وَ اِذِ اعۡتَزَلۡتُمُوۡہُمۡ وَمَا یَعۡبُدُوۡنَ اِلَّا اللّٰہَ فَاۡ وٗۤا اِلَی الۡکَہۡفِ یَنۡشُرۡ لَکُمۡ رَبُّکُمۡ مِّنۡ رَّحۡمَتِہٖ وَیُہَیِّیٴۡ لَکُمۡ مِّنۡ اَمۡرِکُمۡ مِّرۡفَقًا ﴿۱۷﴾
وَإِذِ ٱعۡتَزَلۡتُمُوهُمۡ وَمَا يَعۡبُدُونَ إِلَّا ٱللَّهَ فَأۡوُۥٓاْ إِلَى ٱلۡكَهۡفِ يَنشُرۡ لَكُمۡ رَبُّكُم مِّن رَّحۡمَتِهِۦ وَيُهَيِّئۡ لَكُم مِّنۡ أَمۡرِكُم مِّرۡفَقٗا
1673. The verse brings to light the fact that those monotheistic young men were no scattered individuals but formed part of an organized and disciplined religious community whose members met frequently in private. The verse shows that when these young men talked of taking shelter in the Cave they had some specific Cave in mind. This Cave seems to have already been used as a place of refuge by Roman slaves when they fled from their cruel masters. The words, And now when you have withdrawn from them, signify that they had already been the victims of a severe social boycott and had lived apart from their people in a separate group of their own. (close)
The verse brings to light the fact that those monotheistic young men were no scattered individuals but they formed part of an organized and disciplined religious community whose members met frequently in private.
The word کھف (Cave) used here shows that when these young men talked of taking shelter in "the cave" they had some specific cave in mind. This cave seems to have already been used as a place of refuge by Roman slaves who had fled from their cruel masters.
It also appears from this verse that before they took refuge in "the cave" these young men had decided that they would repair to that particular cave for shelter when persecution exceeded all bearable bounds and it became impossible for them to live any longer among their people. The words, And now when you have withdrawn from them, show that they had already been the victims of a severe social boycott and had lived apart from their people in a separate group of their own. (close)
وَ تَرَی الشَّمۡسَ اِذَا طَلَعَتۡ تَّزٰوَرُ عَنۡ کَہۡفِہِمۡ ذَاتَ الۡیَمِیۡنِ وَ اِذَا غَرَبَتۡ تَّقۡرِضُہُمۡ ذَاتَ الشِّمَالِ وَ ہُمۡ فِیۡ فَجۡوَۃٍ مِّنۡہُ ؕ ذٰلِکَ مِنۡ اٰیٰتِ اللّٰہِ ؕ مَنۡ یَّہۡدِ اللّٰہُ فَہُوَ الۡمُہۡتَدِ ۚ وَ مَنۡ یُّضۡلِلۡ فَلَنۡ تَجِدَ لَہٗ وَلِیًّا مُّرۡشِدًا ﴿٪۱۸﴾
۞وَتَرَى ٱلشَّمۡسَ إِذَا طَلَعَت تَّزَٰوَرُ عَن كَهۡفِهِمۡ ذَاتَ ٱلۡيَمِينِ وَإِذَا غَرَبَت تَّقۡرِضُهُمۡ ذَاتَ ٱلشِّمَالِ وَهُمۡ فِي فَجۡوَةٖ مِّنۡهُۚ ذَٰلِكَ مِنۡ ءَايَٰتِ ٱللَّهِۗ مَن يَهۡدِ ٱللَّهُ فَهُوَ ٱلۡمُهۡتَدِۖ وَمَن يُضۡلِلۡ فَلَن تَجِدَ لَهُۥ وَلِيّٗا مُّرۡشِدٗا
1674. It appears that the Cave was so situated that it faced north-west, for the sun passes a place, which has its face to the north, from right to left. It seemed to cover a vast area as the words 'spacious hollow' show. The catacombs at Rome which still exist confirm this view. They enclose a vast area, which has been estimated variously as extending over as many as 870 miles (Enc. Brit.). It also appears that the catacombs admitted very little light. The Cave was made in such a way as to serve as a hiding place. St. Jerome, who visited the catacombs in the 4th century, says, "It is all so dark that the language of the Prophet (Ps. 55:15) seems to be fulfilled, 'let them go down quick into Hell." Only occasionally is light let in to mitigate the horror of the gloom, and then not so much through a window as through a hole' (Enc. Brit., 11th edition). (close)
a. 7:179; 17:98; 39:37, 38. (close)
a. 7:179; 17:98; 39:37-38. (close)
2058. Important Words:
تزاور (move away) is in reality تتزاور which is derived from تزاور (tazawara) which again is derived from زار. They say زارہi.e. he visited him. ازورعنه (izwarra) or تزاورعنه (tazawara) means, he declined or turned aside from it (Lane & Aqrab).
تقرض (turn away) is derived from قرض . They say قرضه i.e. he cut it. قرضت الوادی means, I passed through or across the valley.قرض المکان means, he turned aside or away from the place. The Quranic expression واذا غربت تقرضھم ذات الشمال means, when it set to leave them behind on the left; to pass by and beyond them leaving them on its left; to turn aside or away from them on the left (Lane & Aqrab).
فجوة (spacious hollow) is derived from فجا. They say فجا الباب i.e. he opened the door. فجا رجلیه means, he parted his legs wide or straddled to make water. فجوة means, an opening or intervening space or an intermediate wide space between two things; a wide tract or a wide or depressed tract of land; the court or yard of a house; the part between the two sides of the solid hoof (Lane & Aqrab).
The verse describes the position of the Cave. It appears that the people referred to above lived in very high regions in the north, and the Cave was so situated that it faced north-west, for the sun passes a place which has its face to the north from right to left.
The word فجوة (spacious hollow) shows that the Cave covered a vast area. The catacombs at Rome which still exist confirm this view. They enclose a vast area, which has been estimated variously as extending over as many as 870 miles. It also appeals that the catacombs admitted very little light. The Cave was made in such a way as to serve as a hiding place. St. Jerome who visited the catacombs in the 4th century says, "It is all so dark that the language of the Prophet (Ps. 55.15) seems to be fulfilled, 'let them go down quick into Hell'. Only occasionally is light let in to mitigate the horror of the gloom, and then not so much through a window as through a hole" (Enc. Brit., 11th edition, vol. 5, p. 491).
By pointing to the position of the Cave which faced northward, God intended to warn Muslims that they had an enemy in northern regions about whom they should particularly be on their guard. Muslims disregarded this timely warning and fell easy victims to the machinations of their enemy. Instead of presenting a united front they fell out among themselves and facilitated his task. The intrigues of the Abbasids of Baghdad and their unseemly approaches to the Byzantine Empire of Constantinople for help on the one hand and the intrigues of the Moors in Spain with the Vatican on the other, led to their progressive decline and ultimate destruction. The solidarity of Islam suffered a fatal blow from these internal dissensions. (close)
وَ تَحۡسَبُہُمۡ اَیۡقَاظًا وَّ ہُمۡ رُقُوۡدٌ ٭ۖ وَّ نُقَلِّبُہُمۡ ذَاتَ الۡیَمِیۡنِ وَ ذَاتَ الشِّمَالِ ٭ۖ وَ کَلۡبُہُمۡ بَاسِطٌ ذِرَاعَیۡہِ بِالۡوَصِیۡدِ ؕ لَوِ اطَّلَعۡتَ عَلَیۡہِمۡ لَوَلَّیۡتَ مِنۡہُمۡ فِرَارًا وَّ لَمُلِئۡتَ مِنۡہُمۡ رُعۡبًا ﴿۱۹﴾
وَتَحۡسَبُهُمۡ أَيۡقَاظٗا وَهُمۡ رُقُودٞۚ وَنُقَلِّبُهُمۡ ذَاتَ ٱلۡيَمِينِ وَذَاتَ ٱلشِّمَالِۖ وَكَلۡبُهُم بَٰسِطٞ ذِرَاعَيۡهِ بِٱلۡوَصِيدِۚ لَوِ ٱطَّلَعۡتَ عَلَيۡهِمۡ لَوَلَّيۡتَ مِنۡهُمۡ فِرَارٗا وَلَمُلِئۡتَ مِنۡهُمۡ رُعۡبٗا
1675. The Muslims in the Holy Prophet’s time were forewarned that Christian nations in northern regions were lying in a state of dormancy but they would soon rise from their deep sleep of centuries and would spread all over the world and hold it under their sway. (close)
1675A. The words, 'We shall cause them to turn over to the right and to the left' seem to refer to their going about in the world, spreading in all directions in search of new markets and making new conquests. (close)
1676. The words, besides referring to the great fondness of Western Christian nations for dogs, may also be taken as referring to the Byzantine Empire which then kept guard over Europe on both sides of the Sea of Marmora, and which looks like a dog keeping watch with its forelegs stretched forth on both sides. (close)
1677. These words refer to the time when Christian nations of the West were to acquire great political power. The Qur’an foretold this fact hundreds of years ago when Christian nations were yet sunk in a deep sleep of centuries and the wildest stretch of imagination could not have foreseen the power and glory to which they subsequently rose. The verse contains a characteristic picture of the domination of Western nations over Eastern and Southern lands, their peculiar mode of life and the fear and awe they inspire among the peoples of these regions. (close)
2059. Important Words:
ایقاظا (awake) is the plural of یقظ (yaqizun) which is derived fromیقظ (yaqiza) which means, he awoke; he did not sleep. (yaqizun) means, a man waking; a man vigilant, wary, cautious, or in a state of preparation; having his attention roused and possessing knowledge and much intelligence (Lane & Aqrab).
رقود (asleep) is the plural of راقد which is derived from رقد which means, he slept. They say رقد عن الامر i.e. he abstained or held back from the affair; he neglected it. رقدت السوق means, the market became stagnant or dull (Lane & Aqrab).
وصید (threshold) is derived from وصد. They say وصد بالمکان i.e. he remained in the house. اوصد الباب means, he closed the door. وصید means, a court or open space in front of a house; a threshold of a door or entrance; a door or entrance; a fold for sheep or goats; a house of stones made in the mountains for flocks or herds (Lane & Aqrab).
The verse does not refer to the Dwellers of the Cave in the early days of Christianity but to Christian nations in the Holy Prophet’s own time. Muslims of that time were warned that Christian nations in northern regions were then lying in a state of dormancy but they would soon rise from their deep sleep of centuries and would spread all over the world and hold it under their sway. Before that time Muslims should make effective preparation to protect themselves against their devastating onslaughts. Muslims threw this timely Divine warning to the winds. After Caliph Uthman, internecine dissensions rent them. They became heedless of the danger that existed in the shape of the Byzantine Empire by their side. If they then had attacked and conquered it, for which they had quite legitimate reasons as the Romans had first attacked them, the political map of the world would now be quite different from what it is.
The words, their dog stretching out his forelegs on the threshold, refer to the great fondness of Christian peoples for their dogs. The words may also be taken as referring to the Byzantine Empire which then kept guard over Europe on both sides of the Sea of Marmora. This sea looks like a dog keeping watch with his forelegs stretched forth on both sides. The Turks conquered this country in the 15th century but it was too late. By then a great political awakening had taken place among the Christian nations of the northern regions. If in the day of their power and glory the Moors and the Abbasids had made common cause to subdue and crush these nations, Islam would have spread to these parts and mankind would have been spared much misery and bloodshed.
The expression, If thou had had a look at them, thou wouldst surely have turned away from them in fright, refers to the time when Christian nations will have acquired great political power. Till very recently the nationals of all western countries were treated with great respect and fear all over the East. It constitutes a proof positive of the Divine source of the Quran that it foretold this fact hundreds of years ago when Christian nations were yet sunk in a deep sleep of centuries and the wildest stretch of imagination could not have foreseen the power and glory to which they subsequently rose. (close)
وَ کَذٰلِکَ بَعَثۡنٰہُمۡ لِیَتَسَآءَلُوۡا بَیۡنَہُمۡ ؕ قَالَ قَآئِلٌ مِّنۡہُمۡ کَمۡ لَبِثۡتُمۡ ؕ قَالُوۡا لَبِثۡنَا یَوۡمًا اَوۡ بَعۡضَ یَوۡمٍ ؕ قَالُوۡا رَبُّکُمۡ اَعۡلَمُ بِمَا لَبِثۡتُمۡ ؕ فَابۡعَثُوۡۤا اَحَدَکُمۡ بِوَرِقِکُمۡ ہٰذِہٖۤ اِلَی الۡمَدِیۡنَۃِ فَلۡیَنۡظُرۡ اَیُّہَاۤ اَزۡکٰی طَعَامًا فَلۡیَاۡتِکُمۡ بِرِزۡقٍ مِّنۡہُ وَ لۡـیَؔتَلَطَّفۡ وَ لَا یُشۡعِرَنَّ بِکُمۡ اَحَدًا ﴿۲۰﴾
وَكَذَٰلِكَ بَعَثۡنَٰهُمۡ لِيَتَسَآءَلُواْ بَيۡنَهُمۡۚ قَالَ قَآئِلٞ مِّنۡهُمۡ كَمۡ لَبِثۡتُمۡۖ قَالُواْ لَبِثۡنَا يَوۡمًا أَوۡ بَعۡضَ يَوۡمٖۚ قَالُواْ رَبُّكُمۡ أَعۡلَمُ بِمَا لَبِثۡتُمۡ فَٱبۡعَثُوٓاْ أَحَدَكُم بِوَرِقِكُمۡ هَٰذِهِۦٓ إِلَى ٱلۡمَدِينَةِ فَلۡيَنظُرۡ أَيُّهَآ أَزۡكَىٰ طَعَامٗا فَلۡيَأۡتِكُم بِرِزۡقٖ مِّنۡهُ وَلۡيَتَلَطَّفۡ وَلَا يُشۡعِرَنَّ بِكُمۡ أَحَدًا
a. 2:260; 23:113, 114. (close)
1678. The verse seems to refer to the Christian nations of the West after they had spread all over the world. The words, We raised them up, refer to the great progress which these nations were destined to make in the future. The words, One of them said, 'How long have you tarried,' signify that Christian nations would begin to feel that it was now time for them to bestir themselves and shake off their lethargy. This awakening took place in the time of the Crusades when the monarchs of England, France and Germany made common cause and the whole of Europe united to make a concerted attack upon Muslims to wrest the Holy Land from their hands. According to Arabic idiom the words 'a day or part of a day' denote an indefinite period. Elsewhere the Qur’an (20:103, 104) has specified as one thousand years the period during which Christian nations of the West remained in a state of sleep or inactivity. "Ten days" in 20:103, 104 stand for ten centuries and the words "blue-eyed" in these verses refer to the peoples of the West who generally have blue eyes. It is a well-known historical fact that the foundations of British power in the East were laid in the beginning of the seventeenth century ("March of Man"). This period approximates to one thousand years after the Holy Prophet. (close)
1679. When the Dwellers of the Cave saw that the wave of persecution against them had subsided, they sent one of their members to the city with some old coins to buy provisions and to find out how matters stood with regard to them. Ta‘am may signify such articles of food as wheat, barley, millet, dates, etc. (Lane). This refers to the commercial expeditions of the Western nations to all parts of the world. (close)
1680. European businessmen have a special knack for being gentle and courteous in their commercial dealings. To this characteristic of theirs the expression, And let him be courteous, seems to refer. It also means, 'Let him conduct himself with caution.' (close)
1681. The words, but let him not inform anyone about you, refer to the quiet and unobtrusive penetration of the Western influence in the East. (close)
a. 2:260; 23:113-114. (close)
Like its predecessor this verse also speaks not of early Christians who took shelter in "the cave" but of the Christian nations of the west after they had spread all over the world. The words, "We raised them up", refer to the great progress which these nations were destined to make in future. It is a peculiarity of the Quranic style that it uses the past tense for events which are to take place in future in order to emphasize the inevitability and certainty of their occurrence. The words mean to say that the day is sure to come when God will bring about an awakening among these people who are now asleep.
The words, one of them said; How long have you tarried, signify that Christian nations would begin to feel that it was now time for them to bestir themselves and shake off their lethargy. This awakening took place in the time of the Crusades when the Monarchs of England, France and Germany made common cause and the whole of Europe combined to make a concerted attack upon Muslims to wrest the Holy Land from their hands.
The expression, یوما او بعض یوم i.e. a day or part of a day, does not mean that the Dwellers of the Cave were not certain as to how long they remained asleep. According to Arabic idiom the expression denotes an indefinite period of time. Elsewhere the Quran has specified as one thousand years the period for which Christian nations of the west remained in a state of sleep or inactivity. In vv. 20:103,104 we have, The day when the trumpet will be blown. And on that day We shall gather the sinful together blue-eyed. They will talk to one another in a low tone: You tarried only ten days, The words "ten days" here stand for ten centuries and the word زرقا (blue-eyed) clearly refers to the peoples of the west who generally have blue eyes. It is a well-known historical fact that the foundations of British power in the east were laid in the beginning of the seventeenth century, in about 1611 A.D., when a British commercial company was allowed to open its first industrial concern in Surat and began to do business in the Bay of Bengal (March of Man, published by Enc. Brit. Society). This period approximates to one thousand years after the Holy Prophet began to preach his Mission in 611 A. D. The secret of the British power in subsequent centuries lay in their success in obtaining a foothold in the East. Other European nations only followed in the wake of the British people.
The word طعاما (provisions) in the verse under comment does not mean 'cooked food' as is generally misunderstood. It possesses a much wider significance and may mean, wheat, barley, millet, dates or other articles of food (Lane). The words, and let him bring you provisions thereof, refer to the import of Indian articles of food, especially wheat, by European countries for about 200 years. European businessmen had a special knack of being gentle and courteous in their commercial dealings. To this characteristic of theirs the expression ولیتلطف (and let him be courteous) refers.
The words, and let him not inform any one about you, refer to the quiet and unobtrusive penetration of Western influence in the East, particularly in India—the undivided India of pre-Partition days. (close)
اِنَّہُمۡ اِنۡ یَّظۡہَرُوۡا عَلَیۡکُمۡ یَرۡجُمُوۡکُمۡ اَوۡ یُعِیۡدُوۡکُمۡ فِیۡ مِلَّتِہِمۡ وَ لَنۡ تُفۡلِحُوۡۤا اِذًا اَبَدًا ﴿۲۱﴾
إِنَّهُمۡ إِن يَظۡهَرُواْ عَلَيۡكُمۡ يَرۡجُمُوكُمۡ أَوۡ يُعِيدُوكُمۡ فِي مِلَّتِهِمۡ وَلَن تُفۡلِحُوٓاْ إِذًا أَبَدٗا
1682. The words, but let him not inform anyone about you, refer to the quiet and unobtrusive penetration of the Western influence in the East. (close)
The verse means to say that if the people to whom you are sending trade parties became acquainted with your real intentions, or before your feet became firmly established in their country some political quarrel or commercial disagreement arose and you were overpowered, then you would either have to quit their country or embrace their religion. In either ease you would fail to gain a permanent foothold and all your dreams of establishing a great empire in their country would come to naught. (close)
وَ کَذٰلِکَ اَعۡثَرۡنَا عَلَیۡہِمۡ لِیَعۡلَمُوۡۤا اَنَّ وَعۡدَ اللّٰہِ حَقٌّ وَّ اَنَّ السَّاعَۃَ لَا رَیۡبَ فِیۡہَا ۚ٭ اِذۡ یَتَنَازَعُوۡنَ بَیۡنَہُمۡ اَمۡرَہُمۡ فَقَالُوا ابۡنُوۡا عَلَیۡہِمۡ بُنۡیَانًا ؕ رَبُّہُمۡ اَعۡلَمُ بِہِمۡ ؕ قَالَ الَّذِیۡنَ غَلَبُوۡا عَلٰۤی اَمۡرِہِمۡ لَنَتَّخِذَنَّ عَلَیۡہِمۡ مَّسۡجِدًا ﴿۲۲﴾
وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَعۡثَرۡنَا عَلَيۡهِمۡ لِيَعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ وَعۡدَ ٱللَّهِ حَقّٞ وَأَنَّ ٱلسَّاعَةَ لَا رَيۡبَ فِيهَآ إِذۡ يَتَنَٰزَعُونَ بَيۡنَهُمۡ أَمۡرَهُمۡۖ فَقَالُواْ ٱبۡنُواْ عَلَيۡهِم بُنۡيَٰنٗاۖ رَّبُّهُمۡ أَعۡلَمُ بِهِمۡۚ قَالَ ٱلَّذِينَ غَلَبُواْ عَلَىٰٓ أَمۡرِهِمۡ لَنَتَّخِذَنَّ عَلَيۡهِم مَّسۡجِدٗا
a. 31:34; 35:6. (close)
b. 15:86; 20:16; 22:8. (close)
1683. The words, We will surely build a place of worship over them, mention one of the distinctive marks of the Dwellers of the Cave which is that their successors, the Christian nations, will build churches in memory of their dead saints. It is further worthy of note that many such churches have been found in the catacombs. (close)
a. 31:34; 35:6. (close)
In this verse we are told that these people who had remained aloof from the world for a long time will become known to the ends of the earth, and thus the truth of the prophecy about the rise to great power and dominion of Christian nations in the Latter Days will become established and then the promised hour of which these people were warned will come to pass.
In the words, We will surely build a place of worship over them, the Quran reverts again to the early history of the Dwellers of the Cave and mentions one of their distinctive marks which is that their successors, the Christian nations, will build churches in memory of their dead saints. Muslims or Jews have never erected mosques or synagogues to the memory of their departed saints. Christians are the only people who erect churches to perpetuate the memory of their dead saints; they even bury their dead in churchyards. It is worthy of note that many such churches have been found in the catacombs. (close)
سَیَقُوۡلُوۡنَ ثَلٰثَۃٌ رَّابِعُہُمۡ کَلۡبُہُمۡ ۚ وَ یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ خَمۡسَۃٌ سَادِسُہُمۡ کَلۡبُہُمۡ رَجۡمًۢا بِالۡغَیۡبِ ۚ وَ یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ سَبۡعَۃٌ وَّ ثَامِنُہُمۡ کَلۡبُہُمۡ ؕ قُلۡ رَّبِّیۡۤ اَعۡلَمُ بِعِدَّتِہِمۡ مَّا یَعۡلَمُہُمۡ اِلَّا قَلِیۡلٌ ۬۟ فَلَا تُمَارِ فِیۡہِمۡ اِلَّا مِرَآءً ظَاہِرًا ۪ وَّ لَا تَسۡتَفۡتِ فِیۡہِمۡ مِّنۡہُمۡ اَحَدًا ﴿٪۲۳﴾
سَيَقُولُونَ ثَلَٰثَةٞ رَّابِعُهُمۡ كَلۡبُهُمۡ وَيَقُولُونَ خَمۡسَةٞ سَادِسُهُمۡ كَلۡبُهُمۡ رَجۡمَۢا بِٱلۡغَيۡبِۖ وَيَقُولُونَ سَبۡعَةٞ وَثَامِنُهُمۡ كَلۡبُهُمۡۚ قُل رَّبِّيٓ أَعۡلَمُ بِعِدَّتِهِم مَّا يَعۡلَمُهُمۡ إِلَّا قَلِيلٞۗ فَلَا تُمَارِ فِيهِمۡ إِلَّا مِرَآءٗ ظَٰهِرٗا وَلَا تَسۡتَفۡتِ فِيهِم مِّنۡهُمۡ أَحَدٗا
1684. These guesses seem to be based on inscriptions on the walls of some of the chambers in the catacombs; but each inscription has reference only to a particular family, party or group. The total number of those who took refuge in the catacombs at any time is not known. A dog seems, from the inscriptions, to have always accompanied a party of refugees. (close)
2063. Important Words:
فلا تمار (So argue not). تمار is derived from مری. They say مری حقه i.e. he disputed, doubted or questioned his right. امتری الشیء means, he elicited the thing. الریح تمری السحاب means, the wind draws forth the clouds. ماراہ means, he disputed or argued with him obstinately (Lane & Aqrab).
ظاھرا (plain) is derived from ظھر i.e. it was or became apparent, plain, manifest or obvious. ظھر البیت means, he got upon the top of the house; ظھر علیه means, he knew, became acquainted with or got knowledge of him or it; he overcame or subdued; gained the mastery or victory or prevailed over him. They say فلان لا یظھر علیه احد i.e. such a one is a person whom no one can overcome or overpower. (Lane & Aqrab).
This verse refers to a popular discussion about the number of the Dwellers of the Cave. The Quran regards all estimates about their number as futile surmises. The words, My Lord knows best their number, dismiss all such discussion as fruitless waste of effort because only God knows what their real number was. The Arabic expression مایعلھم الاقلیل means, (a) none knows their number; the Arabic word قلیل, being the equivalent of the English word 'few,' signifies 'none'; or (b) the expression means that a very few people have knowledge of the truth about them or are acquainted with their history. These fortunate few know that the Dwellers of the Cave were early Christians who in times of persecution under different Roman Emperors took refuge in the catacombs and that they were several thousands in number.
Towards the end of the verse Muslims are admonished not to try to know the details about the Dwellers of the Cave as any effort in this direction will lead them nowhere, rather it is likely to make confusion worse confounded. (close)
وَ لَا تَقُوۡلَنَّ لِشَایۡءٍ اِنِّیۡ فَاعِلٌ ذٰلِکَ غَدًا ﴿ۙ۲۴﴾
وَلَا تَقُولَنَّ لِشَاْيۡءٍ إِنِّي فَاعِلٞ ذَٰلِكَ غَدًا
1685. The verse may mean that in the time of their decline and degradation Muslims will lose all initiative for any real and useful work and will indulge only in daydreaming and all their activities will remain confined to talking about the future, and they will do nothing to improve their lot. (close)
The verse refers to the time when Christian nations will have attained great power and predominance in the world. Muslims of that time—of the present time—are warned that it would be then suicidal on their part to try to fight Christian nations with material means, because the military might and material means of the latter would be too much for any single people or a combination of peoples to fight them successfully. It is to this all-powerfulness of Christian nations of the west in the Latter Days that the well-known hadith لایدان لاحد لقتالھم i.e. no one will have the power to fight them successfully (Muslim, vol. 4, Chap. on Dajjal) refers. Muslims are warned that in the days of their powerlessness before Christian nations they should not indulge in idle boasts of adopting one scheme or the other against them, but should respond to the call of one whom God would raise to take them out of the slough of despond into which they would have fallen. The verse may also mean that in the time of their decline and degradation Muslims will lose all initiative for any real and useful work and will indulge only in daydreaming and holding out impotent threats to their enemies. All their activities will then remain confined to talking about the future and they would do nothing to improve their miserable lot.
Some commentators of the Quran have given currency to the baseless legend that this verse admonishes the Holy Prophet that he should never fail to utter the formula انشاء اللّٰه i.e. " If God so wills it," while beginning to do any work, because on one occasion before doing a certain thing he had forgotten to utter this formula. There is no reference here to any such legend. (close)
اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ یَّشَآءَ اللّٰہُ ۫ وَ اذۡکُرۡ رَّبَّکَ اِذَا نَسِیۡتَ وَ قُلۡ عَسٰۤی اَنۡ یَّہۡدِیَنِ رَبِّیۡ لِاَقۡرَبَ مِنۡ ہٰذَا رَشَدًا ﴿۲۵﴾
إِلَّآ أَن يَشَآءَ ٱللَّهُۚ وَٱذۡكُر رَّبَّكَ إِذَا نَسِيتَ وَقُلۡ عَسَىٰٓ أَن يَهۡدِيَنِ رَبِّي لِأَقۡرَبَ مِنۡ هَٰذَا رَشَدٗا
a. 18:40; 74:57; 76:31; 81:30. (close)
The verse purports to say to Muslims that in their hour of despondency and helplessness before the irresistible might of Christian nations, they should not for a moment entertain the idea that they can ever successfully fight them with material means. On the contrary, they should have firm faith in God’s promises that He would never let Islam down and would Himself create circumstances that would bring about the complete downfall and destruction of these nations. (close)
وَ لَبِثُوۡا فِیۡ کَہۡفِہِمۡ ثَلٰثَ مِائَۃٍ سِنِیۡنَ وَ ازۡدَادُوۡا تِسۡعًا ﴿۲۶﴾
وَلَبِثُواْ فِي كَهۡفِهِمۡ ثَلَٰثَ مِاْئَةٖ سِنِينَ وَٱزۡدَادُواْ تِسۡعٗا
1686. The period in which early Christians were subjected to persecution and had frequently to take refuge in caves and other places of hiding extends approximately over 309 years, and historical data have corroborated this calculation. As popularly believed the persecution of Christians began with Jesus’s Crucifixion in 28 A.D., and ended with Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in 337 A.D. (Enc. Brit.), a period of about 309 years. And Constantine was not converted in 337 A.D., but in 309 A.D. The tragedy of the Crucifixion took place 28 years later than is generally believed (Chronology by Archbishop Ushers & Daily Bible Illustrations by Dr. Kitto). (close)
This verse sheds some light on the duration of the period in which early Christians were subjected to persecution and had frequently to take refuge in caves and other places of concealment. This period extends over 309 years and historical data have corroborated this calculation. As popularly believed the persecution of Christians began with Jesus’ Crucifixion in 28 A.D. and ended with the Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in 337 A.D. (Enc. Brit., 14th edition, vol. 5), a period of about 309 years. These dates, however, are not correct. If we delve a little more deeply into the history of early Christianity the fact is disclosed to us that Emperor Constantine did not become a Christian in 337 A.D. as is the popular belief but in 309 A.D., as history shows. The astonishing fact that the Christian Calendar now in use is not free from chronological anachronisms has been admitted by Christian scholars themselves. Archbishop Ushers and Dr. Kitto in their well-known books, "Chronology" and "Daily Bible Illustrations," after elaborate research into the chronology of early Christianity, have been compelled to admit that chronological data show that Jesus was five and not thirty-three years old at the time when the Crucifixion is supposed to have taken place i.e. the tragedy of the Crucifixion took place 28 years later than is generally believed. Thus subtracting 28 from 337 it becomes established that the year of Constantine’s conversion was 309 A.D., when with Christianity becoming the State religion of the Roman Empire persecution of Christians completely ceased. So even Christian historical records support the Quran in stating that early Christians continued to be persecuted, off and on, for 309 years.
The verse incidentally impresses upon Muslims who, like اصحاب کھف now are and may, also in future, be the victims of similar persecution, the desirability of bearing with patience and fortitude their trials and tribulations so that they may become entitled to Divinefavours. (close)