What is the meaning of the hadith regarding migrating to caves and valleys in the age of fitna? What should a common Muslim do nowadays to preserve his Imaan?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuhu
Imam Bukhari rahimahullah narrates in his authentic compilation of hadith that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,
” يُوشِكُ أَنْ يَكُونَ خَيْرَ مَالِ المُسْلِمِ غَنَمٌ يَتْبَعُ بِهَا شَعَفَ الجِبَالِ وَمَوَاقِعَ القَطْرِ ، يَفِرُّ بِدِينِهِ مِنَ الفِتَنِ.(صحيح البخاري ج 1 ص 7 قديمي كتب كانه)
“A time will come that the best property of a Muslim will be sheep, which he will take on the top of mountains and the places of rainfall (valleys) so as to flee with his religion from Al-Fitan (afflictions and trials).” (Sahih al-Bukhari 1/7 Qadeemi kutub khana)
The scholars of Hadith state that al-fitan in the above hadith refers to the times when there will be mass violation of the laws of Allah Ta’ala. Furthermore, the practicing of Islam will cease to exist. Bloodshed, civil unrest, immorality, rape, murder, drinking of alcohol, theft, plunder, killing and other vices will be the common headlines of each and every day. Muslims will be like a white mark on a black cow. Submission to the laws of Allah, sincerity, humbleness, peace, ascetism, piety and the many other praiseworthy features will be rare valuables. Despite combing and searching a whole city of hundreds of thousands, not one trustworthy person will be found. Such testing times refer to al-fitan.
This hadith is not promoting celibacy. Instead, it is highlighting the last resort to preserve one’s faith.
If a person is trapped in the web of al-fitan and he has the strength and courage to counter these trials, then it will be compulsory for him to try his utmost to vanquish these trials. If he is weak and unable to face the severity of these trials, it is better for him to migrate.
Let alone a common Muslim, every Muslim should constantly be striving to preserve his faith. There are some deeds every Muslim should do daily without fail to safeguard his/her faith. Below is a checklist which everybody should try and adhere to. Every night, take account of yourself and see if you practiced the ‘5 points’.
1) Men must perform their 5 times salaah in the masjid with the congregation. Likewise, women should perform 5 times salaah at home in the recommended time.
2) Recite a portion of the Quran daily according to one’s capacity.
3) Study the English translation of the Quran for 10-15 minutes daily. We recommend Ma’ariful Quran by Mufti Muhammad Shafi sahib or Tafseer Uthmani by Maulana Shabeer Ahmed Uthmani sahib (Allah have mercy on them).
4) Performing of zikr (remembrance of Allah) daily. The recitation of:
- 100 times Salawāt on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)
- 100 times Istighfār
- 100 times Subhānallah, Alhamdulillah, Lā ilāha illāh, Allahu Akbar, wa lā howla wa lā Quwwata illā billāh.
This should be recited in the morning and evening, preferably in seclusion and isolation.
5) Do your utmost to fulfil the rights of people. Do not oppress or hurt anyone.
In such testing times, staying in righteous company can be very fruitful. If there is a downpour of rain, we immediately seek shelter. Likewise, when there is a downpour of trials, the shelter is the company of the pious and god-fearing. Frequent the gatherings of the pious in your locality. Also, try and spend some time with the brothers in Tabligh Jamā’ah. It is a praiseworthy movement with the sole aim of refreshing and reviving the faith of the people.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Mawlana Faraz Ibn Adam,
 In’aam al-Baari 1/404 Maktabah al-Hiraa
 Umdah al-Qaari 1/224 Maktabah at-tawfiqiyyah
 فيه فضل العزلة في أيام الفتن إلا أن يكون الإنسان ممن له قدرة على إزالة الفتنة فإنه يجب عليه السعي في إزالتها….. والمختار تفضيل الخلطة لمن لا يغلب على ظنه الوقوع في المعاصي (عمدة القاري ج 1 ص 224 مكتبة التوفيقية)