Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Islam began as something strange


What is the meaning of this hadeeth: “Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began.”?.

Praise be to Allaah.


This hadeeth was narrated
by Muslim (145) from Abu Hurayrah who said: The Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Islam began as something
strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings
to the strangers.” 

Al-Sindi said in Haashiyat Ibn Maajah: 

“Strange” refers to the small number of its adherents. The
basic meaning of ghareeb (a stranger) is being far from one's
homeland. “And will revert to being strange” refers to the small number of
those who will adhere to its teachings even though its followers are many.
“So give glad tidings to the strangers” means those who follow its commands.
“Tooba (glad tidings)” has been interpreted as meaning Paradise or a great
tree in Paradise. This shows that supporting Islam and following its
commands may require leaving one's homeland and being patient in bearing the
difficulties of being a stranger, as was the case in the beginning. 

In Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Al-Nawawi quoted al-Qaadi
‘Iyaad as saying concerning the meaning of this hadeeth: 

“Islam began among a few individuals, then it spread and
prevailed, then it will reduce in numbers until there are only a few left,
as it was in the beginning.” 

It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 2/170: 

The meaning of this hadeeth is that Islam began as something
strange, when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) called people to Islam, but no one responded except a few here and
there. At that time it was something strange because its people were like
strangers amongst others and they were few in number and weak, in contrast
to the great numbers and strength of their enemies who persecuted the
Muslims. Then some of them migrated to Abyssinia, fleeing for the sake of
their religion from tribulation and to save themselves from persecution and
oppression, and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him) migrated at Allaah’s command to Madeenah, after suffering
intense persecution and in the hope that Allaah would give him people to
support him in his call and support Islam. Allaah fulfilled his hopes,
granted victory to his troops and supported His slave. The Islamic state was
established and Islam spread, with the help of Allaah, throughout the land;
Allaah made the word of kufr lowest and the word of Allaah is (always)
uppermost, for Allaah is Almighty, All-Wise, and honour, power and glory
belong to Allaah, and to His Messenger, and to the believers [cf
al-Munaafiqoon 63:8]. This continued for a long time, then division and
dissent spread among the Muslims and weakness and failure increased
gradually, until Islam once again became something strange as it was in the
beginning. But this is not because of their small numbers, because at that
time they will be many, rather it is because they do not adhere to their
religion or cling to the Book of their Lord and the teachings of the
Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), apart
from those whom Allaah wills. So they become distracted and turn to
competing in worldly matters, like those who came before them, and they
fight amongst themselves for leadership. So the enemies of Islam found a way
in and they colonized their lands, humiliated their people and treated them
badly. This is the way in which Islam returned to being strange as it was in
the beginning. 

A number of scholars – including Shaykh Muhammad Rasheed Rida
– thought that this hadeeth gives glad tidings of a second victory of Islam
after it becomes something strange again. They base this on the metaphor
used by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when he
said, “… will revert to being strange as it began.” So just as following the
initial strangeness and alienation the Muslims were victorious and Islam
spread, this will happen again after the second period of strangeness and

This view is more likely to be correct, and is supported by
what is proven in the ahaadeeth about the Mahdi and the descent of ‘Eesa
(peace be upon him) at the end of time, when Islam will spread and the
Muslims will be victorious, and kufr and the kaafirs will be defeated. 

And Allaah is the Source of strength. May Allaah send
blessing and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon his family and

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