Lessons from the Cave Part 1: Verses 1-8

In the Name of Allah, the extremely Merciful at this very moment, and the extremely Merciful at all times.

With the Name of Allah, the extremely Merciful at this very moment, and the extremely Merciful at all times.


Welcome to the first part of the series “Lessons from the Cave” – which intends to be a brief study of common Arabic words we can learn and memorize in preparation for Ramadan.  The chapter we will be studying is Surah Al-Kahf, and the series will be updated every week to coincide with reading Surah Al-Kahf every Friday inshaAllah.

By the blessing of Allah, this series is accessible to anyone at any level of relationship with Qur’an in the following ways:

The Beginner – none or very little experience with Qur’an

Goals to set:

1.) Become familiar with the Arabic letters and roots

2.) Become familiar with common Arabic words that recur in the Qur’an

Moderate – can read Qur’an and has a few Surahs memorized:

Goals to set:

1.) Same as above

2.) Memorize the first and last ten verses of Surah Al-Kahf by Ramadan 2012

3.) Be confident with “major” Arabic verbs and words and recognize them in other parts of Qur’an

Advanced – comfortable reading Qur’an and has many Surahs memorized:

Goals to set:

1.) Same as above

2.) Memorize half or more of Surah Al Kahf by Ramadan 2012

3.) Be confident with “major” and many “recommended” Arabic verbs and words and recognize them in different parts of the Qur’an

Super Sayian – Huffaz (People who memorized the Qur’an) and beyond

1.) A reminder for what you already know

2.) Correct me if I’m wrong

The Arabic is given first, followed by the most common translation (Yusuf Ali).  Transliteration with color coding to match is given after that.

Words are divided into “MUST KNOW” and “RECOMMENDED” based on frequency of occurence.  Attempts will be made to explain some verb roots as much as possible, inshaAllah.  Words that repeat within the lesson will be labeled “REPEAT!!!”

It is also worth noting that we should also be listening to how the words sound.  This is meant as an aid to isolate certain words so we can be able to pick it up when someone else is reciting.  This will also help during Taraweeh when we are listening to the Imam recite.


Lesson 1 : Surah Al-Kahf (The Cave) Chapter 18: verses 1-8

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

(MUST KNOW) Ar-RaHman : extremely merciful at this moment

(MUST KNOW) Ar-RaHeem: extremely merciful at all times

Nouman Ali Khan, in his tafsir of Surah Al-Fatiha,  mentions the tafsir of the words “Ar-Rahman” and “Ar-Rahim.”  It is worth knowing these two words since these form the beginning of each chapter in the Qur’an (with the exception of Chapter 9: Tawbah).   And out of all of His Names, Allah chose these two Names to mention repeatedly.

“Ar-RaHman” is usually translated as “the most Gracious” or “Most Merciful.”  Both words actually refer to a more extreme form of mercy.  This word also has a meaning indicating that the extreme mercy is being executed at this very moment.  Thus, Ar-Rahman can loosely be translated as “the extremely Merciful at this moment.”

“Ar-RaHim” contrastly means the Merciful at all times, in other words: “always has and always will be.”

Praise be to Allah, Who hath sent to His Servant the Book, and hath allowed therein no Crookedness: (18:1)

(MUST KNOW) AlHamdulillah = All praise and thanks are due to Allah

Usually translated as “All praise is due to Allah.”  This translation, according to Nouman Ali Khan, limits the word “Hamd” (which is part of the word) beause “Hamd” includes both praise and thanks.  For a more detailed explanation see the link for the tafsir of Surah Fatiha above.

(RECOMMENDED) Abd = literally, “slave”.   Here Allah is referring to His slave, Prophet Muhammad (saw).  Some translations translate “abd” as servant.  Nouman Ali Khan explains why “slave” is a better translation for the word “abd” in the same lecture mentioned earlier.

Kitab = literally means “book”- in this instance, referring to the Qur’an

(He hath made it) Straight (and Clear) in order that He may warn (the godless) of a terrible Punishment from Him, and that He may give Glad Tidings to the Believers who work righteous deeds, that they shall have a goodly Reward, (18:2)

(RECOMMENDED) Mu’mineen = the believers.

In general, adding the letter “meem” (not meme) in front of a word indicates that it is describing a person who is doing the action.  That’s why a “muezzin” is a person who makes the adhan and a “muslim” is a person who practices Islam.  Similarly, “mu’min” is someone who practices faith (iman).  Mu’mineen is the plural form.

(RECOMMENDED) Ya’maloon = their deeds/works.

For beginners, it is easier to understand Arabic verbs by their roots.  Many simple verbs in Arabic are formed by 3 letter roots.  The three letters to focus on here are “3ain” , “meem” and “lam” (which appear consecutively after “ya” in the Arabic above).  Together they make ‘aml which refers to works/deeds.  Conjugating the verb here to the plural form “they” makes “Ya’maloon.” (the 3 letters are bolded).

(MUST KNOW) SaliHaat = an adjective descrbing: good, righteous, just

(RECOMMENDED) Ajr = reward

(RECOMMENDED) Hasana = another adjective that means “good”

Wherein they shall remain forever: (18:3)

abada = forever

Further, that He may warn those (also) who say, “Allah hath begotten a son“: (18:4)

(MUST KNOW) Qaloo = “those who say”

A very important verb to know is “to say” which is formed by the root “Qaf” , “waaw” and “Lam.”   Any combination of these and you can probably infer that the verse has something to do with someone saying something.  Just like in any language, Arabic has verb tenses and conjugation.  For our purposes its easier to focus on recognizing roots.  If we can recognize these letters together and infer that it means say then we can piece together the meaning of the verse.

(MUST KNOW) Allah = Arabic for “God”

Walad (read as “Walada”) = boy, or son

No knowledge have they of such a thing, nor had their fathers. It is a grievous thing that issues from their mouths as a saying what they say is nothing but falsehood! (18:5)

(MUST KNOW) ‘ilm = knowledge

kalimah (read here as kalimatan) = a word

(REPEAT!!!) yaQoolona =“they say” – here we see the same verb we just learned, only it is conjugated differently..  Thus, if we recognized “Qaf”, “waww” and “Lam” and didn’t know anything else, we know that the verse has something to do with “saying.” (yaQooloona)

(RECOMMENDED) kathiba = a lie.

Thou wouldst only, perchance, fret thyself to death, following after them, in grief, if they believe not in this Message. (18:6)

(MUST KNOW) yu’minoo = they believe

The three roots for the verb “to have faith” are “hamza” “meem” and “noon.”  Thus, the word “amana” is made, which means “to have faith” or “to believe.”  The verb is conjugated here to reflect “they believe.” (Yu‘minoo)

hadeeth = saying, message – here referring to the Qur’an

(Verily) That which is on earth we have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them – as to which of them are best in conduct. (18:7)

(MUST KNOW) Inna = “verily.”  Or more practically “for sure.”  Basically meaning that whatever follows is a statement of undeniable truth.  For a more detailed explanation, see Suhaib Webb’s explanation (Tafsir starts at minute 17).

(MUST KNOW) ard = the earth

(RECOMMENDED) aHsanoo  (from aHsan)= loosely meaning “excellence”

(REPEAT!!!) ‘amal (read here as ‘amala) = works, deeds (which are part of conduct).  Remember before that we learned the root in verse 2 from the word “ya’maloo” and we see the same three letters here, ‘ain “meem” and “lam”.   Thus, if we know the roots, we know that in both verses Allah is saying something about works/deeds.

Verily what is on earth we shall make but as dust and dry soil (without growth or herbage). (18:8)

(REPEAT!!!)  Inna = “verily.”  Or more practically “for sure.”  Basically meaning that what is to follow is a statement of undeniable truth.

*Note: ‘ard doesn’t appear for earth here because a word is substituted for it, so it should read “what is on it (the earth) we shall make…” (because “the earth” was referred to in the previous verse).

Week 1 List:



(REPEAT!!!): 3

(TOTAL – New): 20

If you only have time for 1 verb: “Qaloo”, “yaQooloona”

If you only have time for 1 word: AlHamdulillah

NOTE: Please correct me if I made a mistake!


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