Lecture 11 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 14 April 2022
After much explanation by way of various examples which are elaborated upon in previous verses, the Surah reaches a point of overall conclusion on those discussions.
Surah Kahf Verse 54 states:
وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَا فِي هَذَا الْقُرْءَانِ لِلنَّاسِ مِن كُلِّ مَثَلٍ وَكَانَ الإِنسَانُ أَكْثَرَ شَيْءٍ جَدَلاً
“And indeed We have explained in this Qur’an every kind of similitude for mankind, but man, of most things, is contentious.”
Quran has explained to us in every possible way using reason, examples and historical references to guide us to the right path. However human beings always want to argue and debate these matters.
GOOD AND BAD DEBATES
“Jadal” (جدل) is a debate about some topic (sometimes it’s a debate about nothing!). Human beings tend to get caught up in this. Sometimes these debates are heated.
In logic, Jadal or debate is a manner of argument with the purpose of finding and exposing the weaknesses in the argument of your opponent to defeat him in argument. There is no intention necessarily of finding the truth itself.
Politicians are often involved in debates with the sole purpose of defeating their opposition. This nature of human beings is problematic. The Quran has referred to this form of false argument in other places of the Quran too. In Surah Ghafir Verse it states:
وَجَادَلُوا بِالْبَاطِلِ لِيُدْحِضُوا بِهِ الْحَقَّ
“and they disputed by means of falsehood to refute therewith the Truth”
Similarly we read in Surah Hajj Verse 8 and Surah Luqman Verse 20:
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يُجَادِلُ فِي اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَلاَ هُدًي وَلاَ كِتَابٍ مُنِيرٍ
“And among the people is he who disputes concerning Allah without knowledge and without any guidance and without any book giving light.”
However the Quran also speaks about good debate (Jidaal). This is because sometimes a situation presents itself wherein you are compelled to debate with someone who is clearly astray and who is using this powerful skill to mislead others.
In debates the one who has strong perceived power of speaking is often accepted by the general public to be the winner of the debate – though the person’s argument is false.
Thus when you debate with someone who has false ideas, you need to be skillful in refuting the false ideas.
Thus for example in Surah Ankabut Verse 46 it states:
وَلاَ تُجَادِلُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ إِلاَّ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ
“And do not dispute with the People of the Book save in the best way”
So debate at times is unavoidable but one needs to present the truth in a skillful manner to silence the promoter of falsehood.
Thus in the issue of Da’wah or Islamic Propagation, Almighty Allah raises the issue of debate in Surah Nahl Verse 125 as follows:
ادْعُ إِلَي سَبِيلِ رَبّـِكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ
“(O’ Prophet!) Call (mankind) to the path of your Lord with wisdom and good admonition, and dispute with them in the better way.”
To be a good propagater you first need wisdom – this is concrete argument (also known as burhaan) that proves pure truth (unlike debate)! Then you need to be a good advisor and a good debater.
SOME PEOPLE ARE BEYOND CONVERSION
Surah Kahf Verse 55 states:
وَمَا مَنَعَ النَّاسَ أَن يُؤْمِنُوا إِذْ جَآءَهُمُ الْهُدَي وَيَسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّهُمْ إِلآَّ أَن تَأْتِيَهُمْ سُنَّةُ الاَوَّلِينَ أَوْ يَأْتِيَهُمُ الْعَذَابُ قُبُلاً
“And naught prevented men from believing when the guidance came unto them, and seeking their Lord’s forgiveness, except that the wont of the ancients should come upon them, or that the chastisement should come face to face with them.”
There are people whom you simply cannot convince of the truth and choose to wait for the day when punishment arrives. There is thus no point in wasting your time with them.
A subtle point is also highlighted here that belief on its own is not enough but one needs to seek forgiveness from Almighty Allah in addition to belief.
Surah Kahf Verse 56 states:
وَمَا نُرْسِلُ الْمُرْسَلِينَ إِلاَّ مُبَشّـِرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَيُجَادِلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِالْبَاطِلِ لِيُدْحِضُوا بِهِ الْحَقَّ وَاتَّخَذُوا ءَايَاتِي وَمَآ اُنذِرُوا هُزُواً
“And We do not send the messengers save as bearers of good tidings and warners, but those who disbelieve dispute with falsehood in order to refute the Truth thereby; and they have taken My signs, and what they are warned of, in mockery.”
This verse further elaborates on the fact that some people will never accept the truth and consequently Prophet Muhammad (sawa) should not stress too much about them. His primary job is to give people the good news of reward in the Hereafter and the warning of punishment. This is because Prophets did not come to force people to believe in their message. People should accept their message out of their freewill.
This Verse also mentions two important tools used by people who oppose the truth. These are:
– firstly argument – they continuously bring a new point to keep an argument going
– secondly mockery of the signs of Allah and His warnings
There’s an example of an arrogant person mocking the warning of hell when he said he will enjoy it as all the Hollywood actors are expected to be there!
PROPHETS RESPONSIBILITY IS TO DELIVER THE MESSAGE
Surah Kahf Verse 57 states:
وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّن ذُكّـِرَ بِاَيَاتِ رَبّـِهِ فَاَعْرَضَ عَنْهَا وَنَسِيَ مَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاهُ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا عَلَي قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَن يَفْقَهُوهُ وَفِي ءَاذَانِهِمْ وَقْراً وَإِن تَدْعُهُمْ إِلَي الْهُدَي فَلَن يَهْتَدُوا إِذاً أَبَداً
“And who is more unjust than he who is reminded of the sings of his Lord, then he turns away from them and forgets what his hands have forwarded? Verily We have laid veils on their hearts lest they understand it, and a heaviness in their ears: and if you call them unto guidance, even then will they never get guided in that case at all.”
Prophets did not bring a new message to human beings in essence. Rather their job was to remind human beings of their own pure nature. The verse refers to reminders which means you already knew something but forgot about it and thus the reminder refreshes what you already know.
Therefore Imam Ali (a.s) says in his first khutbah of Nahjul Balagha that Prophets were sent to revive the pledge that you made with Allah (in your own nature).
Almighty Allah placing veils on the hearts of such people does not mean that He stopped such a person from being guided. Rather it is the consequence of the person’s actions that made their hearts like rock and incapable of guidance.
Many people misunderstood this and developed a philosophy like the school of compulsion claiming that Almighty Allah misguides us and that we have no say in the matter. That’s not the case. People through their freewill choose a path that results in misguidance.
Therefore we should reflect on the famous narration from Imam Sādiq (a.s) that indicates that committing a sin brings a black spot onto our hearts. And committing another sin brings a second black spot. This continues until one’s heart is filled with black spots. At this point advise has no effect at all as one’s heart has lost it’s quality of acceptance of good advice. Reaching this condition is the result of one’s own actions which Almighty Allah is simply explaining to us.
AFTER ALL THE EXCESS, THERE IS STILL HOPE!
Surah Kahf Verse 58 states:
وَرَبُّكَ الْغَفُورُ ذُو الرَّحْمَةِ لَوْ يُؤَاخِذُهُم بِمَا كَسَبُوا لَعَجَّلَ لَهُمُ الْعَذَابَ بَل لَهُم مَوْعِدٌ لَّن يَجِدُوا مِن دُونِهِ مَوْئِلاً
“And your Lord is Forgiving, the Lord of Mercy. Were He to seize them (to task) for what they earn, surely He would hasten for them the chastisement; but for them is an appointed term, never shall they find, besides it, a refuge.”
With all the opposition of the opponents of the truth, they should still remember that Allah is still Forgiving and Merciful.
However since Almighty Allah does not hasten to punish such people, they tend to think they are safe and that nothing will happen to them. It is Allah’s sunnah that He does not rush to punish, but this further entrenches their opposition. There is however a limit set for them beyond which they will not continue in their opposition. They should thus not be fooled by this delay in punishment as the purpose of the delay is to give them an opportunity to repent and return to the right path.
Surah Kahf Verse 59 states:
وَتِلْكَ الْقُرَي أَهْلَكْنَاهُمْ لَمَّا ظَلَمُوا وَجَعَلْنَا لِمَهْلِكِهِم مَوْعِداً
”And (as for the people of) these towns, We destroyed them when they did wrong and We appointed a time for their destruction.”
This is a further invitation to travel into history to see the final destination of similar nations who were oppressors.
Part 12 in this series continues tomorrow In-sha’Allah.
Please like and share this post.