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 3 contains Āyāt / Parts 5
  • Siparah/ Volume 15 & 16


وَتَحْسَبُهُمْ أَيْقَاظًا وَهُمْ رُقُودٌ وَنُقَلِّبُهُمْ ذَاتَ الْيَمِينِ وَذَاتَ الشِّمَالِ وَكَلْبُهُم بَاسِطٌ ذِرَاعَيْهِ بِالْوَصِيدِ لَوِ اطَّلَعْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ لَوَلَّيْتَ مِنْهُمْ فِرَارًا وَلَمُلِئْتَ مِنْهُمْ رُعْبًا

Watahsabuhum ayqathan wahum ruqoodun wanuqallibuhum thata alyameeni wathata al()shshimali wakalbuhum basitun thiraAAayhi bi(a)lwaseedi lawi ittalaAAta AAalayhim lawallayta minhum firaran walamulita minhum ruAAba(n)

And you would have deemed them awake whereas they were asleep, and We-SWT turned them over on the right and the left, while their dog stretched forth his two fore legs on the threshold. Had you looked at them you would have surely turned away from them in fright and would have been filled with awe of them.


وَكَذَلِكَ بَعَثْنَاهُمْ لِيَتَسَاءلُوا بَيْنَهُمْ قَالَ قَائِلٌ مِّنْهُمْ كَمْ لَبِثْتُمْ قَالُوا لَبِثْنَا يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ قَالُوا رَبُّكُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا لَبِثْتُمْ فَابْعَثُوا أَحَدَكُم بِوَرِقِكُمْ هَذِهِ إِلَى الْمَدِينَةِ فَلْيَنظُرْ أَيُّهَا أَزْكَى طَعَامًا فَلْيَأْتِكُم بِرِزْقٍ مِّنْهُ وَلْيَتَلَطَّفْ وَلَا يُشْعِرَنَّ بِكُمْ أَحَدًا

Wakathalika baAAathnahum liyatasaaloo baynahum qala qailun minhum kam labithtum qaloo labithna yawman aw baAAda yawmin qaloo rabbukum aAAlamu bima labithtum fa(i)bAAathoo ahadakum biwariqikum hathihi ila almadeenati falyanthur ayyuha azka taAAaman falyatikum birizqin minhu walyatalattaf wala yushAAiranna bikum ahada(n)

Likewise We-SWT raised them up that they might question among themselves. There spoke a speaker from amongst them: how long have you stayed? They said: we have stayed a day or part of a day. They said: your Rabb-SWT knows best how long you have stayed; now send one of you with this your money in the city, and let him find which food is the cleaner there, and let him bring you a provision for that, and let him be circumspect, and let him by no means discover you to anyone.


إِنَّهُمْ إِن يَظْهَرُوا عَلَيْكُمْ يَرْجُمُوكُمْ أَوْ يُعِيدُوكُمْ فِي مِلَّتِهِمْ وَلَن تُفْلِحُوا إِذًا أَبَدًا

Innahum in yathharoo AAalaykum yarjumookum aw yuAAeedookum fee millatihim walan tuflihoo ithan abada(n)

Verily they, if they come to know of you, would stone you or make you revert to their faith, and lo! Then you shall never fare well.


وَكَذَلِكَ أَعْثَرْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ لِيَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ وَأَنَّ السَّاعَةَ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهَا إِذْ يَتَنَازَعُونَ بَيْنَهُمْ أَمْرَهُمْ فَقَالُوا ابْنُوا عَلَيْهِم بُنْيَانًا رَّبُّهُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِهِمْ قَالَ الَّذِينَ غَلَبُوا عَلَى أَمْرِهِمْ لَنَتَّخِذَنَّ عَلَيْهِم مَّسْجِدًا

Wakathalika aAAtharna AAalayhim liyaAAlamoo anna waAAda Allahi haqqun waanna a(l)saAAata la rayba feeha ith yatanazaAAoona baynahum amrahum faqaloo ibnoo AAalayhim bunyanan rabbuhum aAAlamu bihim qala allatheena ghalaboo AAala amrihim lanattakhithanna AAalayhim masjida(n)

And likewise We-SWT caused their affair to be lit upon that they might realise that Allah-SWT's Promise is true, and that the Hour! There is no doubt about it. Recall when they were disputing among themselves regarding their affair, and then they said: build over them a building-their Rabb-SWT is the Best Knower about them-then those who prevailed in their affair said: surely we shall raise over them a place of worship.


سَيَقُولُونَ ثَلَاثَةٌ رَّابِعُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ خَمْسَةٌ سَادِسُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ رَجْمًا بِالْغَيْبِ وَيَقُولُونَ سَبْعَةٌ وَثَامِنُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ قُل رَّبِّي أَعْلَمُ بِعِدَّتِهِم مَّا يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ فَلَا تُمَارِ فِيهِمْ إِلَّا مِرَاء ظَاهِرًا وَلَا تَسْتَفْتِ فِيهِم مِّنْهُمْ أَحَدًا

Sayaqooloona thalathatun rabiAAuhum kalbuhum wayaqooloona khamsatun sadisuhum kalbuhum rajman bi(a)lghaybi wayaqooloona sabAAatun wathaminuhum kalbuhum qul rabbee aAAlamu biAAiddatihim ma yaAAlamuhum illa qaleelun fala tumari feehim illa miraan thahiran wala tastafti feehim minhum ahada(n)

Presently they will say: they were three, the fourth being their dog. And they will say: they were five, the sixth being their dog-guessing at the unknown-and they will say: they were seven, the eighth being their dog. Say you: my Rabb-SWT is the best knower of their number; none knows that except only a few; so debate not you regarding their number except an outward debating, and ask not anyone regarding them.


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

Anyone taking a look at the sleepers is sure to assume that they are awake. This connotes that even the normal signs of sleep were not betrayed by their disposition, like closed eyes, relaxed body or changed breathing. Rather the centuries long slumber was just for their comfort and for the manifestation of Allah-SWT's Powers. The sleep did not even have its normal impact on them yet they remained asleep. And as they slept the Almighty Himself-SWT made them turn sides, sometimes to the left and sometimes to the right.


A Strange State Of Allah-SWT's Nearness

This shows that they enjoy a special Divine Favour. They are not only shielded against external effects like those of weather, and never fatigue due to over sleeping, but also the functions of their physical bodies like turning sides are performed by Allah-SWT Himself. He-SWT makes them turn their sides every now and then.


This is the state the righteous friends of Allaah-SWT desire whereby all their activities are dedicated completely to Allaah-SWT . And this is attained as one gets nearer to Him-SWT . This is explained by a saying of the Holy Prophet-SW according to which when a person attains Allah-SWT's Nearness, a stage comes when Allaah-SWT becomes his limbs and senses.


Company Of Righteous Itself Is A Source Of Receiving Mercy

The Men of Cave were exceptionally blessed people. When they left the town their pet dog followed them too. Allah-SWT's Mercy did not let even the dog perish and preserved it against the effects of times and weather. So it sat comfortably at the mouth of the Cave. The Commentators deduce that when a dog associated with the righteous did not remain deprived, imagine how much a believer can attain in such a company?


According to Al-Bukhari, once the Holy Prophet-SW was coming out of the masjid's door when a Companion-RAU asked him as to when, the Yaum al Qayamah would be. He, in turn, asked him as to how much had he prepared for the Day? The questioner felt embarrassed and added that he did not have much to bank on insofar as Salat, Fasting and Zakat were concerned but his entire asset was the love of Allaah-SWT and His Prophet-SW. The Holy Prophet-SW replied that the one whom he had loved will accompany him on Yaum al Qayamah. Hadhrat Ans-RAU once said that after embracing Islam nothing gave him more comfort than the above saying of the Holy Prophet-SW, for he loved Allah-SWT, the Holy Prophet-SW, Hadhrat Abu Bakr-RAU and 'Umar-RAU, and hence hoped to be in their company eternally.


created an aura of awesomeness for the protection of the Men of Cave whereby if anyone was to stop by the Cave to peep in, he would be terrified and run away. This was yet another super natural phenomenon. The infidels who searched for their hideout, instead of causing any harm to the sleepers, would retreat in terror.


After centuries, the sleepers were awakened from their slumber. Now the question arose, how long had they been sleeping for they all felt hungry. They had slept for centuries without any food but as soon as they awoke they felt hungry as usual. So they asked one another how long had they slept. Some of them thought that it was only for a day, or for most of the day because they were feeling hungry. This again was a Karamah that three centuries failed to make them perceive the span. Finally, they concluded that only Allaah-SWT knew how long they had been sleeping and it was a futile discussion. It was better to send someone to the city to buy pure and permissible food. It was imperative that the person who went accomplished his mission very stealthily, for if they were caught, they would either be stoned to death or forced back into their ungodly religion, resulting in their eternal deprivation. This indicates that the Cave was located near the city. Some important points to take note of are listed


    1. To Earn For Fulfilment Of Needs Is Not Against Tawakkul

Allaah-SWT has appreciated their spirit of Tawakkul, but they too had money for purchasing their needs. So having lawful money is not against the spirit of Tawakkul.

    2. Pure And Permissible Food

Since their nation indulged in polytheism, making offerings to idols and eating unlawful food, they made sure that whoever was to go to the market must be extra careful in buying food that it was pure and permissible. If permissible meat was not available, he must buy vegetables or any other pure food. In other words, where forbidden food is generally consumed and sold it is not proper to eat without investigating. Muslim living in the Western Countries must be very careful in this regard.

The jurists of Islam assert that it is permissible to have partnership in wealth. And to assign the power of attorney to one of the partners to spend on others' behalf is also proper. Besides, to share amicably in food is also permissible.


So by a Divine Plan the secret of the Men of Cave was disclosed. The scholars explain that the tyrant who ruled the country had long been dead and a believing and pious king had taken over. However, a conflict had developed amongst the masses over the belief in Akhirah, like the denial of life in Barzakh in our country today. The King would often pray to Allaah-SWT for manifesting a clear sign by His Omnipotence to substantiate the belief in Akhirah, for it was no longer possible to convince people by arguments. So Allaah-SWT stirred the Men of the Cave from their slumber. When the one who had gone to the market to buy food offered money to the vendor, the latter was surprised to discover that the coin was three hundred years old. He disclosed it to others until the news reached the King and became widely known. The incident of escape and disappearance of the young men was still fresh in history. Therefore, their reappearance became an evidence to the life in Akhirah as well as the Absolute Powers of Allaah-SWT . He-SWT may keep a person alive for centuries without any provisions and is Powerful to requite in Barzakh or raise the dead from the grave. Indeed His-SWT Promise is true and Yaum-al-Qayamah will take place beyond doubt.


The Essence Of A Wali's Karamah

Just as a Prophet-AS's miracle substantiates his Prophethood, a Wali's Karamah establishes and strengthens Din. In fact it is a Prophet-AS’s miracle which is manifested as Karamah at the hands of a Wali, and provides evidence to the authenticity of Prophethood. So when the biography of the Men of the Cave became widely known and people became aware of all its aspects, Allaah-SWT caused them to die. It was an extraordinary event so the people started discussing the idea of constructing memorial monument. But the question was of their identity, which was to be inscribed on the proposed monument. No one but Allaah-SWT knew what their names were and which families they came from. The purpose of their unveiling was not to narrate history but to invite people to guidance. So the people gave up the quest for their identity and the idea of building a monument, saying that only Allaah-SWT knew the reality. However, they did agree that they were Allaah-SWT ’s chosen servants. Finally the nobles in power decided to build a masjid over the Cave, so that the visitors may worship Allaah-SWT therein.


Masaajid Adjacent To The Tombs Of Aulia’ Allah

Mufti Muhammad Shafi-RUA asserts that it is not prohibited to build masaajid near the tombs of saints. However, to prostate to the graves is a forbidden act and outright polytheism. Now the part of the event beneficial to mankind has been revealed, leaving out the irrelevant details. People will, however, continue to discuss their number; some may say they were three and their dog was the fourth while others will say they were five and the sixth was their dog. Yet some will also number them as seven with their dog as eighth. All these endless arguments are without any solid reasoning, so the Holy Prophet-SW must tell them that Allaah-SWT knows the best, and their number was not important for guiding people. As there are no obvious means of acquiring this knowledge so the Holy Prophet-SW need not indulge in argument with them, nor must he seek any further information from them, as the important parts have been revealed by Allaah-SWT and probing for the unnecessary is indeed futile.


Argument In Unnecessary Matters Must Be Avoided

It is also brought out that in important matters, argument for the sake of argument must not be resorted to. Rather the discussion must be carried out logically and with grace and tolerance. Besides, the truth must be accepted and unnecessary matters which do not concern one's beliefs or actions must be ignored as discussing them will not only be a waste of energy and time but may also result in creating more differences.