Lecture 7 in Tafseer series on Surah Kahf in Month of Ramadaan delivered by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider at Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town on 9 April 2022
In the following verses Almighty Allah continues to address Prophet Muhammad (sawa). The overall subject did not change though from the previous verses.
THE PARABLE OF THE UNGRATEFUL MAN AND THE GRATEFUL ONE
Surah Kahf Verse 32 states:
وَاضْرِبْ لَهُم مَثَلاً رَجُلَيْنِ جَعَلْنَا لاَحَدِهِمَا جَنَّتَيْنِ مِنْ أَعْنَابٍ وَحَفَفْنَاهُمَا بِنَخْلٍ وَجَعَلْنَا بَيْنَهُمَا زَرْعاً
“And (O’ Prophet!) coin for them a parable: Two men, We made for one of them two gardens of vines and We surrounded them with date-palms and We placed between them tillage.”
Almighty Allah is telling Prophet Muhammad (sawa) to say to the same elite who are conscious about their wealth this parable.
Allah made for the one person two gardens! People think they did it themselves but Allah is said to have made the gardens for him.
Surah Kahf Verse 33 states:
كِلْتَا الْجَنَّتَيْنِ ءَاتَتْ اُكُلَهَا وَلَمْ تَظْلِم مِنْهُ شَيْئاً وَفَجَّرْنَا خِلاَلَهُمَا نَهَراً
“Both of the gardens gave their fruits and withheld naught thereof: and We caused a river to gush forth in their midst.”
The gardens yielded a perfect maximum yield of abundant fruit. This made him arrogant.
Surah Kahf Verse 34 states:
وَكَانَ لَهُ ثَمَرٌ فَقَالَ لِصَاحِبِهِ وَهُوَ يُحَاوِرُهُ أَنَاْ أَكْثَرُ مِنكَ مَالاً وَأَعَزُّ نَفَراً
“And he had fruits (in abundance), so he said to his companion, as he was conversing with him: ‘I have greater wealth than you, and am mightier in respect of men’.”
The man’s new found wealth made him arrogant and he started acting high and mighty.
Surah Kahf Verse 35 states:
وَدَخَلَ جَنَّتَهُ وَهُوَ ظَالِمٌ لّـِنَفْسِهِ قَالَ مَآ أَظُنُّ أَن تَبِيدَ هَذِهِ أَبَداً
“And he entered his garden while he was unjust to himself. He said: ‘I do not think that this will ever perish,”
Previously Allah said Allah made the gardens but says in this verse that he entered his garden because he thinks it is his. He now thought his garden is eternal.
Surah Kahf Verse 36 states:
وَمَآ أَظُنُّ السَّاعَةَ قَآئِمَةً وَلَئِن رُّدِدتُّ إِلَي رَبّـِي لاَجِدَنَّ خَيْراً مِنْهَا مُنقَلَباً
“And I do not think that the Hour (of Resurrection) will come, and even if I am returned unto my Lord, I shall surely find a better than this a resort’.”
The height of his arrogance was that he thought there’s no Hereafter and even if it exists then he is under the illusion that his Lord will give him even better than what he has in this world. He felt safe from his Lord.
HIS COMPANION HAS A DIALOGUE WITH HIM
Surah Kahf Verse 37 states:
قَالَ لَهُ صَاحِبُهُ وَهُوَ يُحَاوِرُهُ أَكَفَرْتَ بِالَّذِي خَلَقَكَ مِن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِن نُطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ سَوَّاكَ رَجُلاً
“His companion said to him, as he was conversing with him; ‘Do you disbelieve in Him Who created you from dust then from a sperm-drop, then He fashioned you a (complete) man?”
Note that the arrogant man believed in Allah but denied the Hereafter and accountability. But his friend starts his argument by saying the arrogant man denied Allah overall.
That is because such a person effectively denies Allah’s existence and power to resurrect him. The arrogant man’s problem was not Resurrection but God Himself.
Many people are agnostic in approach as it’s very difficult to deny the existence of God. But they then confidently appear skeptical about Resurrection. The root cause of such people’s problem is denial of God Himself.
Surah Kahf Verse 38 states:
لَكِنَّ هُوَ اللَّهُ رَبّـِي وَلآ اُشْرِكُ بِرَبّـِي أَحَداً
“But, as for me He, Allah, is my Lord, and none do I associate with my Lord.”
Even though this man was probably poor as no mention is made of his possessions, he still confidently says to his friend that he believes in Pure Tauhid.
NEVER ACT DEVOID OF ACKNOWLEDGING POWER OF ALLAH
He then confidently also says to his arrogant friend as Surah Kahf Verse 39 states:
وَلَوْلآ إِذْ دَخَلْتَ جَنَّتَكَ قُلْتَ مَا شَآءَ اللَّهُ لاَ قُوَّةَ إِلاَّ بِاللَّهِ إِن تَرَنِ أَنَاْ أَقَلَّ مِنكَ مَالاً وَوَلَداً
“And why did you not say when you entered your garden: ‘As Allah will, there is no power except in Allah’? If you see me less than you in wealth and children.”
This statement again alludes to what we discussed in the previous lecture that one should not claim to do something in the future without conditioning it to the will of Almighty Allah. Here he tells his friend that he has a garden due to the will of Allah and should realize that he is not independent. And then warns him further as the following verse indicates.
Surah Kahf Verse 40 states:
فَعَسَي رَبّـِي أَن يُؤْتِيَنِ خَيْراً مِن جَنَّتِكَ وَيُرْسِلَ عَلَيْهَا حُسْبَاناً مِنَ السَّمَآءِ فَتُصْبِحَ صَعِيداً زَلَقاً
“Yet it may be that my Lord will give me better than your garden, and will send on it (your garden) a thunderbolt from heaven so that it becomes an even slippery ground without plant.”
Surah Kahf Verse 41 states:
أَوْ يُصْبِحَ مَآؤُهَا غَوْراً فَلَن تَسْتَطِيعَ لَهُ طَلَباً
“Or its water will be sunk (into the earth), so that you will never be able to seek it out.”
FORTUNES CAN CHANGE OVERNIGHT
Surah Kahf Verse 42 states:
وَاُحِيطَ بِثَمَرِهِ فَاَصْبَحَ يُقَلّـِبُ كَفَّيْهِ عَلَي مَآ أَنفَقَ فِيهَا وَهِيَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَي عُرُوشِهَا وَيَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي لَمْ اُشْرِكْ بِرَبّـِي أَحَداً
“And his fruits were enwrapped (into destruction), so he began wringing his hands for what he had expended in it, and it was fallen down upon its trellises, and he was saying: ‘Alas me! Would I had not associated with my Lord any one!’”
Surah Kahf Verse 43 states:
وَلَمْ تَكُن لَّهُ فِئَةٌ يَنصُرُونَهُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَمَا كَانَ مَنتَصِراً
“And he had no troop to help him as against (the wrath of) Allah, nor could he help himself.”
Surah Kahf Verse 44 states:
هُنَالِكَ الْوَلاَيَةُ لِلَّهِ الْحَقِّ هُوَ خَيْرٌ ثَوَاباً وَخَيْرٌ عُقْباً
“Thereover authority belongs only to Allah, the True; He is best rewarding, and best for consequence.”
The main discussion in last night’s lecture was the evil of being engrossed in this world and the practical worship thereof.
We said extreme love of this world results in love and following of one’s desires which result in never ending greed.
This Surah expands this discussion by going into more detail at this point on the same theme. The parable starts by indicating that it should be directed at the same elite class referred to in the previous lecture who expect preferential treatment.
While the previous focus was on love for this world, the focus now is related to the issue of arrogance (تكبر) as a result of wealth or anything for that matter.
The Quran is basically saying that there are people with low capacity and they are consequently deceived when they sudden have wealth, status or even knowledge! Imam Khomeini used to say the knowledge can be the greatest veil from reaching the truth!
They suddenly start thinking that they are someone great and deserve a special status.
FOUR PHASES IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF ARROGANCE
Through this parable, the Quran explains four phases in the development of arrogance.
– firstly as soon as such people have some wealth, they like to show it off, especially in front of those who don’t have. Thus the rich man said to his friend:
أَنَاْ أَكْثَرُ مِنكَ مَالاً وَأَعَزُّ نَفَراً
‘I have greater wealth than you, and am mightier in respect of men’ (verse 34 above)
– secondly after showing off, he starts to even believe himself and becomes over confident believing that nothing can go wrong with him! He thus believes that his wealth is eternal. He thus says:
مَآ أَظُنُّ أَن تَبِيدَ هَذِهِ أَبَداً
‘I do not think that this will ever perish’
People like that think that many generations will eat from their wealth.
– thirdly now that they think their wealth is eternal, they deny Resurrection or Return or accountability
Thus they say:
وَمَآ أَظُنُّ السَّاعَةَ قَآئِمَةً
“And I do not think that the Hour (of Resurrection) will come”
– fourthly he is so over confident that he believes that even if Resurrection occurs that he has been pre qualified to enter heaven – he believes he has a jannah certificate!
There are some psuedo spiritual movements that attract the rich to do some thikr, spend some of their wealth towards their thikr group and get certification of protection in the Hereafter!
SUMMARY OF LESSONS LEARNT FROM THIS PARABLE
– arrogance results from the belief that the material blessings are eternal, yet one Divine arrow can destroy it. And how true this is – how many wealthy people lost everything overnight and became beggars, yet while they had all the wealth they did not think it will perish. They don’t even learn from the sudden loss of others in a similar position and think it will never happen to them
– never be proud of the crowd around you who supposedly support you as they are only there during the good times and will desert you when you lose everything. This reality is captured in the verse:
وَلَمْ تَكُن لَّهُ فِئَةٌ يَنصُرُونَهُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَمَا كَانَ مَنتَصِراً
“And he had no troop to help him as against (the wrath of) Allah, nor could he help himself.” (Verse 43 above)
– regret after a trial and loss is practically useless. Quran warns of this in many places. Taubah and repentance is only genuine when it reflects an internal revolution within oneself when you feel you have done something wrong and desire to change. However the regret of the ungrateful man was out of no option
We read in Surah Nisaa Verse 18:
وَلَيْسَتِ التَّوْبَةُ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ حَتَّى إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ إِنِّي تُبْتُ الآنَ وَلاَ الَّذِينَ يَمُوتُونَ وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ أُوْلَـئِكَ أَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا
“And repentance is not for those who go on doing evil deeds until death comes to one of them, he says: ‘Verily now I repent’, nor for those who die while they are disbelievers. Those are they for whom We have prepared a painful torment.”
– money is not the criteria for dignity and poverty is not criteria for humiliation
– these verses taught us how to break someone’s arrogance by reminding them of their background and lowly origin like a dirty drop sperm.
– the verses indicate to us that both gardens were providing perfect yields. That’s how nature works – it always gives you maximum but it is us who oppress ourselves, nature does not oppress us.
Part 8 in this series continues tomorrow In-sha’Allah.
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