The Quran is full of stories and although brief, it focuses on specific aspects rather than extensive detail. It focuses on what is really important to us.
Every Friday, we are recommended to read it at least once a week on Friday. Even just ten verses of it can provide protection from the False Messiah (al-Masiha al-Dajjal), the greatest tribulation to afflict humankind throughout our entire history.
Abu Darda reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: Whoever memorizes ten verses from the beginning of Surat al-Kahf will be immune to the False Messiah and in another narration, … from the last ten verses of Surat al-Kahf. [Saheeh Muslim, 809]
Whoever reads Soorat al-Kahf on the day of Jumu’ah, will have a light that will shine from him from one Friday to the next.” [al-Haakim, al-Bayhaqi] and in another narration Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Whoever reads Soorat al-Kahf on the day of Jumu’ah, a light will shine for him from beneath his feet to the clouds of the sky, which will shine for him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will be forgiven (his sins) between the two Fridays.’” (al-Targheeb wa’l-Tarheeb, 1/298)
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said “Shall I not tell you about the False Messiah of which no prophet has told his people before? Verily, he is blind in one eye. He will come with the likeness of paradise and fire. He will bring it and say it is paradise, yet it is actually fire. Verily, I have warned you just as Noah had warned his people.” [Bukhari, 3160]
The question for each of us is do I know enough about my faith to be immune from Satanic trickery? And if I do know enough, do I still have enough strength of conviction to be able to walk into his fire, believing in Allah’s promise?
This story took place in Iphsus, which was a major city in the Roman Empire – in the current day some say this is in Amman, Jordan and others claim in Turkey. Around 250 years after the coming of Isa(AS), a Roman king called Daqyanoos (Decius) – their society had reached the heights of moral decay and immorality – the believers at that time were persecuted. The Romans would annually hold a festival and these young men were shocked by what they saw; people taking rocks that they carved with their own hands as Gods, worshipping them and sacrificing for them.
These youngsters believed in the oneness of Allah (SWT) based on the pure teachings of Isa (upon him be peace) and shunned pagan worship. They immediately retreated from the festival and Ibn Kathir narrates that they came across each other having departed from the event and on speaking realised they had come to the same conclusion about the false worship of their people.
Surround yourself with good people What do young people get together to do what? Do they get smarter or dumber? What did you do as a young person – partying, gaming, chilling. Their society is free and encourages them to do evil. However, these youth have stood firm against it and they are seeking Allah(SWT). These youth set up their own place of worship where they would get together to worship Allah (SWT). However, they soon became the talk of the town.
One of the seven under the shade of Allah’s Throne is a young person who grows up in the worship of Allah(SWT). Allah(SWT) loves it when a person who is young in age is serving the deen of Allah(SWT) and working for Him.
Stand for truth
The Emperor learned about them and had them arrested and brought before him. He asked them about their beliefs. Allah (SWT) gave them the courage to state their belief in the Oneness of God. They even called the Emperor towards the message of tawheed.
Those believing youths were increased in guidance in order to be able to manage their affairs with their community. Along with this increased guidance, Allah(SWT) tells us wa rabathnaa alaa quloobihim “We put courage in their hearts” to make them solid in their attitude, firm in their belief in the truth, proud of the faith they had chosen.
They took a stand and decided they were going to accept and then live true to Islam. They stood up (qaamoo) and challenged the king and authorities that be stating they had their own faith and were not going to accept the status quo.
“They stood up and said: ‘Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. Never will we invoke besides Him any deity. We would have certainly spoken, then, an excessive transgression.” (Al-Kahf 18:14) He is indeed the Creator, Lord and Sustainer of the whole universe.
Leave that which tempts you
This angered the Emperor even more. He gave them a few days to reconsider their beliefs and to return to the way of the people. If they did they would be allowed to live. If not then he would kill them. These few days were a blessing from Allah (SWT) that provided them the opportunity to further strengthen their faith and to escape from the city and find safety in a cave. This ayah teaches us that we need to sacrifice to gain. If we sacrifice for Allah, He will grant us something better.
As the young believers came to the conclusion that they had to leave their friends, families and homes, instead choosing to protect their faith and finding a hiding place in a cave – they preferred life in the cave to all the attractions that their society offered. We also learn that the believer needs to plan as they did finding a place of refuge. But now what?
Know you are dependent
Allah(SWT) goes on to show us their deep faith – now they were refugees from their own people with a death warrant on their heads. Rather than thinking themselves as pious and superior, they had fled to protect their deen – for Allahs sake. They knew that the One who sustained them was the only One who could protect them – He (SWT) knew of their plight even in this cave and He(SWT) was with them wherever they were. They said: Make easy for us what we seek, what we traverse for the sake of Your pleasure, our flight from unbelief for Your sake and from our people who worship idols and call upon them. [Tafsīr al-Ṭabarī 18:10] and they made dua to Allah (SWT) for ease.
When the youth retreated to the cave and they said: Our Lord, grant us mercy from you and facilitate right guidance for us in our affair. [Surat al-Kahf 18:10]
In this dua they asked specifically for two things: 1) Mercy, Allahs love and 2) Right guidance. This is a dua for guidance, forgiveness, knowledge, provision, patience in their trial, steadfastness, strength, security and eventual deliverance. They prayed that the end of their affair would be sound and rightly guided.
They trusted wholly in Allah(SWT)
Tawakkul is perhaps one of the most powerful characteristics that we can have; it’s the key to true happiness. Tawakkul is the foundation of a worry-free, stress-free, anxiety-free life.
They had no idea what would become of them – they were uncertain about their future. They were in a serious trial. They made their best effort – forsaking their people and then they turned back to Allah(SWT) to ask Him to take care of them. Leaving their dog near the entrance as a guard, Allah (SWT) caused them and the dog to sleep for 309 years.
“And [had you been present], you would see the sun when it rose, inclining away from their cave on the right, and when it set, passing away from them on the left, while they were [laying] within an open space thereof…
“That was from the signs of Allah. He who God guides is indeed rightly guided, but for him whom He lets go astray you can never find any protector who would point out the right way.”
The grandson of Umar ibn al Khattab (RA), Sayyiduna Salim(RA) once went to the Haram in Makkah al-Mukarramah. He was in the mataaf doing tawaf and the king of the time, Hisham bin Abdul Malik, saw him and greeted him with salaam and then asked him ‘Are you in need of anything?” Salim(RA) replied “I am in front of the Ka’bah, in front of the house of Allah(SWT). I feel ashamed that I ask you anything in front of His house.” Today, how many attend the house of Allah(SWT) and yet continue to ask others? Where is the adab?
The king was silenced. When Salim(RA) was coming from the Haram, Hisham saw him again and said “Please let me know if you are in need of anything”. This time Salim asked “What can you give me? A wordly thing or a deeni (religious) thing?” He said “I don’t have anything regarding the deen, all that I can offer is you is dunya” Salim said “I have never even asked for dunya from the Master of the dunya, why should I ask you?”
Who is a better protector?
Sometimes we look at people with money, fame or power – celebrities, sports stars – and we hanker after what they want only to find that they are unhappy with their family, constantly drugged up, angry, arrogant and generally dissatisfied with life. I volunteer at a prison not far from here and see people who were running drug rings, addicted, involved in fraud or violence thinking they had a path to quick money, thinking perhaps they could cheat their way to success. Allah(SWT) tells us that the only path to success is through His guidance and neither your friends, your family, your mob or your blood can protect you.
The Qur’an states “and We turned them over repeatedly, now to the right, now to the left; and their dog lay at the cave’s entrance, with its forepaws outstretched.” So their circulation continued, they weren’t disturbed by the light or the heat of the sun and in an open space in the cave they received a fresh breeze. 309 years pass by while they are sleeping like this.
Then Allah(SWT) describes how the youth awaken after their long slumber not realising how long they have been asleep. They rubbed their eyes and asked how long they have slept and they assume a day or part of a day.
On awakening, one is delegated to get food. Imagine how fashion changes from year to year, season to season – what about over 300 years? His clothes are outdated and when he tries to purchase some food, his coin is 300-year old currency. As a fugitive, he’s already trying to keep undercover and doesn’t want to stand out but how is he going to remain secret when he was from three decades ago. Can you imagine – its said that even Captain America was only frozen for 70 years and he was so out of place.
Anything is possible with Allah(SWT)
As well as his strange clothing and speech, the people recognised that something was wrong when he also produced this ancient currency so they detained him and took him to the Emperor. Their society had completely transformed since the time of the youth – it was no longer a city of idol worshippers; rather the majority of people had become Christian. The Emperor was also a righteous man by the name of Baidusis according to some reports.
He questioned the stranger about where he had got this ancient coin from and on hearing the story asked to be taken to the cave. In this way, Allah (SWT) caused “them to be known to the people (of the city), so that they realize that Allah’s promise is true and that there is no doubt about the Hour (the Day of Resurrection).”
Allah(SWT) controls life and death. He can do anything. So why cant he help me and you? Don’t lose hope.
Focus on what matters
Allah(SWT) addresses those who speculated about how many sleepers there were in the cave rather than focusing on the important lessons mentioned above – they are described as Rajmam bil ghaib meaning “throwing stones in the darkness”. It seems like insanity and you will probably hurt someone else. So what if you know if they were 3, 5 or 7. That is not your business. You don’t have enough to focus on that you would persist on irrelevant things? What will you benefit from it. Similarly, we spend most of our time on irrelevant matters which don’t affect our Iman nor will we be questioned about them. Why is it relevant if KSI is going to fight or not? So what if Trump eats 3 burgers every evening or the prince doesn’t like his brother?
The verse ends by addressing the Prophet ﷺ, “so do not argue about them except an apparent argumentation. And do not ask anyone of these about them.” Allah ﷻ is instructing him not to debate with people regarding this matter but to rather let the parts of the story that have been revealed to him suffice. Lesson/Moral: Don’t get into discussions that aren’t important or necessary… What’s important here isn’t their specific number. What is important is the lessons and morals that can be derived from their story.
Some Jews came to the Prophet(SAW) and asked “Who are the people of the Cave”. We are not the only ones educated about the story, rather its contained in their books and they had prior knowledge. However, Allah(SWT) says and do not ask them – laa tastafteehim minhum ahada. Whatever you had to learn, Allah(SWT) perfected this knowledge in His Word, the Qur’an directly.