Gems from the book The Journey of The Strangers

And here are some highly beneficial excerpts from the book The Journey of The Strangers, which has explanations from Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali and Abu Bakr al-Ajurri (rahimahumullaah Ta'aala) and also includes some tremendous benefits in the Appendix by Imam Ibnul-Qayyim (rahimahullaah), quoted from his Madaarijus-Saalikeen. Here are some gems from that appendix:
"It is because of their paucity in number that they are called strangers since most people do not possess their qualities. The Muslims are strangers amongst mankind, the believers are strangers amongst the Muslims, the people of knowledge are strangers amongst the believers, and Ahlus-Sunnah - those who distinguish the Sunnah from innovation, and call to [the Sunnah] - are strangers. Those who call to the Sunnah, bearing with patience the harm they meet from those who oppose them, are the greatest strangers of all. This latter group are truly the people of Allaah, as such their strangeness is not real; rather it is a strangeness relative to the rest of man, those about whom Allaah, Mighty and Majestic, said:

And if you obey most of those on earth, they will mislead you far away from Allaah's Path... (Al-An'aam, ayah 116)

These people, the majority, are in reality the strangers. They are isolated from Allaah, His Messenger (salallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam), and His Religion..." 

"From the qualities of these strangers is that they would stick firmly to the Sunnah even when people turn away from it, and they would abandon all innovations, even if that innovation be widespread. They purify their Tawheed even if the majority of people censure them for this. They leave ascription to anyone save Allaah and His Messenger, be it a shaykh, or a Tariqah, or a school of thought, or a group; instead they are devoted exclusively to the worship of Allaah alone, and following the Sunnah of His Messenger alone. These people are truly holding onto red hot coals; most people - indeed all of them - censure them, think them to be odd, to be on innovation, and having split away from the 'largest group.'

The meaning of his (salallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) saying: Those who have departed from the tribes is that Allaah, Subhana, sent Messengers at a time when the people were following many different religions. They were worshipping idols, fire, pictures and the cross; there was the Jew, the Sabian and the philosopher. When Islaam first appeared, it was seen as something strange, and those who accepted Islaam and answered the call of Allaah and His Messenger were seen to be strange among their fellow tribe members and family members. Those who accepted the call to Islaam departed from the tribes, they became strangers in their own tribes and families. This state continued until Islaam became ascendant and people began to accept it in droves, after which this strangeness vanished. However, after this, the strangeness presented itself once again until it ended in the state which it began.

Indeed, today, true Islaam has become stranger than it was in the first days, this even though its signs and features are widespread! True Islaam has become very strange and those who follow it are seen to be the strangest of people!

How is it possible that one sect, few in number, not be strange amongst seventy-two sects, sects that enjoy great following, worldy authority, and leadership, sects that only attained this position and following by opposing what the Messenger (salallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) came with! Indeed, what the Messenger (salallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) came with opposes their desires, their temporal delights, their innovations, which they presume to be the best of deeds, and their lusts which dictate their goals and objectives.

How is it possible that the believer, journeying to Allaah upon the path of following and adherence not be a stranger amongst these people who are merely following their desires, who have succumbed to parsimony, and are amazed at their own opinion...

Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi recorded* on the authority of Abu Tha'labah al-Khushani who said that he asked the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) concerning the verse: 

O believers! You are only responsible for yourselves. The misguided cannot harm you as long as you are guided... (Al-Ma`idah, ayah 105)

He (salallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: Rather, Command the good and prohibit the evil until you see parsimony being obeyed, desires being followed, the world being preferred, and every person being amazed at his own opinion; at the time that you see affairs that you cannot change, concern yourself with yourself, and avoid the masses. Those will be the days of patience, and to be patient amongst them will be like holding onto red hot coals. The one who does deeds in those days will have the reward of fifty people doing the same deeds as him. I asked, "Messenger of Allaah, do you mean fifthy of them?" He replied: No, fifty of you.

This great reward is only realized because of one's strangeness and his holding firm to the Sunnah while surrounded by the darkness of desires and the opinions of others.

So if the believer whom Allaah has nourished with insight into His religion, understanding of the Sunnah of His Messenger and His Book, and shown him the reality of what people are upon of innovations, desires, misguidance, and deviating from the Straight Path - the path of the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and his companions - if the believer wishes to traverse this Path, let him prepare himself for the abuse of the ignoramus and innovator, the boycott of people and their warning others from him, just as their predecessors amongst the disbelievers did with the Prophet (salallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam). Were this believer to call them to the true path, and censure their way, it will be as if the Day of Resurrection has come upon them, and they will plot and plan agianst him to the utmost of their ability.

He will be a stranger with regards his religion because of the corruption of their religions. He will be a stranger in his following the Sunnah because of their following innovations. He will be a stranger in his beliefs because of their false beliefs. He will be a stranger in his prayer because of their rundown prayers. He will be a stranger in the path he traverses because of their misguidance. He will be a stranger in his ascription because of their ascriptions. And he will be a stranger in the way he deals with them because they deal with people based upon their desires.

In summary, he will be a stranger in his wordly affairs and in his affairs dealing with the Hereafter. He will not find any to support him or aid him amongst the masses of the people; he will be a scholar amongst the ignorant, a follower of the Sunnah amongst innovators, a caller to Allaah and His Messenger amongst callers to desires and innovations, and commanding good and prohibiting evil amongst people in whose eyes good has become bad and vice-versa. 

* Ibid; a similar hadeeth that preceded was declared weak by Albanee, without the additions this one has: Tha'labah al-Khushani asking the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) concerning the verse from Sooratul Ma`idah; and without the authentic ending: The one who does deeds in those days will have the reward of fifty people doing the same deeds as him. I asked, "Messenger of Allaah, do you mean fifthy of them?" He replied: No, fifty of you.

Source: The Book The Journey of The Strangers, published by Daar us-Sunnah Publishers

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