The Strangeness of the Sunnah and its Adherents

Filed under: Sunnah — Abu Muslim

Ibn Rajabal Hanbali

Concerning the statement of the Prophet (May the Peace and Blessings of Allaah be upon him):

“Islaam began as something strange and will return to being strange, as it began”

Imaam Al-Awzaa’ee (May Allaah be pleased with him) said:

“As for this, then it does not mean that Islaam will go away, but rather it means that the Ahl-us-Sunnah [all the Muslims who strictly follow the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, learn it, act upon it, enforce it and teach it to others. They consist of the scholars, their students and those that follow in their footsteps] will go away, up to the point that there will not remain in a land, any from them except one person.”

Based on this understanding, there can be found in the statements of the Salaf much praise for the Sunnah and their describing it as being strange, and describing its adherents and followers as being few. Al-Hasan Al-Basree (May Allaah be pleased with him) used to say to his companions:

“Oh Ahl-us-Sunnah! Be gentle with one another and may Allaah have mercy on you. For indeed, you are from amongst the fewest of people.”

Yoonus Ibn ‘Ubaid (May Allaah be pleased with him) said:

“There is not a thing more stranger than the Sunnah. And what is more stranger than it, is the one who knows it.”

Sufyaan Ath-Thawree (May Allaah be pleased with him) said:

“Treat the Ahl-us-Sunnah kindly, for verily, they are strangers.”

The understanding of the term “Sunnah” to these scholars, was the way of the Prophet (May the Peace and Blessings of Allaah be upon him) – that which he and his companions were upon – free from Doubts (Ash-Shubuhaat) and Desires (Ash-Shahawaat). Due to this, Al-Fudail Ibn ‘Iyaad (May Allaah be pleased with him) used to say:

“Ahl-us-Sunnah is he who knows what is entering his stomach from the halaal.”

That is because the consumption of halaal is from the greatest aspects of the Sunnah, which the Prophet (May the Peace and Blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his companions were upon. Then it remained the custom of the majority of the later scholars, from the scholars of hadeeth and other fields, that the Sunnah consisted of what was free from Doubts in regards to Creed. This was especially the case with issues such as the belief in Allaah, His angels, His books, His messengers, the Last Day, and other issues such as Qadar and the merits of the Sahaabah. They compiled literary works concerning this knowledge and named them books of “Sunnah”. This knowledge was only labeled with the name “Sunnah”, because its significance was tremendous and all those who opposed it were on the brink of destruction. And as for the complete Sunnah, then it is the path that is free and safe from Doubts and Desires, as has been stated by Al-Hasan, Yoonus Ibn ‘Ubaid, Sufyaan, Al-Fudail and others besides them. Due to this, its adherents are described as strange because of their small number and rarity in the Last Days. This is why it has been mentioned in some of the previously stated reports that they are:

“A righteous people surrounded by people abounding in much evil. Those who disobey them are greater than those who obey them.”

In this is an indication of the smallness of their amount in number and in the amount of those who answer and accept their call. We also are made aware of the greatness in number of those who oppose them and disobey them. That is why it is reported in numerous ahaadeeth, praise for the one who sticks firmly to his Religion during the Last Days. And that he who does so will be like one who holds tightly onto hot pieces of coal. And that the one who acts upon it, will receive fifty times the reward more than those before him. This is because he will not find any supporters in doing good deeds. These strangers are of two categories: The first of them are those who rectify themselves when the people have become corrupt. The second category contains those who rectify what the people have corrupted of the Sunnah. And this (latter one) is the most highest and virtuous of the two categories.

The strangeness of the believer during the Last Days

At-Tabaraanee and others transmitted with a chain of narration that has some speculation to it from the hadeeth of Abu Umaamah that the Prophet (May the Peace and Blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

“Verily, for every matter there is a progression and a regression. And verily from the progression of this Religion is what you used to be upon from blindness and ignorance and what Allaah sent me with. And verily from the progression of this Religion is that the clan was taught (Islaam) by its family members, to the point that there was not found amongst them (the tribes) anyone except for one evildoer or two evildoers. So these two were oppressed and degraded. When they want to speak, they are restrained, subdued and persecuted. And verily from the regression of this Religion is that the tribe acts harshly against its family members, to the point that there is not seen amongst them anyone except one faqeeh (one with understanding) or two faqeehs. Thus they will both be oppressed and degraded. If they speak and command the good and forbid the evil, they are restrained, subdued and persecuted. And they will not find any supporters or helpers in that matter.”

Thus, the believer who is knowledgeable of the Sunnah and who possesses understanding of the Religion, is described in this hadeeth as being one who during the Last Days – at the point of its corruption – will be oppressed, debased and not able to find any helpers or supporters. At-Tabaraanee also reported with a weak chain of narration on the authority of Ibn Mas’ood t that the Prophet (May the Peace and Blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

“And verily from its signs (i.e. the Hour) is that the believer will be in the sight of his tribe, more lower (in status) than the young sheep.”

And it is recorded in the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad that ‘Ubaadah Ibn As-Saamit said to one of his companions:

“It is imminent that should your life be prolonged for you, you will see a man who recites the Qur’aan upon the tongue of Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allaah be upon him) repeating it and displaying it, allowing its halaal and forbidding its haraam. He will then be lowered in his status and his position will be neglected amongst you and considered just as the position of a dead donkey.”

And similar to this is the saying of Ibn Mas’ood:

“There will come upon the people a time in which the believer will become lower than the bondmaid.”

Indeed the believer will only be debased in the Last Days due to his strangeness in front of the evildoers from among the people of Doubts and Desires. Every one of them will hate him and abuse him because of his opposing of their way by following his way, and because of the seeking of his goal over their goal, and because of his evidences over what is with them. And when Dawood At-Taa’ee died, Ibn As-Samaak said:

“Indeed Dawood looked with his heart at what was in front of him and the sight of his heart overtook the sight of his eyes. So it was as if he no longer saw what you were looking at, and as if you could not see what he was looking at. And you were amazed at him, and he was amazed at you. It became strange to you that he was alive in the middle of death.”

And from among them was he whose own family and children would hate him due their loathing of his condition. ‘Umar Ibn ‘Abd-il-‘Azeez once heard his wife say: “May Allaah relieve us from you.” So he said: “Ameen.” Our Salaf (predecessors), during their lifetimes, would mainly describe the believer with strangeness as has preceded in their narrations. And from the words of Ahmad Ibn ‘Aasim Al-Andaakee, who was one of the biggest scholars at the time of Sulaimaan Ad-Daaraanee, was:

“Indeed, I have reached from all the times, a time when Islaam has returned to being strange as it began. In it, the description of truth has returned to being strange as it began. If you were to turn to the scholar, you would find him being tested with the love of this worldly life and the love for honor and authority. And if you were to turn to the worshipper, you would find him ignorant in his worship, deceived a face fallen victim to his enemy Iblees. He has mounted to the highest levels of worship while being ignorant of how to perform them so how can he be at that level? And the rest of the people are from among the ignorant followers, simple-minded and quick to follow a way, as if he were a wolf looking to steal a sheep, or a hungry lion, or a fox on the prowl. This is the description of the people of your time from the carriers of knowledge and the Qur’aan and the callers of wisdom.”

This was the description of the people of his time. So how much has the situation increased and the crisis become greater after it. Indeed, it has reached a point that would have never been thought of nor imagined.

Clinging onto the Sunnah during the time of affliction

At-Tabaraanee reported from the hadeeth of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (May the Peace and Blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

“The one who clings onto my Sunnah at the time of the corruption of my Ummah will receive the reward of a martyr.”

And Abu Ash-Shaikh Al-Asbahaanee reported with a chain connected to Al-Hasan (Al-Basree), that he (May Allaah be pleased with him) said:

“If a man from the first generation of Muslims were sent (to us) today, he would not recognize anything from Islaam except for this prayer!”

Then he (May Allaah be pleased with him) said:

“I swear by Allaah, that if he were to live to the time of these evils, he would see the innovator calling unto his innovation, or the individual involved with the worldly life calling unto his worldly affairs. Then Allaah would protect him and his heart would long for that which the Salaf As-Saalih (pious predecessors) were upon. And so he would follow their footsteps and act according to their ways. For him there will be a great reward.”

Ibn Al-Mubaarak reported from Al-Fudail from Al-Hasan that he once mentioned the rich and extravagant man who has authority and who amasses wealth claiming that he has no end in it. And then he mentioned the misguided innovator who sets out against the Muslims with an unsheathed sword, changing the meaning of what Allaah has revealed concerning the disbelievers in favor of the Muslims. Then he said:

“Your Sunnah, and I swear by the One besides whom there is nothing worthy of worship except Him, is between these two: between the self-sufficient one and the hard-hearted, the extravagant one and the ignorant. So have patience upon it, for indeed, Ahl-us-Sunnah are from amongst the fewest of people, those who do not fall into the category of the extravagant ones in their excessiveness nor do they fall with the innovators in the following of their desires. Rather, they bear with patience upon their Sunnah until they meet their Lord. So be that way, if Allaah wills!”

Then he (May Allaah be pleased with him) said:

“I swear by Allaah, that if a man were to reach these evils, he would hear someone say: ‘Come over to me!’, and someone else say: ‘Come over to me!’ So he would say: ‘No! I do not want anything but the Sunnah of Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allaah be upon him)’, seeking after it and asking questions on it. Indeed this one will be given a great reward. So be that way, if Allaah wills!”

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