Tafsir Surah Kahf: Ayah 19-20

Bismillah.

Summary

  1. Allah knows best: a tool to protect oneself from useless discussion.
  2. Eating halal and healthy.
  3. 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.

Complete Tafsir Surah Kahf here.

9 thoughts on “Tafsir Surah Kahf: Ayah 19-20

  1. Assalam Aleikum.

    I am a regular reader of your site and benefited a lot from the Arabic Gems and Tafseer’s that you have posted. I have, however, observed the Uniqueness of you name and would appreciate an Insight on how the traditional arabs related with the words ‘abd’ and ‘amat’.Is ‘abd’ only used with Males?Any insights on names of sahabiyyat who had names with ‘amat’? Any guidelines on which names with ‘amat’ are beloved to Allah, like abdullah & abdu Rahman for males?

    Hope this is the right place to direct my question.

    Jazakallah Kheir wa Barakallah Feekum.

  2. Wa’alaikum as Salam

    Abd means male slave.
    Ama means female slave.

    For naming, you can only name yourself as slave (male/female) of Allah (or any of Allah’s Names). So Al-Mutakkabir and Al-Wadood are two of the names of Allah.

    I’m not sure if any one particular name of Allah is better than the other. Allahu alam. But there is a hadith that Abdullah and Abdur Rahman are beloved names to Allah [swt].

    WAllahu alam.

  3. wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah brother,

    Alhamdulillah for allowing me to share what I have learned and Jazakum Allahu khayran to the owner of this blog for posting these.

    Interesting observation you’ve made mashaAllah. ‘Abd in general is only used for men, and ‘amah’ (أمة) is only used for women. In the Arabic language, feminine words (verbs and nouns) have exclusion, meaning if one says “muslimaat” it only refers to Muslim women, no men. But if one says “muslimeen”, it can refer to both men and women, or just men, depending on the context.

    As for your last two questions, Sahabiyyaat having names with ‘amah’ and which if any are beloved to Allah, I don’t know. InshaAllah you should ask your questions to an Imam or shaykh.

    There is one name that alludes to same meaning of “Amatullah” in the Aremeic language: Maryam, which means “Servant of Rabb”. Salaamun alayhaa.

    Allahu ta’ala a’lam.

  4. Assalam Aleikum

    Jazakamullah Kheir for the response. I have benefitted from your answers.

    Interesting ilm on the background of ‘Maryam’!Am kind off disappointed with how the common muslim do not pay deep meaningful attention to naming their children and stick to the easy way out i.e naming children after parents, the prophet (S.A.W), Sahaba e.t.c,.I get fascinated when i get persons with names that mind provoking historically and spiritually (Islamically).

    Another final observation and question. I have observed that the name of Lut (A.S) is rarely used by Muslims for their children!Yet he is a prophet who is mentioned frequently in the Quran and Sunnah. Bad enough, in Swahili they use the name Liwa’t (possibly derived from Lut) to refer the action that the people of lut were destroyed for? Could this be the reason why muslims shy away from naming children Lut?Am realing thinking of naming my next son lut?

    You can imagine how many muslims call their daughters ‘Zuleikha’ yet we have islamic literature that trace this name to the woman who tempted and imprisoned Yusuf (A.S).Knowing well that there is no credible proof that she ever became muslim, how can be proud to be associated with her name knowing well the evil that is attibuted to her!What if the child so named takes after the real ‘Zuleikha’ would it be praiseworthy?

    Thanks for accomodating my thoughts and questions.

    Looking forward to the next tafsir for Kahf, though we get it much later in the day.

    Jazakallah keir wa Barakallhu feekum.

  5. Good stuff akhi.🙂

    I was waiting for you to post ayah 19, because I gots a question.

    In my mushaf and the other mushafs I have used, I always find one part of the ayah emboldened and sticking out. It’s like the whole ayah is in size 12 font, but this one word is in size 16 font. It’s the part that says ‘wa yatalataf’.

    Any idea why that might be? I’m clueless, but I know al-Latif (the ‘Subtle’) is one of the 99 Names.

  6. Dawud

    Wal yatalattaf means “and let him be polite”. Talattafa comes from latafa which means to be kind. And this is also the root for the name of Allah Al-Latif (the most kind).

    But, in that instance in the ayah, they must have written in that way to fill in space or to serve some other calligraphic function. WAllahu alam.

  7. Br Dawud, I was going to mention that point of yours in the post but I didn’t want to confuse anyone so I left it out.

    yatalattaf is exactly the MIDDLE of the Qur’an, meaning that word is at the center of the Qur’an.

    Pretty cool, eh?🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s