Al-Kahf[1] (Arabic: الكهف, al-kahf; meaning: The Cave) is the 18th chapter (sūrah) of the Quran with 110 verses (āyāt). Regarding the timing and contextual background of the revelation (asbāb al-nuzūl), it is an earlier "Meccan surah", which means it was revealed in Mecca, instead of Medina.

Sura 18 of the Quran
سورة الكهف
PositionJuzʼ 15 to 16
No. of Rukus12
No. of verses110
No. of words1583
No. of letters6425
Heading for Surah Al-Kahf. From the Qur'an copied by Ruzbihan Muhammad al-Shirazi. Shiraz, c. 1550. Chester Beatty Library.
Surah Al-Kahf copied by Ottoman calligrapher Kadı Mahmud Efendi (d. 1575). Muhaqqaq, thuluth and reqa script. Sakıp Sabancı Museum


Dhu al-Qarnayn in Islamic calligraphy
  • 1 God praised for the gift of the Quran
  • 2 The Quran a warner to unbelievers and good tidings to the faithful
  • 3 The reward for the believers who do good deeds will be an everlasting abode
  • 4-5 Quran is a warning to those who say God has sons or daughters, and their sayings are lies not based on knowledge
  • 6 Muhammad grieves for the unbelief of his people
  • 7-8 Earth's adornment to be reduced to dust
  • 9-22 The story of the companions of the cave
  • 23-24 Muhammad is warned by Allah not to intend to do anything without saying "Insha-Allah" ("If Allah wants").
  • 25 The sleepers of the cave sleep 309 lunar years and 300 solar years
  • 26 Times and seasons are in God's hands.Time is a creation of God and can be modified by him.
  • 27 None can change the Quran
  • 28 The pious are the Prophet's guardians
  • 29 Truth is from the Lord
  • 30-31 Sufferings of the wicked contrasted with the rewards of the righteous
  • 32-44 The parable of the two men
  • 45 Life on earth likened to water from heaven
  • 46 Good works better than wealth and children
  • 47 Mankind assembled on the judgment-day 48-49 The manner of the judgment—the book of personal action delivered
  • 50 Iblis refuses to prostrate to Adam
  • 51 The offspring of Satan, not present at the creation
  • 52 Idol-worshippers deserted by their idols in the judgment
  • 53 The wicked doomed to hell-fire
  • 54 Every similitude mentioned in the Quran
  • 55 The Quran rejected by men through unbelief
  • 56 Prophets are sent with threats and good news
  • 57 The sin of apostasy
  • 58 Allah is Merciful and men have been given respite and an appointed time for their accountability
  • 59 Unbelief destroyed the former cities
  • 60-65 Moses and Joshua visit Khidr
  • 66 Moses desires to be taught by Khidr
  • 66-69 Khidr, knowing Moses's inability to receive his wisdom, yields to his importunity
  • 71-77 He scuttles a boat, kills a boy, and rebuilds a collapsing wall
  • 78-82 Khidr refuses to communicate further with Moses on account of his protests against his conduct, but condescends to explain his conduct
  • 83-86 Dhu al Qarnain journeys to the setting sun which is located in a muddy pool
  • 87-88 He finds a people, whom he is permitted to treat as he will
  • 89-94 He travels east and north, where he finds an ignorant race, who plead his protection against Gog and Magog
  • 95-97 He builds a rampart against them
  • 98 Gog and Magog to be let loose before the judgment-day
  • 99 All creatures raised from dead and gathered by the trumpet blow by Israfil.[2][Notes 1]
  • 100-108 Rewards and punishments in the judgment
  • 109 Were the ocean ink, it would not suffice to write all the words of God
  • 110 Muhammad only a mortal man [5]


9-26 "Companions of the cave"

Verses 9–26[6] of the chapter retell the Christian folktale of the "companions of the cave".[7] A few young believers lived in a time when they were tortured for their beliefs. Upon the guidance of God, they fled the city where believers were persecuted, together with their dog, and took refuge in a cave where they fell asleep. When they awoke they found that the people of the city had become believers.

27 No room for diversity in interpretation of the Quran

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. Translation Yusuf Ali (Orig. 1938)[8]

The commentary by Ozma Nasir Makarim Shirazi says, "There is no room for diversity to enter into His Words and Knowledge. His Speech and His Knowledge is not like the speech and knowledge of human beings which, as a result of a new invention or information, has to be changed".[9]:18:27 Ibn Kathir says this verse means of the words in the Quran, "no one can alter them, distort them or misinterpret them."[1]:18:27

32-45 The parable of the two men

In verses 32–44 the surah discusses a parable of two men, one of whom had been given blessings from God and the other poor. The rich one wronged his soul and started showing off with his wealth and noble lineage.

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."

Quran, Al-Kahf (The Cave), Ayah 34[10][11]

Verse 36 explains that The rich man also told his companion that he doubted the existence of Judgment Day. At the end of the parable, God destroys what He had given the man.[12]

Q18:45 Imam Musa al-Kadhim narrates in Kitab al-Kafi that Ali would bequeath his companions to view this world with the vision of an ascetic because it dislodges its residents. Ali provides them with the parable of a lush, green garden with scented dew that accumulates under the blades of grass but then gets separated from it in the morning, as Allah has said,

"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. Q18:45." He advises his companions to "look at this world and the numerous things which cause you to wonder, and the scarcity of things that benefit you."[13]

60-82 Islamic view of Moses

The third main story within the chapter (verses 60–82[14]) is that of Musa (Moses) traveling to gain knowledge from another servant of God who is never mentioned by name, in tafsir of ibn Kathir he is called Al-Khidr.[15]

83-98 Dhul-Qarnayn

Finally, the surah mentions in verses 83–98[16] a man who traveled a great deal and reached the east and the west of the earth – namely, Dhul-Qarnayn. The Qur'an repeats the Syrian legend of a great king who helps a tribe of people build a massive wall of iron between two mountains. It goes on to say that this wall will be only destroyed on Judgement Day.[17] The wall may have reflected a distant knowledge of the Great Wall of China (the 12th-century scholar al-Idrisi drew a map for Roger of Sicily showing the "Land of Gog and Magog" in Mongolia), or of various Sassanid Persian walls built in the Caspian area against the northern barbarians, or a conflation of the two.[18]

Circumstances of revelation

Arab Muslim historian and hagiographer, Ibn Ishaq, reported in his traditional book (oral traditions) of biography of Muhammad, Sirat Rasul Allah that the 18th surah of the Qur'an (which includes the story of Dhu l-Qarnayn) was revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad by God on account of some questions posed by rabbis residing in the city of Medina – the verse was revealed during the Meccan period of Muhammad's life. According to Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad's tribe, the powerful Quraysh, were greatly concerned about their tribesman who had started claiming prophethood and wished to consult rabbis about the matter. The Quraysh sent two men to the rabbis of Medina, reasoning that they had superior knowledge of the scriptures and about the prophets of God. The two Quraysh men described their tribesman, Muhammad, to the rabbis.

The rabbis told the men to ask Muhammad three questions:

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; 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 traveled a great deal and reached the east and the west of the earth. What was his story and ask him about the Ruh (Holy 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."[19]

According to Ibn Ishaq, when Muhammad was informed of the three questions from the rabbis, he said that he would have the answers in the morning but did not say "if God wills it". For fifteen days, Muhammad waited eagerly for the revelation. Muhammad did not answer the question until then. Doubt in Muhammad began to grow amongst the people of Mecca. Then, after fifteen days, Muhammad received the revelation of al-Kahf as an answer to the questions.


There is a hadith in Sahih Muslim that states that Muhammad said (Concerning The False Messiah, Al-Masih ad-Dajjal):

"He who amongst you would survive to see him should recite over him the opening verses of Sura Kahf"

Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 7015[20]

"Whoever reads Sura Kahf on Friday, light shall shine forth for him between the two Fridays."[21]

Common Muslim and Christian theme

The story of believers falling asleep in a cave for a long time is present also in the Christian tradition, see Seven Sleepers.

See also



  1. According to Islamic belief in weak chain of Hadith, Israfil were acknowledged as angel who were tasked to blower of Armageddon trumpet.[3] Israfil also mentioned by Suyuti as Muezzin among angels and a member of a group of biggest archangels who bear the Throne of God on their back.[4] However, Abu Bakar al-Hudhali opined the angel who blowing horn were different from Israfil, while Abu Said Al-Khudri nentioned the blower of horn were in fact consisted of two angels, while he supported the opinion that Israfil were also one of the blower.[4]


  1. Ibn Kathir. "Tafsir Ibn Kathir (English): Surah Al Kahf". Quran 4 U. Tafsir. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  2. Abdul-Rahman al-Sa'di (2016). "Surat al-Kahfi ayat 99" (in Indonesian and Arabic). Islamic University of Madinah; Ministry of Religious Affairs (Indonesia); Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance. Retrieved 30 January 2022.
  3. Hakim, Saifuddin (2015). "Apakah Malaikat Israfil Bertugas Meniup Sangkakala pada Hari Kiamat? (2)" [Does angel Raphael tasked to blow the trumpet of Armageddon in the day of judgment? (2)]. (in Indonesian). Retrieved 14 December 2021. Tafsir Al-Qurthubi, 7/20 (Maktabah Syamilah); At-Tadzkirah bi Ahwaalil Mauta wa Umuuril Akhirah, 1/488 (Maktabah Syamilah).; Fathul Baari 11/368 (Maktabah Syamilah); see Al-Imaan bimaa Ba’dal Maut, p. 112. ; Syarh Al-Ibanah: Al-Imaan bin Nafkhi Ash-Shuur, 5/33.; Syarh Al-‘Aqidah Al-Washithiyyah, 1/59-60 (Maktabah Asy-Syamilah). while in another book: وذلك أن الله سبحانه وتعالى يأمر اسرافيل وهو أحد الملائكة الموكلين بحمل العرش أن ينفخ في الصور (Syarh Al-‘Aqidah As-Safariyaniyyah, 1/467).
  4. Al-Suyuti (2021). Muhammad as Said Basyuni, Abu Hajir; Yasir, Muhammad (eds.). Misteri Alam Malaikat (Religion / Islam / General) (in Indonesian). Translated by Mishabul Munir. Pustaka al-Kautsar. pp. 29–33, 172. Retrieved 6 February 2022. Quoting Ibnul Mubarak from a book of az-Zuhd; ad Durr al-Manshur, chain narration from Ibnul Mubarak to Ibn SHihab (1/92)
  5. Wherry, Elwood Morris (1896). A Complete Index to Sale's Text, Preliminary Discourse, and Notes. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, and Co. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. Surat Al-Kahf (18:9–26) – The Holy Qur'an – القرآن الكريم
  7. Aṣḥāb al-Kahf (Arabic: أَصـحـاب الـكَـهـف
  8. "Ayah al-Kahf (The Cave) 18:27".
  9. Nasir Makarim Shirazi, Ozma. "An Enlightening Commentary into the Light of the Holy Qur'an vol. 9". Imam Ali Foundation. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  10. Surat Al-Kahf (18:34) – The Holy Qur'an – القرآن الكريم
  11. Quran Surah Al-Kahf ( Verse 34 )
  12. Surah Al-Kahf (18:32–44) – The Holy Qur'an – القرآن الكريم
  13. Al-Kulayni, Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Ya’qub (2015). Kitab al-Kafi. South Huntington, NY: The Islamic Seminary Inc. ISBN 9780991430864.
  14. Surat Al-Kahf (18:60–82) – The Holy Qur'an – القرآن الكريم
  15. The Story of Musa and Al-Khidr – Tafsir Ibn Kathir
  16. Surat Al-Kahf (18:83–98) – The Holy Qur'an – القرآن الكريم
  17. "The Qur'an".
  18. Glassé & Smith 2003, p. 39.
  19. "Tafsir ibn Kathir". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
  20. Sahih Muslim – Book 41, Hadith No. 7015
  21. Al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain, by Hakim al-Nishaburi.


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