وَّ یُنۡذِرَ الَّذِیۡنَ قَالُوا اتَّخَذَ اللّٰہُ وَلَدًا ٭﴿۵﴾
وَيُنذِرَ ٱلَّذِينَ قَالُواْ ٱتَّخَذَ ٱللَّهُ وَلَدٗا
d. 17:112; 19:36; 21:27; 25:3; 39:5; 72:4. (close)
1663. The Qur’an is first spoken of as 'giving warning,' next as 'giving glad tidings' (v. 3), and then again as 'giving warning' as in the present verse. Disbelievers have been warned twice and in between these two warnings the believers have been given glad tidings. This double warning interspersed with glad tidings for Muslims implied three prophecies: (a) the discomfiture and destruction of the Holy Prophet’s opponents in his own time, (b) the phenomenal rise of Muslims to power and glory, and, (c) after the departure of their glory, the punishment in store for the nations who say that 'Allah has taken unto Himself a son.' (close)
a. 17:112; 19:36; 21:27; 25:3; 39:5; 72:4. (close)
It is worthy of special note that the Quran is first spoken of as 'giving warning', next as 'giving glad tidings' (v. 3) and then again as 'giving warning' as in the present verse. Disbelievers have been warned twice and in between these two warnings the believers have been given glad tidings. This seems rather strange and the words appear to have been used haphazardly. But it is not so. They serve a very useful purpose. The two 'warnings' and the one 'glad tidings' point to three important periods of the history of Islam. The first 'warning' mentioned in v. 3 pertains to the disbelievers of Mecca and all those people in the time of the Holy Prophet who had rejected his Message and were punished for their rejection and opposition. The 'glad tidings' spoken of in the same verse applies to Muslims who after their enemies had been destroyed enjoyed Divine favours for a very long time and this fulfilled the Divine promise embodied in the words, "Wherein they shall abide forever." For long centuries Muslims ruled over a large part of the globe and enjoyed great power and prestige. The 'second warning' embodied in the present verse refers to Christian nations of "the latter days" and implies a prophecy that after Muslims had enjoyed power and dominion for a long time, their glory would depart and Christian nations would again come into their own and spread over the entire world and would prove as a bar sinister to the expansion of Islam. These present-day Christian nations of the west have been warned of a severe punishment that is in store for them in the words, that it may warn those Who say, Allah has taken unto Himself a son. Thus this giving of warnings twice and interspersing these two warnings with glad tidings for Muslims implied three great prophecies viz. (a) the discomfiture and destruction of the Holy Prophet’s opponents in his own time; (b) the phenomenal rise of Muslims to power and glory and, after the departure of Muslim glory, (c) the punishment that is in store for the nations who say that Allah has taken unto Himself a son. The signs of this Divine punishment are already becoming too manifest to be overlooked. (close)
مَا لَہُمۡ بِہٖ مِنۡ عِلۡمٍ وَّ لَا لِاٰبَآئِہِمۡ ؕ کَبُرَتۡ کَلِمَۃً تَخۡرُجُ مِنۡ اَفۡوَاہِہِمۡ ؕ اِنۡ یَّقُوۡلُوۡنَ اِلَّا کَذِبًا ﴿۶﴾
مَّا لَهُم بِهِۦ مِنۡ عِلۡمٖ وَلَا لِأٓبَآئِهِمۡۚ كَبُرَتۡ كَلِمَةٗ تَخۡرُجُ مِنۡ أَفۡوَٰهِهِمۡۚ إِن يَقُولُونَ إِلَّا كَذِبٗا
e. 22:72; 40:43. (close)
a. 19:91, 92. (close)
a. 22:72; 40:43. (close)
b. 19:91-92. (close)
The expression کبرت کلمة (grievous is the word) is really کبرت ھی کلمة which means that the saying of this word is very grievous, or that it is very grievous even to open the lips with this word and it is against reason and common sense to utter it. The verse constitutes a severe indictment of the doctrine that Jesus is the son of God. This doctrine is not only blasphemous but also revolting to human intellect. It is an insult to human understanding to say that a weak and helpless man who could not save himself from being hung on the cross was God or the Son of God. Misguided and erring leaders of the Christian Church fabricated a most heinous and blasphemous doctrine without even a modicum of sense or reason to support it. They were fully aware of the fact that the disciples of Jesus and early Christians were strict monotheists and yet they departed from their pristine Faith. The later Christians, however, had with them the excellent Islamic teaching about the Unity of God, but they did not benefit by it, nor by the monotheistic beliefs of their own forebears. Without rhyme or reason they ascribed Godhead to a weak human being.
The words, they speak naught but a lie, signify that Jesus never taught such a foolish doctrine but later Christians themselves invented it and they are to blame for it. In fact, even the canonical Gospels lend no support to this blasphemous doctrine. No doubt the Bible has used the epithet "son of God" about Jesus but so has it also done about several other persons. For instance in Exod. 4:22 we have, "Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my first born." See also Gen. 6:2, John 10:35, etc. (close)
فَلَعَلَّکَ بَاخِعٌ نَّفۡسَکَ عَلٰۤی اٰثَارِہِمۡ اِنۡ لَّمۡ یُؤۡمِنُوۡا بِہٰذَا الۡحَدِیۡثِ اَسَفًا ﴿۷﴾
فَلَعَلَّكَ بَٰخِعٞ نَّفۡسَكَ عَلَىٰٓ ءَاثَٰرِهِمۡ إِن لَّمۡ يُؤۡمِنُواْ بِهَٰذَا ٱلۡحَدِيثِ أَسَفًا
b. 26:4. (close)
1664. Bakhi‘ being active participle from Bakha‘a which means, he did a thing most effectively, the verse speaks volumes for the Holy Prophet’s concern and solicitude for the spiritual well-being of his people. His grief over their rejection of the Divine Message and opposition to it had almost killed him. God’s Messengers and His Prophets are full of the milk of human kindness. They cry and weep and grieve for mankind. But such is human ingratitude that those very people for whom they feel so deeply persecute them and seek to kill them. (close)
a. 26:4. (close)
2047. Important Words:
باخع نفسک (grieve thyself to death). باخع is active participle from بخع . They say بخع الشاة i.e. he slaughtered the lamb with extraordinary effectiveness so that the knife reached the back of the neck; the verb بخع is used to denote the doing of anything to a great extent or with extraordinary effectiveness or energy. بخع له نصحه means, he gave him his advice most sincerely. بخع نفسه means, he killed himself with wrath or grief. The Quranic expression فلعلک باخع نفسک means, And maybe thou wilt kill thyself with grief being beyond measure eager for their becoming Muslims (Lane).
It is clear from the context that the people spoken of in these verses are the western Christian nations. God had blessed them with material comforts and wealth and had bestowed upon them power, prestige and dominion. But they fell into the grievous error of taking a frail human being as the son of God. The Holy Prophet’s solicitude and concern for the spiritual well-being of these people and his deep grief over their opposition to truth had almost killed him. But such is human ingratitude that from the very people for whom he felt and grieved so much he received nothing but abuse, invective and ridicule. Never, indeed, were selfless love and kindness so ill requited!
The words, if they believe not in this discourse, allude to the reason of the Prophet’s grief. They mean to say that the Quran contains the solution of all those difficult problems that Christian nations had to face in this life, yet these people who have made so much progress in material sciences are so backward in the spiritual science that they are inviting death and destruction by refusing to accept true guidance. (close)
اِنَّا جَعَلۡنَا مَا عَلَی الۡاَرۡضِ زِیۡنَۃً لَّہَا لِنَبۡلُوَہُمۡ اَیُّہُمۡ اَحۡسَنُ عَمَلًا ﴿۸﴾
إِنَّا جَعَلۡنَا مَا عَلَى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ زِينَةٗ لَّهَا لِنَبۡلُوَهُمۡ أَيُّهُمۡ أَحۡسَنُ عَمَلٗا
1665. Of all the innumerable things that God has created there is not one which has not its particular use or which is devoid of all good. All of them add to the beauty of human life. Muslims were enjoined always to keep in view the great truth underlying these simple words and to devote their time and energy to delving into the great secrets of nature and to exploring the unlimited properties of elements. (close)
c. 5:49; 6:166; 11:8; 67:3. (close)
b. 5:49; 6:166; 11:8; 67:3. (close)
The words, We have made all that is on the earth as an ornament for it, point to the great moral lesson that nothing in this world has been created in vain. Of all the innumerable things that God has created there is not one which has not its particular use or is devoid of all good. All of them add to the beauty of human life. Muslims were expected always to keep in view the great truth underlined in these simple words and to devote their time and energy to delving into the great secrets of nature and to exploring the unlimited properties of its elements. But they ignored this supreme lesson while the Christian peoples of the West remembered it well with the result that they became the most advanced and powerful nations in the world.
It is to be regretted, however, that while Western nations greatly benefited by the lesson taught in the words, We have made all that is on the earth as an ornament for it, they neglected the one embodied in the words, that We may try them as to which of them is best in conduct. No doubt they sought after knowledge and made great advances in science. But the object of the advance and expansion of knowledge is that man’s conduct may become pure and human life more peaceful. But these nations, instead of employing their knowledge and resources to the service of man, have ended by making human life miserable and unbelievable. They have failed to set an example of good conduct and have put their scientific researches to evil use and have thereby laid the foundations of injustice, tyranny and corruption in the world. It is probably to this fact that the present verse refers. (close)
وَ اِنَّا لَجٰعِلُوۡنَ مَا عَلَیۡہَا صَعِیۡدًا جُرُزًا ؕ﴿۹﴾
وَإِنَّا لَجَٰعِلُونَ مَا عَلَيۡهَا صَعِيدٗا جُرُزًا
d. 18:41. (close)
1666. The verse implies a prophecy that the Christian nations of the West, after acquiring wealth, power and dominion and making great discoveries and inventions, would make God’s earth abound, as the Bible says, in sin and iniquity. Divine wrath would be excited and, as the prophecies uttered by the mouths of God’s great Prophets in the Old and New Testaments and the Qur’an and Hadith, widespread calamities would descend upon the earth and all the progress that they will have made and all their handiworks, their lofty and stately buildings, the beauty of their land and all their pomp, glory and grandeur would be completely destroyed. (close)
a. 18:41. (close)
2049. Important Words:
صعیدا (soil) is derived from صعد. They say صعد فی السلم i.e. he ascended the ladder. صارت الحدیقة صعیدا means, the orchard became a desert, i.e. land without trees or herbage. صعید means, high or elevated land or ground; land or ground without any trees; the surface of earth; wide or an ample place; a road; a grave. (Lane & Aqrab).
جرزا (barren) is derived from جرز. They say جرزہ i.e. he cut it or exterminated it. جرزہ الزمان means, time destroyed or extirpated him or it. The Arabs say جرز ما علی المائدة i.e. he ate all that was on the table and did not leave anything; he ate quickly. ارض جرز means, land in which there is no herbage or from which the water is cut off so that it is dried up and is without herbage; or land that produces no herbage (Lane & Aqrab).
The verse means to say that all the things of this world are transitory. Their acquirement is not the end and object of human life. On the contrary, they have been created to serve higher and more sublime purposes—to be used for the service of humanity. But Christian nations of the west, after having acquired wealth, power and dominion and after having made great discoveries and inventions, have not turned their scientific achievements to the service of mankind, but instead have employed them generally to add to human misery. As these scientific discoveries and inventions have not fulfilled the purpose of making human life more peaceful and beautiful, all the works of these peoples would be brought to naught and entirely obliterated. The expression, And We shall make all that is thereon a barren soil, does not mean that the whole world will be destroyed. It only refers to the destruction of the works of Christian nations to whom these verses particularly apply.
Since a similar expression viz. صعیدا زلقا (barren ground) used in v. 41 of this Surah in connection with the parable of "two gardens" clearly applies to the works of Western nations, as shown by the context, the expression صعیدا جرزا (barren soil) must also be taken as applying to them. The words صعیدا جرزا as shown under Important Words mean, a land without herbage or a land of which the herbage has been cut or eaten. Now, 'herbage' in Quranic terminology stands for the works of men, and according to this sense of the word, the verse would mean that all the progress that the western nations were to make and all their handiworks, their lofty and stately buildings, the beautiful scenery of their land and all their pomp, glory and grandeur would be destroyed. This means that a terrible visitation is in store for them. (close)
اَمۡ حَسِبۡتَ اَنَّ اَصۡحٰبَ الۡکَہۡفِ وَ الرَّقِیۡمِ ۙ کَانُوۡا مِنۡ اٰیٰتِنَا عَجَبًا ﴿۱۰﴾
أَمۡ حَسِبۡتَ أَنَّ أَصۡحَٰبَ ٱلۡكَهۡفِ وَٱلرَّقِيمِ كَانُواْ مِنۡ ءَايَٰتِنَا عَجَبًا
1666A. The expression, Ashabul-Kahf, has been variously interpreted as 'People of the Cave;' 'Men of the Cave;' 'Companions of the Cave;' 'Inmates of the Cave' and 'Dwellers of the Cave.' (close)
1667. The verse declares that the Dwellers of the Cave were not strange things. There was nothing about them which might be considered as a departure from the ordinary laws of nature. Curiously enough many fantastic legends have been woven round them. The memorable story of the "Seven Sleepers," as told by Gibbon in his "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," provides an important clue to the solution of the mystery that surrounds the Dwellers of the Cave. 'When the Emperor Decius,' says Gibbon, 'persecuted the Christians, seven noble youths of Ephesus concealed themselves in a spacious cavern in the side of an adjacent mountain, where they were doomed to perish by the tyrant, who gave orders that the entrance of the cavern should be firmly secured with a pile of huge stones.' Now it is a well-known historical fact that early Christians had to suffer untold persecution at the hands of the idolatrous Roman Emperors for their belief in Divine Unity. This persecution began as early as the time of the notorious Emperor Nero who is said to have set fire to Rome; he was fiddling while that great seat of learning and civilization burnt. It continued intermittently till after a brief respite of about forty years it began with renewed fury under Emperor Decius who wanted to restore the religion and institutions of ancient Rome, and with this object in view he began a systematic extermination of Christians. The edicts of Diocletian in 303 A.D., however, surpassed all anti-Christian measures. By these edicts Christian churches in all the provinces of the Empire were demolished, all their sacred books were publicly burnt and the property of the Church was confiscated and Christians were put out of the protection of the land' (Gibbon’s Roman Empire, Enc. Brit. & Story of Rome). To save themselves from this cruel and inhuman persecution its helpless victims sought refuge in hiding in the catacombs at Rome. For this purpose these catacombs were admirably adapted both by the intricacy of their labyrinthine passages and the numerous small chambers and hiding places at different levels which might remain undetected in the dark by pursuers. From the inscriptions on the tombstones in the catacombs it appears that the early Christians were strict monotheists. Jesus has been mentioned only as a shepherd, or a Prophet of God and Mary, his mother, as nothing more than a pious woman. It also appears that Christians who took refuge in the catacombs kept dogs at their entrance which would announce the approach of strangers by their barking. The account of the Dwellers of the Cave thus, in fact, represents the history of early Christians and shows how they suffered untold persecution for their belief in the Unity of God. The position and description of the Cave, as given in v. 18, is of secondary importance. It applies more fully and in greater detail and exactness to the catacombs at Rome than to any other place.
The story of the Dwellers of the Cave may also be taken to apply to Joseph of Arimathaea and his companions. According to William of Malmesbury, Joseph was sent to Britain by St. Philip and having been given a small island in Somersetshire there constructed with twisted twigs the first Christian church in Britain, which afterwards became the Abbey of Glastonbury. According to another account Joseph is said to have wandered into Britain in the year 63 A.D.… According to legends the first Church of Glastonbury was a little wattled building erected by Joseph of Arimathaea as the leader of the twelve apostles sent over to Britain from Gaul by St. Philip (Enc. Brit., 10th edition & 13th edition, under "Joseph of Arimathaea" & under "Glastonbury"). The latest theory, which also finds powerful support from a study of "Dead Sea Scrolls," assigns the caves, in which the early Christians sought refuge and where they committed to writing their beliefs and teachings, to the valley near the Dead Sea.
"Cave" and "Inscription" represent two most prominent aspects of the Christian Faith, viz. that it began as a religion of renunciation and withdrawal from the world and has ended by becoming a religion of entire engrossment in worldly affairs, a religion of business and trade in a world of writings and inscriptions. See also "The Larger Edition of the Commentary," pp. 1486-1490. (close)
2050. Important Words:
الکھف (the Cave). اکتھف الکھف means, he entered the cave. کھف means, a cave excavated out of a mountain in the form of a house; a spacious cave; a place of refuge (Aqrab).
الرقیم (the Inscription) is derived from رقم which means, he wrote a writing; he sealed, stamped, imprinted or impressed. رقم الکتاب means, he marked the writing with the dots or points, and made its letters distinct or plain.
رقمه (raqqama-hu) means, he figured, variegated or decorated the garment or piece of cloth and made it striped or marked it with stripes. رقمت الشیء means, I marked the thing so as to distinguish it from other things, as, for instance, by writing and the like. رقم البعیر means, he cauterized the camel. رقیم signifies any garment or piece of cloth figured, variegated or decorated with a certain or known figuring or decoration, such as is a mark; a book or writing. الرقیم means, the Inscription (Lane & Aqrab). For different accounts of this word see at the end of the commentary of the present verse.
The verse declares the Dwellers of the Cave to be no novel or out of the ordinary thing but as only one of the so many signs of God. There was nothing about them which might be considered a departure from the ordinary laws of nature. It is, however, very regrettable that while according to this verse the Dwellers of the Cave were no object of wonder but were only a sign of God, many commentators of the Quran have woven fantastic legends around them.
Who were these Dwellers of the Cave, where did they live and what were the conditions and circum-stances under which they had to live, are some of the questions that have agitated the minds of commentators for hundreds of years. A good clue to the solution of these baffling questions is to be found in some of the stories related by Muslim historians, Ibn Ishaq being most prominent among them. These stories are summarized below:
1. Ibn Ishaq relates that when idolatry first found its way among Christians, those of them who were strict monotheists being sorely distressed over the condition of their coreligionists renounced their company. This happened in the time of the Roman Emperor Decius, who was a great persecutor of Christians. Some Christian young men who refused to worship idols were arrested and brought before him. He asked them to think over and revise their attitude and himself went on a journey. Instead of submitting to the Emperor’s command they sought safety in flight and took refuge in a cave. On his return from the journey the Emperor ordered these young men to be brought before him. They feared that they would be found out and killed. So they prayed long and fervently in the cave and had hardly finished their prayer when they fell into a deep sleep. Their belongings lay beside them and their dog kept watch at the entrance of the cave. The search for them brought their pursuers to the mouth of the cave but no one could muster enough courage to enter it. The Emperor was counselled to raise a wall before its mouth. He accepted the advice and the mouth of the cave was sealed up. (Ma‘ani, vol. v, p. 16).
2. There is another story to the effect that a disciple of Jesus arrived in a town of which the ruler had commanded that every newcomer, before entering the town, should prostrate himself before the idol at its entrance. The disciple refused to carry out the king’s command. On the contrary, he began to preach against idol-worship which led to many inhabitants of the town becoming Christians. One day, as the result of a scuffle between the king’s son and the owner of a hammam (bath) the former was killed. The owner of the hammam fled. Some young men who had embraced Christianity, apprehending arrest, also fled and along with a landlord, who too had embraced Christianity, took refuge in a cave. The story then proceeds as narrated above by Ibn Ishaq (Ma‘ani, vol. v, p. 19).
3. Ibn ‘Abbas is reported to have said that he was with Mu‘awiyah in an expedition against the Romans when they saw the cave in which اصحاب کھف (Dwellers of the Cave) were believed to have lived. Mu‘awiyah sent some of his men to enter the cave but a storm suddenly arose and prevented them from entering it. According to another narration Ibn‘Abbas is reported to have said that he had even seen the remains of اصحاب کھف which seemed to be 300 years old (Manthur; vol. 4, pp. 22, 214).
4. According to Abu Hayyan there is a cave in Spain which is supposed to contain the dead bodies of the Dwellers of the Cave and also of their dog. Ibn Abi ‘Attiyyah also claims to have seen the cave where according to him the corpses of اصحاب کھف have remained for four or five hundred years. He writes that there are to be found near Granada the ruins of a town which is called the town of Decius. It contains very weird tombs built of stones (Muhit, vol. 6, p. 102).
5. Identical accounts have been given by Ibn Kathir and by ‘Abdur Razzaq and Ibn Hatim in Durr-e-Manthur (vol. 4, p. 224). Some commentators of the Quran have gone so far as to give even the names of the Dwellers of the Cave. For instance, Ibn Kathir (vol. 6, p. 131) has, on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas, given the names of these people and their number.
6. The memorable story of the "Seven Sleepers", as told by Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, provides an important clue to the solution of the mystery that surrounds the Dwellers of the Cave. "When the Emperor Decius", says Gibbon, "persecuted the Christians, seven noble youths of Ephesus concealed themselves in a spacious cavern in the side of an adjacent mountain, where they were doomed to perish by the tyrant, who gave orders that the entrance should be firmly secured with a pile of huge stones. They immediately fell into a deep slumber, which was miraculously prolonged, without injuring the powers of life, during a period of one hundred and eighty-seven years. At the end of that time, the slaves of Adolius, to whom the inheritance of the mountain had descended, removed the stones, to supply materials for some rustic edifice; the light of the sun darted into the cavern, and the seven sleepers were permitted to awake. After a slumber, as they thought, of a few hours, they were pressed by the calls of hunger and resolved that Iamblichus, one of their members, should secretly return to the city to purchase bread for the use of his companions. The youth could no longer recognize the once familiar aspect of his native country; and his surprise was increased by the appearance of a large cross, triumphantly erected over the principal gate of Ephesus. His singular dress and obsolete language confounded the baker to whom he offered an ancient medal of Decius as the current coin of the empire; and Iamblichus, on the suspicion of a secret treasure, was dragged before the judge. Their mutual inquiries produced the amazing discovery that almost two centuries had elapsed since Iamblichus and his friends had escaped from the rage of a pagan tyrant. The bishop of Ephesus, the clergy, the magistrates, the people, and, it is said, the Emperor Theodosius himself, hastened to visit the cavern of the Seven Sleepers, who bestowed their benediction, related their story, and at the same instant peaceably expired" (chapter 33).
The story of the Dwellers of the Cave may also be taken to apply to Joseph of Arimathea and his companions. According to William of Malmesbury, Joseph was sent to Britain by St. Philip and having been given a small island in Somersetshire there constructed with twisted twigs the first Christian Church in Britain, afterwards to become the Abbey of Glastonbury. According to another account Joseph is said to have wandered into Britain in the year 63 A.D. …according to the legends which grew up under the care of the monk, the first Church of Glastonbury was a little wattled building erected by Joseph of Arimathea as the leader of the twelve apostles sent over to Britain from Gaul by St. Philip (Enc. Brit., 10th edition & 13th edition, under Joseph of Arimathaea & Glastonbury).
All these accounts may appear to be no more than picturesque legends or later interpolations or they may belong to the realm of poetry rather than genuine tradition but they do not seem to be completely devoid of all reality and are not without an undercurrent of truth. Anyhow, they possess a deep and far-reaching significance. Joseph of Arimathea may or may not have gone to England or that country may or may not be "the cave", under discussion, but the story of the Dwellers of the Cave does symbolize the story of the early persecution and later rise and expansion of Christianity.
Our recent research, however, assigns the catacombs at Rome rather than Glastonbury as the site of "the cave" and a study of early Christianity lends great weight to this research. Accounts of the Dwellers of the Cave given above by IbnIshaq and other historians also seem to substantiate and reinforce this recent theory.
From these accounts the following facts unmistakably emerge:
(1) That early Christians were believers in the Unity of God and that they suffered great persecution for their beliefs.
(2) That some of these Christians fearing persecution and death took refuge in a cave in the time of a king variously known as Dacyuse, Dacyanuse or, in Latin, Decius.
(3) That the persecutors of these Christians were idol-worshippers who sought to compel them to worship their own idols and offer sacrifices to them.
(4) That these young men came out of the cave in the time of a king named Nandusis or, as Gibbon says, Theodosius.
Now it is a well-known historical fact that early Christians had to suffer untold persecutions at the hands of the idolatrous Roman Emperors for their belief in the Oneness of God. This persecution began as early as in the time of the notorious Emperor Nero who is said to have set fire to Rome and fiddled while that great seat of learning and civilization was burning. It continued intermittently till the reign of the Emperor Constantine who became converted to Christianity and made it the religion of the State. According to Tacitus Nero inflicted most inhuman tortures upon Christians in order to shift the blame for the burning of Rome on to them. He caused them to be hanged, burned alive and thrown to hungry dogs. Even St. Peter is said to have met his death at this cruel Emperor’s hands. Tertullian states that Peter was crucified under Nero, and Origen adds that at his own request he was crucified head downwards…Early in the third century the grave of Peter and Paul was shown in the Vatican and their relics were moved to the catacombs in 258 A. D. Among the tombs to be lately discovered in the catacombs are some of those disciples whose names have been mentioned in the Gospels and with whom Peter is said to have stayed (Enc. Brit., Every Man’s Encyclopaedia, & Gibbon’s Roman Empire, under Peter, Catacombs & Nero, and Story of Rome by Norwood Young).
The persecution continued in the reign of Domitian. But it was not only tyrants like Nero and Domitian who persecuted Christians but great and virtuous princes like Trajan and Marcus Aurelius also punished these unoffending people with death, exile and imprisonment. They had, however, a brief respite of about forty years after which their persecution again began with renewed fury under the Emperor Decius. This time the persecution was so severe that compared with it the former condition was a state of perfect freedom and security. Decius wanted to restore the religion and institutions of ancient Rome and with this object in view he began a systematic extermination of Christianity. The edicts of Diocletian in 303 A.D., however, surpassed all anti-Christian measures. By these edicts Christian Churches in all the provinces of the empire were demolished, all their sacred books were publicly burnt and the property of the Church was confiscated and Christians were put out of the protection of the land (Gibbon’s Roman Empire).
To save themselves from this most cruel and inhuman persecution the helpless Christians had to seek refuge in concealment and from a study of the catacombs at Rome it appears that they proved havens of safety for them. These catacombs which have been referred to in the Quran as "the cave" were admirably suited to the needs of Christians who had to remain in concealment for long intervals. They had built schools and chapels and also buried the dead bodies of their saints and holy men in them. Though some of the statements as to the employment of the catacombs in times of persecution may have been somewhat exaggerated, we have clear evidence that they were used as places of refuge from the fury of the heathen, in which the believers—especially the bishops and clergy, who would naturally be the first objects of attack—might secrete themselves until the storm had blown over. This was a purpose for which they were admirably adapted both by the intricacy of their labyrinthine passages, in which anyone not possessing the clue would inevitably be lost, and the numerous small chambers and hiding places at different levels which might be passed unperceived in the dark by pursuers. As a rule also the catacombs had more than one entrance, and frequently communicated with a sand-quarry; so that while one entrance was carefully watched, the pursued might escape in a totally different direction by another. These catacombs have several stories which are connected with each other by a vast labyrinth of narrow galleries, interspersed with small chambers, excavated at successive levels. These dark, narrow and labyrinthic galleries have gone on for hundreds of miles. Padri Marchi has estimated the length of the galleries at from 800 to 900 miles and the number of interments at between 6,000,000 and 7,000,000. Martigny’s estimate is 587 miles and Northcote’s lower still, at not less than 350 miles (Enc. Brit., 9th edition, under Catacombs).
From the inscriptions on the tomb-stones in the catacombs it appears that the early Christians were strict monotheists. There is not a single word on the inscriptions which indicated that they believed in Jesus as God or the Son of God. He has been represented only as a shepherd or a Prophet of God, which he really was. Nor has Mary, his mother, been mentioned as anything more than a pious woman. The story of the tribe of the Prophet Jonah and that of Noah’s flood find repeated and prominent mention in the inscriptions and engravings. This clearly shows that early Christians regarded the Old Testament with greater respect than do present-day Christians. It also appears that Christians who took refuge in the catacombs kept dogs at their entrance which would announce the approach of strangers by their barking.
To be brief, the account of the Dwellers of the Cave constitutes a representation of the history of early Christians and shows how they conducted a vigorous campaign against idolatry and polytheistic beliefs and suffered untold persecutions for their belief in the Unity of God and how their successors ended by disowning almost all the fundamental doctrines of their Faith. The position of "the cave", however, is of secondary importance, though from the facts narrated above its description as given in v. 18 applies more fully and in greater detail and exactness to the catacombs at Rome than to any other place.
Similarly, very strange and widely divergent accounts of الرقیم (the Inscription) have been given by commentators. According to some it was a tablet of lead or copper or a slab of stone on which the names of the Dwellers of the Cave, their ancestry, etc., were inscribed. Some say it was the name of the town or village from which they came or the name of the mountain or valley in which that "cave" was situated, yet according to others it was the name of their dog or the coin which they used. Leaving aside the mental wanderings of commentators, these two words—"cave" and "inscription"––represent the two most prominent aspects of the Christian Faith, viz. that it began as a religion of renunciation and withdrawal from the world and ended by becoming a religion of entire engrossment in worldly affairs, a religion of business and trade in a world of writings and inscriptions. See also Tafsir-e-Kabir by Hadrat Khalifatul Masih II. (close)
اِذۡ اَوَی الۡفِتۡیَۃُ اِلَی الۡکَہۡفِ فَقَالُوۡا رَبَّنَاۤ اٰتِنَا مِنۡ لَّدُنۡکَ رَحۡمَۃً وَّ ہَیِّیٴۡ لَنَا مِنۡ اَمۡرِنَا رَشَدًا ﴿۱۱﴾
إِذۡ أَوَى ٱلۡفِتۡيَةُ إِلَى ٱلۡكَهۡفِ فَقَالُواْ رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحۡمَةٗ وَهَيِّئۡ لَنَا مِنۡ أَمۡرِنَا رَشَدٗا
2051. Important Words:
رشدا (right guidance). رشد (rashadun) is the noun-infinitive from رشد (rashida) as رشد (rushdun) is the noun-infinitive from رشد (rashada). رشد او رشد means, he took or followed a right way or course or direction. They say رشد امرہ (rashida) i.e. he took or followed a right course in his affair. بلغ رشدہ (rushda-hu) means, he attained years of discretion, when he was able to take or follow a right course. Some say that رشد (rushdun) relates to the things of the present life and to those of the life to come; and رشد (rashadun) only to those of the life to come but this distinction does not accord with Arabic idiom. (Lane, Aqrab & Mufradat).
The verse means to say that the Dwellers of the Cave prayed to God for His Mercy and deliverance from the difficult situation in which they found themselves. (close)
فَضَرَبۡنَا عَلٰۤی اٰذَانِہِمۡ فِی الۡکَہۡفِ سِنِیۡنَ عَدَدًا ﴿ۙ۱۲﴾
فَضَرَبۡنَا عَلَىٰٓ ءَاذَانِهِمۡ فِي ٱلۡكَهۡفِ سِنِينَ عَدَدٗا
1668. The Arabic expression Daraba‘ala Udhnihi means, he prevented him from hearing. The Quranic expression means, 'We prevented them from hearing.' It also means, 'We made them sleep by preventing any sound from penetrating into their ears in consequence of which they would have awakened' (Lane). Literally, the verse means, 'We prevented any sound from penetrating into their ears,' i.e. for a number of years they remained wholly isolated from the affairs of the outside world and did not know what was happening there. (close)
2052. Important Words:
ضربنا علی اذانھم (We sealed up their ears). The word ضرب has a vast variety of meanings. They say ضرب علی یدہ i.e. he prevented him from doing a thing that he had begun. ضرب علی اذنه means, he prevented him from hearing. So the Quranic expression ضربنا علی اذانھم means, We prevented them from hearing. It also means, We made them sleep by preventing any sound from penetrating into their ears in consequence of which they would have awoke (Lane & Aqrab). See also 2:274 & 4:35.
Literally the verse means, We prevented any sound from penetrating into their ears, i.e. for a number of years they remained wholly cut off from the affairs of the outside world and did not know what was happening there. (close)
ثُمَّ بَعَثۡنٰہُمۡ لِنَعۡلَمَ اَیُّ الۡحِزۡبَیۡنِ اَحۡصٰی لِمَا لَبِثُوۡۤا اَمَدًا ﴿٪۱۳﴾
ثُمَّ بَعَثۡنَٰهُمۡ لِنَعۡلَمَ أَيُّ ٱلۡحِزۡبَيۡنِ أَحۡصَىٰ لِمَا لَبِثُوٓاْ أَمَدٗا
1669. There seemed to be two parties among the early Christians: (a) Those who did not like to dissemble or dissimulate and knowing no compromise with unbelief and idolatry suffered persecution for their faith with patience and fortitude. These people had to seek refuge in caves. (b) Those who thinking prudence to be the better part of valour concealed their faith and saved themselves from persecution. "Two parties" may also refer to the persecutors and the persecuted. (close)
2053. Important Words:
امدا (the time) is from امد (amida). They say ضرب له امدا i.e. he assigned or appointed for him or it a term or limit. بلغ امدہmeans, he or it reached or attained his or its utmost or extreme extent, term etc. امد means, time considered with regard to its end; the utmost or the extreme extent, term, limit, point or reach; the period of life which one has reached; each of the two terms of the life of a man, i.e. the time of his birth and the time of his death; the starting place and the finish (of horses in a race); any space of time; a space of time of unknown limit; a particular time etc. The difference between امدand زمان is that whereas the former is time considered with regard to its end, the latter is time considered with regard to both its end and its beginning. Similarly, the difference between امد and ابد is that while the former means time limited in duration, the latter means time everlasting. The Arabs say الدنیا امد والاخرة ابد i.e. the present state of existence is limited in duration, but the final state of existence is everlasting (Lane & Mufradat).
There were two parties among the early Christians: (a) Those who did not like to dissemble or dissimulate and knowing no compromise with unbelief and idolatry suffered persecution for their faith with patience and fortitude. These people had to seek refuge in caves: (b) Those who thinking prudence to be the better part of valour, concealed their faith and saved themselves from persecution. Of these two parties the one which suffered most were in a better position to remember the duration of the period of their persecution. Or it may be that the words "two parties" refer to the persecutors and the persecuted. (close)
نَحۡنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَیۡکَ نَبَاَہُمۡ بِالۡحَقِّ ؕ اِنَّہُمۡ فِتۡیَۃٌ اٰمَنُوۡا بِرَبِّہِمۡ وَ زِدۡنٰہُمۡ ہُدًی ﴿٭ۖ۱۴﴾
نَّحۡنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيۡكَ نَبَأَهُم بِٱلۡحَقِّۚ إِنَّهُمۡ فِتۡيَةٌ ءَامَنُواْ بِرَبِّهِمۡ وَزِدۡنَٰهُمۡ هُدٗى
a. 8:3; 47:18. (close)
1670. The verse shows that many fantastic stories were current about the Dwellers of the Cave in the Holy Prophet’s time. The truth about them, however, is that they were young men of noble conduct who had staked their all for the sake of their Lord and that their faith had steadily grown under persecution. (close)
a. 8:3; 47:18. (close)
The verse shows that many fantastic stories were current about the Dwellers of the Cave in the Holy Prophet’s time. The truth about them, however, is that they were young men of noble conduct who had staked their all for the sake of their Lord and that their faith had steadily grown under persecution. (close)