Allah, the Almighty, said:

{So, if only there been of the generations even before you those of enduring discrimination forbidding corruption on earth—except a few of those We saved from among them?...}650 [Hood 11: 116]

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: }فَلَوْلَا كَانَ مِنَ الْقُرُونِ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ أُولُو بَقِيَّةٍ يَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْفَسَادِ فِي الْأَرْضِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِمَّنْ أَنْجَيْنَا مِنْهُمْ{

Stranger-ness refers to one’s distinction from their peers. It is of three levels:

الِاغْتِرَابُ أَمْرٌ يُشَارُ بِهِ إِلَى الِانْفِرَادِ عَنِ الْأَكْفَاءِ. وَهُوَ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ:

The first level is separation from the homelands. For this stranger:

  1. their death is martyrdom651

  2. they will have the distance between their homeland and their tomb measured in their grave652

  3. and they will be united on the day of resurrection with ‘Eesâ (Jesus), son of Maryam (upon him be peace)653

الدَّرَجَةُ الْأُولَى: الْغُرْبَةُ عَنِ الْأَوْطَانِ، وَهَذَا الْغَرِيبُ:

  1. مَوْتُهُ شَهَادَةٌ

  2. وَيُقَاسُ لَهُ فِي قَبْرِهِ مِنْ مَدْفَنِهِ إِلَى وَطَنِهِ

  3. وَيُجْمَعُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِلَى عِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ

The second level is the distinction of the hâl, and this stranger is of those promised blessedness. It is a righteous person in a corrupt time among corrupt people, or a scholar among ignorant people, or an honest person among hypocrites.

الدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ: غُرْبَةُ الْحَالِ، وَهَذَا مِنْ الْغُرَبَاءِ الَّذِينَ طُوبَى لَهُمْ، وَهُوَ رَجُلٌ صَالِحٌ فِي زَمَانٍ فَاسِدٍ بَيْنَ قَوْمٍ فَاسِدِينَ، أَوْ عَالِمٌ بَيْنَ قَوْمٍ جَاهِلِينَ، أَوْ صِدِّيقٌ بَيْنَ قَوْمٍ مُنَافِقِينَ.

The third level is the distinction of resolve. This is the stranger-ness in pursuit of the True One. It is the stranger-ness of the ‘ârif654, because he or she is peculiar with regard to his/her witnesses655 and his/her companions.656 His or her finds are not delivered by knowledge,657 revealed by wajd,658 established by forms,659 expressed by signals,660 or outlined by definitions.661 The stranger-ness of the ‘ârif is the epitome of all stranger-ness, because he/she is a stranger in this life and the hereafter.662

الدَّرَجَةُ الثَّالِثَةُ: غُرْبَةُ الْهِمَّةِ، وَهِيَ غُرْبَةُ طَلَبِ الْحَقِّ، وَهِيَ غُرْبَةُ الْعَارِفِ؛ لِأَنَّ الْعَارِفَ فِي شَاهِدِهِ غَرِيبٌ، وَمَصْحُوبَهُ فِي شَاهِدِهِ غَرِيبٌ، وَمَوْجُودَهُ لَا يَحْمِلُهُ عِلْمٌ أَوْ يُظْهِرُهُ وَجْدٌ، أَوْ يَقُومُ بِهِ رَسْمٌ، أَوْ تُطِيقُهُ إِشَارَةٌ، أَوْ يَشْمَلُهُ اسْمُ غَرِيبٍ، فَغُرْبَةُ الْعَارِفِ غُرْبَةُ الْغُرْبَةِ؛ لِأَنَّهُ غَرِيبُ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ.

650 The verse talks about some qualities of the strangers: they are few, judicious, and they are not only upright, but they also forbid corruption.
651 Referring to what has been reported in several hadiths with controversial authenticity.
652 Referring to several hadiths, of which the most authentic is a hadith in which ‘Abdullâh ibn ‘Amr said:
“A man died in Madinah, and he was born in it. The Prophet ﷺ offered the funeral prayer for him and said, ‘Would that he had died somewhere other than his birthplace.’
A man among the people asked, ‘Why, O Messenger of Allah?’
He said:

’‏إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ إِذَا مَاتَ فِي غَيْرِ مَوْلِدِهِ قِيسَ لَهُ مِنْ مَوْلِدِهِ إِلَى مُنْقَطَعِ أَثَرِهِ فِي الْجَنَّةِ‏.‘‏

‘When a man dies somewhere other than his birthplace, a space will be measured for him in Paradise (as big as the distance) from the place where he was born to the place where he died.’” (Reported by an-Nasâ’i and Ibn Mâjah with a controversial chain that was authenticated by some)
and may be an encouragement for people to seek what is good for them in their life and the hereafter wherever it may be.
653 Referring to another hadith that is graded weak by the scholars of hadith. Out of the five messengers with great resolve, ‘Eesâ (upon him be peace) had the fewest disciples.
654 ‘Ârif’ (lit., ‘knower’) is one endowed with beneficial knowledge of the heart, not merely technical knowledge of the intellect.
655 The outer and inner indicants that testify to him or her concerning the uprightness of his or her state.
656 The knowledge, conduct, and state that accompany him or her in this world are unlike those of others.
657 Although they are not counter to what knowledge dictates, knowledge alone cannot procure them.
658 ‘Wajd’ is a verbal noun from ‘wajada’ (lit., found or experienced). It is usually translated as ‘ecstasy.’ See Station 66.
659 They are beyond what the material forms (of the body) can handle.
660 They cannot be explained, even through symbolism.
661 No statement can fully describe them.
662 For the seekers of this dunyâ do not recognize them or have affinity towards them because of their differences; even most of the seekers of the hereafter cannot relate to their state.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


Shaykhul-Islam Abu Isma‘il Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Ansari al-Harawi (396-481H)

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj