About this Article: Virtues of Surah al-Kahf
Sura al-Kahf “The Cave” (Arabic: سورة الكهف, Sūratu al-Kahf) is the 18th surah of the Qur’an with 110 ayat. It is a Meccan sura.
Al-Kahf | الكهف
- Meaning of the name: The Cave
- Sura number: 18
- Number of verses: 110
- Juz’ number: 15 to 16
- Hizb number: 30 to 31
- Number of Sajdahs: none
- Previous Sura: Al-Isra
- Next Sura: Maryam
People of the Cave
Contents and themes
Verses 9 – 26 of the chapter tell the story of the People of the Cave (Ashabu Al-Kahf). Some number of young monotheistic men lived in a time where they were persecuted. They fled the city together, and took refuge in a cave where they fell asleep. God caused them to remain sleeping for 300 solar years, or 309 lunar years, and when they woke the surrounding area had become monotheistic as well.
The Story of the
Rich and the Poor
In verses 32 – 44 the surah discusses a Parable of two men, who one of them had been given blessings from God and the other was poor. The rich one wronged his soul and started showing off with his wealth and noble lineage.
And he had fruit, so he said to his companion while he was conversing with him, “I am greater than you in wealth and mightier in [numbers of] men.”
Quran, Al-Kahf (The Cave), Ayah 34
At the end of the parable God destroys what he had given the man.
Moses and Al-Khidr
Islamic view of Moses
The third main story within the chapter (verses 60 – 82) is that of Moses traveling to gain knowledge from another servant of God who is never mentioned by name, but according to the tafsir of ibn Kathir is called Al-Khidr.
Finally, the surah mentions in verses 83 – 98 a man who traveled a great deal and reached the east and the west of the earth – namely, Dhul-Qarnayn.
Circumstances of revelation:
Muslim historian and hagiographer, Muhammad bin Ishaq, reported in his book Sira that the eighteenth chapter of the Qur’an (which includes the story of Dhu l-Qarnayn) was revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad by Allah on account of some questions posed by rabbis residing in the city of Medina – the verse was revealed during the Meccan period of Muhammad’s life. According to Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad’s tribe, the powerful Quraysh, were greatly concerned about their tribesman who had started claiming prophethood and wished to consult rabbis about the matter.
The Quraysh sent two men to the rabbis of Medina, reasoning that they had superior knowledge of the scriptures and about the prophets of God. The two Quraysh men described their tribesman, Muhammad, to the rabbis.
The rabbis told the men to ask Muhammad three questions:
They [the rabbis] said, “Ask him about three things which we will tell you to ask, and if he answers them then he is a Prophet who has been sent; if he does not, then he is saying things that are not true, in which case how you will deal with him will be up to you.
Ask him about some young men in ancient times, what was their story For theirs is a strange and wondrous tale. Ask him about a man who travelled a great deal and reached the east and the west of the earth. What was his story And ask him about the Ruh (soul or spirit) – what is it? If he tells you about these things, then he is a Prophet, so follow him, but if he does not tell you, then he is a man who is making things up, so deal with him as you see fit.”
According to Ibn Ishaq, when Muhammad was informed of the three questions from the rabbis, he said that he would have the answers in the morning but did not say “if God wills it”. For fifteen days, Muhammad awaited eagerly for the revelation. Muhammad did not answer the question until then. Doubt in Muhammad began to grow amongst the people of Mecca. Then, after fifteen days, Muhammad received the revelation of al-Kahf as an answer to the questions.
There is a hadith in Sahih Muslim that states that Muhammad said (Concerning The False Messiah, Ad-Dajjal):
“He who amongst you would survive to see him should recite over him the opening verses of Sura Kahf”
Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 7015
“Whoever reads Sura Kahf on Friday, light shall shine forth for him between the two Fridays.”
An-Nawwas bin Sam’an reported that:
Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) made a mention of the Dajjal one day in the morning. He sometimes described him to be insignificant and sometimes described (his turmoil) as very significant rand we felt) as if he were in the cluster of the date-palm trees. When we went to him (to the Holy Prophet) in the evening and he read (the signs of fear) in our faces, he said: What is the matter with you?
We said: Allah’s Messenger, you made a mention of the Dajjal in the morning (sometimes describing him) to be insignificant and sometimes very important, until we began to think as if he were present in some (near) part of the cluster of the datpalm trees. Thereupon he said: I harbour fear in regard to you in so many other things besides the Dajjal. If he comes forth while I am among on, I shall contend with him on your behalf, but if he comes forth while I am not amongst you, a man must contend on his own behalf and Allah would take care of every Muslim on my behalf (and safeguard him against his evil).
He (Dajjal) would be a young man with twisted, contracted hair, and a blind eye. I compare him to ‘Abd-ul-‘Uzza b. Qatan. He who amongst you would survive to see him should recite over him the opening verses of Sura Kahf (xviii.). He would appear on the way between Syria and Iraq and would spread mischief right and left. O servant of Allah! adhere (to the path of Truth). We said: Allah’s Messenger, how long would he stay on the earth? He said.. For forty days, one day like a year and one day like a month and one day like a week and the rest of the days would be like your days.
We said: Allah’s Messenger, would one day’s prayer suffice for the prayers of day equal to one year? Thereupon he said: No, but you must make an estimate of time (and then observe prayer). We said: Allah’s Messenger, how quickly would he walk upon the earth? Thereupon he said: Like cloud driven by the wind. He would come to the people and invite them (to a wrong religion) and they would affirm their faith in him and respond to him. He would then give command to the sky and there would be rainfall upon the earth and it would grow crops.
Then in the evening, their posturing animals would come to them with their humps very high and their udders full of milk and their flanks stretched. He would then come to another people and invite them. But they would reject him and he would go away from them and there would be drought for them and nothing would be lef t with them in the form of wealth. He would then walk through the waste, land and say to it: Bring forth your treasures, and the treasures would come out and collect (themselves) before him like the swarm of bees.
He would then call a person brimming with youth and strike him with the sword and cut him into two pieces and (make these pieces lie at a distance which is generally) between the archer and his target. He would then call (that young man) and he will come forward laughing with his face gleaming (with happiness) and it would at this very time that Allah would send Christ, son of Mary, and he will descend at the white minaret in the eastern side of Damscus wearing two garments lightly dyed with saffron and placing his hands on the wings of two Angels.
When he would lower his head, there would fall beads of perspiration from his head, and when he would raise it up, beads like pearls would scatter from it. Every non-believer who would smell the odour of his self would die and his breath would reach as far as he would be able to see. He would then search for him (Dajjal) until he would catch hold of him at the gate of Ludd and would kill him.
Then a people whom Allah had protected would come to Jesus, son of Mary, and he would wipe their faces and would inform them of their ranks in Paradise and it would be under such conditions that Allah would reveal to Jesus these words: I have brought forth from amongst My servants such people against whom none would be able to fight; you take these people safely to Tur, and then Allah would send Gog and Magog and they would swarm down from every slope.
The first of them would pass the lake of Tibering and drink out of it. And when the last of them would pass, he would say: There was once water there. Jesus and his companions would then be besieged here (at Tur, and they would be so much hard pressed) that the head of the ox would be dearer to them than one hundred dinirs and Allah’s Apostle, Jesus, and his companions would supplicate Allah, Who would send to them insects (which would attack their necks) and in the morning they would perish like one single person.
Allah’s Apostle, Jesus, and his companions would then come down to the earth and they would not find in the earth as much space as a single span which is not filled with their putrefaction and stench. Allah’s Apostle, Jesus, and his companions would then again beseech Allah, Who would send birds whose necks would be like those of bactrin camels and they would carry them and throw them where God would will.
Then Allah would send rain which no house of clay or (the tent of) camels’ hairs would keep out and it would wash away the earth until it could appear to be a mirror. Then the earth would be told to bring forth its fruit and restore its blessing and, as a result thereof, there would grow (such a big) pomegranate that a group of persons would be able to eat that, and seek shelter under its skin and milch cow would give so much milk that a whole party would be able to drink it.
And the milch camel would give such (a large quantity of) milk that the whole tribe would be able to drink out of that and the milch sheep would give so much milk that the whole family would be able to drink out of that and at that time Allah would send a pleasant wind which would soothe (people) even under their armpits, and would take the life of every Muslim and only the wicked would survive who would commit adultery like asses and the Last Hour would come to them.