28-08-2009, 06:45 PM
Here is what Anwarul Bayan says of the people of the cave. It's quite long but definitely worth the read.
TRANSLATION: 9. Did you think that the people of the cave and the Raqeem were wonders from Our signs?
10. When the youths took refuge in the cave saying, “O our Rabb! Bestow on us mercy especially from Yourself and facilitate a suitable solution for us to our plight.”
11. So We cast a veil upon their ears for many years in the cave.
12. Thereafter We raised them so that We may know which of the two groups will be able to specify correctly for how long they had remained (in the cave).
WHO WERE “THE PEOPLE OF THE KAHAF AND THE RAQEEM”?
The verse refers to a few youths who hid in a cave to escape the persecution of the Kuffaar and their king. According to Hadhrat Anas (R.A) and Hadhrat Sha’bi (A.R), “Raqeem” was the name of their dog, while Hadhrat Saeed bin Jubair (A.R) says that “Raqeem” was the stone tablet on which the incident of these people was engraved. This was hung at the mouth of their cave.
According to one narration of Hadhrat Abdullaah bin Abbaas (R.A), the “Raqeem” was a book containing some facts about the Shari’ah of Hadhrat Isa (A.S). Hadhrat Abdullaah bin Abbaas (R.A) has also mentioned that this was the name of a valley between Eela and Palestine in which the cave is situated.
Once, when Hadhrat Abdullaah bin Abbaas (R.A) was asked about the “Raqeem,” he said that he was not certain. Thereafter he said that he had heard from Hadhrat Ka’b Ahbaar (A.R) [a former Jewish rabbi who accepted Islaam during the time of the Sahabah (R.A)] that this was the name of the town from which the people of the cave came.
The author of “Ruhul Ma’aani” (Vol.15 Pg.409) writes that all these narrations confirm that the “people of the cave” and the people of the “Raqeem” refer the same group. Although certain commentators have stated that these were two different groups, there are no Ahadeeth to substantiate their claim. Allaah knows best.
THE ERA OF THE PEOPLE OF THE CAVE
Allaama Ibn Katheer (A.R) has written in “Al Bidaaya wan Nihaayah” (Vol.2 Pg.114) that these people were the children of kings and lived during the period of a king called Diqyanoos. They once happened to join the masses during a celebration and noticed that the people prostrated to idols and revered them deeply. Allaah opened their hearts and guided them to realise that this practice was incorrect. They then decided to leave the people because they would not be allowed to adhere to their belief in Tauheed. They sought refuge in a cave with a dog who guarded the entrance.
Allaah firstly dispels the surprise of Rasulullaah (sallallaahu-alayhi-wa-sallam) by saying, “Did you think that the people of the cave and the Raqeem were wonders from Our signs?” This is hardly as astonishing as the other greater signs if Allaah, like the creation of the heavens, the earth and the multitude of other things that Allaah created from nothing. The only thing that happened with the people of the cave was that they were put to sleep for an extensive period without their bodies decaying. The Kuffaar were astonished with this incident, yet they failed to perceive the wondrous nature of Allaah’s other creation.
THEY ENTER THE CAVE
Allaah says that the time should be brought to mind “When the youths took refuge in the cave saying, “O our Rabb! Bestow on us mercy especially from Yourself and facilitate a suitable solution for us to our plight.” Allaah is Capable of protecting people wherever on earth they may, in a crowd, alone, on a mountain, at sea, in a cave, etc. The youths made this du’aa because they were apprehensive of the persecution of the Kuffaar who dominated the area.
In reply to their du’aa, Allaah says, “So We cast a veil upon their ears for many years in the cave.” Allaah caused them to sleep soundly in the cave for a long time. When they awoke they began to question each other about the period that they spent asleep in the cave. Allaah says, “Thereafter We raised them so that We may know which of the two groups will be able to specify correctly for how long they had remained (in the cave).”
Commentators mention that the first group refers to those of them who questioned the time they spent in the cave. The second group was those who did not delve into the matter and said, “Your Rabb knows best how long you stayed.”
Hadhrat Abdullaah bin Abbaas (R.A) has mentioned that the one group was the people of the cave and the other group was that of the kings who successively ascended to the throne during the period that the youths slept. [“Ruhul Ma’aani” Vol.15 Pg.212]
Although sleeping is related to the shutting of the eyes, Allaah speaks of their ears being veiled so as to denote that their sleep was so deep that they could not even hear anything.
TRANSLATION: 13. We narrate to you their story in perfect truth. They were a few youths who believed in their Rabb and We increased them in guidance.
14. We consolidated their hearts when they stood up and said, “Our Rabb is the Rabb of the heavens and the earth. We will never accept another as deity besides Him, for then we will have definitely uttered sheer transgression.”
15. “These are our people who have taken others as gods besides Him. Why do they not present a clear proof for it? Who can be more unjust than he who invents a lie against Allaah?”
16. “When you have separated yourselves from them and the gods that they worship besides Allaah, then seek refuge in the cave. Then your Rabb shall shower His mercy upon you and make your objectives easy to reach.”
THE DETAILED ACCOUNT OF THE PEOPLE OF THE CAVE
The people during the period of the “As’haabul Kahaf” (people of the cave) were all Mushrikeen and their king (Diqyanoos) used to force people to worship idols. When the “As’haabul Kahaf” noticed their people worshipping idols during their celebrations, they disapproved of these practices and left. Although they were all strangers to each other and were observing the scene separately, Allaah made all of them gather at a certain point.
As they were all unaware of each other’s beliefs, they were apprehensive to say anything. However, one of them said that each one should express why he had left the people. Someone got up and said that he found the actions of the people despicable. He said that he was disgusted at how they worshipped idols when Allaah, the Rabb of the heavens and the earth was the Only One worthy of worship. Eventually all of them said the same thing and they forged a true bond of brotherhood.
They then built their own premises to worship Allaah. When the people reported the incident to the king, he summoned them and asked them what their beliefs were. Allaah strengthened their hearts and they expressed their belief in Tauheed without fear. They also invited the king to conform to their beliefs. Allaah says, “We consolidated their hearts when they stood up and said (to the king), ‘Our Rabb is the Rabb of the heavens and the earth. We will never accept another as deity besides Him, for then we will have definitely uttered sheer transgression.’”
However, the king refused to accept what they said and had them stripped of their fine clothes. He then allowed them grace to reconsider their stand and warned them of the severe consequences should they not change their beliefs.
THEY ESCAPE FROM THE KING AND THEIR PEOPLE
Among themselves they discussed, “These are our people who have taken others as gods besides Him. Why do they not present a clear proof for it?” They realised that there can never be any reason for shirk and said, “Who can be more unjust than he who invents a lie against Allaah?”
They then resolved to leave the town and to take refuge in a cave. So they told each other, “When you have separated yourselves from them and the gods that they worship besides Allaah, then seek refuge in the cave.”
They required provisions for their stay in the cave and pinned their trust in Allaah saying, “Then your Rabb shall shower His mercy upon you and make your objectives easy to reach.” With this conviction they proceeded to the cave.
TRANSLATION: 17. You will see that, when the sun rises, it would pass by their cave on the right and, when it would set, it would pass by on the left, while they were in a spacious portion of the cave. These are from Allaah’s signs. The person whom Allaah guides is rightly guided. As for him whom Allaah sends astray, you shall not find for him any guiding friend.
18. You would have deemed them to be awake though they were asleep. And We used to turn them over on their right and left sides, while their dog stretched out his paws at the threshold. If you were to observe them closely, you would surely have turned away and fled from them, and you would have been filled with awe.
A DESCRIPTION OF THE CAVE
These verses describe that the youths slept in a spacious part of the cave and were not disturbed by the sun. Allaah caused the cave to be positioned in such manner that the rays of the sun never entered the cave. Allaah says, “You will see that, when the sun rises, it would pass by their cave on the right and, when it would set, it would pass by on the left, while they were in a spacious portion of the cave.”
“These are from Allaah’s signs.” They relied on Allaah to protect them and care for them, so He made their task comfortable and easy. Their gazes were not on the visible means at their disposal, but on Allaah’s treasures. Therefore Allaah ensured their well being.
“The person whom Allaah guides is rightly guided (like the people of the cave). As for him whom Allaah sends astray (like the Jews of Madinah and the Mushrikeen of Makkah), you shall not find for him any guiding friend.”
“You would have deemed them to be awake though they were asleep.” Some commentators say that they slept with their eyes open, while others are of the opinion that there were no signs of sleep on their bodies. Their bodies did not appear relaxed like those of sleeping people.
“And We used to turn them over on their right and left sides…” Because they were asleep for such a long period, Allaah ensured that the earth does not decompose their bodies and so Allaah turned them from side to side as they slept.
“Ma’aalimut Tanzeel” (Vol.2 Pg.154) reports from Hadhrat Abdullaah bin Abbaas (R.A) that they were turned over once a year, while Hadhrat Abu Hurayra (R.A) says that they were turned over twice a year. However, these reports are based on narrations from the Bani Israa’eel, since no hadith has been reported from Rasulullaah (sallallaahu-alayhi-wa-sallam) concerning this.
“…while their dog stretched out his paws at the threshold.” According to certain narrations, the dog joined them as they proceeded to the cave. Others mention that the dog belonged to the king’s cook, who was also one of them. Some say that it was the hunting dog belonging to one of them.
Many opinions have been cited in the books of tafseer with regard to the colour of the dog, but none of these are substantiated and it is not even necessary to know about it.
The Arabic word “waseed” (translated above as “threshold”) has also been translated as “door,” “sand” and “courtyard.” [Ibn Katheer Vol.3 Pg.76 and “Ma’aalimut Tanzeel” Vol.3 Pg.154]
“If you were to observe them closely, you would surely have turned away and fled from them, and you would have been filled with awe.” Some commentators have mentioned that the cave was a frightening place, while others say that one would have been afraid because the youths slept with their eyes open and their hair and nails were extremely long.
Allaah protected them by not allowing the sun to fall on them, by turning their bodies from side to side, by placing the dog on guard and by causing them to appear gruesome so that no person will have the courage to accost them.
TRANSLATION: 19. In this manner We raised them so that they could ask each other. One of them said, “How long have you remained?” They replied, “We remained here for a day or a part of a day.” Others said, “Your Rabb knows best how long you tarried. Dispatch someone to the town with this silver. Let him then see which food is purest so that he can bring you some provisions from there. However, he should be subtle in his approach and never inform anyone about you.
20. Surely, if they become aware of your presence, they will certainly stone you or return you to their religion, after which you shall never again be successful.
THE PEOPLE OF THE CAVE AWAKEN, TRY TO ESTABLISH HOW LONG THEY SLEPT AND THEY SEND SOMEONE TO BRING FOOD FOR THEM FROM THE CITY
After their long sleep, Allaah caused them to rouse. As they did so, “One of them said, ‘How long have you remained?’ They replied, ‘We remained here for a day or a part of a day.” They could not say with certainty how long they slept, but estimated the period. Commentators say that they slept during the morning and, when they awoke all the years later, it was evening. It therefore appeared to them that it was the evening of the same day on which they slept.
“Others said, ‘Your Rabb knows best how long you tarried.” These people realised that they must have slept for a longer period, which could not be determined because of their uncertainty after awakening. Some commentators say that this realisation dawned on them when they noticed the extent to which their hair and nails had grown.
People normally grow very hungry after sleeping. Therefore, they said, “Dispatch someone to the town with this silver (coins). Let him then see which food is purest (Halaal and not slaughtered in the name of any idol) so that he can bring you some provisions from there. However, he should be subtle in his approach and never inform anyone about you.” They thought that the same Kuffaar dominance prevailed in the territory. Therefore, they said, “Surely, if they become aware of your presence, they will certainly stone you or return you to their religion, after which you shall never again be successful.”
A question arises at this juncture. The question is that if any Mu'min is forced to claim kufr, he is permitted to do so to preserve his life. In this case he will not be accountable in the Hereafter. This being the case, why did the people of the cave then say that if they are forced back to kufr they “shall never again be successful?”
In my humble opinion, these people did not know about this because they had not learned from a Nabi or any other man of knowledge. This is similar to the case of Hadhrat Hanzalah (R.A) when he came to Rasulullaah (sallallaahu-alayhi-wa-sallam) saying, “Hanzalah has become a Munaafiq (hypocrite)!” When the Prophet (sallallaahu-alayhi-wa-sallam) asked him the reason for this statement, he said that when he was in the company of Rasulullaah (sallallaahu-alayhi-wa-sallam) and heard of Jannah and Jahannam, these actually seemed to appear before them. However, he said, when he left the noble presence of Rasulullaah (sallallaahu-alayhi-wa-sallam) and engaged in play and frolic with their families and children, he seemed to forget the prophetic words.
Rasulullaah (sallallaahu-alayhi-wa-sallam) told him, “By the Being in Whose control my life is! If you could perpetually maintain the frame of mind you have when you are with me, the angels would shake your hands while you are in your beds and while you walk. But, O Hanzalah, this is rare (i.e. the condition in which you are when in my company).” Just as Hadhrat Hanzalah (R.A) thought that he had tuned munafiq, the people of the cave thought that they would become Kuffaar if they spoke words of kufr under duress.
Certain commentators have mentioned that they referred to total success i.e. although it will be permissible under such extenuating circumstances to utter words of kufr, but the best would be to refuse and face the consequences. They therefore felt that they would be deprived of practising this better option.
However, when the person (by the name of Tamleekha) bought some food, he paid with the old coins that he had with him. Seeing these extremely old coins, the merchant from whom he bought was taken aback, and the story spread in the city. The city was by then dominated by believers and even the king was a Mu'min. When the king received news about this stranger, he rode back with the people to the cave.
According to one narration, when Tamleekha informed the others that the city was populated by Mu'mineen and that the king had arrived to meet them, they were exuberant and emerged to meet him. He honoured them and they were pleased to meet him. According to another narration, they died upon receiving this news. Both these narrations are Israa’eeliyaat (from the Bani Israa’eel). [Qurtubi Vol.10 Pg.389]
TRANSLATION: 21. In this manner We disclosed them so that the people might know that Allaah’s promise is true and that there is no doubt about the coming of Qiyaamah. The people disputed about them and said, “Build a structure over them. Their Rabb knows them best.” Those who proved dominant in their affairs said, “We shall definitely build a Masjid over them.”
THE PEOPLE DECIDE TO CONSTRUCT A MASJID AT THE SITE OF THE CAVE
Allaama Qurtubi (A.R) writes that after many generations, a Mu'min king ascended to the throne. He accepted the belief in resurrection, but there were people in his kingdom who believed that only souls will be resurrected, not physical bodies. They said this because they felt that bodies will be decomposed by the earth.
The king was perturbed by this difference of opinion and, putting on clothing of coarse cloth, he sat in the sand and prayed to Allaah to reveal some sign by which people can be convinced that it was not at all impossible for people to be resurrected with body and soul. Allaah accepted his du’aa by rousing the people of the cave in his period. He realised that they were the same people who went into hiding from the time of the tyrant Diqyanoos and he was now able to convince the masses that people can be physically resurrected after hundreds of years.
With reference to this Allaah says, “In this manner We disclosed them so that the people might know that Allaah’s promise is true and that there is no doubt about the coming of Qiyaamah.” After the people witnessed them, the people of the cave passed away in the cave, according to the wording of the Qur'aan.
“The people disputed about them and said, ‘Build a structure over them. Their Rabb knows them best.’ Those who proved dominant in their affairs said, ‘We shall definitely build a Masjid over them.’” This verse seems to indicate that the dispute arose at the cave when they died.
“Ruhul Ma’aani” (Vol.15 Pg.234) reports that the king saw that the faces of people of the cave were still resplendent and that their clothing was still intact. They related their story to him and, as they were discussing, they told him, “We hand you over in trust to Allaah. May the peace and blessings of Allaah be on you. May Allaah, the Most Exalted protect you and your kingdom. We seek refuge on your behalf with Allaah from the evils of man and Jinn.” They then returned to their positions in the cave and passed away. The king buried them and constructed a Masjid at the entrance of the cave.
“Ruhul Ma’aani” has also reported that when the person who was charged with buying food was brought to the king, the king asked him who he was. He replied that he was from the same city and that he had left it only the day before. He showed them where he lived and even mentioned the names of some people whom those present did not recognise.
However, the king recalled that some youths had disappeared at one stage and that their names were recorded on a tablet that was kept in the state treasury. When he sent for the tablet, it revealed that these were the same persons. The king then went to the cave with a few people. As the person informed his companions of the situation, Allaah caused them all to pass away and the king and his men were unable to enter the cave when Allaah cast a veil upon their eyes.
It was then that “the people disputed with regard to them and said, ‘Build a structure over them. Their Rabb knows them best.’ Those who proved dominant in their affairs (viz. the king and his men) said, ‘We shall definitely build a Masjid over them.’” This Masjid was built at the mouth of the cave and not over the graves. The graves were also not the Qibla of the Masjid. Therefore, none may raise the objection that a Masjid should not be built upon graves.
With regard to the phrase “Their Rabb knows them best” the author of “Ruhul Ma’aani” writes that this was in reply to another debate that ensued with regard to the details of the people of the cave. The people argued with regard to their ancestry, their history and with regard to the period that they spent in the cave.
TRANSLATION: 22. Some people said, “They were three, their dog being the fourth.” Others said, “They were five, their dog being the sixth.” They are merely guessing. Others say, “They were seven and their dog was the eighth.” Say, “My Rabb knows best what their number was and only a few people know them. So do not delve into debate regarding them, except for superficial discussion. And do not even ask anyone about them.”
THE DISPUTE REGARDING THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THE CAVE AND THE SOLUTION
The above verse cites three opinions with regard to the number of people who were in the cave. The first says that “They were three, their dog being the fourth.” The second states that “They were five, their dog being the sixth.” The third says that “They were seven and their dog was the eighth.”
“Ruhul Ma’aani” (Vol.15 Pg.480) says that these three opinions arose during the time of Rasulullaah (sallallaahu-alayhi-wa-sallam). The first was held by the Jews, the second by the Christians of Najraan who came to Madinah. With them was the leader of the Nastooriya sect of Christians by the name of Aaqib. The third opinion was that of some Muslims.
After mentioning the first two opinions, Allaah says, “They are merely guessing.” After mentioning the third opinion Allaah says, “Say, ‘My Rabb knows best what their number was and only a few people know them.” Commentators deduce from this that the third opinion is the correct one.
Hadhrat Abdullaah bin Abbaas (R.A) has mentioned that he is of those few who know the correct number. He then said that they were seven and their dog was the eighth. This is the view of Muslims in general. Hadhrat Abdullaah bin Abbaas (R.A) has enumerated their names as Makaslimina, Yamleekha, Martoos, Thayunus, Dardanoos, Kafashaytitoos and Mantanwasees, and their dog was named Qitmeer.
Hadhrat Abdullaah bin Abbaas (R.A) has most probably heard the names from someone of the Ahlul Kitaab. The correct pronunciation of these names is not known.
“So do not delve into debate regarding them, except for superficial discussion.” One should narrate only what the Qur'aan says and not delve further into the subject. Allaah also instructs, “And do not even ask anyone about them.” Whoever will be asked will report only such things that have no concrete basis.
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