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SuratulKahf:“The Cave” Briefly Summarized Tafsir (Commentary) Presented by: Mona Salem
Virtues of SuratulKahf • Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu adDarda that the Prophet (sws) said: “Whoever memorizes ten verses from the beginning of surat al kahf will be protected from the Dajjal” in another version it was said 3 verses. • Al-Hakim recorded from Abu Sa’id that the Prophet (sws) said: “Whoever recites Surat al Kahf on Friday, it will illuminate him with light from one Friday to the next.” • Al-Baihaqi recorded that al-Hakim said that the Prophet (sws) said: “Whoever recites surat al-Kahf as it was revealed, it will be a light for him on the Day of Resurrection.”
Historical background • This sura was revealed in Makkah – typically that means its topics are related to matters of faith and belief, not laws and rules • It was revealed in the 3rd phase of the prophethood – at a time when the Makkans had begun to apply serious economic pressure, persecution, and physical abuse. • So much so that many Muslims migrated to Habasha (modern day Ethiopia) to take shelter with the Christian king there • However while the Prophet (sws)’s wife Khadija (RA) and Uncle Abu Talib remained alive at this time, they protected him (pbuh) and his followers to a degree. They were both very influential figures within the Prophet’s tribe and the ruling force in Makkah – Quraish.
Reason for revelation • The pagan Arabs wanted to prove that Muhammad (sws) was not a prophet • They sought help with Jewish Rabbis in Madinah and asked for some questions with which to stump the prophet • The Jewish religious authorities said to ask him these: If he answers them he is a prophet, but if he cannot then he is an impostor. • About some youth and what happened to them • About a righteous king • About the soul (Ruh) • Allah revealed verses answering the first two in SuratulKahf, and the last item He (SWT) addressed in SuratulIsra’.
Verses 1-7 1) Praise be to Allah, who has sent to His servant the book, and has allowed therein no crookedness. 2) He has made it Straight and Clear in order that He may warn the godless of a terrible punishment from Him and that He may give glad tidings to the believers who work righteous deeds that they shall have a goodly reward. 3) wherein they shall remain forever. 4) Further, that He may warn those also who say Allah has begotten a son 5) No knowledge have they of such a thing, nor had their fathers. It is a grievous thing that issues from their mouths - what they say is nothing but falsehood! 6) You would only perchance fret yourself to death, following after them in grief, if they believe not in This Message. 7) That which is on earth We have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that we may test them, as to which of them are best in conduct. 8) Truly, what is on earth we shall make but as dust and dry soil without growth or herbage.
Meaning of “no crookedness” • Allah (SWT) starts many suras of the Quran talking about the virtues of His book • Here He begins by praising Himself – the One who has revealed this book – and it is straight, clear, and free from any one-sidedness • One of the many miracles of the Quran is that it is totally balanced: • Balanced between inspirational stories, laws, description of signs and natural phenomena • Balanced between its mention of heaven and hell – encouragement and punishment • Balanced in its addressing of Pagans, Jews, Christians, and Muslims
A warning and glad tidings • Here Allah (SWT) continues to describe His Quran as a book that serves to do both things – warn those who would disbelieve and disobey that a punishment is waiting for them in the Hereafter and… • Give glad tidings – or encouragement – to those who would both believe and do good deeds… • For such a person there is Paradise in the eternal Hereafter…
A warning to those who say He (SWT) has a son… • After generally speaking to humanity about their choice of belief or disbelief – and the consequences of both – • Allah (SWT) then addresses the people who attribute a son to Him. • The pagan Arabs actually used to say that the angels were the daughters of Allah (God forbid) • And the Christians of that era had already begun to call Jesus (pbuh) Allah’s son • Allah (SWT) then says “It is a grievous thing that issues from their mouths as saying what they say is nothing but falsehood!” emphasizing even more how terrible a sin it is to reduce Him (SWT) to the level of a mere human being who has a child
An order: Not to kill oneself with Grief over those who disbelieve • The Prophet (sws) was a very kind and loving man and concerned himself with every person and his/her disbelief. He was so worried about their fates in the Hereafter. • So Allah (SWT) ordered him not to concern himself so much with them. His (pbuh) duty is only to convey the message of Islam. Their duty is to believe. • Similar verses from the Quran are: • “So destroy not yourself in sorrow for them.” SuraFaatir, verse 8. • “And grieve not over them.” Sura an Nahl, verse 127. • “It may be that you are going to kill yourself with grief, that they do not become believers” Sura Ash Shu’ara, verse 3.
Feeling Grief for others’ disbelief • “The Holy Prophet himself has described this state of his mind in a Tradition to this effect: ‘I may describe this thing in a parable. A person kindled a fire to spread light but the moths persist in falling over it to burn themselves alive. He vies to save them from the fire but the moths reduce his efforts to failure. The same is true of me and you. I hold you by your skirts to keep you away from the fire, but you are bent upon falling into it.’ (Bukhari, Muslim).” • Our lesson: when we try to advise people or make da’wah to them and are doing so with the utmost in sincerity and good manners and wisdom and still our invitations are falling on deaf ears, we must remember that we cannot kill ourselves with grief over it. • We must move on with our lives and realize that it is only to their detriment not to do what is right. We have fulfilled our duty in Allah (SWT)’s eyes and that is all that is expected of us. Allah does not wish for us to destroy ourselves with anxiety over another person’s bad deeds, or lack of belief.
This world is only a test 7) That which is on earth We have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them, as to which of them are best in conduct. 8) Verily what is on earth we shall make but as dust and dry soil, without growth or herbage. Allah (SWT) reminds us here that we should not be so concerned about this world – and all the people in it – everything on it is just a way to determine which of us is more righteous. And eventually all of it – will disappear – like the earth that yields crops today, will turn to dust.
The People of the Cave • Young men who wanted to escape the polygamous society they lived in • It is said that they were from ancient Byzantium and that their ruler was Decianus • They believed in one god and refused to worship a multitude of gods • They found one another by Allah’s grace – they were brought together and they began worshipping one God together • They were reported to the authorities and jailed and given a chance to take back their beliefs • Instead Allah (SWT) helped them escape and directed them to take refuge in a cave
Their sleep in the cave • They slept 309 years – 300 in solar years, 309 in lunar years • They had a dog to guard the entrance of the cave • Allah (SWT) turned them on their sides so that they would not rot on the earth • Their cave was facing north – so that the sunlight did not affect them or burn their faces • Allah (SWT) perhaps kept their eyes open during their slumber to prevent loss of sight
Their sleep continued “Had you happened upon them you would certainly have turned back from them in flight, and would certainly have been filled with awe of them.” Allah (SWT) made them appear scary to others so that they would be protected.
Their number • There were many theories as to the number of the people of the Cave, but Allah (SWT) knows best • The opinion of the scholars is that their number was 7, and the 8th was their dog. • Allah (SWT) advises in the Quran not to argue about things we do not know about unless we have been given knowledge about it
Their awakening • Once they awoke, they started to ask how long they had been asleep – one of them proposed that they had only slept a day or less • The last speaker says “Allah knows best how long we have slept” • They then sent one of them to the city to get the most “pure” and halal food. • They cautioned him to not get noticed for otherwise they would be forced to turn back their faith or killed
Lessons of the cave dwellers • When one doesn’t know something – he/she should defer it to Allah (SWT), not insist upon guessing and possibly making a mistake. This is a sign of faith in Allah. • The cave dwellers immediately sought out food – but they were careful that what they would eat was purest and halal. They are an example to us that even in the most tough circumstances, we should be looking to please Allah (SWT) even more so than to fulfilling our own personal needs • They were careful not to be caught because they were mostly concerned about their faith… they left their families and lives behind – the ultimate sacrifice and slept in a cave – just to escape the evil of worshipping many gods. We should see their strong faith as a shining example of what our priorities should be.
Why tell this story? • Aside from proving the prophethood, there were other reasons to tell this story. • The Arabs used to believe in Allah and associate other gods with Him, but they didn’t believe that they would be resurrected or brought to account • They used to bring dug up bones to the Prophet (Sws) and mock him by saying – do you mean that these dusty old bones will be brought back?! • This story shows that it is indeed an easy thing for Allah (SWT) to bring us to account
More lessons • This story reminds us that we will be called to account for all of our choices and actions and so we should be truthful and sincere about our practice of Islam • It lets the Jews and Christians – who share this story in their literature – know that our Prophet (sws) did indeed bring a revelation and truth from Allah and that they are also obliged to believe in him and his teachings (pbuh) • It reminds us that anything is easy for Allah (SWT) if He wills and that He is Powerful over all things. He deserves our obedience and gratefulness.