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We are currently meditating upon Surah al-Kahf and last week we began to understand the first word of the first ayah, Alhamdolillah. We discussed how we say Alhamdolillah for two purposes, the first is to remember Allah’s (SWT) Nehmats and the second is to protect ourselves from naqehmats (adversities).
In this meditation, we will, in sha Allah, go deeper into understanding the opening ayah of Surah al-Kahf:
Starting of Surahs
As we mentioned in our previous meditation, there are five Surahs of the Quran Majid that begin with Alhamdolillah (Surah al-Fateha, Surah Saba, Surah Fatir, Surah al-An’am and Surah al-Kahf). The first four are focused on Allah’s (SWT) creation of the universe, whilst the Alhamdolillah of Surah al-Kahf is focused on the legislation within the universe.
In the same way that the universe is controlled by laws, for example, the laws of gravity and motion, our lives are also controlled by laws and rules. Allah (SWT) has decreed how we must live our life and what He (SWT) expects from us. On the Day of Judgment, we will be held accountable for this and we will either be sent to Jannat or Jahannam accordingly.
This legislation that Allah (SWT) has given us is a mercy upon us. When we begin a course, we study all of the material, not knowing what we will be asked and tested on in the final exam. This life is a test, the only difference is that Allah (SWT) has made it very easy for us to pass by giving us the answers of how to pass this test. It is as if we have been given the exam paper on the first day of term, as opposed to the day of the exam.
The reason why Surah al-Kahf begins with Alhamdolillah is because we are grateful to Allah (SWT) for the way He (SWT) has given us an understanding of the legislation of the universe and our life. We will enter the Day of Judgment fully aware of what we will be tested upon and have our whole life to dedicate to passing this test and, consequently, avoiding the greatest punishment and avoiding the greatest reward.
When we look at the first ayah of Surah al-Kahf, we see that Allah (SWT) has given us the two paths of His (SWT) legislation. Allah (SWT) says ‘Abde-hil kitaba.’ Allah (SWT) has given his abd (his servant), Rasulullah (SAW) the kitab, the Quran Majid. By joining these two paths of legislation together in this ayah, Allah (SWT) has kept them together until the Day of Judgment.
In order to understand this, let us use the example of a person in a boat. In order to navigate the boat, they have two oars, one that moves them left and one that moves them right. These oars balance the boat and only by using both, they take that person to their destination.
In a similar way, we can say that the Quran Majid is one oar and the Sunnah of Rasulullah (SAW) is the other oar. When both oars are in place, only then can we get to our destination.
We have seen throughout history what happens when we neglect one oar. In Karbala, on the Day of Ashura, the enemies of Imam Hussain (AS) were Muslim, they recited the Quran Majid and prayed salaat.
However, they had neglected the Sunnah of Rasulullah (SAW). They had forgotten how Rasulullah (SAW) would raise Imam Hussein (AS) on his shoulders and how much love and respect Rasulullah (SAW) showed for the Imam (AS). They had neglected how important a part of the Sunnah the love of the Ahlul-Bayt (AS) is.
In this sense, we can see that the enemies of Imam Hussein (AS) had one oar, the oar of the Quran Majid, but had neglected the second oar, the Sunnah of Rasulullah (SAW), which is why they had gone in the wrong direction, instead of reaching the correct destination.
Although the Day of Ashura was 1400 years ago, we see this in our world today. We see how the greatest killers of Muslims in this world are other Muslims. Instead of adhering to the Sunnah of Rasulullah (SAW) and living as one ummah, they have misinterpreted this and instead kill their Muslim brothers and sisters, rather than living peacefully.
Allah (SWT) has joined ‘Abde-hil kitaba’ for a deeper reason. When we lose one, we invariably lose both. When we loosen our relationship and lose our understanding of the Quran Majid, we soon start to loosen our relationship and lose our adherence to the Sunnah of Rasulullah (SAW).
Both are linked because both are inseparable. When we strengthen one, the other strengthens. When we loosen one, the other loosens. When we abandon one, we invariably abandon the other.
This is why, on the day of Ghadeer, Rasulullah (SAW) said that those who keep tight to two things will never go astray. The first is the Quran Majid and the second is His’ (SAW) family. In Sunni traditions, it is mentioned from one hadith source that Rasulullah (SAW) said that the two things are the Quran Majid and His (SAW) Sunnah.
In both cases, the message is the same, in the first ayah of Surah al-Kahf, Allah (SWT) has joined the Quran Majid and Rasulullah’s (SAW) Sunnah and, consequently, His (SAW) family who are our role-models in following his (SAW) Sunnah correctly and appropriately. On the day of Ghadeer, Rasulullah (SAW) perfected the religion of Islam by re-enforcing this joining until the Day of Judgment.
By following the Quran Majid and the Sunnah of Rasulullah (SAW), through the teachings of the Imams (AS), we will live according to the legislation that Allah (SWT) has created for us and, consequently, we will pass our test in this world and be rewarded for it on the Day of Judgment. By neglecting one, we will invariably weaken and neglect the other and live outside of the legislation that Allah (SWT) has created for us and, consequently, we will be punished for on the day of Judgment.
When we return back to our example of the exam paper, we understand why we have a greater responsibility than anyone else. Imagine that only a few members of the class were given the exam paper on the first day of class and the rest had to wait until the final exam to find out what the questions were. Who would you expect to be the most likely to pass?
As we have been given the understanding of the legislative laws and rules by which Allah (SWT) will judge us, there is a greater responsibility on us to adhere to them. This is why we must hold tighter to the two oars, the Quran Majid and the Sunnah of Rasulullah (SAW), as Allah (SWT) has made it easier for us to reach our desired destination and, consequently, there is a greater disappointment and punishment for us if we do not, through deviation and crookedness along our journey.
May Allah (SWT) give us the strength and wisdom to follow the straight path, the siratul-mustaqeem, and to use Abde-hil kitaba to ensure that when we move to the left or the right of this straight path, we can adjust to return back to it. May we keep the Quran Majid and the Sunnah of Rasulullah (SAW), that has been explained and embodied for us by our Imams (AS), close to us so that our relationship and understanding of them does not loosen and weaken. May they guide us, through adhering to the laws and rules that Allah (SWT) has commanded us to live by through the Quran Majid and through their examples, to our final destination, jannat al-firdaus, which we will reach on the Day of Judgment. Aamin.