Monday, April 20, 2009

Ashabul Kahf (Part 1)

Entrance to the Cave


O son, may you learn the morals exemplified by the Ashabul Kahf and know that Allah will protect you if your himma (determination) to defend your faith surpass what may have been more desirable for a youth. This is a story of seven young men who fled into a cave for fear of losing their iman, a compelling story mentioned in Surah No 18 of the Qur'an, a surah named after these young devout royals. Like most believers I fell for them the first instant I read their story but hearing from Habib Ali Zainal Abidin spoke about these gentlemen has made me adore them even more.

In Surah al-Kahf, apart from the fable of the seven sleepers, it also comprise two other major subjects, namely a lesson on ruh as given in the story of Khidr and Musa; and about Zulkarnain the great traveler. These parables are major lessons in their own right. Khidr, Musa and Zulkarnain are prominent characters, yet, the Ashabul Kahf was chosen to be the surah's title. That says a lot about these men who lived between the time of the prophethood of Nabi Musa a.s. and Nabi Muhammad s.a.w and who were followers of Isawi teachings.

Allah in His mercy made the sun rise and set in such a way that the Ashabul Kahf would not be affected by its rays. "And you might have seen the sun when it rose, declining to the right from their Cave and when it set, turning away from them to the left, while they lay in the midst of the cave. That is the proof of Allah. He whom Allah guides he is the rightly-guided but he whom He sends astray, for him you will find no Wali (guiding friend) to lead him" (Al Kahf:17)

According to Habib Ali Zainal Abidin, Allah could have placed a rock or any covering at the mouth of the cave so as to protect the Ashabul Kahf, but Allah wanted to grant His bounties by instructing the sun to be of service to them. Allah also made them "turn on their right and on their left sides, and their dog stretching forth his two forelegs at the entrance."
If God had not made them twist and turn they would have been consumed by the earth for that is the sunnah of Allah for it. What is more amazing is that Allah even made a dog affectionate towards them - the solehin -'yuhibbu solehin'. So who are we not to love the solehin? Imagine a dog getting mentioned in the holy Book. It was narrated that as the dog was tailing the men while they were taking refuge, Allah made the dog speak to them saying that he knew they were fleeing for Allah's sake and that he wanted to follow and guard them!

This story of Ashabul Kahf is loaded with precious lessons especially for the young people who are often easily distracted and whose iman is vulnerable. It is not only a parable which fascinates our mind but Allah promises that reciting its verses would bring us tremendous benefits as follows:

1. Those who memorize the first 10 and/or the last 10 verses will be protected from fitnah Dajjal.
2. Hussain Ibn Hudair while reciting this verse had made his horse neighed for it saw clouds descending onto his home. The clouds were visible manifestation of sakinah that Allah promised to those who recite the Qur'an. Even if there was no physical evidence, the hearts are able to feel the serenity and blessings.
3. For houses in which the Qur'an are being recited, the angels will see them shine like stars just as we human see the stars shining as a guiding light in the night skies. Likewise, if we were to recite any verses such as Al-Fatihah or Yaasin before a corpse or burial place, the recipients will benefit from the light of the Qur'an in the same manner.
4. Anyone who recites Surah al-Kahf on a friday, will be granted protection from all kinds of fitnah and his sins pardoned until the next friday.
5. Allah will grant those who recite the Qur'an, a bright light shining forth from his feet to the highest skies and Allah will reserve these for him during the darkest hours in the hereafter.
6. Whoever recites the last 5 verses of al-Kahf before bedtime, he shall wake up at whatever time he wants.
7. A house in which Surah al-Kahf is recited will be protected from shayatin and certainly the best protection is from Allah the Most High.

O son, I hope you will feel encouraged to amal Surah al-Kahf as much as I was motivated hearing this tausiyah (lesson) from Habib Ali Zainal Abidin. Although I have already known some of the virtues of Surah al-Kahf listed above, hearing it from Habib Ali has left a lasting impression in my heart, bi-iznillah. Certainly, the barakah that one gets from learning directly from a guru cannot be over emphasized. May Allah increase us in knowledge and make us steadfast in our amal. Allahumma Ameen.

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