There are many lessons we can derive from the story of the companions of the cave. The emphasis on steadfastness and holding tight to the truth is evident in this beautiful story. The companions of the cave fled from their palaces to retreat to a dark cave. Why? What was it that led them to leave the luxuries they were surrounded with, to leave their lofty positions, their palaces, and their superfluities, and instead migrate to a cave in the middle of an unfamiliar place?
إِذْ أَوَى الْفِتْيَةُ إِلَى الْكَهْفِ فَقَالُوا رَبَّنَا آتِنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً وَهَيِّئْ لَنَا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا رَشَدًا
Allah says: [Mention] when the youths retreated to the cave and said, “Our Lord, grant us from Yourself mercy and prepare for us from our affair right guidance.” [18:10]
These were youth, young men, and sons of prestigious Kings, whose hearts Allah were guided and filled with Imaan. Their love for Allah, and their fear of associating partners with Allah and disobeying him caused them to leave their homes which were filled with polytheism and disbelief. For them, living in a cave with pure monotheism was better than living in a land of polytheism. Their Du’aa to Allah as they left their lavish dwellings was one which was deeply heart-felt, their soft hearts were filled with fear – fear of going astray, and their only call to Allah was, “Our Lord, grant us from Yourself mercy and prepare for us from our affair right guidance.”
Their hearts weren’t harboring any doubts about what might happen to them as they journeyed to the cave. They weren’t worried about how they would eat, where they would live but rather they placed their trust in Allah. Hoping that their Lord would guide them to the right place, that He would take care of them and shower His mercy upon them for fleeing from falsehood. For these particular youth, Tawheed was their most prized possession: their most valuable gift, and they wouldn’t trade it for any of the luxuries they ever had. They knew that their words and actions could not change their fathers and the people around them, who were drowning in Shirk, and so isolation was their only option. They would never compromise on their religion.
Oh youth, listen with a heart full of conviction, and listen in heed. These men were youth who valued their religion more than they valued the gold and the palaces they were brought up in. Mud and soil as a pillow was more beloved to them than soft-to-touch cushions lined with diamonds and gems. Allah doesn’t narrate to us stories without purpose; rather they are there to reminder us. Their sincere conviction became the reason their story has been preserved.
وَذَكِّرْ فَإِنَّ الذِّكْرَىٰ تَنفَعُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
Allah says: “And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers” [51:55]
نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ وَإِن كُنتَ مِن قَبْلِهِ لَمِنَ الْغَافِلِينَ
He also says: “We relate to you, [O Muhammad], the best of stories in what We have revealed to you of this Qur’an although you were, before it, among the unaware.” [12:3]
Oh youth of Islam, serve your religion from a young age, you have all the energy of youth on your side, right now. It is you who will carry Islam forward, and who will be the leaders of the future generation. Just like the companions of the cave, don’t compromise your religion for anything or anyone. You may not be the sons of Kings as they were, but for you it is lot easier than it was for them, to detach your hearts from falsehood, from the glitter of this world. Lastly, remember Allah grants believers steadfastness at the time of need, so flee to Him and He will bestow His mercy on you.
Just as the companions of the cave found eternal success through their conviction in Allah, you too can harness the power of conviction. Just put your faith and trust in Allah and constantly seek His guidance and keep moving forward towards your goals. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala guide us all to the best of success, ameen.
نُّورٌ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ
Light upon light…” [24:35]
When we gaze at the night sky we see stars shining brightly each one glistening, so beautiful to the eye.
Scholars have said that in the heavens are angels who look down at the earth, and find huge, bright stars, (كوكب) scattered in different places. What are these stars they see? These stars are the people on the earth who have the most beautiful light, the light of emaan glowing in their hearts.
And we know this because of the awe – inspiring ayah in the Qur’an, where Allah says:
اللَّهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ ۖ الْمِصْبَاحُ فِي زُجَاجَةٍ ۖ الزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ يُوقَدُ مِن شَجَرَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ زَيْتُونَةٍ لَّا شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِيءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌ ۚ نُّورٌ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ ۗ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ لِنُورِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass *as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree*, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.” [24:35]
So how can we understand this parable? Imagine, your body is a house. Your rib cage is a niche. Within the niche is a lamp – your heart, within your heart is your soul – the pearl white star which is lit by the Qur’an; the most blessed gift sent down to mankind.
This light does not rise and does not set, it does not extinguish, or disappear then reappear, rather it emanates continuously.
This is the example of the heart of a believer.
May Allah grant us all this light upon light and fill our hearts with imaan so we are like shining stars to the angels looking down from above, ameen.
وَكَلْبُهُمْ بَـسِطٌ ذِرَاعَيْهِ بِالوَصِيدِ
“…and their dog stretching forth his two forelegs at the entrance [of the Cave or in the space near to the entrance of the Cave (as a guard at the gate)]…” [18:18]
The people of the cave were pious individuals upon pure tawheed (monotheism), who sought refuge from the corrupt society they lived in. Allah decided that a dog – which is usually seen as an unclean and impure animal, should guard the entrance of the cave as to protect the men who were residing in it. This dog enjoyed the same blessing of preservation that these youth did in that cave. He got the same fame and status they did. This dog has the great fortune of being mentioned in the Qur’an! What does this teach us? This teaches us that the company we keep is very important. A dog is thought to be a lowly animal but he was known to be good because the people with him were good. He was honoured through his company.
If your friends are good and pious, then people will assume you are too.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “A person is on the religion of his companions. Therefore let every one of you carefully consider the company he keeps.” [Tirmidhi]
Be wary of the company that you keep. Make sure you surround yourself with good friends because it is human nature that we are influenced and shaped by those around us. This is a very important lesson to consider if you are trying to grow and change yourself for the better, first look at and change your company. Keep the company of people who will remind you of Allah and help you come closer to Him.
May Allah subahanhu wa ta’ala bless us with righteous friends, ameen.
الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَّعْلُومَاتٌ ۚ فَمَن فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ فَلَا رَفَثَ وَلَا فُسُوقَ وَلَا جِدَالَ فِي الْحَجِّ ۗ وَمَا تَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يَعْلَمْهُ اللَّـهُ ۗوَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَىٰ ۚ وَاتَّقُونِ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ
“Hajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of ihram], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Hajj. And whatever good you do – Allah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah . And fear Me, O you of understanding.” [2:197]
So, we were all geared up for Hajj – we had said our goodbyes to everyone at home, checked if we had packed everything, anticipated major hurdles, and we were ready to go. We had “taken our provisions,” as the verse states.
We got to the airport and it was so nice to see so many people in ihram – today was the last day for international flights to get in so we could really feel the vibe and energy from the crowd. It brought a sense of unity – that we were all going for one purpose. It was only starting to sink in now what a big deal this was…
The journey of a lifetime!
We didn’t mind that check-in took a while because everything is a test of patience after all, and we had heard SO much about having patience on this journey. Little did we know that we would need to use it so early on.
Somehow the crowd dwindled and we were the only ones left. I could sense something was not right by the agitation of my brother-in-law and father but we only found out the gravity of the situation later – we had managed to get offloaded from the flight. This was the last flight out for this journey of a lifetime. We had been preparing for this mentally, financially, physically and emotionally for so long. The thought that it may not happen was too much to handle. I felt a bit numb but it also made me think. Were my intentions correct for this pilgrimage? Or was it something I had gotten used to the idea of? How much did I really want to go?
All that was put in perspective at that point. What could we do though? The minutes ticked by and soon it was time for take-off, and we were still no closer than before to getting on this plane that had no available seats. We were even willing to sit in the air hostess’s seats, but to no avail!
Missing the flight would not have been as big a deal if we had had more time. The fact that only Saudia Arabians were allowed in from the next day made things infinitely more difficult and the possibility that we might not go at all was looming over our heads.
Somehow though, I was also rather calm. I made du’a and peace with the fact that everything happens only by Allah’s command.
قُل لَّن يُصِيبَنَا إِلَّا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّـهُ لَنَا هُوَ مَوْلَانَا ۚ وَعَلَى اللَّـهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ
“Say, ‘Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector.’ And upon Allah let the believers rely.” [9:51]
It took some time and tons of patience, but we finally managed to get tickets on a flight to Doha the next day on Qatar Airways, and to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on a connecting flight. The bonus was free tickets for all of us to Jeddah (next umrah trip!) and a free hotel stay for the night. One more day to relax, recuperate, and set our intentions straight.
A huge relief after a huge test. And we got more good out of it in the end. It is like Allah says in the Qur’an:
وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
“…But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you LOVE a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” [2:216]
This was just the end of the beginning…
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy, All praise is for Allah. We look for His help, pray for forgiveness and seek refuge from our evils and misdeeds.
No one can mislead whom He guides and no one can guide whom He misguides. I witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, the one without a partner. I also witness that Muhammad is His servant and His messenger. May Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings.
Qur’an; the words of Allah. Words so heavy that they can destroy the mountains but yet so light upon the hearts of the believers.
“And if there was any qur’an by which the mountains would be removed or the earth would be broken apart or the dead would be made to speak, [it would be this Qur’an].” [13:31]
If we really think deeply about this verse, they will realise just how powerful and mighty the words of Allah are. It is their miraculous nature that despite their power and magnificence, these words are easy on the tongue and the mind.
“And indeed, We have made the Quran easy to understand and remember, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)?” [54:17]
It is this ease that brings with it a test and a trial. Anyone can recite it, anyone can read it, anyone can speak about it and anyone can claim to understand its meanings.
We see corruption (fasad) today as people profess to understand the meaning, the tafseer of the words of Allah subhanAllaah wa’ ta’ala without knowledge.
“Whoever talks about the Qur’an without proper knowledge makes room for himself in Hell” [Ahman, Musnad]
This is something anyone can fall into. How often do we quote ayaat of the Qur’an without any proper knowledge, sometimes only to gain the upper hand in a dispute?
“Whoever talks about the Qur’an merely on the basis of his reason is a sinner, even though what he says is right” [al-Tirmidhi]
Al Tirmidhi has reported the hadeeth as rare (gharib), however, a number of scholars from the companions and salaf have agreed with the meaning. One must not speak without knowledge about the Qur’an, relying entirely on his own reason. Even if what one says is right, it is still a sin, as he has not followed the command to speak only with knowledge.
In the Qur’an, Allah refers to slanderers as liars even though what they say could be true. “And when they do not produce the witnesses, it is they, in the sight of Allah, who are the liars.” [24:13]
If one does not bring knowledge as a witness to what he says, then he is simply conjecturing about the meanings of Allah’s words. In the case that he is right, his sin is less severe than in the case of the one whose judgement is wrong. This is why a number of the salaf used to refrain from speaking about the Quran when they did not posses proper knowledge.
Talq ibn Habeeb went to Jundub ibn Abdullah (radiyaallahu ‘anhu) and asked about a verse of the Quran. He said: “Go away from me, if you are a Muslim.” Al Sha’bee, from Masrood said “Beware of tafseer! It is in fact reporting from Allaah”
Yet, despite the seriousness of speaking about Allah and His words without knowledge, it has become rampant among the ummah. People derive rulings that satisfy their desires, or to achieve a worldly gain – they are those who have sold the verses of Allah for a small price.
“..do not exchange My signs for a small price, and fear [only] Me.” [2:41]
Even Abu Bakr radhyAllahu anh, the greatest of all the companions, when he was asked about a verse in Surah al-Abbasa: “wa faakihatan wa abba,” said: “What earth will hold me, and what heaven will protect me if I say something concerning the Book of Allah which I do not know”
May Allah protect us from speaking about Allah and His verses without proper knowledge.