And certainly We have explained in this Quran every kind of example, and man is most of all given to contention. (54)
Tasreef is to diversify and repeat. Tasreef is used for winds, because winds come from all directions and come again and again. Allah has presented different way, styles, and every kind of example that is necessary for them so that man can understand. Allah ta’ala mentions parables, warnings, glad tidings to convey the message to mankind.
We learn from this that Allah ta’ala, out of His complete Mercy, has set forth everything we need in the Qur’an. He azza wa jal gave us many examples to explain the Deen so that we may comprehend it. In surah Kahf alone, we’ve covered more than one example of the life of this world and of the Qur’an.
Even though this is the case, Allah ta’ala says:
وَكَانَ الْإِنسَانُ أَكْثَرَ شَيْءٍ جَدَلًا and man is most of all given to contention. Jidaal is an argument in which two parties try to overcome each other. Jidaal is not an ordinary debate but it is a severe argument; none of the parties are willing to give up. If there is one thing mankind is good at, it is arguing.
Instead of understanding and taking a lesson, man argues concerning these ayaat. In surah Baqarah, the first example Allah ta’ala mentions is the mosquito and He ta’ala mentions the objection of those who hear this example, that why would Allah use a mosquito to strike a parable. The objective behind an example is to make the concept easier for understanding, and is not meant for dispute.
We can end arguments and disputes by remaining silent. The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam promised a house in the middle of Jannah for the person who leaves an argument even if they are in the right.
And (remember) the Day He will say: “Call those (so-called) partners of Mine whom you pretended.” Then they will cry unto them, but they will not answer them, and We shall put a barrier between them.(52)
Allah azza wa jal presents for us a scene from the Day of Judgment in these two ayaat.
Allah ta’ala will order the mushrikeen (pagans) to call upon their shurakaa (partners setup in worship with Allah). These partners can be idols, Shaytan or whatever being they associated with Allah in worship. When they call upon these partners, they will not respond to them. The scholars mention for two reasons:
1- If the partners were idols, then there is no reality to their existence.
2- if they worshiped a being, then that being cannot help them.
Allah ta’ala says وَجَعَلْنَا بَيْنَهُم مَّوْبِقًا, and We shall put a barrier between them. Maubiq comes from the word wabaq which means a prison and a barrier. Some scholars say maubiq is a specific level in hell-fire that is like a sewer–the place where the pus, blood and bodily fluids of the people of Jahannam is collected.
بَيْنَهُم between them, can have two meanings:
1- The maubiq will be the meeting place for the people and the partners they set up with Allah.
2- Between the worshipper and worshipped will be a barrier. They will not find eachother, and as Allah ta’ala says in another ayah: “so it will be lost from them what they fabricated.” (10:30)
In the hereafter, people who worshipped other than Allah in this life will disassociate and curse what they used to worship. Allah ta’ala says in surah Fatir, “If you invoke (or call upon) them, they hear not your call; and if (in case) they were to hear, they could not grant it (your request) to you. And on the Day of Resurrection, they will disown your worshipping them. And none can inform you like Him Who is the All-Knower. (35:14)
Allah azza wa jal continues the scene of the Day of Judgment:
And the criminals shall see the fire, then they shall know that they are going to fall into it, and they shall not find a place to which to turn away from it.(53)
The criminals will see the fire in front of them, and Allah describes in surah Furqan, they will hear it raging and roaring (25:12). They will see hell-fire and hell-fire will see them; as if it is a living monster.
And (remember) when We said to the angels: “Prostrate yourselves unto Adam.” So they prostrated themselves except Iblis (Satan). He was one of the jinn; he disobeyed the Command of his Lord. Will you then take him (Iblis) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me while they are enemies to you? What an evil is the exchange for the wrong-doers. (50)
In the Qur’an, the only place where the story of Aadam alayhi salaam occurs twice consecutively back-to-back is in Surah Israa (17) and Surah Kahf (18). The story of Aadam alayhi salaam is mentioned in other surahs such as A’raaf and Baqarah, but here in these two surahs, his story is mentioned in the middle of the surahs right after one another.
Suratul Kahf is directed more to the Christians, so Allah ta’ala addresses their main ideology with this story.
Allah ta’ala begins by saying,وَإِذْ, and mention:
Allah azza wa jal ordered the angels to make sajdah (prostration) to Aadam alayhi salaam.
Sajdah is of three kinds:
1- Sajdah of worship. It is a physical prostration like we do in our salah.
2- Sajdah of greeting and respect. This type of sajdah is like a gesture, for example someone may lower their head out of respect.
3- Sajdah of servitude. The creation of Allah do sajdah to Allah, not as a physical prostration but of obeying Him.
The sajdah here is the sajdah of greeting and honor; all of the angels prostrated out of obedience to Allah ta’ala except for Iblees, who was also commanded to prostrate. Allah ta’ala describes him as being from the Jinn; making it clear that he was never an angel.
Allah ta’ala says about him, “he disobeyed the Command of his Lord.” Fasaq is from fisq, and fisq literally gives the meaning of when a flower emerges from the bud or when a date is over-ripe and the it breaks through the date skin. Fisq means to go beyond the limits set by Allah. Iblees departed from the command of Allah ta’ala by not prostrating.
The Christians say that Iblees was not a Jinn, but he was an angel. They took the theological component of this story and said he was a fallen angel, but Allah ta’ala clarifies: “he was from the jinn”, telling the Christians what they need to hear.
Allah ta’ala also added something else: “he violated the commands of his Rabb“. Why is that important for Christians? They systematically violated the commands of their Rabb by abandoning the law of Musa alayhi salaam after the depature of Esa alayhi salaam.
أَفَتَتَّخِذُونَهُ, “Will you then take him (Iblis).” Ittakatha means to take, but it also gives the meaning of preferring.
أَفَتَتَّخِذُونَهُ وَذُرِّيَّتَهُ أَوْلِيَاءَ مِن دُونِي وَهُمْ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ, “Will you then take him (Iblees) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me while they are enemies to you?”
Thurriyah, Children, can mean according to the scholars of Tafseer:
1- refers to the real children of Iblees
2- refers to the followers of Iblees
With regards to the real children of Iblees, we do not know how or why, so we say as we learned in the previous ayaat: Allah is Most Knowing.
We do learn that shaytan does have followers and armies. In Saheeh Muslim, Jabir reported that Allah’s Messenger sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said: Iblees places his throne upon water; he then sends detachments (for creating dissension) ; the nearer to him in rank are those who are most notorious in creating dissension. One of them comes and says: I did so and so. And he says: You have done nothing. Then one amongst them comes and says: I did not spare so and so until I sowed the seed of discord between a husband and a wife. The Satan goes near him and says: ‘You have done well.’
This is the job of Shaytan; to create dissension between us and take us from the obedience of Allah ta’ala.
Allah mentions that Shaytan is a clear enemy, so we should be alert. Nowadays, when leaders or famous people go to dangerous places that an enemy of theirs may be lurking…how do they act? They are staying in a secure house, they ride in a bullet-proof car, with a vest, multiple body guards and they do not stay out too long. Likewise we must take precautions with Shaytan, because Allah azza wa jal has told us he is our real enemy…so how can we take him and his children as auliyaa?
And (remember) the Day We shall cause the mountains to pass away (like clouds of dust), and you will see the earth as a leveled plain, and we shall gather them all together so as to leave not one of them behind. (47)
Allah ta’ala commands us: warn them of the Day when the mountains will be set in motion; moved easily and brought down. We see the mountains as symbols of stablity and firmness, but on the Day of Judgment, the mountains will be moved easily like a mirage.
The earth will be made flat –no mountains, plains or trees– and it also means that whatever is in the earth will be brought out. Allah ta’ala says in surah Zalzalah ayah 2 “and the earth discharges its burdens.”
The people will be gathered, and none will be left behind.
حَشَرْنَاهُمْ, We shall gather them, is in past tense, why?
1- to show the certainty of hashr/gathering
2- indicates the hashr/gathering after resurrection is going to be before the destruction of the earth.
How will we be gathered?
And they will be set before your Lord in (lines as) rows, (and Allah will say): “Now indeed, you have come to Us as We created you the first time. Nay, but you thought that We had appointed no meeting for you (with Us).” (48)
Imagine that Day: the earth is flat, the mountains are gone, and everyone will be presented before Allah azza wa jal in rows. No one can behind another person or be looked over. Allah ta’ala says nothing will be concealed on that day.
People will come upon that day:
2- unclothed and barefoot
Everyone from the first of people to the last of people..So how can someone feel alone in this huge gathering? Everything will be worried about their own selves and cannot provide comfort for each other. This can be likened to the scenes at Hajj; although you are surrounded by hundreds of people, if you are lost from your group, you feel alone, confused and scared…And indeed the Day of Judgment is a greater example.
Then Allah ta’ala describes the hisaab:
And the Book (one’s Record) will be placed, and you will see the criminals, polytheists, sinners, fearful of that which is (recorded) therein. They will say: “Woe to us! What sort of Book is this that leaves neither a small thing nor a big thing, but has recorded it with numbers!” And they will find all that they did, placed before them, and your Lord treats no one with injustice. (49)
But pardon them, and forbear: verily, Allah loves the doers of good.
What’s the difference between عَفُوُ aُnd صَفَحَ? There is a subtle difference. عَفُوُ means to forgive like you have forgotten about the incident. صَفَحَ means to not just forgive, but to treat the other with ihsaan (outstanding behavior). It’s like going the extra mile for someone who hurt you. Why?
إِنَّ اللّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ: Truly Allah loves those who go the extra mile (muhsineen).
In the context of the ayah, Allah is telling the Prophet and the believers that you will discover that most of the Jews will betray you. Despite all of this, Allah is asking the Prophet to practice forgiveness of the best kind.
Set forth to them the similitude of the life of this world: It is like the rain which we send down from the skies: the earth’s vegetation absorbs it, but soon it becomes dry stubble, which the winds do scatter: it is (only) Allah who prevails over all things.(45)
Allah ta’ala begins this ayah with an example of the life of this world. Allah azza wa jal uses “daraba”, to strike one thing to another. The word “daraba” is used in several different ways and the context describes the definition that is used. In this ayah, it is used to “strike an example” because examples and similtudes should strike us and our hearts.
The example that is going to be mentioned in this ayah will be similar in context to the life of this world.
It is like rain water that is sent down and as a result the rain mixes with the vegetation of the earth. When rain comes down, the vegetation absorbs the water and the vegetation becomes lush and beautiful. The second meaning is that when the rain comes down, the vegetation multiplies. It mixed so much so that the vegetation became dense, thick and lush that one branch cannot be differentiate from another.
What will happen to the vegetation? Allah ta’ala says it will become dry and scattered by the winds.
This example is to show us that this world will not remain forever.
Ponder over the different seasons; just as the summer holds greenery and beauty, fall comes with falling dry leaves that are scattered by the wind. Something that was so green at one time becomes as if it never existed. Look at our own states: do any of us remember when we were born or our first few years of life? Likewise, this dunya has a beginning and end, and the days in between are passing quickly.
This example is showing us that the life of this world will not last; just as the green leaves will eventually fall off and dies, just as the child turns into a frail old man, this dunya will end.
Then this ayah ends with a Name of Allah ta’ala: Muqtadir, from the root qaaf-daal-ra, qudrah. We read many times that Allah ta’ala is Qadeer, All Able, so what does Muqtadir means? It means One who has iqtidaar: ability and authority that is perfect and supreme. Allah is not just Able, but He had Perfect Ability. If we all came together to stop the rain, or stop the seasons, we would not be able too. Everything is in His Power; and thus we should submit to Him Alone.
Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world: But the things that endure, good deeds, are best in the sight of thy Lord, as rewards, and best as (the foundation for) hopes. (46)
“Zeenah” is that which one decorates and beautifies themselves with. Wealth and children are the zeenah of this dunya, not the hereafter. They are not a means of success; unless used in the right way. Children and wealth are taken as the adornment of this life, but we hardly think about using them in the way for the aakhirah.
On the other hand, the baaqiyaat as-saalihaat are what remains. The good righteous deeds are what remain, and are what last. They do not get wasted or nullified when someone dies, rather they take them to success in the hereafter.
Pain, regret, sorrow, overwhelming grief: just some of the symptoms of those who disbelieve in Allah and don’t credit their success to Him.
The true help and victory is always from Allah. This is a time-honored phenomenon (Aad, Thamud, Firawn, etc).
Recap of the story of the two mean.
Pain, Regret, Sorrow, Overwhelming Grief
So his fruits (and enjoyment) were encompassed (with ruin), and he remained twisting and turning his hands over what he had spent on his property, which had (now) tumbled to pieces to its very foundations, and he could only say, “Woe is me! Would I had never ascribed partners to my Lord and Cherisher!” (42)
If you examine farmers, they wake up early after sunrise, they work in their field all day and they are always working in their land. The farmer does not have a vacation or break, because his land will not flourish properly. So this man started rubbing his hands out of sorrow and grief: all the time, effort, labor, planning and sacrifice he put into his garden was wasted because he disbelieved in Allah ta’ala and relied upon his wealth and children and not upon Allah azza wa jal.
يَا لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أُشْرِكْ بِرَبِّي أَحَدًا- Extreme regret, this man wished he was grateful. The word layta cannot be translated in English because there is no equivalent word. Br Nouman from Bayyinah stated that this word would amount to a deep sigh of regret in English. Layta, in easy terms, is to cry over spilled milk.
Allah ta’ala says about Abu Lahab in surah Masad, “his wealth and children will not avail him”. In this world, if you do not credit your blessings to Allah, then no one can help you and wealth and children will not avail you. Remember suratul Kahf is a Makkee surah and the Quraysh are being shown a mirror here; this man had wealth, children, many servants but because he did kufr, so his land was destroyed. What happened to the Quraysh in the future? They suffered a famine.
Nor had he numbers to help him against Allah, nor was he able to deliver himself. (43)
So this man’s wealth was gone, and his nafr (his entourage) could not help him. No matter how much anger he expressed, he could not change what happened. Nowadays, when we are wronged, we threaten to sue, we voice what has happened, we get people on our side but this man could not sue anyone, he could not defend himself and he could not bring his garden back.
The feeling of helplessness and overwhelming sorrow that one experiences in this state is suffocating, and that’s why we see that many times such individuals in Qur’an are described as rubbing their hands, or biting their hands (see Surah Furqan), and crying Ya laytani!
True Help and Victory is Always from Allah
There, the (only) protection comes from Allah, the True One. He is the Best to reward, and the Best to give success. (44)
This has been proven, that the authority is completely for Allah: the true help is the Help of Allah and the real victory is the Victory of Allah.
This man wished He believed in Allah AFTER the incident happened. The former people who were destroyed of the previous nations believed that Allah was the true Ilaah and Rabb when they saw the punishment of Allah azza wa jal. They realize this fact that all authority belongs to Allah, that we have to return to Him and that He Alone is worthy of worship. Even as Fir’awn was dying, he claimed to believe in Allah azza wa jal.
هُوَ خَيْرٌ ثَوَابًا وَخَيْرٌ عُقْبًا: But, this “last minute belief” will not avail you, rather deeds that are done for Allah ta’ala: their reward is best and their outcome is also the best.
Out of pride and arrogance, “have you disbelieved in He who created you from dust and then from a sperm-drop and then proportioned you as a man?”
Saying ma sha Allah is how a righteous person expresses his/her joy at receiving a blessing.
Proper way of naseeha: Advise, don’t scold. Return the conversation to Allah. Be positive, polite and firm.
The Story of Two Men Continues
His companion said to him while he was conversing with him, ‘have you disbelieved in He who created you from dust and then from a sperm-drop and then proportioned you (as) a man? (37)
The other man now begins to speak, he rebukes the man with the two gardens: HOW can you deny Allah–the One who gave you these gardens?
Specifically, this man mentions to him the proof of creation. Why? It is a sign of our resurrection. Every day we see plants growing out of the ground, and just as we see these plants grow, it reminds us that man will be resurrected from their graves as these plants. Allah ta’ala describes the disbelievers as having eyes that they do not see with, while the believer is the one who sees a sign in a seemingly simple creation of a plant–all of this is a proof for the coming of the Day of Judgment.
“But (as for me) He is Allah, My Lord, and none shall I associate with my Lord.” (38)
He is indirectly telling his companion that Allah is my Rabb, I worship Him, and so should you.
Saying Ma Sha Allah
Then he advises,
“Why didst thou not, as thou wentest into thy garden, say: ‘(Allah)’s will (be done)! There is no power but with Allah.’ If thou dost see me less than thee in wealth and sons,” (39)
He advised his companion to say “Ma sha Allah, la quwwata ila billah,” pointing to the fact that these blessings were from Allah and not from his own self.
The story of two men, one of them who had a magnificent, dense garden.
The disease of arrogance: you start to look down on others because of what Allah has given you.
Thinking too highly of yourself and not being grateful to Allah for His blessings is oppression of the self.
“If there is a hereafter, I’ll get the best of it too since I’m so special”.
The Story of Two Men
Set forth to them the parable of two men: for one of them We provided two gardens of grape-vines and surrounded them with date palms; in between the two We placed fields of crops. (32)
After mentioning the attitude of the Quraysh in the previous ayaat, Allah ta’ala strikes the example of two men; a story that holds lessons for everyone.
For one of the two men, Allah gave him a garden that had orchards. Allah ta’ala gives us a vast image of this garden, it was: full of plants, grapevines, trees, crops, and was so thick with plantation. These types of plants were the most special and most valuable to the Arabs. Imagine the garden was mainly of grapevines, the outside was surrounded by date palms and the middle had various crops.
Each of those gardens brought forth its produce, and failed not in the least therein: in the midst of them We caused a river to flow. (33)
The vegetation was the maximum that the gardens could produce and there was nothing short in it. Not only this, but each of the two gardens had a river–not just an ordinary stream or body of water, but rivers that were gushing forth with fast flowing water.
Imagine, how huge the gardens must have been if the rivers were flowing with such power! And since there was such an abundance of water, it displays how green and lush the garden was and how the garden was irrigated naturally.
(Abundant) was the produce this man had: he said to his companion, in the course of a mutual argument: “more wealth have I than you, and more honour and power in (my following of) men.” (34)
Allah continues to describe the garden of this man: the fruit from the garden was plenty, and he also received wealth from the sale of the fruits.
The Disease of Arrogance
If you were given all of these blessings: a garden with rivers, grapevines, crops and plants that produces fruit in abundance and brings wealth, how would your attitude be? Allah ta’ala shows us the attitude of this man:
He said to his companion, أَنَا أَكْثَرُ مِنكَ مَالًا “I have more wealth than you.” Imagine the arrogance and attitude of this man; because Allah ta’ala gave him so much of this dunya, he began to look down upon his companion.
A glimpse of the hellfire: surrounded by fire, walls and canopy of smoke. “How bad is this place where they will find rest!”
A glimpse of paradise: bracelets of gold, green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade, raised thrones. “How excellent is this place where they will find rest!”
A glimpse of the fire of hell
Say, “The truth is from your Rabb”: Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it): for the wrong-doers We have prepared a Fire whose (smoke and flames), like the walls and roof of a tent, will hem them in: if they implore relief they will be granted water like melted brass, that will scald their faces, how dreadful the drink! How bad a resting place! (29)
الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ- the Truth is from your Rabb: The Qur’an is the haqq, the Messenger is the haqq, and everything sent from Allah is the haqq–Your Rabb only sends the haqq so:
فَمَن شَاءَ فَلْيُؤْمِن- “Let him who will believe”. Whoever chooses emaan, let him believe, وَمَن شَاءَ فَلْيَكْفُرْ “and let him who will, reject it”. This is not an encouragement to disbelieve, rather it is a serious threat. Whoever chooses disbelief (kufr), let them disbelieve because:
إِنَّا أَعْتَدْنَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ نَارًا أَحَاطَ بِهِمْ سُرَادِقُهَا-“for the wrong-doers We have prepared a Fire whose smoke and flames, like the walls and roof of a tent, will hem them in”. The people of hell-fire will be surrounded by four walls on each side. The walls of hell-fire, the smoke and fumes, will completely surround them and encompass them. The fire will be their bed, their clothes, their canopy. They will not be able to escape from there.
وَإِن يَسْتَغِيثُوا- and if they seek help, يُغَاثُوا بِمَاءٍ كَالْمُهْلِ – they will be relieved with muhl.
Muhl has several meanings:
Ibn Abbaas radi Allahu anhu states muhl refers to the black thick murky liquid that settles at the bottom of oil.
Imaam Raaghib states that muhl is molten metal.
Mujaahid states that muhl refers to puss and blood.
When they seek help they will be given the likes of molten metal, of puss and blood, of black murky oil that will: يَشْوِي الْوُجُوهَ– scald their faces. يَشْوِي is from sheen-wow-ya, this word is used to describe the roasting of meat and boiling of water. Such water will boil, grill, burn and roast their faces. When the water is drawn close to their faces, the faces will be burn completely–just coming close to the water will burn their faces. The punishment continues, they will be made to drink this water that will cut up and split their intestines.
بِئْسَ الشَّرَابُ وَسَاءَتْ مُرْتَفَقًا -How dreadful the drink and how bad the resting place!
مُرْتَفَقًا- ra-fa-qaaf: irtifaaq is to spread one elbow’s sideways and rest one’s cheek on the elbow. This is a sign of resting, calm and ease. Murtafaq refers to a resting place, where a person lives and finds peace–where they rest their face on. The usage of this word is like a mockery: how bad is this place where they will find rest!
This punishment is indeed the worst, and we seek Allah’s refuge from ever entering it.