Surat al-Kahf, 11-20
So We sealed their ears with sleep in the cave for a number of years. (Surat al-Kahf, 11)
Just as the Companions of the Cave sought refuge from the oppression of the prevailing godless system, the believers in the End Times will choose to conceal themselves, for their own protection, from such oppressive systems as communism, fascism, and other enemies of religion and moral values. Their existence will resemble that of the Companions of the Cave: they will be oppressed, will not have freedom of thought, and will not be able to speak their minds.
However, this period of concealment is not about worrying and suffering. Quite the contrary; it is a waiting period in peace and contentment. The expression "We sealed their ears with sleep in the cave for a number of years" suggests that the believers' time of concealment will pass in inner peace, as if they were asleep.
For the Muslims, this is a period of personal development, education, acquiring knowledge, and growing stronger in faith. They will not be affected by the violence, oppression, injustice, and cruelty unleashed upon society by those who do not believe and are enemies of moral values. The believers will be away from all of this hardship, as if they were in a cave, and, by Allah's grace, this situation will protect them.
Then We woke them up again, so that We might see which of the two groups would better calculate the amount of time they had spent there. (Surat al-Kahf, 12)
As this verse indicates, the Companions of the Cave's concealment lasted for a certain period, after which they awoke at a time of Allah's willing and by His will. The people of faith's concealment in the End Times will continue until the destined time by Allah comes. Then, all secrecy will be abandoned, and the believers will mix with the people freely and tell them the truth about faith, Allah's existence, and the Qur'an's morality.
Only Allah knows how long this period will last, for as this verse indicates, the number of years, days, and hours of this period is within His knowledge. Surat al-Jinn reveals Allah's attribute of Al-Muhsi (The Reckoner, The One Who knows the number of everything even though infinite):
So that He may know that they have indeed transmitted the Messages of their Lord. He encompasses what is in their hands, and has counted the exact number of everything. (Surat al-Jinn, 28)
We will relate their story to you with truth. They were young men who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance. (Surat al-Kahf, 13)
This verse underlines the importance of a strong faith and guidance, because in Allah's presence the great job that one has done might count for nothing if one did not comply strictly with the Qur'an and follow the Prophet's (saas) path. One's financial success, career, or fame here is of no help in the Hereafter, because what truly matters is faith and obedience to Allah, Who describes His guided devotees in the following terms:
That is the Book, without any doubt. It contains guidance for those who guard against evil: those who believe in the Unseen, establish prayers , and spend from what We have provided for them; those who believe in what has been sent down to you and what was sent down before you, and are certain about the Hereafter. They are the people guided by their Lord. They are the ones who have success. (Surat al-Baqara, 2-5)
In another verse, our Lord gives the good tidings to His guided devotees that they will not experience any fear or sorrow:
We said: "Go down from it, every one of you! Then when guidance comes to you from Me, those who follow My guidance will feel no fear and will know no sorrow." (Surat al-Baqara, 38)
These verses reveal that Allah eases the way of Muslims to success in their actions. If they are experiencing hardship, Allah helps them out of it. This truth is stated in the following verse:
Allah is the Protector of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light. But those who do not believe have false deities as protectors. They take them from the light into the darkness. Those are the Companions of the Fire, remaining in it timelessly, forever. (Surat al-Baqara, 257)
We put courage into their hearts when they stood up and said: "Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and Earth, and We will not call on any deity apart from Him. We would, in that case, have uttered an abomination." (Surat al-Kahf, 14)
This verse states the importance of patience, determination, and willpower for believers. Only people who trust in Allah have these qualities. The expression "We put courage" indicates that Allah decrees everything and gives the believers the strength to meet all hardships and difficulties with determination and patience.
No one can exceed the destiny that Allah has written for him or her, either in word or in deed. Therefore, those who are aware that only Allah does everything within destiny and know that they have no power to do anything will be naturally patient. Their knowledge that Allah creates everything in the best and most beneficial way for His steadfast servants gives them peace and comfort. Allah gives the news of salvation and a great reward for His servants who adopt this fine morality and are patient in the following verses:
What is with you runs out, but what is with Allah goes on forever. Those who were steadfast will be recompensed according to the best of what they did. Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and recompense them according to the best of what they did. (Surat an-Nahl, 96-97)
Obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not quarrel among yourselves lest you lose heart and your momentum disappear. And be steadfast. Allah is with the steadfast. (Surat al-Anfal, 46)
… If there are twenty of you who are steadfast, they will overcome two hundred; and if there are a hundred of you, they will overcome a thousand of those who do not believe, because they are people who do not understand. (Surat al-Anfal, 65)
Among the believers' attributes are determination and willpower, along with faith and awareness of, and trust in, Allah. Those who believe in destiny and trust Allah will not lose heart or inspiration when faced with hardship and difficulty, because they know that, ultimately, it is Allah Who does everything. Therefore, they welcome every opportunity as a chance to earn a reward and do good deeds with joy and excitement.
The verse also states that the Companions of the Cave entered the king's presence after their time of concealment ended. At this time, idolatry and the denial of Allah were still widespread, the people were still far from religion's morality, and the Muslims were still being oppressed. In spite of all of this, the Companions of the Cave told the king that they would never abandon their belief in, and worship of, Allah as the only Being worthy of their worship, and that it would be a crime against Allah to say anything to the contrary, even if only for the sake of protocol.
Such courage and determination in the presence of an authoritarian and tyrannical king proves that they were sincere Muslims. Allah creates everything in destiny to bring the best benefits to believers. Thus, unless He wills it, nothing can harm anyone. Since the Companions of the Cave knew this fact, they were able to display this exemplary trust in Him and determination.
In the End Times, people will adopt idols and spread their mistaken ideas and fantasies. This verse indicates that sincere Muslims must preserve their belief with the same degree of courage and determination when faced with oppressive and totalitarian regimes.
"Our people have taken deities apart from Him. Why do they not produce a clear authority concerning them?
Who could do greater wrong than someone who invents a lie against Allah?" (Surat al-Kahf, 15)
As this verse states, the Companions of the Cave called their idolatrous people to faith, invited them to Allah's religion, asked them to stop associating others with Allah, and demanded that they bring forth the evidence upon which they based their denial. When they could not do this, they exposed their idolatrous people as liars and slanderers.
Today, Muslims also demand proof from those who take idols besides Allah. In the End Times, there exists an idolatrous belief that idolizes matter and chance: Darwinism.
Darwinism claims that the universe has no purpose, was formed by random occurrences, and that only the fittest members of nature survive. This anti-religious system is based upon conflict and violence. In reality, these claims of random occurrences being responsible for everything are no more than acts of slander by the Darwinists against Allah, Who is All-Powerful and has created everything that exists. To support their slanderous claims, they cheat, lie, and offer faked evidence.
The history of Darwinism is full of such frauds as the Piltdown man, the Nebraska man, the recapitulation theory, which maintains that the stages in an organism's embryonic development correspond to the stages of the species' characteristic evolutionary development, and Archaeoraptor (the faked dinosaur-bird). Darwinism manipulates and fabricates evidence, and produces imaginary drawings and scenarios to persuade people that humanity is the product of past evolutionary processes. To this end, it misconstrues scientific evidence without the slightest hesitation.
As a result, Darwinism is one of the largest and most anti-religion systems of thought facing the Muslims of the End Times. Today's Muslims, like the Companions of the Cave, are demanding evidence from the Darwinists, who deny Allah but idolize chance, to prove their case. In response, the Darwinists present yet more lies and frauds, but never any clear-cut evidence, by all sorts of demagogy because they have no evidence to support their claims. (For detailed information, see Harun Yahya, The Evolution Deceit, London: Ta-Ha Publishers, 2003, 8th ed.)
Darwinism's claim that everything is the product of chance is a clear slander directed against Allah. The expression "Who could do greater wrong than someone who invents a lie against Allah?" (Surat al-Kahf, 15) indicates this wrongdoing.
When you have separated yourselves from them and everything they worship except Allah, take refuge in the cave, and your Lord will unfold His mercy to you and open the way to the best for you in your situation. (Surat al-Kahf, 16)
This verse states that the Companions of the Cave distanced themselves completely from the unbelievers' system of thought. This created an ideological conflict between the believers and the unbelievers, who were oppressing them.
Due to the unbelievers' oppression, the Companions of the Cave felt the need for total segregation. Thus, they severed all links with the unbelievers by seeking refuge in the cave. During this period, Allah's grace descended upon them, and He made things easier for them in many respects. The most important aspect of His help and support was sparing them from the negative impact of the unbelievers.
Irreligious societies habitually attack Muslims' sacred values and mock and insult their beliefs and practices. For these reasons, it is a great comfort and ease for the believers to keep apart from such people, because this allows them to find more opportunities to serve religion instead of always meeting with hostility. This also means more time for personal development, acquiring deeper knowledge, and engaging in cultural and social activities. Thanks to this opportunity, which Allah gives them, they can work harder to help their people have a better life and inform them of the only path to salvation: adopting the values of the Qur'an.
You would have seen the Sun, when it rose, inclining away from their cave toward the right, and, when it set, leaving them behind on the left, while they were lying in an open part of it. That was one of Allah's Signs. Whoever Allah guides is truly guided. But if He misguides someone, you will find no protector for them to guide them rightly. (Surat al-Kahf, 17)
This verse might be suggesting that the Muslims' homes should receive sunlight. A house, as far as possible, should receive sunlight at dusk as well as dawn, so that its inhabitants can derive the positive effects of sunlight, which creates a healthier atmosphere. Or, it might be suggesting that homes should be spacious and cozy, so that it will be a pleasure to live in them. Muslims should make their homes, as far as they can, spacious, airy, calming, and full of light.
As mentioned earlier, this verse proclaims the importance of guidance by Allah. It states that only those to whom Allah gives guidance will find salvation, and that those to whom He does not give it will find only eternal suffering.
Surat al-Kahf 17 emphasizes that those who call others to faith must do so with serenity, patience, calmness, and in a non-confrontational manner. They must not forget that only Allah gives faith, as He states in: "There is no compulsion where religion is concerned. Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error. Anyone who rejects false deities and believes in Allah has grasped the Firmest Handhold, which will never give way. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing" (Surat al-Baqara, 256). If those who are invited to belief choose to reject the invitation, those who made the call must trust in Allah and not pressure the other party.
You would have supposed them to be awake, whereas in fact they were asleep. We moved them to the right and to the left, and, at the entrance, their dog stretched out its paws. If you had looked down and seen them, you would have turned from them and run, and have been filled with terror at the sight of them. (Surat al-Kahf, 18)
Today, some Muslims are enveloped in a similar type of slumber, and thus are not affected by the evil flowing from materialist ideologies, all of which seek to distance people from religion. They continue to live a life of Qur'anic morality without being influenced by the moral degeneration, chaos, and oppression engendered by materialism.
Perhaps the Companions of the Cave's state of sleep was the result of the inner peace and trust they experienced by submitting to destiny, because Allah creates everything according to a preordained decree and directs all events to the believers' advantage. Our Lord states that "… Allah will not give the unbelievers any way against the believers" (Surat an-Nisa', 141). This is surely good news and a cause for serenity for all believers, for it is a sign that everything is positive and beneficial for the Muslims.
Another cause for the Muslims' sense of safety and inner peace is Allah's promise that He will lead His sincere servants to success. The following verse delivers this good news to the believers:
Allah has promised those of you who believe and do right actions that He will make them successors in the land, just as He made those before them successors, and will firmly establish for them their religion with which He is pleased, and give them, in place of their fear, security. "They worship Me, not associating anything with Me." Any who do not believe after that, such people are deviators. (Surat an-Nur, 55)
In other words, Allah will lead His committed servants to security regardless of the difficulties they are facing. This is one reason for today's Muslims, like the Companions of the Cave, to continue their work in peace.
The Muslims also know and draw comfort from the fact that only Allah can will something to happen to them. Allah draws our attention to the determination of those believers who submit to Him, believe in destiny, and trust Him completely with the following verse:
Say: "Nothing can happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is Our Master. It is in Allah that the believers should put their trust." (Surat at-Tawba, 51)
Surat al-Kahf 18 also mentions the love of animals and that, possibly, Muslims can keep a dog in their garden for safety reasons. Dogs are friendly and dependable animals, loyal to their owner, and sensitive enough to recognize and respond to danger immediately. Therefore, Muslims can acquire a guard dog as a precaution, but first must put their trust in Allah.
The verse also might be suggesting that believers can keep animals because of love and care for them. Prophet Sulayman (as) is given as an example, as seen in the following verse:
When swift horses, champing at the bit, were displayed before him [Prophet Sulayman] in the afternoon, he said: "Truly do I love the love of good with a view to the glory of my Lord"—[repeating these words as the steeds raced away,] until the they were hidden by the veil [of distance—whereupon he would command], "Return them to me." And he set about stroking their shanks and necks. (Surah Sad, 31-33)
That was the situation when we raised them up so that they could question one another. One of them asked: "How long have you been here?" They replied: "We have been here for a day or part of a day." They said: "Your Lord knows best how long you have been here. Send one of your number into the city with this silver you have, so he can see which food is purest and bring you some of it to eat. Let him behave with gentleness so that no one is aware of you." (Surat al-Kahf, 19)
In this verse, the Muslims discuss their current situation before reaching a decision. The verse also relates their discussion as to how long they had been in the cave. They said: "Your Lord knows best how long you have been here." This indicates that when there is no agreement or final decision, believers say "Allah knows best" and leave the outcome to Him, for only He knows the unknown. For this reason, it is not a sign of trust in Him to argue about something that cannot be known, for this only causes disturbance among the people. What is important in such a case is to submit to Allah and remember destiny.
This verse also contains other messages for the believers. First, the Companions of the Cave ask the believer they send to town to get only the purest food for them. The believers' sensitivity in matters of cleanness is related in many verses, such as when Allah's Messenger made: "… good things lawful for them and bad things forbidden for them" (Surat al-A`raf, 157) and Allah commanded believers: "Purify your clothes" (Surat al-Muddaththir, 4). The following two verses also mention good and clean foods:
So eat from what Allah has provided for you, lawful and good, and be thankful for His blessing, if it is Him you worship. (Surat an-Nahl, 114)
Eat of the good things We have provided for you, but do not go to excess in it, or My anger will be unleashed on you. Anyone who has My anger unleashed on him has plunged to his ruin. (Surah Ta Ha, 81)
Surat al-Kahf 19 also points out that believers prefer to buy their food in cities. Perhaps this is because they can find a greater variety of foods there. Cities also have another benefit for believers, for the call to faith begins in the cities:
This is a Book We have sent down and blessed, confirming what came before it, so that you can warn the Mother of Cities [Makka] and the people around it. Those who believe in the Hereafter believe in it and safeguard their prayer. (Surat al-An`am, 92)
Surat al-Kahf 19 also reminds believers to be gentle and courteous at all times, for this is a requirement of the Qur'an's morals.
Another possible understanding of this account of the Companions of the Cave is that the Muslims of the End Times generally will stay at home to avoid attracting attention to themselves at a time of great wickedness and rule by such anti-religious ideologies as fascism or communism. Or, it might be suggesting that believers, when required, will be at home for long periods of time in order to develop in science and knowledge. It is related that the Prophet (saas) advised those who sought his views on the End Times to "stay at home." (Abu Dawud)
For if they find out about you, they will stone you or make you revert to their religion, and then you will never have success. (Surat al-Kahf, 20)
The expression "They will stone you" describes a form of terror. This character trait is clearly recognizable today in people who are under the influence of godless ideologies. For example, terrorists who subscribe to communism are led by their hostility to the state to throw stones and attack its officials, as well as at the police forces. These attacks aim to weaken and demoralize them so that the communists can realize their anti-religious ideals and establish their rule by dragging the country into chaos and conflict.
Once they succeed, they seek to indoctrinate people loyal to faith with their system of thought, which considers recurring conflict between people inevitable. They want to see all of the people rebel against the state, take to the streets and fight one another. But such anarchist movements will lead to nothing, and their followers will not succeed, for Allah says:
But as for those who break Allah's contract after it has been agreed upon, and sever what Allah has commanded to be joined, and cause corruption in the land, the curse will be upon them. They will have the Evil Abode. (Surat ar-Ra`d, 25)
Given this, it is vital for the people of the End Times to stay clear of the bloodstained ideologies that have brought nothing but evil to the world, not to side with those who corrupt others, and not to be influenced by the provocations of anti-religious ideologies or their agitations.