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 9 contains Āyāt / Parts 11
  • Siparah/ Volume 15 & 16


وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَى لِفَتَاهُ لَا أَبْرَحُ حَتَّى أَبْلُغَ مَجْمَعَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ أَوْ أَمْضِيَ حُقُبًا

Waith qala moosa lifatahu la abrahu hatta ablugha majmaAAa albahrayni aw amdiya huquba(n)

And recall when Musa-AS said to his page: I shall not cease journeying until I reach the confluence of the two seas, or I shall go on for ages.


فَلَمَّا بَلَغَا مَجْمَعَ بَيْنِهِمَا نَسِيَا حُوتَهُمَا فَاتَّخَذَ سَبِيلَهُ فِي الْبَحْرِ سَرَبًا

Falamma balagha majmaAAa baynihima nasiya hootahuma faittakhatha sabeelahu fee albahri saraba(n)

And when the two reached the confluence of the two, they forgot their fish, and it found its way into the sea freely.


فَلَمَّا جَاوَزَا قَالَ لِفَتَاهُ آتِنَا غَدَاءنَا لَقَدْ لَقِينَا مِن سَفَرِنَا هَذَا نَصَبًا

Falamma jawaza qala lifatahu atina ghadaana laqad laqeena min safarina hatha nasaba(n)

And when the two had passed by, he-AS said to his page: bring to us our breakfast we have indeed got toil from this journey of ours.


قَالَ أَرَأَيْتَ إِذْ أَوَيْنَا إِلَى الصَّخْرَةِ فَإِنِّي نَسِيتُ الْحُوتَ وَمَا أَنسَانِيهُ إِلَّا الشَّيْطَانُ أَنْ أَذْكُرَهُ وَاتَّخَذَ سَبِيلَهُ فِي الْبَحْرِ عَجَبًا

Qala araayta ith awayna ila a(l)ssakhrati fainnee naseetu alhoota wama ansaneehu illa a(l)shshaytanu an athkurahu wa(i)ttakhatha sabeelahu fee albahri AAajaba(n)

He said: look here! As we were proceeding to the rock I became unmindful of the fish and nothing but Satan made me forget to mention it to you, and it took marvellously its way into the sea.


قَالَ ذَلِكَ مَا كُنَّا نَبْغِ فَارْتَدَّا عَلَى آثَارِهِمَا قَصَصًا

Qala thalika ma kunna nabghi fa(i)rtadda AAala atharihima qasasa(n)

Musa-AS said: that is exactly what we have been seeking. Then they turned back on their footsteps, retracing.


فَوَجَدَا عَبْدًا مِّنْ عِبَادِنَا آتَيْنَاهُ رَحْمَةً مِنْ عِندِنَا وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ مِن لَّدُنَّا عِلْمًا

Fawajada AAabdan min AAibadina ataynahu rahmatan min AAindina waAAallamnahu min ladunna AAilma(n)

Then the two found a bondman from Our-SWT own bondmen, on him We-SWT had bestowed a Mercy from before Us-SWT and him We-SWT had taught knowledge from Our-SWT Presence.


قَالَ لَهُ مُوسَى هَلْ أَتَّبِعُكَ عَلَى أَن تُعَلِّمَنِ مِمَّا عُلِّمْتَ رُشْدًا

Qala lahu moosa hal attabiAAuka AAala an tuAAallimani mimma AAullimta rushda(n)

Musa-AS said to him: shall I follow you that you may teach me of what you have been taught directive knowledge.


قَالَ إِنَّكَ لَن تَسْتَطِيعَ مَعِيَ صَبْرًا

Qala innaka lan tastateeAAa maAAiya sabra(n)

He said: verily you will not be able to have patience with me.


وَكَيْفَ تَصْبِرُ عَلَى مَا لَمْ تُحِطْ بِهِ خُبْرًا

Wakayfa tasbiru AAala ma lam tuhit bihi khubra(n)

And how can you have patience over that which your knowledge does not encompass?


قَالَ سَتَجِدُنِي إِن شَاء اللَّهُ صَابِرًا وَلَا أَعْصِي لَكَ أَمْرًا

Qala satajidunee in shaa Allahu sabiran wala aAAsee laka amra(n)

Musa-AS said: you will find me, if Allaah-SWT will, patient, and I shall not disobey you in any affair.


قَالَ فَإِنِ اتَّبَعْتَنِي فَلَا تَسْأَلْنِي عَن شَيْءٍ حَتَّى أُحْدِثَ لَكَ مِنْهُ ذِكْرًا

Qala faini ittabaAAtanee fala tasalnee AAan shayin hatta ohditha laka minhu thikra(n)

He said: well, if you would follow me, then do not question me of anything, until I begin to mention it myself.


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

The arrogance and defiance of these people necessitates the recall of another incident, which shows that Allaah-SWT has even cautioned his most chosen people, the Prophets-AS and Messengers-AS, for having uttered a single phrase tainted with conceit, though unintentionally. They were put to trial as a part of their training. As mentioned earlier, the Holy Prophet-SW had said that he-SW would give the answers to the three questions the next day without adding Insha-Allah. The revelation ceased for fifteen days and the infidels ridiculed him to their hearts content. He-SW was instructed to be careful in future. Similarly, the exalted Prophet Musa-AS, who enjoyed the honour of a dialogue with Allaah-SWT was put through trial for a minor slip. If Allaah-SWT is so austere when His-SWT chosen people unintentionally utter something tainted with arrogance, what about the non believers who because of their disbelief, have already qualified for His-SWT Wrath? Over and above if they speak arrogantly, they can only stray further away from truth and guidance. What happened to Prophet Musa-AS and what he had to go through is recounted in these Ayat and the relevant Ahadith is as follows.


The Story Of Prophet Musa-AS And His Meeting Khidhar-AS

Once Prophet Musa-AS was asked as to who was the most knowledgeable person on the face of the earth? He said that it was he. It was true in the sense that he was an exalted Prophet-AS blessed with revelation and a dialogue with Him-SWT . But he-AS was given knowledge pertaining to the matters of Shari'ah, whereas knowledge pertaining to the administration of the universe is handed down by Him-SWT to the respective angels, sometimes to human beings too, especially to a class of the Aulia’ who attain a special level of Nearness to Him-SWT . The Arwah of such Aulia’ acquire the appearance of the angels residing in the Arsh, and some are even assigned to perform duties like the angels. The account of Hadhrat Khidhar-AS is given here as an example. This great blessing had been conferred upon the earlier nations, so the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad-SW must and does have it.


Was Khidhar-AS A Prophet? Is He Still Alive Or Was He Then Living?

There are varying opinions over it which suggest both the possibilities. But for sure Khidhar-AS was not a Prophet-AS, for neither has there been any mention of his-AS Ummah nor any Divine Book. He had passed away before the era of Prophet Musa-AS. So the administrative affairs are in fact being performed by his-AS Ruh just as the angles do. This brings out that to call him out for help would be a crime similar to that committed by the non believers who used to call out to the angels.


Prophet Musa-AS had said that he-AS was the most knowledgeable person, whereas it would have been proper to say that only Allaah-SWT knows the best, or that Allaah-SWT had given him-AS the knowledge more than anyone else. He-AS was commanded to meet a servant of Allaah-SWT near the confluence to see how He-SWT had blessed him-AS with special knowledge. So he-AS set out on his journey as revealed in these Ayat, which will be explained in the light of sayings of the Holy Prophet-SW.


Prophet Musa-AS told his servant that he would move on until he discovered the spot where the two seas or the two rivers confluence, even if it meant a life long journey. Haqba refers to eras, so what he meant was that since it was Allah-SWT's Command to march on, he would comply even if his entire life was spent on the move. Yusha bin Nun (Joshua) accompanied Prophet Musa-AS as an aide. It was Allah-SWT's Command to keep a fish with them for when they would reach the given destination, it would miraculously come to life and slip into the water. That would be the place of meeting with the aforesaid servant of Allaah-SWT .


Therefore, the twain kept on walking until they halted for rest at a spot. They forgot about the fish though it had not only come to life and slipped into water but also made a tunnel like passage as it moved through it. They resumed their journey, but praise be to Allaah-SWT that Prophet Musa-AS felt tired from here onwards. So they rested for the night and the next morning he-AS asked for breakfast. While taking out the food the aide suddenly remembered that he had forgotten to mention about the fish slipping into water at the last stop. They had probably traversed beyond their destination and that was why the Prophet-AS was feeling tired, he said.


A Strange Point

A subtle point reveals itself here that if one strives in Allah-SWT's obedience with devotion he does not feel tired. That is why the Aulia' could keep night long vigil in His-SWT worship. If worships appear cumbersome to us today, it means that we are trespassing the limits of obedience and are lacking in sincerity.


The aide termed his forgetting as the act of Satan. Prophet Musa-AS said that it was that very place where they had to reach. Therefore, they turned back on the same route following their footsteps and arrived at the spot where the fish had disappeared. Here they found the chosen servant of Allah-SWT, Khidhar-AS whom Allaah-SWT had blessed with His-SWT special Mercy and a special knowledge which he-AS had directly acquired form Allaah-SWT .


Was This Blessing, Only Conferred Upon Khidhar-AS?

The phrase "one of our slaves" suggests the possibility of there being many such souls blessed with 'Ilm-e-Luduni, that is, the Inspired Knowledge. This knowledge is purely a Divine Gift acquired without the conventional means. All the Divine blessings showered upon His-SWT friends, or whatever they may perceive once their hearts are illuminated, is a form of 'Ilm-e-Luduni. Though this blessing varies from person to person yet the hallmark of 'Ilm-e-Luduni is that the relevant knowledge begins to gush forth from the heart like a river in spate. So Prophet Musa-AS told Hadhrat Khidhar-AS: " Allah-SWT informed me that you-AS have been blessed wilh a unique kind of knowledge. And if it is alright for you-AS to teach me some of it, I may remain in your-AS company for a while."


The Superiority Of Prophet Musa-AS

The superiority of Prophet Musa-AS is well established, for he-AS was an exalted Prophet-AS while Hadhrat Khidhar-AS was just a Wali. The knowledges of the former pertained to the Prophethood, that is, the Shari'ah while that of the latter concerned the administration of the universe. This may well be compared to a situation where a person may be a renowned scholar, jurist or a commentator of Quran or Hadlth but does not know how to drive a vehicle. He will have to resort to a driver for taking lessons in driving, while his superiority as a scholar will remain as such.


Here is a lesson for scholars of Islam that they must learn such skills, which may serve the purpose of Jihad, for instance, the use of weapons, driving etc. Being students in such skills will not dwarf their status in any way.


So Hadhrat Khidhar-AS said: "You-AS will not be able to bear with me as you are governed by Shari'ah which must apply to all actions, while I am no longer in this corporal existence and not obliged to abide by your-AS Shari'ah. My actions will be directly subservient to Kashf or Ilham and will pertain to administrative matters. Hence not only will you find my actions as strange but will also be unable to resist criticism."Prophet Musa-AS assured him-AS that he would not only find him-AS very patient and tolerant, but also adherent to all his-AS instructions. Finally Hadhrat Khidhar-AS agreed to allow Prophet Musa-AS to accompany him-AS but only on one condition that the latter would not raise any questions on what he-AS did, unless he-AS himself explained it.