Surah Al-Kahf Ayat 22 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 22
They will say there were three, the fourth of them being their dog; and they will say there were five, the sixth of them being their dog – guessing at the unseen; and they will say there were seven, and the eighth of them was their dog. Say, [O Muhammad], “My Lord is most knowing of their number. None knows them except a few. So do not argue about them except with an obvious argument and do not inquire about them among [the speculators] from anyone.”
(Some) say they were three, the dog being the fourth among them; (others) say they were five, the dog being the sixth,- doubtfully guessing at the unknown; (yet others) say they were seven, the dog being the eighth. Say thou: “My Lord knoweth best their number; It is but few that know their (real case).” Enter not, therefore, into controversies concerning them, except on a matter that is clear, nor consult any of them about (the affair of) the Sleepers.
Some will say concerning them: “They were three and their dog, the fourth”; and some will say: “They were five, and their dog, the sixth” — all this being merely guesswork; and still others will say: “They were seven, and their dog, the eighth.” Say: “My Lord knows their number best. Only a few know their correct number. So do not dispute concerning their number, but stick to what is evident, and do not question anyone about them.”
(Some) say they were three, the dog being the fourth among them; (others) say they were five, the dog being the sixth, guessing at the unseen; (yet others) say they were seven, the dog being the eighth. Say (O Muhammad SAW): “My Lord knows best their number; none knows them but a few.” So debate not (about their number, etc.) except with the clear proof (which We have revealed to you). And consult not any of them (people of the Scripture, Jews and Christians) about (the affair of) the people of the Cave.
(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.
They will say, “Three, their dog (was) the fourth of them.” And (others) will say, “Five, their dog (was) the sixth of them, ” guessing at the Unseen. (Some others) will say, “Seven, and their dog (was) the eighth of them.” Say, “My Lord knows best their right number; none knows them, except a few.” So do not wrangle about them, except in outward wrangling, and do not ask any of them for a pronouncement on them.
[Some] say, ‘The sleepers were three, and their dog made four,’ others say, ‘They were five, and the dog made six’- guessing in the dark- and some say, ‘They were seven, and their dog made eight.’ Say [Prophet], ‘My Lord knows best how many they were.’ Only a few have real knowledge about them, so do not argue, but stick to what is clear, and do not ask any of these people about them;
Quran 18 Verse 22 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Kahf ayat 22, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(18:22) Some will say concerning them: “They were three and their dog, the fourth”; and some will say: “They were five, and their dog, the sixth” all this being merely guesswork; and still others will say: “They were seven, and their dog, the eighth.” Say: “My Lord knows their number best. Only a few know their correct number. So do not dispute concerning their number, but stick to what is evident, and do not question anyone about them.”
22. This shows that about three hundred years after this event, at the time of the revelation of the Quran, different stories had become current among the Christians about the sleepers of the cave, but generally these stories had no authentic source behind them. This was because that was not the age of the press in which authentic books might have been published. Therefore naturally the stories of events were carried from place to place by means of oral traditions, and with the passage of time many tales of fiction got mixed up with the real story.
23. This is meant to impress that the real thing in this story is not the number of the sleepers but the lessons it teaches. (1) A true believer should not on any account turn away from the truth and bow before falsehood. (2) A believer should not merely rely on the material means but on Allah. He should trust in God and follow the right way, even though the outward adverse circumstances might appear to be unfavorable. (3) It is wrong to suppose that Allah is bound by any so called law of nature, for He is able to do anything He wills even though that might seem to be against some common experience. He has the power to change any so called law of nature, whenever and wherever He wills and bring about any extraordinary supernatural thing. So much so that He can raise up anyone who might have been asleep for two hundred years, as if he had slept only for a few hours, without letting any change take place in his appearance, dress, health, indeed in anything, during the passage of time. (4) This teaches us that Allah has the power to bring to life all the generations past, present and future all together as asserted by the Prophets and divine Scriptures. (5) It teaches us that ignorant people have always been perverting the signs of Allah which are sent for the right guidance of the people. That is how the miracle of the sleepers of the cave, which had been shown as a proof of the Hereafter, had been turned into a means of shirk, as if they were some saints who had been sent only for this purpose.
It is obvious from the above mentioned real lessons, which one can learn from the story of the sleepers, that a wise man will pay his attention to these things and not divert it in search of their number, their names, the color of their dog and the like. Only those people, who have no interest for the reality but for superficial things, will spend their time and energy in making investigations about such things. That is why Allah instructed the Prophet (peace be upon him): You should not enter into useless and irrelevant discussions about such things even if other people try to involve you in them. Instead of wasting your time in such useless things, you should concentrate your attention only on your mission. That is why Allah has not Himself told their exact number lest it should encourage such people as are always hankering after useless things.
22. They say they were three, the dog being the fourth among them; and they say they were five, the dog being the sixth, guessing at the unseen; and they say they were seven, and the dog being the eighth. Say: “My Lord knows best their number; none knows them but a few.” So debate not except with the clear proof. And consult not any of them (about the people of the Cave).
Allah tells us that people disputed over the number of the people of the Cave. The Ayah mentions three views, proving that there was no fourth suggestion. Allah indicates that the first two opinions are invalid, by saying,
(guessing at the unseen), meaning that they spoke without knowledge, like a person who aims at an unknown target — he is hardly likely to hit it, and if he does, it was not on purpose. Then Allah mentions the third opinion, and does not comment on it, or He affirms it by saying,
(and the dog being the eighth.) indicating that this is correct and this is what happened.
(Say: “My Lord knows best their number…”) indicating that the best thing to do in matters like this is to refer knowledge to Allah, because there is no need to indulge in discussing such matters without knowledge. If we are given knowledge of a matter, then we may talk about it, otherwise we should refrain.
(none knows them but a few.) of mankind. Qatadah said that Ibn `Abbas said: “I am one of the few mentioned in this Ayah; they were seven. ” Ibn Jurayj also narrated that `Ata’ Al-Khurasani narrated from him, “I am one of those referred to in this Ayah,” and he would say: “Their number was seven.” Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn `Abbas said:
(none knows them but a few.) “I am one of the few, and they were seven.” The chains of these reports narrated from Ibn `Abbas, which say that they were seven, are Sahih, and this is in accordance with what we have stated above.
(So debate not except with the clear proof.) meaning, gently and politely, for there is not a great deal to be gained from knowing about that.
(And consult not any of them (about the people of the Cave).) meaning, `They do not have any knowledge about it except what they make up, guessing at the unseen; they have no evidence from an infallible source. But Allah has sent you, O Muhammad, with the truth in which there is no doubt or confusion, which is to be given priority over all previous books and sayings.’
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