Reminiscing Life Through the Lens of Suratul Kahf

“All the praises and thanks be to Allah, Who has sent down to His slave (Muhammad SAW) the Book (Qur’an), and has not placed therein any crookedness. Straight to give warning of a severe punishment from Him, and to give glad tidings to the believers, who work righteous deeds, that they shall have a fair reward.” — Qur’an 18[Al-Kahf]:1–2

Life trials are inestimable, we all face them at some points in our lifespan. The degree of challenges which individuals face differs from one person to the other. The Qur’an as a word from God, has uniqueness in content that the chapters marvel in itself. Every verse of the revelation is an incomparable pearl on the earth surface. One reason why no one reads the book with a sincere mind but receives admonition and guidance in the heart. Every chapter of the Qur’an has a theme which is central to the subject matter discussed in subsequent verses. This last revelation from The Ever-Living, elucidates on life challenges and modalities for conquering them. The surah “Al-Kahf” was one of the earliest revealed chapters in Mecca. In it we find a thematic narration of life challenges in sequence.

At the inception of Islam, the Muslims faced various challenges and difficulties. Those trials helped them to develop resilience which was necessary to propel them in surmounting the hurdles. The resultant effect was victory upon victory. Today, Muslims are still facing challenges similar to these. Hence, it appeared as if the Almighty Lord revealed this chapter in order to prepare the Muslims ahead of the challenges they would face and how to overcome them. Thus the theme of Sūrah al-Kahf revolves around the most common trials faced by the believers.

“Verily! We have made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them as to which of them are best in deeds.” — Qur’an 18[Al-Kahf]:7

The morale of these trials will be depicted as seen through the stories mentioned in the surah. We wouldn’t dwell into full details of the story to save space. However, we’d highlight the beginning of each narrative for the readers to follow up through the subsequent verses and get a better insight. We hope you’d be able to link them up in sha Allah…

The Trial of Faith

The first story illustrates the narrative of the people of the cave. They were youths who believed in One God but the rest of their people disbelieved. They were persecuted for this believe and they had to escape from the hands of a tyrant ruler of the town. The scenario was similar to what the early Muslims faced in Mecca. They were maltreated to a point that they had to leave Mecca for Madinah. Today, Muslims experience the trial of faith in many different forms. A look of derision and derogatory remarks while having to openly proclaim faith in front of others. This has been a sour experience for many. The most painful part is having to deal with our own family and friends who attempt to dissuade us when we want to increase in our attempts to practice the deen.

“Truly! They were young men who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance.” Qur’an 18[Al-Kahf]: 13

The Trial of Wealth

We often hear that money is the root of all evils, but that’s quite untrue. Wealth is evil when it becomes the goal in life. It should rather be a means towards acquiring the pleasure of Allah. This leads us to the next story illustrated in the surah. It’s about a man who was blessed with two gardens and was rich in every facet. However, his wealth misguided him leading to arrogance and doubt of faith. The resultant effect was that the Supreme Lord deprived him of all the worldly artifice and bounties earlier bestowed upon him. This made him realize the transient nature of things, but then it was too late for him. From among the earliest Muslims were those who were stupendously rich. The likes of Abubakr, Uthman and Abdurrahman ibn Auf. Yet they spent all their wealth in meeting the pleasure of The Most Merciful. Today’s Muslim should also take a queue from this.

“And put forward to them the example of two men; unto one of them We had given two gardens of grapes, and We had surrounded both with date-palms; and had put between them cultivated fields. Each of those two gardens brought forth its produce, and failed not in the least therein, and We caused a river to gush forth in the midst of them. And he had fruit…” Qur’an 18[Al-Kahf]: 32–34.
Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

The Trial of Knowledge

Indeed knowledge is a trial, it can be used for both good and evil. It’s assumed that knowledge should keep one humble and not pompous. The next story elaborates the ordeal between prophet Musa (AS)and Khidr. When Musa (AS) thought that no one in the world had more knowledge of things than him, then His Lord sent him to meet Khidr. All through the narration, Khidr displayed prowess of knowledge more than Musa (AS). Foremost amongst the Muslims were scholars who spread the knowledge with wisdom and beautiful preaching. Their humility was highly infectious that they rarely ascribed authority to themselves. Today, the believers are still been tested by the virtue of knowledge they possess. How are they using it: for fame or to teach? To enrich or to better the life of others?

And when Mūsā said to his boy-servant: ‘I will not give up until I reach the junction of the two seas or until I spend years and years in travelling.’” Qur’an 18[Al-Kahf]: 60.

The Trial of Power

Truly, power intoxicates! In fact, absolute power intoxicates more. This final story is in relation to the king who conquered the East and West. The narrative of Dhul-Qarnayn encapsulates the trial of power. When Dhul-Qarnayn had conquered the West, then Allah tested his authority. Umar ibn Khattab was one of the greatest leaders in Islamic history. The Muslim territory had spread beyond the Arabian peninsula to the Roman empire. Yet you could barely distinguish between the leader and the follower owing to piety. Umar led with equity to a point that he deprived himself the right of being sponsored with the state funds. Today, how are Muslim leaders treating their subordinates? We should remember that we all will be accountable to the Lord of the Supreme Throne.

“Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of black muddy water. And he found near it a people. We said: ‘O Dhul-Qarnayn! Either you punish them, or treat them with kindness. He said: ‘As for him who does wrong, we shall punish him; and then he will be brought back unto his Lord; Who will punish him with a terrible torment. But as for him who believes and works righteousness, he shall have the best reward, and we shall speak unto him mild words.’” Al-Kahf, 18: 86–88.

The Way Forward

The solutions to these trials can be found in the first-two and last-two verses of the chapter in discuss. This we’d expedite in a few key points thereafter:

All the praises and thanks be to Allah, Who has sent down to His slave (Muhammad SAW) the Book (Qur’an), and has not placed therein any crookedness. Straight to give warning of a severe punishment from Him, and to give glad tidings to the believers, who work righteous deeds, that they shall have a fair reward.” — Qur’an 18[Al-Kahf]:1–2
“Say: If the sea were ink for writing the Words of my Lord, surely, the sea would be exhausted before the Words of my Lord would be finished, even if we brought another sea like it for its aid. Say: ‘I am only a man like you. It has been inspired to me that your God is One God. So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.” — Qur’an 18[Al-Kahf]:109–110.
  • When Allah puts your faith to trial, be steadfast and dont compromise. Soon you’d whither the storm to bounce back stronger. Allah will always make a way out for His slave who has complete reliance upon Him.
  • Luxuries of the world are transient. The Merciful Lord benefits it to whom He wills. This isn’t a sign of love from Him but a test of fortune. For He enriches both the believers and unbelievers out of His Supreme bounty. So if you’re blessed, remain thankful and do not be boastfully arrogant.
  • The more you know, the better and need to realize you need to know more. There is always someone who is more knowledgeable and has a better understanding of things than one’s own self.
  • The ability to maintain justice and fairness in power is one of the most arduous task every leader faces. Use the position of authority to do good, prevent evil and improve the lives of your cohorts.

In conclusion, we should ruminate over this hadith of the messenger of God ﷺ. Is this not the state of the Muslims today?…

Narrated Amr bin Awf, the Prophet ﷺ said, “By Allah, it is not poverty which I fear for you but that the world will be spread out before you just as it was spread out for those who came before you, and you compete in it as they did, so it destroys you as it did them.”[Bukhari]

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