Truth for the Youth
The Youth of the Cave by Imam Yama Niazi
Asleep for Three Hundred Years
One of the fascinating stories in the Qur’an is the story of the People of the Cave. This story appears in a well-known chapter called al-Kahf or the Cave. We are encouraged by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), to recite Surah al-Kahf every Friday, as mentioned in the hadith, “Whoever recites Surah al-Kahf on Friday, light shall shine forth for him between the two Fridays” (Hakim, Bayhaqi).
The story takes place sometime after the coming of Prophet I’sa, peace be upon him, and before the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). It informs of youths who withdrew from society and sought refuge in a cave from the prevalent worship of idols and a tyrannical king’s persecution. As Allah Most High reminds us in the Quran, “Remember when those youths took refuge in the cave and said, ‘Our Lord! Grant us mercy from Yourself and guide us rightly through our ordeal.” (Quran, 18:10).
Some scholars explained that the People of the Cave were monotheists and rare remnants from the true followers of Prophet I’sa (may Allah be pleased with him). Consequently, the King had threatened their lives if they did not follow his religion of idol worship. He gave them some time to think over his offer to convert; however, the youths took the opportunity and fled to the Cave searching for sanctuary.
Allah Most High answered their prayers and strengthened their faith. Then, Allah Most High sent them into a sleep that lasted three hundred years. They awaken and find that the entire town had left idol worship and are now worshiping God Almighty. The youths of the Cave were pleased to meet the new King, as narrated by scholars of Hadith Science. The youths returned to the Cave to rest some time after. At that point, Allah Most High destined that death come to them, and they died in the cave.
Their story is an example of youths who were committed to their lord and gave up everything for the pleasure of Allah. They did not give up their faith and belief in one God despite being threatened by an oppressive king. It is very rare to see our Muslim youth turn to a path of piety and worship nowadays.
“Repentance is excellence, but in youth is even more excellent”
(Hadith: Al-Jaami’ As-Sagheer, Ad-Daylami)
Lessons from Surah Kahf
Sura al-Kahf encompasses important themes and pearls of wisdom. One should ponder why this particular chapter is said to give you light from your feet to the heavens if recited on Fridays. Their story is a weekly reminder of their sacrifice and love for God and the truth. It also teaches us that, at times, one must take all measures to preserve one’s faith in this pure religion. The gift of Islam is the greatest blessing for us all, and as such, we should value it. Gratitude should be present in our hearts and tongues for all the blessings that Allah Most High has granted us. Life is not merely about attaining a good education and a good job, as the end goal. It is greater than that. The Hereafter is grand and everlasting. It does not compare to the short-lived pleasures of dunya (this world). For that reason, we should live our life considering that ultimate reality.
The youths of the cave were so honored and magnified by Allah Most High that even the dog that accompanied them earned a mention in the Qur’an! This is because of the good company of the dog, the company that they left everything to protect their most prized possession: their faith. They woke up after three hundred years which served as a sign to their people; Allah Most High granted them protection and success. A potent reminder for us of the power of Allah and His nearness to those who call upon Him for help.
And remember the words of Allah, Most High, when He says, “As for those who believe and do good, We certainly never deny the rewards of those who are best in deeds”(Quran; 18:30). No matter the size or magnitude of the deed – no good deed will ever go unnoticed by Allah, even if that be good intentions to perform good in your life. Allah Most High knows it all and sees it all.
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About the Author
Yama Niazi has studied with local scholars in the US for a number of years which culminated in him becoming an imam of the Islamic Society of Santa Barbara for 8 years. He served the community by teaching and leading prayers. In 2015 he founded “ the blessed tree “ a nonprofit specifically for bridging gaps between the Muslim community and others. He has spoken in many Muslim platforms and programs throughout the US and Canada. He currently teaches and is an instructor at SeekersGuidance and is leading youth education program as well conducting programs in local communities/ masjids in North America. He is married and has 3 children.
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