Surah Al-Kahf explanation

Ashabl Kahf,

the servant on the boat with Musa,

and Dhul Qarnayn are all part of one big narration

and not three different and unrelated stories

The topics I will cover are:
1. Ashabl Kahf (people of the cave)
2. The Servant on the boat who took a journey (with Musa) is not Khidr but Dhul Qarnayn (yes the same Dhul Qarnayn that build the wall)
3. Who is Dhul Qarnayn (possessor of the two horns) and why do we need him
4. Gog and Magog are the doorways to hell not the coming of the end to mankind
5. Musa learnt from his mistake when he killed a man.

I will begin with the story of Musa and the servant on the boat.
To understand this narration we first need to identify why Musa's was so determined to find him.

Musa had completed the day of the festival and had delivered TWO of the NINE signs.

( Two signs given to Musa -
20:22, 27:12, 28:32)
( Told of the signs - 20:56, 27:13, 26:30, 7:106, 10:76, 17:101)
( Delivered two of the nine signs to Firoun - 26:32-33, 7:107-108)
( Firoun sees signs and wants time to prepare - 20:58, 26:34-35, 7:109-110, 10:77-78)
( Musa chooses day of festival - 20:59)
( Firoun prepares - 20:60, 26:36-37, 7:111-12, 10:79)
( The day arrives - 26:38-39)
( The people of the town disputed with each other about the affair - 20:62-63, 26:40)
( Firoun settles agreement with Magicians - 20:62, 20:64, 26:41-42, 7:113-14)
( The magicians deceived the peoples eyes - 20:65-68, 26:43-44, 7:115-116, 10-80-81)
( Musa delivered the two signs on the day of the festival - 20:69, 26:45, 7:117, 10:82)
(After the Festival, Firoun (and his chiefs) made life more difficult for the Israelites - 7:127, 2:49, 10:83)

and in response, Musa asked them to turn to Allah - 7:128, 10:84-86).

The situation was that bad the Israelites said……

7:129 They (the Israelites) said: "We were being harmed before you came to us and since you have come to us……

And Musa responded
He (Musa) said: "Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy, and make you successors in the land, so He sees how you work?"

Again it is important to remember this era/period is when Musa has delivered two of the nine signs and needs to find the seven other signs.
He is running out of options.

So Musa decided he must seek more knowledge and proclaimed he was willing to spend the rest of his life trying.

18:60-63 And Moses said to his youth: "I will not stop until I reach the junction of the two seas, or I spend a lifetime trying." But when they reached the junction that was in-between, they forgot their fish, and it was able to make its way back to the sea in a stream. And when they passed further on, he said to his youth: "Bring us our lunch; we have found much fatigue in this journey of ours." He said: "Do you remember when we rested upon the rock? I forgot the fish, and it was the devil who made me forget to remember it. It made its way back to the sea amazingly!"

The servant on the boat.
Many people will argue this character is Khidr, but khidr is from hadiths

(Bukhari - 1:3:74, 3:50:888, 6:60:249-251)(Muslim - 30:5864, 19:4458, 30:5867)

and is never mentioned in the Quran.

More evidence to suggest that it can't be khidr, but Dhul Qarnayn is the specific location Musa was adamant to reach.
18.60 And when said Musa to his boy, "Not I will cease until I reach

the junction (of) the two seas or I continue (for) a long period."

Where the seas meet is the best place to find Qarnain.

The word "Qarnayn" comes from the root letters Qaf-Ra-Nun

It's definition = join one thing with another, couple.
qarnin/qarnan = generation, century.

qarn (dual qarnani, oblique qaraini, plu. qurun) = horn, trumpet. Often used to symbolise strength/power/glory.
qarunun (pl. qurana) = mate, comrade, intimate companion.
muqarranin = bound together.
muqrinina = capable of subduing.
muqtarinin = those formed in serried ranks, accompanying ones.
Dhul Qarnayn (Zulqarnain/dhul-qarnayn) - the two horned one, one belonging to two century, or two generation, master of two states/kingdoms.

So Musa went to where the seas meet and met the Possessor of the two horns, Dhul Qarnayn.

Insha'Allah later I will give more evidence to show the servant on the boat is Dhul Qarnayn

The journey with the servant on the boat.
 

1st Path

The first path is in regards to Musa's current situation.

[18.79] As for the boat, it belonged to (some) poor men who worked on the river and I wished that I should damage it, and there was behind them a king who seized every boat by force.

 

To get a better understanding, we need to see the understanding that Musa is obtaining from the journey. To do this we need to look at the allegorical meaning of the ayat. 


Allegorical meaning: Ships/boats = Belief/Faith

It can be seen in the next ayat that ships represent faith 


For example
10:22 He is the One who carries you on land and on the sea. And when you are on the ship and We drive them with a good wind which they rejoice with, a strong gust comes to them and the waves come to them from all sides, and they think that they are finished, they implore God with loyalty and devotion to His system: "If You save us from this, we will be of the thankful."

 

Allegorical meaning:

Ships/boats = Belief/Faith
The poor men = Israelites
The River = kingdom
The King = Firoun.


THE ALLEGORICAL (OR MUSAS UNDERSTANDING WOULD HAVE BEEN)

[18.79] As for the Beliefs, it belongs to the Israelites who work in the Kingdom and I wanted to save them, and there was behind them Firoun who seized ever belief by force.

The hole in the boat is the after-effects of the two signs already delivered, that is as the Israelites said to Musa before ….

7:129 They said: "We were being harmed before you came to us and since you have come to us……

Firoun did seize belief by force, this can clearly be identified in

7:123 Firoun said: Do you believe in Him before I have given you permission? Surely this is a plot which you have secretly devised in this city, that you may turn out of it its people, but you shall know. (Also 26:49, 20:71)

Musa would have understood that his people's cries, which they saw as harm, is actually a blessing in disguise for their protection from Firoun. Remember also Musa (before the explanation) also saw this as a "grievous thing" (18:71)

2nd Path

The second path explains the outcome of the unbelievers and the deliverance of the remaining 7 signs.

[18.80-81] And as for the boy, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should make disobedience and ingratitude to come upon them: So we desired that their Lord might give them in his place one better than him in purity and nearer to having compassion.

 

Allegorical meaning:

The boy = Egyptians.
The parents = Followers of Ibrahim
(Believers) who controlled Egypt (Yusuf Era).

THE ALLEGORICAL (OR MUSAS UNDERSTANDING WOULD HAVE BEEN)

[18.80-81] And as for the children of Egypt,
his parents (Ibrahmic faith) were believers and we feared lest he should make disobedience and ingratitude to come upon them: So we desired that their Lord might give them in his place one better than him in purity and nearer to having compassion.


Musa said to his people (before embarking on this journey)
7:129…."Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy, and make you successors in the land, so He sees how you work?"

The seven remaining signs are delivered: drought (7:130), plague (7:134), flood (7:133), locusts (7:133), lice (7:133), frogs (7:133), blood (7:133), (And in context - 10:88-89)), and it is also in reference to the end of the Firoun dynasty (drowning at sea)

3rd Path

The third path explains the outcome of the believers and the 40 year waiting period.

18:77 So they ventured forth until they came to the people of a town. They requested food from its people but they refused to host them. Then they found a wall which was close to collapsing, so he built it. He said: "If you had wished, you could have asked a wage for it!"

18:82
"And as for the
wall, it belonged to two orphaned boys in the city, and underneath it was a treasure for them, and their father was a good man, so your Lord wanted that they reach their independence/maturity and bring out their treasure as a mercy from your Lord…….."

A wall that was on the verge of collapsing, where else do we find treasures being locked away?


In the SAME SURAH, in the beginning we find the story of Ashabl Kahf (The people of the Cave) (18:9-26) and within their narration, we find a temple (place of worship /Masjid) being constructed over them.

Ashabl Kahf

18:21 And as such, We revealed their case so that they would know that the promise of God is true and that there is no doubt regarding the Hour. They argued among themselves regarding them, so they said: "Erect a monument for them!" Their Lord is fully aware of them, those who managed to win the argument said: "We will construct a temple (place of worship) over them."

We are also told that the people of the cave were frightening to look at (18:18).

Where else do we find a blessing from Allah upon people but were feared?

Read this……

5:21-26 "O my people, enter the holy land that God Has decreed for you, and do not turn your backs, or you will become losers."

They said: "O Musa, in it are a mighty people, and we will not enter it until they leave from it. So when they leave from it, then we will enter."

Two men from among those who were fearing, upon whom God had bestowed favor, said: "Enter upon them through the gate, if you enter it then you will be the victors; and put your trust in God if you are believers."

They said: "O Musa, we will never enter it as long as they are in it, so go you and your Lord and fight, we will stay right here!"

He said: "My Lord, I do not possess except myself and my brother, so separate between us and between the wicked people."

He said: "It has become restricted to them for forty years, and they will be lost in the land." Do not be sorrowful over the wicked people.

Now to decode the last path allegorical meaning.

Allegorical meaning:

People of the Town = People at Mt Sinai (20:85, 7:148, 2:54).
Food = a delivering of Allah's help, (Barakat), just like water and ayats. (In Musa incident it is 20:80-83)
The refusal of accepting them as guest = the calf incident.
The Wall = Final Barrier.
The treasure = Holy Land,
The father = what we inherit from our parents, our religion, Ibrahim's faith
The two orphan boys = People of the Cave,
Maturity = 40 year waiting period

THE ALLEGORICAL (OR MUSAS UNDERSTANDING WOULD HAVE BEEN)

18:77 -So they went on until when they came to Mt Sinai, they asked for Allahs help,
but they refused and
took a calf. Then they found in it a final barrier which was on the point of falling, so he put it into a right state.


18:82 -And as for the barrier, it belonged to the people of the cave, and there’s was beneath it the Holy Land, and their religion (Ibrahim's faiths) was right; so your Lord desired that they should attain a 40 year waiting period and then receive the Holy Land, a mercy from your Lord.

 

The children of Israel were denied the Holy Land and A WALL was erected (by this character) between the believers and their reward.

Dhul Qarnayn

 

Immediately (the next ayat) we are told...

18:83 And they ask you about the Dhul Qarnayn (The Two Horned One), say: "I will recite to you a remembrance of him."

We are then introduced Dhul Qarnayn who erected a wall between the unbelievers and their reward.

The ayats prior and after 18:83 are describing the same character. That is why people will ask about the servant on the boat because we have been given an account of some of his actions with Musa but we need to know more details.  Due to our asking, the Quran introduces us to Dhul Qarnayn which is one and the same character as the servant on the boat.


His title literally translates to, Possessor of the Two Horns.

Two horns mean the horns to open the walls of the Holy Land (Heaven) and Gog and Magog (Hell).

Now to show you evidence they are the same character.

The person on the boat and Dhul Qarnayns narration is near the same.

The word "Qarnayn"s root letters have a very peculiar definition ( definition listed earlier: simply join one thing with another, couple.)

First Path

 

18:86-88 Until he reached the setting of the sun; he found it setting at a hot spring, and he found a people near it. We said: "O Two Horned One, either you shall punish, or you shall do them good."

He said: "As for he who has done wrong, we will punish him then he will be returned to his Lord and He will punish him an awful punishment." "And as for he who believes and does good, then he will have the reward of goodness, and we will speak to him simply of our plan.

And the comparison to Dhul Qarnayn on the boat:


18:79- As for the boat, it belonged to (some) poor men who worked on the river and I wished that I should damage it, and there was behind them a king who seized every boat by force.

Dhul Qarnayn was asked to either give them chastisement or do them a benefit.
When looking at the boat story Dhul Qarnayn actually did them a benefit by damaging the boat.

Side Note:
"setting of the sun" = coming to an end (their test, decree being reached)

Second Path

 

18:90-91- Until when he reached the land of the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people to whom We had given no shelter from It; Even so! and We had a full knowledge of what he had.

And comparison to Dhul Qarnayn on the boat:


18:80-81- And as for the boy, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should make disobedience and ingratitude to come upon them: So we desired that their Lord might give them in his place one better than him in purity and nearer to having compassion.

The first clear connection between the two is
18:91 “Even so! We had a full knowledge of what he had.”

…..which fits perfectly with a boy who was killed for what they feared he was going to do (in future), that is

18:81 “…we feared lest he should make disobedience and ingratitude to come upon them…"

Third Path

8.93-98- Until when he reached (a place) between the two mountains, he found on that side of them a people who could hardly understand a word. They said: O Dhul Qarnayn! surely Gog and Magog make mischief in the land. Shall we then pay you a tribute on condition that you should raise a barrier between us and them. He said: That in which my Lord has established me is better, therefore you only help me with workers, I will make a fortified barrier between you and them; Bring me blocks of iron; until when he had filled up the space between the two mountain sides, he said: Blow, until when he had made it fire, he said: Bring me molten brass which I may pour over it. So they were not able to scale it nor could they make a hole in it. He said: This is a mercy from my Lord, but when the promise of my Lord comes to pass He will make it level with the ground, and the promise of my Lord is ever true.

And comparison to Dhul Qarnayn on the boat:


18:77 So they went on until when they came to the people of a town, they asked them for food, but they refused to entertain them as guests. Then they found in it a wall which was on the point of falling, so he put it into a right state. (Musa) said: If you had pleased, you might certainly have taken a recompense for it.
 

18:82- 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 was a righteous man; so your Lord desired that they should attain their maturity and take out their treasure, a mercy from your Lord, and I did not do it of my own accord. This is the significance of that with which you could not have patience.

The comparisons are astounding with these Ayats.

Servant on the boat: Refused to entertain them as guests
Dhul Qarnayn: Hardly understood a word

Servant on the boat: Musa mentions the “recompense” he could have earn for the task
Dhul Qarnayn: They say Shall we pay you a tribute for the task

Servant on the boat: Two Orphan Boys
Dhul Qarnayn: Two Mountains

Servant on the boat: Wall built to save their treasure
Dhul Qarnayn: Wall built between them to stop Gog and Magog

Servant on the boat: Wall will come to pass and be levelled with the ground
Dhul Qarnayn: Wall will come to pass after attaining maturity

Gog and Magog

There is a common misperception about Gog and Magog

21.96 Even when Gog and Magog are let loose and they shall break forth from every elevated place.

21.101-102 Surely (as for) those for whom the good has already gone forth from Us, they shall be kept far off from it; They will not hear its faintest sound, and they shall abide in that which their souls long for.

Gog and Magog come AFTER judgment. The separation has occurred, that is the believers have been separated from the unbelievers and only then, do the unbelievers see Gog/Magog, the believers will not see/hear it and kept from it.
This means Gog and Magog are the doors to hell. On that day while the unbelievers are witnessing this event, the believers will see

21:104 rolling up of the heavens and
66:8 ... Our Lord! make perfect for us our light, and grant us protection, surely Thou hast power over all things.

Finally to explain the comment of the youth and the response of Musa….

18:63 He (youth) said: "Do you remember when we rested upon the rock? I forgot the fish, "and it was the DEVIL who made me forget to remember it."
It made its way back to the sea amazingly!"

18:64 He (Musa) said: "That is what we have been seeking!" So they went back retracing their steps.

Was Musa seeking the devil?
Of course not.


In the story of Musa killing a man he also blames the DEVIL

28:15- And he went into the city at a time of unvigilance on the part of its people, so he found therein two men fighting, one being of his party and the other of his foes, and he who was of his party cried out to him for help against him who was of his enemies, so Musa struck him with his fist and killed him. He said: This is on account of the DEVILS doing; surely he is an enemy, openly leading astray


28:18-21- And he was in the city, fearing, awaiting, when lo! he who had asked his assistance the day before was crying out to him for aid. Musa said to him: You are most surely one erring manifestly. So when he desired to seize him who was an enemy to them both, he said: O Musa! do you intend to kill me as you killed a person yesterday? You desire nothing but that you should be a tyrant in the land, and you do not desire to be of those who act aright.

Does this story sound familiar?

Let me make it easier.

ALLEGORICAL MEANING:

The city = Mt Sinai

One being of his party = Israelites
The other, his foes = Egyptians
The killing = killed of the Egyptians.
“Surely one erring manifestly” = calf incident

With these words inserted, the translation reads….

28:18-21- And he was at Mt Sinai, fearing, awaiting, when lo!
The Israelites who had asked his assistance the day before were crying out to him for aid.

Musa said to him: You are most surely one following a calf. So when he desired to seize him who was an enemy to them both,
he said: O Musa! do you intend to kill us as you
killed the Egyptians? You desire nothing but that you should be a tyrant in the land, and you do not desire to be of those who act aright.

 

By looking at the above allegorical meaning of 28:18-21, we can see that Musa killing a man was what Allah intended as to educate Musa on controlling his temper
Musa made a vow never to kill again after the incident. Eventually when his people did take the calf Musa kept his vow and in response, instead of killing them he says…..

 

2:54- And when Musa said to his people: O my people! you have surely been unjust to yourselves by taking the calf (for a god), therefore turn to your Creator (penitently), SO KILL YOUR NAFS, that is best for you with your Creator: so He turned to you (mercifully), for surely He is the Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful.

Summary

 

  • Musa went to where the seas meet and met Dhul Qarnayn.

  • On the journey, Dhul Qarnayn explained to Musa the present, past and future of his people and the people of Firon.

  • Dhul Qarnayn with the help of Musa placed a barrier between Musa's people and the Holy Land (fixed the wall on top of the treasures of the Ashabl Khahf).

  • Then the second part of the narration is the barrier Dhul Qarnayn placed in front of cursed land (Gog and Magog)

  • Dhul Qarnayn is the possessor of the two horns that will open the doors to heaven and hell, the one who blows the trumpet.

  • Israfil is presumed to be the angel who blows the horn but he is never mentioned in the Quran,

  • With the provided evidence we can deduce, Dhul Qarnayn (as the literal translation of his name suggests) is actually the one selected to blow the horns and open the gateway for both heaven and hell AFTER the day of judgement.

  • Hence, Dhul Qarnayn is an angel, the one to blow the horn to open both gates. According to Hadith Israfil will have this task. This angel is NEVER named or mentioned in the Quran.