Alhumdoolillaah, as-salaatu was-salaam ‘ala Rasoolullaah.
Imaam Muslim recorded in his Saheeh under Book of Imaan, that Abu Huraira (ra) related Rasoolullaah sallaahu alaihi wa salam said (translation):
“Islaam began as something strange, and it will become strange again just like it was at the beginning, so blessed are the strangers.”
And he also reports it from bin ‘Umar (ra):
“Indeed Islaam began as something strange and it will become strange again just as it started, and it would recede between the two mosques just as the serpent crawls back into its hole.”
This is a well-known hadeeth which reaches the status of mutawatir, reported by around twenty Sahaaba (ra) with different wordings.
Imaam Tirmidhi collected the following wording from ‘Amr bin ‘Awf of Rasoolullaah sallaahu alaihi wa salam (translation):
“The deen will shrink back to the Hijaz like the snake shrinks back into its hole. It will cling to the Hijaz like the mountain goat clings to the mountaintop. The deen began as something strange, and it will become strange again just like it was at the beginning, so blessed are the strangers who restore what the people corrupt of my Sunnah.” And he graded it Hasan Saheeh.
And in Musnad Ahmed and bin Hiban’s collection, it was reported (translation):
“Islaam began as something strange and it will revert to how it began as something strange. So Tooba to the strangers” The people asked, “Who are they, Ya Rasoolullaah?” He answered, “Those who are pious and righteous when the people have become evil.”
In Imaam bin al-Mubarak’s ‘Kitab uz-Zuhd’ #775 the hadeeth ends with:
“They are righteous people among many evil people, who disobey them more than they obey them.”
Imaam at-Tabari in his famous tafsir reports that Rasoolullaah sallaahu alaihi wa salam explained “Tooba” as a tree in Jannah. The time it takes to travel it is 100 years and the clothing of the people of Jannah is taken from its lamina.
All of the above narrations are authentic by their own right or due to supporting chains.
Who exactly are these people?
Rasoolullaah sallaahu alaihi wa salam had mentioned that there will always be a group from his Umma fighting upon the truth. This was reported by many Sahaaba (ra), rising the hadeeth to the level of mutawatir. Some narrations are as follows (translation),
In Saheeh Muslim, under the Book of Government:
From Thauban (ra):
“A group of people from my Umma will always remain triumphant on the right path and continue to be triumphant (against their opponents). He who deserts them shall not be able to do them any harm. They will remain in this position until Allaah’s. Command is executed (Qayama).”
From Mughira (ra):
“A group of people from my Umma will continue to be triumphant over the people until the Command of Allaah overtakes them while they are still triumphant.”
From Jaabir bin Sumara (ra):
“This religion will continue to exist, and a group of people from the Muslims will continue to fight for its protection until the Hour is established”
From Jaabir bin ‘Abdullaah (ra):
“A group of people from my Umma will continue to fight in defense of truth and remain triumphant until the Day of Judgment…”
From Umair bin Umm Hani (ra):
“A group of people from my Umma will continue to obey Allaah’s Command, and those who desert or oppose them shall not be able to do them any harm. They will be dominating the people until Allaah’s Command is executed.”
And similar reports clearly show that this group of Strangers is, without a doubt, the Mujahideen. And to make things even clearer, Rasoolullaah sallaahu alaihi wa salam specifies to whom “Tooba” is for. The hadeeth is recorded in Saheeh Bukhaari and Sunan bin Maja, from Abu Huraira (ra), in which Rasoolullaah sallaahu alaihi wa salam mentions the destruction and humiliation for the worshipper of the dinar, dirham, khameesa and khamila. Than Rasoolullaah sallaahu alaihi wa salam mentions (translation):
“…Tooba is for the worshipper, taking the reins of his horse in the cause of Allaah; his hair flying, his feet dusty. If he is assigned the watch, then he remains on watch. If he is assigned the rear guard, he guards the rear. Yet if he asks permission, he is not permitted, and if he intercedes, his intercession is not granted.”
Hence, Tooba for the Mujahideen.