Tafsir Surah Kahf: Ayat 42-44

Bismillah.

Summary

  1. Pain, regret, sorrow, overwhelming grief: just some of the symptoms of those who disbelieve in Allah and don’t credit their success to Him.
  2. The true help and victory is always from Allah. This is a time-honored phenomenon (Aad, Thamud, Firawn, etc).
  3. 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.

Recap of the Story of the Two Men

Let’s recap this story:
Allah ta’ala begins by telling the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam to the people the story of two men. What does this show? Story telling is a very effective means to convey the message and this is the command of Allah azza wa jal: tell the story. This is an art that we can teach not only children, but everyone, about the deen of Allah ta’ala. Good stories have morals that we can relate to our lives, and everyone enjoys a good story.

Allah ta’ala then describes the gardens in detail; such imagery in the story. Why with such details? Sometimes what you do not see is seen by others; if our intention is to explain and describe Allah’s Creation: this is the best way to help one reflect.

The garden: We live in a concrete jungle today, but simply try and imagine how amazing this garden was. It was in full bloom, with vines and trellises surrounding it and rivers flowing through it.

The man’s crime: He did not commit major kufr, but the kufr that is to deny the blessings of Allah. He said in ayah 36,”if I am brought back to my Rabb“, he believed in Allah–he knew there was a Rabb–but he denied the blessings of Allah.

Their companionship: while one man was boasting about his worldly possessions, the other was a righteous believer with tawakkul in Allah. One friend had no yaqeen in his hereafter and the other was so focused. One is stuck in the worldly garden and the other is connected with Allah ta’ala. Notice that these two seemingly opposite men are still companions and we learn many lessons of hikmah and da’wah in this story. This story helps us learn how to deal with those who are in love with the dunya. Also, the righteous man advises him to say “mashaAllah la quwwata ila billah.” Many times we may feel embarrassed to say things like “mashaAllah” around family or friends who are not practicing, but this is the haqq (right) of companionship: to remind each other of Allah ta’ala. Furthermore, this righteous man uses analogies to help his friend see the dhulm he was committing.

The outcome: the garden was destroyed as a lesson for this man, a reminder, that Allah ta’ala is the One who Gives and just like He gave He can easily take away.

Reflect on what you have learned from the story of the two men in the garden.

Complete Tafsir Surah Kahf here.

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