Their awakening and sending One of Themselves to buy Food Allah says: `just as We caused them to sleep, We resurrected t ***
Written by Ibn Kathir   
Friday, 10 November 2006

Their awakening and sending One of Themselves to buy Food Allah says: `just as We caused them to sleep, We resurrected them with their bodies, hair and skin intact, and nothing lacking in their form and appearance.' This was after three hundred and nine years. This is why they asked each other,

[كَمْ لَبِثْتُمْ]
(How long have you stayed (here)) meaning, `how long have you slept'

[قَالُواْ لَبِثْنَا يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ]
(They said: "We have stayed a day or part of a day.'') because they entered the cave at the beginning of the day, and they woke up at the end of the day, which is why they then said,

[أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ قَالُواْ رَبُّكُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا لَبِثْتُمْ]
("...or a part of a day.'' They said: "Your Lord knows best how long you have stayed...'') meaning, `Allah knows best about your situation.' It seems that they were not sure about how long they had slept, and Allah knows best. Then they turned their attention to more pressing matters, like their need for food and drink, so they said:

[فَابْعَثُواْ أَحَدَكُمْ بِوَرِقِكُمْ]
(So send one of you with this silver coin of yours) They had brought with them some Dirhams (silver coins) from their homes, to buy whatever they might need, and they had given some in charity and kept some, so they said:

[فَابْعَثُواْ أَحَدَكُمْ بِوَرِقِكُمْ هَـذِهِ إِلَى الْمَدِينَةِ]
(So send one of you with this silver coin of yours to the town,) meaning to their city, which they had left. The definite article indicates that they were referring to a known city.

[فَلْيَنْظُرْ أَيُّهَآ أَزْكَى طَعَامًا]
(and let him find out which is the Azka food.) Azka means "purest'', as Allah says elsewhere,

[وَلَوْلاَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ مَا زَكَى مِنكُم مِّنْ أَحَدٍ أَبَداً]
(And had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy on you, not one of you would ever have been pure [Zaka] from sins) [24:21] and

[قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّى ]
(Indeed whosoever purifies himself [Tazakka] shall achieve success.) [87:14] From the same root also comes the word Zakah, which makes one's wealth good and purifies it.

[وَلْيَتَلَطَّفْ]
(And let him be careful) meaning when he goes out buying food and coming back. They were telling him to conceal himself as much as he could,

[وَلاَ يُشْعِرَنَّ بِكُمْ أَحَدًاإِنَّهُمْ إِن يَظْهَرُواْ عَلَيْكُمْ يَرْجُمُوكُمْ]
(and let no man know of you. For, if they come to know of you, they will stone you) means, `if they find out where you are,'

[يَرْجُمُوكُمْ أَوْ يُعِيدُوكُمْ فِى مِلَّتِهِمْ]
(they will stone you or turn you back to their religion;) They were referring to the followers of Decianus, who they were afraid might find out where they were, and punish them with all kinds of torture until they made them go back to their former religion, or until they died, for if they agreed to go back to their (old) religion, they would never attain success in this world or the Hereafter. So they said:

[وَلَن تُفْلِحُواْ إِذًا أَبَدًا]
(and in that case you will never be successful.)

[وَكَذلِكَ أَعْثَرْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ لِيَعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ وَأَنَّ السَّاعَةَ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهَا إِذْ يَتَنَـزَعُونَ بَيْنَهُمْ أَمْرَهُمْ فَقَالُواْ ابْنُواْ عَلَيْهِمْ بُنْيَـنًا رَّبُّهُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِهِمْ قَالَ الَّذِينَ غَلَبُواْ عَلَى أَمْرِهِمْ لَنَتَّخِذَنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ مَّسْجِدًا ]
(21. And thus We made their case known, that they might know that the promise of Allah is true, and that there can be no doubt about the Hour. (Remember) when they (the people) disputed among themselves about their case, they said: "Construct a building over them; their Lord knows best about them,'' (then) those who won their point said: "We verily, shall build a place of worship over them.'')

Their awakening and sending One of Themselves to buy Food Allah says: `just as We caused them to sleep, We resurrected them with their bodies, hair and skin intact, and nothing lacking in their form and appearance.' This was after three hundred and nine years. This is why they asked each other,

[كَمْ لَبِثْتُمْ]
(How long have you stayed (here)) meaning, `how long have you slept'

[قَالُواْ لَبِثْنَا يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ]
(They said: "We have stayed a day or part of a day.'') because they entered the cave at the beginning of the day, and they woke up at the end of the day, which is why they then said,

[أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ قَالُواْ رَبُّكُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا لَبِثْتُمْ]
("...or a part of a day.'' They said: "Your Lord knows best how long you have stayed...'') meaning, `Allah knows best about your situation.' It seems that they were not sure about how long they had slept, and Allah knows best. Then they turned their attention to more pressing matters, like their need for food and drink, so they said:

[فَابْعَثُواْ أَحَدَكُمْ بِوَرِقِكُمْ]
(So send one of you with this silver coin of yours) They had brought with them some Dirhams (silver coins) from their homes, to buy whatever they might need, and they had given some in charity and kept some, so they said:

[فَابْعَثُواْ أَحَدَكُمْ بِوَرِقِكُمْ هَـذِهِ إِلَى الْمَدِينَةِ]
(So send one of you with this silver coin of yours to the town,) meaning to their city, which they had left. The definite article indicates that they were referring to a known city.

[فَلْيَنْظُرْ أَيُّهَآ أَزْكَى طَعَامًا]
(and let him find out which is the Azka food.) Azka means "purest'', as Allah says elsewhere,

[وَلَوْلاَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ مَا زَكَى مِنكُم مِّنْ أَحَدٍ أَبَداً]
(And had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy on you, not one of you would ever have been pure [Zaka] from sins) [24:21] and

[قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّى ]
(Indeed whosoever purifies himself [Tazakka] shall achieve success.) [87:14] From the same root also comes the word Zakah, which makes one's wealth good and purifies it.

[وَلْيَتَلَطَّفْ]
(And let him be careful) meaning when he goes out buying food and coming back. They were telling him to conceal himself as much as he could,

[وَلاَ يُشْعِرَنَّ بِكُمْ أَحَدًاإِنَّهُمْ إِن يَظْهَرُواْ عَلَيْكُمْ يَرْجُمُوكُمْ]
(and let no man know of you. For, if they come to know of you, they will stone you) means, `if they find out where you are,'

[يَرْجُمُوكُمْ أَوْ يُعِيدُوكُمْ فِى مِلَّتِهِمْ]
(they will stone you or turn you back to their religion;) They were referring to the followers of Decianus, who they were afraid might find out where they were, and punish them with all kinds of torture until they made them go back to their former religion, or until they died, for if they agreed to go back to their (old) religion, they would never attain success in this world or the Hereafter. So they said:

[وَلَن تُفْلِحُواْ إِذًا أَبَدًا]
(and in that case you will never be successful.)

[وَكَذلِكَ أَعْثَرْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ لِيَعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ وَأَنَّ السَّاعَةَ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهَا إِذْ يَتَنَـزَعُونَ بَيْنَهُمْ أَمْرَهُمْ فَقَالُواْ ابْنُواْ عَلَيْهِمْ بُنْيَـنًا رَّبُّهُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِهِمْ قَالَ الَّذِينَ غَلَبُواْ عَلَى أَمْرِهِمْ لَنَتَّخِذَنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ مَّسْجِدًا ]
(21. And thus We made their case known, that they might know that the promise of Allah is true, and that there can be no doubt about the Hour. (Remember) when they (the people) disputed among themselves about their case, they said: "Construct a building over them; their Lord knows best about them,'' (then) those who won their point said: "We verily, shall build a place of worship over them.'')