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Tales from the Quran repose faith

Surat Al-Kahf (The Cave) is the 18th Surah in the Holy Quran.

Muslims are encouraged to recite it every Friday.

The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said, “He who reads Surat Al-Kahf on Friday, Allah will light for him radiance that stretches from his feet to the highest heaven.”

Surat Al-Kahf consists of four stories, namely, ‘Dwellers in the Cave, ‘The man with the two gardens,’ ‘Prophet Musa (Moses) and Al Khidr’ and ‘Dhul-Qarnain.’

Dwellers in The Cave

This is the story of a group of young men who presented their religion (surrender to Allah as the One Lord) to their people, but they were rejected.

“And We made their hearts firm and strong (with the light of faith in Allah and bestowed upon them patience to bear the separation of their kith and kin and dwellings).

They said, “Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, never shall we call upon any Ilah (God) other than Him; if we did, we should indeed have uttered an enormity in disbelief. Our people worship Illah (Gods) other than Him (Allah).

“Why do they not bring for them a clear authority? And who does more wrong than he who invents a lie against Allah?” (Quran 18:14-15).

Thus, Allah inspired them to seek refuge in the cave.

Allah supported them with great miracles. They dwelt in the cave for 300 (Solar) years, adding nine (for Lunar) says the Holy Quran (18:25).

“And you might have seen the Sun when it rose, declining to the right from their cave, and when it set, turning away from them to the left, while they lay in the midst of the cave.” (Quran 18:17).

It has been suggested that the purpose of this was to avoid bedsores.

Their numbers vary from three to seven, in addition to a dog that guarded them.

They awoke 309 years later to find that the people around them had become believers and that they were now part of a new society, filled with faith.

Man with Two Gardens

A man became absorbed in his new fortune forgetting who granted it to him, responding with challenge and doubt.

“And I think not that the Hour will ever come, and if indeed I am brought back to my Lord (on the Day of Resurrection), I surely shall find better than this when I return to Him.” (Quran 18:36).

Money had seduced and distracted him from turning to Allah.

“So his fruits were encircled (with ruin). And he remained clapping his hands (with sorrow) over what he had spent upon it, while it was all destroyed on its trellises, and he could only say, “Would that I had ascribed no partners to my Lord” (Quran 18:42).

Musa and Al-Khidr

Prophet Musa was asked by his people (Bani Israel) who was the most knowledgeable person on earth.

He replied that he himself was, because he thought that he had enough knowledge to earn that title as Allah’s favoured Prophet.

However, Allah revealed to him that there was a learned man elsewhere and commanded him to go to where the two seas met.

He met Al Khidr, to whom Allah had given knowledge about predestined events.

Three examples are quoted in this story.

Al-Khidr scuttled a boat, because “it belonged to certain men in dire want. They piled on the water. I only wished to render it unserviceable, for there was after them a certain king who seized every boat by force” (Quran 18:79). By scuttling it, Al-Khidr saved the water.

Al-Khidr killed a child because he was not dutiful towards his righteous parents. His disobedience caused them too much trouble.

“So we desired that their Lord would give them in exchange (a son) better in purity (of conduct) and closer in affection” (Quran 18:81).

Al-Khidr rebuilt a wall because it was damaged in part, without recompense for his work especially in a town where he was not warmly welcomed.

In fact, a treasure belonging to two orphan boys was buried beneath it.

Dhul Qarnain

Dhul Qarnain was a king who spread truth, justice and goodness.

He had the material means to achieve success and progress in life.

He made Dawah for Allah and spread good.

On his journeys, he received people who said to him, “O Dhul Qarnain! Verily Yajuj and Majuj (Gog and Magog) are doing great mischief in the land. Shall we then pay you a tribute in order that you might erect a barrier between us and them?” (Quran 18:94).

Although he was capable of building the barrier alone, he asked for help so that they may learn a lesson. He built the barrier, which is reportedly remains until this day, although we do not know its location.

The connection

We must remember that the Holy Quran does not merely narrate stories in a random manner; they form an integral structure and serve a specific meaning.

The common link between these four stories is that they illustrate four different types of trials or temptations (Fitan).

These trials are dangerous, heavy and affect human life.

The story of the dwellers in the cave represents the trial of religion (Fitnat Aldeen); that is, deviating from the path of Allah, or causing someone else to deviate.

The second story, of the Man with the Two Gardens, illustrates the trial of wealth (Fitnat Al Mal); wealth tempted the man so he distanced himself from Allah.

The story of Musa shows the trial of knowledge (Fitnat Al Ilm).

You boast of the knowledge you possess to the extent that you feel arrogant and hence forget about modesty, or have knowledge that has no good value, or causes harm in the community.

The final story of Dhul Qarnain exemplifies the trial of power (Fitnat Al Sulta).

Dhul-Qarnain had the scientific and technological means to achieve goals.

Source: Mt Albert Islamic Centre, Auckland

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