03 Nov Sūratu’l-Kahf [The Cave]:(18:13-14).Part1
نَّحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ نَبَأَهُم بِالْحَقِّ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ فِتْيَةٌ آمَنُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ وَزِدْنَاهُمْ هُدًى وَرَبَطْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ إِذْ قَامُوا فَقَالُوا رَبُّنَا رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَن نَّدْعُوَ مِن دُونِهِ إِلَـٰهًا ۖ لَّقَدْ قُلْنَا إِذًا شَطَطًا
It is We who relate to you their (the People of the Cave’s) exemplary story with truth. They were young men who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance (so they adhered to the truth more faithfully). And We strengthened their hearts, (and a time came) when they rose up (against association of partners with God and other injustices in the society), and they proclaimed: “Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, and we never invoke any deity apart from Him; if we did so, we would certainly have uttered an enormity (a monstrous unbelief).” (Al-Kahf 18:13–14)
The noun phrase of Ashābu’l-Kahf used in the verse means “the People of the Cave” or “the Companions of the Cave.” Whether they are considered to be followers of Jesus and the Gospel, or any other Prophet and Book, based on their mention in the Qur’ān, we can say that they are a group of people or community who represent all the movements of revival until the end of time. Every movement of revival inevitably suffers and has suffered oppression and persecution so that a period of concealment or remaining in a cave has been necessary.
As for the number of “the People of the Cave” mentioned in the Qur’ān, the Qur’ān refuses the claims that they were three, describes the claims that they were five as “guessing at random at the Unseen.” However, it does not criticize but remains silent as to the claims that “they were seven, and their dog being the eighth.”
Therefore, most of the commentators agree that they were seven, which the style of the Qur’ān also suggests. There is another fine point in the verse regarding their number: after stating that the number of the People was “seven,” it adds, “and their dog being the eighth.” The use of “and” (wa) indicates that human beings and dogs cannot be added together. The dog is not of the People of the Cave but accompanies them. This implies that as reported from the Prophet, even if their dog enters Paradise with the People of the Cave, the people will enter Paradise with their human characteristics and horizon and that dog accompanying them into the cave will enter it with its own distinguishing characteristics.
Now let us study the verse under discussion: God Almighty states, “It is We who relate to you their exemplary story with truth. They were young men who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance (so they adhered to the truth more faithfully).” They were a group of virtuous “young men who believed in their Lord” sincerely. They were courageous in heart, mind, and acts and in rebellion against falsehood. Despite their being few in number, since they had a sublime aim for the sake of which they started a movement of right guidance, God Almighty “increased them in guidance” out of His Mercy. They followed this guidance of their own free will, and He made them a firm community of brave young men who strove for sincere servanthood to God and rebelled against all evil and falsehood. As stated in the verse, “We strengthened their hearts,” God made their hearts firmer and stronger with His special favor and support. Thus, they remained firm in their mission in proportion to the profundity of their intention. They were supported by God sometimes visibly, and this added to their conviction and satisfaction.
The word ribāt, which is mentioned in the statement “warabatnā ‘alā qulūbihim” in the verse under discussion means connection with God. Always seeing Him, listening to and heeding Him, feeling Him, awareness of His Power, and always seeking Him are all included in the concept of ribāt. In one of his hadīths, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, mentions taking ablution under hard conditions, preferring to perform the Prayer in distant mosques and therefore taking more steps towards them, and waiting for the next Prayer after performing the previous one, and then adds, “This is ribāt” three times. Indeed, this is being ever watchful of the servitude to God and thus being in contact with God to the degree one keeps watch against the enemy attacks. This is because ribāt also means the fortification or post on the frontier. Consequently, the statement, “warabatnā ‘alā qulūbihim” means, “We supported and strengthened their hearts with their connection to Us.” Certainly, those who attained such connection with God would be truthloving, faithful, brave, and indifferent to any danger and threat.
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