, more specifically, my parents! Being away from home for almost 7 years, and living in different parts of the world, I can truly say, “There is no place like home”, and I believe this applies to all people from all walks of life as there is nothing more comforting than the place where we were born and raised-up in. No matter how far we stay away, images of our homes are printed into our minds and souls.
Everyone knows that the path of migration is rugged and filled with disturbances. No matter how long a person stays in a strange land, he or she will always feel and be called “a stranger”. Every time they leave their homeland, they are filled with moments of grief accompanied with tears.
A’isha continued saying , “I went to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and informed him. He said, ‘O Allah! Make us love Madinah as much as we love Makkah or even more. 1
Looking back 1400 years ago, when the Prophetic call to Islam had begun where people where sinking in a mass state of misguidance. Muslims at the time were oppressed and displaced, fleeing for the sake of their religion to remote countries, such as those to who migrated to Ethiopia twice and then to Madinah. From among them are those who were tortured for the sake of Allah and others who were killed.
Those who entered Islam at that time were strangers, but Islam appeared in Madinah and had glory, and its people became apparent and known for their virtues, which resulted in many people entering Islam in crowds.
“And Islam would again revert (to its old position) of being strange just as it started” 2
How to be a stranger?
The Messenger of Allah told us about the characteristics of those strangers: 3
1- Those who correct what the people have corrupted from the Sunnah.
2- Those who are righteous in a time where people are corrupted.
There are many kinds that are classified as strangers in our time revolving around the above two types, such strangers can exist in different places and times and within specific nations. But the pure type of complete strangers on earth will not come until just before the day of judgment. Until then, this earth will not be free from those who establish truth, even if they were few. Allah says in Qur’an what translates as the following:
“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.” (Hud, 11:116)
Ibnul-Qayyim said about this verse, “strangers are those people with such character mentioned in the verse”. 4
The second type of strangers are the ones enjoined by the people of falsehood, which is undesirable. Even though there are large in number, they are still considered strangers from among the people of earth. 5
The third type of strangers are neither praised nor condemned. This type of strangers had migrated from their original homeland. Most people fall under this category since this earth is not our final destination. This type of strangers are indicated in Prophet’s narration to ‘Abdullah bin Omar, saying,
“Be in this world like a stranger, or one who is passing through”. 6
People of Islam in such strange times can face different manifestations of trials, which are summed up below:
First, trials that are caused due to plotted suspections, sponsored and magnified by people of different religions upon Muslims who fall under these plots by throwing those who are committed to the Sunnah with terrorism accusations under excuses of forgiveness, coexistence and eliminating hatred between religions. They use terms like loyalty to Islam, disavowing falsehood and misguidance, causing Jihad to be forgotten and deleted, in addition to their constant attempts to dismiss women from the light of Hijab to the darkness of civilized men.
Second, trials and sedition that develop from falling into desires. Such trials befall and usually spread in times when people of righteousness are a minority, in times where people are open to accept the glare and glance of this life, and where Satan and his followers from people ride the waves of technological and telecommunication advancement to open doors for immorality, indecency and desires. The prophet said,
“Nothing worries me as to what will happen to you after me, except the temptation of worldly blessings which will be conferred on you.” 7
Third, the trials of hopelessness and despair from the appearance and prevalence of truth against the piled attempts of its enemies and their domination upon the people of goodness with harm and trials, which may result in them leaving the efforts of Dawah when they see that falsehood is gaining momentum, especially when it happens on long-term and where the victory of Allah is not yet manifested. This makes such trials harder and harsher.
From the descriptions of strangers, we realize that they are people whose hearts are attached to reforming and calling to the path of Allah , not just righteous people who surrender to the reality of their corrupt surroundings. Such people were called strangers because they are a minority They are those who the prophet said,
“Ahead of you are the days in which patience is like holding onto an ember, for the doer (of righteous deeds) during them is the like of the reward of fifty of those who do the like of what you do.” ‘Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak said: “It was added for me, by other than ‘Utbah, that it was said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! The reward of fifty men among us, or them?’ He said: ‘No! Rather the reward of fifty men among you.'” 8.
My Dear Beloved brothers and sisters in Islam, the one who loves to reach the status of strangers will need to seek patience, hold tight to the path of righteousness described by Allah and his Messenger , and seek authentic knowledge prescribed by the righteous predecessors in facing day-to-day trials. May Allah make it easy for us. Ameen.
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