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Dhul-Kifl in the Quran

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Dhul-Kifl (ذو الکِفل) in the Quran is one of the prophets of God whose name God mentions twice in surahs Anbiyā (الانبیاء) and Ṣād (ص). Historians believe that Dhul-Kifl is the Israelite prophet Ezekiel who is also known as Ḥazqiyāl (حَزقيال) in Arabic. Quran mentions him as being among the patient, righteous, and God’s chosen servants. In this article, we will take a look at:

Dhul-Kifl: A Patient and Righteous Servant of God

Not much has been said about Dhul-Kifl in the Quran other than bringing his name next to the name of prophets which shows he was also a prophet. In surah Anbiyā’, God names him as being among the patient and righteous:

وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِدْرِيسَ وَذَا الْكِفْلِ ۖ كُلٌّ مِّنَ الصَّابِرِينَ ﴿85﴾

And [remember] Ishmael, Idris, and Dhul-Kifl—each of them was among the patient.

وَأَدْخَلْنَاهُمْ فِي رَحْمَتِنَا ۖ إِنَّهُم مِّنَ الصَّالِحِينَ ﴿86﴾

We admitted them into Our mercy. Indeed, they were among the righteous. 1

Exegetes of the Quran mostly consider Dhul-Kifl as a prophet who was sent to the Children of Israel or the Israelites. He is commonly identified by the Israelite prophet, Ezekiel whom the Jews greatly revere. Some Quranic exegetes report that Dhul-Kifl had vowed to:

  1. Fast every day
  2. Keep vigil every night
  3. Worship God only
  4. Never become angry

Therefore, Dhul-Kifl in the Quran is admitted into God’s mercy due to his righteousness.

Dhul-Kifl in the Quran: God’s Chosen One

In another verse of the Quran, God mentions the name of Dhul-Kifl along with the names of Ismail and Elisha, and says all of them were chosen and selected by God. By citing this verse, exegetes have said that Dhul-Kifl was one of the prophets of God:

وَاذْكُرْ إِسْمَاعِيلَ وَالْيَسَعَ وَذَا الْكِفْلِ ۖ وَكُلٌّ مِّنَ الْأَخْيَارِ ﴿48﴾

And remember Ishmael, Elisha and Dhu’l-Kifl—each [of whom was] among the elect. 2

Naming of Dhul-Kifl in the Quran

According to some commentators of the Quran, Dhul-Kifl literally means “possessor of, or giving, a double requital or portion.” There is a town in Iraq by the name of Kifl (کِفل), which is between Najaf and Hilla. Some have said that Kefil is the Arabic form of Ezekiel.

On the other hand, some have said kifl comes from kifālah (کِفالَة) which means guarantee. People called him Dhul-Kifl because he had guaranteed the lives of seventy prophets, according to one narration. Moreover, another narration states that a number of the Israelites had escaped and Dhul-Kifl guaranteed their lives by giving them refuge.

Dhul-Kifl in the Quran: His Prophethood

Most Muslim scholars agree that Dhul-Kifl was a prophet of God. That is because two verses of the Quran place his name among the names of great prophets such as Ismail, Idrīs , and Elisha. There is a narration from one of the Imams among the Ahl al-Bayt, peace be upon them, that states: Dhul-Kifl was one of the prophets of the Children of Israel who came after Solomon and judged among people like David . 3

Dhul-Kifl in the Quran: His Tomb

There are at least two sites that are attributed to Dhul-Kifl as his tomb. The first one is in the city of Dezful in southern Iran. It is attributed to Ezekiel and because some people believe that Dhul-Kifl and Ezekiel were the same person, they believe his tomb is in that city. The other tomb attributed to Dhul-Kifl is in southern Iraq in a small town called Kifl. Historians say it is more likely that the one in Iraq is the tomb of Dhul-Kifl as even the town is named after him.

Conclusion

God sometimes makes mention of the name of His righteous servants without directly saying whether they were prophets or not. This is when the narrations from the Ahl al-Bayt come to our help and we know that, for example, Dhul-Kifl was a prophet. Nevertheless, the name of many prophets have been mentioned in the Quran and God has explicitly stated that they are prophets. The story of some of them has been told and some of them has not been told, like that of Dhul-Kifl. In conclusion, Dhul-Kifl in the Quran has been mentioned twice and he has been praised as being patient, righteous, and chosen by God.


References

  1. Quran 21:85-86 (Qara’i).
  2. Quran 38:48 (Qara’i)
  3. Majma‘ al-Bayān, vol. 7, p. 95.

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