Viewing Life through the Lens of Surat Al-Kahf
Surat al Kahf, the 18th surah found in the exact middle of the Qur’an, contains 110 ayaat rich with stories and parables that are constantly engaging the reader. It is a Meccan surah that is full of deep insights and tackles serious subjects that concern us both in this life and the hereafter. The surah gives us a perspective to examine life differently in pursuit of finding its reality. Surat Al-Kahf pertains to everyone, no matter his/her situation. If one is poor, weak, and oppressed, he will find the whole surah addressing his problems, giving him support, and suggesting solutions. If one is wealthy, healthy, and powerful, she will find it primarily speaking to her as well.
It was reported by the Prophet (pbuh) that “whoever reads Surat Al-Kahf on Friday, it lightens what is between the two Fridays.#” How can we best understand this light? This light is a guiding light throughout the week. Since we all face challenges that are both large and small, and we can very easily get confused as to how best to address our issues, we need a frequent reminder of the right perspective. Surat al-Kahf gives us a criterion to make decisions and form opinions. It helps us understand challenges and gives us the ability to deal with them, whether they involve our finances, our personal relationships, or our pursuit to seek knowledge. There is no doubt that this surah will, time and time again, be an indispensable gem in our lives if we use it in accordance with the sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).
This episode is an invitation for the reader to instill within himself the habit of reading Surat Al-Kahf every Friday, reflect deeply on the wealth of lessons and ideas, and more importantly, recall these lessons throughout the week. It is our hope that you, the reader, will enrich this episode with your own reflections and commentary by engaging with the material and discussing the ideas brought forth with your fellow MAS members, family, and friends, insha’Allah.
Utilizing the Lens: An Analogy
We would like the reader to consider Surat Al-Kahf as a “life lens” that one acquires by reading the surah every Friday. This lens will help us see things differently; it will help us see things without illusions. Consistently reading the surah will polish the lens and allow us to see life’s reality more clearly.
As we go through our week equipped with this lens, we will be able to overcome challenges, gain a better understanding of life, and in the process make better decisions. This episode is a step in creating your lens of Surat Al-Kahf, but before we begin, there are some special characteristics that one should know about this lens.
Our belief system is the fundamental component of this lens. Believing in Allah, His Messengers, His Books, and the Day of Judgement will change our perspective. This belief is summarized in the first few ayaat of the surah, [v.1-3]. Taking this belief with us throughout the surah will help us understand the points the surah wants to make.
You can watch movies with this lens. Stories are a key component when it comes to learning and reflection, and we can extract numerous lessons from them. Surat al-Kahf is comprised of three major stories and mini-stories as well (i.e. the two gardeners).
WARNING: The lens can become dusty and blur your vision. The believer, like any other human being, is forgetful. However, when the believers are reminded, they will remember, [v.51:55]. Reading the Qur’an frequently helps remind us of our beliefs and values. It is not a surprise that the Prophet (pbuh) recommends reading this Surah every Friday. Reading Surat al Kahf consistently will allow us to wipe off the dust that accumulates throughout the week and polish our hearts, but it must be done on a consistent basis.
Not everyone has the same lens. While you see wealth as a test from Allah and strive towards prohibiting greed from entering your heart, others will see it as a final objective they work hard to achieve. It is dangerous to assume that everyone has the same perspective as yourself.
This lens allows you to peer into the future! Surat al Kahf allows you to understand the Sunnah (law) of Allah in this universe. Figuring out this sunnah helps you anticipate the future and prepare for a successful one, insha’Allah [v.110].
Now that you have some understanding as to the type of lens the Lighthouse team has in mind, we invite you to reflect on Surat al-Kahf by yourself as well as with your peers. To help our brothers and sisters have some guided discussion, the Lighthouse team has offered a few examples of core topics that Surat Al-Kahf focuses on. Keep in mind, however, that the readers should not limit themselves to these examples. Rather, they should use them to develop a methodology of reflection and a way to approach Surat Al-Kahf in particular and the whole Qur’an in general.
In this exercise, we ask the reader to reflect on the examples below. Each example is a fundamental area that Surat Al-Kahf focuses on or remind us of as we read it. For each example, we provide a short description, a list of focus verses, and a few discussion questions to stimulate ideas and reflections. Remember, you can do this discussion alone as well as in a group.
Please do not limit yourself to the examples below. Think of other areas that Surat Al-Kahf addresses and reflect on those as well. The Lighthouse team intentionally did not address very important topics to give the readers a chance to reflect on these themes on their own. As you read Surat Al-Kahf every Friday, remember these areas and recall any experiences related to them that you faced throughout the week. Try to find out how Surat Al-Kahf helped you overcome any challenges and bring about more understanding.
Examples (full description is in the episode document)
- The Reality of This Life
- Worshiping the One True God
- The Victory of Allah is Near, Very Near
- Choosing Your Company
- Wealth and Power, Is It a Blessing or a Curse?
- The Danger of False Arguments
- Knowledge Belongs to Allah; Ask Him for More
- You May Like Something and It is Bad for You
- Always Measure Your Actions Against the Guidance of Allah
- The Name of the Surah: “Al-Kahf” – BONUS READ
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