Ep. 07: The Cave
The chapter of the Cave (chapter 18) tells a story of a group of young men fleeing persecution. However, aside from being a historical story, it speaks to us personally. We all have some sort of injustice that we need to run away from, and the greatest cave we can find solace in is our own heart. How can we accomplish this, how can we be safe in the cave that is within?
- “To you is your religion, and to me is mine”, 109:6
- “They were a small group who believed, so We increased them in guidance”, 18:13
- “Have awareness of God, and God will teach you”, 2:282
- “Read in the name of your Lord who created you”, 96:1
- “Those who remember God standing, sitting, lying, and contemplate the creation of the heavens and the earth”, 3:191
- “O you who believe, remember God often”, 33:41
- “Flee towards God”, 51:50
- On the practice of reciting the chapter of the Cave (Kahf) on Fridays: al-Ḥākim in his Mustadrak
- Everything has a polish and the polish of the hearts is the remembrance of God: Bayhaqi
- Make remembrance of God until people say you are crazy: Imam Ahmad in his Musnad
- “I created you for my worship so don’t fool around…” Not really a hadith, but a popular statement found in some Islamic literature. We therefore do not ascribe it to the Prophet ﷺ, but its meaning is sound.
- “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty”: Muslim
- “Allah has written perfection (ihsan) on everything”: Muslim
Understanding the Muslim Mind
If we could take all of Islamic intellectual history, what sort of patterns and principles could we deduce? More importantly, if we found someone who actually knew all this information, what would they look like, think like, talk like, etc.?
One of the unique features of Islam as an intellectual system is that it possesses a mechanism for renewal and revival within itself. This mechanism is the instrument of ijtihād- independent legal reasoning- that allows a trained and licensed jurist to develop new rulings and judgements for situations that are unprecedented, nuanced, and, in a way, of a troublesome nature. There is a lot of literature within Islamic legal tradition that explains the vast contours of ijtihād. Familiar discussions outline the common set of must-know legal rules and principles, interpretive tools used to unlock meanings within the primary texts, and auxiliary disciplines needed in order for one’s ijtihād to be effective and within the broad limits of orthodoxy. These are standard in any work that discuss the instrument of ijtihād. There are other discussions, however, that one comes across from time to time that shed a little more light on the phycology and mindset behind the person engaging in ijtihad, namely the mujtahid. One interesting description, courtesy of Imam Ghazali (d. 505/1111), is the need for the mujtahid to have vast amounts of creativity. The more creativity a mujtahid has, the more creative thinking they can bring to bear on a particular issue, the better they will be able to come up with right solutions and right answers; especially solutions that will last the test of time. To be creative in this context, therefore, is to think outside the box and dare to be innovative. It is to ask the right questions, not just memorize standard answers.MORE