It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: “Islam initiated as something strange, and it will revert to its (old position) of being strange. So glad tidings for the stranger.” [Muslim]

I never really understood this hadith until now. Strange.

The more I look at the word, the stranger it gets. How ironic. When I think about the definition of ‘strange’, I think of weird. Peculiar. Out of the ordinary. So to put those words into the hadith, it wouldn’t quite fit, because Islam is none of those things. But when you really think about it, it makes more sense. Like being weird. No one seems to like being weird. It’s not normal. And being normal is good, while the opposite is not. So no one wants to be abnormal. They want to be good. They want to fit in with others. They want to be normal. They don’t want to stand out awkwardly. They don’t want to be alone.

I find myself struggling with this, over and over again. All the way back from elementary school, I found it difficult to be strange. To be different. To be alone. There weren’t many Muslims at my school during my attendance. My sister is four years older than me, so even when I started school, she’d be attending her last few years or so. I was under enormous pressure to fit in with my classmates. It was easy at times, but when it came to certain situations, like during the holidays, or when my classmates celebrated their birthdays, I found myself disappointed. Alone again.

As I continued into middle school, things got even more difficult. The pressure mounted. Girls were having boyfriends. I was once again left to wonder. I was alone in my ways. I did have a couple of Muslim friends, but it was still happening all around me. I couldn’t escape their ways, and the pressures that this society was holding over me. Not only did I see it at school, but I saw it in the streets, in the malls, in my home, on the TV. As much as I wanted to be a good Muslim, and to do what I was supposed to, it would mean that I would have to be different. To be strange. And that meant, being alone. I wasn’t good at being alone.

And now I find myself struggling with it again. Now I know what the hadith means.

“And it would revert to its (old position) of being strange…”

It’s difficult to be strange. To be something different from everyone else. To love different things that others may not necessarily love as much as you do. To not do the same things that everyone else is doing. To be alone. But that’s what Islam will be. And I want to be wherever Islam is. Even if it takes a lot of sacrifices. I want to be strange.