24. This is a parenthetical clause which has been inserted here because of its relevancy to the preceding verse, in which it was asserted that the correct number of the sleepers of the cave is known only to Allah and a research into it is a useless task. Therefore one should refrain from investigating into unimportant things, nor enter into discussions about them. This has led to the instruction contained in the parenthetical clause for the benefit of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the believers who have been told never to make a positive assertion like this: I will do this thing tomorrow, for you do not know whether you will be able to do that thing or not: you have neither the knowledge of the unknown nor have full powers to do what you like. If ever inadvertently you utter anything like this, you should at once remember your Lord and say, InshaAllah. Besides this you do not know whether there will be any good for you in the thing about which you say: I will do this. It is possible that you may do another thing better than that. Therefore you should trust in God and say: I hope that my Lord will guide me in this matter with that thing which is nearer to the right way for me.
25. This sentence is connected with the theme preceding the parenthetical clause like this. Some people will say: “They were three and the fourth was their dog...”, and some people will say that they remained in the cave for three hundred years and some others would add nine more years (to the reckoning of the period). We are of the opinion that the number of the years, 300 or 309, has not been stated by Allah Himself but Allah has cited these as sayings of the people. This opinion is based on this succeeding sentence: Allah knows best about the period of their stay there. If the number of years, given in (Ayat 25), had been from Allah, this succeeding sentence would have been meaningless. Abdullah bin Abbas has also opined that this is not the saying of Allah but that of the people which has been cited as a part of the story.
26. After relating the story of the sleepers of the cave, the Quran begins to review the condition of the Muslims of Makkah at the time of the revelation of the Surah.
27. This does not mean at all that, God forbid, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was inclined to make any changes in the Quran to please the disbelievers of Makkah and was thinking of some formula of compromise with the chiefs of the Quraish which necessitated a warning that he was not authorized to do so. As a matter of tact, though this was apparently addressed to the Prophet (peace be upon him), it was really meant for the disbelievers that they should not entertain any hope whatsoever for anything like this, as if to say: You must understand it once and for all that Our Messenger is not authorized to make any changes in Our revelation, for he has to precisely convey it just as it is sent down to him. If you want to accept it, you will have to accept it in its entirety as it is being sent by the Lord of the Universe. And if you want to reject it, you may do so but you must understand it well that no modification, even in the least, will be made in it to please you. This was the answer to the repeated demand of the disbelievers: If you do insist, O Muhammad (peace be upon him), that we should accept your message in its entirety, then make certain modifications in it to accommodate some creeds and customs of our forefathers, and we will accept your message. This is our offer for a compromise and this will save our people from divsion. This demand of the disbelievers has been cited in the Quran at several places and the same answer has been given, e.g. When Our clear revelations are recited to them, those who do not expect to meet Us, say: Bring another Quran in its stead or make some amendments in it. (Surah Younus, Ayat 15).
28. Though these words have also been addressed to the Prophet (peace be upon him), they are really meant for the chiefs of the Quraish. According to a tradition related by Ibn Abbas, the chiefs of the Quraish would say to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that they considered it below their dignity to sit with such people as Bilal, Suhaib, Ammar, Khabbab, Ibn-Masud and the like who generally remained in his company, and that if he should send them away, they would be willing to attend his meetings in order to learn about his message. At this Allah revealed this verse: And keep yourself whole heartedly content with those who pray to their Lord morning and evening in order to win His approval and do not turn your attention away from them: Do you desire to discard these sincere but poor people so that the chiefs of the Quraish, the well to do people, should come and sit near you? This was meant to warn the chiefs of the Quraish to this effect: Your wealth, your pomp and show of which you are so proud has no value at all in the sight of Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). Nay, those poor people are really more worthy in their sight, for they are sincere and always remember Allah. The same was the attitude of the chiefs of Prophet Noah’s (peace be upon him) people, who said: And we also see that none but the meanest and the most shallow of our people have become your followers. Upon this, Noah (peace be upon him) replied: I am not going to drive away those who have believed in me, nor can I say about those whom you disdain that Allah has not bestowed any good on them. (Surah Al-Anbia Ayats 27, 29, (31).
29. That is, do not yield to what he says, nor submit to him, nor fulfill his desire, nor follow his bidding.
30. The original Arabic text may also mean: Who discards the truth, breaks all moral limits and rushes on headlong. But in both cases it comes to this: The one, who is neglectful of Allah and becomes a slave of his lust, inevitably transgresses all limits and becomes a victim of immoderation. Therefore the one who will submit to him, will also follow the same way and wander about in deviation after him.
31. This verse makes it quite plain that the story of the sleepers of the cave has been related to tell the opponents of Islam: This is the truth from your Lord. Now whosoever wills, he may accept it and whosoever wills, he may reject it. But people must understand that no compromise will be made in regard to the truth just as the sleepers of the cave did not make any compromise with regard to their creed. They did not make any compromise in regard to the doctrine of Tauhid after they had believed in it and categorically declared: Our Lord is the One Who alone is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. After this declaration they did not in any way accede to the making of any compromise with their people, who had gone astray. But they firmly declared: We will not give Him up and pray to other deities, because it will be the most improper thing, if we did so. After making this declaration they left their people and deities and took refuge in the cave without taking any provisions with them. After this when they woke up, the only thing about which they showed any anxiety, was that their people might not succeed in forcing them back to their own faith. After relating these things, the Quran addresses the Prophet (peace be upon him) to the effect (though these words are really meant for the opponents of Islam): It is absolutely out of question whether any compromise can be made with mushriks and disbelievers. Present the truth intact to them whether they accept it or not. If they do not accept it, they themselves will meet with an evil end. As regards to those, who have accepted the truth, (whether they be youngsters or poor, indigent people or slaves or laborers) they are really those people who have a worth with Allah, and they alone will be honored. Therefore you should not discard them and prefer the chiefs and the rich people who may be neglectful of Allah and be slaves of their own desires, even though they might be possessors of worldly grandeur.
32. The Arabic word Suradiq literally means sides of a tent but, as used in the case of Hell, it may mean its external boundaries to which its flames and heat may reach. According to some commentators, it applies to the future tense “its walls will be surrounding them” so as to refer to the flames of Hell in the Hereafter. But we are of the opinion that its flames have already encircled, in this very world, these workers of iniquity, who have turned away from the truth and that they cannot escape them.
33. The Arabic word muhul has several lexical meanings. According to some people, it means the residue of oil; according to others, it is lava which is formed by the melting of things in the earth; according to some others, it is molten matter and according to others, it is pus and blood.
34. The dwellers of Paradise will be adorned with bracelets of gold like the kings of ancient times. This will be to show that they will be adorned like the kings of this world, whereas an unbeliever and wicked king will be disgraced there.
35. The Arabic word araaik is plural of arikah which is that kind of throne that is covered with an umbrella. This is also to show that in Paradise the believers will sit on thrones like the kings of this world.