Types of Believers according to their Strangeness

Al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbalee

The believers in this category can be further divided into several categories. From among them is he whose heart is attached to Paradise. And from among them is he whose heart is attached to His Creator. And these are the ‘Aarifoon (those who have complete awareness of Allaah). Perhaps, the Commander of the Believers ‘Alee, radyAllaahu ‘anhu, was only indicating this category. Thus, the ‘Aarifoon have their bodies in this world while their hearts are with their Guardian (Allaah).

And from the Maraaseel of Al-Hasan, the Prophet, sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, reported that Allaah said: “The signs of purity is that the heart of the servant be attached to Me. So if it is that way, then he will not forget under any condition. And if it is that way, I will bless him with preoccupation of (his time with) Me in order that he will not forget Me. So if he does not forget Me, I will change his heart. So when he talks, he will talk for My Sake and when he remains silent, he will remain silent for My Sake. He is the one whom I have given assistance from Myself.”

The people of this condition are the strangers amongst the strangers and their strangeness is the greatest of strangeness.

Indeed, the strangeness in the sight of those who have treaded its path is of two types: the apparent and the hidden.

The Apparent:

The strangeness of those who correct themselves and others in the presence of evildoers The strangeness of the truthful in front of the people of hypocrisy and those who show off.

The strangeness of the scholars in the presence of the people who are ignorant and possess bad manners The strangeness of the scholars seeking the next life in the presence of the scholars of this worldly life who are those deprived of the fear and humility (of Allaah).

And the strangeness of the ascetics in the presence of those who turn towards what depletes and does not remain.

The Hidden:

The strangeness of one’s desires – and it is the strangeness of the ‘Aarifoon amidst the entire creation, even including the scholars, the worshippers and the ascetics. For verily, these (three) stop at where their knowledge, worship and asceticism take them. But these individuals only stop when they reach He whom they worship and their hearts do not swerve away from Him.

This is what Abu Sulaimaan Ad-Daaraanee used to say concerning their attributes: “Their longing is not like the longing of the people. And their desire is for the Hereafter contrary to the desires of the people. And their supplication is not like the supplication of the people.”

And he (rahimahullaah) was once asked concerning what the best of deeds was, so he began to weep and said: “It is that He takes over your heart and so you are not seen wanting from this world or the next one, anything other than Him.”

Yahyaa Ibn Mu’aadh (rahimahullaah) said: “The Zaahid is the stranger of this world and the ‘Aarif is the stranger of the Hereafter.”

He is indicating that the one who abandons the worldly life is a stranger amidst the people of this world, while the one who is aware of Allaah is a stranger amidst the people of the Hereafter. Thus, neither the worshippers nor the ascetics will be able to recognize him.

Verily, only those who are similar to him and whose desires are similar to his desires will be able to recognize him. Or perhaps all of these strange qualities or most or some of them will be gathered in the ‘Aarif (one who is aware of Allaah). So let no one ask about his strangeness at that point. Thus the ‘Aarifoon are the foremost to the people of this world and the Hereafter.

Yahyaa Ibn Mu’aadh (rahimahullaah) said: “The ‘Aabid (worshipper) is well-known (amongst the people), while the ‘Aarif (knowledgeable one) is hidden (unknown).”

And perhaps the condition of the ‘Aarif is hidden from even himself, due to the concealment of his condition and the bad thoughts he holds for himself.

Ibraaheem Ibn Adham (rahimahullaah) said: “I have not seen this matter except in a man who did not know that about himself nor did the people know him.”

In the hadeeth of Sa’ad, radyAllaahu ‘anhu, the Prophet, sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:

“Verily, Allaah loves the servant who is fearfully submissive of Allaah (i.e. has Taqwaa), who is prosperous and who is concealed.” 38

And in the hadeeth of Mu’aadh Ibn Jabal, radyAllaahu ‘anhu, the Prophet, sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Verily, Allaah loves the righteous, those who possess Taqwaa, those who are concealed. When they are absent, they are not missed. And when they are present, they are not recognized.” 39

These individuals are the roads of guidance and the lampposts of knowledge.

‘Alee Ibn Abee Taalib, radyAllaahu ‘anhu, said: “Toobaa (good) is for every servant who does not know the people nor do the people know him, yet Allaah knows him, to Himself, being well pleased (with him). These are the stars of guidance. Every darkening evil has been removed from them.”

So these individuals are the most specific (i.e. few) of strangers. And they are the ones who flee from trials for the sake of their Religion. They are the ones who extract themselves from their families and who will be resurrected with ‘Eesaa Bin Maryam. And they are in the presence of the inhabitants of the Hereafter, more honorable than flaming torches. So what is their condition amidst the inhabitants of this world? Their condition is for the most part concealed from these two groups (inhabitants of this world and the next).

End notes: 

38. Saheeh Muslim (4/2277)

39. This hadeeth was reported by Al-Haakim in his Al-Mustadrak (1/4) and he authenticated Adh-Dhahabee agreed.


Kashf-ul-Kurbah fee wasfi Haali Ahlil-Ghurbah (Alleviating Grievances in Describing the Condition of the Strangers) by the great Imaam, Al- Haafidh Zayn-ud-Deen Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbalee, rahimahullaah and Translated by Isma’eel Alarcon


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