Surah Al-Kahf: The Two Conversing Companions and the Trial of Affluence

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Reading, reflecting upon, and reciting Surah Al-Kahf every Friday has been an enlightening and exceptionally rewarding experience over the years. This surah is packed with lessons, and what’s interesting is how the main source of these lessons, for me, has been the four narratives or stories narrated in it.

We all know the power of a narrative or story. Book authors, filmmakers, screenplay, script and fiction writers thrive on this power, do they not? Allah has also, in a way, made use of this power that enraptures the human mind and imagination, by vividly narrating an incident or series of events in the Quran, in a way that brings to mind images and scenarios that leave a profound impact for a long time.

Allah has narrated parables and bygone incidents in Surah Al Kahf in order to drive home poignant lessons upon those who deeply reflect upon them.

The difference is that these stories, though narrated in the third person, are not the figment of some human’s fantasy or imagination, but rather, they are either parables (examples, fictional scenarios, or analogies) created by Allah Himself, or they are actual historic incidents that took place at some point in time in the past.

In the latter case, Allah narrates only the relevant details in a concise manner, which are needed to rope in the readers’ attention but not bore them with unnecessary tangents and descriptions. Allah’s narratives in the Quran notably shun the distractive, sensationalistic, marketing-gimmick ‘fluff’ and blatant bias found often in over-dramatized, human-penned biographical accounts and other texts; the fantastical mysticism found in mythical or gothic folk tales of yore; and the droves of facts and figures occupying voluminous books on history.

Since Allah has narrated the stories in the Quran to us, this quality alone – His being the narrator – makes them unique, special and incredibly important. This quality also makes these stories shine like pure, timeless gold, making them more valuable and authentic than any manmade, limited-by-human-intellect, fantastical fiction or factual tale, because their source is Allah, the All-Knower.

Therefore, almost all the stories found in Surah Al Kahf, whether they are parables or historic events, impart valuable insights. What I’ve noticed over the years is how the stories of Surah Al-Kahf mostly center around materialism, wealth, superficiality, boasting and rivalry, showing off, and dealing with people and their various idiosyncrasies.

The underlying message attempts to unveil as well as repudiate/rebut the human weakness of attaching immense importance to the outer facade and appearance of things, rather than to their innate realities and hidden, deeper truths.

The story I have picked to talk about first, is the one that happens to ring particularly true for me in the current phase of my life, when, at the age of 34, I repeatedly find myself in situations in which a lot of emphasis is laid on wealth – its acquisition (and the methods for the same), pursuit, possession, ownership, and last but not least, its flagrant display.

Frankly, I often find myself tiring of the materialistic topics people tend to talk about or discuss, and the way their plans, aims, goals and objectives hover mostly around the acquisition of the achievements, adornments, and other ‘glitter and glamor’ of the life of this world. Salaries, jobs, promotions, investments, property, prices, businesses, profits, losses, accounts, blah blah.

Yeah, sure, trade is permissible if not praiseworthy and I fully agree that we cannot relinquish the world in which we live, nor can we ignore the need and importance of earning a sufficient livelihood, but these things are not meant to be our primary concern nor the aim of our lives, are they?

Perhaps it is this age that I am in – an age that says goodbye to the immaturity, gullibility and naiveté of happy-go-lucky, heedless youth and embraces the stoic deliberateness and ambitious determination of middle age, in which careers are established and nurtured, families are born and reared, ambitions and milestones are achieved and applauded, and people “find” their direction in life; their mental and physical faculties finally focused to the full upon achieving their dreams, and on working hard for this purpose – that the stories of Surah Al-Kahf ring especially true to my ears.

Which is why I cannot wait to describe how uncannily this particular story hits home whenever I read or recite Surah Al-Kahf on Fridays.

Once upon a time….

There were two men. Simple as that. Who they were, where they dwelled, or what their occupations were, is unknown. Allah starts by describing how He had given one of them a lot of wealth; which was much more than the other’s. And then Allah goes on to give details of this surplus wealth, incidentally that which possesses ageless value- fertile land:

وَاضْرِبْ لَهُم مَّثَلًا رَّجُلَيْنِ جَعَلْنَا لِأَحَدِهِمَا جَنَّتَيْنِ مِنْ أَعْنَابٍ وَحَفَفْنَاهُمَا بِنَخْلٍ وَجَعَلْنَا بَيْنَهُمَا زَرْعًا

Coin for them a similitude: Two men, to one of whom We had assigned two gardens of grapes, and We had surrounded both with date palms and had put between them fields of grain.” [18:32]

One of the men possessed two gardens that yielded grapes. These two gardens were surrounded by date-palm trees, and in between the two, ran fields of grain. So keep that in mind: he possessed a piece of land that yielded 2 kinds of fruit and on top of that, grains (زَرْعًا) as well, and which was undoubtedly beautifully lustrous to behold, if not an enviable future investment promising long-term benefits and profits.

Abundance of Provision – a Test 

كِلْتَا الْجَنَّتَيْنِ آتَتْ أُكُلَهَا وَلَمْ تَظْلِمْ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا وَفَجَّرْنَا خِلَالَهُمَا نَهَرًا

Each of the gardens gave its fruit and withheld nothing thereof. And We caused a river to gush forth therein.” [18:33]

There was a tremendous yield from his land. The abundance of this provision is emphasized by the words that Allah uses, “وَلَمْ تَظْلِمْ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا”,- meaning, the land gave as much yield as it possibly could.

On top of this ample yield of fruit and grain that this man’s land brought forth, Allah further tested him, by causing sweet water to gush forth in the midst of the two gardens. We know that a naturally gushing sweet water stream is a priceless treasure in agriculture, because it frees the farmer/land-owner from worrying about how to water his land to obtain yields of fruit and grain in the long term. It promises future profits from the land as well. Basically, Allah blessed this man with an enviable amount of wealth – a kind of wealth that promised complete freedom from want and worry – of physical hardship such as hanger, as well as financial hardship such as debt,- and which was beautiful to behold and dwell in, as well.

Which one of us wouldn’t like to own a huge, luscious lawn/field full to the hilt with fruit-and-grain producing vegetation, and with a sweet water stream further running through it, as delicious icing on the cake?

Just like this man, any one of us who have been blessed with superfluous wealth and abundance of provision, so that their overall “rizq” – stock of eatables, money, savings, dwellings, family, property, investments for the future – is never depleted and leaves him free of need, want, or financial worry,  is actually under test and trial by Allah.

Allah does test us by taking away our blessings, but what most of us do not realize is, how He tests us also by granting us innumerable and enviable assets , in order to see what we do, and in particular, what belief set we harbor in our hearts after we have thus been tested/put to trial. Being blessed by all the ‘good things’ of this worldly life facilitates a wider range of actions that can earn Allah’s wrath, as compared to when someone is hard up and financially constrained.

By obtaining as much profits as his business is capable of earning, or as much as fruition and success as any of his possessions is capable of achieving, an affluent person can easily “lose himself” in the stupor of wealth in a way that can cause his eventual straying from the Right Path, and loss in the Hereafter.

Because, as we will go on to see below, the “deception” of the abundance of provision in this world is such, that when one’s ambitions are realized, and then wealth, food, social contacts/relationships and money flows into one’s hand and pockets freely, one might slowly begin to believe that, instead of some deity who controls all affairs at a micro and macro level, it is one’s own hard work, intelligence, talents and efforts that is yielding these amazing, successful results.

One then begins to think of it as a mathematical, cause-and-effect relationship, which works methodically like clockwork, according to a straightforward formula – one that appeals to the innate human logic and defies any religious creed or belief-set that ties the creates beings to their Creator in a relationship based on need: the obligation of worshipping Him, and of asking Him for sustenance in order to be granted the fruits and blessings of this life, in particular, provision of any kind.

Long story short, and bottom-line: a wealthy person begins to slowly think/believe that his wealth will last forever, and that Allah has given him so much  in this world because He is pleased with him.

If a consistently easy, hardship-free life makes him slip in his religious duties (there are many people who worship Allah mainly in order to be granted worldly blessings, which they ask Him for through their worship), this can slowly pave the way to his eventually questioning whether Allah really exists or not, and then, to doubt whether the Hour of Akhirah will be established or not.

The Test Result..

As the test commenced, the man who owned the two fertile, yield-producing gardens (I will call him “Mr Rich Guy” from now on) started enjoying the fruits of his land:

وَكَانَ لَهُ ثَمَرٌ فَقَالَ لِصَاحِبِهِ وَهُوَ يُحَاوِرُهُ أَنَا أَكْثَرُ مِنكَ مَالًا وَأَعَزُّ نَفَرًا

And he had fruit. And he said to his comrade, when he was speaking with him, I am more than you in wealth, and stronger in respect of men. -” [18:34]

The above statement made by the wealthy man, to the less well-off one during the course of their conversation, sort of sums up the base human desire to act out the “if-you’ve-got-it,-flaunt-it” behavior of one-upmanship.

Might I add, though it is not always the case, that this competitiveness and the need to ‘show off’ develops not just as a result of affluence and possessing an abundance of provision, but rather, also often as the result of a heart that is not connected to Allah; a heart that does not harbor the right belief-set or aqeedah, and does not believe that Allah has provided it all.

I also wondered why the wealthier man was ‘hanging out’ with the poorer one in the first place, as they both casually talked and walked into his garden i.e. -> وَهُوَ يُحَاوِرُهُ. It made me think: don’t the rich usually hang out in exclusive cliques (such as elitist neighborhoods, clubs, restaurants, resorts and retreats, either for business, or for pleasure) unless their work is humanitarian and philanthropic in nature?

But then I realized that some individuals might get a kick out of showing off their greater blessings to others, and they cannot enjoy doing that among people who have as much wealth, if not more, than they do. Perhaps he was bringing his companion into his gardens to deliberately show them off to him, who was obviously the lesser-off “have-not”, as his verbal statements depict. Or perhaps they were actually friends, and were hanging out together in the garden just having a conversation, when the topic turned to his wealth.

So anyway, what Mr Rich Guy did, was state quite matter-of-factly that he was better off in terms of wealth and strength of numbers – أَعَزُّ نَفَرًا. This term, أَعَزُّ نَفَرًا: “more strong in terms of numbers”, could imply his extensive list of “contacts” viz. children, extended family, friends, colleagues, social contacts, tribal/clan members, followers, fans, employees, servants etc. Or it could simply mean his progeny (i.e. children and grandchildren).

In the contemporary, digitized world, competition for such ‘numbers’ now transcends into, if not mainly focuses on, virtual lists of ‘friends’, ‘followers’, ‘fans’, ‘connections’ and ‘contacts’ on a myriad of digital platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and others.

Whereas the wiser ones among us know and recognize that it is not the number of superficial, “do-I-really-know-this-person-in-real-life?” online contacts that really matter, but the genuine bonds (“connections”) based on sincerity that make a difference in one’s personal as well as professional life; by and large, the attention-hungry and socialite majority tends to gravitate towards the highest possible “numbers” on every platform, virtual or physical. The competition is stiff: the more your connections, the more “well-networked” you are; and the more supposedly successful you are.

So Mr Rich Guy enters his garden and expresses his admiration and awe of its luster and abundance. Whilst doing so, he states something that clearly belies the reality of the life of this world:

وَدَخَلَ جَنَّتَهُ وَهُوَ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ قَالَ مَا أَظُنُّ أَن تَبِيدَ هَذِهِ أَبَدًا

And he went into his garden, while he (thus) wronged himself. He said: “I think not that all this will ever perish…”” – [18:35]

وَمَا أَظُنُّ السَّاعَةَ قَائِمَةً وَلَئِن رُّدِدتُّ إِلَى رَبِّي لَأَجِدَنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهَا مُنقَلَبًا

“…I think not that the Hour will ever come, and if indeed I am brought back to my Lord, I  shall surely find better than this as a resort.” [18:36]

He stated that he never thought that his garden would perish, nor that there would be any afterlife beyond the current life of the world (and hence, no reckoning). And perchance there was a reckoning (even though he believed that there wouldn’t be), and that he was brought back to his Creator (note that he said “رَبِّي” – i.e. he admitted that he had a “rabb“), that he would be blessed with an even better state than the one Allah had given him in this world.

The Wise Companion’s Exhortations

قَالَ لَهُ صَاحِبُهُ وَهُوَ يُحَاوِرُهُ أَكَفَرْتَ بِالَّذِي خَلَقَكَ مِن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ سَوَّاكَ رَجُلًا

And his friend answered him in the course of their argument: “Do you deny Him who has created you out of dust, and then out of a drop of sperm, and in the end has fashioned you into a [complete] man? -” [18:37]

The first logical counter-strike used by the Allah-fearing companion to answer Mr Rich Guy’s vain statements, was to ask him how he could deny or reject the One who created him first from dust, then out of a lowly drop of sperm, then fashioned that fertilized sperm drop into a full human man?

The word he used is, “أَكَفَرْتَ”. The word, كَفَرَ, when followed by بِ, means: to conceal, deny, disacknowledge the favors and benefits of; to reject, or be ungrateful of (in this case, Allah) by behaving unthankfully and disobediently. The word used in this sense here embodies the opposite of شكر.

This means that if anyone believes, like Mr Rich Guy did, that their worldly wealth and possessions will never wane, that the Hour will not be established, and that they will never be returned to their Creator, they are denying the favor of Allah upon them and committing كفر.

The companion then went on to proclaim his own faith in Allah and stressed that he didn’t associate any partners with Him:

لَّكِنَّ هُوَ اللَّهُ رَبِّي وَلَا أُشْرِكُ بِرَبِّي أَحَدًا

But as for myself, [I know that] He is God, my Sustainer; and I cannot attribute divine powers to any but my Sustainer.” [18:38]

Why did he bring up polytheism/شرك by saying وَلَا أُشْرِكُ? Well, he was reinforcing his belief in unadulterated monotheism,- of believing that Allah exclusively and single-handedly creates, gives life, and then brings death and decline to created things.

When someone denies the coming of the Hour, they usually do so by expressing their doubt about how Allah can bring us back to life once we have died and intermingled with dust, our bodies becoming decomposed into minute bits. They wonder then, how someone can come back to life?

This doubt is the result of a lack of belief in Allah because of not remembering or recalling how He created us in the first place: from a single sperm-cell that fertilized one ovum-cell, and which then, after being nourished over time with water and eatable solids that sprouted forth from the once barren earth (consumed by the mother carrying the fetus; this food then carried as nutrition in a perfect feeding mechanism comprising of minute vessels/capillaries to the fetus through her blood), becomes almost ‘miraculously’ transformed, over time, from a microscopic fusion of cells into a fully functioning human body – complete with a beating heart, a unique personality, and a living soul!

Recalling how we were created, particularly in this day and age, when the entire process of creation from conception to birth, has been clearly researched and documented, leaving no room for questions about what actually transpires inside the wombs, facilitates us to believe with conviction in the absolute power of creation possessed exclusively by Allah.

If, after witnessing this miraculous process of creation, we then begin to doubt the coming of the afterlife and of being turned back to Allah, and ask “how will He bring us back to life once we have become dust?”, then indeed this denial is actually a rejection of His magnificent powers: of creating us easily from nothing, then providing us sustenance, and of giving death after life, and life after death.

When Mr Rich Guy said that he did not believe that his gardens would ever perish, he was actually denying that something that was created from dust would die, or be destroyed into nothingness by Allah.

This kind of rejection of the temporariness of this world and all that is in it, is a result of  associating one’s own desires with Allah (and thus committing شرك); of being deceived by the transient luster of this world, and allowing it to affect our faith in Him and in His Divine attributes.

Which is why his righteous companion, who had strong faith upon توحيد (monotheism), admonished him by reminding him of how Allah created him from dust, then from a sperm, then fashioned him into a human being.

He then further reprimanded him:

وَلَوْلَا إِذْ دَخَلْتَ جَنَّتَكَ قُلْتَ مَا شَاء اللَّهُ لَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ إِن تَرَنِ أَنَا أَقَلَّ مِنكَ مَالًا وَوَلَدًا

And [he continued:] “Alas, if you had but said, on entering your garden, ‘Whatever Allah wills [shall come to pass, for] there is no power save with Allah!’ Although, as you see, I have less wealth and offspring than you,” [18:39]

فَعَسَى رَبِّي أَن يُؤْتِيَنِ خَيْرًا مِّن جَنَّتِكَ وَيُرْسِلَ عَلَيْهَا حُسْبَانًا مِّنَ السَّمَاء فَتُصْبِحَ صَعِيدًا زَلَقًا

“..yet it may well be that my Sustainer will give me something better than your garden -just as He may let loose a calamity out of heaven upon this [your garden], so that it becomes a heap of barren dust.” [18:40]

أَوْ يُصْبِحَ مَاؤُهَا غَوْرًا فَلَن تَسْتَطِيعَ لَهُ طَلَبًا

“…or its water sinks deep into the ground, so that you will never be able to find it again!” [18:41]

What an intelligent and articulate speech! What well-thought-out arguments and proofs!

He asked the rich man why, on entering his lush, fertile garden, he did not instead be reminded, by beholding its luster and blessedness, of Allah’s omnipotent powers i.e. by recalling that it was Allah who created that garden from nothing; that it was solely the result of Allah’s will (مَا شَاء اللَّهُ) and that had Allah not willed for it (the fertile garden) to be given to him, he would never have gotten it in the first place (لَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ)?

This kind of monotheistic belief – that each and every thing we possess in this life, is solely from Allah, – and everything that comprises the physical and apparent means by which we get it (our parents, our jobs, our business, the shops from which we purchase it, the gifts that others give us, the inheritance that relatives leave behind for us, the medicines that result in cure etc.), is nothing more than just that – the means, not the source- is the antithesis as well as the antidote of polytheism, or شرك.

Fortunate indeed is the one who is blessed with such pure, uncontaminated monotheistic belief in his heart.

 Easy Come, Easy Go…

On the same token, the companion went on to exhort that, even though Mr Rich Guy currently saw him lesser in status, i.e. in wealth and progeny, this could easily change as soon as Allah willed for him to be blessed with more. That is, just as Allah had given Mr Rich Guy a garden, He could give one to him too – and one that could be much better than his.

Not just that, but if Allah willed, he could also then take away Mr Rich Guy’s garden from him, just like He had given it to him in the first place. Allah could do that any way He wanted, by either sending upon it a “حُسْبَانً” from the sky,  an unshakeable destructive force (such as a storm, or a hurricane) that could instantly cause the whole garden to come to an end and become nothing more than wet mud.

Or, alternatively, He could make it die a slow death, by causing the sweet water nourishing it to sink deep into the earth, in such a manner that no matter what the garden owner did, he wouldn’t be able to access the water again.

وَأُحِيطَ بِثَمَرِهِ فَأَصْبَحَ يُقَلِّبُ كَفَّيْهِ عَلَى مَا أَنفَقَ فِيهَا وَهِيَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَى عُرُوشِهَا وَيَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أُشْرِكْ بِرَبِّي أَحَدًا

And [thus it happened:] his fruitful gardens were encompassed [by ruin], and there he was, wringing his hands over all that he had spent on that which now lay waste, which had (now) tumbled to pieces to its very foundations; and he could but say, “Oh, would that I had not attributed divine powers to any but my Sustainer!” [18:42]

It is implied that, eventually, that is what happened. Mr Rich Guy’s garden was destroyed and it turned into an uprooted ruin, its abundant fruits scattered around him as he sat turning his wrists, consumed with regret over the wealth he had spent upon it,  and exclaimed, “How I wish I had not associated any partner with my Rabb!”

Once again, شرك is mentioned in connection with his gardens’ destruction ( لَمْ أُشْرِكْ بِرَبِّي أَحَدًا).

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt from this parable in Surah Al-Kahf is the connection between opulence and polytheism or شرك. If a possessor of wealth allows the temporary abundance of his provision to delude him into thinking that it will last forever, or that he will not be brought to account for his deeds before Allah after the establishment of the Hour, or that Allah has blessed him because He is pleased with him no matter what he does (even if he follows no religion, nor worships his Creator), then this is in fact شرك, because he is in fact — and take note of this — worshipping the desires of his own nafs (نفس).

The human nafs thrives on base, ego-feeding desires such as greed, lust, love of wealth, fame and power; anger, instant gratification, envy, hatred and false pride.

وَلَمْ تَكُن لَّهُ فِئَةٌ يَنصُرُونَهُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَمَا كَانَ مُنتَصِرًا هُنَالِكَ الْوَلَايَةُ لِلَّهِ الْحَقِّ هُوَ خَيْرٌ ثَوَابًا وَخَيْرٌ عُقْبًا

Nor had he numbers to help him against Allah, nor was he able to deliver himselfFor thus it is: all protective power belongs to Allah alone, the True One. He is the best to grant recompense, and the best to determine what is to be.” [18:43-44]

In the past, although he boasted of his surplus numbers (of employees, helpers, companions, family etc.) none of them could help him even a little bit against the destructive force that ruined his gardens. All alone, he now sat weeping with regret over the investment he had made (and lost) in his land, regretting having committed shirk because of its temporary, deceptive produce and prosperity that had deluded him into thinking that Allah’s promise shall not come to pass.

And this is how Allah taught him a harsh lesson.

In a way, he was fortunate to have been taught this lesson before his death, during this worldly life – by losing all that he had; a loss that made him regret and repent for his erroneous ways, because he was able to open his eyes to reality and turn back to His lord in tears of shame and with the severe pain of regret, before it was too late to do so.

The scary part is, how many of us die in such a state of delusion, only to wake up to reality as soon as our souls leave our bodies? Will we then have a chance of repenting;- of asking Allah for forgiveness; of availing another chance to reform our beliefs and actions, and of renewing their faith?

Lessons I have learnt…

Through years of weekly contemplation, I have learnt many lessons from this parable of Surah Al-Kahf,  وَمَا تَوفِيقِى اِلّا بِاللّهِ . May Allah grant me even more insights into His Glorious Book as I recite it and reflect upon it. Ameen.

Below I share with you the main points I have gleaned from this particular “wealthy-man, poor-man” parable:

– Wealth is a blessing, but it is also a test. I should not abhor or relinquish wealth thinking that it is, in and of itself, a bad thing.

– Wealth opens many doors: doors that lead to good, as well as doors that lead to evil. When someone who is low on wisdom and fear of Allah, is granted immense wealth, it is probable that he or she will use it unwisely, and eventually head downwards along a spiral of self-destruction.

Conversely, when an Allah-fearing person is given much wealth by Allah, it can lead them to do much more good at a global and far-reaching scale, and help hundreds of thousands of less fortunate ones, leading to their worldly as well as other-worldly honor, success and salvation. However, the management, book-keeping and guarding of this wealth can consume a lot of their time and energies whilst they are alive, which can cause distractions from good deeds and acts of worship. Hence, an Allah-fearing wealthy person must be an expert at time management and multi-tasking viz. “juggling several balls in the air”.

– Wealth that comes easily and continues to come easily in hordes over a long period of time can result in its owner being deluded about the life of this world, and experiencing a growing distance from Allah. This is because, the enjoyment of the numerous blessings that wealth gives access to, can lead to heedlessness in worship and poor bonding with Allah.

– Wealth can bring with it social prestige and honor. The above point (becoming heedless of Allah after acquiring wealth) is further compounded by the fact that wealthy people uncannily have many social contacts, an overflowing social calendar, and innumerable (read ‘superficial’) ‘friends’. This is even true in circles of religiously-inclined people, because the wealthier zealots tend to give oodles of charity, financial support and sponsorship to non-profit and religious organizations, on a basis of need.

I have personally witnessed the staff of such organizations go out of their way to give honor, extra respect and special privileges (such as direct access to scholarly company, undeserved passes into academic classes, and VIP treatment at events) to their wealthy patrons. Whether this is right or wrong, good or bad, is not to be discussed here. The point is: wealth grants you social acceptance and honor, both in religious as well as secular/”godless” environs.

– Financial hardship and poverty make a person automatically remember Allah often, because they constantly fear hunger, death and decline, which keeps them on their knees in prayers to Allah. A wealthy person has no worldly needs and worries, save those related to health, and if he is healthy, young, as well as wealthy, he can very quickly stray away from the remembrance of his Lord. Hence, possession of wealth necessitates putting up a strict and consistent guard of one’s faith and fear of Allah. Staying up late at night in tahajjud prayers on a daily basis is a great way to do this.

– One shouldn’t brag. I suppose this lesson was obvious from this Quranic parable/story from the start. If you want to show off a blessing to others as soon as you acquire it, quell the urge to do so. Also, remember that, someone who is poorer than you right now, can surpass you in wealth and social status just a few years down the road. So don’t gloat!

– Not all wealthy people are arrogant, full-of-themselves, stuck-up braggarts. Just because someone invites you to their home and, when you arrive, it turns out to be a palatial villa furnished in a manner that makes your jaw drop and your eyes gaze unblinkingly, do not assume that, just like Mr Rich Guy above, they invited you over to rub their affluence in your faces, or to practice/act out “أَنَا أَكْثَرُ مِنكَ مَالًا وَأَعَزُّ نَفَرًا”.

I have met and befriended some endearingly humble, down-to-earth and sincere wealthy people, and it is incredibly inspiring to watch them consistently help others with their wealth while maintaining a persona/personal style that doesn’t differentiate them from others by making them stand out (e.g. by using brands, labels and tags).

– If you experience any kind of negative feelings at beholding someone else’s better-off financial condition or worldly blessings (especially if it makes you think, “He/she doesn’t deserve these blessings”), there is actually something wrong with you, and you need to work on your heart to get rid of your self-esteem and envy issues.

– Wealth can go abruptly, even more quickly than it comes. A wealthy person must always believe with absolute conviction in their heart, that Allah can take away in an instant any physical blessing that they possess in this world. They should also cherish and value their faith in Allah and their relationship with Him, much over and above any other worldly blessing, and strive to safeguard it till they die.

To conclude….

This was just the first parable/story of Surah Al-Kahf that I found enlightening, and which I can relate to so well in lieu of the experiences I have had in my personal life.

Insha’Allah, if Allah guides me to, I will share my insights about the remaining stories and parables that this beautiful surah has in the near future.

Because, believe me, this was just the tip of the iceberg. 🙂


  1. looking forward to the second story…..I had just finished listening to the tafseer of this surah by Nouman ali Khan so this was a good referesher but I didn’t catch some of the tafseer on the second and third story so I look forward to you sharing your insight on that with us inshaAllah.

    • This is for Faraz.
      Assalamu Aleikum.
      Allah test us to know if we still love him and have faith in him in poverty as well as in richness.
      Allah test his most beloved prophets in all sorts of afflictions.
      Rasulallah P.B.U.H was tested in everything ( being an orphan, poverty, death of the loved ones…)
      In accepting afflictions and knowing how to deal with them without hating Allah S.W. nor lacking faith in him, Allah will increase you in wisdom and faith, forgive your sins and gives you rewards on earth and in the day of judgement.
      Rasullallah said: The mouemen will face afflictions until he meats Allah free from sins.
      He P.B.U.H. said: the believer matters are all good. If he face adversity, he will be patient this is good for him. If he face goodness he offers thanks and this is good for him.
      Faraz, have faith in Allah and love him in both ways, and do not let shaitan stands between you and him.

  2. Sadaf, congratulations on another fruitful article and on your 34th (35th hijri?) birthday. Write an article about Islamic feminism and how to fight it.

  3. Asalaamalykum wrb,
    When is the next story coming? and sister please place those mouth-watering food pictures in the bottom of the article or something, very distracting. Jazakallahukhair

    • وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته
      Allah knows best. Depends on when He will guide me to write the next one. I intend to do that very soon, insha’Allah. This past month, alhamdulillah I had a couple of extra writing assignments which had tremendous potential for sadaqah-e-jariyah. I was working on those.

      The food pictures (and the links to my other, eating out blog) are there to reflect the more ‘human’, ‘normal’ side of me (and my family) and to keep this blog more ‘real’ for its readers i.e. to show that, at the end of the day, I am just an average Muslimah who cooks and cleans at home, and who likes to dine out. Otherwise, in my recent interactions, I was distinctly getting the feeling that I was being considered a “scholar”, and this blog was considered an authority on Islamic jurisprudence.

      I am considering changing my blog theme in the near future, insha’Allah, so I will definitely keep your suggestion in consideration. Jazak Allahu khair for your feedback!
      And Allah knows best.

      • JazakAllahuKhair sister,
        Alhumdulillah you are not an average Muslimah. You should feel blessed that Allah swt has given you this gift. Not many ‘muslims’ plan for ‘sadaqah-e-jariyah’ or spends hours writing Islamic blogs, and Allah knows best what else you do for His sake, so you are not an average Muslim.

        Insha Allah I’m planning to teach Surah Kahaf and wanted to take few excerpts from your blog hence my anticipation in your next blog on the Surah.

        May Allah swt reward us all.
        Asalaamalykum wrb

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