Monday, January 5, 2009

Etymology of the Name 'Kahfi'

in the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful

how do you choose a name for your babies? a friend of mine once joked; try standing at the door facing the porch, then scream the name of your choice out in the open. "Khaleef!!! Khaleeeeeeefff!!!! balik makan!!!" if it has enough voice projection then the name is right. hmm.

choosing a name for our first son was fairly easy. we wanted a name that starts with 'K' so that it has an alliteration with the bapak's name, 'Khairul'. we listed out a few names and settled on 'Khaleef' as the most obvious choice.

when it came to our second boy, we decided to take the name 'Kahfi' from the 18th surah (chapter) of the Holy Quran, surah al-Kahf. another short and simple name, heavily laden with beneficial properties in its recitation. i'm definitely not one expert to discuss heavily on the Quran and its content but i wish to share what i found out so far. please correct me if i have misunderstood. any feedback is always appreciated.

basically the surah can be divided into about seven sections and contains four main stories which are all interesting and full of essential lessons of life and the divine power of Allah. one of the stories is about the sleepers in the cave.

the one about the sleepers of the cave
surah al-Kahf takes its name from the story of the youths who took refuge from persecution in a cave (verse 10-27) and were preserved there as if asleep for a long period. they were driven out of their homes because of their belief in Allah, and ended up in a cave. here, Allah made them sleep 309 years, oblivious to the passing time. when they awoke, they thought that they slept for only a day or so. one of them went to town to get some food but found himself among different set of people. the coins he used to buy food were out of circulation and drew the attention of the town's people. they went to the cave and saw the youths. then they went back to sleep and Allah caused them to die.

virtues of surah al-Kahf according to all four main stories in the surah

the one about spiritual lesson from surah al-Kahf
  • the reason for this state of sleep was their surrender to fate and peace - because Allah arranges everything for the benefit of the believers
  • we believers must protect our faith at whatever cost
  • the surah explains the certainty of life on this temporary earth and its inevitable end
  • the surah demonstrates to those who disbelieve in the resurrection of body and soul
  • Allah maha mengetahui segala yang di langit dan di bumi. Dia yang menghidup dan mematikan
Allah knows best!

the one about the location of the cave
islamic historian had been doing countless research to determine the whereabouts of the cave where the story of surah al-Kahf took place. they naturally use the Quran as a main source.

there were a few theories, but the cave in jordan is the one that aptly fit the description in the Quran. in surah al-Kahf ayat 17 it is stated;

"and o beloved! you will see the sun when it rises, moves away from their cave to the right and when it sets, turn away from them on the left, whereas they are in the open space of the cave. this is of the signs of Allah. he whom Allah guides is on the right way, and he whom He sends astray, for him you will never find a supporter to guide."

inside the cave ashabul kahfi in amman, jordan is similar to the description in the above ayat because there is a hole at the top of the cave where the rising sun shines, and when it sets, it will shine at the entrance of the cave. furthermore, the cave in amman, jordan is spacious, hence the 'open space' referred to in the Quran.

mr. khairul is already planning for a visit to jordan! God willing...

well, it's reported that the discussion on the whereabout of the said cave is continuing still, but what is more important to take note is the lesson learned from the surah - when we have faith, and truly believe, we will always be under the protection of Allah.

the one on benefits of reading surah al-Kahf
surah al-Kahf has many virtues. it is a sunnah to recite this surah every friday.

  1. it is reported in hadith, that whoever memorises the beginning of this surah as well ten ayat from the beginning of surat al-Kahf will be protected from the dajjal; as reported by Muslim, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa'i and At-Tirmidhi.
  2. Abu Ad-Dardaa reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, "anyone who memorizes ten aayahs from the beginning of surah Al-Kahf will be protected from the dajjal."
  3. the Prophet (SAW) said, "whoever recited surah al-Kahf on a friday will have a light shining upon him to brightly illuminate between two fridays." reported by al-Baihaqi
  4. in a hadith it is reported that the Prophet (SAW) said, "whoever recite surah al-Kahf on a friday, light shall shine forth for him til the highest sky. the light will continue to shine on Judgement day."
  5. in another hadith it is reported that the Prophet said, "whoever recite surah al-Kahf on a night before friday and the day, Allah will forgive his sins til the coming friday, and 70,000 angels will seek peace for this person until morning comes, protecting him/her from sickness and dajjal."

kahfi and khaleef

the names of our sons are short and simple but with the beautiful meaning hopefully will bring a long-lasting impression on the boys, reflecting in their character, morals and manners. mak and bapak hope that you two boys will live up to your namesakes, God willing.

jangan nakal-nakal!

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