Man The Quibbler

My Dear Fellow Muslims,

As-Salaam Alay-Kum

“Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars about the earth and all temporary nature. Simplicity is the intention; purity is the affection. Simplicity turns to God; purity unites with and enjoys Him,” remarked Thomas A. Kempis.

What is shocking beyond belief is the fact that the basic teachings of Holy Qur’an with all its simplicity and purity has been neglected by many Muslims. Keeping in mind the two words, “Purity” and “Simplicity, I would like the readers, especially those hailing from the Indian subcontinent to listen to late great Mohammed Rafi (May Almighty Allah rest his soul in peace) as follows:

Lack of desire to “Read” has managed to cripple the minds of countless millions of Muslims to such an extent that we hardly realize that “Simplicity is the intention” of the entire Qur’anic message. One of the soul-searching chapters of Holy Qur’an – “Surah: Al-Kahf” (The Cave) has been made simple to understand by Dr. Thomas Ballantyne Irving (Al-Hajj ‘Talim ‘Ali) (May Almighty Allah rest his soul in peace) in his first American version of “The Qur’an. He has translated it by ways of describing certain set of Qur’anic verses of Surah: Al-Kahf as follows:

The Sleepers in the Cave
On Trusting God
Free Will
The Grateful and Ungrateful Farmers
Pride a Sin
Punishment of Disbelief and Association
Rain from Heaven
The Appointment on Doomsday
The Doomsday Book
Diabolis and Adam
Man the Quibbler
Moses’s Mystic Journey
The Virtue of Patience
Double Horns
Saints’ Worship Condemned
The Words of the Lord


“Men of the Cave” are the same individuals known as “Seven Sleepers” in Christian history. It is a story of seven young men from the noble families of Ephesus, who embraced the monotheistic religion. They were compelled to take refuge in a cave out of the fear of being harassed by the authorities. The lesson derived is best described in the following verses:

“Have you considered how the Companions in the Cave and with the Tablet
were such marvelous signs of Ours? Thus the youths sought shelter in the
Cave, and said: ‘Our Lord, grant us mercy from Your presence and furnish
us with some direction in our affair.’ We struck them with drowsiness in the
Cave for several years.; then We awakened them again so We might know
which of the two parties would best calculate how long a stretch they had
remained.” [18:9-12]

“And they stayed in their Cave for three hundred years plus nine more. Say:
‘God is quite Aware as to how long they stayed (there). He holds the Unseen
in Heaven and Earth. He is quite Observant of it, and quite Alert as well. They
have no patron besides Him, nor does He let anyone else share in His
discretion.” [18:25-26]

“Quote whatever has been revealed to you from your Lord’s book: there is no
one who may change His words, nor will you ever find any sanctuary except
in Him. Restrain yourself concerning those who appeal to their Lord in the
morning and evening, wanting His presence: yet do not let your eyes wander
too far from them, desiring the attraction of worldly life. Do not obey anyone
whose heart We allow to neglect remembering Us, so he pursues his own
whim. His case results in dissipation. Say: ‘Truth comes from your Lord. Let
anyone who wishes to, believe, and let anyone who wishes to, disbelieve.’”

From the story of “Men of the Cave, another comparison is presented of two farmers with vineyards surrounded by date palms. The lesson extracted is that one should not think that the world will never come to an end and remain puffed up with false pride. Here is how Almighty Allah in the Holy Qur’an illustrates the incident in the following verses:

“One man had fruit and told his companion while he was discussing things
with him: ‘I am wealthier than you are, and have a bigger following!’ He
entered his garden while he was thus harming his own soul. He said: I do
not think that this will ever disappear! I do not think the Hour is at hand; if I
am ever sent back to my Lord, I shall find something better in exchange.”

“His companion told him while he was discussing things with him. ‘Have
you disbelieved in the One who created you from dust, then from a drop of
semen; then fashioned you into a man?’ However so far as we are
concerned, He is God my Lord, and I do not associate anyone with my
Lord! Why, as you entered your garden, did you not say: ‘Whatever God
may wish; there is no strength except through God (Alone)?’ Even if you
see how I am less wealthy than you are and have fewer children, perhaps
my Lord will still give me something better than your garden and send a
reckoning down from Heaven on it, so it will eventually become a bald
hilltop, or its water will sink down some morning and you will never
manage to find it again.” [18:37-41]

“He was caught short with his fruit, and one morning he began to wring his
hands over what he had spent on it, since it had tumbled down from its
trellisses. He kept saying: ‘It’s too bad for me; I should never have associated
anyone with my Lord!’ He had no party to support him against God, so he
was not supported. That is how patronage lies with the True God. He is
Best as a recompense and Best in results.” [18:42-44]

Maulana Wahiddudin Khan’s commentary of these verses is summed up as, “A man who lives in this world with open eyes will never indulge in impudence or arrogance. Man is brought up as a humble creature. He is subject to accidents, disease and old age. Neither the water nor the other things with the help of which he cultivates his ‘Garden’ in this world personally belong to him. Man should live in this world with humility and modesty. But the transgressor does not learn any lesson from any of these things. He does not come to his senses until he loses everything and only after being deprived of everything does he come to realize – after seeing it with his own eyes – that he possessed nothing but total helplessness.”

After setting forth an example of “The Grateful and Ungrateful Farmers, the emphasis of the Qur’anic verses is on “Honorable Deeds” as follows:

“Wealth and children are an attraction during worldly life. Yet honorable deeds
that last forever are better as a recompense from your Lord and even better
to hope for.” [18:46]

A glimpse of Almighty Allah’s invisible system relating to Prophet Moses (Peace Be Upon Him) is given as an example in order to let us be aware that Almighty Alah is in full command of the affairs of the world through His angels. Surah: Al-Kahf verses 18:60 through 18:82 highlights the journey of Prophet Moses between Egypt and Sudan along with one disciple Yusha’ Bin Nun (Joshua). With a fierce determination Prophet Moses (Peace Be Upon Him) said: “I shall not give up until I reach the place where both seas meet, even if it take years,” and lo and behold, Almighty Allah arranged a servant named Khidr, who possessed special knowledge and powers to accompany him in his journey. It will be in the best interest of the readers to take their precious time to read about “Moses’ Mystic Journey” in order to learn that “Almighty Allah is always taking care of this world by adopting a constructive method and sometimes a destructive method,” as pointed out by Maulana Wahiddudin Khan. Maulana further elaborates that “on every occasion, from the point of view of broad inner wisdom, it is all attributable to His graciousness, and it is meant to ensure that in the course of the free play of cause and effect, the real purposes behind creation are not defeated.”

One last example in Surah: Al-Kahf is about “Double Horn” or “Dhu’l Qarnayn,” or Khusro who reigned during 5th century B.C. He was a just king and was not cruel to anybody. During one of his expeditions, Dhu’l Qarnayn was confronted with the savages Gog and Magog (Yajuj and Majuj) who were causing corruption in the land which the Holy Qur’an describes as follows:

“Then he followed (still another) course until when he reached two barriers,
he found a folk on the nearer side of them who scarcely understood any speech.
They said: ‘Double Horns, Gog and Magog are ravaging the earth. Shall we
pay you tribute on condition that you place a barrier between us and them?’
He said: ‘Whenever my Lord has empowered me to do is even better, so help
me with some (man) power. I’ll pace a rampart between you and them. Bring
me blocks of iron.” [18:94-95]

“When he had leveled off (the space) between both cliffs, he said” ‘Blow on it!’
until when he had built it up into a fire, he said: ‘Bring me molten brass so I may
pour some over it. They neither managed to climb over it nor were they able to
tunnel through it. He said” ‘This is a mercy from my Lord. Whenever my Lord’s
promise comes, he will make it crumble. My Lord’s promise is true!’” [18:96-98]

“We will leave some of them surging over others on that day. The Trumpet
shall be blown, and We will gather them all together. On that day We will
spread Hell out on display for disbelievers whose eyes have been under
blinders against (seeing) My reminder. They have not even managed to
hear!” [18:99-101]

My fellow Muslims, in order to grasp the very spirit of Surah:Al-Kahf, we need to sharply focus on the six most important verses: 18-54-18:59, which was classified as “MAN THE QUIBBLER” by T. B. Irving. It is as follows:

“We have spelled out every sort of example for mankind in this Qur’an, yet
everyman uses it just for argument in most cases. What has prevented men
from believing and seeking forgiveness from their Lord, once guidance has
come to them, except (they may wish) that the practice of primitive people
should come along with them, or that torment come face to face with them.
We have sent emissaries merely as heralds and warners while those who
disbelieve idly argue away so they may refute the Truth by means of it.
They treat My signs and what they are warned of as a joke!” [18:54-56]

“Who is more in the wrong than someone who has been reminded about his
Lord’s signs and then avoids them, and forgets anything his hands may have
sent on ahead? We have placed wrappings over their hearts and dullness in
their ears lest they understand it. Even if you called them to guidance, they
still would never consent to be guided.” [18:57]

“Your Lord is Forgiving, the Possessor of Mercy. If He were to take them to
task for what they have earned, He would hasten torment for them; instead
they have their appointment from which they will never find any asylum.
Such towns We have destroyed whenever they did wrong, and We fixed the
time for their destruction.” [18:58-59]

No doubt, every sort of examples for mankind has been provided in the Holy Qur’an. The story of “The Sleepers in the Cave” teaches us that there is life after death. Tale of “The Grateful and Ungrateful Farmers” cautions us to practice humility and modesty in our daily lives. “Moses’ Mystic Journey” enlightens us about the wisdom and graciousness of Almighty Allah, or what we might termed is as “Good Lord works in a mysterious ways. Dhu’l Qarnayn versus Gog and Magog (Yajuj and Majuj) gives us a clue as to how a righteous king with a firm belief in Almighty Allah can punish those who were causing corruption in the land. What more examples do we need? Though, we are are left wondering as to why those who hides inside the caves and bunkers, for instance, the terrorists belonging to ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, etc., were not able to take heed of all the examples set forth in Surah: Al-Kahf! It is quite obvious that “The Words of the Lord” has been blatantly ignored by those who are busy assaulting humanity in the name of Islam. Perhaps, they have not pondered over the verse about “The Doomsday Book” as follows:

“The Book will be produced and you will see criminals apprehensive about
its contents. They will say: ‘It’s too late for us! What does this book mean for
me? It omits nothing either small nor large unless it is accounted for.’ They
will find whatever they have done presented there, even though your Lord
will not harm (be unjust to) anyone.” [18:49]

Finally, it is my earnest appeal to all of my Muslim brothers and sisters to keep in mind that “Purity” and “Simplicity” are the two main ingredients which can lead us all to live a life filled with respect and honor among our fellow humans. More importantly, for Muslims, our only “Book of Guidance” is our Holy Qur’an, which we must hold on to and not get drifted away from its core and simple message for humankind. Let us all reflect upon the first verse in which Almighty Allah clearly states that there are no distortions in Holy Qur’an and it is straightforward. Another crucial verse which reminds us that whenever we say “I am doing that tomorrow,” then as Muslims, we must immediately add, “Should Allah so wish. The last two verses of Surah: Al-Kahf ends with “the little gem” as T. B. Irving refers to as “The Words of the Lord, along with a simple advice to “Act Honorably” by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). The verses are as follows:

“Praise be to God. Who has sent down the Book for His servants and has
placed no distortion in it; (it is) straightforward, so He may warn about
serious violence (stern punishment) from Himself and give good news to
believers who perform honorable deeds. They will have a handsome
wage, to bask in forever and ever.” [18:1]

“Do not say anything: ‘I am doing that tomorrow.’ unless (you add) “Should
God so wish!’ Remember your Lord whenever you might forget, and say:
‘Perhaps my Lord will guide me even closer than this to proper behavior.’”

The Words of the Lord

“Say: ‘If the sea were an inkwell
for the words of my Lord,
the sea would be drained
before my Lord’s words would be spent
even though we brought the same
again to replenish it.” [18:109]

“Say: ‘I am only a human being like yourselves; it has been revealed to me that
your deity is God Alone. Anyone who is expecting to meet his Lord should act
honorably and not associate anyone in the worship due his Lord.’”[18:110]

Affectionately yours,

Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia

Readers: Make a note of (be unjust to) and (stern punishment). These two translations by Maulana Wahiddudin Khan have been inserted in T. B. Irving’s translation of two verses: 18:49 and 18:1 respectively.

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Prophet Moses’ Mystic Journey Surah: Al-Kahf (The Cave)

60 – 68. And so Moses told his young man: “I shall not give up until I reach the place where both seas meet, even though I spend ages doing so.” So when they reached the place where they had met, they forgot their fish, which took its way to the sea as if it went out through a drain.

When they had gone still further, he told his young man: ‘Bring us our lunch; we have experienced so much strain along our journey.” He said: “Did you see when we were resting by the rock, that I forgot the fish? Unless it was Satan who made me forget it so I did not remember it. It took its way through the sea like something marvellous!” He said: “That is just what we’ve been searching for.”

So they retraced their steps the way they had come. They found one of Our servants to whom We had given mercy from Ourself and taught him knowledge from Our very presence. Moses said to him: “May I follow you so you may teach me some of the common sense you have been taught?” He said: “You will never have any patience with me! How can you show any patience with something that is beyond your experience?”

69 – 70. He said: “You will find me patient, if God so wishes, I will not disobey you in any matter.” He said: “If you follow me, do not ask me about anything until I tell you something to remember it by.”

71. So they both started out until, as they boarded the ship, he bored a hole in her. He said: “Have you scuttled her to drown her crew? You have done such a weird thing!”

72 – 73. He said: “Didnt I say that you would not manage to show any patience with me?” He said: “Do not take me to task for what I have forgotten, nor weigh me down by making my case too difficult for me.”

74. They journeyed on until when they met a youth, he killed him. He said: “Have you killed an innocent soul without any previous murder [on his part]? You have committed such a horrible deed!”

75 – 76. He said: “Did I not tell you that you would never manage to have any patience with me?” He said: “If I ever ask you about anything after this, do not let me accompany you. You have found an excuse so far as I am concerned.”

77. They both proceeded further till when they came to the people of a [certain] town, they asked its inhabitants for some food, and they refused to treat either of them hospitably. They found a wall there which was about to tumble down, so he set it straight. He said: “If you had wished, you might have accepted some payment for it.”

78. He said: “This [means] a parting between you and me. Yet I shall inform you about the interpretation of what you had no patience for.

79 – 81. “As for the ship, it belonged to some poor men who worked at sea. I wanted to damage it because there was a king behind them seizing every ship by force. The young man’s parents were believers, and we dreaded lest he would burden them with arrogation and disbelief. We wanted their Lord to replace him for them with someone better than him in purity and nearer to tenderness.

82. “The well belonged to two orphan boys [living] in the city, and a treasure of theirs lay underneath it. Their father had been honorable, so your Lord wanted them to come of age and claim their treasure as a mercy from your Lord. I did not do it of my own accord. That is the interpretation of what you showed no patience for.”