The Commander of the faithful narrated from the Holy Prophet,
أن الإسلام بدأ غريباً وسيعود غريباً كما بدأ فطوبى للغرباء
قيل و مَن هم يا رسول الله؟
قال: الّذين يَصلُحونَ اِذا فَسَدَ الناسُ انّهُ لا وحشَةَ و لا غربةَ على مؤمنٍ و ما مؤمنٍ يموتُ في غربَةٍ بكَت عليهِ الملائكةُ رحمةً له حيثُ قلّت بواكيه و الا فُسِح له في قبره بنورٍ يتلألاُ من حيثُ دفِنَ الى مسقطِ رأسِه
Surely Islam emerged as a stranger and will return back to that state of estrangement the way it was at its outset. So, blessed be the strangers. It was asked, “And who are they, O’ Prophet of Allah?” He responded, “They are those who remain righteous while the masses become corrupt and they do not fear or feel estrangement. And if such a believer were to die in the state of estrangement, the angels of the heavens would cry over him when there are only a few people to cry over him. And his grave will be filled with a light that shines from the place of his burial till the place of his birth.
The Holy Prophet said that Islam came into this world as a stranger and will, in the near future, once again become a stranger the way it was in the beginning. What is being referred to as the initial period of the estrangement of Islam could be the first and second century after the migration of the Holy Prophet. Although the people of that time called themselves Muslims, and the government was an Islamic one by name, its true nature was unIslamic. Without a doubt, real Islam could only be found through the teachings of the Ahlulbayt, but it was those same teachings which were alienated and forcefully concealed. This initial period of alienation and estrangement of Islam clearly occurred during the Ummayyad and Abbassid dynasties.
The next portion of this narration says, “blessed are the strangers”, but who are they?
The strangers are those people that remained steadfast and firm upon the teachings of the real Islam during the estrangement period of the religion even though they were living in a society that generally ran at full speed towards corruption. These individuals persisted in upholding the real principles of the religion. They remained righteous and were not attracted to the movement of falsehood. Although we did indicate that the period that is being referred to in the narration is most likely alluding to the Ummayyad and Abbasid dynasties, the contents of this narration hold true for all times. In almost every era, while the wider society lived unIslamically, there has always been a group that remained committed and lived as virtuous strangers despite the fact that others were moving towards a corrupted life. This is the case today as well. Whether in non-Muslim lands or in Islamic lands, there are always powers of falsehood pulling people towards corruption and depravity, and there are many who are attracted to that side. However, the individuals about whom the Prophet said, “blessed are the strangers”, do not follow the crowd. They are not like flags that wave in the wind, but rather like mountains that stand their ground. If these pillars remain strong and steadfast, even if the ceiling comes crashing down, a new one can be built on top of them. They are the ones that keep the society strong and are truly sources of hope.
The narration goes on to say that these believers are not afraid of loneliness or becoming strangers. It is not scary for them to be left alone on the path. They know that the value of their steadfastness is so high that their deaths will cause the angels to weep. And thus, the strangers are certainly heavily tested but, as a result, are surely blessed.