Hadith

Blessed are the Strangers_Kitab al-Nafsiyya

Blessings upon the

Strangers (al-ghuraba’)

The following are some of the well-known Prophetic narrations (ahadith) regarding the ‘Strangers’ (al-ghuraba’).[1]

1. The narration about the ‘Strangers’ (al-ghuraba’):

  • The Holy Prophet (saw) said the following:

بدأ الإسلام غريبا وسيعود كما بدأ غريبا . فطوبى للغرباء

 “Islam began as something strange and it shall return to being something strange; so give glad tidings to the strangers…”[2]

  • The word “tuba” is said to be a tree in Paradise, thus the good news of Paradiseis given to these strangers.[3] 
  • Another hadith related by `Abd Allah b. Mas`ud has:

 إن الإسلام بدأ غريبا وسيعود غريبا كما بدأ فطوبى للغرباء ، قيل ومن الغرباء ؟ قال : النزاع من القبائل

 “Islam began as something strange and it shall return to being something strange; so give glad tidings to the strangers. Some asked: ‘who are the strangers?’ [The Prophet] replied: ‘the ones who break away from their tribes…”[4]

  • i.e. those who live far from their homelands and tribes cut off from them.
  • It does not mean their actions and beliefs are strange or odd or innovated.
  • It does not mean that they do not care for their families or break ties that are considered unlawful. This would contradict their being described with piety.
  • The strangeness of these people is that they are a minority and small in number.

2. Some of the characteristics and descriptions of the strangers:

  1. They correct and reform the people when they fall into sin, vice and corruption as mentioned in the hadith:

 يعود الإسلام كما بدأ – أي أنه بدأ غريبا وسيعود غريبافطوبى للغرباء . فقيل : يا رسول الله ، ومن الغرباء ؟ قال : الذين يصلحون إذا فسد الناس

 bada’a = ‘to begin’, ‘to start’ and ‘to commence’; sing. = gharib, pl. = ghuraba’.

“…it was asked: ‘who are the Strangers?’ [The Prophet] replied: ‘those who correct the people when they fall into corruption…’[5]

 

إن الدين ليأرز إلى الحجاز كما تأرز الحية إلى جحرها وليعقلن الدين من الحجاز معقل الأروية من رأس الجبل إن الدين بدأ غريبا ويرجع غريبا فطوبى للغرباء الذين يصلحونما أفسد الناس من بعدي من سنتي

 aslaha = ‘to correct’, ‘to put right’; afsada = ‘to corrupt’, ‘to destroy’.

“…those who correct my Sunnah when the people fall into vice after me…”[6]

 

إن الإسلام بدأ غريبا وسيعود كما بدأ فطوبى للغرباء قالوا يا رسول الله ومن الغرباء قال الذين يصلحون إذا فسد الناس ولا يمارون في دين الله ولا يكفرون أحدا من أهل التوحيدبذنب

 [note: takfir (excommunicating other Muslims) is not one the characteristics of the ghuraba’. May Allah protect us from this which has become frivolous for some today].

“…those who correct and reform the people when they fall into corruption and neither quarrel in the religion nor declare disbelief upon anyone of the people of tawhid on account of a sin…”[7]

إن الإسلام بدأ غريبا وسيعود غريبا كما بدأ فطوبى للغرباء قالوا يا رسول الله ومن الغرباء قال الذين يصلحون عند فساد الناس

 
“…those who correct and put right at the time of (`inda) the people are in vice…”[8]
  • The conditional particle idha in “when the people are corrupted” (idha fasada al-nas) is used for the future sense and indicates that the corruption will occur after the time of the Companions. This implies that the strangers are not the Sahabah. Also, the sahabah could never have corrupted the sunnah by consensus.
  • The preposition `inda (عند) may suggest how these strangers are active in their endeavour to change and not those who are passive simply waiting for the help of Allah (swt) to arrive.
  • The Strangers thus correct the wrong at the time itself and do not wait for the situation to change itself.
  • The hadith is also an indication that in the future or in generations to come, the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) will be corrupted and changed to something alien and foreign.
  • The hadith that foretell the Strangers correcting the corrupted Sunnah would rationally have to mean they know what correct and authentic Islamic teachings are.

b. They are themselves upright and righteous (anas salihun) as in the hadith:

كنت عند رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يوما ، فطلعت الشمس فقال : يأتي قوم يوم القيامة نورهم كنور الشمس . قال أبو بكر : نحن هم يا رسول الله ؟ قال : لا ، ولكم خير كثير ، ولكنهم الفقراء المهاجرون الذين يحشرون من أقطار الأرض . فذكر الحديث . وزاد ثم قال : طوبى للغرباء . قيل : من الغرباء ؟ قال : أناس صالحون قليل في ناس سوء كثير من يعصيهم أكثر ممن يطيعهم

“…righteous people…”[9]

***

3. They redress the imbalance of belief and good within the people increasing it:

 طوبى للغرباء . قالوا : يا رسول الله ، ومن الغرباء ؟ قال : الذين يزيدون إذا نقص الناس

“… [they are] those who make increase when the people fall deficient [and lack faith]…”[10]

 ***

  1. They are few in number, i.e. a minority as related by the many ahadith:

 إن الإسلام بدأ غريبا ، وسيعود كما بدأ ، فطوبى للغرباء قيل : ومن الغرباء ؟ قال : النزاع من القبائل

“…very few (qalil)…”[11]
 

كنت عند رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يوما ، فطلعت الشمس فقال : يأتي قوم يوم القيامة نورهم كنور الشمس . قال أبو بكر : نحن هم يا رسول الله ؟ قال : لا ، ولكم خير كثير ، ولكنهم الفقراء المهاجرون الذين يحشرون من أقطار الأرض . فذكر الحديث . وزاد ثم قال : طوبى للغرباء . قيل : منالغرباء ؟ قال : أناس صالحون قليل في ناس سوء كثير من يعصيهم أكثر ممن يطيعهم

 

“…very few in number (qalil fi’l-nas)…”[12]
  • The distinction of “strangeness” (ghurbah) is not better than that of “companionship” (suhbah). The companions are far superior to the Strangers who will come after.
  • Their few numbers would suggest the distinction and honour being given to a select people while most people would be in error and corruption.
  1. These strangers are said to have no other ties of kinship except the love for Allah and love for the sake of Allah (swt) as reported by al-Hakim:

 إن لله عبادا ليسوا بأنبياء ولا شهداء ، يغبطهم الشهداء والأنبياء يوم القيامة ؛ لقربهم من الله تعالى ومجلسهم منه . فجثا أعرابي على ركبتيه فقال : يا رسول ! صفهم لنا ، وجلهم لنا ؟ ! قال : قوم من أفناء الناس ؛ مننزاع القبائل، تصادقوا في الله ، وتحابوا فيه ، يضع الله عز وجل لهم يومالقيامة منابر من نور ، يخاف الناس ولا يخافون ، هم أولياء الله عز وجل الذين : لا خوف عليهم ولا هم يحزنون  .

“…different types of people who have severed ties with their tribes; they befriended each other and loved each other for the sake of Allah. On the Day of Qiyamah, Allah will place them on platforms of light. People will fear but they will not fear. They are the friends (awliya’) of Allah…”[13]

 sing. wali = ‘close friend, helper, supporter’, pl. awliya’ = close friends of Allah, those whom Allah loves and is pleased with’. 

عن يمين الرحمن ، وكلتا يديه يمين ، رجال ليسوا بأنبياء ولا شهداء ، يغشى بياض وجوههم نظر الناظرين ، يغبطهم النبيون والشهداء بمقعدهم وقربهم من الله ، قيل : من هم يا رسول الله ؟ قال : هم جماع من نزاع القبائل يجتمعون على ذكر الله فينتقون أطايب الكلام كما ينتقي آكل التمر أطايبه

 
“…they are those are group of people who do not belong to their tribes; who gather on the remembrance of Allah and speak the best words just like the person who eats dates[14] would pick the choicest one…”[15] 
  • Gathering ‘on’ (على/`ala) the remembrance of Allah is different from gathering for the remembrance of Allah. The former refers to a permanent and lasting bond and the latter specifically for a period of time or a session of dhikr only. (cf. Q. 2:5 ula’ika `ala hudan min rabbihim {they are firmly upon the guidance from their Lord} which suggests that the preposition ‘on’ (على/`ala) means “they are firmy established on the guidance from Allah, their remaining on it and their holding fast to it” (li-tamakkunihim min al-huda wa istiqraruhum `alayhi wa tamasakkuhum bi-hi [al-Zamakhshari, al-Kashshaf, 1:12]) hence impying toil, struggle, hard work and consistency to tread and adhere to this guidance).
  • Their discourse is the best, i.e. their speech, diction and discussions are sweet, attractive and in accordance with the manner and example of the Messenger of Allah.
  • Thus, it suggests they do not engage in idle talk, lewd talk and words.
  1. They are those who love one another purely for Allah’s pleasure and mercy:
  عن أبي مالك الأشعري : قال أنهم بينما هم عند رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، فذكروا قوما ليسوا بأنبياء ولا شهداء ، يغبطهم النبيون بمقعدهم وقربهم من الله يوم القيامة . ثم قال : هم عباد الله من بلدان شتى وقبائل شتى ، من شعوب القبائل لم يكن بينها أرحام يتواصلون بها ولا دنيا يتباذلونها تحابوا بروح الله يجعل الله لهم منابر من نور ، ويجعل وجوههم نورا يوم القيامة قدام الرحمن ، يفزع الناس ولا يفزعون ويخاف الناس ولا يخافون
 sing. wajh = ‘face’, pl. wujuh = ‘faces’. [cf. the verse {verily the awliya’ of Allah do not fear nor shall they grieve} where the awliya’ refers to: [1] those who are the people of close proximity to Allah given Divine grace (ahl al-wilayatihi wa’l-mustahaqqun li-karamatihi); [2] those who believe and have taqwa (alladhina amanu wa kanu yattaqun); [3] those accepting of Allah’s decree (alraduna bi’l-qada’), patient over affliction (al-sabiruna `ala al-bala’) and thankful for Allah’s bounties (al-shakiruna `ala al-nu`ama’); [4] those whose actions accord with the Truth (hum man tawalat af`aluhum `ala muwafaqat al-haqq) and [5] those who love others for the sake of Allah (al-mutahabbuna fi Allah ta`ala); see Ibn al-Jawzi, Zad al-Masir, s.v. Q. 10:62].
“…they love each other in the spirit of Allah…”[16]
 

كنت عند النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إذ قال إن لله عبادا ليسوا بأنبياء ولا شهداء يغبطهم النبيون والشهداء بقربهم ومقعدهم من الله يوم القيامة فقال أعرابي حدثنا يا رسول الله من هم فقال هم عباد من عباد الله من بلدان شتى وقبائل شتى لم يكن بينهم أرحام يتواصلون بها ولا دنيا يتباذلون بها يتحابون بروح الله يجعل الله وجوههم نورا وتجعل لهم منابر من نور قدام الرحمن يفزع الناس ولا يفزعون ويخاف الناس ولا يخافون

 dunya = world, temoral location.
“…there is no kinship amongst them to seek nor any worldly matter do they exchange with each other…”[17]
 

إن من عباد الله لأناسا ما هم بأنبياء ، ولا شهداء ، يغبطهم الأنبياء والشهداء يوم القيامة بمكانهم من الله تعالى . قالوا : يا رسول الله ، تخبرنا من هم ، قال : هم قوم تحابوا بروح الله على غير أرحام بينهم ، ولا أموال يتعاطونها ، فوالله إن وجوههم لنور ، وإنهم على نور : لا يخافون إذاخاف الناس ، ولا يحزنون إذا حزن الناس . وقرأ هذه الآية : ألا إن أولياء الله لا خوف عليهم ولا هم يحزنون

 
“…for by Allah, no doubt[18] their faces will be shining with light and they will be upon the light not fearing when the people do and not grieving when the people do…”[19]
 

***

  1. They have a distinguished rank and status:

كنت عند النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إذ قال إن لله عبادا ليسوا بأنبياء ولا شهداء يغبطهم النبيون والشهداء بقربهم ومقعدهم من الله يوم القيامة فقال أعرابي حدثنا يا رسول الله من هم فقال هم عباد من عباد الله من بلدان شتى وقبائل شتى لم يكن بينهم أرحام يتواصلون بها ولا دنيا يتباذلون بها يتحابون بروح الله يجعل الله وجوههم نورا وتجعل لهم منابر من نور قدام الرحمن يفزعالناس ولا يفزعون ويخاف الناس ولا يخافون

 al-Rahman = ‘the Most Merciful’, i.e. Allah.
“… [Allah] will make them platforms at the feet of al-Rahman and the people will be scared but they will not and the people will be afraid but they will not…”[20]
  • They will be distinguished with a luminescent face and beaming look.
  • They will be at the feet of Allah (swt), a highly esteemed honour.
  • They will be free from grieving and fear while the rest of the people will be in such states.
  • They have a dwelling (makan), proximity (qurb), position (maq`ad) and a place (majlis) with Allah (swt).[21]

 

 Further Considerations

  • The Strangers (ghuraba’) however do not possess the qualities of Prophethood nor that of martyrdom.
  • Even though the Strangers are cut off from any allegiances to their tribes and kinsfolk, they nevertheless are involved in the society to actively change it (otherwise how would they change the evil around them).
  • They are bonded in fellowship by the Islamic creed and are strongly united upon that.
  • They have knowledge and are not ignorant individuals.
  • They are obedient to whatever Allah (swt) demands of them and has ordered them. 

 

 [End]

Peace and blessings upon the Beloved of Allah,

Our Beloved, the Messenger of Allah,

His pure family, his Companions;

and blessings upon the strangers.

Amin.

 

s.z.c.


[1] Taken from the book Kitab Muqawwamat al-Nafsiyyah al-Islamiyyah, pp.255-261 (English edn.).

[2] Narrated by Abu Hurayrah by Muslim in his Sahih, no.145; al-Tirmidhi in the Sunan, hadith no.2630 and 2629; Bukhari, al-`Ilal al-Kabir, p.338; Ibn Abi Hatim, al-`Ilal, 3:182; Ibn `Ady, al-Kamil fi’l-Du`afa’, 8:407; Ibn al-`Arabi, `Aridat al-Ahwadhi, 5:307; Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu` al-Fatawa, 18:291; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qur’an, 3:23; al-Haythami, Majma` al-Zawa’id, 7:281; Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, al-Isabah fi Tamyiz al-Sahabah, 2:401; al-Zarqani, Mukhtasar al-Maqasid, p.267 and al-Albani, Sahih Ibn Majah, no.3236-7 as well as Sahih al-Tirmidhi, no.2629.

[3] [طوبى/tuba] The lexicographers have given different meanings to this word: 1) husna (‘a good ending’, ‘a good outcome’, ‘final state’); 2) khayr (‘good’, ‘good fortune’); 3) khiyarah (‘Allah’s blessing’, ‘Allah’s favour’); 4) eternal life; 5) pleasant life; 6) a certain tree in Paradise (being a proper name and hence in no need of the definite article [= al-]) and finally 7) Paradise itself in both the Indian and Abyssinian languages. See E. W. Lane’s Lexicon, Bk. 1, p.1909.

[4] See Ahmad in the Musnad, 5/296; Ibn Hazm, Usul al-Ahkam, 1:594; Ibn al-Qaysarani, Dhakhirat al-Huffaz, 2:1096 (with the word “people” [al-nas] instead of “tribes” [qaba’il]); al-Baghawi, Sharh al-Sunnah, 1:126 and al-Albani, Sahih Ibn Majah, no.3238 (cf. no.795 of his Da`if Ibn Majah).

[5] See also Ibn Abi Hatim, al-`Ilal, 3:182 and Ibn `Ady, al-Kamil fi’l-Du`afa’, 2:196.

[6] Narrated by al-Tirmidhi in his Sunan, hadith no.2630 from `Amr b. `Awf al-Muzani. Cf.  Ibn al-Qaysarani, Dhakhirat al-Huffaz, 1:552; Ibn al-`Arabi, `Aridat al-Ahwadhi, 5:307 and Ibn `Ady, al-Kamil fi’l-Du`afa’, 7:190. Al-Albani declared it “very weak” (da`if jiddan) in his Da`if al-Tirmidhi, no. 2630 and Da`if al-Jami`, no.1441. The particle ma’ in the hadith may be read in two ways: 1) the ma’ with the meaning of the relative pronoun (al-mawsulah) and 2) the ma’ denoting generality (al-`umum). On the first reading it would give the sense of correcting that particular vice which is done by the people whereas the second reading would suggest the Strangers correct ‘all and every’ corruption the people do.

[7] This addition is mentioned in Ibn Hibban’s Kitab al-Majruhin, 2:230 and by al-Haythami in Majma` al-Zawa’id, 1:111 and is rejected due to the transmitter Kathir b. Marwan who is considered a liar (kadhdhab) by al-Daraqutni and others. Cf. also Majma` al-Zawa’id, 7:262.

[8] See al-Haythami, Majma` al-Zawa’id, 7:281 declaring it sahih.

[9] Narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad, 10/136 and 12/29 (Shakir’s edition); al-Mundhiri in al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib, 4:138. Cf. al-Haythami, Majma` al-Zawa’id, 7:281 and 10:261.

[10] As mentioned by Ibn al-Qayyim in Madarij al-Salikin, 4:20.

[11] See al-Baghawi, Sharh al-Sunnah, 1:126.

[12] As in al-Mundhiri’s al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib, 4:138.

[13] Reported by `Abd Allah b. `Umar and declared sahih with all the transmitters as trustworthy by al-Hakim in his Mustadrak `ala ’l-Sahihayn, 4: hadith no.7318 and al-Albani in his Silsilat Ahadith al-Sahihah, no.3464. Cf. also al-Haythami, Mawarid al-Zaman, 1:620 and Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, 2:331, hadith no.573 (al-Arna’ut’s edition where he graded the hadith as sahih).

[14] The narration in al-Tabarani has thamr (‘fruits’). And Allah knows best.

[15] With a good chain (sanad jayyid) as reported by al-Suyuti in al-Budur al-Safirah, p.106; al-Mundhiri in al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib, 2:335 and al-Haythami who comments that the transmitters are all trustworthy and upright, Majma` al-Zawa’id, 10:80.

[16] Reported by al-Dhahabi in al-`Uluw from Abu Malik al-Ash`ari with the isnad graded as salih (‘good’), p.100.

[17] Graded hasan by Ibn Hajar in Hidayat al-Ruwat, 4:439.

[18] Fa-wallahi, inna wujuhahum la-nurun (‘…by Allah, their faces will no doubt be shining with light…’). The letter lam here (لـ) is that of ‘emphasis’ (al-tawkid) and is paired with the emphatic particle (harf al-ta’kid) inna (إن/‘indeed’, ‘verily’, ‘surely’) which is repeated twice by the Prophet (saw) with an additional commencing oath (qasm) in order to clearly highlight the special rank and honour of these people.

[19] Narrated by Abu Dawud in the Sunan, hadith no.3527. Cf. also al-Bayhaqi with a mursal chain in Shu`ab al-Iman, 6:2990 and al-Albani, Sahih al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib, no.3026.

[20] Graded hasan by Ibn Hajar in Hidayat al-Ruwat, 4:439.

[21] As in all the different wordings of the hadiths cited above

One thought on “Blessed are the Strangers_Kitab al-Nafsiyya

  1. Pingback: “The Best Nation ever Raised up: A Tafsir of Qur’an 3:110″ | دار نيـقـوسـيــا

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