From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Sura 18 of the Quran
PositionJuzʼ 15 to 16
No. of Rukus12
No. of verses110
No. of words1583
No. of letters6425

Al-Kahf[1] (Arabic: الكهف‎, "The Cave") is the 18th chapter (sūrah) of the Quran with 110 verses (āyāt). Regarding the timing and contextual background of the revelation (asbāb al-nuzūl), it is an earlier "Meccan surah", which means it was revealed in Mecca, instead of Medina.


Q18:9-26 "People of the Cave"[edit]

Verses 9–26[2] of the chapter retells the Christian folktale of the "People of the Cave".[3] A few young believers lived in a time when they were tortured for their beliefs. Upon the guidance of God, they fled the city where believers were persecuted, together with their dog, and took refuge in a cave where they fell asleep. When they awoke they found that the people of the city had become believers.

Q18:27 No room for diversity[edit]

And recite (and teach) what has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord: none can change His Words, and none wilt thou find as a refuge other than Him. Translation Yusuf Ali (Orig. 1938) [4]

The commentary by Ozma Nasir Makarim Shirazi says, "There is no room for diversity to enter into His Words and Knowledge. His Speech and His Knowledge is not like the speech and knowledge of human beings which, as a result of a new invention or information, has to be changed".[5]:18:27 Ibn Kathir says this verse means of the words in the Quran, "no one can alter them, distort them or misinterpret them."[1]:18:27

Q18:32-45 God destroys what He had given[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."

— Quran, Al-Kahf (The Cave), Ayah 34[6][7]

Verse 36 explains that The rich man also told his companion that he doubted the existence of Judgment Day. At the end of the parable, God destroys what He had given the man.[8]

Q18:45 Imam Musa al-Kadhim narrates in Kitab al-Kafi that Ali would bequeath his companions to view this world with the vision of an ascetic because it dislodges its residents. Ali provides them with the parable of a lush, green garden with scented dew that accumulates under the blades of grass but then gets separated from it in the morning, as Allah has said,

"Set forth to them the similitude of the life of this world: it is like the rain which We send down from the skies: the earth's vegetation absorbs it, But soon it becomes dry stubble, which the winds do scatter: it is (only) Allah Who prevails over all things. [Q18:45]." He advises his companions to "look at this world and the numerous things which cause you to wonder, and the scarcity of things that benefit you."[9]

Q18:60-82 Islamic view of Moses[edit]

The third main story within the chapter (verses 60–82[10]) is that of Musa (Moses) traveling to gain knowledge from another servant of God who is never mentioned by name, in tafsir of ibn Kathir he is called Al-Khidr.[11]

Q18:83-98 Dhul-Qarnayn[edit]

Finally, the surah mentions in verses 83–98[12] a man who traveled a great deal and reached the east and the west of the earth – namely, Dhul-Qarnayn. The Qur'an repeats the Syrian legend of a great king who helps a tribe of people build a massive wall of iron between two mountains. It goes on to say that this wall will be only destroyed on Judgement Day.[13] The wall may have reflected a distant knowledge of the Great Wall of China (the 12th-century scholar al-Idrisi drew a map for Roger of Sicily showing the "Land of Gog and Magog" in Mongolia), or of various Sassanid Persian walls built in the Caspian area against the northern barbarians, or a conflation of the two.[14]

Circumstances of revelation[edit]

Arab Muslim historian and hagiographer, Ibn Ishaq, reported in his traditional Muslim[disambiguation needed] biography of Muhammad, Sirat Rasul Allah that the 18th surah of the Qur'an (which includes the story of Dhu l-Qarnayn) was revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad by God 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 traveled 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."[15]

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 waited 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, Al-Masih 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[16]

"Whoever reads Sura Kahf on Friday, light shall shine forth for him between the two Fridays."[17]

Common Muslim and Christian theme[edit]

The story of believers falling asleep in a cave for a long time is present also in the Christian tradition, see Seven Sleepers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ibn Kathir. "Tafsir Ibn Kathir (English): Surah Al Kahf". Quran 4 U. Tafsir. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  2. ^ Surat Al-Kahf (18:9–26) – The Holy Qur'an – القرآن الكريم
  3. ^ Aṣḥāb al-Kahf (Arabic: أَصـحـاب الـكَـهـف
  4. ^
  5. ^ Nasir Makarim Shirazi, Ozma. "An Enlightening Commentary into the Light of the Holy Qur'an vol. 9". Imam Ali Foundation. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  6. ^ Surat Al-Kahf (18:34) – The Holy Qur'an – القرآن الكريم
  7. ^ Quran Surah Al-Kahf ( Verse 34 )
  8. ^ Surah Al-Kahf (18:32–44) – The Holy Qur'an – القرآن الكريم
  9. ^ Al-Kulayni, Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Ya’qub (2015). Kitab al-Kafi. South Huntington, NY: The Islamic Seminary Inc. ISBN 9780991430864.
  10. ^ Surat Al-Kahf (18:60–82) – The Holy Qur'an – القرآن الكريم
  11. ^ The Story of Musa and Al-Khidr – Tafsir Ibn Kathir
  12. ^ Surat Al-Kahf (18:83–98) – The Holy Qur'an – القرآن الكريم
  13. ^
  14. ^ Glassé & Smith 2003, p. 39.
  15. ^ "Tafsir ibn Kathir". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
  16. ^ Sahih Muslim – Book 41, Hadith No. 7015
  17. ^ Al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain, by Hakim al-Nishaburi.

External links[edit]