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The Story of Prophet Dhul-Kifl (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ)

who is Prophet Dhul-Kifl

Prophet Dhul-Kifl Calligraphy

The story of Dhul-Kifl (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) is a bit of a mystery.

The literal meaning of the name "Dhul-Kifl" is "possessor of the fold" or "possessor of, or giving, a double requital or portion." This name signifies that he was a Prophet who gave more than what was required of him. He gave "double" or a multiple in his prayers, worship, and deeds. Whatever was required of him, he did more for the sake of pleasing Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ).

Another possible interpretation is that as a Prophet of Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ), he bore double the responsibility. For example, one account suggests he was responsible for fasting during the day, devoting himself to prayer and worship during the night, and being a judge among the people. This required having complete mastery over his emotions and avoiding showcasing signs of anger.

Keep in mind the exact nature of Dhul-Kifl's role or the reason behind this title remains a matter of speculation. Yet, what is known about Dhul-Kifl comes from the following two verses of the Qur'an.

In Surah Al-Anbiya, ayat 85-86,

وَإِسۡمَٰعِيلَ وَإِدۡرِيسَ وَذَا ٱلۡكِفۡلِۖ كُلّٞ مِّنَ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ ayah 85 وَأَدۡخَلۡنَٰهُمۡ فِي رَحۡمَتِنَآۖ إِنَّهُم مِّنَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ ayah 86

Wa Ismaa’eela wa Idreesa wa Zal Kifli kullum minas saabireen (85) Wa adkhalnaahum fee rahmatinaa innahum minas saaliheen (86)

English Translation:

And (We bestowed the same favour) upon Ishmael, Idris and Dhu al-Kifl, for they were all steadfast. (85) And We admitted them into Our mercy, for they were of the righteous. (86)
— (Qur'an 21:85-86)

The second mention in the Qur’an is from Surah Sad ayat 48-52:

وَٱذۡكُرۡ إِسۡمَٰعِيلَ وَٱلۡيَسَعَ وَذَا ٱلۡكِفۡلِۖ وَكُلّٞ مِّنَ ٱلۡأَخۡيَارِ ayah 48 هَٰذَا ذِكۡرٞۚ وَإِنَّ لِلۡمُتَّقِينَ لَحُسۡنَ مَـَٔابٖ ayah 49 جَنَّـٰتِ عَدۡنٖ مُّفَتَّحَةٗ لَّهُمُ ٱلۡأَبۡوَٰبُ ayah 50 مُتَّكِـِٔينَ فِيهَا يَدۡعُونَ فِيهَا بِفَٰكِهَةٖ كَثِيرَةٖ وَشَرَابٖ ayah 51 ۞وَعِندَهُمۡ قَٰصِرَٰتُ ٱلطَّرۡفِ أَتۡرَابٌ ayah 52

Wazkur Ismaa’eela wal Yasa’a wa Zal-Kifli wa kullun minal akhyaar (48) Haazaa zikrun wa inna lil muttaqeena la husna ma aab (49) Jannaati ‘adnin mufattahatan lahumul abwaab (50) Muttaki’eena feehaa yad’oona feehaa bifaakihatin kaseeratinw wa sharaab (51) Wa ‘indahum qaasiraatut tarfi atraab (52)

English Translation:

And remember Ishmael, Elisha, and Dhu al-Kifl. All were of the best. (48) This was a remembrance. An excellent retreat awaits the God-fearing (49) everlasting Gardens with gates wide open for them (50) wherein they shall recline, wherein they shall ask for abundant fruit and drinks, (51) and wherein there shall be with them well-matched, bashful mates. (52)
— (Qur'an 38:48-52)

Was Dhul-Kifl a Prophet?

The two verses in the Qur'an, while honoring Dhul-Kifl, provide limited information about him, leading to varying opinions regarding his exact status. Scholars debate whether Dhul-Kifl was a Nabi (Prophet) of Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) or a saint. One theory is that Dhul-Kifl might be the biblical prophet Ezekiel. However, this connection is not substantiated.

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The strongest opinion is that Dhul-Kifl is a Prophet of Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ), given the verse where he is mentioned alongside Ishmael (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and Idris (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ). The logical conclusion would be that since his name is listed with the other Prophets, he, too, must be a prophet. Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) knows best.

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Imam Ibn Jarir narrated that he was not a Prophet but a righteous man and provided further insight into the Prophet's life.

When Prophet Al-Yasa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) (Elisha) grew old, he was looking to appoint a successor who could help guide the Israelites and needed someone with a calm demeanor and a clear mind. He assembled a group of companions and set out three conditions that he believed would be a testament to a great leader:

Prophet Ilyasa
“the person who will be considered for my replacement is one who fasts year around during the day, remembers Allah in prayer throughout the night, and must not ever lose his temper.”

Unknow person stood up

A relatively unknown person who was held in contempt by the people stood up and offered himself for the job. Prophet Yasa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) asked him whether these three conditions were met. The man replied yes to all three, but Yasa did not believe his claim and rejected him for whatever reason.

After a few more days passed, Yasa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) gathered the group again and repeated if his conditions were met. Everyone remained seated beside the same man. Yasa, seeing his persistence, appointed the man to serve as his deputy.


But to truly test the man's will, he asked a few people to try to persuade the man into doing something that would result in him being removed from being his deputy.

They all tried, and they all failed.

Then Iblis (satan) offered his services to Al-Yasa,
“Leave him to me. I will take care of him.”

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At this point, the man developed a routine that involved fasting during the day, making prayers, and remembering Allah throughout the night. In the afternoon, he would take a nap to rejuvenate himself.

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Iblis disguise as old man

Iblis decided to disturb the man right before his afternoon nap by knocking at the door and begging to be let in, saying,

“I am an old tortured man.”

Iblis was welcomed in and began to ramble on about the cruelty and injustice that he suffered. He stretched the story so long that no time was spared for the man’s daily nap. The man offered to visit Iblis in his court the next day so that justice would be done for him.

The man waited for the Iblis the next day, but he did not turn up. The next morning, he waited for the Iblis to return, but, once again, he did not. Finally, right before the man was about to take his routine nap, Iblis came and started banging on the door.

The man, still calm, questioned him,
“Didn’t I tell you to come to my court yesterday, but you failed to appear, nor did you come this morning?”

To this the Iblis replied,
“Sir, my enemies are very wicked people; when they learned that you were sitting in your court and would force them to give back to me what was due, they agreed to settle the matter out of court. But as soon as you left your court, they went back on their promise.”

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The conversation continued for a long time, and when he missed his usual nap, the man asked Iblis to revisit his court to settle matters. Once again, the man waited patiently in the court, but Iblis did not visit. When he returned home that day, he felt exhausted because of the lack of sleep. He asked the family not to let anyone knock at the door.

Iblis once again tried to disturb his sleep so he would not be able to fast and pray and hoped he would grow angry, but when he tried knocking on the door, the man’s family members stopped him. Iblis was determined; he forced another way into the man’s home and started knocking at the door of his room.

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The man saw Iblis had come inside the house while the door remained shut.

Then he suddenly became aware that Iblis was the man standing before him and asked him,
“Are you the enemy of God?”

He admitted that he was Iblis and remarked,
“You have thwarted all my plans and frustrated all my efforts to entice you in my design. My intention was to make you angry somehow, so that one of your claims before Yasa could be proven false.”

Imam Ibn Jarir was of the opinion that Dhul-Kifl was not a name but rather a title given to this man because of this episode. The actual name of the Prophet remains unidentified.

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