WHILE WE WERE baking our signature chocolate chip cookies one morning, my daughter asked me a simple question: “Mommy? Why do you have to read “Sûrat A l-Kahf” every Friday?
“I don’t have to, honey. I choose to, for many reasons. One of them is because our Prophet (PBUH) said reading the chapter of ‘The Cave” protects Muslims from the evils of the Anti-Christ when he appears, which is the most difficult trial humans will ever have to face.”
“But the whole chapter says absolutely nothing about the Anti-Christ! I don’t get it! Where’s the connection?” she asked.
“If I give you all the answers, then how will you ever learn? Figure it out!”
Yeah, that’s what I usually say when I’m stuck.
I suddenly realized I had no idea why we read Sûrat Al-Kahf on Fridays, why the Prophet (PBUH) said it illuminates our whole week, and how that would prevent us from the world’s worst tribulations. So after nights of hiding from my daughter to do my research, I finally uncovered some secrets of the four stories related in this beautiful chapter of the Quran. Here is what I found.
The Secret of Faith
The first divine account is about a handful of teenage boys, committed to monotheism and insightful beyond their age, who leave their families and lives behind to take refuge in a deserted cave. Armed with nothing but their faith in Allah, they escape corrupted religion, only to wake up 309 years later to an entire city of believers. Their faith had been tested and they passed with flying colors, didn’t they?
Make no mistake about it, this story is a reminder that our faith will be tested too. Even with Islam being the fastest growing religion in the world, Muslims today are shunned and degraded like they’re second class citizens. Our faith is put to the test every time we step outside our comfort zone.
How many times have you been detained at an airport with the blatant insinuation of being a terrorist? I, for one, was spit on at Disney Land, just because I wear the veil. And while the trials can be minimal or extreme, Allah gives us the guidelines to passing this specific test—right after telling this story of the “Sleepers.” The verses explain that the secret to preserving your faith is patience and surrounding yourself with believers. Good company is the main key to safeguarding our faith.
The Secret of Wealth
The next story speaks of the rich man who bragged about his possessions to his less fortunate friend. The man’s wealth made him feel self-sufficient and self-assured, forgetting that it can all disappear in the blink of an eye. The truth is nothing in this world lasts forever, and remembering this is our key to surviving the weighty test of wealth.
Our times are all about who drives the latest model car, who bought the limited-edition designer bag that WASN’T on sale. Seriously, what difference does this all make? We will all be buried underground completely alone!
God gives us the answer to this test, again right after the account of the two men and the garden. The secret to not letting fortune blind you, is to strive to do more good deeds and to help others.
The Secret of Knowledge
During his journey with Al-Khidhr, Prophet Moses □ learns the greatest lesson of all: Divine wisdom can sometimes be buried within what we might perceive as wrong or bad. So we must pay attention to looking discerningly below the surface. Just like one can lose his faith and be blinded by wealth, one can surely be consumed with the ’I-know-best’ syndrome, and that alone is a difficult test.
How do we overcome this kind of conceit and the limits of our own knowledge and experience? Allah gives the solution within the narrative, telling us how this blessed prophet himself, the Messenger of God, was humbled, and humble enough, to follow orders, and in the end, learned the divine wisdom and goodness behind each seemingly wrongful encounter.
Humility before God has always been, and always will be, the golden path to knowledge and success.
The Secret of Power
Last comes the story of a great king who was given immense power. He traveled the world with the sole purpose of helping people and spreading the word of Allah. The secret to sustaining supremacy is using it for good, and remaining aware of the fact that you can’t do it alone.
The king was able to restrain ‘Gog and Magog’ only with the help of people whom he could hardly even understand. It is unity of purpose that enables us to stand up against enemies, which is, sadly, not the state of affairs with Muslims today.
The subsequent verses tell the secret to maintaining our powers against the Anti-Christ: Sincerity in all our actions and remembering that on Judgment Day, we will have no authority against the purposes of Allah, the most powerful of all.
If these secrets serve us readers as a weekly reminder and source of light, then the dots are connected to form the ultimate shield. For the Anti-Christ (Al–Dajjâl) will arrive with exactly those four enticing allures.
1. Our faith will be tested when the Anti-Christ asks people to worship him instead of Allah.
2. We will be tempted by his wealth when we see the earth’s treasures following him like a swarm of bees.
3. His seeming knowledge will overwhelm people when they see him bringing back the dead.
4. And his apparent power to command the sky with rain and control most parts of the earth will blind people to his toxic mission.
That’s the thing about the Holy Qur’an: It’s never random or irrelevant. The more you read it, asking for understanding, the more you uncover its secrets. And with its overwhelming beauty and serenity, I can’t help but seek refuge with Allah in ‘The Cave”—that safe embrace where Allah unlocks the doors to His Mercy.
Say [O Prophet]: I am only a human being like you. It is revealed to me that, indeed, your God is only One God. So whoever has hope for the Meeting of his Lord [in the Hereafter], let him do righteous deeds and not associate—in the worship of his Lord—anyone. (Sûrat Al-Kahf, 18:110)