Quarterly: Issue No 80
Shawwal 1437 / July 2016
LESSONS FROM SURAH AL-KAHF
All Praise be to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala - Glory be to Him, the Exalted) and peace and blessings of Allah he upon His beloved Messenger Muhammad, his family and all his companions. Ameen!
Surah al-Kahf discusses FOUR main themes of trials:
The fitnah around the People of the Cave (As-habul Kahf)
The fitnah around two men with two gardens
The fitnah around Prophet Musa (AS) with al-Khidr (AS)
The fitnah around Dhul Qarnayn with Ya’juj wa Ma’juj
All the above four themes of discussions, if we really reflect on them, actually revolves around trials (fitan, singular fitnah).
The first theme talks about the believing youths and the disbeliever King who wanted to prosecute them for believing in Islam. This section of the surah shows us how faith or religion can be a trial for us. The second theme talks about wealth and how that can also become a trial (fitnah) for a person. It is about two men and the two gardens which portrays to us how one can become haughty - due to abundance of wealth and offspring - which finally led the one to disbelieve in the Day of Judgement. The third theme is that of the Prophet Musa (AS) and al-Khidr (AS) that shows us the trial (fitnah) that we can face regarding our knowledge (ilm). The fourth theme is around the story of Dhul-Qarnayn and the trial (fitnah) of power.
The wisdom behind this surah being revealed as a protection to the fitnah of al-Maseeh ad-Dajjal is because Dajjal is the biggest fitnah that will be faced by mankind as mentioned in a hadeeth wherein the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Between time of the creation of Adam and the Day of Qiyamah, there is nothing greater than the mischief of Dajjal (the Antichrist).” (Muslim).
Why is Dajjal the biggest fitnah to mankind? It is because the trials that he will inflict upon us will include all four trials (fitan) that have been mentioned in this Surah al-Kahf. The stories are diverse indeed but we see the connections between the four different themes of fitnah in this surah. It is truly a great miracle how Allah arranged all four themes of trials together in one surah as one great lesson for mankind.
To summarise, this surah does not only mention the trials but also details for us the solutions on how to handle each and every trial individually. As for the trials of religion, we are told that we should do our utmost to convey the message of truth, and always be in a company of righteous companions to prevent us from going astray. As for the trials of wealth, we should always remember that everything in this world that is in our possession is only temporary, and sooner or later will perish. Only then will our wealth and children not cause us to feel superior and exalted for all that we have accumulated in this world. As for the trials of knowledge, we need to be humble and not looking down on others, but instead we should be eager to learn more from scholars (ulama) when trialled with knowledge. The manner is shown to us from the etiquette of Prophet Musa (AS) when he asked permission from al-Khidr (AS) to join him and to learn from him the knowledge that Allah had taught him. As for the trials of power and authority. If we are given the power and authority over an organization or a country, we must act as righteous leaders, calling people to what is good and forbidding them from evil. We should also be good towards those under our leadership and make sure that their rights are being fulfilled with justice according to the Guidance given by Allah in the Noble Quran.
Surah Kahf is an important Surah of the Noble Quran. There are so many lessons we learn from it. Alas! If only we can recite it every Friday and reflect on its messages. Some of the lessons we learn from it are:
From the young companions of the cave: We learn that we should always stand up for the truth, even if we fear retaliation, and even if we are fewer in number than our enemies. We can never lose as long as Allah SWT is on our side. We also learn that good companionship is very important. We should keep good friends around us who are our sincere well-wishers and encourage us to do good. We should also be the same to them in return. We also learn of the miracle of resurrection (bring back the dead to live). Just as the companions of the cave were woken up after three hundred years of sleep, so will we be brought to life after our worldly death on the Day of Judgment. This is the absolute truth.
From the example of the two men: Allah SWT describes the garden in such beautiful detail that one can almost imagine how beautiful they must have been. We learn from this story that our possessions are neither a reason, nor a sign of Allah SWT’s love for us. Those who have more taqwa (God-fearing) are closer to Allah. Allah SWT has told us that He has already written our sustenance (rizq), and that He has indeed favoured some over others. In this example of Surah Al-Kahf, the regret of the man at the end when his gardens are destroyed is very moving. We therefore learn never to be boastful. If we do possess something valuable, it’s only because of the Permission (idhn) of Allah. He may give it whenever He wills and He may take it away from us whenever He wills. If something we have pleases us, we should always remember Allah by saying: “Masha Allah La Hawla Wala Quwwata illa billah”. We should also say the same if we see some other person having any good. We also learn that we should never at any moment feel arrogant because of the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon us. This should only increase us in humbleness. We should also use these blessings to please Allah. Allah SWT then reminds us that our children and wealth are only an adornment for this world. Instead of being distracted by the glitter and glamour of this world, we should find contentment in the continuous remembrance of Allah.
From the story of Musa Alaihis Salaam and Khidr Alaihis Salaam: This is a very important story in Surah Kahf, as well its related Ahaadith where this incident is described in a little more detail. The lesson we learn here is that at times it may seem like everything is going wrong, but the wisdom and mercy of Allah SWT is far beyond our understanding. Human beings, however, are very impatient and wish for all their desires to be fulfilled immediately. At times Allah SWT does not give us what we want because the time is not right. Human beings are also very ungrateful. If we get what we had asked for at some later stage, we don’t value or appreciate it. We also learn that it is not befitting for humans to become arrogant, regarding anything, including knowledge. Allah SWT also states in the Quran that above every knowledgeable person there is another one with more knowledge. We also learn some basic guidelines about a student-teacher relationship. The teacher deserves respect from the student, as he is doing a favour to the student. The student should be patient and follow the instructions of the teacher. Of course Musa (AS) was a better student than any one of us can ever be, as he had such a sincere desire to learn, and a great amount of Taqwa. From this incident, we learn some very important guidelines: The student must have patience if he or she wants to learn sincerely The teacher must have patience with the student; overlook his faults etc., if he or she wishes to be a good sincere teacher The teacher is doing the student a favour, not the other way around. The student should therefore recognize this favour and be grateful. The student must be humble in the presence of the teacher. The teacher must be most humble for the sake of Allah. The student should be at peace with what the teacher is teaching, with his method of teaching. If the student does not like the method, then he is allowed to make a humble request. The teacher should recognize that sometimes the student may have more knowledge about some things than the teacher, and both can learn from each other. The student should not raise objections to the teacher constantly. The student should not ask irrelevant questions and waste both the teacher and the student’s time. The teacher should give the student opportunity to question, but the student should only question at the correct times.
From the story of Dhul Qarnain: We learn that it is very important to acknowledge that – being in any position of authority or rule - is not only a blessing and mercy of Allah, but also a great test. It is absolutely necessary to offer our duties in the best possible manner. If we are in any position of authority, we must treat those under our authority with due respect, and according to their varying capabilities. We cannot treat everyone the same, because everyone is not the same. These are some basic qualities of a good leader because he knows how to manage individuals as well as groups.
Dhul Qarnain was one great exceptional ruler. Even upon gaining victory upon victory, he attributed it all to Allah alone. We also learn that it is important, when doing da’wah, to remind people that we are like them. We are not supreme beings but ordinary people, and we only wish to invite and guide them to the truth.
From the last ten verses, we learn the importance of doing righteous good deeds and not to make them null and void by reminding people of favours and by showing off. These verses remind us to have the right intentions before and during the time we do any good deed. We shouldn’t expect praises from people on doing any good, but should be concerned about gaining Allah’s pleasure alone.
These themes of Surah Al-Kahf really makes us think that we should reflect more on the verses of the Qur’an that we recite and make ‘tilawah’ daily. In fact, we should get closer to the ulama who teach the Qur’an for we can extract much deeper meanings from them then just us contemplating on our own from the various books of tafseer (Quranic Commentaries). May Allah bless us with more beneficial knowledge. May He strengthen us with the will to act upon the knowledge that we acquired. Ameen.
A VERY COMPREHENSIVE VERSE
Verily, Allah enjoins
- Al-Adl (i.e. justice and worshipping none but Allah Alone - Islamic Monotheism) and
- Al-Ihsaan (i.e. to be patient in performing your duties to Allah, totally for Allah's sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Prophet SAW in a perfect manner), and
- giving (help) to kith and kin (i.e. all that Allah has ordered you to give them e.g., wealth, visiting, looking after them, or any other kind of help, etc.): and forbids
- Al-Fahshaa' (i.e all evil deeds, e.g. illegal sexual acts, disobedience of parents, polytheism, to tell lies, to give false witness, to kill a life without right, etc.), and
- Al-Munkar (i.e all that is prohibited by Islamic law: polytheism of every kind, disbelief and every kind of evil deeds, etc.), and Al-Baghy (i.e. all kinds of oppression).
He (Allah) admonishes you, that you may take heed.
(Surah Al-Nahl: Chapter 16: Verse 90)
May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad, the WITNESS to all Mankind. Ameen.
O Allah! Your Forgiveness is far greater than my sins and I have more hope in Your Mercy than in my own deeds.
Requesting your humble duas!
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir
Kyalami Glen, Gauteng
Johannesburg, South Africa