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)
قُلِ اللّٰہُ اَعۡلَمُ بِمَا لَبِثُوۡا ۚ لَہٗ غَیۡبُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ اَبۡصِرۡ بِہٖ وَ اَسۡمِعۡ ؕ مَا لَہُمۡ مِّنۡ دُوۡنِہٖ مِنۡ وَّلِیٍّ ۫ وَّ لَا یُشۡرِکُ فِیۡ حُکۡمِہٖۤ اَحَدًا ﴿۲۷﴾
قُلِ ٱللَّهُ أَعۡلَمُ بِمَا لَبِثُواْۖ لَهُۥ غَيۡبُ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِۖ أَبۡصِرۡ بِهِۦ وَأَسۡمِعۡۚ مَا لَهُم مِّن دُونِهِۦ مِن وَلِيّٖ وَلَا يُشۡرِكُ فِي حُكۡمِهِۦٓ أَحَدٗا
1687. The early Christians were persecuted in many lands and at different times, e.g. in Rome, Alexandria, etc. They were compelled to seek refuge in caves and catacombs at different times and for different periods. Their stay in the catacombs was not a single, uninterrupted episode. The exact length of the total period of such stay is known only to Allah. (close)
a. 11:124; 16:78; 35:39. (close)
b. 19:39; 29:46. (close)
1687A. The words also mean: 'Clear is His Sight and keen His Hearing' or 'He sees all and hears all.' (close)
b. 19:39. (close)
The words, Say, Allah knows best how long they tarried, purport to say that histories written by Christian writers assign 337 years as the period of the persecution of early Christians and therefore seem to contradict the Quranic statement that this period was 309 years. But this calculation as shown in the previous verse is at fault because the Quran is the revealed word of God and God cannot err in His calculations. Later research into old historical records as explained elsewhere has also supported the Quran. The present verse does not contradict the words, And they stayed in their Cave three hundred years and added nine more (v. 26). These words do not refer to the popular view about the period for which early Christians took refuge in caves but are God’s own words. So the expression, Allah knows best how long they tarried, not only does not contradict but actually supports and corroborates these words.
The words, How Seeing is He! and how Hearing, lend further support to the view that Christian chronologists have erred in fixing the present date of Jesus’ birth and his Crucifixion and that the Quranic statement with regard to the period for which اصحاب الکھف (Dwellers of the Cave) remained hidden in caves is correct. (close)
وَ اتۡلُ مَاۤ اُوۡحِیَ اِلَیۡکَ مِنۡ کِتَابِ رَبِّکَ ۚؕ لَا مُبَدِّلَ لِکَلِمٰتِہٖ ۚ۟ وَ لَنۡ تَجِدَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِہٖ مُلۡتَحَدًا ﴿۲۸﴾
وَٱتۡلُ مَآ أُوحِيَ إِلَيۡكَ مِن كِتَابِ رَبِّكَۖ لَا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَٰتِهِۦ وَلَن تَجِدَ مِن دُونِهِۦ مُلۡتَحَدٗا
c. 6:35, 116; 10:65. (close)
a. 29:46. (close)
b. 6:35, 116; 10:65. (close)
The verse makes it clear that the above account of the Dwellers of the Cave is not meant merely as an interesting narrative but refers to events of the past of great spiritual significance, at the same time constituting a forewarning to Muslims to be always prepared for hardships like those that the Dwellers of the Cave had to suffer. In fact according to Ibn ‘Abbas the Holy Prophet is reported to have said that اصحاب الکھف (Dwellers of the Cave) are the companions of the Imam Mahdi (Manthur). The words, there is none who can change His words, also support the assumption that the account of the Dwellers of the Cave contains mighty prophecies, otherwise there was no sense in using such challenging words as these. See the following verses. (close)
وَ اصۡبِرۡ نَفۡسَکَ مَعَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَدۡعُوۡنَ رَبَّہُمۡ بِالۡغَدٰوۃِ وَ الۡعَشِیِّ یُرِیۡدُوۡنَ وَجۡہَہٗ وَ لَا تَعۡدُ عَیۡنٰکَ عَنۡہُمۡ ۚ تُرِیۡدُ زِیۡنَۃَ الۡحَیٰوۃِ الدُّنۡیَا ۚ وَ لَا تُطِعۡ مَنۡ اَغۡفَلۡنَا قَلۡبَہٗ عَنۡ ذِکۡرِنَا وَ اتَّبَعَ ہَوٰٮہُ وَ کَانَ اَمۡرُہٗ فُرُطًا ﴿۲۹﴾
وَٱصۡبِرۡ نَفۡسَكَ مَعَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَدۡعُونَ رَبَّهُم بِٱلۡغَدَوٰةِ وَٱلۡعَشِيِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجۡهَهُۥۖ وَلَا تَعۡدُ عَيۡنَاكَ عَنۡهُمۡ تُرِيدُ زِينَةَ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَاۖ وَلَا تُطِعۡ مَنۡ أَغۡفَلۡنَا قَلۡبَهُۥ عَن ذِكۡرِنَا وَٱتَّبَعَ هَوَىٰهُ وَكَانَ أَمۡرُهُۥ فُرُطٗا
a. 6:53; 7:206. (close)
c. 6:53; 7:206. (close)
This verse lends further support to the fact that the preceding verses embody some very important prophecies. In fact, we are here told that at the time of the predominance and ascendancy of Christian nations there will be living in the world a people who, as true representatives of Islam, will be engaged night and day in prayer and Divine worship. The so-called Muslims will, at that time—the time of Imam Mahdi—pin all their hopes about the future political glory and greatness of Islam on the employment of material means and will look down upon the poor and politically unimportant followers of the Imam Mahdi for concentrating on prayer and worship. The verse warns Muslims that on prayer and Divine worship alone will depend the eventual salvation and success of Islam.
The verse further mentions the following three main causes of the misfortunes and miseries of Muslims at that time: (a) they will be neglectful of prayer and Divine worship; (b) love of the world will be their overpowering passion; and (c) they will be wholly lost in the pursuit of material comforts and a life of luxury. But their deliverance will lie in a complete change of their outlook and the programme of their life. (close)
وَ قُلِ الۡحَقُّ مِنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ ۟ فَمَنۡ شَآءَ فَلۡیُؤۡمِنۡ وَّ مَنۡ شَآءَ فَلۡیَکۡفُرۡ ۙ اِنَّاۤ اَعۡتَدۡنَا لِلظّٰلِمِیۡنَ نَارًا ۙ اَحَاطَ بِہِمۡ سُرَادِقُہَا ؕ وَ اِنۡ یَّسۡتَغِیۡثُوۡا یُغَاثُوۡا بِمَآءٍ کَالۡمُہۡلِ یَشۡوِی الۡوُجُوۡہَ ؕ بِئۡسَ الشَّرَابُ ؕ وَ سَآءَتۡ مُرۡتَفَقًا ﴿۳۰﴾
وَقُلِ ٱلۡحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكُمۡۖ فَمَن شَآءَ فَلۡيُؤۡمِن وَمَن شَآءَ فَلۡيَكۡفُرۡۚ إِنَّآ أَعۡتَدۡنَا لِلظَّـٰلِمِينَ نَارًا أَحَاطَ بِهِمۡ سُرَادِقُهَاۚ وَإِن يَسۡتَغِيثُواْ يُغَاثُواْ بِمَآءٖ كَٱلۡمُهۡلِ يَشۡوِي ٱلۡوُجُوهَۚ بِئۡسَ ٱلشَّرَابُ وَسَآءَتۡ مُرۡتَفَقًا
b. 2:257; 10:100. (close)
c. 25:38; 42:46. (close)
a. 2:257; 10:100. (close)
b. 25:38; 42:46. (close)
2070. Important Words:
سرادقھا (whose tent). سرادق is derived from سردق. They say سردق البیت i.e. he covered the house with an awning over its interior court. سرادق means, an awning extended over the interior court of a house; a tent of cotton or hair-cloth; a tent; smoke rising high and surrounding a thing; dust rising or spreading itself. They say سرادق المجد علیک ممدود i.e. the canopy of glory is extended over thee (Lane & Aqrab).
مرتفقا (resting place) is derived from رفق i.e. he was or became gentle or he acted or behaved gently ارتفق means, he bought or demanded aid or help or he profited by him or it (a thing) or he made use of it; he leaned upon his elbow; and, it was or became full. مرتفقا means, a place or thing upon which one leans, hence a place of rest (Lane & Aqrab).
The words, It is the truth from your Lord, signify that the prophecy, implied in the foregoing verses, that the great material might and glory of Western Christian nations will be reduced to dust and that Islam will emerge triumphant and full of new life shall most surely come to pass.
The words, let him who will, believe, and let him who will, disbelieve, hint that the time of the Imam Mahdi will not be the time for waging jihad by the sword, but for the peaceful preaching of Islam.
The last part of the verse answers a natural question that arises from the first part, viz. if there was to be no jihad by the sword how was Islam to come into its own? To this question the last part of the verse returns the answer that God Himself will see to it that the seemingly irresistible might of western Christian nations is completely broken. Divine punish-ment will overtake these nations in the form of wars which will not end until their power is completely shattered and is reduced to ashes and dust. Molten lead and iron will scorch their faces. They will cry for peace and will get bombs and gun-shots instead. Their beautiful residences will become unfit for human habitation and life will become a veritable hell for them. All their efforts to bring about peace in the world, being insincere and dishonest, will come to nothing. (close)
اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَ عَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰتِ اِنَّا لَا نُضِیۡعُ اَجۡرَ مَنۡ اَحۡسَنَ عَمَلًا ﴿ۚ۳۱﴾
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَٰتِ إِنَّا لَا نُضِيعُ أَجۡرَ مَنۡ أَحۡسَنَ عَمَلًا
d. 7:171; 9:120; 12:57. (close)
a. 7:171; 9:120; 12:57. (close)
As against the futile efforts of the powerful western nations to establish peace in the world, the tiny and seemingly insignificant but honest contributions towards this noble purpose of those good and righteous people—the companions of the Mahdi, will be crowned with success because though deprived of all worldly pomp and glory they will have firm faith in God and will live up to their noble ideals. (close)
اُولٰٓئِکَ لَہُمۡ جَنّٰتُ عَدۡنٍ تَجۡرِیۡ مِنۡ تَحۡتِہِمُ الۡاَنۡہٰرُ یُحَلَّوۡنَ فِیۡہَا مِنۡ اَسَاوِرَ مِنۡ ذَہَبٍ وَّ یَلۡبَسُوۡنَ ثِیَابًا خُضۡرًا مِّنۡ سُنۡدُسٍ وَّ اِسۡتَبۡرَقٍ مُّتَّکِئِیۡنَ فِیۡہَا عَلَی الۡاَرَآئِکِ ؕ نِعۡمَ الثَّوَابُ ؕ وَ حَسُنَتۡ مُرۡتَفَقًا ﴿٪۳۲﴾
أُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ لَهُمۡ جَنَّـٰتُ عَدۡنٖ تَجۡرِي مِن تَحۡتِهِمُ ٱلۡأَنۡهَٰرُ يُحَلَّوۡنَ فِيهَا مِنۡ أَسَاوِرَ مِن ذَهَبٖ وَيَلۡبَسُونَ ثِيَابًا خُضۡرٗا مِّن سُندُسٖ وَإِسۡتَبۡرَقٖ مُّتَّكِـِٔينَ فِيهَا عَلَى ٱلۡأَرَآئِكِۚ نِعۡمَ ٱلثَّوَابُ وَحَسُنَتۡ مُرۡتَفَقٗا
e. 9:72; 13:24; 19:62; 20:77; 35:34; 38:51; 61:13; 98:9. (close)
a. 15:48; 36:57; 83:24. (close)
1688. Gold bracelets being symbols of royalty, the verse may signify that Muslims will become rulers of vast and mighty empires and will enjoy great power, honour and dignity and their womenfolk will wear garments of fine silk and heavy brocade interwoven with gold. This prophecy was fulfilled when the treasures of Persia and Rome were laid at the feet of the illiterate Arabs who used to wear clothes made of coarse skins and of the hair of animals. (close)
b. 9:72; 13:24; 19:62; 20:77; 35:34; 38:51; 61:13; 98:9. (close)
c. 15:48; 36:57; 83:24. (close)
2072. Important Words:
اساور (bracelets) is the plural of سوار which is derived from سار. They say سار او تسور الحائط i.e. he climbed or scaled the wall. تسورalso means, he put on or decked himself with bracelets. سوار means, a man’s or woman’s bracelet of silver or of gold (Lane & Aqrab).
سندس (fine silk) means, thin or fine دیباج (silk brocade) or thin or fine حریر (silk). It is opposed to استبرق (Lane).
استبرق (heavy brocade) is derived from برق which means, it shone, gleamed or glistened. استبرق means, thick دیباج (silk brocade) or دیباج interwoven with gold; thick silk (Lane & Aqrab).
ارائک (raised couches) is the plural of اریکة which is derived from ارک which means, he persisted or persevered. They say ارک بالمکان i.e. he remained in the house, not quitting it. The Arabs say ارک الامر فی عنقه i.e. he compelled him to do the thing; he made him cleave to it. اریکة means, a raised couch in a tent or chamber decorated and adorned with cloth and curtains for a bride; a bed spread upon the ground to sit upon; anything upon which one reclines; a raised couch (Lane & Aqrab).
The wearing of bracelets of gold may refer either to this life or the next. In the former case, the words, They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, mean that gold bracelets being symbols of royalty, Muslims will become rulers of vast and mighty empires. But taken as referring to the next life they connote a spiritual sense, meaning that good works of Muslims in this life would assume an embodied form in the next. Or "bracelets of gold" may signify special marks of honour, i.e. the Faithful will enjoy great power, honour and dignity and their womenfolk will wear garments of fine silk and heavy brocade interwoven with gold. This prophecy was fulfilled when the treasures of Persia and Rome were laid at the feet of so-called illiterate and half-civilized Arabs who wore clothes made of coarse skins and the hair of animals.
The words, how good the reward, imply that these things will not make Muslims lovers of ease and luxury and will not lead to their moral or spiritual death. On the contrary they will prove "a good reward" for them, that is, these things will give them peace and contentment of mind.
The words, and how excellent the place of rest, signify that contacts and friendships formed in accordance with Quranic teaching, being based on sincere and honest motives, will not lead to war and mutual hatred but will bring about real peace and concord in the world. (close)
وَ اضۡرِبۡ لَہُمۡ مَّثَلًا رَّجُلَیۡنِ جَعَلۡنَا لِاَحَدِہِمَا جَنَّتَیۡنِ مِنۡ اَعۡنَابٍ وَّ حَفَفۡنٰہُمَا بِنَخۡلٍ وَّ جَعَلۡنَا بَیۡنَہُمَا زَرۡعًا ﴿ؕ۳۳﴾
۞وَٱضۡرِبۡ لَهُم مَّثَلٗا رَّجُلَيۡنِ جَعَلۡنَا لِأَحَدِهِمَا جَنَّتَيۡنِ مِنۡ أَعۡنَٰبٖ وَحَفَفۡنَٰهُمَا بِنَخۡلٖ وَجَعَلۡنَا بَيۡنَهُمَا زَرۡعٗا
1689. With this verse begins, in the form of a parable, the conditions of the two peoples—Christians and Muslims, the "two men" representing these two peoples and "two gardens" the two periods of the rise of the Christian nations. The verse denotes that in their chequered history Christian nations would rise to great power twice. The first period preceded the advent of Islam while the second began with the dawn of the 17th century. A.D., when Christian nations of Europe began to make great progress and acquire unprecedented power and prestige which reached its zenith in the nineteenth century. (close)
With this verse begins, in the form of a parable, a description of the conditions respectively of Muslim and Christian nations in the Latter Days. The form and wording of the dialogue unmistakably shows that it is no real conversation between two living persons but is a portraiture, in metaphorical language, of the conditions of these two peoples at a certain time. The dialogue represents the decline and degradation of Muslims at their nadir and the power and prosperity of western Christian nations at their zenith in the Latter Days.
Now parables, like dreams, require to be interpreted, and the present and following several verses having been couched in allegorical language it is difficult to grasp and fully appreciate their full significance and beauty without putting on them a construction which their apparent form does not seem to bear. In the language of dreams a "garden" signifies wife, children, riches and life full of happiness; sometimes it also denotes cantonments and army headquarters. "Grapes" represent abundant provisions which can be stored up and last for a long time; "palm trees" signify exercise of authority over large number of men; "corn" in the case of a monarch denotes expansion of his dominions and in that of other people their "work". A "stream" denotes an eminent man and "fruits" mean fresh sources of honour (Ta‘tirul-Anam).
The parable describes the conditions of two men. One of them had two gardens which metaphorically interpreted means that God had bestowed upon him an abundance of wealth and offspring in two separate periods of his life. This interpretation is supported by v. 35 below where the same person says, I am richer than thou in wealth and stronger in respect of men.
The words, and We surrounded them with date-palms, signify that this man will protect his riches and offspring and dominions with military force.
The expression, and between the two We placed corn-fields, denotes that in between the two gardens there will be ordinary property which will not be so strongly protected. (close)
کِلۡتَا الۡجَنَّتَیۡنِ اٰتَتۡ اُکُلَہَا وَ لَمۡ تَظۡلِمۡ مِّنۡہُ شَیۡئًا ۙ وَّ فَجَّرۡنَا خِلٰلَہُمَا نَہَرًا ﴿ۙ۳۴﴾
كِلۡتَا ٱلۡجَنَّتَيۡنِ ءَاتَتۡ أُكُلَهَا وَلَمۡ تَظۡلِم مِّنۡهُ شَيۡـٔٗاۚ وَفَجَّرۡنَا خِلَٰلَهُمَا نَهَرٗا
1690. "The stream" represents the time of the Holy Prophet, through whom portions of the true teachings of Moses and Jesus were preserved. (close)
Singular number of the verbs اتت and تظلم shows that the two gardens were, in reality, two parts of one and the same garden.
The words, and failed not the least therein, indicate that these were not gardens in the literal sense of the word but gardens in a metaphorical sense because it is against the laws of nature that trees should continue to yield abundant fruits in many consecutive seasons. But the trees of the gardens mentioned in this verse yielded fruits uniformly in abundance. This shows that they were gardens in the metaphorical sense only. (close)
وَّ کَانَ لَہٗ ثَمَرٌ ۚ فَقَالَ لِصَاحِبِہٖ وَ ہُوَ یُحَاوِرُہٗۤ اَنَا اَکۡثَرُ مِنۡکَ مَالًا وَّ اَعَزُّ نَفَرًا ﴿۳۵﴾
وَكَانَ لَهُۥ ثَمَرٞ فَقَالَ لِصَٰحِبِهِۦ وَهُوَ يُحَاوِرُهُۥٓ أَنَا۠ أَكۡثَرُ مِنكَ مَالٗا وَأَعَزُّ نَفَرٗا
1690A. The powerful and prosperous Christian nations would look down upon and taunt the poor and powerless Muslims for their poverty and lack of material resources. (close)
2075. Important Words:
یحاورہ (arguing boastfully with him) is derived fromحار . They say حار الی الشیء i.e. he returned to a thing. حاورہ means, he returned him answer for answer; held dialogue or debate with him; he vied with him for superiority in glorying or boasting or the like (Lane & Aqrab).
Now as to the meaning of the parable as a whole. In the beginning of the Surah it was said that the Holy Prophet had already conveyed the Message of God to the Meccans, and that he was now going to convey it to Christians also. Again, reference was made to the history of early Christians who endured untold persecutions for their belief in the Unity of God and whose successors became idol-worshippers and were entirely engrossed in the pursuit of material wealth.
The Quranic parable bears very close resemblance to the parable of the vineyard in the Gospels (Mark 12:1-12; Matt. 21:33-46 & Luke 20:9-19). It speaks of two peoples—Muslims and Christians. The master of the garden in the Quranic parable represents Christian peoples, and the "grapevines" stand for increase in their wealth and offspring. The hedge of date-palms denotes their armed forces which in the days of their power and glory will safeguard their possessions.
The parable speaks of two gardens which denotes that Christian peoples in their chequered history were to rise to great power twice. The first period preceded the advent of Islam while the second began with the dawn of the 17th century A.D., when Christian nations of Europe began to make great progress and acquire unprecedented power and prestige which reached its zenith in the 19th century. During the interval between these two periods of the progress and prosperity of its followers Christianity resembled a field of corn which was exposed to the danger of being trampled upon and destroyed. In this interval God caused the great stream of Islam to flow and fertilize the entire world. A mighty man of truth—the Holy Prophet Muhammad—made his appearance. His advent constituted the greatest landmark in the religious life of mankind. He gave to the world new concepts, new ideals and new values and left behind him the Quran as humanity’s infallible and eternal guide.
As shown under Important Words, "fruits" signify fresh sources of honour. The expression, and he had fruit in abundance, therefore means that Christian nations would continue to make new scientific inventions and discoveries which would greatly add to their material wealth, power and prosperity. The words, I am richer than thou in wealth and stronger in respect of men, mean that Christian nations will advance their own material wealth and political power and the poverty and backwardness of Muslim peoples as an argument in favour of the truth of their religion. (close)