All Praise is due to Allāh, we praise Him, seek His aid and His Forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allāh from the evils of our souls and the evils of our actions. Whomsoever Allāh guides there is none to misguide and whomsoever Allāh misguides there is none to guide. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh alone, without any partners and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.
Abdullāh ibn Mas’ood (radiyallāhu ‘anhu), stated that the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said:
“Indeed, Islam began as something strange, and it will return to being strange just as it began, so glad tidings of paradise be for the strangers.”
It was said to the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam): “Who are they?” He (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) responded, “They are those who rectify when the people become corrupted.”
This Hadith has been collected by Muslim, at-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and other than them from the scholars of hadeeth, and it has been declared authentic by Al-Albani.
In a narration, he (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Those who rectify themselves [and others] when the people have become corrupt.” Reported by Ahmad and At-Tabarāni.
And there occurs in a report from ‘Amr Ibn al-‘Ās (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) that the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) was asked: “Who are they?” He (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) responded, “They are righteous people amongst many people who are evil, and those who obey them are few as compared to those who disobey them.” In another narration: “Those who hate them are numerous.”
In a report transmitted by Imam Ahmad and At-Tabarāni from the hadeeth of ‘Abdullāh Ibn ‘Amr (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Toobā is for the strangers.” It was said: “And who are the strangers?” He (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied: “A righteous people surrounded by an abundance of evil people. Those who disobey them are more numerous than those who obey them.”
Reported in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad (2/177). Imām Al-Albāni authenticated it in Saheeh al-Jāmi’ as-Sagheer (no. 3291)
These narrations, may Allah bless you, describe a group of individuals who are “ghurabā”. They are “the strangers”. So the Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) has informed us in this hadith that indeed Islam began as something strange, and this is because when the Messenger of Allaah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) began the call to Islam, the call to the worship of Allaah alone (the Most High) in Makkah, then only a few followed him, and they were truly “ghurabā”. They were truly strangers in their beliefs, in their mannerisms, their ways and in their appearance. They were the strangers in a society that was filled with ignorance (Jāhiliyyah). They were a group that were few in number, nevertheless, they were the people of truth (ahlul-haqq).
Imam Al-Barbahāri (d. 329H), rahimahullāh, mentions regarding Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah: “And know, that there shall never cease to be a group from the people who are the people of Haqq and Sunnah, and they are guided by Allah, and by way of them Allah guides others, and through them, Allah gives life to the Sunnah.”
These are the Ghurabā, may Allaah bless you, guided by Allah (the Most High) adhering to the Truth and the Sunnah. They are those that are guided by Allah and they guide others. Allah guides through them other individuals, and by way of them, Allah gives life to the Sunnah. May Allah (the One free of all imperfections) make us from amongst them.
Imam Al-Barbahāri (d. 329H) likewise said, “That truth or haqq is that which comes from Allah and that which is in the Sunnah, the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam), and that which is from the Jamā’ah – and the Jamā’ah is what the Companions were united upon during the khilāfah of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and Uthmān (radiyallāhu ‘anhum).” This is the Jamā’ah, and whosoever follows their way, then he is the Jamā’ah, whether there are few in number, or whether they are large in number!
Islam began as something ghareeb (strange), something that was strange to the people, strange in their worship, strange in that which they called to. The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and the Sahābah (radiyallāhu ‘anhum) were living in an ocean of people that were committing all types of obscenities, shirk, and heresy, such that the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said in an authentic narration, “Allah looked upon all the people of the earth, Arab and non-Arab, and despised all of them, except for some remnants of the People of the Book, (meaning the Jews and the Christians). He said: I sent you (O Prophet) to test you and to test others by way of you. And I have revealed to you a Book that cannot be washed away with water.” (Muslim) These People of the Book followed that which Moosā (peace be upon him) or ‘Eesā (peace be upon him) left them upon of tawheed and belief. So Allah (the Most High) despised them all because of the polytheism they were upon, because of the depravity that they were upon in terms of their behaviour and their conduct, their idolatry and their killing and their murder, their separation and their hatred for one another.
Then Allah from His Mercy sent the Messenger, Muhammad (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam). They were in a society, may Allaah bless you, that was filled with misguidance: deviation with regard to their belief and their creed and moral conduct. So when the Sahābah were guided by the Revelation sent to Muhammad (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) just as Allaah willed, there appeared a group of people who were different, they went against the grain, they went against that which the majority of the people were upon. Not because of violence, because there was no violence in Makkah perpetrated by the Sahābah (rather they were the victims of violence and terror). The Sahābah (radiyallāhu ‘anhum) in Makkah were not commanded to raise the sword; they were strange, they were different, and thus they were oppressed due to that and due to their belief. This matter that they brought was strange to the people, they would say: These many gods that you worship, all of them are false deities, worship only One God, and He is Allaah the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. They found that strange, and they found that to be something that they could not tolerate, so they persecuted, tortured and opposed them. They spoke against them and they lied against those righteous believers, the Companions of the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam).
The point here being is that the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Islam will return as something strange”, just as it was in those times. Just as it began in the first place. So you can imagine the Sahābah (radiyallāhu ‘anhum), how they were in their time, and how they would have been perceived and how they would have been looked upon – and how Muhammad (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) would have been perceived through the eyes of the idolators, the people of Quraysh and his tribesmen. Thus, Islaam will return and be looked upon just as it was looked upon then: “just as it was in the beginning”. Islaam will return to being strange towards the end of time just as it was something strange at the beginning when Muhammad (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) received revelation.
So this will be a strangeness a second time around, and it will not be due to the absence of Muslims, just as the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said in an authentic narration, “The nations will soon summon one another to attack you as people when eating invite others to share their dish.” The Companions said to the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam), “Is it because we will be few in number on that day?” He said, “No, rather you will be great in number on that day, but you will be like the scum on top of the floodwater. Allah will remove the fear from the hearts of your enemies and cast a weakness into your hearts.” (Abu Dawood 4297, al-Albāni declared it saheeh)
This is the reality: when the strangeness comes back it is not because the Muslims will be few in number, this is not what is intended as you find from the end part of the hadith. Rather, the Muslims will be great in number, but the strangeness is in that which they carry of belief and methodology, that which they call to, that which they are upon of solidity, firmness and steadfastness just as the Prophet Muhammad (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) was in the face of all the opposition, the hatred and the boycotting. So, this is not due to their scarcity in number rather it is due to the small number of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah, not the small number of Muslims, meaning, amongst this huge body of Muslims there will be strangers. They are the Ghurabā – and that is because those strangers amongst the ranks of the Muslims will be small in number, Ahlus-Sunnah will be scarce, those who truly follow the way of the Prophet (ssalallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) will be minuscule compared to the opposers. They are upon the correct understanding of Islam, that which the Sahābah, the Companions were upon, they are the Ghurabā amongst those people that will be great in number – they are righteous people amongst the large body of wicked people. This is Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah, the Salafis. Wickedness here is explained as bid’ah, opposition to the obedience of Allaah and His Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam), and heresy and opposition to the Revelation, that which Muhammad (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) was sent with, and that which his disciples, the Sahābah (radiyallāhu ‘anhum) were upon.
The people surrounding the Ghurabā (Ahlus-Sunnah) follow their desires, they will hold opinions and viewpoints in opposition to that which the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) came with. They will rule and judge their affairs by their desires, and they will live their lives in accordance to those desires; they will follow heresies and innovations according to their opinions opposing that which Allah the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth revealed to them. So these people lead themselves astray, and they lead others astray.
The Ghurabā, may Allah bless you, are the Scholars and those who follow them. The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) mentioned their reward, “Toobā is for the Strangers”. And the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) mentioned in the hadith which is authentic upon him, that Tooba refers to Jannah, and it is said that it is a tree in Jannah as occurs in a hadith that is authentic that there is a tree in Jannah by the name of Tooba, and its trunk is made of gold. So “Tooba is for the Strangers” meaning: glad tidings of Jannah and the trees of Jannah for those who are the strangers, those who rectify the affairs when the people have made them corrupt. They are, as occurs in a narration, when the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) was asked: “Who are the Strangers?” He (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “They are [small] numbers extracted from the various nations and tribes.” Who are the Ghurabā? The Ghurabā are not isolated to one race, one continent, one nation or one tribe. The Ghurabā gather one here, two there, a few here and there; these are the Ghurabā, plucked from the people. So these are the Ghurabaa, they are the ones who hold fast to the Religion of Allaah, the Most High, in times of strangeness and he (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) specified glad tidings of Paradise for the Strangers due to their tremendous patience in holding to the truth, especially in later times before the hour is established.
That is because the one who holds to the truth, in times when Islaam and the Sunnah, the way of the Sahābah, has become scarce, has become difficult, has become strange, is like the one who is holding onto hot coals. How would you be my brothers and sisters, if I were to say to you put out your hand, and you see me with tongs holding a lump of glowing hot coal, and I say to you “put out your hand, and don’t move it as I place the red hot coal onto it.” How long will you keep your hand in place? Will you take grasp of that red hot ember? Would you hold onto it if you knew that by holding onto it that you will be from those who are saved?
For indeed the Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said in a hadith narrated by the Companion, Abu Tha’labah al-Khushani (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Ahead of you are days of patience, and having patience in that time is like holding onto hot coals,” and whomsoever holds onto the Religion in the times of fitnah and difficulty there is an immense reward – in times when the innovators are calling you away from the Sunnah, calling you to heresy and misguidance and innovation: whether it be from the direction of the Khawārij insurgent terrorists, the Iranian-backed Rāfidah, the rebellious political agitators, the Soofees, the grave-worshippers, the Ash’arees, the Qutubees, the Tableeghies or Ikhwānies. In times of fitnah holding onto the Deen is extremely important – and not being deceived by the opposers (the Mukhālifeen), and not being beguiled by them because of their large numbers – the Ghurabā are not large in number, and that’s why this hadith is there, to give heart and courage to the Ghurabā; to give you that enthusiasm so you do not lose hope and you do not lose heart. Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, aids the believers, even if they are few in number, and the Ghurabaa they are indeed few, and they are ahlus-Sunnah in truth.
The term Ghurabā has been used by ahlul-Bid’ah and the Khawārij in these times yet they are least deserving of the title and they are the furthest from fulfilling its true description – how can those who raise the sword against the Muslim rulers and spill the blood of innocents be referred to as Ghurabaa!? Islam did not come with this foul conduct that they ascribe to it – and all praise is due to Allah.
In reference to the times of hardship that were to come the Prophet (ﷺ) stated, “Ahead of you are days of patience, when holding onto the religion will be like holding onto hot coals, and whomsoever holds onto His religion in that time, then his reward will be the reward of fifty men.” The Companions said, “O Messenger of Allah, fifty times the worth of their reward?” He said, “Rather fifty from you.” Collected by Abu Dawood, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Mājah, Al-Hākim who declared it authentic, Adh-Dhahabi agreed and Al-Albāni declared it Saheeh in As-Saheehah (no. 494).
This is the reward of holding onto the religion in times of fitnah, when the misguided callers stand and call to the gates of Jahannam just as the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “There will be du’āt (callers) at the gates of Jahannam. Whoever responds to them, they will cast them into it.” (Bukhāri and Muslim). They call to misguidance, deviation and bid’ah ― and to the innovated sects, groups and parties. Why? Because they stand at the gates of the Hellfire such that you can’t even envision the Hellfire behind them. May Allāh protect us and keep us safe from that.
The Messenger of Allaah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) was asked, “Who are the strangers?” He replied (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam), that they are “Righteous people”, and he (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) stated in a narration, that they are are “people who rectify themselves”, rectify that which they themselves are upon. So they stick to the Sunnah, and they avoid misguidance, they obey Allah and His Messenger ― and likewise, they rectify others when they become corrupted. These are their characteristics. They are righteous amongst those that have much evil – when most of the people become corrupt in their religion, they are the ones who hold on steadfastly to their religion. They “rectify” meaning: they do not stay quiet, they do not stay silent, as the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Under no circumstances allow the fear of the people to prevent a man from speaking the truth if he is aware of it, sees it, or hears it.” (At-Tirmidhi, and authenticated by Al-Albāni, As-Silsilah, no. 168) And he said: “Enjoin good upon one another and forbid one another from doing evil.” (Ibn Mājah, no. 4014)
Do not be afraid of the people such that you stop practising, or you stop speaking. The fear of the people should not stop you from speaking the truth. Ahlul-Haqq and the people who know the truth and act upon the truth, they are not afraid of holding onto the truth and conveying it.
Even in these months that are in front of us now, and you will come to see when the conference season comes, the holidays come, you will see ahlul-bid’ah gathering the people in their conferences and mosques, the Hizbies (sectarian partisans) that gather the people. You will see the odd one and two even from those of you sitting here today, that you will be deceived by them or you will pretend that there is good in them and you will go to them, because this is the nature of people. Allaah (the Most High) does not give steadfastness except to those whom He loves and wishes good for, those who follow the footsteps of the Prophets (‘alaihimus-salaam). Allaah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Those that are tried the most are the Prophets, then those who resemble them, then those who resemble them.” The Prophets remained steadfast, and those who resemble them are steadfast, and because of their steadfastness they are tried and they are put to trial, and their life is difficult and hard, but they do not leave the obedience of Allaah. They do not give in to the doubts of bid’ah, and nor to the desires of sin.
Those of you who give in easily to the sins that call you, and those of you that give in to the doubts that are thrown at you, then both of you are upon a path of weakness which will only lead to your own destruction. So take heed, may Allaah bless you.
The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “There are no people amongst whom acts of disobedience are committed, and they are able to change them, and they do not do so except that soon Allah will punish all of them”
Thus, we have been commanded to enjoin the good and forbid the evil, and we do not care about numbers. What is going to happen on the Day of Resurrection? The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said in a hadith, “The nations were presented before me, I saw a Prophet, and I saw that he did not have except a handful of followers and I saw a Prophet and he had one follower, and I saw a Prophet and he had no followers.” (Bukhāri and Muslim) He (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) informed us that a Prophet would come forth on the Day of Judgment, and he was sent by Allaah to call his people to the worship of Allaah, and who listened to him? One man listened to him. Nobody else, no one else listened. A Prophet of Allaah, a Prophet will come on the Day of Judgment and he will have but two people with him! Does that affect the truth that they were upon? Does that change that they were upon the truth because you look at how many people were following him? Free is Allaah from all imperfections!
The truth is not measured by numbers, “The Jamā’ah is whatever is in accordance to the truth, even if you are on your own” as Ibn Mas’ood stated. The Jamā’ah is the people of truth, who follow the Qur’ān, who follow the Sunnah, who follow the Sahābah. We care not for the rabble that gather around Ahlul-bid’ah in their conferences and their gatherings.
So as I said before, go if you wish to go, we are here. And we will remain here with Allaah’s permission holding fast to the way of the Salafus-Saalih. Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah do not alter with time, they are upon the Sunnah in every age, in every time. A Prophet will come on the Day of Resurrection and he will have no one behind him, nobody listened to him, maybe they even killed him. As occurred with the Prophets of the Children of Isrā’eel, the likes of Zakariyyah and Yahyā and other than them (‘alaihimus-salām). Prophets that were chased, Prophets that were beheaded and Prophets that were tortured and killed. And there were Prophets against whom attempts were made to kill them like our Messenger Muhammad (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam).
Did these Prophets change? Did they alter? Did they concede? It does not matter, numbers do not matter my brothers and sisters, what is important is that you hold fast to the truth. And that truth, may Allaah bless you, does not alter, and the Ghurabaa they will remain in every age, in every era, and they will remain strong. For this reason, you find the scholars when they mention the Ghurabaa, they say the Ghurabā are one group – the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “There will never cease to remain a group from my Ummah manifestly upon the truth, unharmed by those who oppose them or forsake them.” Meaning this singular group will remain, from my nation, they will remain upon the truth manifest and aided, and that is the Saved Sect (Al-Firqat An-Nājiyah). And this group remains in every era, every age up until the decent of ‘Īsā Ibn Maryam (‘alaihis-salaam) or up until the Hour as occurs in some narrations. Imaam At-Tirmidhee said about the Aided Group (At-Tā’ifah Al-Mansoorah): “They are the people of knowledge and the people of narrations.” They are the Jamaa’ah, may Allaah bless you.
As occurred with the conferences of ahlul-bid’ah and the hizbiyyeen where a few of the brothers fell into confusion, and some of you, not many (alhamdulillāh) went. Most of the people here, they know. But some of you went and you were deceived, and they deceived you, and you fell into the traps of hizbiyyah, so this year do not be deceived, stand firm, stand strong, stand upon the Sunnah. Be like ‘Abdul-‘Aziz Ibn Bāz, Muhammad Ibn Sālih Al-Uthaymeen, Muhammad Nasirud-Deen al-Albāni, Muqbil Ibn Hādi, and be like Rabee’ al-Madkhali, Sālih al-Fawzān, ‘Ubaid al-Jābiri – no matter what happens to the environment around them, they are still upon the methodology (manhaj) of the Salaf. Remain steadfast my brothers and do not be deceived, do not be deceived by those who seek to deceive Ahlus-Sunnah.
May Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, keep us steadfast, upon the Sunnah up until we meet Him. And all praise is due to Allaah, the Lord of the worlds and may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon the Prophet, his Companions and followers.
Lecture by Abu Khadeejah Abdul-Wahid,
(Transcribed by Umm Abdillāh Al-Albāniyyah ― Adapted for easier and comprehensive reading.)