- Allah knows best: a tool to protect oneself from useless discussion.
- Eating halal and healthy.
- Protecting ourselves from fitnah in times of weakness.
And similarly, We awakened them that they might question one another. Said a speaker from among them, “How long have you remained [here]?” They said, “We have remained a day or part of a day.” They said, “Your Rabb is most knowing of how long you remained. So send one of you with this silver coin of yours to the city and let him look to which is best of food and bring provision from it and let him be cautious. And let no one be aware of you.” (19)
Allah knows best
Allah ta’ala transitions back to the conversation of Ashaabul Kahf. Their story is fast forwarded by centuries to when they awake, and Allah ta’ala begins the ayah: كَذَٰلِكَ بَعَثْنَاهُمْ- “and similarly, We awakened them“, meaning just as Allah put them to sleep in the cave for such a long time, in the same way He brought them back to consciousness.
They woke up and asked each other, كَمْ لَبِثْتُمْ, “how long have you remained?” After a guess, they ended the discussion by saying: رَبُّكُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا لَبِثْتُمْ-” your Rabb is most knowing of how long you remained.” From this answer we learn a quality of the believer that they do not indulge in vain and useless talk. If Ashaabul Kahf kept talking about this matter, there would be no end to the discussion. So when we are confronted with a matter that we have no knowledge of, our answer as believers should be: Allah is Most Knowing, or Allah knows best.
Eating halal and healthy
Naturally, after sleeping, they were hungry, so the subject changed to preparing a meal.They said: فَابْعَثُوا أَحَدَكُم بِوَرِقِكُمْ هَـٰذِهِ إِلَى الْمَدِينَةِ – “So send one of you with this silver coin of yours to the city.” From this we learn that the cave was outside and away from the city.فَلْيَنظُرْ أَيُّهَا أَزْكَىٰ طَعَامًا فَلْيَأْتِكُم بِرِزْقٍ مِّنْهُ – “and let him look to which is the best of food and bring provision from it.” They asked for the best of food, أَزْكَىٰ- that which is most pure and clean. The healthiest and the most halaal. Our lesson here is that if you want to worship Allah and work for His deen, then we must eat healthy, so that we can worship Allah and do His work in the best manner. Allah says in Surah Baqarah, “eat of the tayyib (good) food and work righteousness”, so righteousness and eating healthy are mentioned side by side. Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah goes to the extent of saying that it is wrong for a person to eat something that they know is unhealthy for them.
وَلْيَتَلَطَّفْ- “and he should be careful.” from laam-taa-fa (ل ط ف), and this word has two meanings. The first meaning is to do something with subtle planning and care. The second meaning is to be kind and gentle. They are advising the one who will be getting the food to be alert with the people, to not mention their whereabouts or who they are and also, he should deal in the best of manners with the people in the city.
وَلَا يُشْعِرَنَّ بِكُمْ أَحَدًا- “and let no one be aware of you.” no one should come to know about you. In other words, don’t reveal yourself or your identity to anyone, but at the same time not be hasty with regards to selecting the food.
Why were they so cautious? The next ayah reveals this:
They continue to say: “Indeed, if they come to know of you, they will stone you or return you to their religion. And never would you succeed, then–ever.” (20)
Protecting ourselves from fitnah
They had three options of going into the city:
1- To reveal their identity and be stoned to death (which was the punishment at that time)
2- To return to the deen of their people
3- To remain unnoticed and return to the cave
Ashaabul Kahf adopted the third way, to go unnoticed in a gentle way and return with their food. From this we learn that a believer should never invite death or fitnah. It does not make a person more brave if they put themselves in the face of death, rather if you are given a third easier and safer option, take it. Remember this surah is a makkee surah (revealed before the migration). The Quraysh were planning to kill the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, so Allah ta’ala revealed to migrate, and the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam did not stay, but he left the danger. When we are presented with a situation of danger, where we are incapable and weak, we should avoid the situation. The believers at the time of the Dajjal will adopt this avoidance policy by fleeing to caves to protect their emaan.
Furthermore, we should not jump ourselves into fitnah thinking it is more brave or that one can handle it. If there is a situation in which you are weak and it is out of your control, then you should leave it. The believer does not put themselves into a vulnerable position.
WAllahu alam – And Allah knows best.