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The Meaning of the Glorious Qur'ân, by M.M. Pickthall, at

18. al-Kahf: The Cave

1 Praise be to Allah Who hath revealed the Scripture unto His slave, and hath not placed therein any crookedness,

2 (But hath made it) straight, to give warning of stern punishment from Him, and to bring unto the believers who do good works the news that theirs will be a fair reward,

3 Wherein they will abide for ever;

4 And to warn those who say: Allah hath chosen a son,

5 (A thing) whereof they have no knowledge, nor (had) their fathers, Dreadful is the word that cometh out of their mouths. They speak naught but a lie.

6 Yet it may be, if they believe not in this statement, that thou (Muhammad) wilt torment thy soul with grief over their footsteps.

7 Lo! We have placed all that is on the earth as an ornament thereof that We may try them: which of them is best in conduct.

8 And lo! We shall make all that is thereon a barren mound.

9 Or deemest thou that the People of the Cave and the Inscription are a wonder among Our portents ?

10 When the young men fled for refuge to the Cave and said: Our Lord! Give us mercy from Thy presence, and shape for us right conduct in our plight.

11 Then We sealed up their hearing in the Cave for a number of years.

12 And afterward We raised them up that We might know which of the two parties would best calculate the time that they had tarried.

13 We narrate unto thee their story with truth. Lo! they were young men who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance.

14 And We made firm their hearts when they stood forth and said: Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. We cry unto no God beside Him, for then should we utter an enormity.

15 These, our people, have chosen (other) gods beside Him though they bring no clear warrant (vouchsafed) to them. And who doth greater wrong than he who inventeth a lie concerning Allah ?

16 And when ye withdraw from them and that which they worship except Allah, then seek refuge in the Cave; your Lord will spread for you of His mercy and will prepare for you a pillow in your plight.

17 And thou mightest have seen the sun when it rose move away from their cave to the right, and when it set go past them on the left, and they were in the cleft thereof. That was (one) of the portents of Allah. He whom Allah guideth, he indeed is led aright, and he whom He sendeth astray, for him thou wilt not find a guiding friend.

18 And thou wouldst have deemed them waking though they were asleep, and We caused them to turn over to the right and the left, and their dog stretching out his paws on the threshold. If thou hadst observed them closely thou hadst assuredly turned away from them in flight, and hadst been filled with awe of them.

19 And in like manner We awakened them that they might question one another. A speaker from among them said: How long have ye tarried ? They said: We have tarried a day or some part of a day, (Others) said: Your Lord best knoweth what ye have tarried. Now send one of you with this your silver coin unto the city, and let him see what food is purest there and bring you a supply thereof. Let him be courteous and let no man know of you.

20 For they, if they should come to know of you, will stone you or turn you back to their religion; then ye will never prosper.

21 And in like manner We disclosed them (to the people of the city) that they might know that the promise of Allah is true, and that, as for the Hour, there is no doubt concerning it. When (the people of the city) disputed of their case among themselves, they said: Build over them a building; their Lord knoweth best concerning them. Those who won their point said: We verily shall build a place of worship over them.

22 (Some) will say: They were three, their dog the fourth, and (some) say: Five, their dog the sixth, guessing at random; and (some) say: Seven, and their dog the eighth. Say (O Muhammad): My Lord is Best Aware of their number. None knoweth them save a few. So contend not concerning them except with an outward contending, and ask not any of them to pronounce concerning them.

23 And say not of anything: Lo! I shall do that tomorrow,

24 Except if Allah will. And remember thy Lord when thou forgettest, and say: It may be that my Lord guideth me unto a nearer way of truth than this.

25 And (it is said) they tarried in their Cave three hundred years and add nine.

26 Say: Allah is Best Aware how long they tarried. His is the Invisible of the heavens and the earth. How clear of sight is He and keen of hearing! They have no protecting friend beside Him, and He maketh none to share in His government.

27 And recite that which hath been revealed unto thee of the Scripture of thy Lord. There is none who can change His words, and thou wilt find no refuge beside Him.

28 Restrain thyself along with those who cry unto their Lord at morn and evening, seeking His Countenance; and let not thine eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp of the life of the world; and obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance, who followeth his own lust and whose case hath been abandoned.

29 Say: (It is) the truth from the Lord of you (all). Then whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve. Lo! We have prepared for disbelievers Fire. Its tent encloseth them. If they ask for showers, they will be showered with water like to molten lead which burneth the faces. Calamitous the drink and ill the resting-place!

30 Lo! as for those who believe and do good works - Lo! We suffer not the reward of one whose work is goodly to be lost.

31 As for such, theirs will be Gardens of Eden, wherein rivers flow beneath them; therein they will be given armlets of gold and will wear green robes of finest silk and gold embroidery, reclining upon throne therein. Blest the reward, and fair the resting-place!

32 Coin for them a similitude: Two men, unto one of whom We had assigned two gardens of grapes, and We had surrounded both with date-palms and had put between them tillage.

33 Each of the gardens gave its fruit and withheld naught thereof. And We caused a river to gush forth therein.

34 And he had fruit. And he said unto his comrade, when he spake with him: I am more than thee in wealth, and stronger in respect of men.

35 And he went into his garden, while he (thus) wronged himself. He said: I think not that all this will ever perish.

36 I think not that the Hour will ever come, and if indeed I am brought back unto my Lord I surely shall find better than this as a resort.

37 His comrade, when he (thus) spake with him, exclaimed: Disbelievest thou in Him Who created thee of dust, then of a drop (of seed), and then fashioned thee a man ?

38 But He is Allah, my Lord, and I ascribe unto my Lord no partner.

39 If only, when thou enteredst thy garden, thou hadst said: That which Allah willeth (will come to pass)! There is no strength save in Allah! Though thou seest me as less than thee in wealth and children,

40 Yet it may be that my Lord will give me better than thy garden, and will send on it a bolt from heaven, and some morning it will be a smooth hillside,

41 Or some morning the water thereof will be lost in the earth so that thou canst not make search for it.

42 And his fruit was beset (with destruction). Then began he to wring his hands for all that he had spent upon it, when (now) it was all ruined on its trellises, and to say: Would that I had ascribed no partner to my Lord!

43 And he had no troop of men to help him as against Allah, nor could he save himself.

44 In this case is protection only from Allah, the True, He is Best for reward, and best for consequence.

45 And coin for them the similitude of the life of the world as water which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingleth with it and then becometh dry twigs that the winds scatter. Allah is able to do all things.

46 Wealth and children are an ornament of the life of the world. But the good deeds which endure are better in thy Lord's sight for reward, and better in respect of hope.

47 And (bethink you of) the Day when we remove the hills and ye see the earth emerging, and We gather them together so as to leave not one of them behind.

48 And they are set before thy Lord in ranks (and it is said unto them): Now verily have ye come unto Us as We created you at the first. But ye thought that We had set no tryst for you.

49 And the Book is placed, and thou seest the guilty fearful of that which is therein, and they say: What kind of a Book is this that leaveth not a small thing nor a great thing but hath counted it! And they find all that they did confronting them, and thy Lord wrongeth no-one.

50 And (remember) when We said unto the angels: Fall prostrate before Adam, and they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He was of the jinn, so he rebelled against his Lord's command. Will ye choose him and his seed for your protecting friends instead of Me, when they are an enemy unto you ? Calamitous is the exchange for evil-doers.

51 I made them not to witness the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor their own creation; nor choose I misleaders for (My) helpers.

52 And (be mindful of) the Day when He will say: Call those partners of Mine whom ye pretended. Then they will cry unto them, but they will not hear their prayer, and We shall set a gulf of doom between them.

53 And the guilty behold the Fire and know that they are about to fall therein, and they find no way of escape thence.

54 And verily We have displayed for mankind in this Qur'an all manner of similitudes, but man is more than anything contentious.

55 And naught hindereth mankind from believing when the guidance cometh unto them, and from asking forgiveness of their Lord unless (it be that they wish) that the judgment of the men of old should come upon them or (that) they should be confronted with the Doom.

56 We send not the messengers save as bearers of good news and warners. Those who disbelieve contend with falsehood in order to refute the Truth thereby. And they take Our revelations and that wherewith they are threatened as a jest.

57 And who doth greater wrong than he who hath been reminded of the revelations of his Lord, yet turneth away from them and forgetteth what his hands send forward (to the Judgment) ? Lo! on their hearts We have placed coverings so that they understand not, and in their ears a deafness. And though thou call them to the guidance, in that case they can never be led aright.

58 Thy Lord is the Forgiver, Full of Mercy. If He took them to task (now) for what they earn, He would hasten on the doom for them; but theirs is an appointed term from which they will find no escape.

59 And (all) those townships! We destroyed them when they did wrong, and We appointed a fixed time for their destruction.

60 And when Moses said unto his servant: I will not give up until I reach the point where the two rivers meet, though I march on for ages.

61 And when they reached the point where the two met, they forgot their fish, and it took its way into the waters, being free.

62 And when they had gone further, he said unto his servant: Bring us our breakfast. Verily we have found fatigue in this our journey.

63 He said: Didst thou see, when we took refuge on the rock, and I forgot the fish - and none but Satan caused me to forget to mention it - it took its way into the waters by a marvel.

64 He said: This is that which we have been seeking. So they retraced their steps again.

65 Then found they one of Our slaves, unto whom We had given mercy from Us, and had taught him knowledge from Our presence.

66 Moses said unto him: May I follow thee, to the end that thou mayst teach me right conduct of that which thou hast been taught ?

67 He said: Lo! thou canst not bear with me.

68 How canst thou bear with that whereof thou canst not compass any knowledge ?

69 He said: Allah willing, thou shalt find me patient and I shall not in aught gainsay thee.

70 He said: Well, if thou go with me, ask me not concerning aught till I myself make mention of it unto thee.

71 So they twain set out till, when they were in the ship, he made a hole therein. (Moses) said: Hast thou made a hole therein to drown the folk thereof ? Thou verily hast done a dreadful thing.

72 He said: Did I not tell thee that thou couldst not bear with me ?

73 (Moses) said: Be not wroth with me that I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my fault.

74 So they twain journeyed on till, when they met a lad, he slew him. (Moses) said: What! Hast thou slain an innocent soul who hath slain no man ? Verily thou hast done a horrid thing.

75 He said: Did I not tell thee that thou couldst not bear with me ?

76 (Moses) said: If I ask thee after this concerning aught, keep not company with me. Thou hast received an excuse from me.

77 So they twain journeyed on till, when they came unto the folk of a certain township, they asked its folk for food, but they refused to make them guests. And they found therein a wall upon the point of falling into ruin, and he repaired it. (Moses) said: If thou hadst wished, thou couldst have taken payment for it.

78 He said: This is the parting between thee and me! I will announce unto thee the interpretation of that thou couldst not bear with patience.

79 As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working on the river, and I wished to mar it, for there was a king behind them who is taking every ship by force.

80 And as for the lad, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief.

81 And we intended that their Lord should change him for them for one better in purity and nearer to mercy.

82 And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure belonging to them, and their father had been righteous, and thy Lord intended that they should come to their full strength and should bring forth their treasure as a mercy from their Lord; and I did it not upon my own command. Such is the interpretation of that wherewith thou couldst not bear.

83 They will ask thee of Dhu'l-Qarneyn. Say: I shall recite unto you a remembrance of him.

84 Lo! We made him strong in the land and gave him unto every thing a road.

85 And he followed a road

86 Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness.

87 He said: As for him who doeth wrong, we shall punish him, and then he will be brought back unto his Lord, Who will punish him with awful punishment!

88 But as for him who believeth and doeth right, good will be his reward, and We shall speak unto him a mild command.

89 Then he followed a road

90 Till, when he reached the rising-place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter therefrom.

91 So (it was). And We knew all concerning him.

92 Then he followed a road

93 Till, when he came between the two mountains, he found upon their hither side a folk that scarce could understand a saying.

94 They said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Lo! Gog and Magog are spoiling the land. So may we pay thee tribute on condition that thou set a barrier between us and them ?

95 He said: That wherein my Lord hath established me is better (than your tribute). Do but help me with strength (of men), I will set between you and them a bank.

96 Give me pieces of iron - till, when he had levelled up (the gap) between the cliffs, he said: Blow! - till, when he had made it a fire, he said: Bring me molten copper to pour thereon.

97 And (Gog and Magog) were not able to surmount, nor could they pierce (it).

98 He said: This is a mercy from my Lord; but when the promise of my Lord cometh to pass, He will lay it low, for the promise of my Lord is true.

99 And on that day we shall let some of them surge against others, and the Trumpet will be blown. Then We shall gather them together in one gathering.

100 On that day we shall present hell to the disbelievers, plain to view,

101 Those whose eyes were hoodwinked from My reminder, and who could not bear to hear.

102 Do the disbelievers reckon that they can choose My bondmen as protecting friends beside Me ? Lo! We have prepared hell as a welcome for the disbelievers.

103 Say: Shall We inform you who will be the greatest losers by their works ?

104 Those whose effort goeth astray in the life of the world, and yet they reckon that they do good work.

105 Those are they who disbelieve in the revelations of their Lord and in the meeting with Him. Therefor their works are vain, and on the Day of Resurrection We assign no weight to them.

106 That is their reward: hell, because they disbelieved, and made a jest of Our revelations and Our messengers.

107 Lo! those who believe and do good works, theirs are the Gardens of Paradise for welcome,

108 Wherein they will abide, with no desire to be removed from thence.

109 Say: Though the sea became ink for the Words of my Lord, verily the sea would be used up before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even though We brought the like thereof to help.

110 Say: I am only a mortal like you. My Lord inspireth in me that your God is only One God. And whoever hopeth for the meeting with his Lord, let him do righteous work, and make none sharer of the worship due unto his Lord.

Next: 19. Maryam: Mary