Aspiring to be a Stranger

  1. Ibn ‘Umar reported that,‘The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) took hold of me and said, “Ibn ‘Umar: be in this world like a stranger or somebody passing on his way; and count yourself amongst the inhabitants of the grave.’”
    Ibn ‘Umar said, ‘So when you awake do not expect to be alive by nightfall. When you go to sleep do not expect to be alive by morning. Take benefit of your health before your frailness and from your life before your death. Servant of Allah, what will your name be tomorrow?’5
  2. Ibn ‘Umar reported that, ‘The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) grabbed me by my shin or took hold of me and said, ‘“Abdullah: be in this world like a stranger and count yourself amongst the inhabitants of the grave.’”
    Mujahid said, “Abdullah said to me, “When you awake do not expect to be alive by nightfall. When you go to sleep do not expect to be alive by morning.Take from this world that which would aid your Hereafter.’”
    5 Bukhari #6416. The meaning is not that his name will change, but will he be called by the title ‘Miserable’ or ‘Happy.’ Cf. Ibn Hajr, Fath, vol. 11, p. 235.
  3. Ibn TJmar reported that, ‘The Messenger of Allah|(ﷺ) took hold of me and said, “Worship Allah as if you see Him and be in this world like someone passing on his way.”’
    Abu Bakr (Abdullah ibn Humayd quoted me the following lines of poetry,
    O heedless one sitting in the shade of joy and pleasure!
    Travel through this world as a stranger!
    Ever count your soul amongst those already deceased.
    Shun this world and cling not to this Abode of Deceit.
    If someone were to ask what the meaning of his|(ﷺ) saying, “Be in this world like a stranger or somebody passing on his way” was, we would say in reply, and Allah knows best:
    This is a reference to someone who is resident, someone whom Allah, Mighty and Magnificent, has blessed with wealth and children that greatly please him. He has a beautiful wife, a large house, nice clothes and good food to eat. While in this state, it so happens that he must undertake a journey and he does so, this journey stretches on and on and he loses all that he previously used to take delight in and ends up a stranger in a strange land. He feels the bite of loneliness and desolation in this land and is subjugated to humiliation and weakness. He ardently desires to return to his city and so renews his journey with the single goal of completing it; the food he takes is the minimum that would sustain him and the clothes he takes are such as would suffice to cover him properly. Therefore the most he takes with him is his bag of provisions and water bottle such as would allow him to endure the hardship of the journey; all the while his heart is longing for the joy that lies in store for him when he finally returns. He bears any harm he faces and meets hardship and tribulation with patience. By night he sleeps in valleys and by day he takes his siesta in any mountain crevice or under a tree, on the bare earth. Whenever he sees something he desires, he does not allow himself to be allured by it, instead exhorting his soul to patience and reminding it that all the delight it desires lies waiting at his destination. When the journey becomes straitened he cries in anxiety and lets out deep apprehensive sighs only to swallow them when taking lesson from his state. He does not behave coarsely to one who is coarse to him, he does not take retribution against those who harm him, he does not pay attention to those who behave ignorandy with him, all the affairs of this world have become insignificant to him, his only care being to reach his destination. It is said to the intelligent Muslim who desires the Hereafter and detests this world: be in this world like this stranger who only looks to this world for that which will suffice him and leaves plenitude and luxury. When you do this, truly will you be a stranger, someone who is but passing on his way, someone who desires the Hereafter and looks down on this world. If you do this, you will see the praiseworthy outcome of your bearing with patience all the hardship and adversity of your journey. Allah knows best. Whoever wishes to attain the levels of the strangers, let him bear with patience the harm he will meet from his parents, his wife, his brothers and relatives. If one were to ask, ‘How can they harm me seeing as I am beloved to them and they to me?’ It is said in reply:
    You have opposed them in their love of this world and their great desire for it. They, in order to attain this world, do not care what they lose of their religion; if you follow them in this, they will love you; if you oppose them and instead traverse the path to the Hereafter by following the truth, they will behave coarsely towards you. Your parents will be pained and angry at your actions, your wife will vexed at you and seek separation, and your brothers and relatives will rarely meet you. You will be, amongst them, saddened and disturbed, and it is then that you will look at yourself with the eye of a stranger and you will understand the circumstances of all strangers like yourself, you will feel isolated from your brothers and relatives, and you will find yourself alone traversing the path to Allah, the Noble. Be patient for just a few days, bear the ignominy of this world for a few minutes, partake scarcely of this lowly life, you will find that this leads you to the Abode of well-being, its land is pure, its gardens resplendent, its fruits bountiful and its rivers sweet; therein will you have all the soul desires and all the eye takes delight in, therein will you abide for eternity.

يُسْقَوْنَ مِنْ رَحِيقٍ مَخْتُومٍ

خِتَامُهُ مِسْكٌ ۚ وَفِي ذَٰلِكَ فَلْيَتَنَافَسِ الْمُتَنَافِسُونَ

وَمِزَاجُهُ مِنْ تَسْنِيمٍ

عَيْنًا يَشْرَبُ بِهَا الْمُقَرَّبُونَ


  • “They are given the choicest sealed wine to drink, whose seal is musk – let people with aspiration aspire to that! – mixed with tasnim: a fountain at which those brought near will drink.”5
    5 al-Mutaffifin (83): 25-28

  • Goblets filled with a drink from an overflowing spring will be circulated amongst them,
    “…it does not give them any headache nor does it leave them stupefied. And any fruit they specify and any bird-meat they desire; and dark-eyed maidens like hidden pearls – as recompense for what they did.”6
    Muhammad ibn Mu(awiyah al-Sufi reports that a man from amongst the inhabitants of Khurasan told him that,‘Allah, Mighty
    and Magnificent, revealed to one of the Prophets, “If you wish to meet Me in the Holy Realm, bein this world despondent and alone, like a lone bird flying in bleak regions of the earth, eating off trees and sleeping in its nest.”’
    6 al-Wdqi’ah (56): 19-24
  • taken from:

The JOURNEY of the STRANGERS
being a translation of his Kashfu’l-Kurbah fi Wasfi Halt Ahli’l-Ghurbah


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