Surah Al-Khaf Ayat 1-17

Surah Al-Khaf

Chapter 18

Which was Revealed in Makkah

What has been mentioned about the Virtues of this Surah and the first and last ten Ayat

Imam Ahmad recorded that Al-Bara’ said: “A man recited Al-Kahf and there was an animal in the house which began acting in a nervous manner. He looked, and saw a fog or cloud overhead. He mentioned this to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who said:

“Keep on reciting so and so, for this is the tranquillity which descends when one reads Qur’an or because of reading Qur’an” (Ahmad 4:281)

This was also recorded in the Two Sahihs. (Fath Al-Bari 6:719, Muslim 1:548) This man who recited it was Usayd bin Al-Hudayr, as we have previously mentioned in our Tafsir of Surat Al-Baqarah.

Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Ad-Darda that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Whoever memorizes ten Ayat from the beginning of Surat Al-Kahf will be protected from the Dajjal.” (Ahmad 5:196)

This was also recorded by Muslim, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i and At-Tirmidhi. According to the version recorded by At-Tirmidhi, “Whoever memorizes three Ayat from the beginning of Al-Kahf.” He said, it is “Hasan Sahih.” (Muslim 1:555)

In his Mustadrak, Al-Hakim recorded from Abu Said that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Whoever recites Surat Al-Kahf on Friday, it will illuminate him with light from one Friday to the next.”

Then he said: “This Hadith has a Sahih chain, but they (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) did not record it.” (Al-Hakim 2:368) Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bayhaqi also recorded it in his Sunan from Al-Hakim, then he narrated with his own chain that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Whoever recites Surat Al-Kahf as it was revealed, it will be a light for him on the Day of Resurrection.” (Al-Bayhaqi 3:249)

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

{1. All praise is due to Allah, Who has sent down to His servant the Book, and has not placed therein any crookedness. 

2. (He has made it) straight to give warning of a severe punishment from Him, and to give good news to the believers, who do righteous deeds, that they shall have a fair reward. 

3. They shall abide therein forever. 

4. And to warn those who say, “Allah has begotten a child.” 

5. No knowledge have they of such a thing, nor had their fathers. Mighty is the word that comes out of their mouths. They utter nothing but a lie.}

The Revelation of the Qur’an brings both Good news and a Warning

In the beginning of this Tafsir, we mentioned that Allah, praises His Holy Self at the beginning and end of matters, for He is the One to be praised in all circumstances, all praise and thanks be to Him, in the beginning and in the end. He praises Himself for revealing His Mighty Book to His Noble Messenger Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, which is the greatest blessing that Allah has granted the people of this earth. Through the Qur’an, He brings them out of the darkness into light. He has made it a Book that is straight, neither distorted nor confusion therein. It clearly guides to a straight path, plain and manifest, giving a warning to the disbelievers and good news to the believers. This is why Allah says: “and has not placed therein any crookedness.” meaning, there is nothing twisted or confusing about it. But He has made it balanced and straightforward as He said; “(He has made it) straight”, meaning straightforward, “to give warning of a severe punishment from Him” meaning, to those who oppose His Prophet and disbelieve in His Book, He issues a warning of severe punishment hastened in this world and postponed to the world Hereafter. “from Him” means, from Allah. For none can punish as He punishes and none is stronger or more reliable than Him. “and to give good news to the believers” means, those who believe in this Qur’an and confirm their faith by righteous actions. “that they shall have a fair reward.” means, a beautiful reward from Allah. “They shall abide therein” means, in what Allah rewards them with, and that is Paradise, where they will live forever. “forever.” means, for always, never ending or ceasing to be. “And to warn those who say, “Allah has begotten a child.” Ibn Ishaq said: “These are the pagan Arabs, who said, ‘We worship the angels who are the daughters of Allah.”’ (At-Tabari 17:595)

“No knowledge have they of such a thing,” meaning, this thing that they have fabricated and made up. “nor had their fathers.” meaning, their predecessors. “Mighty is the word” This highlights the seriousness and enormity of the lie they have made up. Allah says: “Mighty is the word that comes out of their mouths.” meaning, it has no basis apart from what they say, and they have no evidence for it apart from their own lies and fabrications. Hence Allah says: “They utter nothing but a lie.”

Reason why this Surah was Revealed

Muhammad bin Ishaq mentioned the reason why this Surah was revealed. He said that an old man from among the people of Egypt who came to them some forty-odd years ago told him, from Ikrimah that Ibn Abbas said: “The Quraysh sent An-Nadr bin Al-Harith and Uqbah bin Abi Muit to the Jewish rabbis in Al-Madinah, and told them: ‘Ask them (the rabbis) about Muhammad, and describe him to them, and tell them what he is saying. They are the people of the first Book, and they have more knowledge of the Prophets than we do.’ So they set out and when they reached Al-Madinah, they asked the Jewish rabbis about the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. They described him to them and told them some of what he had said. They said, `You are the people of the Tawrah and we have come to you so that you can tell us about this companion of ours.’ 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 (by Allah); 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.’ So An-Nadr and Uqbah left and came back to the Quraysh, and said: ‘O people of Quraysh, we have come to you with a decisive solution which will put an end to the problem between you and Muhammad. The Jewish rabbis told us to ask him about some matters,’ and they told the Quraysh what they were. Then they came to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and said, ‘O Muhammad, tell us,’ and they asked him about the things they had been told to ask. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“I will tell you tomorrow about what you have asked me.”

but he did not say ‘If Allah wills.’ So they went away, and the Messenger of Allah stayed for fifteen days without any revelation from Allah concerning that, and Jibril, peace be upon him, did not come to him either. The people of Makkah started to doubt him, and said, ‘Muhammad promised to tell us the next day, and now fifteen days have gone by and he has not told us anything in response to the questions we asked.’ The Messenger of Allah felt sad because of the delay in revelation, and was grieved by what the people of Makkah were saying about him. Then Jibril came to him from Allah with the Surah about the companions of Al-Kahf, which also contained a rebuke for feeling sad about the idolators. The Surah also told him about the things they had asked him about, the young men and the traveler. The question about the Ruh was answered in the Ayah, “And they ask you concerning the Ruh (the spirit); say: “The Ruh…” (17:85). (At-Tabari 17:592)

{6. Perhaps, you would kill yourself in grief, over their footsteps, because they believe not in this narration. 

7. Verily, we have made that which is on earth an adornment for it, in order that We may test which of them are best in deeds. 

8. And verily, We shall make all that is on it bare, dry soil.}

Do not feel sorry because the Idolators do not believe Allah consoles His Messenger for his sorrow

“So destroy not yourself in sorrow for them.” (35:8) “And grieve not over them.” (16:127) “It may be that you are going to kill yourself with grief, that they do not become believers.” (26:3) meaning, maybe you will destroy yourself with your grief over them. Allah says: “Perhaps, you would kill yourself in grief, over their footsteps, because they believe not in this narration.” meaning the Qur’an. “in grief” Allah is saying, ‘do not destroy yourself with regret.’ Qatadah said: “killing yourself with anger and grief over them.” (At-Tabari 17:597-598) Mujahid said: “with anxiety.” (At-Tabari 17:598) These are synonymous, so the meaning is: ‘Do not feel sorry for them, just convey the Message of Allah to them. Whoever goes the right way, then he goes the right way only for the benefit of himself. And whoever goes astray, then he strays at his own loss, so do not destroy yourself in sorrow for them.’

The World is the Place of Trial

Then Allah tells us that he has made this world a temporary abode, adorned with transient beauty, and he made it a place of trial, not a place of settlement. So He says, “Verily, we have made that which is on earth an adornment for it, in order that We may test which of them are best in deeds.”

Abu Maslamah narrated from Abu Nadrah from Abu Said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“This world is sweet and green, and Allah makes you generations succeeding one another, so He is watching what you will do. Beware of (the beguilements of) this world and beware of women, for the first affliction that Children of Israel suffered from was that of women.” (Ahmad 3:22)

Then Allah tells us that this world will pass away and come to an end, as He says: “And verily, We shall make all that is on it bare, dry soil.” means, ‘after having adorned it, We will destroy it and make everything on it bare and dry, with no vegetation or any other benefit.’

Al-Awfi reported from Ibn Abbas that this means everything on it would be wiped out and destroyed. (At-Tabari 17:599) Mujahid said: “a dry and barren plain.” (At-Tabari 17:599) Qatadah said, “A plain on which there are no trees or vegetation.” (At-Tabari 17:599)

{9. Do you think that the people of Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim were a wonder among Our signs?

10. When the young men fled for refuge to Al-Kahf. They said: “Our Lord! Bestow on us mercy from Yourself, and facilitate for us our affair in the right way!” 

11. Therefore, We covered up their hearing in Al-Kahf for a number of years. 

12. Then We raised them up, that We might test which of the two parties was best at calculating the time period they tarried.}

The Story of the People of Al-Khaf

Here Allah tells us about the story of the people of Al-Khaf in brief and general terms, then He explains it in more detail. He says: “Do you think” – O Muhammad – “that the people of Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim were a wonder among Our signs?” meaning, their case was not something amazing compared to Our power and ability, for the creation of the heavens and earth, the alternation of night and day and the subjugation of the sun, moon and heavenly bodies, and other mighty signs indicate the great power of Allah and show that He is able to do whatever He wills. He is not incapable of doing more amazing things than the story of the people of the Cave. Similarly, Ibn Jurayj reported Mujahid saying about, “Do you think that the people of Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim were a wonder among Our signs?” “Among Our signs are things that are more amazing than this.” (At-Tabari 17:601)

Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas said: “Do you think that the people of Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim were a wonder among Our signs?” “What I have given to you of knowledge, the Sunnah and the Book is far better than the story of the people of Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim.” (At-Tabari 17:601) Muhammad bin Ishaq said: “(It means) I have not shown My creatures a proof more amazing than the story of the people of the Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim.” (At-Tabari 17:601)

Al-Kahf refers to a cave in a mountain, which is where the young men sought refuge. With regard to the word Ar-Raqim, Al-Awfi reported from Ibn Abbas that it is a valley near Aylah. (At-Tabari 17:602) This was also said [in another narration] by Atiyah Al-Awfi and Qatadah. Ad-Dahhak said: “As for Al-Kahf, it is a cave in the valley, (At-Tabari 17:602) and Ar-Raqim is the name of the valley.” Mujahid said, “Ar-Raqim refers to their buildings.” Others said it refers to the valley in which their cave was. Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Ibn Abbas said about Ar-Raqim: “Kab used to say that it was the town.” Ibn Jurayj reported that Ibn Abbas said, “Ar-Raqim is the mountain in which the cave was.” (At-Tabari 17:602)

Said bin Jubayr said, “Ar-Raqim is a tablet of stone on which they wrote the story of the people of the Cave, then they placed it at the entrance to the Cave.” (At-Tabari 17:603)  “(Remember) when the young men fled for refuge to Al-Kahf. They said: “Our Lord! Bestow on us mercy from Yourself, and facilitate for us our affair in the right way!” Here Allah tells us about those young men who fled from their people for the sake of their religion, fearing persecution. So they fled taking refuge in the cave of a mountain, where they hid from their people. When they entered the cave, they asked Allah to show mercy and kindness towards them, “Our Lord! Bestow on us mercy from Yourself” meaning, ‘give us Your mercy and conceal us from our people.’ “and facilitate for us our affair in the right way.” means, direct our matter well, i.e., grant us a good end. As was reported in the Hadith:

“Whatever You have decreed for us, make its consequences good”. (Ahmed 6:147)

“Therefore, We covered up their hearing in the cave for a number of years.” meaning, ‘We caused them to sleep when they entered the cave, and they slept for many years.’ “Then We raised them up” from that slumber, and one of them went out with his Dirhams (silver coins) to buy them some food, as it will be discussed in more detail below. Allah says: “Then We raised them up, that We might test which of the two parties” meaning, the two parties who disputed about them, “was best at calculating the time period that they tarried.” It was said that this refers to how long they stayed in the cave.

 

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