Hadith 40. Be as a stranger or a wayfarer



On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (RadhiyAllahu ‘anhuma), who said: The Messenger of Allah (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) took me by the shoulder and said,

“Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a wayfarer.”

And Ibn Umar (RahiyAllahu ‘anhuma) used to say, “In the evening do not expect [to live until] the morning, and in the morning do not expect [to live until] the evening. Take [advantage of] your health before times of sickness, and [take advantage of] your life before your death.”

[Reported by Bukhari]

Brief Commentary

  • This is a very important hadith as it governs how we should be in this life and how we should look at it. This life is a trial, and this hadith reinforces and guides a person in how to deal with the trials of this life
  • Ibn Rajab said, “And this hadith is a foundation in having short hopes of this life, for the believer should not take this life as a home for him that he feels tranquil in. Rather, he should be in it like he is about to leave, preparing himself for his departure, and the advice of the Messengers (‘alayhim assalam) and their followers are all in unison with this idea”
  • We see in this hadith how the prophet (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) used to nurture his followers and not just teach them academically
  • Ibn Umar (RadhiyAllahu ‘anhuma) was young, yet he remembered exactly how the prophet (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) relayed the hadith to him, and this is a testament to the teaching style of the prophet (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam)
  • Dunya (life) is derived from the word دنو , which is to be close/very lowly
  • This is something that the prophets (‘alayhim assalam) used to teach their people. The prophet (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “What is the dunya for me. An example of me and the dunya is that of a traveller who naps under the shade of a tree, then departs and leaves it” [Reported by Ahmad and Al-Tirmidhi]
  • Ibn Rajab said, “And if the dunya to a believer is not a place of abode, nor a home, then a believer should be with regards to the dunya, in one of two states. Either he is like a stranger living in a land strange to him ,and his main aim is to gather what he requires to return to his home, or like that of a traveller who does not stay in one place; his night and day is spent in travelling towards his homeland”
  • Qualities of a stranger
    • His main concern will be on focusing his efforts in getting to his homeland, Jannah
    • Is not content with residency in this life because it is not his home. This doesn’t mean he should be sad, but a believer’s apparent sadness (due to hereafter matters) is in fact his happiness. We are content with the decree of Allah, but are not content with staying in this dunya
    • Does not compete with others in worldly matters
    • Is not grieved over worldly matters, even loss of loved ones. Being sad due to losing someone you love is fine, but it shouldn’t affect our worship
    • Nurtures strong love and yearning for the hereafter, which is done by learning about it. This also decreases love for the dunya, so we should use this remedy when we feel attached to the dunya
  • Ibn Rajab said, “When Allah created Adam (‘alayhi assalam), he placed him and his wife in Jannah. Then, they were taken down from Jannah, and promised to return to it along with the righteous from their offspring. Hence a believer is always longing and yearning to return to his first (and original) home”
  • A wayfarer is more not at home than a stranger
  • Scholars say the “or” here means but i.e. a wayfarer is a higher position than a stranger
  • A stranger is a settler, so may buy things to settle, but a wayfarer only buys what is necessary to maintain himself
  • A wayfarer is more concerned with taking the wrong path or getting lost, even if they were on the right path, so is more alert
  • The statement of Ibn Umar (RadhiyAllahu ‘anhuma) is his explanation and understanding of the hadith
  • The statement does not contradict high aspirations. It is saying we should not expect to live long, but we should plan for it, just in case we do live longer. Scholars say this is an example/definition of asceticism
  • Being ill acts as a barrier between us and doing good deeds so we need to take advantage of our health
  •  The prophet (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Two blessings people are aggrieved by them, Health and free time” [Reported by Bukhari]
  • The thing that deceives people is free time. Productive people usually don’t have a lot of free time, whilst unproductive people have a lot of free time which then causes them to procrastinate. Hence a believer should always try and keep himself busy so that he can also be productive
  • The best way to deal with the trials of the dunya is with knowledge and righteous deeds


Benefits and Action points:

  • Understand the reality of this life and that it is very lowly
  • Do not seek to be a stranger, but it comes naturally to whoever is following teachings of the Quran and Sunnah correctly
  • Living as if you will die tomorrow and having high aspirations are not contradictory, but are two different things. A believer should live as if he will die tomorrow but plan as if he will live for long
  • Look at the ill people around you and take heed from their illness and focus on doing more good while you are still healthy
  • Understand that your true home is Jannah and you are now here on a trip towards Jannah so ensure you follow the right path so you can reach your goal, and do not waste your time taking with you unnecessary items that will only slow you down and push you further away from home

5 Comments on “Hadith 40. Be as a stranger or a wayfarer”

  1. Wayfarer Says:

    Cool سبحنلله

  2. QuestionThings Says:

    There is one thing that has been drilled into our heads and we are too stubborn to question:
    Live as if you would die tomorrow but plan as if you would live long.

    How does that make any sense? Why would we want to “plan” for a long time. Our plans do not matter. Allah’s plan is what matters. We have to surrender to His plan instead of going crazy constantly planning ahead and then finding out that something entirely different is happening. What a miserable way to live, constantly planning about the worldly life.

  3. Daaha ibn Mohammed Al-Sawmali Says:

    Is this Authentic? I am writing a book and would like to know is it Sahiih.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    is this Sahiih, Authenic?

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