Good Tidings to the Strangers


Good Tidings to the Strangers



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 to 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)

I look around and I see an increase in strangers, people who have left their homes, their families, and their old lives, in pursuit of greener pastures. The problem is that when they arrive, they find too many deserts. The people they migrate to may look and sound like Muslims, but so much is warped.

Lately, I feel more and more like a stranger. I now live in a Muslim land, but even here, I must isolate myself. OK. There are a great many advantages. I wake up to the Adhan; my dress is not considered strange or obvious; most haram is kept hidden; and there is a masjid on every corner. I still consider it better than any of the alternatives, but something is missing.

Trust me. I did not come to the Muslim lands thinking I was going to find jannah. I am a very pragmatic woman. I recognize that becoming a Muslim does not make one suddenly become perfect, nor does being born into a Muslim family. I guess what I was not prepared for was how much haram had become commonplace – acceptable – no big deal (a’adi – as the locals like to call it).

Haram existed even in the Medina of Rasul Allah. I know this. There is no way to stop people from doing haram, if someone really want to do it, because they will always find a way. But, I am talking about attitudes. I am talking about the feeling that the haram is the norm and the halal is strange.

One small example. Whenever there is a wedding, music is the norm. You are to expect a band or a D.J. because it is no big deal – especially since so many “sheikhs” say it is halal. This does not surprise me as the Prophet already warned us:

Narrated Abu 'Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash'ari: that he heard the Prophet saying, "From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful... Sahih Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 69, Number 494v.

So, since we knew this would happen, why am I surprised? Well, usually, when people are warned, they have enough sense to recognize when the event happens. It’s one thing to do haram another when haram becomes the norm and the one who refuses to participate in it is actually condemned, as is happening now.

It is even worse when the one who refuses to participate is criticized for it. At a recent wedding, when music was played, I left the room, to wait for it to be over. One insightful sister asked me why I was “hiding out”. I explained, and her response was – “…and it was OK when they played Arabic stuff? (the duff and voice)? It’s all the same.” I tried to explain the hadiths making the duff and the voice an exception, and she walked out – angry with me for not participating in the haram.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Women who wear hijab are being refused jobs by Muslims in Muslim countries unless they remove their hijabs. Men with beards are being portrayed as backwards, dumb and clumsy. The opposite of what Allah and His messenger commanded us is becoming the norm and the practicing Muslim is slowly being ostracized. At a recent interview, the uncovered woman who interviewed me was literally bending and twisting – aligning herself with my eyes - and saying, “Are you in there somewhere?” She was attempting to make me feel inferior because I opted to obey Allah while she did not.

Another lady tried to rationalize to herself that I covered myself in this way to please my husband. I quickly broke that bubble, explaining in plain language that this was Allah’s right over me, and I do it purely for His sake, not for earthly gain. She found it hard to believe that anyone would do this voluntarily, and she was born and raised as a Muslim in a Muslim country.

Another lady, who wears abiya and face veil was telling me how quickly she would rip it all off if she had the chance to go to America. It seems, culture and a’eb (shame) were her primary motivators.

As I said, I knew that there were people like this, so their existence did not shock me – what shocked me is that they have become the norm. When I went to Saudi from America several years ago, I was disappointed by the fact that a Palestinian woman and I were the only ones on the plane covering ourselves. My disappointment increased when one “helpful” Saudi lady told me I did not have to put this veil thing on yet. And disappointment turned to grief when, as we approached Saudi, a row of women lined up to cover themselves with abiyas and face veils.

Did we reach the limits of Allah’s sight or just the limits of their faith? Was there any faith to begin with or just a fear of the consequences of breaking the law? Don’t get me wrong, I have met many great Saudi women, but unfortunately, none of them were on this particular flight.

Again, I return to the hadith, “…'Islam began as something strange, and it will revert to being strange …” and I see how close we are to fulfilling it’s prediction. There is a well known poem about what we would do it the Prophet were to visit us today. It is a poignant insight into how far we have strayed from his example. I wonder how we would treat the Prophet himself, if he came to our masjids, much less our homes.

In one masjid I used to attend, a brother stood up at Jumah and explained why it was haram to celebrate Halloween. The Imam agreed with him, so he suggested that the children be brought on the day of Halloween to the masjid to enjoy cake and candy so they would not feel “left out” on this holiday.

My question is – what would the Prophet have said about this compromise?

How many of our masjids are paid for with riba? How many of our masjids are filled with women wearing the headpiece accompanied by the clothing of men (pants) or worse yet, not even bothering to wear the khymar? How many of our masjids are homes to bida, gheebah and/or shirk? How many of us would be proud of Jumah Khutbah at our masjids? Not many.

I challenge anyone. Make a composite of the Prophet, his life and his characteristics. Delete those that would make his identity obvious. Present it to Muslims and ask if this man is a normal Muslim, a fundamentalist or a fanatic. Don’t be shocked by how many people label him as a fanatic.

Trust me, the Prophet would be considered the strangest of us all, the most fanatic. I can only say this: Good tidings to the strangers….. Good tidings to Rasul Allah.

Allah guide us all.