by Minhaj

al-Kahf is the 18th sura of the Qur’an, which means the ‘The Cave.’ It belongs to the Meccan period and comprises 110 verses, 1,579 words, 6,306 letters, and 12 segments. It is the 69th sûra in chronological order, revealed after Süra al-Ghashiya (The Overwhelming Calamity). Sūra al-Kahf derives its name from a Qur’anic narrative between verses 9-26, describing the story of the ‘Companions of the Cave’ (Ashab al-Kahf). According to this story, some young men seek refuge in a cave, fleeing religious persecution from their king and his subjects. They are made to sleep in the cave and awake after 309 years through Allah Almighty’s will. Their sleep represents an intermediate realm between life and death, known as ‘Barzakh.” This sura narrates that the sun would incline from their cave to the right as it rose and decline away from them to the left as it set. The young men’s dog also remained stretched at the cave entrance throughout this period. This miraculous event took place to make the community of the young men understand how God’s promise of Resurrection would become fulfilled. This story parallels the Christian tradition regarding the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus.
This chapter relates another story that carries a mystical orientation in verses; 60- 82. It is the story of the meeting of Prophet Müsä(AS) with one of God’s blessed Servants (al-Khidr) at the junction of the two seas, where the cooked fish sprung to life. The blessed servant (al-Khidr) has been bestowed with the special Mercy and Knowledge of the Unseen Secrets from the Presence of God Almighty. The sura mentions three incidents that took place during Prophet Müsä(AS) and the blessed servant’s (al-Khidr’s) journey; 

  • the breaking of the ship;
  •  the killing of a boy, replacing him with a virtuous girl; and 
  • the reconstruction of a falling wall with treasure buried under it, which belonged to two orphans whose forefather was a Pious man. 

At the end of this journey, the blessed servant (al-Khidr) explains the mystical meanings and secrets behind the three events to Prophet Müsä(AS). By doing so , the blessed servant of Allah Almighty demonstrated the significance of spiritual cognisance and knowledge of mysterious secrets which cannot be encompassed by sensory perceptions or intellectual insight. Prophet Müsa(AS) was made aware of a kind of mystical knowledge that is awarded to those blessed servants that Allah Almighty selects for his favour and bounty.

This sûra narrates a third story of Dhū al-Qarnayn and his travel to the end of the eastern and western lands. According to some scholars, he was a young man from Rome who had built the Egyptian city of Alexandria; others say he was Alexander the Great, son of Philip II of Macedonia. Some Islamic scholars of the modern period have identified him as the ancient Persian King Cyrus the Great. However  the Holy Qur’an and the Sunna are silent regarding his identification, It is one of the matters about which the Meccan polytheists questioned the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) on the advice of some Jewish scholars to determine the truthfulness of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Almighty Allah imparted knowledge of these stories to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) to establish his rightfulness as a Messenger of God. This sura concludes by relating the story of Ya’juj and Ma’jüj (Gog and Magog) who spread corruption on the land during the time of Dhu al-Qarnayn. The sura states that Dhu al-Qarnayn ordered a barrier be built between two mountains to prevent Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj (Gog and Magog) from emerging from it and spreading terror and chaos among people. Allah Almighty has promised to destroy this barrier before the Day of Resurrection. It is noteworthy that God Almighty has mentioned the marvels and miracles of three individuals in this chapter without confirming their status as a Prophet.

Based on Manifest Quran by Shaykh ul Islam Dr. Tahir ul Qadri

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