سورة الكهف   

Surah Name: Al-Kahf Meaning: The Cave

  • Revealed at Makkah
  • Surah Kahf, answers two of the three questions put to the Holy Prophet-SW by the non believers of Makkah under the direction of the Jews of Madinah. The third question pertaining to Ruh was answered in Surah Bani IsraiI rather briefly. The other two questions are answered here in detail. However, these details do not cover the exact chronological occurrence of the events or the exact geographical locations where they took place. They also do not give out the exact number of people involved. This is because the Quran does not focus on history or geography but on its objective of inviting mankind to Allah-SWT and its reformation. If the recounting of any event supports this cause, it is revealed accordingly. At times segments of a particular incident are mentioned at different occasions as examples to facilitate understanding. Often a single event has also been repeatedly mentioned to serve the same purpose.

    The learned Commentators have rated this Surah as highly meritorious and blessed and its recitation as a shield against various evils. It may be recited daily or on Fridays, or its opening and last Ayat may be memorized and repeated as a protection against evil.

  • Total Number of Rukū / Sections 12
  • Total Number of Āyāt / Parts 110
  • Sūrah / Chapter number 18
  • Rukū / Section 11 contains Āyāt / Parts 19
  • Siparah/ Volume 15 & 16


وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَن ذِي الْقَرْنَيْنِ قُلْ سَأَتْلُو عَلَيْكُم مِّنْهُ ذِكْرًا

Wayasaloonaka AAan thee alqarnayni qul saatloo AAalaykum minhu thikra(n)

And they question you of Zul Qarnain. Say you: I shall recite to you some mention of him.


إِنَّا مَكَّنَّا لَهُ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَآتَيْنَاهُ مِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ سَبَبًا

Inna makkanna lahu fee alardi waataynahu min kulli shayin sababa(n)

Verily We-SWT ! We-SWT established him in the earth, and gave him the means of everything.


فَأَتْبَعَ سَبَبًا

FaatbaAAa sababa(n)

Thereafter he followed a way.


حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ مَغْرِبَ الشَّمْسِ وَجَدَهَا تَغْرُبُ فِي عَيْنٍ حَمِئَةٍ وَوَجَدَ عِندَهَا قَوْمًا قُلْنَا يَا ذَا الْقَرْنَيْنِ إِمَّا أَن تُعَذِّبَ وَإِمَّا أَن تَتَّخِذَ فِيهِمْ حُسْنًا

Hatta itha balagha maghriba a(l)shshamsi wajadaha taghrubu fee AAaynin hamiatin wawajada AAindaha qawman qulna ya tha alqarnayni imma an tuAAaththiba waimma an tattakhitha feehim husna(n)

Until when he reached the setting place of the sun, he perceived it setting in miry spring, and he found a nation nearby it. We-SWT said: O’ Zul Qarnain! Either chastise them or take the wav of kindness in respect of them.


قَالَ أَمَّا مَن ظَلَمَ فَسَوْفَ نُعَذِّبُهُ ثُمَّ يُرَدُّ إِلَى رَبِّهِ فَيُعَذِّبُهُ عَذَابًا نُّكْرًا

Qala amma man thalama fasawfa nuAAaththibuhu thumma yuraddu ila rabbihi fayuAAaththibuhu AAathaban nukra(n)

He said: as for him who does wrong presently he shall chastise him, and then he shall be brought back to his Rabb-SWT and He-SWT shall torment him with a formidable torment.


وَأَمَّا مَنْ آمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُ جَزَاء الْحُسْنَى وَسَنَقُولُ لَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِنَا يُسْرًا

Waamma man amana waAAamila salihan falahu jazaan alhusna wasanaqoolu lahu min amrina yusra(n)

And as for him who believes and works righteously, for him will be a goodly wage, and soon We-SWT shall speak to him something easy of our affair.


ثُمَّ أَتْبَعَ سَبَبًا

Thumma atbaAAa sababa(n)

Thereafter he followed a way.


حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ مَطْلِعَ الشَّمْسِ وَجَدَهَا تَطْلُعُ عَلَى قَوْمٍ لَّمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُم مِّن دُونِهَا سِتْرًا

Hatta itha balagha matliAAa a(l)shshamsi wajadaha tatluAAu AAala qawmin lam najAAal lahum min dooniha sitra(n)

Until when he reached the rising place of the sun, he perceived it rising upon a nation for whom We-SWT had not set a veil against it.


كَذَلِكَ وَقَدْ أَحَطْنَا بِمَا لَدَيْهِ خُبْرًا

Kathalika waqad ahatna bima ladayhi khubra(n)

Thus it was. And surely We-SWT have encompassed in knowledge all that was with him.


ثُمَّ أَتْبَعَ سَبَبًا

Thumma atbaAAa sababa(n)

Thereafter he followed a way.


حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ بَيْنَ السَّدَّيْنِ وَجَدَ مِن دُونِهِمَا قَوْمًا لَّا يَكَادُونَ يَفْقَهُونَ قَوْلًا

Hatta itha balagha bayna a(l)ssaddayni wajada min doonihima qawman la yakadoona yafqahoona qawla(n)

Until when he arrived between the two mountains, he found beside them a people who almost did not understand a word.


قَالُوا يَا ذَا الْقَرْنَيْنِ إِنَّ يَأْجُوجَ وَمَأْجُوجَ مُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَهَلْ نَجْعَلُ لَكَ خَرْجًا عَلَى أَن تَجْعَلَ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَهُمْ سَدًّا

Qaloo ya tha alqarnayni inna yajooja wamajooja mufsidoona fee alardi fahal najAAalu laka kharjan AAala an tajAAala baynana wabaynahum sadda(n)

They said: O’ Zul Qarnain! Yajuj and Majuj are doing mischief in the land; should we then pay you tribute so that you place between us and them a barrier?


قَالَ مَا مَكَّنِّي فِيهِ رَبِّي خَيْرٌ فَأَعِينُونِي بِقُوَّةٍ أَجْعَلْ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُمْ رَدْمًا

Qala ma makkannee feehi rabbee khayrun faaAAeenoonee biquwwatin ajAAal baynakum wabaynahum radma(n)

He said: better than your tribute is that wherein my Rabb-SWT has established me; so help me with your labour, and I shall place between you and them a rampart.


آتُونِي زُبَرَ الْحَدِيدِ حَتَّى إِذَا سَاوَى بَيْنَ الصَّدَفَيْنِ قَالَ انفُخُوا حَتَّى إِذَا جَعَلَهُ نَارًا قَالَ آتُونِي أُفْرِغْ عَلَيْهِ قِطْرًا

Atoonee zubara alhadeedi hatta itha sawa bayna a(l)sadafayni qala onfukhoo hatta itha jaAAalahu naran qala atoonee ofrigh AAalayhi qitra(n)

Bring me lumps of iron. Then when he had evened up the two mountainsides he said: blow! Then when he had made it a fire, he said: bring me molten copper and I shall pour it thereon.


فَمَا اسْطَاعُوا أَن يَظْهَرُوهُ وَمَا اسْتَطَاعُوا لَهُ نَقْبًا

Fama istaAAoo an yathharoohu wama istataAAoo lahu naqba(n)

In this way they were not able to scale it, nor were they able to burrow through it


قَالَ هَذَا رَحْمَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّي فَإِذَا جَاء وَعْدُ رَبِّي جَعَلَهُ دَكَّاء وَكَانَ وَعْدُ رَبِّي حَقًّا

Qala hatha rahmatun min rabbee faitha jaa waAAdu rabbee jaAAalahu dakkaa wakana waAAdu rabbee haqqa(n)

He said: this is a Mercy from my Rabb-SWT; then when the Promise of my Rabb-SWT comes, He-SWT shall make it powder, and the Promise of my Rabb-SWT is ever true.


وَتَرَكْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ يَمُوجُ فِي بَعْضٍ وَنُفِخَ فِي الصُّورِ فَجَمَعْنَاهُمْ جَمْعًا

Watarakna baAAdahum yawmaithin yamooju fee baAAdin wanufikha fee a(l)ssoori fajamaAAnahum jamAAa(n)

And We-SWT will let them on that day, surge some of them against others, and the Trumpet shall be blown, and then We-SWT will muster together,


وَعَرَضْنَا جَهَنَّمَ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِّلْكَافِرِينَ عَرْضًا

WaAAaradna jahannama yawmaithin lilkafireena AAarda(n)

And We-SWT will set Hell on that Day unto the infidels with a setting.


الَّذِينَ كَانَتْ أَعْيُنُهُمْ فِي غِطَاء عَن ذِكْرِي وَكَانُوا لَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ سَمْعًا

Allatheena kanat aAAyunuhum fee ghitain AAan thikree wakanoo la yastateeAAoona samAAa(n)

Unto those whose eyes had been under a covering from My-SWT remembrance, nor had they been able to hear.


In The Name of Allah-SWT the Most Gracious, The Most Merciful

They ask the Holy Prophet-SW about Zul Qarnain, a mighty King of the past of whom many tales were current, each different from the other. The infidels of Makkah put this question to the Holy Prophet-SW that he-SW must tell them the truth about Zul Qarnain if he was truly Allah-SWT's Prophet receiving revelations


Who Was Zul Qarnain?

This name was not given by the Quran but had already been famous. It was about this name that the question was asked.


Why was he named so? Different versions exist. According to some he had two plaits on his head while some said that he had two horns. Another version states that on either side of his head he had wound scars. His name was Alexander and Zul Qarnain was his title. According to the Quran he was a righteous believer and a great ruler. There are also some Jewish versions which cannot be relied upon. However, there have gone by many persons by the name of Alexander and the last one was Alexander of Macedonia commonly known as Alexander the Great. He, however, cannot be accepted as Zul Qarnain as he was a non believer rather a polytheist who worshipped fire. Aristotle was his Minister. The Zul Qarnain under discussion, according to Al Hadaya wa Nahaya, was a contemporary of Prophet Ibrahim-AS. Allaah-SWT knows the best.


The Holy Prophet-SW must tell these pagans that he will recount some aspects of Zul Qarnain's life. The unnecessary details have been omitted by the Quran itself.


State Power Is Also A Very Great Blessing

Allah-SWT had blessed him with a mighty kingdom and he had all the means available for its sustenance and defense against the enemies. The state power enjoyed with Allah-SWT's obedience is indeed a great blessing.

So he headed in one direction and conquered city after city and reached out to the farthest Western end. There was no land beyond as far as the eyes could see and it appeared as if the sun was setting in a dark quagmire like the sea. There he came across an ungodly and extremely cruel nation which he vanquished.


Possibility Of A Wali Being Addressed By Allah-SWT

He was addressed by Allaah-SWT “O’ Zul Qarnain! It is upto you to punish them or to be kind towards them.’ Here certain scholars suggest that Zul Qarnain may have been a Prophet-AS and was addressed through Wahi. Others assert that Hadhrat Khidhar-AS was his assistant, through whom he was addressed, but again no evidence exists as to Hadhrat Khidhar-AS's Prophethood. It is possible that he himself had an Ilham or Ilqa' as a Wali can be addressed by Allaah-SWT like Prophet Musa-AS‘s mother, who had acted upon the Divine Command. Given the choice, Zul Qarnain decided that if the people repented and reformed themselves it would be good for them otherwise they would be certainly punished and killed. However, he said that compared to disbelief killing was a very mild punishment; the real punishment will be inflicted when they are admitted into Barzakh and Akhirah. Allaah-SWT shall punish them severely. But those who become believers and reform themselves will not only be dealt with kindness but will also be blessed, rewarded and honoured.


He then began his journey to the East and reached out its farthest end. It seemed as if it was the rising place of the sun as the land had ended. There he came across a nation which was accustomed to life under the open sky without any abodes. He dealt with them in the same manner as he had with the people in the West. This account revealed by the Quran comprises facts and is not some form of a fable.


He then set out in the third direction, which, according to Commentators, was the North. He came across a people amidst the lofty mountains, neither having a language nor means of acquiring knowledge. They pleaded to Zul Qarnain that their safety was constantly threatened from Yajuj Majuj (Gog and Magog). Therefore, they could not pay any attention to the other more important issues like improving the quality of life, enjoying peace and acquiring knowledge.


Who Are Yajuj Majuj?

A lot has been said and discussed by scholars wherefrom it can be deduced that an extremely barbaric nation of human origin is confined behind the rampart erected by Zul Qarnain. It will force its way out of the rampart near the Doomsday and devastate the earth. Then by Allah-SWT's Decree and the invocation of Prophet ‘Isa-AS they shall die of an epidemic. The appearance of Dajjal, the descent of Prophet ‘Isa-AS from the heavens and the onset of Yajuj Majuj are all events that will take place before the Yaum-al-Qayamah.


So the people requested Zul Qarnain to tell them a way by which they could protect themselves against Yajuj Majuj or erect a rampart between them for which they were ready to even pay a tax or other compensation. He said that Allaah-SWT had blessed him with affluence and ample wealth. However, they may help him with manpower so that he could raise for them an unsurmountable rampart. He collected thick sheets of iron and arranged these in the form of a wall filling the gap between the two cliffs. He then ordered them to heat up the iron sheets red hot and pour molten copper over them to form a real strong rampart. He told them that their enemies will neither be able to cross as its surface does not allow climbing nor drill a hole in it. He added that the rampart and its erection are symbols of his Rabb-SWT's Mercy. When it will be His-SWT Decree to allow the Yajuj Majuj through as promised, it will be destroyed as the Promises of Rabb-SWT are sure to come true.


At the predestined time for exodus, they will break loose and enter countries like a flood, destroying everything in their way. This will be the lime concomitant to Yaum-al-Qayamah, for soon after Doomsday will begin and the Trumpets will be blown. The world shall come to an end and the infidels will see Hell right in front of them; those who had become so engrossed in the world and had even forgotten to remember Allaah-SWT . They failed to become believers, lending a deaf ear to all warnings.