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Towards Understanding the Quran
With kind permission: Islamic Foundation UK
Introduction to Tafheem | Glossary | Verbs
Other resources: Maarif | Dawat 

 Surah Al-Kahf 18:1-12 [1/12]
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Verse Summary -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ٱلْحَمْدُAll Praise
لِلَّهِ(is) for Allah
ٱلَّذِىٓthe One Who
أَنزَلَ(has) revealed
عَبْدِهِHis slave
ٱلْكِتَـٰبَthe Book,
وَلَمْand not
يَجْعَل(has) made
لَّهُۥin it
عِوَجَاۜany crookedness.
لِّيُنذِرَto warn
بَأْسًا(of) a punishment
لَّدُنْهُnear Him,
وَيُبَشِّرَand give glad tidings
ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ(to) the believers,
ٱلَّذِينَthose who
ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِrighteous deeds,
لَهُمْfor them
أَجْرًا حَسَنًا(is) a good reward.
مَّـٰكِثِينَ(They will) abide
فِيهِin it
وَيُنذِرَAnd to warn
ٱلَّذِينَthose who
ٱتَّخَذَ ٱللَّهُ"Allah has taken
وَلَدًاa son."
لَهُمthey have
بِهِۦabout it
وَلَاand not
لِأَبَآئِهِمْ‌ۚtheir forefathers.
كَبُرَتْMighty (is)
كَلِمَةًthe word
تَخْرُجُ(that) comes out
أَفْوَٲهِهِمْ‌ۚtheir mouths.
يَقُولُونَthey say
كَذِبًاa lie.
فَلَعَلَّكَThen perhaps you would (be)
بَـٰخِعٌthe one who kills
ءَاثَـٰرِهِمْtheir footsteps,
يُؤْمِنُواْthey believe
بِهَـٰذَاin this
ٱلْحَدِيثِ[the] narration,
أَسَفًا(in) grief.
إِنَّاIndeed, We
جَعَلْنَاWe have made
عَلَى(is) on
ٱلْأَرْضِthe earth
لَّهَاfor it,
لِنَبْلُوَهُمْthat We may test [them]
أَيُّهُمْwhich of them
أَحْسَنُ(is) best
عَمَلاً(in) deed.
وَإِنَّاAnd indeed, We
لَجَـٰعِلُونَ(will) surely make
عَلَيْهَا(is) on it
حَسِبْتَyou think
أَصْحَـٰبَ(the) companions
ٱلْكَهْفِ(of) the cave
وَٱلرَّقِيمِand the inscription
ءَايَـٰتِنَاOur Signs,
عَجَبًاa wonder?
ٱلْفِتْيَةُthe youths
ٱلْكَهْفِthe cave,
فَقَالُواْand they said,
رَبَّنَآ"Our Lord!
ءَاتِنَاGrant us
وَهَيِّئْand facilitate
لَنَاfor us
أَمْرِنَاour affair
رَشَدًا(in the) right way."
فَضَرَبْنَاSo We cast
ءَاذَانِهِمْtheir ears
ٱلْكَهْفِthe cave
سِنِينَyears -
عَدَدًاa number.
بَعَثْنَـٰهُمْWe raised them up
لِنَعْلَمَthat We make evident
ٱلْحِزْبَيْنِ(of) the two parties
أَحْصَىٰbest calculated
لِمَاfor what
لَبِثُوٓاْ(they had) remained
أَمَدًا(in) time.

بِسۡمِ اللهِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِيۡمِ اَ لۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰهِ الَّذِىۡۤ اَنۡزَلَ عَلٰى عَبۡدِهِ الۡكِتٰبَ وَلَمۡ يَجۡعَلْ لَّهٗ عِوَجًا  ؕ‏  قَيِّمًا لِّيُنۡذِرَ بَاۡسًا شَدِيۡدًا مِّنۡ لَّدُنۡهُ وَيُبَشِّرَ الۡمُؤۡمِنِيۡنَ الَّذِيۡنَ يَعۡمَلُوۡنَ الصّٰلِحٰتِ اَنَّ لَهُمۡ اَجۡرًا حَسَنًا ۙ‏  مّٰكِثِيۡنَ فِيۡهِ اَبَدًا ۙ‏  وَّيُنۡذِرَ الَّذِيۡنَ قَالُوا اتَّخَذَ اللّٰهُ وَلَدًا‏  مَا لَهُمۡ بِهٖ مِنۡ عِلۡمٍ وَّلَا لِاٰبَآئِهِمۡ​ؕ كَبُرَتۡ كَلِمَةً تَخۡرُجُ مِنۡ اَفۡوَاهِهِمۡ​ؕ اِنۡ يَّقُوۡلُوۡنَ اِلَّا كَذِبًا‏  فَلَعَلَّكَ بَاخِعٌ نَّـفۡسَكَ عَلٰٓى اٰثَارِهِمۡ اِنۡ لَّمۡ يُؤۡمِنُوۡا بِهٰذَا الۡحَـدِيۡثِ اَسَفًا‏  اِنَّا جَعَلۡنَا مَا عَلَى الۡاَرۡضِ زِيۡنَةً لَّهَا لِنَبۡلُوَهُمۡ اَ يُّهُمۡ اَحۡسَنُ عَمَلًا‏  وَاِنَّا لَجٰعِلُوۡنَ مَا عَلَيۡهَا صَعِيۡدًا جُرُزًا ؕ‏  اَمۡ حَسِبۡتَ اَنَّ اَصۡحٰبَ الۡـكَهۡفِ وَالرَّقِيۡمِۙ كَانُوۡا مِنۡ اٰيٰتِنَا عَجَبًا‏  اِذۡ اَوَى الۡفِتۡيَةُ اِلَى الۡـكَهۡفِ فَقَالُوۡا رَبَّنَاۤ اٰتِنَا مِنۡ لَّدُنۡكَ رَحۡمَةً وَّهَيِّئۡ لَـنَا مِنۡ اَمۡرِنَا رَشَدًا‏  فَضَرَبۡنَا عَلٰٓى اٰذَانِهِمۡ فِى الۡـكَهۡفِ سِنِيۡنَ عَدَدًا ۙ‏  ثُمَّ بَعَثۡنٰهُمۡ لِنَعۡلَمَ اَىُّ الۡحِزۡبَيۡنِ اَحۡصٰى لِمَا لَبِثُوۡۤا اَمَدًا‏ 
(18:1) Praise be to Allah Who has revealed to His servant the Book devoid of all crookedness;1 (18:2) an unerringly Straight Book, meant to warn of a stern punishment from Allah, and to proclaim, to those who believe and work righteous deeds, the tiding that theirs shall be a good reward (18:3) wherein they shall abide for ever; (18:4) and also to warn those who say: "Allah has taken to Himself a son,"2 (18:5) a thing about which they have no knowledge,3 neither they nor their ancestors. Dreadful is the word that comes out of their mouths. What they utter is merely a lie. (18:6) (O Muhammad), if they do not believe in this Message,4 you will perhaps torment yourself to death with grief, sorrowing over them. (18:7) Surely We have made all that is on the earth an embellishment for it in order to test people as to who of them is better in conduct. (18:8) In the ultimate, We shall reduce all that is on the earth to a barren plain.5 (18:9) Do you think that the people of the Cave6 and the Inscription7 were one of Our wondrous signs?8 (18:10) When those youths sought refuge in the Cave and said: "Our Lord! Grant us mercy from Yourself and provide for us rectitude in our affairs." (18:11) We lulled them to sleep in that cave for a number of years (18:12) and then roused them so that We might see which of the two parties could best tell the length of their stay.

1. That is, there is nothing intricate or complicated in it that may be beyond anyone’s understanding nor is there anything that deviates from the straight path of the truth and thus cause hesitation in the mind of a truth loving person.

2. “Those who say” includes the Christians, the Jews and the mushrik Arabs who assigned offspring to Allah.

3. “Dreadful is the word” That one is the son of God, or Allah has adopted that one as a son. This has been declared to be dreadful because it was not based o any knowledge that Allah has a son or has adopted a son. They had merely exaggerated their love for someone and invented such a relationship. And they do not realize that it is a dreadful blasphemy, impudence and fabrication that they are uttering in regards to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

4. This refers to the real cause of the anxiety of the Prophet (peace be upon him) at the time of the revelation of this Surah. It clearly shows that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not grieve at the persecution from which he and his companions were suffering but at the deviation and moral degeneration of his people. What was consuming him was that, though he was trying to bring them out from their disgraceful state, they persisted in it. He was grieved because he was convinced that their deviation would inevitably lead them to destruction and scourge of Allah. Therefore he was working day and night to save them but it appeared that they were bent upon incurring the chastisement of Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself has described this state of his mind in a tradition to this effect: I may describe this thing in a parable. A person kindled a fire to spread light but the moths persist in falling over it to burn themselves alive. He tries to save them from the fire but the moths reduce his efforts to failure. The same is true of me and you. I hold you by your skirts to keep you away from the fire, but you are bent upon falling into it. (Bukhari, Muslim).

Though apparently it is merely stated that it may be that you will consume your life for their sake out of sorrow, it also contains a sort of consolation for the Prophet (peace be upon him), as if to say: As you are not responsible for forcing them to believe, why should you consume yourself for their sake. Your only duty is to give good news and warning and not to turn people into believers. Therefore, you may go on carrying out your mission of giving good news to the believers and warning of the bad consequences to the disbelievers.

5. (Ayat 6 )was addressed to the Prophet (peace be upon him), but ( Ayats 7-8 ) have been directed to the disbelievers indirectly, as if to say: You must understand it clearly that all the things that you see in the world and which allure you, are a transitory adornment which has been arranged merely to test you, but it is a pity that you have been involved in the misunderstanding that all these things have been created to cater for your pleasure and enjoyment. That is why the only aim and object of life you have set before you is: Eat, drink and be merry. As a result of this you do not pay any attention to your true and real well wisher. You must understand it well that these things have not been provided for pleasure but are actually a means of testing you. You have been placed among them to see which of you is allured by these from the real aim of life and which of you keeps steadfast in the worship of Allah, for which you have been sent to the world. All these things and means of pleasure shall come to an end on the Day, your examination is over and nothing will remain on the earth because it will be turned into a bare plain.

6. The Arabic word Kahf literally means a vast cave.

7. There is a difference of opinion about the meaning of arraqim. Some companions and their followers opined that it was the name of that habitation where this event took place and that it was situated somewhere between Aylah and Palestine. There are other commentators who take it to mean the inscription that had been set up at the cave as a memorial to the sleepers of the cave. Abul Kalam Azad, in his commentary, Tarjmanul-Quran, has preferred the first meaning and opined that it is the same place which has been called Rekem in the Bible (Joshua, 18: 27). Then he identifies it with the ancient historical city of Petra. But he has not considered the fact that Rekem, as mentioned in the Bible, belonged to the children of Benjamin and according to the Book of Joshua, the territory of this clan was situated to the west of river Jordan and the Dead Sea and that the ruins of Petra are situated to the south of Jordan. That is why the modern archaeologists do not believe that Petra and Rekem are one and the same place. (Please refer to Encyclopedia Britannica, 1946, Vol XVII, page 658). We are also of the opinion that by Arraqim is meant the inscription.

8. This question has been posed to expose the skeptical attitude of the disbelievers towards the “Sleepers of the Cave,” as if to say: Do you think that Allah, Who has created the heavens and the earth, does not have the power to keep a few persons in a state of sleep for a couple of hundred years and then to raise them up same as they were at the time of going to sleep. If you ever had pondered over the wonderful creation of the sun and the moon and the earth, you would never have expressed any doubt that such a thing was anything difficult for Allah.