The Story of the People of Al-Kahf Here Allah tells us about the story of the people of Al-Kahf in brief and general terms, then Heexplains it in more detail. He says
(Do you think) — O Muhammad —
(that the people of Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim were a wonder among Our signs) meaning, their case was not something amazing compared to Our power and ability, for the creation of the heavens and earth, the alternation of night and day and the subjugation of the sun, moon and heavenly bodies, and other mighty signs indicate the great power of Allah and show that He is able to do whatever He wills. He is not incapable of doing more amazing things than the story of the people of the Cave. Similarly, Ibn Jurayj reported Mujahid saying about,
(Do you think that the people of Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim were a wonder among Our signs) “Among Our signs are things that are more amazing than this.” Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said:
(Do you think that the people of Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim were a wonder among Our signs) “What I have given to you of knowledge, the Sunnah and the Book is far better than the story of the people of Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim.” Muhammad bin Ishaq said: “(It means) I have not shown My creatures a proof more amazing than the story of the people of the Al-Kahf and Ar-Raqim.” iAl-Kahf refers to a cave in a mountain, which is where the young men sought refuge. With regard to the word Ar-Raqim, Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas that it is a valley near Aylah. This was also said in another narration by `Atiyah Al-`Awfi and Qatadah. Ad-Dahhak said: “As for Al-Kahf, it is a cave in the valley, and Ar-Raqim is the name of the valley.” Mujahid said, “Ar-Raqim refers to their buildings.” Others said it refers to the valley in which their cave was. `Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Ibn `Abbas said about Ar-Raqim: “Ka`b used to say that it was the town.” Ibn Jurayj reported that Ibn `Abbas said, “Ar-Raqim is the mountain in which the cave was.” Sa`id bin Jubayr said, “Ar-Raqim is a tablet of stone on which they wrote the story of the people of the Cave, then they placed it at the entrance to the Cave.”
((Remember) when the young men fled for refuge to Al-Kahf. They said: “Our Lord! Bestow on us mercy from Yourself, and facilitate for us our affair in the right way!”) Here Allah tells us about those young men who fled from their people for the sake of their religion, fearing persecution. So they fled taking refuge in the cave of a mountain, where they hid from their people. When they entered the cave, they asked Allah to show mercy and kindness towards them,
(Our Lord! Bestow on us mercy from Yourself,) meaning, `give us Your mercy and conceal us from our people.’
(and facilitate for us our affair in the right way.) means, direct our matter well, i.e., grant us a good end. As was reported in the Hadith:
(Whatever You have decreed for us, make its consequences good).
(Therefore, We covered up their hearing in the cave for a number of years.) meaning, `We caused them to sleep when they entered the cave, and they slept for many years.’
(Then We raised them up) from that slumber, and one of them went out with his Dirhams (silver coins) to buy them some food, as it will be discussed in more detail below. Allah says:
(Then We raised them up, that We might test which of the two parties) meaning, the two parties who disputed about them,
(was best at calculating the time period that they tarried.) It was said that this refers to how long they stayed in the cave.