This particular Makkan Sura may be called a lesson on the brevity and mystery of life. First here is a story of the Companions of the Cave who slept therein for a long period, and yet thought they had been there only a day or less. Then there is the story of the mysterious Teacher who shows Moses how Life itself is a parable. And further there is the story of Zulqarnain, the two-horned one, the powerful ruler of the west and east, who made an iron wall to protect the weak against the strong. The parables refer to the brevity, uncertainty and vanity of this life; to the many paradoxes in it, which can only be understood by patience and the fulness of knowledge; and to the need of guarding our spiritual gains against the incursions of evil.

The Quran is a firection and a warning. This life is brief and subject to vicissitudes. Our ideas of Time are defective, as shown in the story of the Companion of the Cave, who had faith, truth, patience and other virtues. But their life was a mystery that can be fathomed but by few.

Knowledge is for Allah; be on your guard against idle conjectures and cocksure hopes. Learn from the Quran, PArable of the man who is puffed up with this world’s goods and is brought to nought.

This life is uncertain and variable: goodness and virtue are better and more durable. For the Day of Reckoning will come, with its Mercy and its Wrath.

Moses with his thirst of knowledge forgot his limitations. Patience and faith were enjoined on him and he understood when the paradoxes of Life were explained.

Zulqarnain had a wide dominion: he punished the guilty and rewarded the good; he protected the weak from the lawless: but he had faith and valued the guidance of Allah. Allah is One and His service is righteousness.


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