Then, it is undertaken by Us to explain it. [75:19]

Al-Kahf 9-12

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Above we saw the discussion of messengership. What follows is the story of the people of the cave which is from the proofs of messengership, considering that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) evidently did not hear this story from anyone, yet was able to relate it correctly. After all, the Kuffar of Quraish, by the instruction of the Jews (in order to test the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam), asked him three questions. Firstly, the matter of the ruh addressed in the previous Surah. Secondly, the story of the people of the cave mentioned here, and finally, the story of dhul qarnain which will be addressed later in the Surah. [al-Lubab ’an ibn Abbas bi Riwayah Ibn Jarir]
In this narration, the speech of the Jews “fainna lahum amrun ’ajeebun” is also narrated. It is, perhaps, for this reason that “am hasibta until ‘ajaban” was brought as a prelude to the story. So, first is the prelude, then the story; first briefly, and then extensively.

Prelude to the story of Ashab al-Kahf



أَمۡ حَسِبۡتَ أَنَّ أَصۡحَـٰبَ ٱلۡكَهۡفِ وَٱلرَّقِيمِ كَانُواْ مِنۡ ءَايَـٰتِنَا عَجَبًا (٩)  


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Do you think that the people of the cave and the mountain - both are titles referring to the same group – are from our wondrous signs of power a thing of astonishment? From the speech of the Jews, “kaana lahum amrun ‘ajeebun”, and from their choosing this story as a means to test the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) with, it seemed as if this was on the basis of their finding it wondrous; intending that information regarding a naturally occurring event can possibly be acquired through incomplete exposure coupled with conjecture and guess-work, whereas something truly amazing will need a solid source and absolute knowledge.

Although the two themes, the ruh and the story of dhul qarnain, are also wondrous, perhaps they felt this to be more so. Hence, in this regard, it has been singled out for mention. In any case, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is being addressed with the purpose of informing others that this story, albeit wondrous, in and of itself, and in relation to our other wondrous signs of power, such as the creation of the heavens and the earth, is not very amazing. The creation of our other signs involves regulating non-existent matter, whereas in this story an existing entity is being controlled.

It is quite strange, then, that the antagonists find this story to be amazing. Yet they fail to take lesson from our other much more wondrous signs. Thus, they do not fulfill the obligations of Tawheed and faultless obedience rightly due to the Creator of the Worlds, from the requirements of which, one is belief in messengership.

This was the prelude. What follows is the story – first briefly:


The story of Ashab al-Kahf in brief


إِذۡ أَوَى ٱلۡفِتۡيَةُ إِلَى ٱلۡكَهۡفِ فَقَالُواْ رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحۡمَةً۬ وَهَيِّئۡ لَنَا مِنۡ أَمۡرِنَا رَشَدً۬ا (١٠) فَضَرَبۡنَا عَلَىٰٓ ءَاذَانِهِمۡ فِى ٱلۡكَهۡفِ سِنِينَ عَدَدً۬ا (١١) ثُمَّ بَعَثۡنَـٰهُمۡ لِنَعۡلَمَ أَىُّ ٱلۡحِزۡبَيۡنِ أَحۡصَىٰ لِمَا لَبِثُوٓاْ أَمَدً۬ا (١٢)


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That time is worthy of mention when these youth, fleeing from a corrupt king, took refuge in the cave, whose story follows, then in supplicating to Allah Most High, said, O Lord, give to us specially from thyself means of mercy, and prepare for us in our task means of excellence. It seems ‘rahmah’ refers to acquisition of goals (husool al-maqaasid), while ‘preparation of rashad’ refers to validation of preliminaries (tasheeh al-muqaddimaat). So we accepted their prayers, and along with protecting them we removed their anxieties and concerns in such a way that we struck a seal upon their hearing for a great number of years.


That is to say, they were overtaken by such deep sleep that no sound entered their ears. This is more hyperbolic than saying we placed a seal over their eyes, since eyes even without deep sleep lose the capability of sight.

Then after many years we resurrected them from sleep in order to know, at the external level also, of their two parties (one of whom said لَبِثۡنَا يَوۡمًا أَوۡ بَعۡضَ يَوۡمٍ۬‌ۚ, and the other said رَبُّكُمۡ أَعۡلَمُ بِمَا لَبِثۡتُمۡ), which party was more aware of the term of their remaining in this state. As such, the party which said رَبُّكُمۡ أَعۡلَمُ was more aware, though ambiguously, because the judgment of the term being lengthy was made correctly, albeit without specification.



Since this cave was in a mountain, they were known as Ashaab al-kahf and also Ashaab al-raqeem. Some have taken raqeem to be in the meaning of marqoom (inscribed), and have said that when people later went to this cave they inscribed the names of these youth upon a tablet and hung it at the opening of the cave. Seeing that this is not established from any noteworthy source, I (Ml. Thanwi), have not opted to base the Tafsir above upon this interpretation. However, if raqeem in the meaning of marqoom is adopted, and this relationship is thus mentioned, it would be more acceptable if it was written down and recorded by the people of that time period, similar to other extraordinary historical events.
The Tafsir of أَىُّ ٱلۡحِزۡبَيۡنِ above is related from Mujahid in al-Tafsir al-Kabir. It is based on the speaker of each saying being distinct from the other. Otherwise, the multiplicity understood from ٱلۡحِزۡبَيۡنِ would need to be figurative, and Allah knows best. This was the story briefly. What follows are the details.

اللغات قوله الكهف النقب المتسع في الجبل فان لم يكن واسعا فهو غار والرقيم بمعنى محل في جبل وقيل بمعنى الجبل من رقمة الجبل أي جانبه كذا في الروح وقال صاحب القاموس كأمير قرية أصحاب الكهف أو جبلهم أو كلبهم أو الوادي أو الصخرة أو لوح رصاص نقش فيه نسبهم وأسمائهم ودينهم اه

النحو قوله هيئ لنا من أمرنا في الروح اللام ومن متعلقان بهيئ والأولى للأجل والثانية إبتدائية ١٢

البلاغة قوله إذ أوى الفتية فيه وضع المظهر موضع المضمر تنبيهاً على أنهم كانوا فتية إما سنا ليدل على كمال طلبهم للحق حيث اتبعوه في حالة يشتغلون فيه باللهو واللعب وإما أخلاقا ليدل على كمال قوتهم العملية ١٢

Written by Yusuf Mullan

June 21st, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Posted in Official

One Response to 'Al-Kahf 9-12'

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  1. I like the notes too much.Jazakallah khair


    18 Jul 09 at 3:24 am

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