Alleviating Grievances in Describing the Condition of the Strangers

Author: Al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalee

Source: Al-Manhaj
Translator: Abu Maryam Isma’eel Alarcon

Published: Wednesday 5th August, 2015

Text of the Book

All praise is for Allaah 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. [1] And may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon our teacher Muhammad, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), his family and his companions.

Imaam Muslim reported in his Saheeh from the hadeeth of Abu Hurairah, (رضي الله عنه‎), that the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), said:

“Islaam began as something strange and it will return to being strange as it began. So Toobaa [2] is for the strangers.” [3]

Imaam Ahmad and Ibn Maajah have also reported this hadeeth on the authority of Ibn Mas’ood, (رضي الله عنه‎), with the addition at the end of it:

“It was said: ‘O Messenger of Allaah, and who are the strangers?’ He, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), said: ‘The Nuzaa’ (those who extract themselves) from their families and close relatives.’[4]

Abu Bakr Al-Aajuree also transmitted it and in his report there occurs:

“It was said: ‘Who are they, O Messenger of Allaah?’ He, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), said: ‘Those who rectify (themselves/others) when the people have become corrupt.’[5]

Others have transmitted it with the following words, in which he, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), said:

"They are those who flee from trials (fitan) for the sake of their Religion."

At-Tirmidhee reported it from the hadeeth of Katheer Ibn 'Abdillaah Al-Maznee on the authority of his father who reported from his grandfather that the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), 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." [6]

It has also been transmitted by At-Tabaraanee from the hadeeth of Jaabir, (رضي الله عنهما), on the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم). And in the hadeeth there occurs:

"It was said: 'And who are they, O Messenger of Allaah?' He said: 'They are those who rectify and make corrections when the people have become corrupted.'" [7]

He (At-Tabaraanee) also reported it from the hadeeth of Sahl Ibn Sa'ad, (رضي الله عنه‎), with a similar wording. [8]

Imaam Ahmad also transmitted it from the hadeeth of Sa’ad Ibn Abee Waqqaas, (رضي الله عنهما), on the authority of the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم). And it is stated in the hadeeth:

“So Toobaa on that day will be for the strangers – when the people have become corrupt.” [9]

In another narration transmitted by Imaam Ahmad and At-Tabaraanee from the hadeeth of 'Abdullaah Ibn 'Amr, (رضي الله عنهما), the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), said:

“Toobaa is for the strangers.” It was said: “And who are the strangers? He, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), said: “A righteous people surrounded by people abounding in much evil. Those who disobey them are more numerous than those who obey them.” [10]

And it has been reported on ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr, (رضي الله عنهما), in marfoo’ and mawqoof [11] form in this hadeeth, that:

“It was said: ‘Who are the strangers?’ He, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), said: ‘They are the ones who flee for the sake of their Religion. Allaah, may He be Exalted, will send them with ‘Eesaa Bin Maryam’[12]

Concerning his, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), statement: “Islaam began as something strange”, then it is referring to the people before his advent, who were upon widespread deviance. This is as the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), said:

“Indeed Allaah looked at the people of the earth and hated them, both Arabs and non-Arabs, except for some remnants that were from the People of the Book.” [13]

So when the Prophet was sent forth and began calling towards Islaam, 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 sake of Allaah.

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 Abysinnia, and then when they migrated to Madeenah. And there was from among them, he who was tortured for the sake of Allaah and he who was killed. So those who entered into the fold of Islaam, back in those days – they were the strangers.

Then Islaam spread after the Hijrah to Madeenah and its followers became victorious over every group. After that, the people entered into the Religion of Allaah in multitudes. And Allaah perfected the Religion for them and completed His favor upon them. Then the Messenger of Allaah 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 of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (during their Khilaafah).

Then the Shaytaan (Devil) unleashed his evil plot upon the Muslims and discord fell between them. And the trials of Doubts (Ash-Shubuhaat) and Desires (Ash-Shahawaat) became widespread. These two evils did not stop increasing at all until the plan of Shaytaan 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 (Ash-Shubuhaat). And from among them, were those who fell into the evil of Desires (Ash-Shahawaat). And from among them, were those who combined between them both. All of that was from what the Messenger of Allaah, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), had warned us would occur.

As for the evil of Doubts:

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 is reported on him, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), that all of these groups will be in the Hellfire, except for one group – and it is that (group) which adheres to what he and his companions were upon (during their time). [1414]

And as for the evil of Desires:

It is reported in Saheeh Muslim on the authority of 'Abdullaah Ibn 'Amr, (رضي الله عنهما), that the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), said:

“When the treasures of the Persians and the Romans are opened for you, how will your people be?” ‘Abd-ur-Rahmaan Ibn ‘Awf, (رضي الله عنه‎), said: “We will say what Allaah has ordered us (to say).” [15] He, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), 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.” [16]

And in Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree on the authority of 'Amr Ibn 'Awf, (رضي الله عنه‎), the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), said:

“I swear by Allaah! 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 each other for it, as they competed against each other. And it will destroy you, just as it destroyed them.” [17]

And there occurs in the two Saheeh collections on the authority of 'Uqbah Ibn 'Aamir, (رضي الله عنه‎), a hadeeth from the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), with a similar meaning.

And when the treasures of Kissra (Chosroes) were opened for ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab, he began to weep and said:

“Indeed this (treasure) did not open upon a people ever, except that Allaah placed discord between them.” [18]

The Prophet used to fear these two evils (of Doubts and Desires) for his ummah as has been reported in the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad on the authority of Abu Barzah that the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), 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." [19]

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 relations and spill blood unlawfully. And for this purpose, they committed disobedience to Allaah.

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 having been brothers. Their hearts were united upon the heart of one man. So not one of all 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, (صلى الله علیه وسلم):

“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 Allaah’s order comes about (Day of Judgment) and they are in that state.” [20]

They will be the strangers – the ones who have been mentioned in the previous ahaadeeth – 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 Allaah’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 entered into Islaam. This is the way the majority of the scholars have explained this hadeeth.


[1] What is meant here is the attainment of Paradise in which the people who are granted it will be able to see the Face of Allaah, as has been stated in various texts of the Qur'aan and the Sunnah.

[2] It is said that Toobaa means something good. Allaah mentions this word in Surat-ur-Ra’ad of His Final Revelation:

“Those who believe and do righteous deeds, Toobaa is for them and a pleasant destination.”

According to Ibn Katheer’s Tafseer (Abridged 1/281), Ibraaheem An-Nakha’ee (رحمه الله), the great Taabi’ee, said it means “good is for them.” Qataadah said: “When a man says Toobaa for you it means you have attained something good. ‘Ikrimah and Mujaahid said that Toobaa means Paradise. And it is also said that Toobaa refers to a tree in Paradise which the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), spoke of when he said:

“Verily, there is a tree in Paradise under the shadow of which a rider can travel for a hundred years without being able to cover (it’s distance) completely.” [Saheeh Muslim]

This is what seems to be indicated in the above hadeeth, due to another hadeeth reported on the Prophet, in which he said:

“Toobaa is a tree in Paradise. Its (shade’s) distance (in traveling) is one hundred years. And the garments of the inhabitants of Paradise will be extracted from its branches.” [Imaam Al-Albaanee graded it hasan in his Silsilat-ul-Ahaadeeth As-Saheehah (no. 1985)]

[3] Saheeh Muslim (1/130): See Sharh Saheeh Muslim of Imaam An-Nawawee (2/175-176)

[4] Sunan Ibn Maajah (no. 3988), Sunan At-Tirmidhee (5/18) and he said it was authentic, Musnad Ahmad (5/296). It has also been recorded by Al-Khattaabee in his Ghareeb-ul-Hadeeth (1/175). Shaykh Al-Albaanee declared it weak (da'eef) in his collection Al-Ahaadeeth As-Saheehah (no. 1273)

[5] This hadeeth is also reported by Ahmad and At-Tabaraanee and it is saheeh as has been stated by Shaykh Saleem Al-Hilaalee in his book Toobaa Lil-Ghurabaa (no. 1). However the hadeeth with a different wording from the hadeeth of 'Abd-ur-Rahmaan Ibn Sanah is weak. See Toobaa Lil-Ghurabaa (no. 10)

[6] This hadeeth was reported by At-Tirmidhee in his Sunan (5/18) and he said it was saheeh. It was also reported by Ibn 'Adiyy in Al-Kaamil (6/2080), At-Tabaraanee in Al-Kabeer (17/16), Abu Nu'aim in Al-Hilyah (2/10) and Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdaadee in Al-Jaami' (1/112) as well as others. In his checking to the book Al-'Itisaam of Imaam Ash-Shaatibee (1/22), Shaykh Saleem Al-Hilaalee said concerning At-Tirmidhee's authentication of this hadeeth:

"This is from the hadeeth that he, may Allaah have mercy on him, has overlooked. For indeed, Katheer (Ibn 'Abdillaah) is very weak. Rather, Ash-Shaafi'ee accused him of being a liar! And he described him with that (lying) as being one of his main supports, as occurs in Manaaqib-ush-Shaafi'ee of Al-Bayhaqee (1/547-548). This is a criticism (jarh) that reaches the highest level of severity. Thus his hadeeth are to be disregarded completely."

Therefore, the hadeeth is da'eef jiddan (very weak) as is stated in Toobaa Lil-Ghurabaa (no. 13) and Da’eef Al-Jaami’-us-Sagheer (no. 1441)

[7] This hadeeth has been reported by At-Tahaawee in Mushkil-ul-Aathaar (1/298), Al-Laalikaa'ee in Sharh Usool 'Itiqaad Ahl-is-Sunnah (2/112), and Al-Bayhaqee in Az-Zuhd-ul-Kabeer (200). Al-Haythamee attributed it to At-Tabaraanee in his book Majma'-uz-Zawaa'id (7/278), saying:

"In its chain is 'Abdullaah Ibn Saalih, the scribe of Laith, and he is weak. However, he has been declared reliable."

[8] At-Tabaraanee reported this hadeeth in his Kabeer (6/164) and his Sagheer (1/104). Al-Haythamee said in Majma’-uz-Zawaa'id (7/278):

"Its narrators are all of the standards of the Saheeh (collections), except Bakr Ibn Saleem, for he is reliable."

Saleem Al-Hilaalee said in his checking of Al-'Itisaam (1/18):

"Bakr Ibn Saleem is weak. However, he is used as a support during cases when hadeeth need to be backed up and supported. Al-Haafidh (Ibn Hajr) said in At-Taqreeb: 'He is acceptable' meaning when a hadeeth needs to be supported. And if this is not the case, then he is layyin."

[9] This hadeeth is recorded by Imaam Ahmad, Al-Bazaar and Abu Ya’laa. Al-Haythamee said in Majma’-uz-Zawaa’id (7/277):

"Its narrators are the narrators of the standard of the Saheeh (collections)."

Saleem Al-Hilaalee declared it saheeh in his Toobaa Lil-Ghurabaa (no. 11)

[10] Al-Haythamee (رحمه الله) said in Majma’-uz-Zawaa'id (7/278):

"In its chain is Ibn Lahee'ah and there is weakness in him."

The hadeeth can be found in the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad (2/177). It is authentic due to its many paths of narration. Imaam Al-Albaanee authenticated it in Saheeh Al-Jaami'-us-Sagheer (no. 3291)

[11] A marfoo' hadeeth is a statement that has been reported by a companion, yet "raised" to the level of being a saying of the Prophet. A mawqoof hadeeth is a statement that is reported by a companion and "stopped", meaning it ends up being only his statement, as opposed to being raised to a saying of the Prophet.

[12] This hadeeth has been narrated by Imaam Ahmad in mawqoof form, and by his son ‘Abdullaah in marfoo’ form. It can be found in Az-Zuhd (77149). The hadeeth is da'eef as has been clarified by Shaykh Saleem Al-Hilaalee in his book Toobaa Lil-Ghurabaa (no. 3)

[13] Saheeh Muslim (Eng.): vol. 4, no. 6853. What is meant by the remnants of the People of the Book are those who stuck to their religion upon truth without changing it.

[14] This hadeeth has been reported from a number of different routes. Perhaps the one most similar to what the Shaykh (Ibn Rajab) is paraphrasing here is that which has been reported by At-Tabaraanee in his Mu'jam-us-Sagheer (no. 724), in which the Prophet said:

"This ummah will split into seventy-three sects, all of which will be in the Hellfire, except for one." They asked: "And which is that sect?" He, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), said: "(The ones that adhere to) That which I and my Companions are upon today."

In another narration on the authority of Anas Ibn Maalik, (رضي الله عنهما), the Prophet, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), said:

"Every one of them will be in the Hellfire, except one and it is the Jamaa'ah."

And in another narration on the authority of Abu Sufyaan, (رضي الله عنه‎):

"The Messenger of Allaah, (صلى الله علیه وسلم), stood amongst us one day and said: 'Indeed those before you from the People of the Book divided into seventy-two groups. And, indeed, this group (Muslims) will divide into seventy-three. Seventy-two groups will be in the Fire and one of them will be in Paradise. And it is the Jamaa'ah.’"

This latter hadeeth was reported by Ahmad, Al-Haakim, Abu Dawood and others. Al-Haakim authenticated it and Adh-Dhahabee agreed. At-Tirmidhee (no. 2641) also reported a similar hadeeth to it and graded it saheeh. Imaam Al-Albaanee listed all its paths of narrations and different wordings in his Silsilat-ul-Ahaadeeth As-Saheehah (no. 204) and clarified that it is an authentic hadeeth without any doubt about its authenticity. In summary, the hadeeth and its additions are hasan due to its various paths of narrations, which serve as supporting evidences.

[15] He means by this: We will praise Him, thank Him and ask Him for an increase in His Bounty.

[16] Saheeh Muslim (no. 2962) and Sunan Ibn Maajah (no. 3996)

[17] Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree (Eng.): vol. 5, no. 351

[18] Refer to Al-Bidaayah-wan-Nihaayah (7/70) of Ibn Katheer for an account of the event. It is recorded in his book under the section of the Battle of Jaloolaa'.

[19] Imaam Ahmad (4/423) and others reported this hadeeth. Al-Manaawee said that it had a good chain in his book Al-Jaami’-ul-Azhar (1/146). Al-Albaanee graded it saheeh in his checking of At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb (no. 49)

[20] Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree (4/252), Saheeh Muslim (no. 170), Sunan At-Tirmidhee (4/504), and Sunan Ibn Maajah (no. 3952)


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