20 Thus did we make their people acquainted with their story, that they might know that God’s promise is true; and that the Hour, there is no doubt concerning it. When they disputed amongst themselves concerning their affair, and said, ‘ Build a building over them, their Lord knows best about them ;’ and those who prevailed in their affair said, ‘ We will surely make a mosque over them.’
They will say, ‘ Three, and the fourth of them was their dog :’ and they will say, ‘ Five, and the sixth of them was their dog :’ guessing at the unseen : and they will say, ‘ Seven, and the eighth of them was their dog.’ Say, ‘ My Lord knows best the number of them; none knows them but a few.’
Dispute not therefore concerning them save with a plain disputation, and ask not any one of them concerning them.
And never say of anything, ‘ Verily, I am going to do that to-morrow,’ except ‘ if God please ;’ and remember thy Lord when thou hast forgotten, and say, ‘ It may be that my Lord will guide me to what is nearer to the right than this.’
They tarried in their cave three hundred years and nine more. 25 Say, ‘ God knows best of their tarrying. His are the unseen things of the heavens and the earth — He can see ! and hear!’
- That is, the Christians.
- Mohammed being asked by the Jews concerning the number of the Seven Sleepers, had promised to bring them a revelation upon the subject on the morrow : this verse is a rebuke for his presumption.
- This expression Sale takes to be ironical, and translates, ‘ make thou him to see and hear ;’ Rodwell renders it, ‘look thou and hearken unto him :’ both translators having missed both the force