AS SALAM ALAIKUM WARAMATULLAH WABARAKATU
Role models have a huge impact on us and how we view ourselves. They are people whose behaviour and character we try to emulate, because we admire and aspire to be like them in a certain way. The Prophet (ﷺ) is the perfect role model for humanity, as Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ says in the Qur’an: “There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone who hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often”. (Al-Ahzab, 33:21)
In Surah Kahf Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ 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 سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ 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 Kahf verse 9-26. This story provides a positive perspective of youths which is contrary to the media portrayal and general 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.
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 سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ 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 عَزَّ وَجَلَّ . 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 سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ 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 عَزَّ وَجَلَّ . 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 عَزَّ وَجَلَّ also protected them from the sun as He made the sun enter the cave without touching them. This was Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ preserving them. He made them to sleep and preserved them for 300 years and 9 more. We see how Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ protected and preserved them by making their story known in the Qur’an and they serve as signs for humanity.
Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ 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 عَزَّ وَجَلَّ made them sincere, and Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ protected them from persecution. If we are also sincere, Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ 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 سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ.
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 one 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 deeds. The Prophet ﷺ 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 (ﷺ) 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 عَزَّ وَجَلَّ, 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 عَزَّ وَجَلَّ 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 (Al-Kahf,18:10)
رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً وَهَيِّىءْ لَنَا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا رَشَدًا
Rabbana atina min ladunka rahmatan wahayyi lana min amrina rashadan
(Our Lord! Grant us from Yourself mercy and prepare for us from our affair right guidance.)
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