Sura/Chapter:

Verse:    Count: 110
Tafseer/Commentary:
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Translations:
18: Al-Kahf - الكهف

18:1
[ Original ]
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ الْكِتَابَ وَلَمْ يَجْعَلْ لَهُ عِوَجًا ۜ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Praise be to Allah, Who hath sent to His Servant the Book, and hath allowed therein no Crookedness:
[ Saheeh International ]
[All] praise is [due] to Allah, who has sent down upon His Servant the Book and has not made therein any deviance.
Tafseer Commentary

2325 See n. 2324 to 17:111. The theme of the last Surah, that Allah is good and worthy of all praise from His creatures, to whom He has granted a clear revelation, is continued in this Surah. The spirit of man makes gradual progress upwards, through the grace and mercy of Allah.

2326 Some people's idea of a Sacred Book is that it should be full of mysteriesdark corners, ambiguous expressions, words so far removed from human speech that they cover anything or nothing. Pagan oracles were couched in language which suggested one meaning to the hearer and claimed to have the very opposite meaning in the light of events which actually happened subsequently. They were distinctly crooked, not straight. In the next verse, the word "Straight" (qayyim) is used to characterise the Qur'an, in contrast to this word "crooked" ('iwaj). See also 19:36, n. 2488.


18:2
[ Original ]
قَيِّمًا لِيُنْذِرَ بَأْسًا شَدِيدًا مِنْ لَدُنْهُ وَيُبَشِّرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ الَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا حَسَنًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
(He hath made it) Straight (and Clear) in order that He may warn (the godless) of a terrible Punishment from Him, and that He may give Glad Tidings to the Believers who work righteous deeds, that they shall have a goodly Reward,
[ Saheeh International ]
[He has made it] straight, to warn of severe punishment from Him and to give good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a good reward
Tafseer Commentary

2327 Qayyim: straight, that which has no bends and no corners to mystify people, that which speaks dearly and unambiguously, that which guides to the right path. Cf. 9:36. where the adjective is used for a straight usage, in contrast to usages, which tend to mystify and deceive people. The Qur'an is above all things straight, clear, and perspicuous. Its directions are plain for everyone to understand. Any book that deals with the highest mysteries of spiritual life must necessarily have portions whose full meaning is clearer to some minds than to others not so well prepared. But here there is nowhere any mystification, any desire to wrap up things in dark sayings repugnant to human reason. Allah's purpose is to give clear warnings of spiritual dangers and lead up to the highest bliss.


18:3
[ Original ]
مَاكِثِينَ فِيهِ أَبَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Wherein they shall remain forever:
[ Saheeh International ]
In which they will remain forever
Tafseer Commentary

2328 Cf. 4:122, 43:71, 65:11, 98:8.


18:4
[ Original ]
وَيُنْذِرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا اتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ وَلَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Further, that He may warn those (also) who say, "(Allah) hath begotten a son":
[ Saheeh International ]
And to warn those who say, "Allah has taken a son."
Tafseer Commentary

2329 The warning is not only needed for those who deny Allah or deny His Message, but also for those whose false ideas of Allah degrade religion in supposing that Allah begot a son, for Allah is One and is High above any ideas of physical reproduction.


18:5
[ Original ]
مَا لَهُمْ بِهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ وَلَا لِآبَائِهِمْ ۚ كَبُرَتْ كَلِمَةً تَخْرُجُ مِنْ أَفْوَاهِهِمْ ۚ إِنْ يَقُولُونَ إِلَّا كَذِبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
No knowledge have they of such a thing, nor had their fathers. It is a grievous thing that issues from their mouths as a saying. What they say is nothing but falsehood!
[ Saheeh International ]
They have no knowledge of it, nor had their fathers. Grave is the word that comes out of their mouths; they speak not except a lie.
Tafseer Commentary

2330 The attribution of a son "begotten" to Allah has no basis in fact or in reason. It is only a "word" or "saying" that issues out of their mouths. It is not even a dogma that is reasoned out or can be explained in any way that is consistent with the sublime attributes of Allah. (R).


18:6
[ Original ]
فَلَعَلَّكَ بَاخِعٌ نَفْسَكَ عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِمْ إِنْ لَمْ يُؤْمِنُوا بِهَٰذَا الْحَدِيثِ أَسَفًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Thou wouldst only, perchance, fret thyself to death, following after them, in grief, if they believe not in this Message.
[ Saheeh International ]
Then perhaps you would kill yourself through grief over them, [O Muhammad], if they do not believe in this message, [and] out of sorrow.
Tafseer Commentary

2331 In a reasonable world the preaching of a reasonable Faith like that of Islam would win universal acceptance. But the world is not altogether reasonable. It caused great distress to the unselfish Preacher of Islam that his Message met with so much opposition. He wanted to point the way to salvation. He only got, in the Makkan period, abuse from the chiefs of the Makkans-abuse and persecution, not only for himself but for the Truth which he was preaching. A heart less stout than his might have been appalled at what seemed the hopeless task of reclaiming the world from falsehood, superstition, selfishness, wrong, and oppression. He is here consoled, and told that he was not to fret himself to death: he was nobly doing his duty, and, as later events showed, the seed of Truth was already germinating, although this was not visible at the time. Besides, these "chiefs" and "leaders" were only strutting in false plumes: their glory was soon to fade forever.


18:7
[ Original ]
إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا مَا عَلَى الْأَرْضِ زِينَةً لَهَا لِنَبْلُوَهُمْ أَيُّهُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
That which is on earth we have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them - as to which of them are best in conduct.
[ Saheeh International ]
Indeed, We have made that which is on the earth adornment for it that We may test them [as to] which of them is best in deed.
Tafseer Commentary

2332 This world's goods-worldly power, glory, wealth, position, and all that men scramble for-are but a fleeting show. The possession or want of them does not betoken a man's real value or position in the spiritual world, the world which is to endure. Yet they have their uses. They test a man's sterling quality. He who becomes their slave loses rank in the spiritual world. He who uses them if he gets them, and does not fall into despair if he does not get them, shows his true mettle and quality. His conduct proclaims him.


18:8
[ Original ]
وَإِنَّا لَجَاعِلُونَ مَا عَلَيْهَا صَعِيدًا جُرُزًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Verily what is on earth we shall make but as dust and dry soil (without growth or herbage).
[ Saheeh International ]
And indeed, We will make that which is upon it [into] a barren ground.
Tafseer Commentary

2333 The fairest sights on the earth will become as dust and waste when this earth vanishes, and the spiritual values are restored.


18:9
[ Original ]
أَمْ حَسِبْتَ أَنَّ أَصْحَابَ الْكَهْفِ وَالرَّقِيمِ كَانُوا مِنْ آيَاتِنَا عَجَبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Or dost thou reflect that the Companions of the Cave and of the Inscription were wonders among Our Sign?
[ Saheeh International ]
Or have you thought that the companions of the cave and the inscription were, among Our signs, a wonder?
Tafseer Commentary

2334 A wonderful story or allegory is now referred to. Its lessons are: (1) the relativity of Time, (2) the unreality of the position of oppressor and oppressed, persecutor and persecuted, on this earth, (3) the truth of the final Resurrection, when true values will be restored, and (4) the potency of Faith and Prayer to lead to the Right. Wonderful though such things may seem to be, they happen every day on Allah's earth!

2335 The unbelieving Quraysh were in the habit of putting posers to the Prophetquestions which they got from Christians and Jews, which they thought the Prophet would be unable to answer. In this way they hoped to discredit him. One of these questions was about the floating Christian legend of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus. The prophet not only told them the main story but pointed out the the variations that were current, and rebuked men for disputing about such details (18:22). Most important, he treated the story (under inspiration) as a parable, pointing to spiritual lessons of the highest value. This is Revelation in the highest sense of the term. The story is recapitulated in n. 2337 below.

2336 Raqim = Inscription. So interpreted by the Jalalayn, and the majority of Commentators agree. See. n.


18:10
[ Original ]
إِذْ أَوَى الْفِتْيَةُ إِلَى الْكَهْفِ فَقَالُوا رَبَّنَا آتِنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ رَحْمَةً وَهَيِّئْ لَنَا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا رَشَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Behold, the youths betook themselves to the Cave: they said, "Our Lord! bestow on us Mercy from Thyself, and dispose of our affair for us in the right way!"
[ Saheeh International ]
[Mention] when the youths retreated to the cave and said, "Our Lord, grant us from Yourself mercy and prepare for us from our affair right guidance."
Tafseer Commentary

2337 The bare Christian story (without the spiritual lessons taught in the Qur'an) is told in Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (end of chapter 33). In the reign of a Roman Emperor who persecuted the Christians, seven Christian youths of Ephesus left the town and hid themselves in a cave in a mountain near by. They fell asleep, and remained asleep for some generations or centuries. When the wall which sealed up the caves was being demolished, the youths awoke. They still thought of the world in which they had previously lived. They had no idea of the duration of time. But when one of them went to the town to purchase provisions, he found that the whole world had changed. The Christian religion, instead of being persecuted was fashionable: in fact it was now the State religion. His dress and speech, and the money which he brought, seemed to belong to another world. This attracted attention. The great ones of the land visited the Cave, and verified the tale by questioning the man's Companions. When the story became very popular and circulated throughout the Roman Empire, we may wll suppose that an Inscription was put up at the mouth of the Cave. See verse 9 and n. 2336. inscription was probably to be seen for many years afterwards, as Ephesus was a famous city on the west coast of Asia Minor, about fory to fifty miles south Smyrna. Later on, the Caliph al Wathiq (842-846 A.C.) sent an expedition to examine and identify the locality, as he did about Dhu al Qarnayn barrier in Central Asi (Appendix VI at the end of this Surah). A popular story circulating from mouth to mouth would necessarily be vague as to dates and vary very much in details. Somewhere about the 6th century A.C. a Syriac writer reduced it to writing. He suggested that the youths were seven in number; that they went to sleep in the reign of the Emperor Decius (who reigned from 249-251 A.C., and who was a violent persecutor of Christians); and that they awoke in the reign Theodosius II, who reigned from 408 to 450 A.C. In our literature Decious is known as Daqyanus (from the adjectival Latin from Dacianus), and the name stands as a symbol of injustice and oppression, and also of things old fashioned and out-of-date, as res decianae must have been two to three centuries after Decius.

2338 The youths hid in the cave, but they trusted in Allah, and made over their whole case to Him in prayer. Then they apparently fell asleep and knew nothing of what was happening in the world outside.


18:11
[ Original ]
فَضَرَبْنَا عَلَىٰ آذَانِهِمْ فِي الْكَهْفِ سِنِينَ عَدَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Then We draw (a veil) over their ears, for a number of years, in the Cave, (so that they heard not):
[ Saheeh International ]
So We cast [a cover of sleep] over their ears within the cave for a number of years.
Tafseer Commentary

2339 Drew (a veil) over their ears: i.e., sealed their ears so that they heard nothing. As they were in the Cave they saw nothing. So they were completely cut off from the outer world. It was as if they had died, with their knowledge and ideas remaining at the point of time when they entered the Cave. It is as if watch stops at the exact moment of some accident, and any one taking it up afterwards can precisely fix the time of the accidents.


18:12
[ Original ]
ثُمَّ بَعَثْنَاهُمْ لِنَعْلَمَ أَيُّ الْحِزْبَيْنِ أَحْصَىٰ لِمَا لَبِثُوا أَمَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Then We roused them, in order to test which of the two parties was best at calculating the term of years they had tarried!
[ Saheeh International ]
Then We awakened them that We might show which of the two factions was most precise in calculating what [extent] they had remained in time.
Tafseer Commentary

2340 Roused them: or raised them up from their sleep or whatever condition they had fallen into (18:18), so that they began to perceive the things around them, but only with the memories of the time at which they had ceased to be in touch with the world.

2341 When they awoke to consciousness, they had lost all count of time. Though they had all entered together, and lain together on the same place for the same length of time, their impressions of the time that had passed were quite different. Time is thus related to our own internal experiences. We have to learn the lesson that men as good as ourselves may yet differ as to their reactions to certain facts, and that in such matters disputes are unseemly. It is best to say, "Allah knows best" (18:19).


18:13
[ Original ]
نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ نَبَأَهُمْ بِالْحَقِّ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ فِتْيَةٌ آمَنُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ وَزِدْنَاهُمْ هُدًى
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
We relate to thee their story in truth: they were youths who believed in their Lord, and We advanced them in guidance:
[ Saheeh International ]
It is We who relate to you, [O Muhammad], their story in truth. Indeed, they were youths who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance.
Tafseer Commentary

2342 Their Faith carried them higher and higher on the road to Truth. Faith is cumulative. Each step leads higher and higher, by the grace and mercy of Allah.


18:14
[ Original ]
وَرَبَطْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ إِذْ قَامُوا فَقَالُوا رَبُّنَا رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَنْ نَدْعُوَ مِنْ دُونِهِ إِلَٰهًا ۖ لَقَدْ قُلْنَا إِذًا شَطَطًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
We gave strength to their hearts: Behold, they stood up and said: "Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and of the earth: never shall we call upon any god other than Him: if we did, we should indeed have uttered an enormity!
[ Saheeh International ]
And We made firm their hearts when they stood up and said, "Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. Never will we invoke besides Him any deity. We would have certainly spoken, then, an excessive transgression.
Tafseer Commentary

2343 So that they were not afraid to speak out openly, and protest the truth of the Unity which they clearly saw in their own minds and hearts.

2344 We may suppose them to have taken their stand and made a public protest before they betook themselves to the Cave (18:16). The story really begins at 18:13, and the verses 18:9-12 may be considered as introductory. As the emphasis is on spiritual lessons, the facts stated in the introductory part are passed over lightly in the story.


18:15
[ Original ]
هَٰؤُلَاءِ قَوْمُنَا اتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ آلِهَةً ۖ لَوْلَا يَأْتُونَ عَلَيْهِمْ بِسُلْطَانٍ بَيِّنٍ ۖ فَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"These our people have taken for worship gods other than Him: why do they not bring forward an authority clear (and convincing) for what they do? Who doth more wrong than such as invent a falsehood against Allah.
[ Saheeh International ]
These, our people, have taken besides Him deities. Why do they not bring for [worship of] them a clear authority? And who is more unjust than one who invents about Allah a lie?"
Tafseer Commentary

2345 Besides the heathen gods, the cult of the Emperors also became fashionable in the Roman Empire in the first three centuries of the Christian Era. The statue of Diana (Artemis) at Ephesus had been one of the wonders of the ancient world. The city was a great seaport and the capital of Roman Asia. We may therefore imagine how the heathen cults must have flourished there. St. Paul spent three years preaching there, and was mobbed and assaulted, and compelled to leave (Acts, 19:1-9).


18:16
[ Original ]
وَإِذِ اعْتَزَلْتُمُوهُمْ وَمَا يَعْبُدُونَ إِلَّا اللَّهَ فَأْوُوا إِلَى الْكَهْفِ يَنْشُرْ لَكُمْ رَبُّكُمْ مِنْ رَحْمَتِهِ وَيُهَيِّئْ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَمْرِكُمْ مِرْفَقًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"When ye turn away from them and the things they worship other than Allah, betake yourselves to the Cave: Your Lord will shower His mercies on you and disposes of your affair towards comfort and ease."
[ Saheeh International ]
[The youths said to one another], "And when you have withdrawn from them and that which they worship other than Allah, retreat to the cave. Your Lord will spread out for you of His mercy and will prepare for you from your affair facility."
Tafseer Commentary

2346 That is, 'do not be afraid of anything; put your whole case in the hands of Allah; at present you are being persecuted; he will solve your difficulties and give you ease and comfort'. The public protest ends at verse 15. In verse 16 they are taking counsel among themselves. After they go into the Cave, verse 17 introduces us to the scene where they are lying in the midst of the Cave in tranquil confidence in Allah.


18:17
[ Original ]
وَتَرَى الشَّمْسَ إِذَا طَلَعَتْ تَزَاوَرُ عَنْ كَهْفِهِمْ ذَاتَ الْيَمِينِ وَإِذَا غَرَبَتْ تَقْرِضُهُمْ ذَاتَ الشِّمَالِ وَهُمْ فِي فَجْوَةٍ مِنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ ۗ مَنْ يَهْدِ اللَّهُ فَهُوَ الْمُهْتَدِ ۖ وَمَنْ يُضْلِلْ فَلَنْ تَجِدَ لَهُ وَلِيًّا مُرْشِدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Thou wouldst have seen the sun, when it rose, declining to the right from their Cave, and when it set, turning away from them to the left, while they lay in the open space in the midst of the Cave. Such are among the Signs of Allah. He whom Allah guides is rightly guided; but he whom Allah leaves to stray,- for him wilt thou find no protector to lead him to the Right Way.
[ Saheeh International ]
And [had you been present], you would see the sun when it rose, inclining away from their cave on the right, and when it set, passing away from them on the left, while they were [laying] within an open space thereof. That was from the signs of Allah. He whom Allah guides is the [rightly] guided, but he whom He leaves astray - never will you find for him a protecting guide.
Tafseer Commentary

2347 In the latitude of Ephesus , 38*north, i.e. well above the sun's northern declination, a cave opening to the north, would never have the heat of the sun within it, as the sunny side would be the south. If the youths lay on their backs with their faces looking to the north, i.e. towards the entrance of the Cave, the sun would rise on their right side, declining to the south, and set on their left sides leaving them cool and comfortable.

2348 The youths, having faith and trust in Allah, found safety and refuge in the Cave. They were protected from the persecution and violence of the heathen. Their prayer (18:16) was heard.


18:18
[ Original ]
وَتَحْسَبُهُمْ أَيْقَاظًا وَهُمْ رُقُودٌ ۚ وَنُقَلِّبُهُمْ ذَاتَ الْيَمِينِ وَذَاتَ الشِّمَالِ ۖ وَكَلْبُهُمْ بَاسِطٌ ذِرَاعَيْهِ بِالْوَصِيدِ ۚ لَوِ اطَّلَعْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ لَوَلَّيْتَ مِنْهُمْ فِرَارًا وَلَمُلِئْتَ مِنْهُمْ رُعْبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Thou wouldst have deemed them awake, whilst they were asleep, and We turned them on their right and on their left sides: their dog stretching forth his two fore-legs on the threshold: if thou hadst come up on to them, thou wouldst have certainly turned back from them in flight, and wouldst certainly have been filled with terror of them.
[ Saheeh International ]
And you would think them awake, while they were asleep. And We turned them to the right and to the left, while their dog stretched his forelegs at the entrance. If you had looked at them, you would have turned from them in flight and been filled by them with terror.
Tafseer Commentary

2349 Perhaps their eyes were open, even though their senses were sealed in sleep. They turned about their sides as men do in sleep.

2350 The name of their dog is traditionally known as Qitmir, but see n. 2336 above.

2351 This graphic picture of the sleepers explains the human mechanism by which their safely was ensured by Allah from their Pagan enemies.


18:19
[ Original ]
وَكَذَٰلِكَ بَعَثْنَاهُمْ لِيَتَسَاءَلُوا بَيْنَهُمْ ۚ قَالَ قَائِلٌ مِنْهُمْ كَمْ لَبِثْتُمْ ۖ قَالُوا لَبِثْنَا يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ ۚ قَالُوا رَبُّكُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا لَبِثْتُمْ فَابْعَثُوا أَحَدَكُمْ بِوَرِقِكُمْ هَٰذِهِ إِلَى الْمَدِينَةِ فَلْيَنْظُرْ أَيُّهَا أَزْكَىٰ طَعَامًا فَلْيَأْتِكُمْ بِرِزْقٍ مِنْهُ وَلْيَتَلَطَّفْ وَلَا يُشْعِرَنَّ بِكُمْ أَحَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Such (being their state), we raised them up (from sleep), that they might question each other. Said one of them, "How long have ye stayed (here)?" They said, "We have stayed (perhaps) a day, or part of a day." (At length) they (all) said, "(Allah) (alone) knows best how long ye have stayed here.... Now send ye then one of you with this money of yours to the town: let him find out which is the best food (to be had) and bring some to you, that (ye may) satisfy your hunger therewith: And let him behave with care and courtesy, and let him not inform any one about you.
[ Saheeh International ]
And similarly, We awakened them that they might question one another. Said a speaker from among them, "How long have you remained [here]?" They said, "We have remained a day or part of a day." They said, "Your Lord is most knowing of how long you remained. So send one of you with this silver coin of yours to the city and let him look to which is the best of food and bring you provision from it and let him be cautious. And let no one be aware of you.
Tafseer Commentary

2352 This is the point of the story. Their own human impressions were to be compared, each with the other. They were to be made to see that with the best goodwill and the most honest enquiry they might reach different conclusions; that they were not to waste their time in vain controversies, but to get on to the main business of life; and that Allah alone had full knowledge of the things that seem to us so strange, or inconsistent, or inexplicable, or that produce different impressions on different minds. If they entered the Cave in the morning and woke up in the afternoon, one of them might think they had been there only a few hours-only part of the day. This relative or fallacious impression of Time also gives us an inkling of the state when there will be no Time, of the Resurrection when all our little impressions of this life will be corrected by the final Reality. This mystery of time had puzzled many contemplative minds. Cf. "Dark time that haunts us with the briefness of our days" (Thomas Wolfe in "Of Time and the River") ( Cf. n. 2949).

2353 They now give up barren controversy and come to the practical business of life. But their thoughts are conditioned by the state of things that existed when they entered the Cave. The money they carried was the money coined in the reign of the monarch who persecuted the Religion of Unity and favoured the false cults of Paganism.

2354 Best food:, i.e., purest, most wholesome perhaps also most suitable for those who rejected idol worship, i.e., not dedicated to idols. For they still imagined the world in the same state in which they had known it before they entered the Cave.


18:20
[ Original ]
إِنَّهُمْ إِنْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلَيْكُمْ يَرْجُمُوكُمْ أَوْ يُعِيدُوكُمْ فِي مِلَّتِهِمْ وَلَنْ تُفْلِحُوا إِذًا أَبَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"For if they should come upon you, they would stone you or force you to return to their cult, and in that case ye would never attain prosperity."
[ Saheeh International ]
Indeed, if they come to know of you, they will stone you or return you to their religion. And never would you succeed, then - ever."
Tafseer Commentary

2355 They think that the world had not changed, and that the fierce persecution they knew. was still raging, under which a man had to pay by his life for his religious faith, if he could not conform to Pagan worship.

2356 That is, never succeed in keeping your religion. To become a renegade, to give up the Truth which you have won, simply on account of the fear of men, is the most despicable form of cowardice, and would rightly close the door of salvation if strict justice were to be done. But even then Allah's Mercy comes to the coward's aid so long as the door of repentance is open.


18:21
[ Original ]
وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَعْثَرْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ لِيَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ وَأَنَّ السَّاعَةَ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهَا إِذْ يَتَنَازَعُونَ بَيْنَهُمْ أَمْرَهُمْ ۖ فَقَالُوا ابْنُوا عَلَيْهِمْ بُنْيَانًا ۖ رَبُّهُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِهِمْ ۚ قَالَ الَّذِينَ غَلَبُوا عَلَىٰ أَمْرِهِمْ لَنَتَّخِذَنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ مَسْجِدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Thus did We make their case known to the people, that they might know that the promise of Allah is true, and that there can be no doubt about the Hour of Judgment. Behold, they dispute among themselves as to their affair. (Some) said, "Construct a building over them": Their Lord knows best about them: those who prevailed over their affair said, "Let us surely build a place of worship over them."
[ Saheeh International ]
And similarly, We caused them to be found that they [who found them] would know that the promise of Allah is truth and that of the Hour there is no doubt. [That was] when they disputed among themselves about their affair and [then] said, "Construct over them a structure. Their Lord is most knowing about them." Said those who prevailed in the matter, "We will surely take [for ourselves] over them a masjid."
Tafseer Commentary

2357 Thus: in this way, by these means, i.e., by the sending out of one of the Sleepers with the old money to the town to buy provisions. His old-fashioned dress, appearance, and speech, and the old uncurrent money which he brought, at once drew the attention of people to him . When they learnt his story, they realized that Allah, Who can protect His servants thus and raise them up from sleep after such a long time, has power to raise up men for the Resurrection, and that His promise of goodness and mercy to those who serve Him is true and was exemplified in this striking way. On the other hand, to the men of the Cave themselves, it became clear that Allah can change the situation before we are aware, and our hope in Him is not futile, and that even when we are on the brink of despair, a revolution is surely working in the world before the world itself realises it.

2358 The perversity of man is such that as soon as ever a glimpse of truth becomes manifest, men fall into controversies about it. The Sleepers could not judge about the duration of their stay in the Cave, but they wisely left the matter and attended to the urgent business of their lives. The townsfolk could not agree as to the significance of the event; they fell to discussing immaterial details. What sort of a memorial should they raise? a house or a place of worship or a tablet? The place of worship was built. But the real significance was missed until explained in the Quran.


18:22
[ Original ]
سَيَقُولُونَ ثَلَاثَةٌ رَابِعُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ خَمْسَةٌ سَادِسُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ رَجْمًا بِالْغَيْبِ ۖ وَيَقُولُونَ سَبْعَةٌ وَثَامِنُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ ۚ قُلْ رَبِّي أَعْلَمُ بِعِدَّتِهِمْ مَا يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ ۗ فَلَا تُمَارِ فِيهِمْ إِلَّا مِرَاءً ظَاهِرًا وَلَا تَسْتَفْتِ فِيهِمْ مِنْهُمْ أَحَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
(Some) say they were three, the dog being the fourth among them; (others) say they were five, the dog being the sixth,- doubtfully guessing at the unknown; (yet others) say they were seven, the dog being the eighth. Say thou: "My Lord knoweth best their number; It is but few that know their (real case)." Enter not, therefore, into controversies concerning them, except on a matter that is clear, nor consult any of them about (the affair of) the Sleepers.
[ Saheeh International ]
They will say there were three, the fourth of them being their dog; and they will say there were five, the sixth of them being their dog - guessing at the unseen; and they will say there were seven, and the eighth of them was their dog. Say, [O Muhammad], "My Lord is most knowing of their number. None knows them except a few. So do not argue about them except with an obvious argument and do not inquire about them among [the speculators] from anyone."
Tafseer Commentary

2359 The controversy in later ages raged about the number of the Sleepers: were they three or five or seven? People answered, nor from knowledge, but from conjecture. Gibbon's version, which has now become best known, makes the number of Sleepers seven. The point was immaterial: the real point was the spiritual lesson.

2360 The true significance of the story is known only to a few. Most men discuss futile details, which are not in their knowledge.

2361 It is unprofitable to enter such immaterial controversies, and many others that have been waged about Religion by shallow men from time immemorial. Yet, if there is a matter of clear knowledge from experience that matters, we must openly proclaim it, that the world may be brought to listen to Allah's Truth.

2362 Vulgar storymongers as such know little of the true significance of the stories and parables. We have a clear exposition in the Qur'an. What need is there to go into details of the men in the Cave, or of the time they remained there?


18:23
[ Original ]
وَلَا تَقُولَنَّ لِشَيْءٍ إِنِّي فَاعِلٌ ذَٰلِكَ غَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Nor say of anything, "I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow"-
[ Saheeh International ]
And never say of anything, "Indeed, I will do that tomorrow,"

18:24
[ Original ]
إِلَّا أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ ۚ وَاذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ إِذَا نَسِيتَ وَقُلْ عَسَىٰ أَنْ يَهْدِيَنِ رَبِّي لِأَقْرَبَ مِنْ هَٰذَا رَشَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Without adding, "So please Allah." and call thy Lord to mind when thou forgettest, and say, "I hope that my Lord will guide me ever closer (even) than this to the right road."
[ Saheeh International ]
Except [when adding], "If Allah wills." And remember your Lord when you forget [it] and say, "Perhaps my Lord will guide me to what is nearer than this to right conduct."
Tafseer Commentary

2363 Verses 23 and 24 are parenthetical. We must never rely upon our own resources so much as to forget Allah. If by any chance we do forget, we must come back to Him and keep Him in remembrance, as did the Companions of the Cave.

2364 In geometry the perfect circle is an ideal. Any given circle that we draw is not so perfect that we cannot draw one closer to the ideal. So in our life, there is always the hope of drawing closer and closer to Allah.


18:25
[ Original ]
وَلَبِثُوا فِي كَهْفِهِمْ ثَلَاثَ مِائَةٍ سِنِينَ وَازْدَادُوا تِسْعًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
So they stayed in their Cave three hundred years, and (some) add nine (more)
[ Saheeh International ]
And they remained in their cave for three hundred years and exceeded by nine.
Tafseer Commentary

2365 This verse should be read with the next verse. In the floating oral tradition the duration of time in the Cave was given differently in different versions. When the tradition was reduced to writing, some Christian writers (e.g., Simeon Metaphrates) named 372 years, some less. In round numbers 300 years in the solar Calendar would amount to 309 in the lunar Calendar. But the next verse points out that all these are mere conjectures: the number is known to Allah alone. The authority on which Gibbon relies mentions two definite reigns, that of Decius (249-251 A.D.) and that of Theodosius 11 (408-450 A.D.). Taking 250 and 450, we get an interval of 200 years. But the point of the story does not lie in the name of any given Emperor, but in the fact that the beginning of the period coincided with an Emperor who persecuted: the Emperor's name at the end of the period may be taken as approximately correct, because the story was recorded within two generations afterwards. One of the worst Emperors to persecute the Christians was Nero who reigned from 54 to 68. If we took the end of his reign (A.D. 68) as the initial point, and (say) 440 A.D. as the final point, we get the 372 years of Simeon Metaphrates. But none of these writers knew any more than we do. Our best course is to follow the Quranic injunction, "Say, Allah knows best how long they stayed" (18:26). There is also a rebuke implied: 'do not imitate these men who love mischievous controversies!' After all, we are given the narrative more as a parable than as a story.


18:26
[ Original ]
قُلِ اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا لَبِثُوا ۖ لَهُ غَيْبُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ أَبْصِرْ بِهِ وَأَسْمِعْ ۚ مَا لَهُمْ مِنْ دُونِهِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلَا يُشْرِكُ فِي حُكْمِهِ أَحَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Say: "(Allah) knows best how long they stayed: with Him is (the knowledge of) the secrets of the heavens and the earth: how clearly He sees, how finely He hears (everything)! They have no protector other than Him; nor does He share His Command with any person whatsoever.
[ Saheeh International ]
Say, "Allah is most knowing of how long they remained. He has [knowledge of] the unseen [aspects] of the heavens and the earth. How Seeing is He and how Hearing! They have not besides Him any protector, and He shares not His legislation with anyone."
Tafseer Commentary

2366 Who are "they" in this sentence? They may be the Companions of the Cave, for they put themselves under the protection of Allah, and disowned all attribution of partners to Him. Or "they" may refer to the people in general who go wrong and become "Mushriks" i.e., attribute imaginary partners to Allah.

2367 His Command: i.e., Allah's government of the world, or in His Judgement on the Day of Judgement


18:27
[ Original ]
وَاتْلُ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ كِتَابِ رَبِّكَ ۖ لَا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَاتِهِ وَلَنْ تَجِدَ مِنْ دُونِهِ مُلْتَحَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And recite (and teach) what has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord: none can change His Words, and none wilt thou find as a refuge other than Him.
[ Saheeh International ]
And recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord. There is no changer of His words, and never will you find in other than Him a refuge.
Tafseer Commentary

2368 His Words: His Commands. Decrees. Orders.


18:28
[ Original ]
وَاصْبِرْ نَفْسَكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُمْ بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَهُ ۖ وَلَا تَعْدُ عَيْنَاكَ عَنْهُمْ تُرِيدُ زِينَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَلَا تُطِعْ مَنْ أَغْفَلْنَا قَلْبَهُ عَنْ ذِكْرِنَا وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ وَكَانَ أَمْرُهُ فُرُطًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And keep thy soul content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Face; and let not thine eyes pass beyond them, seeking the pomp and glitter of this Life; no obey any whose heart We have permitted to neglect the remembrance of Us, one who follows his own desires, whose case has gone beyond all bounds.
[ Saheeh International ]
And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever [in] neglect.
Tafseer Commentary

2369 Cf. 6:52 and n. 870. The true servants of Allah are those whose hearts are turned to Him morning, noon, and night, and who seek not worldly gain, but Allah's Grace, Allah's own Self, His presence and nearness. "Face" is the symbol of Personality or Self. Even if they are poor in this world's goods, their society gives far more inward and spiritual satisfaction than worldly grandeur or worldly attraction.

2370 For those who stray from Allah's path, Allah's Grace is ever anxious: it seeks to reclaim them and bring them back to the path. If such a one resists, and follows his own lusts, a point is reached when his case becomes hopeless. Allah's Grace does not then reach him, and he is abandoned to his pride and insolence. Beware of following the example or advice of such a one or seeking his society, or hankering after his wretched idols.


18:29
[ Original ]
وَقُلِ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ ۖ فَمَنْ شَاءَ فَلْيُؤْمِنْ وَمَنْ شَاءَ فَلْيَكْفُرْ ۚ إِنَّا أَعْتَدْنَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ نَارًا أَحَاطَ بِهِمْ سُرَادِقُهَا ۚ وَإِنْ يَسْتَغِيثُوا يُغَاثُوا بِمَاءٍ كَالْمُهْلِ يَشْوِي الْوُجُوهَ ۚ بِئْسَ الشَّرَابُ وَسَاءَتْ مُرْتَفَقًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Say, "The truth is from your Lord": Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it): for the wrong-doers We have prepared a Fire whose (smoke and flames), like the walls and roof of a tent, will hem them in: if they implore relief they will be granted water like melted brass, that will scald their faces, how dreadful the drink! How uncomfortable a couch to recline on!
[ Saheeh International ]
And say, "The truth is from your Lord, so whoever wills - let him believe; and whoever wills - let him disbelieve." Indeed, We have prepared for the wrongdoers a fire whose walls will surround them. And if they call for relief, they will be relieved with water like murky oil, which scalds [their] faces. Wretched is the drink, and evil is the resting place.
Tafseer Commentary

2371 Our choice in our limited Free will involves a corresponding personal responsibility. We are offered the Truth: again and again it is pressed on ovir attention. If we reject it, we must take all the terrible consequences which are prefigured in the Fire of Hell. Its flames and roof will completely enclose us like a tent. Ordinarily there is water to quench the heat of thirst: here the only drink will be like molten brass, thick, heavy, burning, sizzling. Before it reaches the mouth of the unfortunates, drops of it will scald their faces as it is poured out.


18:30
[ Original ]
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ إِنَّا لَا نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ مَنْ أَحْسَنَ عَمَلًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
As to those who believe and work righteousness, verily We shall not suffer to perish the reward of any who do a (single) righteous deed.
[ Saheeh International ]
Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds - indeed, We will not allow to be lost the reward of any who did well in deeds.
Tafseer Commentary

2372 The righteous will be rewarded, as has been said again and again, beyond their merits: 28:84; 30:39. Not a single good deed of theirs will lose its reward, and the mercy of Allah will blot out their sins.


18:31
[ Original ]
أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهِمُ الْأَنْهَارُ يُحَلَّوْنَ فِيهَا مِنْ أَسَاوِرَ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ وَيَلْبَسُونَ ثِيَابًا خُضْرًا مِنْ سُنْدُسٍ وَإِسْتَبْرَقٍ مُتَّكِئِينَ فِيهَا عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ ۚ نِعْمَ الثَّوَابُ وَحَسُنَتْ مُرْتَفَقًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
For them will be Gardens of Eternity; beneath them rivers will flow; they will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and they will wear green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade: They will recline therein on raised thrones. How good the recompense! How beautiful a couch to recline on!
[ Saheeh International ]
Those will have gardens of perpetual residence; beneath them rivers will flow. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and will wear green garments of fine silk and brocade, reclining therein on adorned couches. Excellent is the reward, and good is the resting place.
Tafseer Commentary

2373 Heaven is figured by all the pictures of ease and comfort which we can imagine in our present state: Gardens: perpetual springs of crystal clear water, which we can see as in a landscape from above; the finest and most costly ornaments; the most beautiful clothes to wear; green is the colour mentioned, because it is the most refreshing to the eye, and fits in well with the Garden; the wearer takes the choice of fine silk or heavy brocade; and for rest and comfort, high thrones of dignity on which the blessed ones recline.

2374 This picture is in parallel contrast to the picture of Misery in the last verse.


18:32
[ Original ]
وَاضْرِبْ لَهُمْ مَثَلًا رَجُلَيْنِ جَعَلْنَا لِأَحَدِهِمَا جَنَّتَيْنِ مِنْ أَعْنَابٍ وَحَفَفْنَاهُمَا بِنَخْلٍ وَجَعَلْنَا بَيْنَهُمَا زَرْعًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Set forth to them the parable of two men: for one of them We provided two gardens of grape-vines and surrounded them with date palms; in between the two We placed cornfields.
[ Saheeh International ]
And present to them an example of two men: We granted to one of them two gardens of grapevines, and We bordered them with palm trees and placed between them [fields of] crops.
Tafseer Commentary

2375 Here is a simple parable of the contrast between two men. One was purseproud, and forgot that what he had was from Allah, by way of a trust and a trial in this life. The other boasted of nothing: his trust was in Allah. The worldly wealth of the first was destroyed, and he had nothing left. The second was the happier in the end.


18:33
[ Original ]
كِلْتَا الْجَنَّتَيْنِ آتَتْ أُكُلَهَا وَلَمْ تَظْلِمْ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا ۚ وَفَجَّرْنَا خِلَالَهُمَا نَهَرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Each of those gardens brought forth its produce, and failed not in the least therein: in the midst of them We caused a river to flow.
[ Saheeh International ]
Each of the two gardens produced its fruit and did not fall short thereof in anything. And We caused to gush forth within them a river.

18:34
[ Original ]
وَكَانَ لَهُ ثَمَرٌ فَقَالَ لِصَاحِبِهِ وَهُوَ يُحَاوِرُهُ أَنَا أَكْثَرُ مِنْكَ مَالًا وَأَعَزُّ نَفَرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
(Abundant) was the produce this man had : he said to his companion, in the course of a mutual argument: "more wealth have I than you, and more honour and power in (my following of) men."
[ Saheeh International ]
And he had fruit, so he said to his companion while he was conversing with him, "I am greater than you in wealth and mightier in [numbers of] men."
Tafseer Commentary

2376 The two men began to compare notes. The arrogant one puffed up with his possessions, his income, and his large family and following, and thought in his selfcomplacency that it would last forever. He was also wrong in looking down on his Companion, who, though less affluent, was the better man of the two.


18:35
[ Original ]
وَدَخَلَ جَنَّتَهُ وَهُوَ ظَالِمٌ لِنَفْسِهِ قَالَ مَا أَظُنُّ أَنْ تَبِيدَ هَٰذِهِ أَبَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He went into his garden in a state (of mind) unjust to his soul: He said, "I deem not that this will ever perish,
[ Saheeh International ]
And he entered his garden while he was unjust to himself. He said, "I do not think that this will perish - ever.
Tafseer Commentary

2377 It was not wealth that ruined him, but the attitude of his mind. He was unjust, not so much to his neighbour, as to his own soul. In his love of the material, he forgot or openly defied the spiritual. As verse 37 shows, he took his companion with him, to impress him with his own importance, but the companion was unmoved.


18:36
[ Original ]
وَمَا أَظُنُّ السَّاعَةَ قَائِمَةً وَلَئِنْ رُدِدْتُ إِلَىٰ رَبِّي لَأَجِدَنَّ خَيْرًا مِنْهَا مُنْقَلَبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"Nor do I deem that the Hour (of Judgment) will (ever) come: Even if I am brought back to my Lord, I shall surely find (there) something better in exchange."
[ Saheeh International ]
And I do not think the Hour will occur. And even if I should be brought back to my Lord, I will surely find better than this as a return."
Tafseer Commentary

2378 Here conies out the grasping spirit of the materialist. In his mind "better" means more wealth and more power, of the kind he was enjoying in this life, although in reality, even what he had rested on hollow foundations and was doomed to perish and bring him down with it.


18:37
[ Original ]
قَالَ لَهُ صَاحِبُهُ وَهُوَ يُحَاوِرُهُ أَكَفَرْتَ بِالَّذِي خَلَقَكَ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ سَوَّاكَ رَجُلًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
His companion said to him, in the course of the argument with him: "Dost thou deny Him Who created thee out of dust, then out of a sperm-drop, then fashioned thee into a man?
[ Saheeh International ]
His companion said to him while he was conversing with him, "Have you disbelieved in He who created you from dust and then from a sperm-drop and then proportioned you [as] a man?
Tafseer Commentary

2379 Three stages of man's creation: first dust, or clay, itself created out of nothing and forming the physical basis for his body; then, out of the produce of the earth as incorporated in the parent's body, the sperm drop (with the corresponding receptive element); and then when the different elements were mixed in due proportion, and the soul was breathed into him, the fashioned man. (Cf. 15:28-29, 30:20, 35:11, and 87:2).


18:38
[ Original ]
لَٰكِنَّا هُوَ اللَّهُ رَبِّي وَلَا أُشْرِكُ بِرَبِّي أَحَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"But (I think) for my part that He is Allah, My Lord, and none shall I associate with my Lord.
[ Saheeh International ]
But as for me, He is Allah, my Lord, and I do not associate with my Lord anyone.

18:39
[ Original ]
وَلَوْلَا إِذْ دَخَلْتَ جَنَّتَكَ قُلْتَ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ ۚ إِنْ تَرَنِ أَنَا أَقَلَّ مِنْكَ مَالًا وَوَلَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"Why didst thou not, as thou wentest into thy garden, say: '(Allah)'s will (be done)! There is no power but with Allah.' If thou dost see me less than thee in wealth and sons,
[ Saheeh International ]
And why did you, when you entered your garden, not say, 'What Allah willed [has occurred]; there is no power except in Allah '? Although you see me less than you in wealth and children,
Tafseer Commentary

2380 The companion's argument divides itself into five parts. (1) He remonstrates against the proud man denying Allah. (2) He, from his own spiritual experience, proclaims that Allah is One and that He is good. (3) He points out to him the better way of enjoying Allah's gift, with gratitude to Him. (4) He expresses contentment and satisfaction in Allah's dealings with him. (5) He gives warning of the fleeting nature of this world's goods and the certainty of Allah's punishment for inordinate vanity.


18:40
[ Original ]
فَعَسَىٰ رَبِّي أَنْ يُؤْتِيَنِ خَيْرًا مِنْ جَنَّتِكَ وَيُرْسِلَ عَلَيْهَا حُسْبَانًا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَتُصْبِحَ صَعِيدًا زَلَقًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"It may be that my Lord will give me something better than thy garden, and that He will send on thy garden thunderbolts (by way of reckoning) from heaven, making it (but) slippery sand!-
[ Saheeh International ]
It may be that my Lord will give me [something] better than your garden and will send upon it a calamity from the sky, and it will become a smooth, dusty ground,
Tafseer Commentary

2381 The punishment, was that of thunderbolts (husbanan), but the general meaning of the; word includes any punishment by way of a reckoning (hisab), and I think that an earthquake is also implied, as it alters watercourses, diverts channels underground, throws up silt and sand, and covers large areas with ruin. (R).


18:41
[ Original ]
أَوْ يُصْبِحَ مَاؤُهَا غَوْرًا فَلَنْ تَسْتَطِيعَ لَهُ طَلَبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"Or the water of the garden will run off underground so that thou wilt never be able to find it."
[ Saheeh International ]
Or its water will become sunken [into the earth], so you would never be able to seek it."

18:42
[ Original ]
وَأُحِيطَ بِثَمَرِهِ فَأَصْبَحَ يُقَلِّبُ كَفَّيْهِ عَلَىٰ مَا أَنْفَقَ فِيهَا وَهِيَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَىٰ عُرُوشِهَا وَيَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أُشْرِكْ بِرَبِّي أَحَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
So his fruits (and enjoyment) were encompassed (with ruin), and he remained twisting and turning his hands over what he had spent on his property, which had (now) tumbled to pieces to its very foundations, and he could only say, "Woe is me! Would I had never ascribed partners to my Lord and Cherisher!"
[ Saheeh International ]
And his fruits were encompassed [by ruin], so he began to turn his hands about [in dismay] over what he had spent on it, while it had collapsed upon its trellises, and said, "Oh, I wish I had not associated with my Lord anyone."
Tafseer Commentary

2382 "Fruits", "spent", "twisting of the hands", should all be understood in a wide metaphorical sense, as well as the literal sense. He had great income and satisfaction, which were all gone. What resources he had lavished on his property! His thoughts had been engrossed on it; his hopes had been built on it; it had become the absorbing passion of his life, if he had only looked to Allah, instead of to the ephemeral goods of this world!

2383 In this case, in his mind, there was his own Self and his Mammon as rivals to Allah!


18:43
[ Original ]
وَلَمْ تَكُنْ لَهُ فِئَةٌ يَنْصُرُونَهُ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَمَا كَانَ مُنْتَصِرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Nor had he numbers to help him against Allah, nor was he able to deliver himself.
[ Saheeh International ]
And there was for him no company to aid him other than Allah, nor could he defend himself.
Tafseer Commentary

2384 He had built up connections and obligated dependents, and was proud of having his "quiver full". But where were all things when the reckoning came? He could not help himself; how could others be expected to help him!


18:44
[ Original ]
هُنَالِكَ الْوَلَايَةُ لِلَّهِ الْحَقِّ ۚ هُوَ خَيْرٌ ثَوَابًا وَخَيْرٌ عُقْبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
There, the (only) protection comes from Allah, the True One. He is the Best to reward, and the Best to give success.
[ Saheeh International ]
There the authority is [completely] for Allah, the Truth. He is best in reward and best in outcome.
Tafseer Commentary

2385 All else is vanity, uncertainty, the sport of Time. The only hope or until is from Allah. Other rewards, and other success are illusory; the best Reward and the best Success come from Allah.


18:45
[ Original ]
وَاضْرِبْ لَهُمْ مَثَلَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَاءٍ أَنْزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الْأَرْضِ فَأَصْبَحَ هَشِيمًا تَذْرُوهُ الرِّيَاحُ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُقْتَدِرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Set forth to them the similitude of the life of this world: It is like the rain which we send down from the skies: the earth's vegetation absorbs it, but soon it becomes dry stubble, which the winds do scatter: it is (only) Allah who prevails over all things.
[ Saheeh International ]
And present to them the example of the life of this world, [its being] like rain which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingles with it and [then] it becomes dry remnants, scattered by the winds. And Allah is ever, over all things, Perfect in Ability.
Tafseer Commentary

2386 Rainwater is a good thing in and of itself, but it does not last, and you can build no solid foundations on it. It is soon absorbed in the earth, and produces the flourishing appearance of grass and vegetation- for a time. Soon these decay, and become as dry stubble, which the least wind from any quarter will blow about like a thing of no importance. The water is gone, and so is the vegetation to which it lent a brave show of luxuriance temporarily. Such is the life of this world, contrasted with the inner and real Life, which looks to the Hereafter. Allah is the only enduring Power we can look to, supreme over all.


18:46
[ Original ]
الْمَالُ وَالْبَنُونَ زِينَةُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَالْبَاقِيَاتُ الصَّالِحَاتُ خَيْرٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّكَ ثَوَابًا وَخَيْرٌ أَمَلًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world: But the things that endure, good deeds, are best in the sight of thy Lord, as rewards, and best as (the foundation for) hopes.
[ Saheeh International ]
Wealth and children are [but] adornment of the worldly life. But the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for [one's] hope.
Tafseer Commentary

2387 Other things are fleeting: but Good Deeds have a lasting value in the sight of Allah. They are best as (or for) rewards in two ways: (1) they flow from us by the Grace of Allah, and are themselves rewards for our Faith; (2) they become the foundation of our hopes for the highest spiritual rewards in the Hereafter (Cf. 19:76).


18:47
[ Original ]
وَيَوْمَ نُسَيِّرُ الْجِبَالَ وَتَرَى الْأَرْضَ بَارِزَةً وَحَشَرْنَاهُمْ فَلَمْ نُغَادِرْ مِنْهُمْ أَحَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
One Day We shall remove the mountains, and thou wilt see the earth as a level stretch, and We shall gather them, all together, nor shall We leave out any one of them.
[ Saheeh International ]
And [warn of] the Day when We will remove the mountains and you will see the earth prominent, and We will gather them and not leave behind from them anyone.
Tafseer Commentary

2388 On the Day of Judgement none of our present landmarks will remain.


18:48
[ Original ]
وَعُرِضُوا عَلَىٰ رَبِّكَ صَفًّا لَقَدْ جِئْتُمُونَا كَمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ ۚ بَلْ زَعَمْتُمْ أَلَّنْ نَجْعَلَ لَكُمْ مَوْعِدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And they will be marshalled before thy Lord in ranks, (with the announcement), "Now have ye come to Us (bare) as We created you first: aye, ye thought We shall not fulfil the appointment made to you to meet (Us)!":
[ Saheeh International ]
And they will be presented before your Lord in rows, [and He will say], "You have certainly come to Us just as We created you the first time. But you claimed that We would never make for you an appointment."
Tafseer Commentary

2389 We shall stand as we were created, with none of the adventitious possessions that we collected in this life, which will all have vanished.

2390 The sceptics will now at length be convinced of the Reality which be upon them.


18:49
[ Original ]
وَوُضِعَ الْكِتَابُ فَتَرَى الْمُجْرِمِينَ مُشْفِقِينَ مِمَّا فِيهِ وَيَقُولُونَ يَا وَيْلَتَنَا مَالِ هَٰذَا الْكِتَابِ لَا يُغَادِرُ صَغِيرَةً وَلَا كَبِيرَةً إِلَّا أَحْصَاهَا ۚ وَوَجَدُوا مَا عَمِلُوا حَاضِرًا ۗ وَلَا يَظْلِمُ رَبُّكَ أَحَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And the Book (of Deeds) will be placed (before you); and thou wilt see the sinful in great terror because of what is (recorded) therein; they will say, "Ah! woe to us! what a Book is this! It leaves out nothing small or great, but takes account thereof!" They will find all that they did, placed before them: And not one will thy Lord treat with injustice.
[ Saheeh International ]
And the record [of deeds] will be placed [open], and you will see the criminals fearful of that within it, and they will say, "Oh, woe to us! What is this book that leaves nothing small or great except that it has enumerated it?" And they will find what they did present [before them]. And your Lord does injustice to no one.
Tafseer Commentary

2391 Personal responsibility, for all deeds in this life, will then be enforced. But it will be done with perfect justice. Expressed in the forms of this world, it will amount to a clear statement of all we did in this life: the record will be put before us to convince us. As it will be a perfect record, with no omissions and no wrong entries, it will be perfectly convincing. Where there is punishment, it has been earned by the wrongdoer's own deeds, not imposed on him unjustly.


18:50
[ Original ]
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ كَانَ مِنَ الْجِنِّ فَفَسَقَ عَنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّهِ ۗ أَفَتَتَّخِذُونَهُ وَذُرِّيَّتَهُ أَوْلِيَاءَ مِنْ دُونِي وَهُمْ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ ۚ بِئْسَ لِلظَّالِمِينَ بَدَلًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Behold! We said to the angels, "Bow down to Adam": They bowed down except Iblis. He was one of the Jinns, and he broke the Command of his Lord. Will ye then take him and his progeny as protectors rather than Me? And they are enemies to you! Evil would be the exchange for the wrongdoers!
[ Saheeh International ]
And [mention] when We said to the angels, "Prostrate to Adam," and they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was of the jinn and departed from the command of his Lord. Then will you take him and his descendants as allies other than Me while they are enemies to you? Wretched it is for the wrongdoers as an exchange.
Tafseer Commentary

2392 Cf. 2:34, where the story is told of the fall of mankind through Adam. Here the point is referred to in order to bring home the individual responsibility of the erring soul. Iblis is your enemy: you have been told his history; will you prefer to go to him rather than to the merciful Allah, your Creator and Cherisher? What a false exchange you would make!'

2393 Cf. 6:100, n. 929.

2394 Satan's progeny, we need not take the epithet only in a literal sense. All his followers are also his progeny. (R).

2395 Out of the limited free-will that man has, if he were to choose Evil instead of Good, Satan instead of Allah, what a dreadful choice it would be! It would really be an evil exchange. For man is Allah's creature, cared for and cherished by Him. He abandons his Cherisher to become the slave of his enemy!


18:51
[ Original ]
مَا أَشْهَدْتُهُمْ خَلْقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَلَا خَلْقَ أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَمَا كُنْتُ مُتَّخِذَ الْمُضِلِّينَ عَضُدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
I called them not to witness the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor (even) their own creation: nor is it for helpers such as Me to take as lead (men) astray!
[ Saheeh International ]
I did not make them witness to the creation of the heavens and the earth or to the creation of themselves, and I would not have taken the misguiders as assistants.
Tafseer Commentary

2396 Allah wants man's good: how can He take Evil for His partner?


18:52
[ Original ]
وَيَوْمَ يَقُولُ نَادُوا شُرَكَائِيَ الَّذِينَ زَعَمْتُمْ فَدَعَوْهُمْ فَلَمْ يَسْتَجِيبُوا لَهُمْ وَجَعَلْنَا بَيْنَهُمْ مَوْبِقًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
One Day He will say, "Call on those whom ye thought to be My partners," and they will call on them, but they will not listen to them; and We shall make for them a place of common perdition.
[ Saheeh International ]
And [warn of] the Day when He will say, "Call 'My partners' whom you claimed," and they will invoke them, but they will not respond to them. And We will put between them [a valley of] destruction.
Tafseer Commentary

2397 Some Commentators construe: "And We shall make a partition between them": i.e., the Evil ones will not even be seen by their misguided followers, much as the latter may go on calling on them.


18:53
[ Original ]
وَرَأَى الْمُجْرِمُونَ النَّارَ فَظَنُّوا أَنَّهُمْ مُوَاقِعُوهَا وَلَمْ يَجِدُوا عَنْهَا مَصْرِفًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And the Sinful shall see the fire and apprehend that they have to fall therein: no means will they find to turn away therefrom.
[ Saheeh International ]
And the criminals will see the Fire and will be certain that they are to fall therein. And they will not find from it a way elsewhere.

18:54
[ Original ]
وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَا فِي هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ لِلنَّاسِ مِنْ كُلِّ مَثَلٍ ۚ وَكَانَ الْإِنْسَانُ أَكْثَرَ شَيْءٍ جَدَلًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
We have explained in detail in this Qur'an, for the benefit of mankind, every kind of similitude: but man is, in most things, contentious.
[ Saheeh International ]
And We have certainly diversified in this Qur'an for the people from every [kind of] example; but man has ever been, most of anything, [prone to] dispute.
Tafseer Commentary

2398 If men had not cultivated the habit of contention and obstinacy, they would have found that the parables and similitudes of Scripture had fully met their difficulties, and they would gladly have obeyed the call of Mali .


18:55
[ Original ]
وَمَا مَنَعَ النَّاسَ أَنْ يُؤْمِنُوا إِذْ جَاءَهُمُ الْهُدَىٰ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّهُمْ إِلَّا أَنْ تَأْتِيَهُمْ سُنَّةُ الْأَوَّلِينَ أَوْ يَأْتِيَهُمُ الْعَذَابُ قُبُلًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And what is there to keep back men from believing, now that Guidance has come to them, nor from praying for forgiveness from their Lord, but that (they ask that) the ways of the ancients be repeated with them, or the Wrath be brought to them face to face?
[ Saheeh International ]
And nothing has prevented the people from believing when guidance came to them and from asking forgiveness of their Lord except that there [must] befall them the [accustomed] precedent of the former peoples or that the punishment should come [directly] before them.
Tafseer Commentary

2399 But man's obstinacy or contrariness asks or calls for a repetition of what happened to the wicked and those who rejected Faith in ancient times. Out of curiosity, or by way of challenge, they seem to court the Punishment and ask that it be brought to pass at once. But it will come soon enough, and then they will think it too early! (Cf. 13:6 and n. 1810, and 27:46).


18:56
[ Original ]
وَمَا نُرْسِلُ الْمُرْسَلِينَ إِلَّا مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنْذِرِينَ ۚ وَيُجَادِلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِالْبَاطِلِ لِيُدْحِضُوا بِهِ الْحَقَّ ۖ وَاتَّخَذُوا آيَاتِي وَمَا أُنْذِرُوا هُزُوًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
We only send the messengers to give Glad Tidings and to give warnings: But the unbelievers dispute with vain argument, in order therewith to weaken the truth, and they treat My Signs as a jest, as also the fact that they are warned!
[ Saheeh International ]
And We send not the messengers except as bringers of good tidings and warners. And those who disbelieve dispute by [using] falsehood to [attempt to] invalidate thereby the truth and have taken My verses, and that of which they are warned, in ridicule.
Tafseer Commentary

2400 The Prophets of Allah are not sent to humour us with dialectics or satisfy the vulgar curiosity for miracles of dark unusual things. There is no "crookedness" (18:1) in their preaching. They come to preach the Truth-not in an abstract way, but with special reference to our conduct. They give us the good news of salvation lest we despair in the presence of Sin, and to warn us clearly of the dangers of Evil. Vain controversies about words only weaken their mission, or turn it into ridicule. The ungodly have a trick also of treating the earnest preaching to them itself as a jest and ridicule it. (R).


18:57
[ Original ]
وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنْ ذُكِّرَ بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِ فَأَعْرَضَ عَنْهَا وَنَسِيَ مَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاهُ ۚ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَنْ يَفْقَهُوهُ وَفِي آذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًا ۖ وَإِنْ تَدْعُهُمْ إِلَى الْهُدَىٰ فَلَنْ يَهْتَدُوا إِذًا أَبَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And who doth more wrong than one who is reminded of the Signs of his Lord, but turns away from them, forgetting the (deeds) which his hands have sent forth? Verily We have set veils over their hearts lest they should understand this, and over their ears, deafness, if thou callest them to guidance, even then will they never accept guidance.
[ Saheeh International ]
And who is more unjust than one who is reminded of the verses of his Lord but turns away from them and forgets what his hands have put forth? Indeed, We have placed over their hearts coverings, lest they understand it, and in their ears deafness. And if you invite them to guidance - they will never be guided, then - ever.
Tafseer Commentary

2401 Considering the power of sin, and how it gets hold of the hearts of men, and considering all the wrongs that men have done, it is the height of folly and injustice on their part to turn away from warnings which are given expressly for their good. But a stage of callousness is reached, when, by their own choice, they have rendered themselves impervious to Allah's Grace. At that stage a veil is put over their hearts and they are left alone for a time, that they may commune with themselves and perhaps repent and seek Allah's Mercy again. If they do not, it is their own loss. See next verse.


18:58
[ Original ]
وَرَبُّكَ الْغَفُورُ ذُو الرَّحْمَةِ ۖ لَوْ يُؤَاخِذُهُمْ بِمَا كَسَبُوا لَعَجَّلَ لَهُمُ الْعَذَابَ ۚ بَلْ لَهُمْ مَوْعِدٌ لَنْ يَجِدُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ مَوْئِلًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
But your Lord is Most forgiving, full of Mercy. If He were to call them (at once) to account for what they have earned, then surely He would have earned, then surely He would have hastened their punishment: but they have their appointed time, beyond which they will find no refuge.
[ Saheeh International ]
And your Lord is the Forgiving, full of mercy. If He were to impose blame upon them for what they earned, He would have hastened for them the punishment. Rather, for them is an appointment from which they will never find an escape.
Tafseer Commentary

2402 Min duni hi: should we take the pronoun to refer to "the appointed time", or to "your Lord," mentioned at the beginning of the verse? Most Commentators take the former view, and I have translated accordingly. But I agree with those who take the latter view, and the better translation would be: "But they have their appointed time, and except with Allah, they will find no refuge." That means that even during the period allowed them, when they are left to wander astray as they have rejected Allah's Grace, Allah's Mercy is open to them if they will repent and return; but nothing but Allah's Mercy can save them.


18:59
[ Original ]
وَتِلْكَ الْقُرَىٰ أَهْلَكْنَاهُمْ لَمَّا ظَلَمُوا وَجَعَلْنَا لِمَهْلِكِهِمْ مَوْعِدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Such were the populations we destroyed when they committed iniquities; but we fixed an appointed time for their destruction.
[ Saheeh International ]
And those cities - We destroyed them when they wronged, and We made for their destruction an appointed time.
Tafseer Commentary

2403 The instances of exemplary Punishment in former times were also subject to this rule, that Allah gives plenty of rope to the wicked, in case they might turn, repent, and obtain His Mercy.


18:60
[ Original ]
وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِفَتَاهُ لَا أَبْرَحُ حَتَّىٰ أَبْلُغَ مَجْمَعَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ أَوْ أَمْضِيَ حُقُبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Behold, Moses said to his attendant, "I will not give up until I reach the junction of the two seas or (until) I spend years and years in travel."
[ Saheeh International ]
And [mention] when Moses said to his servant, "I will not cease [traveling] until I reach the junction of the two seas or continue for a long period."
Tafseer Commentary

2404 This episode in the story of Moses is meant to illustrate four points. (1) Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. Even so that wisdom did not comprehend everything, even as the whole stock of the knowledge of the present day, the sciences and the arts, and in literature, (if it could be supposed to be gathered in one individual), does not include all knowledge. Divine knowledge, as far as man is concerned, is unlimited. Even after Moses received his divine mission, his knowledge was not so perfect that it could not receive further additions. (2) Constant effort is necessary to keep our knowledge square with the march of time, and such effort Moses is shown to be making. (3) The mysterious man he meets ( 18:65 and n. 2411 ), to whom Tradition assigns the name of Khidr (literally, Green), is the type of that knowledge which is ever in contact with life as it is actually lived. (4) There are paradoxes in life: apparent loss may be real gain; apparent cruelty maybe real mercy; returning good for evil may really be justice and not generosity (18:79-82). Allah's wisdom transcends all human calculation. (R).

2405 The most probable geographical location (if any is required in a story that is a parable) is where the two arms of the Red Sea join together, viz., the Gulf of 'Aqabah and the Gulf of Suez. They enclose the Sinai Peninsula , in which Moses and the Israelites spent many years in their wanderings. There is also authority (see Baydawf's note) for interpreting the two seas as the two great streams of knowledge, which were to meet in the persons of Moses and Khidr.

2406 Huqub means a long but indefinite space of time. Sometimes it is limited to 80 years.


18:61
[ Original ]
فَلَمَّا بَلَغَا مَجْمَعَ بَيْنِهِمَا نَسِيَا حُوتَهُمَا فَاتَّخَذَ سَبِيلَهُ فِي الْبَحْرِ سَرَبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
But when they reached the Junction, they forgot (about) their Fish, which took its course through the sea (straight) as in a tunnel.
[ Saheeh International ]
But when they reached the junction between them, they forgot their fish, and it took its course into the sea, slipping away.
Tafseer Commentary

2407 Literally, 'the Junction of (the space) between the two,' i e., the point at which the two seas were united.

2408 Moses was to go and find a servant of Allah, who would instruct him in such knowledge as he had not already got. He was to take a fish with him. The place where he was to meet his mysterious Teacher would be indicated by the fact that the fish would disappear when he got to that place. The fish is the emblem of the fruit of secular knowledge, which merges itself in divine knowledge at the point where human intelligence is ready for the junction of the two. But the mere merger of secular knowledge does not in itself produce divine knowledge- The latter has to be sought patiently.


18:62
[ Original ]
فَلَمَّا جَاوَزَا قَالَ لِفَتَاهُ آتِنَا غَدَاءَنَا لَقَدْ لَقِينَا مِنْ سَفَرِنَا هَٰذَا نَصَبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
When they had passed on (some distance), Moses said to his attendant: "Bring us our early meal; truly we have suffered much fatigue at this (stage of) our journey."
[ Saheeh International ]
So when they had passed beyond it, [Moses] said to his boy, "Bring us our morning meal. We have certainly suffered in this, our journey, [much] fatigue."
Tafseer Commentary

2409 When they came to the Junction of the Seas, Moses forgot about the fish, and his attendant forgot to tell him of the fact that he had seen the fish escaping into the sea in a marvellous way. They passed on, but the stages now became heavier and heavier, and more fatiguing to Moses. So when our old knowledge is exhausted, and we come to the brink of new knowledge, we have a feeling of strangeness, heaviness, and difficulty, especially when we want to pass the new knowledge by and do not make it our own. Some refreshment even if it be in our old traditional way, is required to sustain us. But we must retrace our steps, and seek the accredited repository of the knowledge which is our quest. It is our business to seek him out. We shall not find him without effort.


18:63
[ Original ]
قَالَ أَرَأَيْتَ إِذْ أَوَيْنَا إِلَى الصَّخْرَةِ فَإِنِّي نَسِيتُ الْحُوتَ وَمَا أَنْسَانِيهُ إِلَّا الشَّيْطَانُ أَنْ أَذْكُرَهُ ۚ وَاتَّخَذَ سَبِيلَهُ فِي الْبَحْرِ عَجَبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He replied: "Sawest thou (what happened) when we betook ourselves to the rock? I did indeed forget (about) the Fish: none but Satan made me forget to tell (you) about it: it took its course through the sea in a marvellous way!"
[ Saheeh International ]
He said, "Did you see when we retired to the rock? Indeed, I forgot [there] the fish. And none made me forget it except Satan - that I should mention it. And it took its course into the sea amazingly".
Tafseer Commentary

2410 The attendant actually saw the fish swimming away in the sea, and yet "forgot" to tell his master. In his case the "forgetting" was more than forgetting. Inertia had made him refrain from telling the important news. In such matters inertia is almost as bad as active spite, the suggestion of Satan. So new knowledge or spiritual knowledge is not only passed by in ignorance, but sometimes by culpable negligence.


18:64
[ Original ]
قَالَ ذَٰلِكَ مَا كُنَّا نَبْغِ ۚ فَارْتَدَّا عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِمَا قَصَصًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Moses said: "That was what we were seeking after:" So they went back on their footsteps, following (the path they had come).
[ Saheeh International ]
[Moses] said, "That is what we were seeking." So they returned, following their footprints.

18:65
[ Original ]
فَوَجَدَا عَبْدًا مِنْ عِبَادِنَا آتَيْنَاهُ رَحْمَةً مِنْ عِنْدِنَا وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ مِنْ لَدُنَّا عِلْمًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
So they found one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed Mercy from Ourselves and whom We had taught knowledge from Our own Presence.
[ Saheeh International ]
And they found a servant from among Our servants to whom we had given mercy from us and had taught him from Us a [certain] knowledge.
Tafseer Commentary

2411 One of Our servants: his name is not mentioned in the Quran, but Tradition gives it as Khidhr. Round him have gathered a number of picturesque folk tales, with which we are not here concerned. "Khidhr" means "Green": his knowledge is fresh and green, and drawn out of the living sources of life for it is drawn from Allah's own Knowledge. He is a mysterious being, who has to be sought out. He has the secrets of some of the paradoxes of Life, which ordinary people do not understand, or understand in a wrong sense, as we shall see further on. The nearest equivalent figure in the literature of the People of the Book is Melchizedek or Melchisedek (the Greek form in the New Testament). In Gen. 14:18-20, he appears as king of Salem, priest of the Most High God: he blesses Abraham, and Abraham gives him tithes. St. Paul allegorizes him in his Epistle to the Hebrew (5:6-10,7:1-10 ): "he was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life". That is to say, he appeared mysteriously: neither his parentage nor his pedigree is known, and he seems to live all time. These qualities are also attributed to Khidhr in popular Muslim tradition. (R).

2412 Khidhr had two special gifts from Allah: Mercy from Him, and Knowledge from Him too. The first freed him from the ordinary incidents of daily human life; and the second entitled him to interpret the inner meaning and mystery of events, as we shall see further on. Much could be and has been written about this from the mystic point of view.


18:66
[ Original ]
قَالَ لَهُ مُوسَىٰ هَلْ أَتَّبِعُكَ عَلَىٰ أَنْ تُعَلِّمَنِ مِمَّا عُلِّمْتَ رُشْدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Moses said to him: "May I follow thee, on the footing that thou teach me something of the (Higher) Truth which thou hast been taught?"
[ Saheeh International ]
Moses said to him, "May I follow you on [the condition] that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgement?"
Tafseer Commentary

2413 Moses, not understanding the full import of what he was asking, makes a simple request. He wants to learn something of the special Knowledge which Allah had bestowed on Khidhr.


18:67
[ Original ]
قَالَ إِنَّكَ لَنْ تَسْتَطِيعَ مَعِيَ صَبْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
(The other) said: "Verily thou wilt not be able to have patience with me!"
[ Saheeh International ]
He said, "Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience.
Tafseer Commentary

2414 Khidhr smiles, and says that there will be many things which Moses will see with him, which Moses will not completely understand and which will make Moses impatient. The highest knowledge often seems paradoxical to those who have not the key to it.


18:68
[ Original ]
وَكَيْفَ تَصْبِرُ عَلَىٰ مَا لَمْ تُحِطْ بِهِ خُبْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"And how canst thou have patience about things about which thy understanding is not complete?"
[ Saheeh International ]
And how can you have patience for what you do not encompass in knowledge?"
Tafseer Commentary

2415 Khidhr does not blame Moses. Each one of us can only follow our own imperfect lights to the best of our judgment, but if we have Faith, we are saved many false steps.


18:69
[ Original ]
قَالَ سَتَجِدُنِي إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ صَابِرًا وَلَا أَعْصِي لَكَ أَمْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Moses said: "Thou wilt find me, if Allah so will, (truly) patient: nor shall I disobey thee in aught."
[ Saheeh International ]
[Moses] said, "You will find me, if Allah wills, patient, and I will not disobey you in [any] order."
Tafseer Commentary

2416 Moses had Faith. He adopts the true attitude of the learner to the Teacher, and promises to obey in all things, with the help of Allah. The Teacher is doubtful, but permits him to follow him on condition that he asks no questions about anything until the Teacher himself mentions it first.


18:70
[ Original ]
قَالَ فَإِنِ اتَّبَعْتَنِي فَلَا تَسْأَلْنِي عَنْ شَيْءٍ حَتَّىٰ أُحْدِثَ لَكَ مِنْهُ ذِكْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
The other said: "If then thou wouldst follow me, ask me no questions about anything until I myself speak to thee concerning it."
[ Saheeh International ]
He said, "Then if you follow me, do not ask me about anything until I make to you about it mention."

18:71
[ Original ]
فَانْطَلَقَا حَتَّىٰ إِذَا رَكِبَا فِي السَّفِينَةِ خَرَقَهَا ۖ قَالَ أَخَرَقْتَهَا لِتُغْرِقَ أَهْلَهَا لَقَدْ جِئْتَ شَيْئًا إِمْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
So they both proceeded: until, when they were in the boat, he scuttled it. Said Moses: "Hast thou scuttled it in order to drown those in it? Truly a strange thing hast thou done!"
[ Saheeh International ]
So they set out, until when they had embarked on the ship, al-Khidh r tore it open. [Moses] said, "Have you torn it open to drown its people? You have certainly done a grave thing."
Tafseer Commentary

2417 The explanation follows in 18:79.


18:72
[ Original ]
قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُلْ إِنَّكَ لَنْ تَسْتَطِيعَ مَعِيَ صَبْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He answered: "Did I not tell thee that thou canst have no patience with me?"
[ Saheeh International ]
[Al-Khidh r] said, "Did I not say that with me you would never be able to have patience?"

18:73
[ Original ]
قَالَ لَا تُؤَاخِذْنِي بِمَا نَسِيتُ وَلَا تُرْهِقْنِي مِنْ أَمْرِي عُسْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Moses said: "Rebuke me not for forgetting, nor grieve me by raising difficulties in my case."
[ Saheeh International ]
[Moses] said, "Do not blame me for what I forgot and do not cover me in my matter with difficulty."

18:74
[ Original ]
فَانْطَلَقَا حَتَّىٰ إِذَا لَقِيَا غُلَامًا فَقَتَلَهُ قَالَ أَقَتَلْتَ نَفْسًا زَكِيَّةً بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ لَقَدْ جِئْتَ شَيْئًا نُكْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Then they proceeded: until, when they met a young man, he slew him. Moses said: "Hast thou slain an innocent person who had slain none? Truly a foul (unheard of) thing hast thou done!"
[ Saheeh International ]
So they set out, until when they met a boy, al-Khidh r killed him. [Moses] said, "Have you killed a pure soul for other than [having killed] a soul? You have certainly done a deplorable thing."
Tafseer Commentary

2418 The explanation follows in 18:80-81.


18:75
[ Original ]
قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُلْ لَكَ إِنَّكَ لَنْ تَسْتَطِيعَ مَعِيَ صَبْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He answered: "Did I not tell thee that thou canst have no patience with me?"
[ Saheeh International ]
[Al-Khidh r] said, "Did I not tell you that with me you would never be able to have patience?"

18:76
[ Original ]
قَالَ إِنْ سَأَلْتُكَ عَنْ شَيْءٍ بَعْدَهَا فَلَا تُصَاحِبْنِي ۖ قَدْ بَلَغْتَ مِنْ لَدُنِّي عُذْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
(Moses) said: "If ever I ask thee about anything after this, keep me not in thy company: then wouldst thou have received (full) excuse from my side."
[ Saheeh International ]
[Moses] said, "If I should ask you about anything after this, then do not keep me as a companion. You have obtained from me an excuse."

18:77
[ Original ]
فَانْطَلَقَا حَتَّىٰ إِذَا أَتَيَا أَهْلَ قَرْيَةٍ اسْتَطْعَمَا أَهْلَهَا فَأَبَوْا أَنْ يُضَيِّفُوهُمَا فَوَجَدَا فِيهَا جِدَارًا يُرِيدُ أَنْ يَنْقَضَّ فَأَقَامَهُ ۖ قَالَ لَوْ شِئْتَ لَاتَّخَذْتَ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Then they proceeded: until, when they came to the inhabitants of a town, they asked them for food, but they refused them hospitality. They found there a wall on the point of falling down, but he set it up straight. (Moses) said: "If thou hadst wished, surely thou couldst have exacted some recompense for it!"
[ Saheeh International ]
So they set out, until when they came to the people of a town, they asked its people for food, but they refused to offer them hospitality. And they found therein a wall about to collapse, so al-Khidh r restored it. [Moses] said, "If you wished, you could have taken for it a payment."
Tafseer Commentary

2419 The inhabitants were churlish. They broke the universal Eastern rule of hospitality to strangers, and thus showed themselves beyond the pale of ordinary human courtesies. Note that they would have been expected to offer hospitality of themselves, unasked. Here Moses and his companion actually had to ask for hospitality and were refused point-blank.

2420 As they were refused hospitality, they should, as self-respecting men, have shaken the dust of the town off their feet, or shown their indignation in some way. Instead of that, Khidr actually goes and does a benevolent act. He rebuilds for them a falling wall, and never asks for any compensation for it. Perhaps he employed local workman for it and paid them wages, thus actually benefiting a town which had treated him and his companion so shabbily! Moses is naturally surprised and asks, "Could you not at least have asked for the cost?"


18:78
[ Original ]
قَالَ هَٰذَا فِرَاقُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنِكَ ۚ سَأُنَبِّئُكَ بِتَأْوِيلِ مَا لَمْ تَسْتَطِعْ عَلَيْهِ صَبْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He answered: "This is the parting between me and thee: now will I tell thee the interpretation of (those things) over which thou wast unable to hold patience.
[ Saheeh International ]
[Al-Khidh r] said, "This is parting between me and you. I will inform you of the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience.
Tafseer Commentary

2421 The story and the interpretation are given with the greatest economy of words. It would repay us to search for the meaning in terms of our own inner and outer experience.


18:79
[ Original ]
أَمَّا السَّفِينَةُ فَكَانَتْ لِمَسَاكِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ فِي الْبَحْرِ فَأَرَدْتُ أَنْ أَعِيبَهَا وَكَانَ وَرَاءَهُمْ مَلِكٌ يَأْخُذُ كُلَّ سَفِينَةٍ غَصْبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"As for the boat, it belonged to certain men in dire want: they plied on the water: I but wished to render it unserviceable, for there was after them a certain king who seized on every boat by force.
[ Saheeh International ]
As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working at sea. So I intended to cause defect in it as there was after them a king who seized every [good] ship by force.
Tafseer Commentary

2422 They went on the boat, which was plying for hire. Its owners were not even ordinary men who plied for trade. They had been reduced to great poverty, perhaps from affluent circumstances, and deserved great commiseration, the more so as they preferred an honest calling to begging for chanty. They did not know, but Khidr did, that the boat, perhaps a new one, had been marked down to be commandeered by an unjust king who seized on every boat he could get-it may have been, for warlike purposes. If this boat had been taken away from these selfrespecting men, they would have been reduced to beggary, with no resources left them. By a simple act of making it unseaworthy, the boat was saved from seizure. The owners could repair it as soon as the danger was past. Khidr probably paid liberally in fares, and what seemed an unaccountably cruel act was the greatest act of kindness he could do in the circumstances.


18:80
[ Original ]
وَأَمَّا الْغُلَامُ فَكَانَ أَبَوَاهُ مُؤْمِنَيْنِ فَخَشِينَا أَنْ يُرْهِقَهُمَا طُغْيَانًا وَكُفْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"As for the youth, his parents were people of Faith, and we feared that he would grieve them by obstinate rebellion and ingratitude (to Allah and man).
[ Saheeh International ]
And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared that he would overburden them by transgression and disbelief.
Tafseer Commentary

2423 This seemed at first sight even a more cruel act than scuttling the boat. But the danger was also greater. Khidr knew that the youth was a potential parricide. His parents were worthy, pious people, who had brought him up with love. He had apparently gone wrong. Perhaps he had already been guilty of murders and robberies and had escaped the law by subtleties and fraud. See next note.


18:81
[ Original ]
فَأَرَدْنَا أَنْ يُبْدِلَهُمَا رَبُّهُمَا خَيْرًا مِنْهُ زَكَاةً وَأَقْرَبَ رُحْمًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"So we desired that their Lord would give them in exchange (a son) better in purity (of conduct) and closer in affection.
[ Saheeh International ]
So we intended that their Lord should substitute for them one better than him in purity and nearer to mercy.
Tafseer Commentary

2424 The son was practically an outlaw-a danger to the public and a particular source of grief to his righteous parents. Even so, his summary capital punishment would have been unjustified if Khidr had been acting on his own. But Khidr was not acting on his own: see the latter part of the next verse. The plural "we" also implies that he was not acting on his own. He was acting on higher authority and removing a public scourge, who was also a source of extreme sorrow and humiliation to his parents. His parents are promised a better-behaved son who would love them and be a credit to them.


18:82
[ Original ]
وَأَمَّا الْجِدَارُ فَكَانَ لِغُلَامَيْنِ يَتِيمَيْنِ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ وَكَانَ تَحْتَهُ كَنْزٌ لَهُمَا وَكَانَ أَبُوهُمَا صَالِحًا فَأَرَادَ رَبُّكَ أَنْ يَبْلُغَا أَشُدَّهُمَا وَيَسْتَخْرِجَا كَنْزَهُمَا رَحْمَةً مِنْ رَبِّكَ ۚ وَمَا فَعَلْتُهُ عَنْ أَمْرِي ۚ ذَٰلِكَ تَأْوِيلُ مَا لَمْ تَسْطِعْ عَلَيْهِ صَبْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"As for the wall, it belonged to two youths, orphans, in the Town; there was, beneath it, a buried treasure, to which they were entitled: their father had been a righteous man: So thy Lord desired that they should attain their age of full strength and get out their treasure - a mercy (and favour) from thy Lord. I did it not of my own accord. Such is the interpretation of (those things) over which thou wast unable to hold patience."
[ Saheeh International ]
And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure for them, and their father had been righteous. So your Lord intended that they reach maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience."
Tafseer Commentary

2425 The wall was in a ruinous state. If it had fallen, the treasure buried beneath it would have been exposed and would certainly have been looted, among so churlish and selfish a people. See n. 2419 above. The treasure had been collected and buried by a righteous man. It was not, in any sense of the word, ill-gotten gains: it was buried expressly in the interests of the orphans by their father before his death. It was intended that the orphans should grow up and safely take possession of their heritage. It was also expected that they would be righteous men like their father, and use the treasure in good works and in advancing righteousness among an otherwise wicked community. There was thus both public and private interests involved in all the three incidents. In the second incident Khidr uses the word "we", showing that he was associating in his act the public authorities of the place, who had been eluded by the outlaw.

2426 Age of full strength: Cf. 17:34 and n. 2218.

2427 Those who act, not from a whim or a private impulse of" their own, but from higher authority, have to bear the blame, with the vulgar crowd, for acts of the greater wisdom and utility. In human affairs many things are inexplicable, which are things of the highest wisdom in the Universal Plan.


18:83
[ Original ]
وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنْ ذِي الْقَرْنَيْنِ ۖ قُلْ سَأَتْلُو عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْهُ ذِكْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
They ask thee concerning Dhu al Qarnayn. Say, "I will rehearse to you something of his story."
[ Saheeh International ]
And they ask you, [O Muhammad], about Dhul-Qarnayn. Say, "I will recite to you about him a report."
Tafseer Commentary

2428 Literally, "the Two-horned One", the King with the Two Horns, or the Lord of the Two Epochs. Who was he? In what age, and where did he live? The Qur'an gives us no material on which we can base a positive answer. Nor is it necessary to find an answer, as the story is treated as a Parable. Popular opinion identifies Dhu al Qarnayn with Alexander the Great. An alternative suggestion is an ancient Persian King, or a prehistoric Himyarite King. See a brief account of the controversy in Appendix VI printed at the end of this Surah. Dhu al Qarnayn was a most powerful king, but it was Allah, Who, in His universal Plan, gave him power and provided him with the ways and means for his great work. His sway extended over East and West, and over people of diverse civilisations. He was just and righteous, not selfish or grasping. He protected the weak and punished the unlawful arid the turbulent. Three of his expeditions are described in the text, each embodying a great ethical idea involved in the possession of kingship or power.


18:84
[ Original ]
إِنَّا مَكَّنَّا لَهُ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَآتَيْنَاهُ مِنْ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ سَبَبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Verily We established his power on earth, and We gave him the ways and the means to all ends.
[ Saheeh International ]
Indeed We established him upon the earth, and We gave him to everything a way.
Tafseer Commentary

2429 Great was his power and great were his opportunities ("ways and means"), which he used for justice and righteousness. But he recognised that his power and opportunities were given to him as a trust by Allah. He had faith, and did not forget Allah.


18:85
[ Original ]
فَأَتْبَعَ سَبَبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
One (such) way he followed,
[ Saheeh International ]
So he followed a way

18:86
[ Original ]
حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ مَغْرِبَ الشَّمْسِ وَجَدَهَا تَغْرُبُ فِي عَيْنٍ حَمِئَةٍ وَوَجَدَ عِنْدَهَا قَوْمًا ۗ قُلْنَا يَا ذَا الْقَرْنَيْنِ إِمَّا أَنْ تُعَذِّبَ وَإِمَّا أَنْ تَتَّخِذَ فِيهِمْ حُسْنًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: "O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness."
[ Saheeh International ]
Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it [as if] setting in a spring of dark mud, and he found near it a people. Allah said, "O Dhul-Qarnayn, either you punish [them] or else adopt among them [a way of] goodness."
Tafseer Commentary

2430 This is the first of the three episodes here mentioned, his expedition to the west. "Reaching the setting of the sun" does not mean the extreme west, for there is no such thing. West and East are relative terms. It means a western expedition terminated by a "spring of murky water." This has puzzled Commentators, and they have understood this to mean the dark, tempestuous sea. If Dhu al Qarnayn is Alexander the Great, the reference is easily understood to be the Lychnitis (now Ochrida), west of Macedonia . It is fed entirely by underground springs in a limestone region, where the water is never very clear. (See Appendix VI at the end of the Surah).

2431 He had great power and great opportunity. He got authority over a turbulent and unruly people. Was he going to be severe with them and chastise them, or was he going to seek peace at any price, i.e., to wink at violence and injustice so long as it did not affect his power? He chose the better course, as described in the next verse. To protect the weak and the innocent, he punished the guilty and the headstrong, but he remembered always that the true Punishment would come in the Hereafter-the true and final justice before the throne of Allah.


18:87
[ Original ]
قَالَ أَمَّا مَنْ ظَلَمَ فَسَوْفَ نُعَذِّبُهُ ثُمَّ يُرَدُّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِ فَيُعَذِّبُهُ عَذَابًا نُكْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He said: "Whoever doth wrong, him shall we punish; then shall he be sent back to his Lord; and He will punish him with a punishment unheard-of (before).
[ Saheeh International ]
He said, "As for one who wrongs, we will punish him. Then he will be returned to his Lord, and He will punish him with a terrible punishment.
Tafseer Commentary

2432 Though most powerful among kings, he remembered that his power was but human, and given by Allah. His punishments were but tentative, to preserve the balance of this life as he could appraise it. Even if his punishment was capital ("wrongdoer sent bad to his Lord") it was nothing compared to the dire consequences of sin, in the final Justice of Allah.


18:88
[ Original ]
وَأَمَّا مَنْ آمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُ جَزَاءً الْحُسْنَىٰ ۖ وَسَنَقُولُ لَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِنَا يُسْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"But whoever believes, and works righteousness,- he shall have a goodly reward, and easy will be his task as We order it by our Command."
[ Saheeh International ]
But as for one who believes and does righteousness, he will have a reward of Paradise, and we will speak to him from our command with ease."
Tafseer Commentary

2433 He never said like Pharaoh, "I am your Lord Most High!" (79:24). On the contrary, his punishments were humbly regulated as not being final, and he laid more stress on the good he could do to those who lived normal lives in faith and righteousness. His rule was easy to them: he imposed no heavy tasks because of his power, but gave every opportunity to rich and poor for the exercise of virtue and goodness. Such is the spiritual lesson to be learned from the first episode.


18:89
[ Original ]
ثُمَّ أَتْبَعَ سَبَبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Then followed he (another) way,
[ Saheeh International ]
Then he followed a way

18:90
[ Original ]
حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ مَطْلِعَ الشَّمْسِ وَجَدَهَا تَطْلُعُ عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ لَمْ نَجْعَلْ لَهُمْ مِنْ دُونِهَا سِتْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had provided no covering protection against the sun.
[ Saheeh International ]
Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had not made against it any shield.
Tafseer Commentary

2434 We now come to the second episode. This is an expedition to the east. "Rising of the sun" has a meaning corresponding to "setting of the sun" in 18:86. as explained in n. 2430.

2435 The people here lived very simple lives. Perhaps the climate was hot, and they required neither roofs over their heads, nor much clothing to protect them from the sun. What did he do with them? See next note.


18:91
[ Original ]
كَذَٰلِكَ وَقَدْ أَحَطْنَا بِمَا لَدَيْهِ خُبْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
(He left them) as they were: We completely understood what was before him.
[ Saheeh International ]
Thus. And We had encompassed [all] that he had in knowledge.
Tafseer Commentary

2436 They were a primitive people. He did not fuss over their primitiveness, but left them in the enjoyment of peace and tranquillity in their own way. In this he was wise. Power is apt to be intolerant and arrogant, and to interfere in everything that does not accord with its own glorification. Not so Dhu al Qarnayn. He recognised his own limitations in the sight of Allah: man never completely understands his own position, but if he devoutly looks to Allah, he will live and let live. This is the spiritual lesson from the second episode.


18:92
[ Original ]
ثُمَّ أَتْبَعَ سَبَبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Then followed he (another) way,
[ Saheeh International ]
Then he followed a way

18:93
[ Original ]
حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ بَيْنَ السَّدَّيْنِ وَجَدَ مِنْ دُونِهِمَا قَوْمًا لَا يَكَادُونَ يَفْقَهُونَ قَوْلًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Until, when he reached (a tract) between two mountains, he found, beneath them, a people who scarcely understood a word.
[ Saheeh International ]
Until, when he reached [a pass] between two mountains, he found beside them a people who could hardly understand [his] speech.
Tafseer Commentary

2437 The geography of the place (if geography is relevant in a parable story) is discussed in Appendix VI at the end of this Surah (Cf. 21:96).

2438 It does not mean that they had no speech. It means that they did not understand the speech of the Conqueror. But they had parleys with him (through interpreters), as is evident from the verses following (18:94-98).


18:94
[ Original ]
قَالُوا يَا ذَا الْقَرْنَيْنِ إِنَّ يَأْجُوجَ وَمَأْجُوجَ مُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَهَلْ نَجْعَلُ لَكَ خَرْجًا عَلَىٰ أَنْ تَجْعَلَ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَهُمْ سَدًّا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
They said: "O Zul-qarnain! the Gog and Magog (people) do great mischief on earth: shall we then render thee tribute in order that thou mightest erect a barrier between us and them?
[ Saheeh International ]
They said, "O Dhul-Qarnayn, indeed Gog and Magog are [great] corrupters in the land. So may we assign for you an expenditure that you might make between us and them a barrier?"
Tafseer Commentary

2439 Who were the Gog and Magog people? This question is connected with the question, who was Dhu al Qarnayn? Some discussion on the question will be found in Appendix VI at the end of this Surah. What we are mainly concerned with is the spiritual interpretation. The Conqueror had now arrived among a people who were different in speech and race from him, but not quite primitive, for they were skilled in the working of metals, and could furnish blocks (or bricks) of iron, melt metals with bellows or blowpipes, and prepare molten lead (18:96). Apparently they were a peaceable and industrious race, much subject to incursions from wild tribes who are called Gog and Magog. Against these tribes they were willing to purchase immunity by paying the Conqueror tribute in return for protection. The permanent protection they wanted was the closing of a mountain gap through which the incursions were made.


18:95
[ Original ]
قَالَ مَا مَكَّنِّي فِيهِ رَبِّي خَيْرٌ فَأَعِينُونِي بِقُوَّةٍ أَجْعَلْ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُمْ رَدْمًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He said: "(The power) in which my Lord has established me is better (than tribute): Help me therefore with strength (and labour): I will erect a strong barrier between you and them:
[ Saheeh International ]
He said, "That in which my Lord has established me is better [than what you offer], but assist me with strength; I will make between you and them a dam.
Tafseer Commentary

2440 Dhu al Qarnayn was not greedy and did not want to impose a tribute to be carried away from an industrious population. He understood the power which Allah had given him, to involve duties and responsibilities on his part-the duty of protecting his subjects without imposing too heavy a taxation on them. He would provide the motive force and organising skill. Would they obey him and provide the material and labour, so that they could close the gap with a strong barrier, probably with well-secured gates? The word radm, translated "Barrier," does not necessarily mean a wall, but radier suggests a blocked door or entrance.


18:96
[ Original ]
آتُونِي زُبَرَ الْحَدِيدِ ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا سَاوَىٰ بَيْنَ الصَّدَفَيْنِ قَالَ انْفُخُوا ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَعَلَهُ نَارًا قَالَ آتُونِي أُفْرِغْ عَلَيْهِ قِطْرًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"Bring me blocks of iron." At length, when he had filled up the space between the two steep mountain-sides, He said, "Blow (with your bellows)" Then, when he had made it (red) as fire, he said: "Bring me, that I may pour over it, molten lead."
[ Saheeh International ]
Bring me sheets of iron" - until, when he had leveled [them] between the two mountain walls, he said, "Blow [with bellows]," until when he had made it [like] fire, he said, "Bring me, that I may pour over it molten copper."
Tafseer Commentary

2441 I understand the defences erected to have been a strong barrier of iron, with iron Gates. The jambs of the Gates were constructed with blocks or bricks of iron, and the interstices filled up with molten lead, so as to form an impregnable mass of metal. It may be that there was a stone wall also, but that is not mentioned. There was none in the Iron Gate near Bukhara ; see Appendix VI at the end of his Surah.

2442 Made it (red) as fire, what does "it" refer to? Probably to the iron, either in sheets or blocks, to be welded with molten lead.


18:97
[ Original ]
فَمَا اسْطَاعُوا أَنْ يَظْهَرُوهُ وَمَا اسْتَطَاعُوا لَهُ نَقْبًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Thus were they made powerless to scale it or to dig through it.
[ Saheeh International ]
So Gog and Magog were unable to pass over it, nor were they able [to effect] in it any penetration.
Tafseer Commentary

2443 The iron wall and gates and towers were sufficiently high to prevent their being scaled and sufficiently strong with welded metal to resist any attempt to dig through them.


18:98
[ Original ]
قَالَ هَٰذَا رَحْمَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّي ۖ فَإِذَا جَاءَ وَعْدُ رَبِّي جَعَلَهُ دَكَّاءَ ۖ وَكَانَ وَعْدُ رَبِّي حَقًّا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He said: "This is a mercy from my Lord: But when the promise of my Lord comes to pass, He will make it into dust; and the promise of my Lord is true."
[ Saheeh International ]
[Dhul-Qarnayn] said, "This is a mercy from my Lord; but when the promise of my Lord comes, He will make it level, and ever is the promise of my Lord true."
Tafseer Commentary

2444 After all the effort which Dhu al Qarnayn has made for their protection, he claims no credit for himself beyond that of discharging his duty as a ruler. He turns their attention to Allah, Who has provided the ways and means by which they can be helped and protected. But all such human precautions are apt to become futile. The time must come when they will crumble into dust. Allah has said so in His Revelation; and His word is true. And so the spiritual lesson from the third episode is: Take human precautions and do all in your power to protect yourselves from evil. But no protection is complete unless you seek the help and grace of Allah. The best of our precautions must crumble to dust when the appointed Day arrives.


18:99
[ Original ]
وَتَرَكْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ يَمُوجُ فِي بَعْضٍ ۖ وَنُفِخَ فِي الصُّورِ فَجَمَعْنَاهُمْ جَمْعًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
On that day We shall leave them to surge like waves on one another: the trumpet will be blown, and We shall collect them all together.
[ Saheeh International ]
And We will leave them that day surging over each other, and [then] the Horn will be blown, and We will assemble them in [one] assembly.
Tafseer Commentary

2445 And so we pass on to the Last Days before the Great Summons comes from Allah. All human barriers will be swept away. There will be tumultuous rushes. The Trumpet will be blown, and the Judgement will be set on foot.


18:100
[ Original ]
وَعَرَضْنَا جَهَنَّمَ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِلْكَافِرِينَ عَرْضًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And We shall present Hell that day for Unbelievers to see, all spread out,-
[ Saheeh International ]
And We will present Hell that Day to the Disbelievers, on display -
Tafseer Commentary

2446 If men had scoffed at Faith and the Hereafter, their eyes will be opened now, and they will see the terrible Reality.


18:101
[ Original ]
الَّذِينَ كَانَتْ أَعْيُنُهُمْ فِي غِطَاءٍ عَنْ ذِكْرِي وَكَانُوا لَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ سَمْعًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
(Unbelievers) whose eyes had been under a veil from remembrance of Me, and who had been unable even to hear.
[ Saheeh International ]
Those whose eyes had been within a cover [removed] from My remembrance, and they were not able to hear.
Tafseer Commentary

2447 Those very men who refused to see the many Signs of Allah which in this world convey His Message and to hear the Word of the Lord when it came to them, will then see without any mistake the consequences fully brought up before them.


18:102
[ Original ]
أَفَحَسِبَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنْ يَتَّخِذُوا عِبَادِي مِنْ دُونِي أَوْلِيَاءَ ۚ إِنَّا أَعْتَدْنَا جَهَنَّمَ لِلْكَافِرِينَ نُزُلًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Do the Unbelievers think that they can take My servants as protectors besides Me? Verily We have prepared Hell for the Unbelievers for (their) entertainment.
[ Saheeh International ]
Then do those who disbelieve think that they can take My servants instead of Me as allies? Indeed, We have prepared Hell for the disbelievers as a lodging.

18:103
[ Original ]
قُلْ هَلْ نُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِالْأَخْسَرِينَ أَعْمَالًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Say: "Shall we tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds?-
[ Saheeh International ]
Say, [O Muhammad], "Shall we [believers] inform you of the greatest losers as to [their] deeds?
Tafseer Commentary

2448 That is, those who prided themselves on their works in this life, and now find that those works are of no avail. Their loss is all the greater because they had a misplaced confidence in their own deeds or in the assistance of false "protectors". Allah is the only Protector: no one else's protection is of any use.


18:104
[ Original ]
الَّذِينَ ضَلَّ سَعْيُهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ يَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ يُحْسِنُونَ صُنْعًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
"Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works?"
[ Saheeh International ]
[They are] those whose effort is lost in worldly life, while they think that they are doing well in work."
Tafseer Commentary

2449 Many people have such a smug sense of self-righteousness that while they go on doing wrong, they think that they are acquiring merit. So, in charity, all the elements that make for outward show or selfishness (as to get some worldly advantage) nullify the deed of charity. In the same way, hypocrites sometimes affect to be surprised that their declared effort for somebody's good is not appreciated, when they are really seeking some hidden gain or false glory for themselves. The sincere are only those who believe in their spiritual responsibility and act in Allah's sight.


18:105
[ Original ]
أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ وَلِقَائِهِ فَحَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فَلَا نُقِيمُ لَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَزْنًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
They are those who deny the Signs of their Lord and the fact of their having to meet Him (in the Hereafter): vain will be their works, nor shall We, on the Day of Judgment, give them any Weight.
[ Saheeh International ]
Those are the ones who disbelieve in the verses of their Lord and in [their] meeting Him, so their deeds have become worthless; and We will not assign to them on the Day of Resurrection any importance.
Tafseer Commentary

2450 What weight can be attached to works behind which the motives are not pure, or are positively evil? They are either wasted or count against those who seek to pass them off as meritorious!


18:106
[ Original ]
ذَٰلِكَ جَزَاؤُهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ بِمَا كَفَرُوا وَاتَّخَذُوا آيَاتِي وَرُسُلِي هُزُوًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
That is their reward, Hell, because they rejected Faith, and took My Signs and My Messengers by way of jest.
[ Saheeh International ]
That is their recompense - Hell - for what they denied and [because] they took My signs and My messengers in ridicule.
Tafseer Commentary

2451 False motives, pretence, deception, and hypocrisy, flourish because people do not take the higher life seriously. Tn effect they treat it as ajest. Signs and Messengers are sent as a special and personal Mercy from Allah, and for such things the first person singular is used as in this verse, even when it involves a sudden transition from the first person plural as in the last verse.


18:107
[ Original ]
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ كَانَتْ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتُ الْفِرْدَوْسِ نُزُلًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
As to those who believe and work righteous deeds, they have, for their entertainment, the Gardens of Paradise,
[ Saheeh International ]
Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds - they will have the Gardens of Paradise as a lodging,
Tafseer Commentary

2452 Firdaws in Persian means an enclosed place, a park. In technical theological language the word is used for the inner circle of Heaven, or the highest Heaven, the destination of those who perfectly fulfil both requirements, viz.: a sound faith, and perfectly righteous conduct. Small faults in either respect are forgiven; the Mercy of Allah steps in. (R).


18:108
[ Original ]
خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا لَا يَبْغُونَ عَنْهَا حِوَلًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Wherein they shall dwell (for aye): no change will they wish for from them.
[ Saheeh International ]
Wherein they abide eternally. They will not desire from it any transfer.

18:109
[ Original ]
قُلْ لَوْ كَانَ الْبَحْرُ مِدَادًا لِكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّي لَنَفِدَ الْبَحْرُ قَبْلَ أَنْ تَنْفَدَ كَلِمَاتُ رَبِّي وَلَوْ جِئْنَا بِمِثْلِهِ مَدَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Say: "If the ocean were ink (wherewith to write out) the words of my Lord, sooner would the ocean be exhausted than would the words of my Lord, even if we added another ocean like it, for its aid."
[ Saheeh International ]
Say, "If the sea were ink for [writing] the words of my Lord, the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like of it as a supplement."
Tafseer Commentary

2453 The Words and Signs and Mercies of Allah are in all Creation, and can never be fully set out in human language, however extended our means may be imagined to be.


18:110
[ Original ]
قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ مِثْلُكُمْ يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ فَمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاءَ رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Say: "I am but a man like yourselves, (but) the inspiration has come to me, that your Allah is one Allah. whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner.
[ Saheeh International ]
Say, "I am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one God. So whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord - let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone."
Tafseer Commentary

2454 Righteousness and true respect for Allah-which excludes the worship of anything else, whether idols, or deified men, or forces of nature, or faculties of man, or Self-these are the criteria of true worship.


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