Alleviating Grievances in Describing the Condition of the Strangers – Ibn Rajab

AUTHOR: Al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbalee
TRANSLATED: Al-Ibaanah Book Publishing

About the Book:

This book is a translation of a short treatise entitled “Kashf-ul-Kurbah fee wasfi Haali Ahlil-Ghurbah[Alleviating Grievances in Describing the Condition of the Strangers] written by the great Imaam, Al-Haafidh Zayn-ud-Deen Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbalee, may Allaah have mercy on him.

In this treatise, Ibn Rajab discusses the topic of the “Strangers”, listing the many ahaadeeth of the Prophet reported about them. They are given this name because they will be strange during the Last Days, due to their adherence to the Sunnah and to the Way of the first Muslims, the Salaf As-Saalih. So just as those who first accepted Islaam at the hands of Muhammad were considered strangers to their families and close ones, then indeed, those who adhere to the Sunnah in the last Days, when innovations and misguidance are rampant and widespread, will also be considered strangers to their families and close ones, not to mention the disbelievers.

It must be noted that Ibn Rajab uses several weak ahaadeeth in this treatise, which have been pointed out. Also, towards the end of his treatise, he begins to divert from the topic by going deep into the issue of inner strangeness, sometimes focusing on aspects that have no basis in Islaam, such as talk about wajdkhulwah and so on. These were Sufi concepts that were prevalent during his time. Consequently, the last pages of the treatise, which included several quotes and lines of poetry, were left out from this translation. However, the omission of this last part of the book does not detract from the overall meaning and intended theme of the treatise, and Allaah knows best. For the most part, the treatise is of great importance and is often referenced by the scholars, and that is what we hope to convey to the readers. All footnotes were added by the translator based on research and the use of several sources. We ask Allaah to accept this work as a sincere act and that He place it in our scale of good deeds on the Day of Judgement. And we ask that He benefit all the Muslims generally with it

Quotes from the Book:
“So when the Prophet was sent forth and began calling to Islaam, his call was not answered at first instance except by a few from each tribe. And those that did accept his call feared from their tribes and families lest they should be subjected to extreme punishment. And they would suffer while being patient with that for the sake of Allaah. Due to their weakness, the (first) Muslims would be frightened by every opposing force and they would flee for the sake of their Religion to far-off lands as was shown when they migrated twice to the land of Abysinnia, and then when they migrated to Madeenah. And there was from among them, he who was tortured for the sake of Allaah and he who was killed. So those who entered into the fold of Islaam, back in those days – they were the strangers. Then Islaam spread after the Hijrah to Madeenah and its followers became victorious over every group. After that, the people entered into the Religion of Allaah in multitudes. And Allaah perfected the Religion for them and completed His favor upon them. Then the Messenger of Allaah died, and the Muslims were upon the utmost level due to their firm adherence to their Religion. They were powerful and dominant, and they continued to be upon this condition during the times (i.e. khilaafah) of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. Then the Devil unleashed his evil plot upon the Muslims and discord fell between them. And the trials of Doubts (Shubuhaat) and Desires(Shahawaat) became widespread. These two evils did not stop increasing at all until the plan of the Devil was established and the majority of the creation obeyed him.”

“Concerning the statement of the Prophet: ‘Islaam began as something strange and will return to being strange, as it began’, Imaam Al-Awzaa’ee (rahimahullaah) said: ‘As for this, then it does not mean that Islaam will go away, rather it means that Ahlus-Sunnah will go away, up to the point that there will not remain any from them in a land except one person.’”

“Based on this understanding, there can be found much praise in the statements of the Salaf for the Sunnah and their describing it as being strange, and describing its adherents and followers as being few. Al-Hasan Al-Basree (rahimahullaah) used to say to his companions: ‘Oh Ahlus-Sunnah! Be gentle with one another, and may Allaah have mercy on you, for indeed, you are from amongst the fewest of people.’ Yoonus bin ‘Ubayd (rahimahullaah) said: ‘There is not a thing more strange than the Sunnah. But what is stranger than it, is the one who knows it.’ Sufyaan Ath-Thawree (rahimahullaah) said: ‘Treat Ahlus-Sunnah kindly, for verily, they are strangers.’”

“And from the words of Ahmad bin ‘Aasim Al-Andaakee, who was one of the biggest scholars at the time of Sulaymaan 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 and fallen victim to his enemy Iblees (i.e. the Devil). 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!”

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