THE ROLE MODELS: THE YOUTHS IN THE CAVE


AS SALAM ALAIKUM WARAMATULLAH WABARAKATU
Role models have a huge impact on us and how we view ourselves. They are people whose behavior and character we try to emulate, because we admire and aspire to be like them in a certain way. The Prophet (SAW) is the perfect role model for humanity, as Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an: “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.” (Qur’an 33:21)
In Surah Khaf Allah (SWT) tells us a story about youths who sought seclusion from persecution in the cave. I find this story inspiring as it serves as a reminder and motivation for us that striving in the path of Allah could come with persecution and that we should not wait till we attain a certain age.
The reason why reference is made to the youths in the cave as role models is because it is often difficult for people to regard youths as role models. Reason being that the stage of youthfulness is when a person is still growing and learning. Allah provides us with examples of righteous youths in the Qur’an through a story in Surah Khaf verse 9-26. This story provides a positive perspective of youths which is contrary to the media portrayal and people’s expectation. It serves as a reminder and gives us hope that we can strive to be like them in the obedience of Allah. (Click to read full Tafsir.)
Narration has it that the youths were children of influential people from noble background. They went out one day to a festival in their land, where the people gather once a year to worship idols and offer sacrifice to them. These youths saw this practice and realized it is wrong as prostration and sacrifice should only be dedicated to Allah (SWT). Individually they withdrew from the festival and met under the shade of a tree, with none knowing the other. Therefore, they were brought together because of their belief in Allah. They disclosed the reason for their retreatment from the people among one another and they all realized they share the same belief. They agreed to be brothers in faith and met in a place to worship Allah (SWT) together.
Their people found out and informed their tyrannical king who commanded and encouraged people to worship idols. They were summoned and they gave Dawah to the king, calling him to believe in Allah (SWT). He refused and threatened them. He commanded them to be stripped of their clothing’s, but gave them time to think about the situation whether they would return to worship idols. It was in this period they were able to flee to the cave from persecution for the sake of their religion.
They went into seclusion and isolation from their people. Allah concealed and protected them from their people as no trace of their whereabouts was known. Allah (SWT) also protected them from the sun as He made the sun enter the cave without touching them. This was Allah(SWT) preserving them. He made them to sleep and preserved them for 300 years and 9 more. We see how Allah (SWT) protected and preserved them by making their story known in the Qur’an and they serve as signs for humanity.
Allah kept and preserve this story to remind and motivate us. This story should make us question ourselves with regard to our Iman. These youths resisted the pressure to worship idols and sought refuge in a cave, by giving up the pleasure of livings a comfortable life. They gave up the Dunya for the Aakhira. Point of reflection: what are you willing to give up for the sake of Allah?
They achieved the status of being remembered till eternity as Allah made them as signs for us. Their consciousness of Allah made them sincere, and Allah (SWT) protected them from persecution. If we are also sincere, Allah will protect and save us from persecution. There are lesson to draw from this story. Such as importance of being surrounded with good company, being sincere in our worship and doing things for the sake of Allah.

These youths took advantage of their youths before their old age. The Prophetic narration goes: ‘Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.’ [Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani]

The period of youthfulness is when a person is full of energy and is able to learn so many things, able to perform various act of worship before old age. Another blessing youths can take advantage of is Health and Free time for doing good. The Prophet said: ‘there are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing good’ [Sahih Bukhari]. As youths we should take advantage of our free time before we get busy. Although, everyone seems to be occupied and most youths are in education busy with studies. However, youths have more time that a person who is old, because they shoulder less responsibility. Yet, youths claim to be occupied. If we are able to schedule and utilize our time effectively we will be able to realize that we have free time. Point of Reflection: What do you do with your free time? Would you like to die doing what you are doing in your free time? Would you like people to know what you are using your free time on?
If we take advantage of our youths we will be rewarded with being under the shade on the Day of Judgement. The Prophet (SAW) said: There are seven persons whom Allah will shade on a day when there is no shade but His. They are a just ruler, a young person who grew up in the worship of Allah, a person whose heart is attached to the mosques, two persons who love each other and who meet and depart from each other for the sake of Allah, a man whom a beautiful woman of high status seduces but he rejects her by saying I fear Allah, a person who spends in charity and conceals it such that his right hand does not know what his left hand has given, and a person who remembered Allah in private and he wept.[Sahih Bukhari]
How rewarding is this! Allah has reserved a reward for a youth who grows up in His obedience. This is a very high status and we should strive to attain this. It is important to realize that for a person to deserve such high status, he/she must have avoided temptations, as the period of youthfulness is when a person is lively and faced with so many temptations. The youth will avoid transgressing against the limits of Allah, engage in seclusion like the people of the cave, be obedient to Allah and his/her parents, have  sincerity and seek knowledge.
 

How can we be productive youths:           

  • Fulfill the right of Allah by fulfilling the Fard (compulsory) act of worship.
  • Respect and be obedient to your parents and family.
  • Seek knowledge and implement it.
  • Be in a good company.                                                                                 
  • Be beneficial to others, such as helping out and speaking kind words to people.
If you are still a youth make the best of it, if you have passed the stage of youthfulness, you can bring other youths or your child up in the obedience of Allah.
I conclude with the Dua that was made by the youths in the cave (Qur’an18:10 
                                                                                                               رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً وَهَيِّىءْ لَنَا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا رَشَدًا  
Rabbana atina min ladunka rahmatan wahayyi lana min amrina rashadan
(Our Lord! Bestow on us mercy from yourself and facilitate our affairs in the right way.)
 
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PERSPECTIVE: POSITIVE MINDSET


AS SALAM ALAIKUM WARAMATULLAH WABARAKATU
The Prophet (S.A.W) said:

 “Allah the most High said: ‘I am as MY slave thinks (expects) I am. [Sahih Bukhari]. (click for commentaries). 

This Hadith illustrates that Islam promotes having positive mindset. Applying this principle to the creation of Allah (S.W.T) helps us to think positive of people and of the situation. Although, we all have different perspectives and how we react to situations, but being positive helps to cope with negativity. It requires seeing things from a different and bright perspective, such as being optimistic and being open to change. Ask yourself, do you find the possible best interpretation of a situation or do you find the worst?
Positive perspective is enjoined upon Muslims as Allah (S.W.T) says in the Quran: “O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicion is sin.” (Qur’an 49:12) This requires us to avoid doubts about the conduct of people and wanting to know what is going on in people’s lives. Therefore we should avoid suspicion without foundation. Umar bin Al-Khattab said: ‘Never think ill of the word that comes out of your believing brother’s mouth, as long as you can find a good excuse for it.’ Have a positive attitude towards people. Avoid judging and criticizing others, by preventing your eyes from falling on anything but mistakes. Having negative thoughts of people display the negativity in our minds. If we think negative of others they will think negative of us.
Being positive is a choice we constantly have to be making. It is easier to remain positive when things are going our way. The test is when things are not going our way, and we have a choice to choose between being positive or negative. Choosing the former makes positivity seem to be a natural part of our life and we can easily adapt to it in difficult circumstances. It is not to say we won’t feel sad, get disappointed or be angry in some situations, but our reaction depends on our perspectives. If we cannot change a particular situation, at least we can change our reaction and mindset towards it.
Therefore Allah (S.W.T) reminds us to be positive when things are not going our way “…and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you, Allah knows but you do not know.” (Qur’an, 2:216) Since, it is only Allah (S.W.T) that knows what is good for us, then why do we attach negativity to our situations? I gained more understanding from this phrase whilst reading Reclaim your heart by Yasmin Mogahed. She explains beautifully that anything that brings us closer to Allah (S.W.T), to achieve our purpose is ‘good’. While, anything that takes us from our purpose to worship Allah is ‘bad’. With this, getting rich, or having what you desire will be ‘bad’ if it takes you away from worshipping Allah, while losing something you want may be the greatest blessing if it brings you closer to Allah.
Always have the belief that Allah decrees the best for his servant and you will be content. As the prophetic narration goes: ‘Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him, and if he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him.’ [Sahih Muslim]
 
Talking about perspectives and positivity, I would like to make reference to the story of Prophet Musa (AS) and Al-Khidr. The story is in Surah Khaf from verse 60- 82 (click to read full Tafsir) Prophet Musa (AS) delivered a speech to Bani Israel, and he was asked who is more knowledgeable, instead of him attributing knowledge to Allah he replied: ‘I am.’ Allah rebuked him and told him that “there is a servant of Ours who is more learned than you.” He met the servant of Allah named Al-Khidr. Upon Al-Khidr meeting Prophet Musa (AS), he said: “you will not be able to have patience with me”. Prophet Musa (AS) responded saying If Allah wills he will bear patience. Thereafter, Al-khidr gave him a condition not to ask about anything until it is mentioned to him.
On their journey, they were given a free ride on a boat and Al-Khidr damaged it. Prophet Musa exclaimed and rebuked Al-Khidr for his actions, thereafter Al-Khidr responded that Prophet Musa (AS) has broken the rule not to mention anything until he is told. Prophet Musa (AS) apologized immediately saying he forgot. Furthermore, Al-Khidr saw a boy who he killed. Prophet Musa (AS) exclaimed saying he has killed an innocent soul. Al-Khidr replied that Prophet Musa (AS) did not have patience with him. Afterward, Prophet Musa (AS) said: “If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company; you have received an excuse from me”. They proceeded and they came to a town where they asked for food and the people refused. To Prophet Musa (AS) surprise Al-Khidr found a wall about to collapse and he set it up straight. Prophet Musa (AS) responded to this action saying Al-Khidr could have taken money for repairing the wall, since the people were inhospitable. The impatience of Prophet Musa (AS) responding to these incidents made Al-Khidr tell him that this is the parting between them and he explained reasons for his actions. Destroying part of the boat, prevented it from being seized. Killing the boy was to prevent the parents from being kuffar, and mending the wall was to protect the hidden treasures of the Orphans left by a righteous father.
The reason why this story is mentioned is that it serves as a reminder for us to look at the bright side in unpleasant situations. Prophet Musa neither saw the full picture nor understood the situation, and by the will of Allah he complained and lost his patience. Al-Khidr whom Allah blessed with wisdom and understanding, did something that seems to be wrong, but was for the good. This is what Allah does to our lives. We need to accept and realize that we cannot always understand the decree of Allah.
Our boat may not get capsized and we may not lose a loved one, but we will have setbacks. How many people have missed a flight, and we hear that the plane crashed, or got delayed and was saved from a bigger disaster. In that situation of difficulty we complain of losses, because we are unable to understand what is happening. Be positive and condition yourself to think that everything Allah decrees into your life is for your good to achieve your purpose in life. Looking at the story of Musa and Al-Khidr Allah teaches us that we may see that Al-Khidr is doing something bad, but in reality it was for the ‘good’  This teaches us the importance of trusting the process, because, Allah has a plan for our life.
Just as Al-Khidr told Prophet Musa to not ask him any question and remain patient with him. We also have to learn to trust Allah with his decree and not question Him, but be patient with His decree. For us to see things from a positive perspective, we must remain patient, have perseverance and think positive, with the understanding that Allah is preparing something good for us.
Being positive is not only towards ourselves, we must also be positive of people and have good opinion toward others. Don’t think you are the only good person around, the flawless individual. Thinking that others are against you. We will neither be happy nor achieve contentment if we think that people are against us. We should not allow ourselves to be like the hypocrite Allah describe in the Quran “They think that every cry is against them” (Quran, 63:4)

Tips on how to have a positive perspective:

  • Try to always remember the Hadith: the Affairs of a believer is always good. This enables us to realize that Allah wants the best for us.
  • Condition yourself to think positive by avoiding negative thoughts and have Tawakkul (complete reliance and trust in Allah)
  • Change your language by using positive words and be grateful for little things.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Go easy on yourself; things happen and we will never understand why. Always try to see the good in a situation, see that it could have been worse and be content with whatever you have. Trust Allah and Make DUA
  • Avoid comparing your situation to others: everyone has a different journey

 

Hence, I conclude with a quote from “How Man Thinks” by James Allen: 

‘Man will come to know that each time he changes his opinions and thoughts concerning things and other people, those same things and people will in their part also change… Therefore, the sacred thing that shapes our goal is our own selves.’ 

I hope the above article was beneficial? Do share it as a reminder to friends and family

Do you have any tips on how to be positive? I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.