Ayah

Word by Word
سَيَقُولُونَ
They say
ثَلَٰثَةٞ
(they were) three
رَّابِعُهُمۡ
the forth of them
كَلۡبُهُمۡ
their dog
وَيَقُولُونَ
and they say
خَمۡسَةٞ
(they were) five
سَادِسُهُمۡ
the sixth of them
كَلۡبُهُمۡ
their dog
رَجۡمَۢا
guessing
بِٱلۡغَيۡبِۖ
about the unseen
وَيَقُولُونَ
and they say
سَبۡعَةٞ
(they were) seven
وَثَامِنُهُمۡ
and the eight of them
كَلۡبُهُمۡۚ
their dog
قُل
Say
رَّبِّيٓ
My Lord
أَعۡلَمُ
knows best
بِعِدَّتِهِم
their number
مَّا
None
يَعۡلَمُهُمۡ
knows them
إِلَّا
except
قَلِيلٞۗ
a few
فَلَا
So (do) not
تُمَارِ
argue
فِيهِمۡ
about them
إِلَّا
except
مِرَآءٗ
(with) an argument
ظَٰهِرٗا
obvious
وَلَا
and (do) not
تَسۡتَفۡتِ
inquire
فِيهِم
about them
مِّنۡهُمۡ
among them
أَحَدٗا
(from) anyone
سَيَقُولُونَ
They say
ثَلَٰثَةٞ
(they were) three
رَّابِعُهُمۡ
the forth of them
كَلۡبُهُمۡ
their dog
وَيَقُولُونَ
and they say
خَمۡسَةٞ
(they were) five
سَادِسُهُمۡ
the sixth of them
كَلۡبُهُمۡ
their dog
رَجۡمَۢا
guessing
بِٱلۡغَيۡبِۖ
about the unseen
وَيَقُولُونَ
and they say
سَبۡعَةٞ
(they were) seven
وَثَامِنُهُمۡ
and the eight of them
كَلۡبُهُمۡۚ
their dog
قُل
Say
رَّبِّيٓ
My Lord
أَعۡلَمُ
knows best
بِعِدَّتِهِم
their number
مَّا
None
يَعۡلَمُهُمۡ
knows them
إِلَّا
except
قَلِيلٞۗ
a few
فَلَا
So (do) not
تُمَارِ
argue
فِيهِمۡ
about them
إِلَّا
except
مِرَآءٗ
(with) an argument
ظَٰهِرٗا
obvious
وَلَا
and (do) not
تَسۡتَفۡتِ
inquire
فِيهِم
about them
مِّنۡهُمۡ
among them
أَحَدٗا
(from) anyone

Translation

(Some) say they were three, the dog being the fourth among them; (others) say they were five, the dog being the sixth,- doubtfully guessing at the unknown; (yet others) say they were seven, the dog being the eighth. Say thou: "My Lord knoweth best their number; It is but few that know their (real case)." Enter not, therefore, into controversies concerning them, except on a matter that is clear, nor consult any of them about (the affair of) the Sleepers.

Tafsir

They will say, that is, [some of] those disputing the number of the youths [of the cave] at the time of the Prophet may peace and salutation be upon him, in other words, some of these will say that they [the youths] were: 'Three; their dog the fourth of them'; and they, some [others] among them, will say, 'Five; their dog the sixth of them' - both of these sayings were those of the Christians of Najraan - guessing at random, in other words, out of supposition, not having been present with them [at the time], and this [statement 'guessing at random'] refers back to both sayings, and is in the accusative because it is an object denoting reason, in other words, [they said this] for the reason that they were [merely] supposing it. And they, that is, the believers, will say, 'Seven; and their dog the eighth of them' (the sentence is [part of] the subject clause, the predicate of which is the adjectival qualification of sab'a, 'seven' [namely, thaaminuhum, 'the eighth of them'] with the additional waaw [wathaaminuhum], which is said to be for emphasis, or an indication that the adjective is [semantically] attached to that which it is qualifying). The qualification of the first two sayings as being 'random', but not the third, is proof that [the latter] is the satisfactory and correct [number]. Say: 'My Lord knows best their number, and none knows them except a few': Ibn 'Abbaas said, 'I am [one] of these "few" [described]', and he mentioned that they were seven. So do not contend concerning them except with an outward manner [of contention], [except] with that which has been revealed to you, and do not question concerning them, do not ask for opinions [from], any of them, [from] the People of the Scripture, the Jews. The people of Mecca asked him [the Prophet] about the story of the People of the Cave, and so he said to them, 'I will tell you about it tomorrow', but without adding [the words], 'If God wills' (inshaa'a' Llaahu) and so the following was revealed:

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