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al-Kahf (The Cave)
as rendered by Shabbir Ahmed

Shabbir Ahmed rendition of Surah The Cave(al-Kahf)
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18:1 All beauty and balance in the Universe is the living evidence that Allah is Praiseworthy. Praise be to Allah who has revealed this Book to His servant, and made it flawless.
18:2 A Perfect Book, unerringly straight, meant to warn people of the destructive results of their wrongdoings. And to give good news to those who believe in the Message and make reforms in their individual and collective lives, that theirs shall be a generous Reward.
18:3 A state of Bliss in which they shall dwell beyond the count of time.
18:4 Furthermore, this Divine Writ is meant to warn all those who say, "God has taken unto Himself a son."
18:5 No knowledge whatsoever have they of Him, and neither did their forefathers. An outrageous statement it is that comes out of their mouths, and nothing but falsehood do they utter!
18:6 (O Messenger) Should you (in your compassion) grieve yourself to death if they are not willing to believe in this Message?
18:7 (We never ordained asceticism for mankind. It was something they invented (57:27)). Behold, We have Willed the earth to be pleasingly decorated. We make it a test for people to see for themselves as to which of them lives a balanced life. (18:30-31), (18:46), (67:2).
18:8 And, verily, We shall reduce all that is on earth to barren dust!
18:9 Do you think that the Dwellers of the Cave, the Upholders of Raqeem (the Inscribed Gospel) (were some supernatural beings) more wondrous than Our other signs? (Nay, strange legends became famous about them).
18:10 As they fled for refuge to the Cave (outside Ephesus), they prayed, "Our Lord! Bestow on us Grace from Yourself and endow us with insight into the right (and wrong) of all situations.
18:11 And thereupon We veiled their ears in the Cave for some years. (They remained isolated, hiding from the soldiers of Emperor Decius during his reign, 249-251 C.E.).
18:12 And then We caused them to rise (out of the Cave). We let them know for themselves which of the two groups, (the young men with their friends in town, or their opponents), had better availed the time. (The Dwellers of the Cave had maintained secret communication with like-minded people in Ephesus).
18:13 And now (contrary to hearsay) We shall relate to you (O Prophet) their true history. Behold, they were young men who truly believed in their Lord and We increased them in guidance.
18:14 We strengthened their hearts, and they took a firm stand. They said to one another, "Our only Lord is the Sustainer of the heavens and the earth. Never shall we submit to any 'authority' other than Him. If we did or even uttered such wrong, we would be splitting our own personalities."
18:15 "The people of our nation are obeying false authorities instead of Him, without any clear evidence to support their behavior. And who does greater wrong than he who invents a lie about God?"
18:16 The young men conferred (with their friends, and among themselves), "Hence, now that you have withdrawn from them and all their submission instead of God, then seek refuge in the Cave. God will shower you with His Grace, and will set your affairs towards ease."
18:17 And you might have seen the sun rising on the right side of the Cave, and set, aside from them, on the left while they lived on in that spacious chamber. (The Cave lay North South and while it was roomy from inside its entrance was small). It is a sign of Allah that (He arranged for them excellent camouflage and) whom Allah guides is the rightly guided, and whom He lets go astray for violating the Divine Laws of guidance, for such, you will find no protector who would point out the right way.
18:18 You would have deemed that they were awake, even when they slept. (They remained alert round the clock). We caused them to frequently change their positions right and left. They had a faithful dog to guard the entrance, with its four paws outstretched, ready to hunt for them. The whole environment was awe-inspiring. Had you come upon them suddenly, you would have turned away from them in flight in awe.
18:19 And so, when We caused them to rise (out of the Cave), they began to ask one another (about the next step). One of them asked, "How long have you been here?" "We have been here a day or part of a day!" they answered. Finally they said, "Your Lord knows best how long. (They were so committed to their mission that they hardly noticed how the days and nights went by). Let one of you go with these silver coins to the town, and look for the best available food, and bring you some provisions. But let him exercise caution, and by no means make anyone aware of you."
18:20 "For, behold, if they discover you, they will stone you to death or force you to revert to their religion, then you will never succeed."
18:21 And in this way We caused them to be discovered (their mission had succeeded), and everyone realized that Allah's Promise is always true. There remained no doubt about the Revolution. (The Dwellers of the Cave were revered by their nation as the Divine Order was restored. Time went by and they passed on. The reverence of the people took a turn). Some people said, "Erect a building in their memory. God knows best their true stature." Others, whose opinion prevailed, said, "Indeed, we must raise a house of worship in their memory." The building in which they would submit to the One True God, like a Masjid. (But they converted the building into a monastery and placed huge tombstones with superstitious inscriptions, another RAQEEM but man-made. The sanctuary became a haven for nuns and monks).
18:22 Then, some would say they were three, and their dog was the fourth, and some would say five, and their dog the sixth. They only made wild guesses, and some of them said that they were seven and their dog was the eighth. Say, "My Lord is best Aware of their number." There are some who know* their right number but, argue not about them but a passing comment. You need not consult anyone about them (to avoid undue controversies).
18:23 (This is the news of the Unseen. Like, the next day is unseen for you.) Never say about anything, "Behold I will do it tomorrow." (Things may happen beyond one's control later).
18:24 Add to your statement, "If my promise is not contrary to the Divine Physical Laws." And remember your Lord if you forget your promise. Say, "I hope that my Lord will guide me even closer to the right course."
18:25 And it is said they lived in the Cave for three hundred years. Others say, "Nay, add nine to that number."
18:26 Say, "Allah knows best how long they remained there." His alone is the knowledge of the hidden reality of the heavens and the earth. How well does He see and hear! They have no guardian apart from Him and He allots no one a share in His Rule!
18:27 (O Messenger) Convey to the world whatever of this Book is revealed to you from your Lord. (6:19). There is none that can alter His Words. And His Laws in Theory (Kalimatillah), and His Laws in Practice as implemented in the Universe (Sunnatillah), never change (6:34), (6:116), (10:64), (17:77), (18:27), (33:38), (33:62), (40:85), (48:23). Tell them that you can find no refuge outside His Laws.
18:28 (There is a lesson of perseverance for you in the history of the Dwellers of the Cave). Hold fast to the company of those who remember their Lord morning and evening seeking His Approval. (6:52), (8:52-54), (89:29:30). And let not your eyes overlook them in quest for the beauties of this world. And pay no heed to any whom Our Law has made to forget Us because he only follows his desires, and abandons all that is right.
18:29 Proclaim, "This is the Truth from your Lord. Whoever accepts it, let him accept it, and whoever rejects it, let him reject it." Verily, for all those who wrong their own "Self" We have readied billowing folds of fire to surround them. When they beg for water, they will be given their burning hot deeds that backfire on their faces, a drink of distress they gave others. (9:34-35). How dreadful a drink, and how terrible a resting place!
18:30 But, behold, as for those who attain belief and do works that help others, verily, We never fail to reward such benefactors of humanity.
18:31 Theirs shall be the Gardens of Eden with rivers flowing beneath. They will be adorned with bracelets of gold, and wear green robes of finest silk, brocade and velvet, reclining upon thrones of honor. What a wonderful reward, and how goodly a place to rest!
18:32 (The real success belongs to those who work for both lives.) Cite for them the example of two men. To one of them, We had given two vineyards, and surrounded them with date palms and placed a field of grain in between.
18:33 Both gardens produced plenty of fruit on time, as We caused a rivulet to flow through them.
18:34 And so the man had fruit in abundance. One day he boastfully said to his friend, "I am more than you in wealth and in honor among people."
18:35 And having thus wronged himself, he entered his garden saying, "I don't think that this will ever perish!"
18:36 He said, "I don't think that the Hour will ever come. And, if indeed I am returned to my Lord, I will surely find something even better as my resort."
18:37 His friend differed with him, "Do you disbelieve in the One Who created you from dust, and then from gametes, and then shaped you into the current human form?"
18:38 "As for me, God is my Lord and I will never accept any other god besides my Lord."
18:39 And he continued, "Alas, when you entered your garden, you should have said, 'This is what Allah has given me according to His Laws for no one has Power but Allah.' You see that I have less wealth and fewer children than you." (Still I associate no one with Him).
18:40 He said, "So my Lord may grant me something better than your garden. (The luxuries of this life are vulnerable). He may send a calamity from the height to wipe out this garden, leaving it a heap of barren dust."
18:41 "Or, it may happen that the water level recedes low, out of your reach." (Therefore we must invest for the Eternity as well).
18:42 And thus it happened. One day, the arrogant man's fruitful gardens were indeed wiped out. And there he was, twisting and turning his hands in sorrow. He lost his property which was now tumbled to pieces in complete ruin. And he could only say, "Oh, I wish I never worshiped anyone (even my property) instead of my Lord!"
18:43 Now he had none to help him against the Divine Laws, nor could he help himself.
18:44 Thus it is. The only invincible protection comes from Allah alone. He is the Best to grant recompense, and the Best to determine what must be.
18:45 Cite for them the example of the materialistic life of this world. It is like the water We send down from the sky, and which is absorbed by plants of the earth. But in time they turn into dry stubble or hay which the winds blow freely about. Allah is Competent and all events take place according to His Laws over which He has full control. (Total preoccupation with the material aspects of life deprives people from growing in humanity).
18:46 (Our Bounties and Blessings are for you to enjoy, but they are a means to a higher end (7:32)). Wealth and children are the joys of the life of this world. But good deeds that fulfill the needs of others, their fruit endures forever. Such actions are of far greater merit in the Sight of your Lord, and the best foundation of hope. (19:76).
18:47 Hence, know the Day when the tycoons of wealth and power will be shaken by Our Law, and the poor downtrodden will come at par with them. All humanity will stand equal. No person will stay behind in his or her birth right of dignity. (20:105).
18:48 All mankind will be one, as they were in the beginning (2:213). Before their Lord total equity will prevail as if all were lined up before Him (10:19). "Now, indeed, you have come to Us just as the initial state after We created you. This is so, although you thought that We had not set it to happen."
18:49 The Book (Qur'an) will be laid open before all humanity and you will behold the guilty filled with fear what they see therein. Legislation at that time will be based on the Book. Those who were used to stealing the fruit of others' labor will be scared. They will say, "Oh, woe unto us! What kind of a Book is this! It leaves out nothing, be it small or great, but takes everything into account!" In the Divine System every deed, small or big will come forth (53:39-40). Universal Justice will prevail since your Lord does not wrong anyone. (This verse applies to the Hereafter as well in the form of the Divine Record Book, just as Hell and Paradise are frequently mentioned in the Qur'an applying to both lives).
18:50 Recall when We told the angels, "Bow yourselves before Adam!" They all bowed except Iblis. He was of the hidden selfish desires that drifted away from his Lord's Command. Will you still befriend him and his comrades? What a miserable exchange do the wrongdoers make for the right guidance! (2:30-38).
18:51 I never permitted any creatures to witness the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor their own creation. And neither do I need to take as My helpers those beings (religious leaders) who lead people astray.
18:52 Be mindful of the Day when He will say, "Call those whom you assigned as My partners." Then they will call upon them, but they will not hear their call. We shall set a gulf of doom between them.
18:53 Those who thrived on the fruit of others' toil will gaze at the Fire, and will realize that they are bound to fall into it, and will find no way to escape.
18:54 Indeed, for the benefit of mankind We use TASREEF to explain the Qur'an from various vantage points. However, man, above all other imperfections, is given to contention.
18:55 For, what is there to keep people from attaining belief now that Guidance has come to them, and from asking the protecting forgiveness of their Lord? Unless they choose the fate of the ancient people to befall them or that the doom reaches them even faster.
18:56 But We send the Messengers only as heralds of glad tidings and as Warners. Whereas the rejecters contend with false arguments, trying to refute the Truth, and to make My Verses and warnings a target of their mockery.
18:57 And who does greater harm to himself than the one to whom his Lord's Messages are conveyed and he turns away from them, forgetting what he is doing and what wrong he has done before? Our Law makes their hearts and ears impermeable to reason and advice. No matter what you do to guide them, they will not allow themselves to be shown the right way.
18:58 Yet, your Lord is the Truly-Forgiving One, full of Grace. He could task the rejecters right away for whatever wrong they commit, and punish them then and there. But He gives them a period of respite beyond which they shall find no refuge.
18:59 Our Law of Requital annihilated many communities when they went on and on with their unjust systems. They were all given a due period of respite (in order to make amends) and We set up a time-limit for their annihilation.
18:60 (The Divine Revelation shows the Way and the outcome with conviction. When Moses was a young man, not yet commissioned as a Prophet, he was constantly in search of Truth (93:7). All Prophets were chosen by birth but assigned their mission at a later date. The young Moses knew that the human intellect was the source of conceptual knowledge whereas the Divine Revelation is the extrinsic knowledge from beyond human faculties.) And so, in the course of his quest for knowledge Moses said to his young friend, "I shall not give up until I reach the junction of the two streams, though I march on for ages in my quest." (INTELLECT AND REVELATION -- the two streams of knowledge).
18:61 But when Moses with his young friend reached the junction of the two streams, they forgot all about the fish, and it took its way into the sea and disappeared from sight. (Moses found himself caring little for the delicacies of life from then on).
18:62 And after the two had walked some distance, Moses said to his young friend, "Bring us our lunch, the journey has been tiring."
18:63 Said his friend, "Would you believe it? When we rested at the rock, I forgot about the fish and none but Satan, my wandering thoughts, made me forget it. And it took its way into the sea. How strange!
18:64 Moses said, "That is what we were seeking!" And the two turned back retracing their footsteps. (Moses retired to rest in deep thought).
18:65 (Moses wondered how exciting the merging of the two streams would be! And he imagined that) he found a servant of Ours, on whom We had bestowed grace from Our Presence and unto whom We had imparted knowledge from Ourselves.
18:66 Moses (in his contemplation) said to the man, "May I follow you that you may teach me some of the knowledge and guidance which you have been taught?"
18:67 He said, "Verily, you won't be able to have patience with me.
18:68 And how can you bear with that which you cannot comprehend?"
18:69 Moses said, "God willing, you will find me patient and I will not disobey you."
18:70 The man said, "Well, if you go with me, ask me not any questions unless I choose to tell you about it."
18:71 So they went on until they were in a boat and he made a hole in it. Moses said, "Did you make a hole to drown people? You have done something terrible!"
18:72 The man said, "Didn't I tell you that you could not bear with me?"
18:73 Said Moses, "Do not rebuke me for forgetting. And be not hard on me for my fault."
18:74 So they went on till, when they met a lad, he slew him. Moses said, "What! Have you slain an innocent person who had slain none? Verily, you have done a horrible thing."
18:75 The man said, "Didn't I tell you that you could not bear with me?"
18:76 Moses said, "If I ask you after this about anything, then do not keep me with you. By then you shall have received enough excuses from me."
18:77 So they proceeded. When they reached a township, they asked its folk for food, but they refused them hospitality. Soon they saw a wall that was about to collapse, and he fixed it. Moses said, "If you had wished, you could taken a wage for that."
18:78 He replied, "This is the parting between you and me! But I will explain to you the real meaning of things you could not bear with patience."
18:79 "As for the boat, it belonged to poor people working on the river, and I wished to make it defective. For, behind them was a king who was taking every (good) boat by force.
18:80 And as for the lad, his parents were true believers whereas we had every reason to fear that he would bring bitter grief upon them by rebellion and disbelief.
18:81 And so we desired that their Sustainer grant them instead of him, a child better in purity of conduct and affection.
18:82 As for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town. And there was a treasure for them, beneath the wall. Their late father was a righteous man, and your Lord wanted them to grow up to full maturity and then extract their treasure as a Mercy from your Lord. I did it not of my own accord (but carried out the Divine Command). This is the explanation of things you could not stand." (As the pondering was over, Moses understood that Revelation is to the intellect what the sunlight is to the eye. Thus ended his intellectual journey. Later on Moses was commissioned to Prophethood and experienced the Divine Revelation first hand).
18:83 (O Messenger) They ask you about Zul-Qarnain. Say, "I will convey to you something by which he is worth remembering."
18:84 We established him in power on earth and granted him the ways and means to accomplish his objectives.
18:85 Zul-Qarnain, (King Cyrus the great of Persia, 590-529 B.C.) set out for an expedition. He chose the right means in whatever he did.
18:86 (Conquering land to the West toward Lydia, he reached as far as the Black Sea.) The sun was setting and it appeared to him as if it was setting in the dark waters. (The local nation, given to wrongdoing, fought against him and lost). We said, "O Zul-Qarnain! Either punish or be kind to them."
18:87 Cyrus said to them, "As for him who does wrong from now on, we shall punish him. And then he will be brought back before his Lord Who will commit him to greater retribution.
18:88 But whoever will believe and work for the good of others, good will be his reward and we will treat him kindly."
18:89 (After establishing peace in the West) he once again chose the right means to achieve a right end. (He set forth to an expedition towards the East).
18:90 Then he reached (Balkh in Afghanistan) the rising place of the sun, the easternmost point of his expedition. He found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter from it. (They built no houses and lived a nomadic life).
18:91 So it was, and We knew all about him and his resources. (He helped that nation with his abundant resources that We had given him).
18:92 And once again he chose the right means to achieve a right end. (North towards Caucasus.)
18:93 When he reached the valley between two mountain ranges, he found people whose language was barely understandable to him.
18:94 (Through interpreters) they presented a grievance, "O Zul-Qarnain! Behold, Gog and Magog are spoiling this land. They keep attacking and commit bloody crimes. May we, then, pay to you a regular tribute that you will erect a barrier between us and them?" (21:96).
18:95 He responded, "The power in which My Lord has established me is better than tribute. Help me then with manpower; I will erect a strong barrier between you and them."
18:96 "Bring me pieces of iron." (His engineers worked their skills using dirt and molten iron and filled the gap between the mountains). When he had filled up the space between the two steep mountainsides, he said, "(Light a fire and) blow with your bellows!" When it was red hot, he said, "Bring me molten copper and tar to pour over it."
18:97 Thus they (Gog and Magog) could not climb it, nor could they bore holes in it.
18:98 Said the King, "This is a mercy from my Lord. Yet when the time appointed by my Lord shall come, He will make this barrier level with the ground. And my Lord's Promise always comes true. (This barrier will stay in place and crumble according to the Divine Laws in the Universe).
18:99 (Zul-Qarnain was correct that such obstructions would become immaterial with time.) We will let some nations to invade others on a day when the trumpets of war will be blown. Then We will gather them together in battle-fields. (Gog and Magog, the powerful imperialist nations will exploit one another and the weaker nations and great wars will take place).
18:100 Peoples who had been rejecting the Divine Writ that 'Mankind is one community,' We will cause them to face hell at the hands of one another.
18:101 They whose eyes were veiled to see My Reminder, and who could not bear to hear.
18:102 Do the disbelievers in My Reminder think that they can choose my servants as allies besides Me? Verily, We have readied hell as a welcome for the disbelievers. (No matter what coalitions they make, if they befriend systems other than the Divine Order, they will end up in hell).
18:103 Say, "Shall We inform you who the worst losers are in respect of their deeds?"
18:104 They are the ones whose effort in the life of the world remains misdirected. And yet they think that they are doing good work. (They work in the wrong cause, contrary to the Divine Reminder).
18:105 It is they who have chosen to deny their Sustainer's Messages and the truth that they are destined to meet Him. Hence, their works are vain, and on the Day of Resurrection We will assign no weight to them.
18:106 That is their reward, Hell! For, they rejected the Truth, and ridiculed My Messages and My Messengers.
18:107 But verily, as for those who attain belief and fulfill the needs of others, the gardens of Paradise will be there to welcome them.
18:108 Therein shall they abide. They will not even desire a change!
18:109 Say, "If all the sea were ink for my Sustainer's Words, the sea would indeed be exhausted before my Sustainer's Words are exhausted! And thus it would be if We were to add to it sea upon sea." (31:27).
18:110 Say (O Prophet), "I am but a mortal man like all of you. It is revealed to me that your God is the One and Only God. Hence, whoever looks forward to meeting His Sustainer, let him do works that help others, and let him admit no one as partner in the service of his Sustainer. "


   


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