On 15 November, 1979, the 150,000 gross ton Independenta, a Romanian tanker and the fourth largest in the world, carrying 95,350 tons of crude oil, had an accident while approaching Istanbul, ran aground and sank following a blaze lasting several days.
Verse 79 of Surat al-Kahf contains various references to this event. The verse describes how Hazrat Khidr told the Prophet Musa (as) about a boat and how he wished to damage and sink it in order to protect the people in it:
|“AS FOR THE BOAT, IT BELONGED TO SOME POOR PEOPLE WHO WORKED ON THE SEA. I WANTED TO DAMAGE IT BECAUSE A KING WAS COMING BEHIND THEM, COMMANDEERING EVERY BOAT.” (Surat al-Kahf, 79)|
The Prophet Musa’s (as) question in verse 71, “Did you scupper it so that its owners would be drowned?” also tells us that the boat sank as a result of Hazrat Khidr’s (as) action:
|“They continued UNTIL THEY BOARDED A BOAT AND HE SCUPPERED IT. Then Musa said, ‘DID YOU SCUPPER IT SO THAT ITS OWNERS WOULD BE DROWNED? This is truly a dreadful thing that you have done’!” (Surat al-Kahf, 71)|
It appears from this verse that the boat referred to by Hazrat Khidr (as) was run aground and sank. This incident reported in the Qur’an very probably refers to the Independenta that ran aground in the Bosphorus in 1979 in the wake of an accident and eventually sank after burning for a long time.
In many of his hadith our Prophet (saas) has also said that the Companions of the Cave will be Hazrat Mahdi’s (as) assistants in the End Times, for which reason Surat al-Kahf contains references to events that will take place in the End Times, and he recommended that people read the verses of this Surat:
(Sunan Abu Dawud, 5/121)
(Al-Burhan fi Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir al-zaman, p. 59)
A second matter addressed in the verse is the information that Hazrat Khidr (as) provides about the social circumstances of the time. Hazrat Khidr (as) refers to “people commandeering every boat,” saying that his aim was to rescue the people on the boat from them.
The year 1979 was a time when terror and persecution reached terrible levels. Banks, factories, workplaces and state bodies were occupied and taken over by force. Homes were entered by force and their contents stolen and people with money in the bank were robbed. The time was literally one of terror and extremism.
The verse thus also refers to the formation of a despotic climate of terror and anarchy in 1979.