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Verses from Surah Al-Kahf (83-91)

106. “Muddy (pool)” is the commonly accepted meaning. But a second opinion about “hami’ah” of the original, coming down from Ibn ‘Abbas and Hasan, is that it means “warm (waters).” Both could be right, one and at the same time (Ibn Jarir). As for what place it was, Ibn Jarir has no report. But Ibn Kathir points out that anyone who travelled to the edge of a land will find the sun setting in a pool of water. Ibn Kathir also points out that the hadith as in Ahmed and other books that when the sun sets it dips into waters, is an untrustworthy one (Au.).

Asad adds: “..Razi and Ibn Kathir, both .. point out that we have here a metaphor based on the common optical illusion of the sun’s “disappearing into the sea;” and Razi explains this, correctly, by the fact that the earth is spherical. (It is interesting to note that, according to him, this explanation was already advanced in the – now lost – Qur’an commentary of Abu `Ali Jiba’i, the famous Mu`tazili scholar who died in 303 A.H., which corresponds to 916 or 916 of the Christian era).”

In other words, ancient Muslim scholars believed in the sphericity of the earth, although controversy remained to Razi’s days (d. 604 AH) who himself seemed to have been a believer in its sphericity (Au.).

107. That is, after you have over-powered them (Au.).

Asad once again explains, “This divine permission to choose between two possible courses of action is not only a metonymic statement of freedom of will accorded by God to man, but establishes also the important legal principle of istihsan (social or moral preference) open to a ruler or government in deciding as to what might be conducive to the greatest good (maslaha) of the community as a whole: and this is the first “lesson” of the parable of Dhu al-Qarnayn.”

It is educating to know how preconceived ideas lead to error after error. A contemporary commentator first spends a good amount of energy to prove that Cyrus was definitely the Dhu al-Qarnayn of the Qur’an. But, since Cyrus neither received revelation, nor ilham, he had to assume that Dhu al-Qarnayn also did not receive either. Hence to Allah words, “We said, ‘O Dhu al-Qarnayn..’, he adds his commentary, “It is quite possible that no actual communication took place ..”!

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