18 - Al Kahf (The cave)

6 Tafsir(s) related to verse 18.1


Praise — which is the attribution [to a person] of that which is beautiful — is established [as something that], belongs to God [alone], exalted be He. Now, is the intention here to point this out for the purpose of believing in it, or to praise [God] thereby, or both? All are possibilities, the most profitable of which is [to understand] the third [as being the intention behind this statement]; Who has revealed to His servant, Muhammad (s), the Book, the Qur’ān, and has not allowed for it, that is, [He has not allowed that there be] in it, any crookedness, [any] variance or contradiction (the [last] sentence [wa-lam yaj‘al lahu ‘iwajan] is a circumstantial qualifier referring to al-kitāb, ‘the Book’);

Ibn Al Kathir

The Revelation of the Qur'an brings both Good News and a Warning

In the beginning of this Tafsir, we mentioned that Allah, praises His Holy Self at the beginning and end of matters, for He is the One to be praised in all circumstances, all praise and thanks be to Him, in the beginning and in the end. He praises Himself for revealing His Mighty Book to His Noble Messenger Muhammad, which is the greatest blessing that Allah has granted the people of this earth. Through the Qur'an, He brings them out of the darkness into light. He has made it a Book that is straight, neither distorted nor confusion therein. It clearly guides to a straight path, plain and manifest, giving a warning to the disbelievers and good news to the believers. This is why Allah says:

وَلَمْ يَجْعَل لَّهُ عِوَجَا

(and has not placed therein any crookedness.) meaning, there is nothing twisted or confusing about it. But He has made it balanced and straightforward as He said;


((He has made it) straight), meaning straightforward,

لِّيُنْذِرَ بَأْسًا شَدِيدًا مِّن لَّدُنْهُ

(to give warning of a severe punishment from Him,) meaning, to those who oppose His Prophet and disbelieve in His Book, He issues a warning of severe punishment hastened in this world and postponed to the world Hereafter.

مِن لَّدُنْهُ

(from Him) means, from Allah. For none can punish as He punishes and none is stronger or more reliable than Him.

وَيُبَشِّرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

(and to give good news to the believers,) means, those who believe in this Qur'an and confirm their faith by righteous actions.

أَنَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا حَسَنًا

(that they shall have a fair reward.) means, a beautiful reward from Allah.

مَّاكِثِينَ فِيهِ

(They shall abide therein) means, in what Allah rewards them with, and that is Paradise, where they will live forever.


(forever.) means, for always, never ending or ceasing to be.

وَيُنْذِرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُواْ اتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ وَلَدًا

(And to warn those who say, "Allah has begotten a child.'') Ibn Ishaq said: "These are the pagan Arabs, who said, `We worship the angels who are the daughters of Allah.'''

مَا لَهُمْ بِهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ

(No knowledge have they of such a thing, ) meaning, this thing that they have fabricated and made up.

وَلاَ لاَبَآئِهِمْ

(nor had their fathers.) meaning, their predecessors.

كَبُرَتْ كَلِمَةً

(Mighty is the word) This highlights the seriousness and enormity of the lie they have made up. Allah says:

كَبُرَتْ كَلِمَةً تَخْرُجُ مِنْ أَفْوَاهِهِمْ

(Mighty is the word that comes out of their mouths.) meaning, it has no basis apart from what they say, and they have no evidence for it apart from their own lies and fabrications. Hence Allah says:

إِن يَقُولُونَ إِلاَّ كَذِبًا

(They utter nothing but a lie.)

Reason why this Surah was revealed

Muhammad bin Ishaq mentioned the reason why this Surah was revealed. He said that an old man from among the people of Egypt who came to them some forty-odd years ago told him, from `Ikrimah that Ibn `Abbas said: "The Quraysh sent An-Nadr bin Al-Harith and `Uqbah bin Abi Mu`it to the Jewish rabbis in Al-Madinah, and told them: `Ask them (the rabbis) about Muhammad, and describe him to them, and tell them what he is saying. They are the people of the first Book, and they have more knowledge of the Prophets than we do.' So they set out and when they reached Al-Madinah, they asked the Jewish rabbis about the Messenger of Allah. They described him to them and told them some of what he had said. They said, `You are the people of the Tawrah and we have come to you so that you can tell us about this companion of ours.' They (the rabbis) said, `Ask him about three things which we will tell you to ask, and if he answers them then he is a Prophet who has been sent (by Allah); if he does not, then he is saying things that are not true, in which case how you will deal with him will be up to you. Ask him about some young men in ancient times, what was their story For theirs is a strange and wondrous tale. Ask him about a man who travelled a great deal and reached the east and the west of the earth. What was his story And ask him about the Ruh (soul or spirit) -- what is it If he tells you about these things, then he is a Prophet, so follow him, but if he does not tell you, then he is a man who is making things up, so deal with him as you see fit.' So An-Nadr and `Uqbah left and came back to the Quraysh, and said: `O people of Quraysh, we have come to you with a decisive solution which will put an end to the problem between you and Muhammad. The Jewish rabbis told us to ask him about some matters,' and they told the Quraysh what they were. Then they came to the Messenger of Allah and said, `O Muhammad, tell us,' and they asked him about the things they had been told to ask. The Messenger of Allah said,

«أُخْبِرُكُمْ غَدًا عَمَّا سَأَلْتُمْ عَنْه»

(I will tell you tomorrow about what you have asked me.) but he did not say `If Allah wills.' So they went away, and the Messenger of Allah stayed for fifteen days without any revelation from Allah concerning that, and Jibril, peace be upon him, did not come to him either. The people of Makkah started to doubt him, and said, `Muhammad promised to tell us the next day, and now fifteen days have gone by and he has not told us anything in response to the questions we asked.' The Messenger of Allah felt sad because of the delay in revelation, and was grieved by what the people of Makkah were saying about him. Then Jibril came to him from Allah with the Surah about the companions of Al-Kahf, which also contained a rebuke for feeling sad about the idolators. The Surah also told him about the things they had asked him about, the young men and the traveler. The question about the Ruh was answered in the Ayah;

وَيَسْـَلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ قُلِ الرُّوحُ

(And they ask you concerning the Ruh (the spirit); say: "The Ruh...'') 17:85.


Praise be to God [alone], Who has revealed to His servant the Book: God, exalted be He, praises Himself by the tongue of differentiation in consideration of the union insofar as He is described as revealing the Book which incorporates the meaning of the union into the form of the differentiation. Hence He is the Praiser and the Praised at the level of differentiation and that of union. Praise is the manifestation of the divine perfections and the attributes of beauty and majesty upon the Muḥammadan essence considered from the perspective of the ascension after singling him out for Himself by [His] pre-eternal solicitude alluded to in the genitive construction in His saying '[to] His servant' (ʿabdihi). That [singling out] entailed making his [Muḥammad's] entity pre-eternally receptive to nondelimited perfection from His effusion and the depositing of the all-comprehensive Book in him in potentiality, which is the perfect preparedness. The revealing to him of the Book is the exteriorisation of these realities from what lies latent within the union of the [inclusive] unity onto that human locus of manifestation. In reality the two are reflections of each other when considering the descent, the ascension and the sending down [of the revelation] as praise from God, exalted be He, to His Prophet, since the significations that are latent in the unseen of the Unseen, that which has not been revealed to his heart, he is not able to praise God in the way that He ought to be praised and so what God has not praised does not praise God, but His praise praises Him, as he [the Prophet] said, 'I cannot enumerate praise of You in the way that You praise Yourself'. First, He praised Himself at the source of the union, considered from the point of view of differentiation, then reflected that by saying, 'Praise be to God'; and He has not allowed for him, that is, for His servant, any crookedness, that is to say, any deviation or inclination to the other, as He has said [elsewhere]: The eye did not deviate, nor did it go beyond [the bounds] [Q. 53:17]. In other words, he [Muḥammad] did not see the other during his presential vision.

Kashf Al-Asrar

Praise belongs to God who sent down the Book to His servant and placed no crookedness therein.

Praise belongs to God. He praised Himself by Himself since He knew the incapacity of creatures to reach His praise. The majestic Lord, the perfectly powerful, the fount of bounteous bestowal, the one worthy of His own laudation, the one who gives thanks for His own giving-He Himself praises Himself and He Himself lauds Himself, for He Himself recognizes His exaltedness and He Himself knows His tremendousness and all-compellingness. He is exalted through His own majesty, holy through His own perfection, magnificent through His own magnificence. How will water and dust ever reach His description? How can that which was not, then came to be, know His measure? How can the attributes of newly arrived things match His attributes? That which was not, then came to be, is not. How can the recognition of that which is come from that which is not? The Exalted Lord brought the creatures into existence with His bounty and generosity. He clothed them in the garment of creation, nurtured them and preserved them from trials, accepted their obedience with all its shortcoming, and concealed their iniquity and disloyalty in the curtain of bounty. He gave them the success of obedience and adorned their hearts with faith and recognition. Since He knew that the servants were incapable of discharging gratitude for these blessings,

He uncovered His bounty and generosity, made the tongue of gentleness a deputy for the indigent and incapable, and praised Himself. He said “Praise belongs to God.” In the road of love it is a stipulation of friendship to act as deputy for friends. He said, “All those blessings that I gave I gave without you and I apportioned without you. Just as I apportioned without you, so also I praised without you. By virtue of friendship I acted as your deputy so as to complete My beautiful doing and beneficence toward you.”

Who sent down the Book to His servant. Who is an allusion. Sent down the Book to His servant is an expression. Allusions are the portion of the spirits, and expressions are the portion of the [bodily] semblances. The spirits, on hearing who, were elated and came into revelry. The semblances, on hearing sent down the Book to His servant, began to struggle and took to the road of seeking.

This verse is both a singling out of MuṣṬafā, the Seal of the Prophets, and a declaration of the greatness of the Qur'an, the speech of the All-Merciful. As for MuṣṬafā, he is the security of the earth and the adornment of heaven; as for the Qur'an, it is a reminder for the hearts of the faithful and an intimacy for the spirits of the recognizers. MuṣṬafā is the guard of the Shariah's road and the title-page of the Haqiqah. The Qur'an is provision for the hearts and clarification for the spirits. MuṣṬafā is the whole of perfection and the totality of beauty. The Qur'an is a book from the Majestic Presence to the servants, a book in which there are both good news and warning. It gives this good news to the friends:

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

That is, "There is nothing intricate or complicated in it that may be beyond anyone's understanding nor is there anything that deviates from the straight path of the Truth and thus cause hesitation in the mind of a truth-loving person."

"Those people" includes the Christians, the Jews and the mushrik Arabs who assigned offspring to Allah.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his own narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the meaning of Allah's words (Praise be to Allah): '(Praise be to Allah) He says: gratitude is Allah's and divinity is His (Who hath revealed the Scripture) who has sent Gabriel with the Qur'an (unto His slave) Muhammad (pbuh) (and hath not placed therein any crookedness) He did not reveal it as different from the Torah, the Gospel or other Scriptures, as far as divine Oneness and the attributes and description of Muhammad (pbuh) are concerned. This verse was revealed about the Jews when they claimed that the Qur'an was different from all previous Scriptures,