With the Name of Allah, the extremely Merciful at this very moment, and the extremely Merciful at all times.
Welcome to Lessons from the Cave Part 3. Last time, we studied an important rule of Arabic: possession. Knowing this rule (for ease, the italics in some of the words below indicate where the rule is being used) and the few verbs we have so far, we will continue to elevate our understanding – test yourself weekly with the “CHALLENGE” phrases.
However, to get the most from this series, make sure to LISTEN to the recitation of the verses being mentioned, preferably verse by verse. A good site to listen in this manner is linked here. For the beginner, change the reciter to “Abdul Baasit.”
Explanation in transliteration are for ease, however, to get the most out of this, please follow the explanation with the Arabic in the verse.
Lesson 3 : Surah Al-Kahf (The Cave) Chapter 18: verses 14-17
“We gave strength to their hearts: Behold, they stood up and said: “Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and of the earth: never shall we call upon any god other than Him: if we did, we should indeed have uttered an enormity!” (18:14)
(MUST KNOW) “Qalb” (read here as “Quloobi him“) = “heart” (here: their hearts). Remember how I said possession will help us going forward? Here we have “ha” and “meem” at the end of the word, which make “hum” or “him.” Both signify ownership for “they” when placed at the end of a noun. Here, Allah is mentioning the youths in the cave, so the ownership is for “they.” All that’s left is to decipher the remaining letters: “Qaf” “Lam” “wao” and “Ba.” The three letters we want to focus on here, that mean “heart” are “Qaf” “Lam” and “Baa” in that order. The extra letter is to signify plurality to match with “they”- but this will be covered later inshaAllah.
(REPEAT- Lesson 2 Verse 10): “FaQaloo Raba na” = “They said: “Our Master (Lord)”. The same verb we want to recognize is repeated over and over- “to say”, which was covered in Lesson 1. The same phrase from Lesson 2 is repeated here. Again, we look at the word “Rabb” and we see it is a noun, and it has a letter at the end signifying possession/ownership. Whenever we have “nun” at the end making “Na” it automatically implies “Our.” Here, it would make sense for the youth to say “Our Lord” if they are calling to Allah all together.
(SELF LEARN – MUST KNOW) “Rabus samawati wal ard” = “Master of ?” With the vocabulary we have now, we learned Rabb = Master. We know that Allah is the Master of everything. However, Allah here specifies examples of what He has Mastery over. Follow the translation and what you know. We learned last time that “ard” = Earth. The translation reads “Lord of the heavens and the earth…” The letter “wao” by itself signifies “and.” If you were to guess what “samawat” (read as “samawati” here) meant, you could infer from the translation that it means “heavens” or “sky.” You would be correct, and congratulations, you just learned a new Arabic word using tools we have equipped ourselves with from the previous lessons :).
Thus the whole phrase (which is repeated many times in the Qur’an) translates roughly to: “The Lord of the heavens and of the earth.”
(RECOMMENDED) “ilah” (read here as “ilaha“) = god. “Ilah” should sound familiar…it appears in the Shahadah: La Ilaha illa Allah…” which means “There is no god but Allah…”
(REPEAT) Qulna = “We should have uttered (said)” = the same verb used, but a different English word is used in the translation, however, with the same meaning.
“These our people have taken for worship gods other than Him: why do they not bring forward an authority clear (and convincing) for what they do? Who doth more wrong than such as invent a falsehood against Allah?” (18:15)
(MUST KNOW) “Qawm” (read here as “Qawmu na“)= “people,” more specifically here: “Our people.” In general, referring to one’s own people, tribe, village, community, etc. “People” is a noun. It appears many times in the Qur’an so its a good idea to learn it. The 3 letters we focus on to derive “people” is “Qaf” “wao” and “meem.” However, it also has an extra letter at the end of it signifying ownership (“nun”). So for the youth’s to say “Our people” they say “Qawmu na” .
(REPEAT) “ilah” (read here as “aliha“) = “god(s).” Don’t be confused by the different letters I used for the transliteration here. The word in the previous verse and this one are one and the same word, its just that the “hamza” (the first letter in each word) is written by itself here. In the previous verse, the “hamza” is below the “alif.”
“adhzlum” (read here as “adhzlumu“) = in general: “to do wrong.” If your Desi, think of this as being similar to “zalim” in Urdu (like when people talk about “zalim log”)- it holds similar meaning in Arabic (though pronounciation is different).
(REPEAT) “Allah” = Arabic for the One true God
(REPEAT – Lesson 1 verse 5) “Kathiba” = a lie or falsehood
“When ye turn away from them and the things they worship other than Allah, betake yourselves to the Cave: Your Lord will shower His mercies on you and disposes of your affair towards comfort and ease.” (18:16)
(CHALLENGE – MUST KNOW) “ya’bodoona illal Allah“
Dont confuse the “nun” with the line above it here ,with the possesion “na“, its not the same and doesn’t look the same.
We can recognize “Allah” in the phrase, but we have two more words, one of which we have seen before. If you’re able to recognize it, tap yourself on the back 🙂
We learned the word “‘abd” in verse 1 (Lesson 1), which means “slave (or “servant”). The three letters for “slave” in Arabic are “3ain” “baa” and “daal” in that order. The letters in the first word in this phrase are: “yaa” “3ain” “baa” “daal” “wao” and “nun.” Thus, if we recognize these three letters, we can infer that the word has something to do with servitude. What does the “slave” of Allah do? Worship him! Thus, if these three letters appear in a verb (like this word)- then the verb has to do with WORSHIP. We will learn later how to recognize this word as a verb and the one we encountered in verse 1 as a noun, for now, try and recognize the three letters.
But we’re not done yet. So far we have “they worship” __?__ “Allah”. The translation above says “other than” in between. The only other word to identify is “illa“. “Illa” generally means “except” ,”other than”, or “but.” Take a look at the Shahadah again:
La Ilaha illa Allah…” which means “There is no god but Allah…”
Thus, the whole phrase in the verse above taken together means “they worship other than Allah” – this is in reference to the people that the youth of the Cave were trying to be away from.
(REPEAT) Al-Kahf = the Cave
(CHALLENGE) “Rabu kum mir RaHmati hi” = “Your Master (Lord) [from] His mercies”
We have here “Rabb“= Master (Lord). But it has “kaf” and “meem” added to it (= kum), so we have possesion. When these two letters are attached to the end of the word (noun) it implies “Your (plural).”
We have also “RaHma” = extreme Mercy. However, we also have “ha” added to the end of it, thus indiciating possession. Who’s extreme Mercy are we talking about? The only One capable of extreme Mercy – Allah. Thus the “ha” at the end of the noun signifies “His” Mercy.
The only other word to examine is “min” (read as “mir” because it connects with the next word- Rahmatihi). “min” basically means “from”- as in “from this country” or “from this book.” So we have: “Allah (will shower,) from His Mercies.”
“min” is a good word to keep in mind going forward.
(RECOMMENDED) = “amri kum” = “your (all of you) affair”. “Amr” means “affair” or in general, things that we do, day to day businesses, activities, jobs, etc. “Kaf” and “meem” appear at the end of this noun (affair), so it signifies possession once again. This time, its the plural for “you” (= your), so this phrase means : “your affairs.”
“Thou wouldst have seen the sun, when it rose, declining to the right from their Cave, and when it set, turning away from them to the left, while they lay in the open space in the midst of the Cave. Such are among the Signs of Allah: He whom Allah, guides is rightly guided; but he whom Allah leaves to stray,– for him wilt thou find no protector to lead him to the Right Way.” (18:17)
(RECOMMENDED) “Al-shams” (read here as: Ash-shams) = the sun
(REPEAT) “Kahf him” (read as “kahfihim“) = their Cave. Notice the “ha” and “meem” at the end of the word “Kahf.” – “ha and meem” together make “hum/him” which signify possession for “they.”
(REPEAT – Self Learn) “Ayat Allah” (read as “Ayatillah“) = “the signs of Allah.” Refer back to verse 9 in Lesson 2, where we spoke about “ayah.” However, here we see no letter added to the end of “ayah” ( a noun), so we can’t use the possession rules we learned. However, right after the word “ayah” we have “Allah.” It isn’t connected directly to the word but it still denotes ownership. It wouldn’t make sense to say “Signs Allah.” For the phrase to make sense, it must say: “the signs of Allah.”
The possession rules we learned make it easier to mention something as someone’s object without mentioning the person over and over. It would be tiresome to keep saying “Ahmad’s house”, so we shorten it when everyone knows who we are talking about to “his house.” But sometimes we need to clarify, so we say “Ahmad’s house.”
This is the closest equivalent explanation in English to Arabic I can think of for this phrase.
(CHALLENGE) “yahdi Allah” fahuwal “muhtad” = “He whom Allah guides, is rightly guided.” We can recognize “Allah”…but what about the rest?
In Lesson 2, the last word we learned was “Huda” in verse 13. We see “ha” and “daal” in “Huda.” In this verse, we see “ya”, “ha” and “daal” in that order. Why the “ya” in front? Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until a later lesson…but for now it’s enough that we recognize “ha” and “daal” together- which connotes “guidance.” If you didn’t recognize it without translation, don’t worry, you will in due time, because this word comes up quite frequently in the Qur’an.
Now look at the next purple word. Do you recognize some letters that we just discussed? We see “meem” “haa” “taa” and “daal.” (same as above!). You might say 2/4 letters is not enough to recognize it. I’d say your right, except we also learned what “meem” in front of specific words means. Check out verse 2 in Lesson 1 for a refresher. So correlating this with the translation, it makes sense that someone who is in the act of being guided, in Arabic, we have a “meem” to signify that.
That might be a little difficult to follow right now, but if you keep following this series it will be a piece of cake later on inshaAllah.
By the way, pay attention to the khateeb at the very beginning of his khutbah next Jumma’ (Friday prayer) and you’ll notice a very similar phrasing to this verse….only you’ll now know what i means. 🙂
(RECOMMENDED) “yudhlil” = “to leave to stray,” or in general you can think of it as the opposite of being guided.
(REPEAT – Self Learn) “murshida” = “the right way, rightly guided”. We encountered a similar word in verse 10 (Lesson 2) with similar letters (“ra” “sheen” and “daal”). However, the only difference here is that we have the “meem” in front of the word. What can you infer from having the “meem” in front of a word that means “rightly guided”? A person that is actively being rightly guided.
However, taken the whole translation together, we see that Allah is talking about people who have been left to stray: they will never find a friend (or protector) to lead them to the right way.
One might ask: whats the difference between “muhtad” and “murshida” – they have similar translations?
I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
Week 3 List:
(MUST KNOW) : 4
(CHALLENGE) – 3
Words with Possession: 6
(TOTAL – New): 9
If you only have time for 1 verb: “ya’abdoon” – verse 16 (Challenge)
If you only have time for 1 word: “Rabb”
NOTE: Please correct me if I made a mistake!