Praise be to Allaah.
There is no contradiction between them. The first hadeeth is
clear and is confirmed by historical reality. The rest of it says, “and it
will go back to being something strange as it began, so glad tidings to the
strangers.” According to a version that is not narrated by Muslim, “They
will revive that which the people have killed off of my Sunnah.” According
to another version: “Those who correct what the people corrupt.”
The second hadeeth indicates that reform, da’wah, knowledge
and teaching will continue, and this is glad tidings that there will be a
group which still prevails and adheres to the truth. The idea of being a
stranger, is not contrary to the idea of the survival of that group, and it
does not imply that it will be in one place. Truth must remain until the
Dajjaal emerges, and until the wind comes [which will take the souls of the
believers just before the Hour begins].
Moreover, this sense of being a stranger may increase in one
area whilst decreasing in another, and it may mean many things, such as an
increase in bid’ah (innovation), neglect of prayer in congregation, or not
enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil. One of the most serious
manifestations of it is the alienation of the people of Tawheed and the
prevalence of shirk. We ask Allaah to keep us safe and sound.
Islam may prevail in some areas and become stronger than
before, as we see in real life, and it may be stronger at some times than
With regard to the hadeeth: “There will come no time but the
time after it will be worse than it”, this is to be interpreted as referring
to what is usually the case. It does not mean that there will not some times
that are than those that came before, as in the case of the era of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez: his time was better than the time of Sulaymaan and al-Waleed; and as in the case of the time of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah and his student Ibn al-Qayyim, when the Sunnah prevailed and innovation was refuted; and as happened in Arabia after the da’wah of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhaab (may Allaah have mercy on him). End quote.
Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn Baaz (25/103).