The Feeling of Alienation (Al Ghurbah)

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“…so do not be deceived by their movement throughout the lands. ” [1]

Among the realities of faith and facts of life is this: the true adherents to the Straight Path of Allâh (as-sirât al-mustaqîm) are a small minority, living as strangers in society. The reason is none other than the deviation of most of mankind from that Path and their excessive attachment to this world. The Qur’ân describes the majority of the earth’s population:

The degree of alienation varies from time to time, place to place, people to people – for Muslims are a minority among the inhabitants of this earth, and believers are a minority among Muslims. Those of knowledge are few among believers, and those defending the Prophet’s sunnah are even fewer. In respect to this, the Messenger of Allâh said,

  “But most of the people do not know. “[2]

“No, but most of them do not use their minds.” [3]

“Most of the people do not believe. “[4]

They are not except like sheep. No, but they are even more astray. ” [5]

 “ “Verily, my community among communities is like a white hair on a black bull.” [6]

Although they may find comfort in solitude and suffer isolation in the company of those who seek only to socialize, these servants cannot neglect their duties because the Prophet declared,

 “ “The believer who mixes with people and is patient in the face of their offense is preferable to the believer who does not mix with people and is not patient with their offense.”[7]

And Allâh reminds them:
“The believers are but brothers. ” [8]

So how can one avoid his brother for whom he cares and shares responsibility?
Always aware of Allâh ‘s presence, however, such souls seldom seek companionship elsewhere, knowing that He alone can comprehend their concerns, appreciate their efforts and relieve their sorrows. And knowing that whatever the people might think, Allâh enumerates and rewards that which is unnoticed – sincerity of intention, conscientiousness in deed, and pain born patiently in the heart. So these servants of Allâh are careful to avoid what is doubtful or might possibly lead to harâm (that which is unlawful) and are indifferent to that which is of no benefit in the Hereafter. They fear Allâh when dealing with others and even more so when dealing with the subtle affairs of their own hearts. They refuse to compromise tawhîd and cling to the sunnah when people have abandoned it and avoid innovation in religion while people find it good. They know the gravity of their sins and strive for forgiveness from their Lord. They are the ones whom the Prophet praised when he said,

 “ “Certainly Islam began as [something] alien, and it will become alien once again as it began. So, blessed are the aliens. “[9]

Yet, human souls were created as social beings with a natural enjoyment of companionship and feelings of loneliness during periods of isolation. Therefore, Allâh {subhanahu wa ta ‘ala) assures those who travel on His Path that, in spite of temporary alienation from contemporaries, they do belong to the best company of mankind- none other than the prophets, their supporters, the martyrs and the righteous.[10] Such is the reason for the supplication: “O Allâh , guide me among those You have guided. “[11] Remembering one’s companions removes sadness from the heart. Although they may be rare throughout the servant’s lifetime, he can certainly look forward to a joyful reception in the Hereafter. Ibn al-Qayyim said,

  “Every time you feel the loneliness of isolation, remember your companions who have preceded you and be eager to join them; and do not be concerned with others, for they will not avail you at all before Allâh . And if they call out to you during your journey, do not turn to them, for whenever you respond to them, they will take you and set you in another direction.”

Some early scholars used to advise,

  “Keep fast to the path of truth, and do not succumb to loneliness because of the few who tread it; and beware of the path of falsehood, and do not be deceived by the many headed on it to destruction.”

In the words of Allâh (subhanahu wa ta’ala):

  “Say, Not equal are evil and good, even if you are impressed by the abundance of evil.’ ” [12]

  “And if you obey most of those on earth, they will lead you astray from the way of Allâh . They follow nothing but speculation, and they are not but those who falsify. ” [13]

In another sense, however, the believer shares the company of all those creations that worship and praise Allâh day and night throughout the universe, and thus, he is actually among the ranks of the majority of His creation.

  “To Allâh gives praise that which is in the heavens and that which is on the earth.”[14]

For in addition to that portion of jinn and mankind who worship Allâh , the animals and plants are worshipping and praising Him. All the angels filling the heavens worship Allâh . Seemingly inanimate bodies worship Allâh . All forms of energy and matter worship Allâh , submitting to the physical laws He has established for creation and praising Him in their own particular way.

  “there is nothing that does not praise Him, but you do not understand their praise.” [15]

Finally, and above all, Allâh Himself is with the righteous servant, [16]supporting his efforts and reassuring him [17] So while Shaytan will attempt to infect him with loneliness and despair, his plan is frustrated and defeated by the realization that the believer is in harmony with the entire universe in submission to the will of Allâh , whereas those who vainly try to oppose Him are but a small minority that will surely be overcome.
If the adherent to the Straight Path feels himself to be a stranger in this world, all men, in fact, are such. They were not created for this life but are merely travellers along the road to the final destination. So, whoever travels light, sending provisions on before him, will ease his burden and find his home in order upon arrival.


From “Realities of Faith” Published by Abul Qasim publications [Abridged].

1 Surah Ghafir, 40:4. Activities not disciplined by fear of Allâh may appear impressive but are, in fact, void of blessing in this life and the next.

2 Surah Yusuf, 12:21.

3 Surah al-‘Ankabut, 29:63.

4 Surah Ghafir, 40:59.

5 Surah al-Furqan, 25:44.

5 A1-Bukhari.

6 Ahmad and at-Tirmidhl – sahîh.

7 Surah al-Hujurat, 49:10.

8 Muslim and Ahmad.

9 Surahan-Nisa’, 4:69.

10 From du’aa’ ul-qunut taught by the Prophet Related by an-Nasa’i – hasan.

11 Surahal-Ma’idah, 5:100.

12 Surah al-An’am, 6.116.

13 Surahs59:1, 61:1, 62:1 and 64:1.

14 Surah al-Isra’, 17:44. 101See Surah aii-Nahl, 16:128.

15 “Do not weaken or grieve while you are superior. ” {Surah Ali ‘Imran, 3:139)

16 “If you
arc suffering, they [too] are suffering, but you expect Horn Allâh that which they do not expect.” (Surah an-Nisa’, 4.104)

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