Lecture 6 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 8 April 2022
We continue our discussion of Surah Kahf but now move away from the topic of the Companions of the Cave.
NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF DEVOUT POOR PEOPLE
Verse 28 of Surah Kahf addresses Prophet Muhammad (sawa) when it states:
وَاصْبِرْ نَفْسَكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَهُ وَلاَ تَعْدُ عَيْنَاكَ عَنْهُمْ تُرِيدُ زِينَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَلاَ تُطِعْ مَنْ أَغْفَلْنَا قَلْبَهُ عَن ذِكْرِنَا وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ وَكَانَ أَمْرُهُ فُرُطاً
“And keep yourself content with those who call unto their Lord morning and evening seeking His pleasure, and let not your eyes turn away from them desiring the adornment of the life of the world, and do not obey him whose heart We have made neglectful of Our remembrance and he follows his own low desires, and his affair has become extreme.”
Muffassireen have narrated that these verses were revealed in a certain background. Certain of the rich elite in Mecca came to Prophet Muhammad (sawa) and said to him that he sits with poor, lowly people like Abu Tharr, Salaam, Suhayb, Habaab, etc who don’t smell good and their clothes are coarse. They suggested that if he leaves them and has a more elite gathering, then they would also be interested to come listen to his message. It was at this point that these verses were revealed.
Prophet Muhammad (sawa) is instructed to not be too concerned about these particular rich people but to pay attention to the poor due to their devotion to Almighty Allah and not to lose sight of them.
It is narrated that upon the revelation of these verses that Prophet Muhammad (sawa) rushed over to these poor people and said “life with you and death with you”.
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
In the history of the Prophets it was common for the elite to have such expectations. For example this request was put to Prophet Nuh (a.s) by the elite in his community. We read in Surah Hud Verse 29 that he responsed as follows:
وَمَا أَنَاْ بِطَارِدِ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا
“and I will not drive away those who believe”
Prophet Muhammad (sawa) is directed to have sabr or be patient or contended with the poor as he would receive a lot pressure from the elite in society in this regard and should never surrender to their demands.
CONSEQUENCES OF A DIVIDED SOCIETY BASED UPON CLASS
We learn important lessons from this verse:
– when society is divided into classes it is a serious problem
– if a leader of a society does not give his attention to the poor, it further entrenches the problem
In the narration of the people of Prophet Nuh (a.s) we see explicit reference to this challenge. Surah Hud Verse 27 states:
فَقَالَ الْمَلأُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن قَوْمِهِ مَا نَرَاكَ إِلاَّ بَشَراً مِثْلَنَا وَمَا نَرَاكَ اتَّبَعَكَ إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ هُمْ أَرَاذِلُنَا بَادِيَ الرَّأْيِ
“Then the chiefs of those who disbelieved among his people said: ‘We do not see (in) you but a man like ourselves, nor do we see that any follow you but those who are the meanest among us, at first thought”
As quoter earlier, Prophet Nuh (a.s) refused to reject the poor.
– a society that is divided due to their wealth instead of their God Consciousness is not a Monotheistic society but a satanic society.
– the part of the verse which says تُرِيدُ زِينَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا is hinting at the people who love the attractions of this world and practically worship it will never be worshipers of Almighty Allah. Excessive love of this world is not compatible with worshipping Allah.
That does not mean that we should not benefit from this world but we should not be attached to it.
Such people meet and treat the rich in a certain manner and the poor in a different degrading manner eventhough the poor person is a devout Muslim.
– the direct consequence of this excessive love of this world is being negligent of the remembrance of Allah. Thus the Prophet (sawa) and us must not follow them
– the further consequence is that excessive love of this world results in one becoming a follower of your desires
– due to all of the above, such people’s matter becomes extreme as there is no limit to following one’s desires! Whatever wealth and power such people have they always live by the motto “always more, never enough”!
ONLY SURRENDER TO TRUTH
Verse 29 of Surah Kahf states:
وَقُلِ الْحَقُّ مِن رَبّـِكُمْ فَمَن شَآءَ فَلْيُؤْمِن وَمَن شَآءَ فَلْيَكُفُرْ إِنَّآ أَعْتَدْنَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ نَاراً أَحَاطَ بِهِمْ سُرَادِقُهَا وَإِن يَسْتَغِيثُوا يُغَاثُوا بِمَآءٍ كَالْمُهْلِ يَشْوِي الْوُجُوهَ بِئْسَ الشَّرَابُ وَسَآءَتْ مُرْتَفَقاً
“And say: ‘The truth is from your Lord; so whoever will, let him believe, and whoever will, let him disbelieve.’ Verily We have prepared for the unjust a Fire, the curtains of which encompass them, and if they call for succour, they will be succoured with water like molten copper that shall scald the faces; (how) evil the drink and (how) ill the resting-place!”
Since the truth belongs to Almighty Allah, Prophet Muhammad (sawa) is instructed to inform them about this very point with the implication that he does not have to surrender to them and that they have been given freewill to decide to follow him or not.
DEMONSTRATION OF TAJASSUM AL-A’MAL
A terrible punishment has been prepared for wrong doers. However there’s an interesting point here on the issue of Tajassum al-a’mal.
The elite live in this world surrounded by extreme luxury with decorations and servants and comfortable tents. As soon as they thirsty or need something they simply raise their finger and their servants run to serve them with a colourful collection of drinks or whatever they ask for.
Amazingly in the Hereafter a similar picture is painted of the life of the wrong doers, but it will be one that is decorated with fire. Thirst will be quenched with boiling molten copper that will scar their faces….what a terrible drink and place!
This is Tajassum al-a’mal – the reality of what they did in this world manifests in that world. They thought they drinking a colourful drink in this world but were drinking molten copper – they just did not realise it.
GOOD ACTION IS NEVER WASTED
Verse 30 of Surah Kahf states:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ إِنَّا لاَ نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ مَنْ أَحْسَنَ عَمَلاً
“Verily those who believe and do righteous deeds, surely We do not waste the recompense of him who does a good work.”
The important principle of belief combined with righteous deeds is repeated here as it occurs in different places in Quran and the fact that good action will never go to waste.
Don’t ever think that the seemingly small good act of giving a little charity by a poor person has no value compared to large amounts of charity given by wealthy people.
Verse 31 of Surah Kahf states:
اُوْلَئِكَ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهِمُ الاَنْهَارُ يُحَلَّوْنَ فِيهَا مِنْ أَسَاوِرَ مِن ذَهَبٍ وَيَلْبَسُونَ ثِيَاباً خُضْراً مِن سُندُسٍ وَإِسْتَبْرَقٍ مُتَّكِئِينَ فِيهَا عَلَي الاَرَآئِكِ نِعْمَ الثَّوَابُ وَحَسُنَتْ مُرْتَفَقاً
“These, for them are gardens of eternity beneath which rivers flow, they shall be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and they shall wear green robes of fine silk, and thick brocade, reclining therein on raised coaches. O, how excellent a reward! and how fair a resting-place!”
The colourful reward of such people is described in this verse.
INVITE ELITE TO ISLAM BASED UPON PURE INTENTION
While the previous mentioned verses give a negative image of certain elite in society and instructs Prophet Muhammad (sawa) to not bow to their baseless conditions, it must not be misunderstood that we should not invite the elite in society to Islam.
The issue is what is our motivation when we invite them to Islam. If it is due to their status then that is problematic. If our motivation is to guide them regardless of their status, then it is acceptable.
And if our motivation is that the successful guidance of such a person can result in him using his resources for the sake of Islam then such a motivation is also acceptable.
However the person’s status should never be the reason for receiving preferential treatment. That would be very problematic.
Interestingly the reward described in verse 31 above, which is for those people whose life’s purpose is Allah, is the same reward that we pray for at night in the month of Ramadaan after Dua Iftitah!
May Almighty Allah grant us Tawfeeq to interact with people based upon their connection to Allah!
Part 7 in this series continues tomorrow In-sha’Allah.