Is there any Quranic verse or hadith about birds and spiders coming to the mouth of the cave?

The Details of the Question

- Is there any Quranic verse or hadith stating that birds and spiders came to the mouth of the cave when the Prophet (pbuh) and Abu Bakr (ra) took refuge in the cave of Thawr?
- The following is stated in a verse:
“Then, Allah sent down His peace upon him, and strengthened him with forces which ye saw not, and humbled to the depths the word of the Unbelievers. But the word of Allah is exalted to the heights: for Allah is Exalted in might, Wis..”
What is meant by the forces that you did not see?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The miracle of the pigeon and the spider has reached us through many different and reliable channels.

When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and his faithful friend Abu Bakr (ra) took refuge in the cave to escape the pursuit of the polytheists on the journey of the migration (hijrah), two pigeons came and waited at the mouth of the cave like two guards, and the spider covered the cave door with a thick web in a wonderful way.

In fact, when Ubayy ibn Khalaf, one of the leaders of the Qurayshi polytheists, saw the cave, he said to his friends, “Let us enter the cave.” His friends said, “How can we enter it? I see a web here; it looks as if this web was made before Muhammad was born. Those two pigeons stand there. Would they stand there if there was somebody in the cave?” (1)

The verse in question is as follows:

“If ye help not (your leader), (it is no matter): for Allah did indeed help him, when the Unbelievers drove him out: he had no more than one companion; they two were in the cave, and he said to his companion, “Have no fear, for Allah is with us”: then, Allah sent down His peace upon him, and strengthened him with forces which ye saw not, and humbled to the depths the word of the Unbelievers. But the word of Allah is exalted to the heights: for Allah is Exalted in might, Wise.” (at-Tawba, 9/40)

The phrase “then, Allah strengthened him with forces which ye saw not” in the verse indicates the Battle of Badr and refers to the phrase “for Allah did indeed help him” at the beginning of the verse.

In that case, the meaning of the verse is as follows:

“If you do not help him, know that Allah did indeed help him in the incident of the cave. He said to his companion (Abu Bakr), “Have no fear, for Allah is with us”: then, Allah sent down His peace upon him, and strengthened His Prophet with forces which ye saw not in the Battle of Badr.”

As for the phrase “He strengthened him with forces which ye saw not” in the verse, its meaning is as follows: “If you do not help him...”, this help will be in two ways:

1. Allah helped him in the event of Hijrah: When the unbelievers drove him out, he had no more than one companion; they two were in the cave, and he said to his companion, “Have no fear, for Allah is with us”: then, Allah sent down His peace upon him…

2. It is the incident of Badr; that is what is meant by the following statement of Allah: “He strengthened him with forces which ye saw not” because Allah sent the angels in the Battle of Badr and helped His Messenger through them. (2)

Footnotes:

1) See Qadi Iyad, ash-Shifa, 1:313; Ali al-Qari, Sharhush-Shifa, 1:368; Musnad, 1:248; San’ani, al-Musannaf, 5:389; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya wan-Nihaya, 3:179-181; al-Haythami, Majmauz-Zawaid, 7:27; Ibnul-Qayyim, Zadul-Maad (tahqiq: Arnawud), 3:52; at-Tabrizi, Mishkatul-Masabih, no. 5934; Maruzi, Musnadu Abu Bakri Siddiq, no. 73; Zayla’i, Nasbur-Raya, 1:123; al-Haythami, Majmauz-Zawaid, 6:52-53.
2) See Razi, Mafatih, the interpretation of the verse in question.

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