to be a "Stranger"
by Amber Rehman
Abdullah ibn Masud, said: "the Prophet (saw) said 'Islam began
as something strange, and it will revert to being strange as it
was in the beginning, so good tidings for the strangers.' Some asked,
'Who are the strangers?' He said, 'The ones who break away from
their people (literally, 'tribes') for the sake of Islam.'"
(Sahih Muslim, Ibn Majah)
There is an incredible lesson in the above Hadith, which we need
to repeat to ourselves over and over again. As a 20-year-old Muslima,
I find my practice of Islam feeling stranger by the day. There is
a norm that we have to live up to in this society, and if we don't
meet it, we will be called strangers.
Did amazing in school and could talk my way out of anything
When I was in high school, I was an average, overachieving teenager,
with a serious superficial streak. I did amazing in school, could
talk my way out of anything, and had to look as though I belonged
on the modelling runways, that were called the high
A great education and an even better career lay ahead of me. I was
the master of my own destiny, what more could I ask for?
I was no longer in control
While I was planning my Sweet 16 bash, my grandfather, who I loved
a lot, fell ill and passed away.
Suddenly I wasn't in control. I saw someone moving on to the unknown.
I had never been so near death before.
The realization hit then, that the tangible wasn't the ultimate
reality. I could no longer find reason, purpose or consolation in
good grades, praise or even good looks.
Everything lost its meaning for I saw my grandfather, without his
worldly possessions, in a shroud. The only things he could take
with him were his deeds and intentions.
Everything finally made sense, for as I prayed for Allah to give
him ease in his grave, I thought of mine, as I prayed to meet him
again in the Akhirah, I had to think of preserving mine.
All I had ever strived for fell to pieces.
As the Qur'an replaced my pointless and juicy novels, I realized
that of all creation, Allah has created us with a conscious, and
free will. Why would we let our free will work against us?
Family, friends, and fortune are all relative, they would go as
easy as they came. We had to take everything as a teacher, and learn
to do better for the sake of our souls.
Could not be alone with myself
With all of this it became apparent, that living with the norm of
society, I wasn't allowed to be alone with myself. I had to be surrounded
with friends, or be reading some novel or other, and the music was
always blaring in the background.
Silence was deafening, and noise was the only peace. To communicate
with Allah, and to pray, I felt strangeness when there was silence
accompanied by peace as my heart turned to my Lord.
Working to please myself, would've only given me peace in this life,
but just the mere intention of doing things for the sake of Allah,
would preserve this life and the next.
Other young Muslims who were once with me have lost the strangeness
Five years have passed since that epiphanous age of mine and now
I find my brothers and sisters, who had commenced the search with
me are now leaving the Deen.
The folds of Islam are not satisfactory any more. When I ask them
why their only answer is that Islam did not give anything back to
them as a social system as a community. It did not feed their needs
and their spiritual thirst. It had to do with the harshness of other
I wonder about this a lot since it affects my faith as well as the
faith of those who say it. Even though Allah has created us and
has preferred us as a Jam'aah the Prophet (peace and blessings be
upon him) still acknowledged the time when there would be people
struggling alone for righteousness.
And the only answer I can come up with is that this world is mostly
a sowing ground. We can't reap everything here. That's why there
is a day of accountability which will restore justice and mercy.
The strangeness does go away
Now as I struggle to maintain my Islam, I find practicing my faith
in this world feels strange only so long as I surround myself with
worldly things and people. When I turn to Allah's creation, I feel
the strangeness fade away.
If nature, as it is subservient to the Will of the Creator, has
harmony when the wind blows and rustles its leaves, I don't see
why our souls and hearts can't move to the same command.
In our time, and our part of the world, if nothing is strange and
nothing immoral, I guess it's only good then, if we feel connected
to the strange.
'Good tidings for the strangers.'