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All praise is for Allah with much praises and blessings, as our Lord loves and is pleased with and as is required for attaining the honor of His most Sublime Face. And may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our teacher Muhammad his family and his Companions.
Imam Muslim reported in his Sahih from the hadith of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet said:
“Islam began as something strange and it will return to being strange as it began. So Toobaa is for the strangers.”
Imam Ahmad and Ibn Majah have also reported this hadith on the authority of Ibn Masood with the addition at the end of it: “It was said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, and who are the strangers?’ He said: ‘The Nuzaa’ (those who extract themselves) from their families and close relatives.’”
Abu Bakr Al-Aajuree also transmitted it, and in his report there occurs: “It was said: ‘Who are they, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said: ‘Those who rectify (themselves/others) when the people have become corrupt.’”
Others have transmitted it with the following words, in which he said: “They are those who flee from trials (fitan) for the sake of their Religion.”
At-Tirmidhi reported it from the hadith of Katheer bin ‘Abdillaah Al-Maznee on the authority of his father who reported from his grandfather that the Prophet said: “Verily, this Religion began as something strange. And it will go back to being something strange. So Toobaa is for the strangers – those who rectify what the people have corrupted after me of my Sunnah.”
It has also been transmitted by At-Tabarani from the hadith of Jaabir on the Prophet, and in the hadith there occurs: “It was said: ‘And who are they, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said: ‘They are those who rectify and make corrections when the people have become corrupted.’”
He (At-Tabarani) also reported it from the hadith of Sahl bin Sa'ad with a similar wording.
Imam Ahmad transmitted it from the hadith of Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqaas on the authority of the Prophet . And it is stated in the hadith: “So Toobaa on that day will be for the strangers – when the people have become corrupt.”
In another narration transmitted by Imam Ahmad and At-Tabarani from the hadith of Abdullah bin Amr , the Prophet said: “Toobaa is for the strangers.” It was said: “And who are the strangers?” He said: “A righteous people surrounded by people abounding in much evil. Those who disobey them are more numerous than those who obey them.”
And it has been reported on Abdullah bin Amr in marfoo’ and mawqoof 11 form in this hadith, that: “It was said: ‘Who are the strangers?’ He said: ‘They are the ones who flee for the sake of their Religion. Allah, may He be Exalted, will raise them (on the Day of Resurrection) with Isa bin Maryam.’”
The Prophet’s statement “Islam began as something strange” refers to the people before his advent who were upon widespread deviance, as the Prophet said: “Indeed Allah looked at the people of the earth and hated them, both Arabs and non-Arabs, except for some remnants from the People of the Book.”
So when the Prophet was sent forth and began calling to Islam, his call was not answered at first instance except by a few from each tribe. And those that did accept his call feared from their tribes and families lest they should be subjected to extreme punishment. And they would suffer while being patient with that for the sake of Allah.
Due to their weakness, the (first) Muslims would be frightened by every opposing force and they would flee for the sake of their Religion to far-off lands as was shown when they migrated twice to the land of Abyssinia, and then when they migrated to Madinah. And there was from among them, he who was tortured for the sake of Allah and he who was killed. So those who entered into the fold of Islam, back in those days – they were the strangers.
Then Islam spread after the Hijrah to Madinah and its followers became victorious over every group. After that, the people entered into the Religion of Allah in multitudes. And Allah perfected the Religion for them and completed His favor upon them. Then the Messenger of Allah died, and the Muslims were upon the utmost level due to their firm adherence to their Religion. They were powerful and dominant, and they continued to be upon this condition during the times (i.e. khilaafah) of Abu Bakr and Umar.
Then the Devil unleashed his evil plot upon the Muslims and discord fell between them. And the trials of Doubts (Shubuhaat) and Desires (Shahawaat) became widespread. These two evils did not stop increasing at all until the plan of the Devil was established and the majority of the creation obeyed him.
So from among them were those who entered into obedience to him by way of the evil of Doubts (Shubuhaat). And from among them, were those who fell into the evil of Desires (Shahawaat). And from among them, were those who combined between them both. All of that was from what the Messenger of Allah had warned us would occur.
Then it has been reported on the Prophet through many paths of narration that his ummah would divide into more than seventy sects. This is based on the differing found in the reports concerning the exact number with which they will exceed the number seventy. And it was reported on him that all of these groups would be in the Hellfire, except for one group – and it is that (group) that adheres to what he and his Companions were upon (during their time).
It is reported in SahihMuslim on the authority of Abdullah bin Amr that the Prophet said: “When the treasures of the Persians and the Romans are opened for you, how will your people be?” Abdur-Rahmaan bin Awf said: “We will say what Allah has ordered us (to say).” He said: “Or other than that. You will compete against each other, then you will envy one another, then you will turn your backs on one another.”
And in Sahih Al-Bukhari on the authority of Amr bin Awf the Prophet said:
“I swear by Allah! It is not poverty that I fear for you. Rather, what I fear the most for you is that the pleasures of this world will be presented to you as they were presented to those before you. And you will compete against one another for it, just as they competed against one another. And it will destroy you, just as it destroyed them.”
And there occurs in the two Sahih collections on the authority of Uqbah bin Amir a hadith from the Prophet with a similar meaning.
When the treasures of Chosroes were opened for Umar bin Al-Khattaab, he began to weep and said: “Indeed this (treasure) did not open upon a people ever, except that Allah placed discord between them.”
The Prophet used to fear these two evils (of Doubts and Desires) for his ummah as has been reported in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad on the authority of Abu Barzah that the Prophet said: “Indeed, I only fear for you the desires of transgression found in your stomachs and your private parts and the calamities (fitan) that lead people astray." And in another narration there occurs: "...and the desires (hawaa) that lead people astray."
So when a majority of the people fell victim to either or both of these evils, they began to cut off ties with one another and they began to hate one another. This only came after them having been brothers, loving and supporting one another. Indeed the evil of Desires became something common and accepted amongst a majority of the creatures. And it tested people by way of the worldly life and its pleasures. So that became the goal of the people’s striving. They sought after it and became pleased with it. They became angry due to it and they hated for its sake and loved for its sake. Because of this, they would sever family ties and spill blood unlawfully. And for this purpose, they committed disobedience to Allah.
As for the evil of Doubts and vain desires that lead astray, then it was because of this that the Muslims divided and became sects, some groups declaring others as disbelievers. Thus, they became enemies, divided into groups and parties. This only happened after them having been brothers – their hearts united upon the heart of one man. None of these sects is saved, except for the one saved sect (al-Firqat-un-Naajiyah). And they are the ones mentioned in the saying of the Prophet:
“There will not cease to be a group from my ummah triumphant upon the truth. Those who oppose them will not be able to harm them, nor will those who abandon them, until Allah’s order comes about (Day of Judgment) and they are in that state.”
They will be the strangers – the ones who have been mentioned in the previous ahadith – during the Last Days. They are the ones who will correct others when the people have become corrupt. They are those who will rectify what the people have corrupted of the Sunnah. They are the ones who will flee from affliction for the sake of their Religion. They are the ones who will extract themselves from their close relatives (for Allah’s sake).
This is because they are so few that you will not find any among them in an entire tribe (family), except one or two. In some tribes, you will not find any of them, just as it was when the first people accepted Islam. This is the way the majority of the scholars have explained this hadith.
Introduction to the Book
Text of the Book
The Strangeness Of The Sunnah And Its Adherents
The Strangeness Of The Believer During The Last Days
Clinging Onto The Sunnah During Times Of Affliction
The Hadith Of Imam Ali Concerning Knowledge
Categories Of The Bearers Of Knowledge
Characteristics Of The People Of Knowledge
Types Of Believers According To Their Strangeness
Types Of Strangeness