Story of Youth of the Cave - Story of Youth of the Cave -2/3-

Since 2014-04-08

God's Grace Spreads in the Cave..

Story of Youth of the Cave -2/3-

By Sayyid Qutb

As the young believers came to the conclusion that they had to leave their homes and families and live in a cave to protect their faith, they immediately put this decision into effect:

{Hence, now that you have withdrawn from them and all that they worship instead of God, take refuge in the cave. God may well spread His grace over you and make fitting arrangements for you in your affairs} [Al-Kahf:16].

The surprise here is great indeed. These young believers who have abandoned their people and families, forsaking all the pleasures of this life and preferring instead to sleep rough in a small dark cave, begin to sense God’s grace. They feel it coming, easy, comforting, abundant, limitless. It is spread over them to change the quality of their life in the cave: {God may well spread His grace over you} [Al-Kahf:16].

Thus, the cave becomes like a wide expanse, where God’s grace is bestowed in abundance to change their whole outlook on life and bring about comfort and contentment. The solid, rocky walls of the cave are made to overlook a wide horizon, and loneliness in the cave is totally dispelled, for God has spread His grace over their young hearts and He takes care of them, arranging something for their comfort.

This is an aspect of what faith can do to a person. All appearances undergo a fundamental change. All that people may value and all their concepts with regard to life and happiness do not matter. When a human heart is full of faith, it sees a totally different world, where God’s grace imparts reassurance and genuine happiness.

Hence whatever turn events may take will be accepted, because the total result is comforting and fitting for one’s life in this world and in the life to come: {God may well spread His grace over you and make fitting arrangements for you in your affairs} [Al-Kahf:16].

With these young people proceeding to the cave, the story moves on to the next scene. Now we see them settled in the cave, overtaken by sleep:

{You might have seen the sun, on its rising, incline away from their cave on the right, and, on its setting, turn away from them on the left, while they lay in a space within.

That was one of God’s signs. He whom God guides is indeed rightly guided, but for him whom He lets go astray you can never find any protector who would point out the right way.

You would have thought that they were awake, when they were certainly asleep. And We turned them over repeatedly, now to the right, now to the left; and their dog lay at the cave’s entrance, with its forepaws outstretched.

Had you come upon them, you would have certainly turned away from them in flight, and would surely have been filled with terror of them } [Al-Kahf:17-18]

This is a remarkable scene. Not only do we see how the young men looked and what they were doing, we have a picture full of life, with the sun rising, but deliberately moving away from their cave. The word used here, {inclining away} imparts a sense of deliberate action taken for a particular purpose. Again when it is time for the sun to move in the other direction before it sets, it turns away to the left so that their cave remains unseen. All the while, they lay in a space within.

Before completing its description of the scene, the surah makes a familiar Qur’anic comment which draws people’s attentions to a particular aspect of faith that is relevant at that particular point: {That was one of God’s signs} [Al-Kahf:17]. It was indeed a great sign, something highly remarkable. They were put in a cave where they could not see the sun, nor its rays. It gave them neither light nor warmth. They remained in their position, alive but motionless.

{He whom God guides is indeed rightly guided, but for him whom He lets go astray you can never find any protector who would point out the right way} [Al-Kahf:17].

There is a certain divine law that determines which people may receive God’s guidance and which are left in error. When a person looks at God’s signs and accepts what they indicate, that person finds God’s guidance in accordance with His law. Hence, he is {indeed rightly guided} [Verse 17] But whoever turns his back on these signs and refuses to understand the message they impart is bound, according to God’s law, to go astray. Hence he is left in error and will have none to guide him.

The surah goes on to show the young people asleep in their cave. They are turned from one side to another in their very long slumber. Anyone looking at them would think them awake when they were fast asleep. Their dog remains at the entrance to the cave, stretching his forepaws like dogs normally do when they rest. He takes the position normally taken by a guard dog. The whole scene would fill any onlooker with terror so as to put them to flight. He would find people looking as though they were awake but in reality were asleep, unable to wake or move. This was all God’s arrangement, protecting them, until the time He chose for their awakening.


Sayyid Qutb

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