VERSES
110
PAGES
293-304

Name

This Surah takes its name from v. 9 in which the word (al-kahf) occurs.

Period of Revelation

This is the first of those Surahs which were sent down in the third stage of Prophethood at Makkah. We have already divided the life of the Holy Prophet at Makkah into four stages in the Introduction to Chapter VI. According to that division the third stage lasted from the fifth to the tenth year of Prophethood. What distinguishes this stage from the second and the fourth stages is this. During the second stage the Quraish mainly resorted to ridiculing, scoffing, threatening, tempting, raising objections and making false propaganda against the Holy Prophet and his followers in order to suppress the Islamic Movement. But during the third stage they employed the weapons of persecution, man handling and economic pressure for the same purpose. So much so that a large number of the Muslims had to emigrate from Arabia to Habash, and those who remained behind were besieged in Shi'ib Abi Talib along with the Holy Prophet and his family. To add to their misery, a complete social and economic boycott was applied against them. The only redeeming feature was that there were two personalities, Abu Talib and Hadrat Khadijah, whose personal influence had been conducive to the support of two great families of the Quraish. However, when in the tenth year of Prophethood these two persons died, the fourth stage began with such revere persecutions as forced the Holy Prophet and all his Companions to emigrate from Makkah.

It appears from the theme of the Surah that it was revealed at the beginning of the third stage when in spite of persecutions and opposition, migration to Habash had not yet taken place. That is why the story of "Ashab-i-Kahf " (the Sleepers of the Cave) has been related to comfort and encourage the persecuted Muslims and to show them how the righteous people have been saving their Faith in the past.

Subject and Topics

This Surah was sent down in answer to the three questions which the mushriks of Makkah, in consultation with the people of the Book, had put to the Holy Prophet in order to test him. These were: (1) Who were "the Sleepers of' the Cave"? (2) What is the real story of Khidr? and (3) What do you know about Zul-Qarnain? As these three questions and the stories involved concerned the history of the Christians and the Jews, and were unknown in Hijaz, a choice of these was made to test whether the Holy Prophet possessed any source of the knowledge of the hidden and unseen things. Allah, however, not only gave a complete answer to their questions but also employed the three stories to the disadvantage of the opponents of Islam in the conflict that was going on at that time at Makkah between Islam and un-belief:

  1. The questioners were told that "the Sleepers of the Cave" believed in the same doctrine of Tauhid which was being put forward in the Quran and that their condition was similar to the condition of the persecuted Muslims of Makkah. On the other hand, the persecutors of the Sleepers of the Cave had behaved in the same way towards them as the disbelievers of the Quraish were behaving towards the Muslims. Besides this, the Muslims have been taught that even if a Believer is persecuted by a cruel society, he should not bow down before falsehood but emigrate from the place all alone, if need be, with trust in God. Incidentally the disbelievers of Makkah were told that the story of the Sleepers of the Cave was a clear proof of the creed of the Hereafter, for this showed that Allah has the power to resurrect anyone He wills even after a long sleep of death as He did in case of the Sleepers of the Cave.

  2. The story of the Sleepers of the Cave has also been used to warn the chiefs of Makkah who were persecuting the small newly formed Muslim Community. At the same time, the Holy Prophet has been instructed that he should in no case make a compromise with their persecutors nor should he consider them to be more important than his poor followers. On the other hand, those chiefs have been admonished that they should not be puffed up with the transitory life of pleasure they were then enjoying but should seek after those excellences which are permanent and eternal.

  3. The story of Khidr and Moses has been related in such a way as to supply the answer to the question of the disbelievers and to give comfort to the Believers as well. The lesson contained in this story is this "You should have full faith in the wisdom of what is happening in the Divine Factory in accordance with the will of Allah. As the reality is hidden from you, you are at a loss to understand the wisdom of what is happening, and sometimes if it appears that things are going against you, you cry out, 'How and why has this happened'. The fact is that if the curtain be removed from the "unseen", you would yourselves come to know that what is happening here is for the best. Even if some times it appears that something is going against you, you will see that in the end it also produces some good results for you.

  4. The same is true of the story of Zul-Qarnain for it also admonishes the questioners, as if to say, "0 you vain chiefs of Makkah you should learn a lesson from Zul-Qarnain. Though he was a great ruler, a great conqueror and the owner of great resources, yet he always surrendered to his Creator, whereas you are rebelling against Him even though you are insignificant chieftains in comparison with him. Besides this, though Zul-Qarnain built one of the strongest walls for protection, yet his real trust was in Allah and not in the "wall". He believed that the wall could protect him against his enemies as long as it was the will of Allah and that there would be crack and holes in it, when it would be His will : whereas you who possess only insignificant fortified abodes and dwellings in comparison with him, consider yourselves to be permanently safe and secure against all sorts of calamities."

While the Quran turned the tables on the questioners who had tried to "expose" the Holy Prophet, in the end of the Surah the same things have been reiterated that were stated at its beginning: "Tauhid and the Hereafter are absolutely true and real and for your own good you should accept these doctrines, mend your ways in accordance with them and live in this world with this conviction that you are accountable to Allah: otherwise you shall ruin your life and all your doings shall be set at naught."

Source: Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Quran

ﭑﭒﭓ

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

Dr. Ghali

Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, (The western part of the then known world) he found it setting in a muddy spring, and he found a people at it. We said, "O Thulqarnayn, either you will torment (them) or you will take to yourself towards them a fair (way)."

Pickthall

Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness.

Yusuf Ali

Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: "O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness."

Shakir

Until when he reached the place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea, and found by it a people. We said: O Zulqarnain! either give them a chastisement or do them a benefit.

Muhsin Khan

Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water. And he found near it a people. We (Allah) said (by inspiration): "O Dhul-Qarnain! Either you punish them, or treat them with kindness."

Sahih International

Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it [as if] setting in a spring of dark mud, and he found near it a people. Allah said, "O Dhul-Qarnayn, either you punish [them] or else adopt among them [a way of] goodness."

ﭿ

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

Muhsin Khan

He said: "As for him (a disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah) who does wrong, we shall punish him; and then he will be brought back unto his Lord; Who will punish him with a terrible torment (Hell).

Shakir

He said: As to him who is injust, we will chastise him, then shall he be returned to his Lord, and He will chastise him with an exemplary chastisement:

Pickthall

He said: As for him who doeth wrong, we shall punish him, and then he will be brought back unto his Lord, Who will punish him with awful punishment!

Dr. Ghali

He said, "As for him who did injustice, we will eventually torment him; thereafter he will be turned back to his Lord; then He will torment him with a highly maleficent torment.

Sahih International

He said, "As for one who wrongs, we will punish him. Then he will be returned to his Lord, and He will punish him with a terrible punishment.

Yusuf Ali

He said: "Whoever doth wrong, him shall we punish; then shall he be sent back to his Lord; and He will punish him with a punishment unheard-of (before).

وَأَمَّا مَنْ آمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُ جَزَاءً الْحُسْنَىٰ ۖ وَسَنَقُولُ لَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِنَا يُسْرًا

Dr. Ghali

And as for him who believes and does righteousness, then he will have as recompense the fairest (reward), and we soon will say to him, of our command, cEase."

Yusuf Ali

"But whoever believes, and works righteousness,- he shall have a goodly reward, and easy will be his task as We order it by our Command."

Muhsin Khan

"But as for him who believes (in Allah's Oneness) and works righteousness, he shall have the best reward, (Paradise), and we (Dhul-Qarnain) shall speak unto him mild words (as instructions)."

Shakir

And as for him who believes and does good, he shall have goodly reward, and We will speak to him an easy word of Our command.

Sahih International

But as for one who believes and does righteousness, he will have a reward of Paradise, and we will speak to him from our command with ease."

Pickthall

But as for him who believeth and doeth right, good will be his reward, and We shall speak unto him a mild command.

ثُمَّ أَتْبَعَ سَبَبًا

Sahih International

Then he followed a way

Pickthall

Then he followed a road

Yusuf Ali

Then followed he (another) way,

Dr. Ghali

Thereafter he followed up (another) means.

Muhsin Khan

Then he followed another way,

Shakir

Then he followed (another) course.

حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ مَطْلِعَ الشَّمْسِ وَجَدَهَا تَطْلُعُ عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ لَّمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُم مِّن دُونِهَا سِتْرًا

Muhsin Khan

Until, when he came to the rising place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We (Allah) had provided no shelter against the sun.

Dr. Ghali

Until, when be reached the rising of the sun, he found it rising upon a people for whom We had not made a screen there from.

Pickthall

Till, when he reached the rising-place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter therefrom.

Sahih International

Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had not made against it any shield.

Shakir

Until when he reached the land of the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people to whom We had given no shelter from It;

Yusuf Ali

Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had provided no covering protection against the sun.

كَذَٰلِكَ وَقَدْ أَحَطْنَا بِمَا لَدَيْهِ خُبْرًا

Pickthall

So (it was). And We knew all concerning him.

Muhsin Khan

So (it was)! And We knew all about him (Dhul-Qarnain).

Yusuf Ali

(He left them) as they were: We completely understood what was before him.

Dr. Ghali

Thus it was, and We already encompassed in cognizance what was close to him.

Shakir

Even so! and We had a full knowledge of what he had.

Sahih International

Thus. And We had encompassed [all] that he had in knowledge.

ثُمَّ أَتْبَعَ سَبَبًا

Pickthall

Then he followed a road

Sahih International

Then he followed a way

Muhsin Khan

Then he followed (another) way,

Shakir

Then he followed (another) course.

Dr. Ghali

Thereafter he followed up (another) means.

Yusuf Ali

Then followed he (another) way,

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

Sahih International

Until, when he reached [a pass] between two mountains, he found beside them a people who could hardly understand [his] speech.

Yusuf Ali

Until, when he reached (a tract) between two mountains, he found, beneath them, a people who scarcely understood a word.

Pickthall

Till, when he came between the two mountains, he found upon their hither side a folk that scarce could understand a saying.

Shakir

Until when he reached (a place) between the two mountains, he found on that side of them a people who could hardly understand a word.

Dr. Ghali

Until, when he reached between the two barriers, he found close to them a people who almost did not comprehend speech.

Muhsin Khan

Until, when he reached between two mountains, he found, before (near) them (those two mountains), a people who scarcely understood a word.

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

Dr. Ghali

They said, "O Thulqarnayn! Surely YaÉjûj and MÉajûj (God and Magog) are corruptors in the earth; so shall we make for you a tribute on condition that you make a barrier between us and them?" (Literally: between us and between them)

Pickthall

They said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Lo! Gog and Magog are spoiling the land. So may we pay thee tribute on condition that thou set a barrier between us and them?

Yusuf Ali

They said: "O Zul-qarnain! the Gog and Magog (People) do great mischief on earth: shall we then render thee tribute in order that thou mightest erect a barrier between us and them?

Muhsin Khan

They said: "O Dhul-Qarnain! Verily! Ya'juj and Ma'juj (Gog and Magog) are doing great mischief in the land. Shall we then pay you a tribute in order that you might erect a barrier between us and them?"

Sahih International

They said, "O Dhul-Qarnayn, indeed Gog and Magog are [great] corrupters in the land. So may we assign for you an expenditure that you might make between us and them a barrier?"

Shakir

They said: O Zulqarnain! surely Gog and Magog make mischief in the land. Shall we then pay you a tribute on condition that you should raise a barrier between us and them

ﯿ

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

Sahih International

He said, "That in which my Lord has established me is better [than what you offer], but assist me with strength; I will make between you and them a dam.

Shakir

He said: That in which my Lord has established me is better, therefore you only help me with workers, I will make a fortified barrier between you and them;

Pickthall

He said: That wherein my Lord hath established me is better (than your tribute). Do but help me with strength (of men), I will set between you and them a bank.

Yusuf Ali

He said: "(The power) in which my Lord has established me is better (than tribute): Help me therefore with strength (and labour): I will erect a strong barrier between you and them:

Dr. Ghali

He said, "That wherein my Lord has established me is more charitable; (i.e., what I have from my lord is better than your tribute) so help me with (your) power, so that I will make up a rampart between you and between them.

Muhsin Khan

He said: "That (wealth, authority and power) in which my Lord had established me is better (than your tribute). So help me with strength (of men), I will erect between you and them a barrier.

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