Surah al-Kahf (The Cave ) 18 : 62
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they had passed beyond
to his boy
our morning meal
we have suffered
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
We understand from the general drift of the story that Moses had a definite purpose behind his journey. He declares that he will travel as far as the meeting point of the two seas, no matter how troublesome the journey may prove, or how long it takes. He expresses his determination by the words quoted in the Qur’ān: “though I may march for ages.” There are differences as to the exact meaning of the Arabic word, ĥuqub, which is given in the translation as ‘ages’. Some scholars state that each such ĥuqbah, or age, denotes one year, while others say it denotes eighty years. Whichever meaning it may have, the expression denotes a resolve rather than duration of time. But when they reached the junction between the two seas, they forgot their fish, and it took its way into the sea and disappeared from sight. And after they had marched on for some distance, Moses said to his servant: ‘Bring us our mid-clay meal; we are indeed worn out by this our journey’ [the servant]: Do you recall when we betook ourselves to that rock for rest. There I forgot the fish — and none but Satan made me thus forget it! — and it took its way into the sea. How strange! (Verses 61-63) Most probably, the fish was cooked. Its raising back to life and its moving straight into the sea was a sign given by God to Moses, so that he would know the place where he was to meet the man. This is indicated by the amazement expressed by the servant when he saw the fish swimming in the sea. Had the fish only dropped into the sea and settled at the bottom, there would be nothing strange in the matter. What makes this interpretation more plausible is that the whole trip was full of surprises that go beyond imagination, and this was only one of them.
- One of the lessons we learn from this story is the effort required by Musa in his hard and tiring journey, لَقَدْ لَقِينَا مِن سَفَرِنَا هَـٰذَا نَصَبًا ".....we have certainly suffered in this, our journey, [much] fatigue." (18:62) It was after this effort that he learnt some very profound realities and knowledge. We learn that you cannot gain knowledge without patience and the more patience you have the more you will gain in knowledge.
- The significance of having fish to eat for breakfast [further research needed]
2. Linguistic Analysis[ edit ]
4. Miscellaneous Information[ edit ]
5. Connected/Related Ayat[ edit ]
6. Frequency of the word[ edit ]
7. Period of Revelation[ edit ]
This is the first of those Surahs sent down in the third stage of Prophethood in Makkah. We have already divided the life of the Prophet at Makkah into four stages in the introduction to Surah 6: al-An’am (The Grazing Livestock). According to that division, the third stage lasted from the fifth to the tenth year of Prophethood. What distinguishes this stage from the second and the fourth stages is that during the second stage, the Quraysh mainly resorted to ridiculing, scoffing, threatening, tempting, raising objections and making false propaganda against the Prophet and his followers. But during the third stage they employed the weapons of persecution, man handling and economic pressure, so much so that a large number of the Muslims had to emigrate from Arabia to Abyssinia. Those who remained behind were besieged in Shi’ib Abi Talib along with the Prophet and his family. To add to their misery, a complete social and economic boycott was applied against them. The only redeeming feature was that there were two personalities, Abu Talib, who was the uncle of the Prophet and his wife Khadijah. Their personal influence had been conducive to the support of two great families of the Quraysh. However, when in the tenth year of Prophethood these two persons died, the fourth stage began with such severe persecution that the Prophet and all his companions were forced to emigrate from Makkah.
It appears from the theme of the Surah that it was revealed at the beginning of the third stage when in spite of persecutions and opposition the migration to Abyssinia had not yet taken place. That is why the story of ‘The Sleepers of the Cave’ has been related to comfort and encourage the persecuted Muslims and to show them how righteous people in history have been preserving their faith.
8. Reasons for Revelation[ edit ]
This Surah was sent down in answer to three questions which the polytheists of Makkah in consultation with the People of the Book (the Jews and the Christians) put to the Prophet. These were:
1. Who were ‘The Sleepers of the Cave?’
2. What is the real story of Khidr?
3. What do you know about Dhul-Qarnain?
These three questions and their stories related to the history of the Christians and the Jews and were unknown in the Arabian Peninsula (Hijaz), so they were being used to test the divine knowledge revealed to the Prophet. However, God informed the Prophet of the complete answer to these questions and also employed the stories in the conflict between Islam and unbelief.
The questioners were told that the ‘Sleepers of the Cave’ believed in the same doctrine of Monotheism (Tawhid) which was being put forward in the Qur’an and that their condition was similar to that of the persecuted Muslims of Makkah. Also, the persecutors of the Sleepers of the Cave behaved in the same way as the disbelievers of Quraysh towards the Muslims. This particular story was a warning to the chiefs of Makkah, who were persecuting the small newly formed Muslim community. Additionally, the Prophet was instructed not to compromise with the persecutors nor consider the chiefs to be more important than his own followers. Likewise, the chiefs too were admonished and informed not to be distracted by the temporary life of this world but seek the eternal life of the hereafter.