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Surah Al Kahf

Al Kahf Cover-02-02
Readings from the Glorious Quran
Surah – Al kahf

This Surah takes its name from ayat 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. 

The life of the Holy Prophet at Makkah has been divided into four stages for the purpose of historic background 

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 the Ashab ul 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.

Theme & Topics

This Surah was sent down in answer to the three questions which the 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:

The questioners were told that “the Sleepers of the Cave” believed in the same doctrine 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 Allah. 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.

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.

The story of Khidr and Musa/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.

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 crackd 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: 

The doctrines of the Worldly life 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.”

—— Tafheem ul Quran 

Maulana Abul Ala Maududi 

Rukuh 1 - Al Kahf

بِسۡمِ اللهِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِيۡمِ

اَ لۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰهِ الَّذِىۡۤ اَنۡزَلَ عَلٰى عَبۡدِهِ الۡكِتٰبَ وَلَمۡ يَجۡعَلْ لَّهٗ عِوَجًا  ؕ‏ 

(18:1) Praise be to Allah Who has revealed to His servant the Book devoid of all crookedness;


  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.

قَيِّمًا لِّيُنۡذِرَ بَاۡسًا شَدِيۡدًا مِّنۡ لَّدُنۡهُ وَيُبَشِّرَ الۡمُؤۡمِنِيۡنَ الَّذِيۡنَ يَعۡمَلُوۡنَ الصّٰلِحٰتِ اَنَّ لَهُمۡ اَجۡرًا حَسَنًا ۙ‏ 

(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

مّٰكِثِيۡنَ فِيۡهِ اَبَدًا ۙ‏ 

(18:3) wherein they shall abide for ever;

وَّيُنۡذِرَ الَّذِيۡنَ قَالُوا اتَّخَذَ اللّٰهُ وَلَدًا

(18:4) and also to warn those who say: “Allah has taken to Himself a son,”


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

مَا لَهُمۡ بِهٖ مِنۡ عِلۡمٍ وَّلَا لِاٰبَآئِهِمۡ​ؕ كَبُرَتۡ كَلِمَةً تَخۡرُجُ مِنۡ اَفۡوَاهِهِمۡ​ؕ اِنۡ يَّقُوۡلُوۡنَ اِلَّا كَذِبًا‏ 

(18:5) a thing about which they have no knowledge, neither they nor their ancestors. Dreadful is the word that comes out of their mouths. What they utter is merely a lie.

“Dreadful is the word” That one is the son of God, or Allah has adopted that one as a son. 


  1. This has been declared to be dreadful because it was not based on 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 Al

the Creator,the Lord of the worlds.

  1. The  Almighty Creator is far above all these they self proclaim as deities beside who are actually only part of His creation 

فَلَعَلَّكَ بَاخِعٌ نَّـفۡسَكَ عَلٰٓى اٰثَارِهِمۡ اِنۡ لَّمۡ يُؤۡمِنُوۡا بِهٰذَا الۡحَـدِيۡثِ اَسَفًا‏

(18:6) (O Muhammad), if they do not believe in this Message,you will perhaps torment yourself to death with grief, sorrowing over them.


1.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. 

2.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. 

3.What was consuming him was that, though he was trying to bring them out from their disgraceful state, they persisted in it. 

  1. He was grieved because as their well wisher, he was convinced that their deviation would inevitably lead them to destruction and the scourge of the Creator 
  2. Therefore he was working day and night to save them but it appeared that they were bent upon incurring the chastisement of Allah. 
  3. 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 garments to keep you away from the fire, but you are bent upon falling into it.”(Bukhari, Muslim).
  4. 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. 

8.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.

9.This injunction applies to those of us who believe as well 

اِنَّا جَعَلۡنَا مَا عَلَى الۡاَرۡضِ زِيۡنَةً لَّهَا لِنَبۡلُوَهُمۡ اَ يُّهُمۡ اَحۡسَنُ عَمَلًا‏ 

(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.

وَاِنَّا لَجٰعِلُوۡنَ مَا عَلَيۡهَا صَعِيۡدًا جُرُزًا ؕ‏ 

(18:8) In the ultimate, We shall reduce all that is on the earth to a barren plain.


1.(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. 

2.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. 

3.You must understand it well that these things have not been provided for pleasure but are actually a means of testing you. 

4.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. 

5.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.

اَمۡ حَسِبۡتَ اَنَّ اَصۡحٰبَ الۡـكَهۡفِ وَالرَّقِيۡمِۙ كَانُوۡا مِنۡ اٰيٰتِنَا عَجَبًا‏ 

(18:9) Do you think that the people of the Cave and the Inscription were one of Our wondrous signs? 


1.The Arabic word”Kahf”literally means a vast cave.

  1. There is a difference of opinion about the meaning of “arraqim.”
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 

6.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). 

  1. It is therefore best concluded that by “Arraqim”is meant the inscription.
  2. 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.

اِذۡ اَوَى الۡفِتۡيَةُ اِلَى الۡـكَهۡفِ فَقَالُوۡا رَبَّنَاۤ اٰتِنَا مِنۡ لَّدُنۡكَ رَحۡمَةً وَّهَيِّئۡ لَـنَا مِنۡ اَمۡرِنَا رَشَدًا‏ 

(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.”

فَضَرَبۡنَا عَلٰٓى اٰذَانِهِمۡ فِى الۡـكَهۡفِ سِنِيۡنَ عَدَدًا ۙ‏ 

(18:11) We lulled them to sleep in that cave for a number of years

ثُمَّ بَعَثۡنٰهُمۡ لِنَعۡلَمَ اَىُّ الۡحِزۡبَيۡنِ اَحۡصٰى لِمَا لَبِثُوۡۤا اَمَدًا

(18:12) and then roused them so that We might see which of the two parties could best tell the length of their stay.



رَبَّنَا آتِنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً وَهَيِّئْ لَنَا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا رَشَدًا

[ الكهف: 10]

rabbana atina min ladunka rahmatan wahayyi’ lana min amrina rashada

Our Lord, grant us from Yourself mercy and prepare for us from our affair right guidance.

Ameen Ya Rabbul Alameen Ameen

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