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We have recently meditated upon various Surahs of the Quran Majid that we are all familiar with and recite regularly. We will now turn towards a Surah of the Quran Majid that we are less familiar with, so that we can deepen our spiritual understanding, in sha Allah.
Before we begin this series of meditations on Surah al-Kahf, let us first set the intention as to why we are doing so. Amirul Mumineen (AS) advised Imam Hassan (AS) that the heart of a youth is like a piece of uncultivated land. Amirul Mumineen (AS) then advised that it should be cultivated with the Quran Majid before this dunya has the opportunity to cultivate it.
This is our intention behind understanding the Surahs of the Quran Majid. Through understanding them, we are cultivating our heart before the duniya cultivates it, so that the seeds of wisdom that are within the Quran Majid can bear fruit in our lives, in sha Allah. Each Surah is like a different seed and the more that we can understand each seed, the greater the variety and quality of these fruits will be.
Alhamdolillah, we are from amongst the people who understand the importance of the Quran Majid and each Surah and, as a result, we are spending our entire life, until our deathbed, strengthening our relationship with the Quran Majid and cultivating our heart through its wisdom, for the rest of our life, in sha Allah.
Throughout our life, we habitually recite various Surahs of the Quran Majid because we have been told to do so and it has become our routine. We recite the shorter Surahs when we perform Salaat and we recite Surah Yaseen in the morning. However, when we start to understand the importance of the other Surahs, we will, in sha Allah, begin to recite them more as we begin to appreciate their importance.
It is with this intention that we will begin to understand the importance of Surah al-Kahf.
Rasulullah (SAW) highlights the importance of Surah al-Kahf to us. Rasulullah (SAW) said that when Surah al-Kahf was revealed, 70,000 angels descended to reveal it to Rasulullah (SAW), not just one as in the case of many Surahs.
Furthermore, Imam Jaffar-us Sadiq (AS) explains that the person who recites Surah al-Kahf will not only die as a Shaheed but will be counted as if they are a Shaheed who died alongside Rasulullah (SAW).
Rasulullah (SAW) also said that the person who recites the first ten verses of Surah al-Kahf on after Maghrib on Thursday (so that it counts as the night of Jum’a), their sins are forgiven from that night until the night of the next Jum’a.
Most importantly, however, Rasulullah (SAW) has guaranteed that the person who recites Surah al-Kahf will not be on the side of the Dajjal (LA) when he (LA) fights Imam-uz-Zaman (AS).
These are the benefits of reciting Surah al-Kahf and may Allah (SWT) awaken within us a desire to recite this Surah the night of every Friday, so that our sins for the week ahead are forgiven, in sha Allah.
When we begin our tafseer of Surah al-Kahf, we begin to realise why Rasulullah (SAW) and our Imams (AS) have given this Surah so much importance.
Surah al-Kahf begins with the words Alhamdolillah. Only five Surahs of the Quran Majid begin with Alhamdolillah (Surah al-Fateha, Surah Saba, Surah Fatir, Surah al-An’am and Surah al-Kahf).
The first four Surahs that we mentioned begin by praising Allah’s (SWT) creation of the universe (for example in Surah al-An’am, Allah (SWT) begins by saying ‘[All] praise is [due] to Allah, who created the heavens and the earth and made the darkness and the light’).
Surah al-Kahf, however, begins not by praising Allah (SWT) as the creator of the universe, but by praising Allah’s (SWT) creation of legislation to protect the people who live within the universe that Allah (SWT) has created, by sending Rasulullah (SAW) and, with Rasulullah (SAW), the Quran Majid which is the legislative book that guides us.
Allah (SWT) has authority over us in two ways: creation and legislation.
The first way is in creation, as we worship Allah (SWT) because He (SWT) has created us and, through this, He (SWT) is our Lord, as if He (SWT) had not created us, we simply would not exist.
The second way is in legislation, we are obedient to the laws that Allah (SWT) has made for us and has made clear to us through the Quran Majid and through Rasulullah (SAW). Allah’s (SWT) authority is that, on the Day of Judgment, Allah (SWT) will judge us according to how we have followed these laws and we will be given our reward or punishment accordingly.
Whereas the four Surahs that begin with Alhamdolillah (Surah al-Fateha, Surah Saba, Surah Fatir and Surah al-An’am) look at the authority that Allah (SWT) has over us through creation, Surah al-Kahf demonstrates the legislative authority that Allah (SWT) has over us.
The importance of these Surahs beginning with Alhamdolillah is also significant as it has a deeper philosophy behind it, which we will now explore, in sha Allah.
When a Surah begins with Alhamdolillah, it is because the person reciting Alhamdolillah is recognising Allah’s (SWT) nehmat (blessing).
In Dua Kumayl, Amirul Mumineen (AS) expands upon the meaning of nehmat (blessing), by combinining it with naqehmat (adversity). Amirul Mumineen (AS) says:
يَا سَاِبغَ النِّعَمِ
يَا دَافِعَ النِّقَمِ
(O Ample in blessings!
O Repeller of adversities!)
This is the importance of Alhamdolillah, as by remembering Allah’s (SWT) blessings, you are also repelling adversities and calamities.
In Surah Luqman, Allah (SWT) describes the concept of nehmat in further detail. Allah (SWT) says, in the 20th ayah:
In this ayah, we see that Allah (SWT) describes nehmats as both seen (external) and unseen (internal).
When we look at our external nehmats, we can include many things, such as our senses with which we perceive the external world. Our sight, for example is an external nehmat.
When Hisham bin Hakam went to Imam Jaffar-us Sadiq (AS), Hisham told the Imam (AS) that the atheists had asked him a difficult question. Hisham said that they had asked him if Allah (SWT) could fit the entire universe into an egg, without it getting bigger or smaller.
The Imam (AS) answered this by asking Hisham about the smallest part (the lens of the eye) of the smallest sense (our sight). The Imam (AS) asked if we could see mountains, trees, oceans etc and Hisham said that he could. The Imam (AS) then said that if Allah (SWT) could fit these into our small eyes (so that we could see them), surely, he could fit the entire universe into an egg (as we would use the same eyes to perceive that as we do to perceive the mountains, trees and oceans.
Therefore, our sight, for example, is an external nehmat with which we perceive the external world.
Likewise, in the same way that our sight can help us to see the majesty in Allah’s (SWT) creation and to thank Allah (SWT), we do not need this external nehmat in order to thank Allah (SWT). A blind person can say Alhamdolillah just as often and as strongly as someone with sight.
Isa (AS) asked Allah (SWT) who the most thankful person was. Allah (SWT) told Isa (AS) to walk to the end of the road and He (AS) would see a lady. When Isa (AS) walked, He (AS) first saw that she had no feet. As He (AS) walked closer, He (AS) saw that she had no hands. As He (AS) approached her, He (AS) saw that she was blind.
Isa (AS) asked her why Allah (SWT) had said that she was the most grateful, despite having so many challenges. She replied by saying how merciful Allah (SWT) was that He (SWT) had not given her feet to take her towards sin, hands which could commit sin and sight with which she could see that which could be sinful.
Even though Allah (SWT) has given us external nehmats, they can either be used for good or bad and, even we are lacking them, we can either perceive their lack as good or bad.
This is why Allah (SWT) differentiates us according to our recognition of these nehmats.
There are those who neglected Allah’s (SWT) nehmats. In one ayah, for example, Allah (SWT) says ‘They know Allah’s (SWT) blessings but they neglect them’
When we see the people who Allah (SWT) freed from Phiroan (LA), we see how quickly they forgot Allah’s (SWT) nehmats. Allah (SWT) saved them from Phiroan (LA), split the Red Sea so that they could pass and brought them to a land where they were free. However, soon after they had forgotten this blessing and their Lord and were worshiping an idol of a golden calf instead.
There are those who took Allah’s (SWT) nehmats and went into disbelief. Allah (SWT) says ‘Have you seen those people who changed my blessings and went to kufr?’
When Isa (AS) performed His (AS) miracles, such as walking on water, Allah (SWT) says in the Quran Majid that this was done through Allah’s (SWT) permission. However, this has been neglected and seen as a miracle of Isa (AS) and not of Allah (SWT), who allowed it and, consequently, they have gone towards kufr.
Conversely, there are also those who say:
May Allah (SWT) keep us amongst this third group as we follow the path of those who have received the most nehmats, so that we are blessed with greater nehmats and saved from naqehmats. May Allah (SWT) make us amongst those who understand, appreciate and spread news of our nehmats:
May Allah (SWT) give us the wisdom and understanding to cultivate our hearts through understanding the Quran Majid. May we familiarize ourselves with all 114 Surahs of the Quran Majid so that we can have a deeper understanding of our faith, our purpose and our relationship with Allah (SWT). May we strengthen our understanding of Surah al-Kahf so that we can understand the legislative authority that Allah (SWT) has over us and may we begin it by understanding Alhamdolillah, where we appreciate the external and internal nehmats that Allah (SWT) has given us, so that we can protect ourselves from the naqehmats that sin and transgression will lead us to. May we recite Surah al-Kahf every Thursday night, after Maghrib, so that our sins for the following week are forgiven and so that we remain closer to Allah (SWT), in sha Allah.