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The Virtue of Being a “Stranger"

Trusting the Quran in the way it depicts human nature – clarifying its complexity and providing its guidance – helps one preserve the purity of a conscious that protects the Fitrah (natural disposition) from erring and from being corrupted. It is, indeed, this Fitrah that is at the essence of the human being's vocation and nature, dignity and morality. Trusting the teachings of the Quran helps one safeguard the ultimate dream of a believing soul: yearning to travel back to its Lord, peaceful and pleased. Trusting the Quran helps those who seek to reflect on the human journey of existence to avoid ending like the souls who have wasted their human potentials of creating, innovating and excelling, on lusts, whims and lewdness that cause them to be lost and corrupted. Take the example of the people of Lut (pbuh) who corrupted their Fitrah in pursuing their desires, “And ˹remember˺ when Lot said to his people, 'Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds [i.e., peoples]? You approach men lustfully in place of women. You are a people who exceed all bounds.' But the answer of his people was only that they said, 'Evict them from your city! Indeed, they are people who want to be clean and pure!'” (7:80-82).

Believing sincerely in the Quran guides one to compel his/her inner self to embrace its values and implement its teachings. It allows the believer to be bestowed with the gift of the divine Furqan (criterion). This divine Furqan delineates and differentiates between good and evil, truth and falsehood. The believer, therefore, weighs all aspects of life on this basis and sets all goals in accordance with its vision of life. However, when living such a way of life, one feels like an outsider, seeing the majority of people thinking, acting and planning in a different way, following actually a secular creed, which has its own conception of good and evil. With liberal thoughts getting more and more immersed in the arteries of the body of society, the gap between the divine criterion and the secular creed is widening, making the feeling strange aspect be more manifest. One can clearly see the massive campaigns advocating for the normalization of a liberal moral standard in which freedom and equality serve desires and whims, not the well-being of humanity and the universe. People used to fight for freedom from tyranny and oppression to live a life of peace and dignity. Now, the fight is to observe lowly desires publicly, with “pride.” Just judge for yourself the following statement of a proponent of the “pride” movement: “Pride month is a reminder of the people who fought for the right for me to be able to wear eyeliner and a skirt to the grocery store. The things we take for granted were fought for until changes were made for us to live our lives freely.” Truly, as the Prophet (pbuh) has said: “If you have no sense of shame or modesty, then do as you please!”

The feeling of being a stranger in today’s environment is not something odd that needs to be avoided or revoked. It is, indeed, a virtue one should be seeking to attain. It is also an evidence for the believer that he/she is still adhering to the divine moral standard, still shielded from desensitization and still far from being allured by a liberal system in which morality is governed by whims and desires.

Seeking being a stranger in such a time is truly a great virtue deserving a great reward. For this reason, the Prophet (pbuh) gave his glad tidings to such strangers. He (pbuh) said: “Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange, as it began. So, give glad tidings to the strangers.” Some said: “Who are they?” He (pbuh) responded, “They are those who rectify when the people become corrupted.” In another narration, he (pbuh) said: “Those who rectify themselves [and others] when the people have become corrupt.”

Work then to attain the status of a stranger, and work on deserving the Prophet’s (pbuh) glad tidings. Don’t be passive and dormant, strive to hold fast to the values of the Quran – learn them, teach them, convey them, revive them. This is, indeed, the way and the path to well-being! Read and reflect on the following Ayah and make it the basis of your stranger status: “O Prophet, fear Allah and do not obey the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Indeed, Allah is Ever-Knowing and Wise. And follow that which is revealed to you from your Lord. Indeed, Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted. And put your trust in Allah, and enough is Allah as a disposer of affairs” (33:1-3)

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