Surat al Kahf: Achieving serenity in faith
Every Friday we are recommended to recite Surat al Kahf which is part of the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) because through it we are granted a special light during the week until the following Friday.
Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ مَنْ قَرَأَ سُورَةَ الْكَهْفِ فِي يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ أَضَاءَ لَهُ مِنَ النُّورِ مَا بَيْنَ الْجُمُعَتَيْنِ
“Whoever recites Surat al-Kahf on Friday, a light will shine for him between this Friday and the next.” (Bayhaqi)
In this surah is the story of the people of the cave, who were some youths that believed in Allah and He increased them in guidance.
نَّحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ نَبَأَهُم بِالْحَقِّ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ فِتْيَةٌ آمَنُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ وَزِدْنَاهُمْ هُدًى
We relate to you their story in truth. They were youths who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance. (18:13)
وَرَبَطْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ إِذْ قَامُوا فَقَالُوا رَبُّنَا رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَن نَّدْعُوَ مِن دُونِهِ إِلَٰهًا ۖ لَّقَدْ قُلْنَا إِذًا شَطَطًا
And We strengthened their hearts, when they stood up and said, “Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth; we will not call on any god besides Him, for then we would have spoken an outrage.” (18:14)
هَٰؤُلَاءِ قَوْمُنَا اتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِهِ آلِهَةً ۖ لَّوْلَا يَأْتُونَ عَلَيْهِم بِسُلْطَانٍ بَيِّنٍ ۖ فَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِبًا
“These people, our people, have taken to themselves gods other than Him. Why do they not bring a clear proof concerning them? Who, then, does greater wrong than he who invents lies and attributes them to God?” (18:15)
وَإِذِ اعْتَزَلْتُمُوهُمْ وَمَا يَعْبُدُونَ إِلَّا اللَّهَ فَأْوُوا إِلَى الْكَهْفِ يَنشُرْ لَكُمْ رَبُّكُم مِّن رَّحْمَتِهِ وَيُهَيِّئْ لَكُم مِّنْ أَمْرِكُم مِّرْفَقًا
“Now that you have withdrawn from them, and from what they worship besides God, take shelter in the cave. And your Lord will unfold His mercy for you, and will set your affair towards ease.” (18:16)
What is the significance in the fact they were youth?
They could have been old people, but Allah specified that they were youth. Usually the youth do not have resilience, tolerance, discipline and wisdom. Rather they are often immature, lack responsibility and can be reckless. However these youths were different and here we are given a description of the people Allah loved.
The reason is that these youths believed in Allah and their imaan was very strong and their sincerity was real, to the extent they spread the message as much as possible but when they got no response they were inspired by Allah Almighty to leave their city and retreat to a cave to protect themselves from being killed.
It is not an easy task to leave what you love for the sake of Allah especially when you are young. However there is a lesson in this that callers to Allah Almighty should expect and be aware that reality is harsh, challenging and full of obstacles. Being ready to sacrifice what you love for this mission is part and parcel of this task.
What made them reach this high level?
These young men were ready to sacrifice everything for Allah’s sake and thus Allah specially mentioned them in the Quran – this is one of the fruits of their sincerity (Ikhlas) to Allah.
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) received the first revelation in the cave of Hira, his heart was shaken and he was trembling. His beloved wife Khadija took him to see her cousin Waraqa bin Nawfal to hear his story. The Prophet (peace be upon him) told Waraqah what had happened and Waraqah commented that he wished he could be alive when the people would cast Muhammad (peace be upon him) out of his hometown. This is because no man ever brought the divine message without encountering hostility and aggression or being expelled from his city.
فَقَالَتْ لَهُ خَدِيجَةُ يَا ابْنَ عَمِّ اسْمَعْ مِنَ ابْنِ أَخِيكَ. فَقَالَ لَهُ وَرَقَةُ يَا ابْنَ أَخِي مَاذَا تَرَى فَأَخْبَرَهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم خَبَرَ مَا رَأَى. فَقَالَ لَهُ وَرَقَةُ هَذَا النَّامُوسُ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ اللَّهُ عَلَى مُوسَى صلى الله عليه وسلم يَا لَيْتَنِي فِيهَا جَذَعًا، لَيْتَنِي أَكُونُ حَيًّا إِذْ يُخْرِجُكَ قَوْمُكَ. فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” أَوَمُخْرِجِيَّ هُمْ ”. قَالَ نَعَمْ، لَمْ يَأْتِ رَجُلٌ قَطُّ بِمِثْلِ مَا جِئْتَ بِهِ إِلاَّ عُودِيَ، وَإِنْ يُدْرِكْنِي يَوْمُكَ أَنْصُرْكَ نَصْرًا مُؤَزَّرًا. البخاري.
Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) said to Waraqa, “Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!” Waraqa asked, “O my nephew! What have you seen?” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) described whatever he had seen. Waraqa said, “This is the same one who keeps the secrets (angel Gabriel) whom Allah had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) asked, “Will they drive me out?” Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said, “Anyone (man) who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly.” (Bukhari)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was ready to sacrifice everything he had to spread Islam. 13 years after the first revelation, he was rejected by his people and migrated to Madinah. This was a huge sacrifice. In the story of Heraclius and Abu Sufyan, Heraclius posed ten questions to establish whether Muhammad (peace be upon him) was indeed a prophet. He asked if anyone who had accepted imaan had then rejected it. Abu Sufyan said no one had done this. Heraclius said this was the sign of true imaan. When you have true imaan serenity settles in your heart and gives you special energy and protection and we have seen this a lot in the sunnah.
‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:
عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، أَنَّ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عَبَّاسٍ، أَخْبَرَهُ قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي أَبُو سُفْيَانَ، أَنَّ هِرَقْلَ، قَالَ لَهُ سَأَلْتُكَ هَلْ يَزِيدُونَ أَمْ يَنْقُصُونَ، فَزَعَمْتَ أَنَّهُمْ يَزِيدُونَ، وَكَذَلِكَ الإِيمَانُ حَتَّى يَتِمَّ. وَسَأَلْتُكَ هَلْ يَرْتَدُّ أَحَدٌ سَخْطَةً لِدِينِهِ بَعْدَ أَنْ يَدْخُلَ فِيهِ، فَزَعَمْتَ أَنْ لاَ، وَكَذَلِكَ الإِيمَانُ حِينَ تُخَالِطُ بَشَاشَتُهُ الْقُلُوبَ، لاَ يَسْخَطُهُ أَحَدٌ. رواه البخاري.
I was informed by Abu Sufyan that Heraclius said to him, “I asked you whether they (followers of Muhammad) were increasing or decreasing. You replied that they were increasing. And in fact, this is the way of true Faith till it is complete in all respects. I further asked you whether there was anybody, who, after embracing his (the Prophets) religion (Islam) became displeased and discarded it. You replied in the negative, and in fact, this is (a sign of) true faith. When its delight enters the hearts and mixes with them completely, nobody can be displeased with it.” (Bukhari)
Al-‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying:
عَنِ الْعَبَّاسِ بْنِ عَبْدِ الْمُطَّلِبِ ، أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ : ” ذَاقَ طَعْمَ الْإِيمَانِ مَنْ رَضِيَ بِاللَّهِ رَبًّا، وَبِالْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا، وَبِمُحَمَّدٍ رَسُولًا “. رواه مسلم والترمذي وأحمد.
“He has found the taste of faith (imaan) who is content with Allah as his Lord, with Islam as his religion (code of life) and with Muhammad (ﷺ) as his messenger”. (Imam Muslim, Tirmidhi and Ahmad)
How can we reach this level?
The Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned a straight forward hadith that one will taste the sweetness of imaan when he fulfils three criteria: he believes in Allah and accepts Him as his lord, he accepts Islam as his religion and he accepts Muhammad (peace be upon him) as his prophet.
Thawban (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
عَنْ ثَوْبَانَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَنْ قَالَ حِينَ يُمْسِي رَضِيتُ بِاللَّهِ رَبًّا وَبِالْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا وَبِمُحَمَّدٍ نَبِيًّا كَانَ حَقًّا عَلَى اللَّهِ أَنْ يُرْضِيَهُ
“Whoever says when he enters the evening, ‘I am pleased with Allah as a Lord, with Islam as a religion, and with Muhammad as a prophet,’ it will be a duty upon Allah to please him.” (Tirmidhi)
These three steps enable us to achieve serenity in imaan:
- Tawheed (Oneness of Allah): Acknowledging and believing in the oneness and uniqueness of Allah as the only true God, the Creator, and the Sustainer of the universe. This belief is the foundation of Islamic monotheism and is the core principle of faith.
- Good actions: Engaging in righteous deeds and acts of worship, fulfilling the obligations prescribed by Allah and following the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him). These actions include performing the five daily prayers, giving charity, fasting, and striving to live a life that is pleasing to Allah.
- Good character: Emulating the character and manners of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by being kind, honest, just, and merciful towards others. Cultivating virtues such as patience, gratitude, forgiveness, and humility not only strengthens one’s relationship with Allah but also improves interpersonal relationships and fosters a harmonious society.
By incorporating these three steps into our lives—affirming the oneness of Allah, engaging in good deeds, and embodying good character—we can enhance our faith and experience serenity and contentment in our hearts.
We ask Allah to enable us to follow the footsteps of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and have the serenity of imaan. Ameen
Shaykh Haytham Tamim 7th July 2023
- Growing up as a young Muslim (part 2)
- Growing up as a young Muslim (part 1)
- Being good neighbours
- Mirroring the Prophet (peace be upon him)
- Knowing Allah through His Beautiful Names – Al Jameel, Al Jaleel, Al Kareem
September 22, 2023
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