In this lesson, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani reviews verses from the Quran that correspond with the chapter on Seclusion and the Preservation of Faith from Imam Ghazali’s Ihya. The verses covered in this lesson are from the 18th chapter of the Quran on the people of the Cave, verses 9-16. The story of the people of the Cave in the Quran focuses on the points of guidance from this story, that’s why the details of their story are not mentioned in the Quran like other Biblical traditions. The reason that reading this Chapter every Friday is to renew one’s faith. That is why the central message of the chapter is the preciousness and preservation of faith. The preservation of one’s faith is done through seclusion or migration. Here, seclusion is not an ends in itself but it is separate one from evil and its people with one’s heart and action even if one is amongst them.
The physical seclusion is to give one the strength for the spiritual seclusion from their actions. أَمْ حَسِبْتَ أَنَّ أَصْحَابَ الْكَهْفِ وَالرَّقِيمِ كَانُوا مِنْ آيَاتِنَا عَجَبًا إِذْ أَوَى الْفِتْيَةُ إِلَى الْكَهْفِ فَقَالُوا رَبَّنَا آتِنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً وَهَيِّئْ لَنَا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا رَشَدًا Or have you thought that the companions of the cave and the inscription were, among Our signs, a wonder? [Mention] when the youths retreated to the cave and said, “Our Lord, grant us from Yourself mercy and prepare for us from our affair right guidance.” [Quran, 18:9-10] Here, the verses mention mercy and what is meant by that mercy is faith and guidance.
The story itself showcases the high levels of taqwa that the people of the cave had in their attempts to preserve their faith. As such, one should always strive to preserve what they’ve been blessed with from Allah. هَٰؤُلَاءِ قَوْمُنَا اتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِهِ آلِهَةً ۖ لَّوْلَا يَأْتُونَ عَلَيْهِم بِسُلْطَانٍ بَيِّنٍ ۖ فَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِبًا وَإِذِ اعْتَزَلْتُمُوهُمْ وَمَا يَعْبُدُونَ إِلَّا اللَّهَ فَأْوُوا إِلَى الْكَهْفِ يَنشُرْ لَكُمْ رَبُّكُم مِّن رَّحْمَتِهِ وَيُهَيِّئْ لَكُم مِّنْ أَمْرِكُم مِّرْفَقًا These, our people, have taken besides Him deities. Why do they not bring for [worship of] them a clear authority? And who is more unjust than one who invents about Allah a lie?” [The youths said to one another], “And when you have withdrawn from them and that which they worship other than Allah, retreat to the cave. Your Lord will spread out for you of His mercy and will prepare for you from your affair facility.” [Quran, 18:15-16] Verses 15 and 16 show us that one should be vigilant in what they choose to associate with and what they choose to disassociate with. A believer should be clear about what is the truth, right and good, and holds fast to it.
In addition, Shaykh Faraz reminds us that we dislike the action and not the person, and disassociate with the action and not people. Lastly, Shaykh Faraz concludes with a quote from Imam Ibn ‘Ajiba and Imam Ibn ‘Ata’illah that whoever dedicates themselves to Allah, Allah will reward them, protect them, and shields their heart. To do this one should take some time for seclusion to reflect, pray, and remember Allah.
Shaykh Faraz and the other scholars and teachers will be looking at points of reflection from key verses in the Quran. The series will follow the thematic order of Imam Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences). The aim is to connect the key verses of guidance from the Book of Allah with the blueprint of renewal, the Ihya so that we experience a renewal by The Book.