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  Sura 18 of the Quran  
سورة الكهف
Sūrat Al-Kahf

Arabic text · English translation

Classification Meccan
Position Juz' 15 to 16
Structure 12 rukus, 110 verses, 1583 words, 6425 letters

Sura Al-Kahf (Arabic: سورة الكهف‎, Sūratu al-Kahf, "The Cave") is the 18th surah of the Qur'an with 110 ayat. It is a Meccan sura.

Contents and themes[edit]

People of the Cave[edit]

Verses 9–26[1] 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 for their beliefs. Upon the guidance of their Lord, they fled the city together, and took refuge in a cave where they fell asleep. God put them to sleep for some number of years. As mentioned in the Quran, some people in the city said they slept for 300 years while others say 309 years. The true number is only known to God. God created this miracle in order to protect the young believers. When they woke some number of years later, they found themselves living in a society that had converted to believing in the same God as they did.

The story of the rich and the poor[edit]

In verses 32–44 the surah discusses a Parable of two men, one of whom had been given blessings from God and the other 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."

QuranAl-Kahf (The Cave), Ayah 34[2]

At the end of the parable God destroys what he had given the man.[3]

Moses and Al-Khidr[edit]

Main article: Islamic view of Moses
Main article: Al-Khidr

The third main story within the chapter (verses 60–82[4]) 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.[5]


Main article: Dhul-Qarnayn

Finally, the surah mentions in verses 83–98[6] a man who traveled a great deal and reached the east and the west of the earth – namely, Dhul-Qarnayn.

Circumstances of revelation[edit]

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."[7]

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 MuslimBook 41, Number 7015[8]

"Whoever reads Sura Kahf on Friday, light shall shine forth for him between the two Fridays."[9]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

  • Surah Al-Kahf (Complete text in Arabic with English and French translations)
  • Quran – Al-Kahf with translation
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