What did the Prophet (PBUH) mean by the hadith "Islam initiated as something strange and it would revert as being strange"?

The Details of the Question

What did the Prophet (PBUH) mean by the hadith "Islam initiated as something strange and it would revert as being strange"?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Islam emerged in a period and place when individuals were worse than monsters in terms of fierceness and when the community degenerated

The fortunate group that gathered around the Prophet (pbuh) was found odd and strange by the people living then and they were seen as people that came from another realm. They were seen as strangers because their number was small, their deeds were not in compliance with the community they lived in and they avoided the people who did not accept the truth. Eventually, some Companions had to leave their hometown with the permission of the Prophet (pbuh) in order to practice their religion and fulfill the duty of spreading Islam; thus, their strangeness and being away from their relatives increased. Afterwards, the migration to Madinah occurred. 

The Prophet gives the following glad tidings to the believers who obey the orders of Allah and who accept being strangers and living away from their hometown for Allah’s sake only:

“Islam initiated as something strange, and it would revert to its (old position) of being strange. So good tidings for the stranger.”

When Abdullah bin Masud asked who the strangers were, the Prophet said,

“Those who leave their tribes for the sake of their religion.” (1)

The scholars who explained this hadith made explanations that shed light on the period we live in too. Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır states the following in the interpretation of verse 93 of the chapter of an-Naml:

“The future of Islam is day, not night. It is bright, not dim. Some dark nights that occur aim to make it rest and awaken again.” Then, he quotes the hadith above.

After that, he adds the following:

“Many people quoted this hadith to intimidate believers and caused them to lose hope. This hadith means: ‘Islam emerged as strange and it will emerge as strange in the future again.' The phrase 'Fa tuba' (glad tidings) mentioned in the hadith aims to give good news; it does not aim to intimidate. For, they are like Sabiqun (the fortunate people who spread Islam first).” (2)

Hamdi Yazır likens the believers who learn the truths of Islam and lights of belief and who spread them today, when many signs of Doomsday appeared, to the first Companions. For, the truths of Islam and lights of belief, which people try to degenerate, are tried to be revived by those believing mujahids. As a matter of fact, the following statement exists at the end of the same narration included in Tirmidhi:

“Glad tidings to those believers who correct my Sunnah, which people distort after me.” (3)

Accordingly, the strangers mentioned in the hadith are the believers that accept the Sunnah of the Prophet, his blessed way, as their guide. The revival of a sunnah at a time when bid’ahs and superstitions invade everywhere enables believers to earn great rewards and thawabs. As a matter of fact, the Prophet (pbuh) states the following in a glad tiding that includes the believers of today:

“A person who follows my Sunnah and the truths of the Quran at a time when bid’ahs and superstitions invade everywhere can gain the thawab of one hundred martyrs.”(4)

It is necessary to work hard and make efforts in order to attain that glad tiding of the Prophet (pbuh) today, when the Islamic issues are left as strange and those who practice Islam truly decrease in number.


1. Muslim, Iman: 232.
2. Hak Dini Kur'an Dili, 7:3713.
3 Tirmidhi; Iman: 13.
4. Qadi Iyad. ash-Shifa, 1:27.

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