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Sura 18
Aya 1

Chapter 18

The Caveal-Kahf ( الكهف )

110 verses • revealed at Meccan

»The surah that mentions the wondrous story of a group of youthful believers who retreated from their unbelieving people to the hills and the seclusion of The Cave wherein God caused them to sleep for three hundred and nine lunar years as a sign to their people that God shall, indeed, raise the dead—and that also mentions the narratives of other marvels beyond ordinary human conception. Its name is derived from the story of the “Companions of the Cave” (aṣḥāb al-kahf) told at its beginning. This surah also deals with two other stories: Moses’ meeting with an unidentified figure (verse 60 ff.), and the story of Dhuʾl-Qarnayn (verse 83). A parable is put forward for the people of Mecca: the parable of the luscious gardens belonging to an arrogant and ungrateful man, which God reduces to dust. The surah opens and closes with references to the Quran itself.«

بِسمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحيمِ

Muhammad Asad: In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace:

الحَمدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذي أَنزَلَ عَلىٰ عَبدِهِ الكِتابَ وَلَم يَجعَل لَهُ عِوَجًا ۜ

Muhammad Asad

THIS SURAH - revealed immediately before An-Nahl ("The Bee"), i.e., in the last year of the Mecca" period - is almost entirely devoted to a series of parables or allegories built around the theme of \faith in God versus an undue attachment to the life of this world; and the key-phrase of the whole surah is the statement in verse 7, "We have willed that all beauty on earth be a means by which we put men to a test" - an idea that is most clearly formulated in the parable of the rich man and the poor man (verses 32-44). The story of the Men of the Cave - from which the surah takes its title - illustrates (in verses 13-20) the principle of world-abandonment for the sake of faith, and is deepened into an allegory of death, resurrection and spiritual awakening. In the story of Moses and the unnamed sage (verses 60-82) the theme of spiritual awakening undergoes a significant variation: it is shifted to the plane of man's intellectual life and his search after ultimate truths. Appearance and reality are shown to be intrinsically different - so different that only mystic insight can reveal to us what is apparent and what is real. And, finally, the allegory of Dhu'l-Qarnayn, "the Two-Horned One", tells us that world-renunciation is not, in itself, a necessary complement of one's faith in God: in other words, that worldly life and power need not conflict with spiritual righteousness so long as we remain conscious of the ephemeral nature of all works of man and of our ultimate responsibility to Him who is above all limitations of time and appearance. And so the surah ends with the words: "Hence, whoever looks forward to meeting his Sustainer, let him do righteous deeds, and let him not ascribe unto anyone or anything a share in the worship due to his Sustainer."
ALL PRAISE is due to God, who has bestowed. this divine writ from on high upon His servant, and has not allowed any deviousness to obscure its meaning:1
  • Lit., "and has not given it any deviousness". The term 'iwaj signifies "crookedness", "tortuousness" or "deviation" (e.g., from a path), as well as "distortion" or "deviousness" in the abstract sense of these words. The above phrase is meant to establish the direct, unambiguous character of the Qur'an and to stress its freedom from all obscurities and internal contradictions: cf. 4:82 - "Had it issued from any but God, they would surely have found in it many an inner contradiction!"