Lessons from The Cave: Prologue


In the Name of Allah, the extremely Merciful at this very moment, and the extremely Merciful at all times.

With the Name of Allah, the extremely Merciful at this very moment, and the extremely Merciful at all times.

“Whoever reads Surah Al-Kahf on the day of Jumu’ah (Friday), will have a light that will shine from him from one Friday to the next.”

(Narrated by al-Haakim, 2/399; al-Bayhaqi, 3/249. Ibn Hajar said in Takhreej al-Adhkaar that this is a hasan hadeeth, and he said, this is the strongest report that has been narrated concerning reading Surah Al-Kahf. See: Fayd al-Qadeer, 6/198. It was classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 6470) 

I stumbled upon this hadith 5 or 6 years ago around the time I started to become serious in learning to recite and memorize Qur’an.  Surah Al-Kahf is the 18th chapter of the Qur’an and totals 11 pages.  At the time, this seemed like a daunting task to ask someone to do every Friday, especially if they were like me and read Qur’an at a snail’s pace with difficulty.

I tried many methods to complete this Surah every Friday- first by myself in one sitting, then in little chunks throughout the day, and then reading with a group.  Reading by myself in one sitting took an hour or longer.  When I read with a group of people- who were adults proficient in reading Qur’an- I slowed the group down.  And when I read in small chunks, I would forget to finish.

But even though it was embarrassing and difficult, somehow someway I wanted to become familiar enough with this Surah to be able to read it every Friday without difficulty.  Without difficulty, but at the same time avoid the potential danger of reading fast and deriving no benefit from what is read.

I heard a sheikh once explaining that his teacher, who read Surah Al-Kahf every Friday for more than 30 years, said that every time he read the Surah on Friday, he was able to derive a new lesson from it.

I want to be like that.  I want to learn a lesson from Surah Al-Kahf and be able to read it at a moderate pace without difficulty, every week.  But where do we find the time to do both, especially when it might be difficult to read the Arabic itself?

This post isn’t about how hard it is to consistently read Surah Al Kahf on Friday.  With time and effort, all of us are more than capable.  Instead, this post targets 6 common excuses for why we sometimes fall short in completing this Sunnah.

1.)  It’s too long

At 11 pages and 110 verses, this Surah is one of the longer Surah’s, but don’t let that scare you.  You’ve probably read books or written term papers that were longer.  For example, if you’ve read the entire Harry Potter series, then 11 pages shouldn’t seem like much.  How is it that we can sit still for hours reading about Harry Potter finding horcruxes (or horcri?), stay up all night analyzing the tragedy that is Severus Snape , and take hours to recover when Dumbledore died (oops), and not be able to sit still for 1 hour to read Surah Al-Kahf?

One helpful tip is to start reading the night before, as the time to read Surah Al Kahf on Friday starts on Thursday after sunset and lasts until Friday before sunset.  So if you’ve got work Friday morning, Thursday night is a great time to read.

2.)    I read slow

Practice, practice, practice, and after that, practice some more.  You will not become Mishary Al-Afasy or Qari Youssef Edghouch overnight.

If we want to improve at anything we first need a positive attitude.  Think: “I read slowly now, but if I practice weekly, I’ll be able to read more proficiently.”  Everyone was a beginner and “read slow” at one point.  The best Qari’s all started with “alif ba ta”.

At first, it will take time to complete the Surah.  A solution to this is to get together with 3 or more dedicated people and read this Surah together aloud.  A person starts by reading 1 page, and then it is the next person’s turn.  This goes around the circle until completion of the Surah.  This allows practice for one’s reading of Qur’an while at the same time facilitating the read, since following along is easier than actually reading.  With time, you’ll grow comfortable enough with the Surah to be able to start reading it on your own.

But what if you can’t get together in a group?  Read as much as you can on your own- but continue this every week. For example, if you start with only 3 pages, read 3 pages a week.  After 3 weeks, bump it up to 5 pages.  3 weeks after that, bump it to 7.  And so on until you reach the end of the Surah.  And if you consistently do that every week, you will inshaAllah be able to read the entire Surah without difficulty in a couple of months.

Your effort is not wasted in the site of Allah, and He will make it easy for you if you are sincere.

3.)    I don’t have time

Nobody has time.  The issue is not about how much time we have, but what we actually do with our time.  If we truly want something, we make the time for it.  We forsake sleep, skip breakfast, run to class, and cancel appointments. We make alterations in our normal routine to fit important things.  So what’s stopping us from doing the same with Surah Al-Kahf?

A solution to this excuse is two-fold.  If you truly don’t have time, then listen to a recitation of the Surah as you’re driving to work, or on your IPod while you’re walking.  You won’t be reciting it, but you’ll at least have some relationship with Surah Al-Kahf.  And every relationship -including Qur’an- needs a starting point.

If you are more advanced, why not commit the Surah to memory?  Not only does it fit nicely with a weekly revision on Friday, but if you memorize it you’ll be able to recite it during that hour long commute or during your downtimes.  You’ll expedite your way to completing this Surah because you’ll be able to recite it throughout the day from memory.

4.)    I can’t read Arabic

Not knowing how to read Arabic should not deter you from building a relationship with Qur’an.  Until you can find a teacher who can give you the basics, try your best to listen to the recitation and follow the English translation to complete the Surah.  An added plus is that if you do this often, you’ll unconsciously start memorizing this Surah.  Don’t believe me?  Ask the guy who knows the lyrics to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and doesn’t know a lick of Urdu.

5.)    I don’t understand Arabic, so I don’t get anything out of reading Surah Al-Kahf in Arabic.

Even if your first language is Arabic, chances are it’s not the classical Arabic of the Qur’an.  But with a general overview of what Allah is teaching us in this Surah-   we can recognize and be reminded of the broad themes each section is discussing.  Taking time to read a set portion of the translation that is easy for you each time you read the Surah- say 10 verses in English per week- will help you accomplish the goal of recognizing broad themes in a couple of months- even if you read the Arabic alone.

6.)    Relax bro, it’s just a Sunnah

I understand that sometimes it’s hard enough completing what is obligatory on us.  I also understand that a Sunnah, especially if it is difficult for us to perform, is even harder to do, let alone every week.  But at some point we must challenge ourselves- are we really doing our best to please Allah?

Sometimes, “it’s just a Sunnah” discourages other people around us from not practicing what we ourselves find difficult to practice.  So instead of letting this contagious excuse spread to someone else as their excuse, think positive:  “I’m not there yet, but inshaAllah, I hope that Allah gives me the ability to practice it” and try reading small portions at a time each week as discussed earlier.

Additionally, we must always remember that whatever the Prophet (saw) has said and done is for our own benefit to follow.  It may be that we find the road to success when we recite this Surah every week.

Conclusion

Reading Surah Al-Kahf every Friday may be difficult at first.  But if we want to be proficient in anything in life, we have to cut the excuses, work hard, and most of all, be consistent.  If we consistently adhere to a difficult task, it will become easier.  If you want to do this to please Allah- and it’s hard for you- keep at it and Allah will make it easier for you, and you can take that to the bank.  The key is to keep working and striving.  And above all, having a light shine from you one Friday to the next is a beautiful way to live.

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11 thoughts on “Lessons from The Cave: Prologue”

  1. Really needed this reminder! I used to be good at doing this on Fridays but lately Ive been using that excuse of not having time. InshAllah this Friday I will start reading Sarah al-Kahf again.

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