Activism & Civil Rights Dawah (Outreach) Qur'an

Tafsir Surat al-Kahf (Part 4)

Transcribed by Sabirah Reinke

Part IPart IIPart III | Part IV

We move on to the second verse: What is the first word of the second verse? قَيِّمًا (qiyaaman)

What does قَيِّمًا mean? Straight, established, no crookedness! What did Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) just say in the first verse? This is THE BOOK. What is not in the book? Crookedness!

Then, He comes back and hits you with the second verse: قَيِّمًا. This is a form in the Arabic language that shows continuity: “Suhaib taweel, thaeel.” Suhaib is REALLY TALL. قَيِّمًا also emphasises the greatness of the Qur’an.

Allah mentioned the Qur’an in the beginning and linked it to His blessing to us. This is what’s called al-idnab. It means to talk about something a lot for a reason. The Arabs rarely do this; they have ijaz, which means they use few words that are packed with a massive meaning.

The Arabs loved concentrated majuz, concentrated language, but here is the opposite; Allah goes into a long discussion about the Qur’an. Why?

To reinforce the greatness and loftiness of the Qur’an in our hearts!

For example in Surah Al-Taha, Allah asks Musa `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him), “What’s in your right hand?” Musa (as) said, “That’s my staff.” This is all he had to say. But he said, “This is my staff, I walk with it, I rest with it, I look after my flocks with it. I protect myself with it.” Why did Musa (as) go on this long about his staff? Who is he talking to? If you had the chance to talk to Allah (swt) would you make it long or short?

(Audience) Long!

So how come we are making du`a’ (supplications) so short? Musa (as) saw has a chance, so he goes for it! This is my staff, it’s clean, it’s got like little frills and bubbles on it, a spoiler and so on—he goes into it!

Why? Because he got a chance, he got an opportunity to talk to Allah (swt).

So now what about our du`a’?

So here is the same rule in rethoric; Allah (swt) is talking about this book in such a way to reinforce the loftiness of this book! And if you want to understand it, think about who’s talking! Allah (swt)!

Allah (swt) describes his book as قَيِّمًا which is a form of emphasis carrying the meaning of stability and relevance.

From the time of the Prophet ﷺ to the end of time, this book has what humanity needs to function! Until the end of time! And his guidance is for the Muslim community but for all of humanity in general.

And that leads us to the second point which is guidance for the community, and the third point, confidence with the Qur’an. You have to have confidence with the Qur’an!

What happened unfortunately was—and I’ll be frank with you, I can be Suhaib if you want—we imported a scholarly class in America which did not empower our young people but reinforced complexes which weakened our relationship with the community and weakened our relationship with the Qur’an and the Sunnah (the way of the Prophet ﷺ) and Islam.

You can differ with me, but I remember a youngster in the mosque who almost had his ear pulled off, man!  Do you think he came back to the mosque again? He never came back.

Number two, those of us who, and I don’t like to use this division, might have a culture that is immigrant in its basis have got to realize that the young people that we have are different. Sometimes these cultural constructs weaken them. They don’t empower them. The style that we might use to motivate people back home, might not motivate people in America – it might actually do the opposite.

We have to be empowered in our relationship with Qur’an and our relationship with the community, not arrogant.  We have to feel like we have wings, the community is our wings—they will help us when we fall, not the opposite.

So here, confidence with the Qur’an entails that the Qur’an has general principles and axioms which, if left undefined, can be reapplied until the end of time by the scholars of law—people who are thoroughly trained in the law can re-evaluate the situation and answer issues and difficulties and problems that you might have.

For example Allah (swt) teaches us in Surat al-Baqarah:


“They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, ‘In them is great sin and [yet some] means benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit.’” (Qur’an, 2:219)

Allah (swt) is saying, while in alcohol and gambling there is a big sin, there is also benefit. He continues and says, the sin and the evil is more than the benefit.

From that point, scholars are going to analyse things which there are no rulings for yet. They look to see if the benefit or harm is greater for the general masses. I’ll give you an example: a nuclear bomb! Is there any benefit to a nuclear bomb?

Hey, you ask one of these people that graduated from Colombia University with a degree in strategic thinking and they are going argue that there is some crazy benefit to a nuclear bomb!

But if you are to ask the masses of the people, if the benefit or the harm is greater, what are they are going to say?

(Audience): Harm.

I remember in the nineties man, there was a news report that said that we have developed a bomb that can blow up the world twenty times. I said how did you control THAT experiment?! What did you blow up?!

So here is where the idea of deenat w’al mazlaha, the mazlaha of the general people that doesn’t contradict something from Qur’an and Sunnah, is coming from.

Another example of blocking the means to things that are wrong:

Allah (swt) said: Don’t insult the gods of other people, because if you do that they are going to insult your God.

Allah (swt) teaches us to block the means to haram (wrong doing), because, way before Prevention Magazine came out, the great scholars of Islamic law developed an axiom that said that: Prevention is better than cure! Until the end of time the relevancy of the Qur’an will be there!

Another example:

18:2“[He has made it] straight, to warn of severe punishment from Him and to give good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a good reward.” (Qur’an, 18:2)

Allah (swt) says that the Qur’an is straight, upright and relevant for leading people to the end of time. Why? To warn those who deny the Qur’an, not believing in the Qur’an has a grievous punishment from Allah (swt).

Then he says: وَيُبَشِّرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ —“Give good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a good reward,” (Qur’an 18:2). Those who believe and do noble and righteous acts. The believers are mentioned in correlation with faith and practice.

This young generation of Muslims, especially those of the young brothers and sisters who are just done with or about to go to the college: I have massive hope in them! And I believe that they are going to do a lot of good, insha’ Allah (Allah willing).

The reason is—and I’m going to challenge the brothers and sisters—that they will be the generation who takes our discourse out of the mosque. What do I mean? Over the last 20 years, first, we wanted to just build mosques. We built mosques!

Then we wanted to build Islamic centers. Then we wanted to build Islamic schools. What are gonna build now? Hospitals! What else!

At the looming threat of poverty, and we ask Allah (swt) to make it easy for your country, Muslims have to start thinking about institution building.

So this young generation of Muslim brothers and sisters, they are going be the ones that take the verses of the Qur’an and turn them into physical institutions. People can see Islam moving in their lives and benefiting them.

Many people you ask say Muslims are the best talkers, man, but they are the worst workers. But they can talk!  But this young generation insha’ Allah, will be the ones who believe and do good!

One of the good things they can do insha’ Allah and what I would encourage you to do, is to establish institutions that help the community. Not just the Muslim community, but the general community.

Look at UMMA Clinic in L.A. How many of you know what the UMMA Clinic is? It’s a free clinic started by a group of students of my generation.

You ask the people of that neighborhood about Muslims. They are not going tell you that Islam is peace and this and that. They already know all that. They are going tell you, “That Muslim guy who gave me some amoxycillin for my son when I couldn’t afford medicine—that doctor!  Dr. Ahmad!”

So, Allah (swt) warns those who disbelieve in the Qur’an and gives good news to those who believe and practise and act on their faith. And Allah (swt) promises them what? Jannah! Paradise!  When that word ajran is used in the Qur’an—that means paradise.  مَّاكِثِينَ فِيهِ أَبَدًا – “In which they will remain forever,” (Qur’an 18:3). They are going to be established in Paradise. That means the young brothers and sisters chillin’! Chillin’ in Paradise!

Brothers told me, I’m chillin’ in this dunya (this life). I said, you can chill until you are in the fire of hell, or you can chill in paradise! Not here. Chillin’ when missing fajr? Nah.

Subhaan Allah! And if you are Arab, if you understand Arabic, your blood is gonna start rising to your head—It’s so beautiful. Allah (swt) says: مَّاكِثِينَ فِيهِ أَبَدًا – They are gonna stay in Paradise!

They are gonna stay in Paradise. They are going be there, nothing is going to happen to them, but just to reassure you—abada—forever! The `ulama’ (scholars) mention Allah (swt) said: مَّاكِثِينَ. They are gonna stay there forever. This is to emphasise how once you that once you get into Paradise, you’ve got it made. Imagine howwe would all feel right now if we knew that we were going to go to jannah, without any accountability to Allah (swt). This is a great, great mercy!

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

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  • Salaam u alikum wr wb dear Imam,
    Quote: For example in Surah Al-Taha, Allah asks Musa `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him), “What’s in your right hand?” Musa (as) said, “That’s my staff.” This is all he had to say. But he said, “This is my staff, I walk with it, I rest with it, I look after my flocks with it. I protect myself with it.”

    There is also another explanation to this verse that i’d like to share. It comes from Dr Farhat Hashmi. The staff was msg that Mosa AS needed. It was used by him in his daily life. When Allah SWA asked him to throw it, he (Mosa AS) threw it without hesitation. So how many of us would sacrifice smg for Allah when He orders us to, willingly with no hesitation? WE would spend a lot of time pondering to do it or not.

    Also i learn from this that the staff was smg seemingly small but when it was sacrified for Allah, He made it into a big miracle through which he was going guide ppl for Allah.

  • Assalaam oe3alaykoem wa rahmatullah wa barakatouh

    I hope that you’ll continue with the tafsir of this surah. there’s so much i can learn from it.
    I’m looking forward to reading it insha’Allah.

    Barak Allahu fiek

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