O Prophet Thou wouldst only, perchance, fret thyself to death, following after them, in grief, if they believe not in this Message.‘ 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. Verily what is on earth we shall make but as dust and dry soil without growth or herbage. Or dost thou reflect that the Companions of the Cave and of the Inscription were wonders among Our Sign?
Behold, the youths betook themselves to the Cave: they said, "Our Lord! bestow on us Mercy from Thyself, and dispose of our affair for us in the right way!" Then We draw a veil over their ears, for a number of years, in the Cave, (so that they hear not):
Then We roused them, in order to test which of the two parties was best at calculating the term of years they had tarried!
We relate to thee their story in truth: they were youths who believed in their Lord, and We advanced them in guidance: We gave strength to their hearts: Behold, they stood up and said: "Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and of the earth: never shall we call upon any god other than Him: if we did, we should indeed have uttered an enormity! "These our people have taken for worship gods other than Him: why do they not bring forward an authority clear and convincing for what they do? Who doth more wrong than such as invent a falsehood against God? "When ye turn away from them and the things they worship other than God, betake yourselves to the Cave: Your Lord will shower His mercies on you and disposes of your affair towards comfort and ease." Thou wouldst have seen the sun, when it rose, declining to the right from their Cave, and when it set, turning away from them to the left, while they lay in the open space in the midst of the Cave. Such are among the Signs of God. He whom God, guides is rightly guided; but he whom God leaves to stray, for him wilt thou ﬁnd no protector to lead him to the Right Way.
Thou wouldst have deemed them awake, whilst they were asleep, and We turned them on their right and on their left sides: their dog stretching forth his two fore-legs on the threshold: if, thou hadst come up on to them, thou wouldst have certainly turned back from them in ﬂight, and wouldst certainly have been filled with terror of them. Such (being their state), we raised them up (from sleep), that they might question each other. Said one of them, "How long have ye stayed here?" They said, "We have stayed perhaps a day, or part of a day." At length they all said, "God alone knows best how long ye have stayed here.... Now send ye then one of you with this money of yours to the town; let him find out which is the best food (to be had) and bring some to you, that (ye may) satisfy your hunger therewith: And let him behave with care and courtesy, and let him not inform any one about you. "For if they should come upon you, they would stone you or force you to return to their cult, and in that case ye would never attain prosperity."
Thus did We make their case known to the people, that they might know that the promise of God is true, and that there can be no doubt about the Hour of Judgment. Behold, they disputed among themselves as to their affair. (Some) said, "Construct a building over them": Their Lord knows best about them: those who prevailed over their affair said, "Let us surely build a place of worship over them." 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 knows 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. Nor say of anything. "I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow" Without adding, "So please God." and call thy Lord to mind when thou forget, and say, ''I hope that my Lord will guide me ever closer even than this to the right road." So they stayed in their Cave three hundred years, and some add nine more. Say: "God knows best how long they stayed: with Him is the knowledge of the secrets of the heavens and the earth: how clearly He sees, how finely He hears (everything)! They have no protector other than Him; nor does He share His Command with any person whatsoever.
And recite and teach what has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord: none can change His Words, and none wilt thou ﬁnd as a refuge other than Him. And keep thy soul content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Face; and let not thine eyes pass beyond them, seeking the pomp and glitter of this Life; no obey any whose heart We have permitted to neglect the remembrance of Us, one who follows his own desires, whose case has gone beyond all bounds.
(S: 18, V: 1-28)
Inﬁelds of Makka, upon instigations of Christians and Jews, Or testing the knowledge of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) put three questions to him.
1. Who were the Companions of the Cave?
2. Who is Khizar? And,
3. Does he know the story of Zulqumain?
All the stories concerning these questions were buried in the Christian and Jewish history and Arabs were not familiar with those stories. Purpose of the’ people to pose these questions was to ascertain that Holy Prophet (PBUH) was really versed with the divine knowledge or not.
Ephesus; the city of Rome was built in 11"‘ century BC. Afterwards it turned into a great center of worshipping goddess Diana. People from far away visited this city. Sorcerers, priests, witch doctors, magicians, divination experts and specialists of amulet and charms of this city were famous the world over. These things were practiced up to Syria and Egypt. Jews, ascribing their correlation with Solomon, had the biggest contribution in this business. Inﬁdelity and pagan worshipping based upon superstitions was common.
It is said that there was a king named Decius in Rome. He had a large empire with sizable army of soldiers. Once another king attacked Rome. Decius defeated him and won the war. The enemy king was killed and his sons were imprisoned. According to some, they were five and some say they were not ﬁve but six brothers. Kaiser of Rome enslaved them and they were made to serve him.
Kaiser proclaimed to be a god and made the people to prostrate before him. One night all these brothers had a discussion amongst themselves to find a way out of the slavery and freedom to worship one suggested that they should escape. They planned to escape.
One day when Kaiser went to play game of javelin and he took these brothers with him. One of them, by the close of the day, threw the javelin out of the ground and went after it pretending to fetch it. The king started back and other brothers also stealthily sneaked away and joined their brother. Soon they were out of Kaiser’s domain.
The brief account of the details of this story as collected by Gregory of Tours in his book Meraculorum liber is given here.
When, the teachings of Christ reached Rome few of the youths of that city left pagan worshipping, embraced Christianity and switched over to worshipping one God. Decius, the Kaiser of Rome, summoned seven of these young men and asked them, “What is your religion?”
They knew that the Kaiser was after the lives of Christians but they fearlessly said, “Our Lord is the Lord of the earth and the heavens and we do not acknowledge any one other than Him to be our Lord and if we would do so, we would be committing a sin.”
This offended Kaiser greatly and he said angrily, “O you! Shut up, otherwise I’ll slay you. You are young so I give you respite for three days. If you mended your ways and returned to the religion of your people I’ll spare your lives otherwise you would be put to the sword.”
Taking advantage of the given time the youths escaped from the city towards mountains to take refuge in a cave. On the way a dog joined them. Finding a large cave they hid themselves in there and the dog sat near the entrance of the cave. They were tired and exhausted so they all went to sleep. Quran mentions about this thus:
Do you think that Companions of the Cave and of the Inscription were wonders among our signs? When the youths betook themselves to the Cave, they said, “Our Lord! Bestow on us mercy from Thyself and dispose of our affair for us in the right way. Then, We patted upon their ears (to put them to deep slumber for a number of years in the Cave. (S: 13, VI 9-11)
When Decius, the Kaiser of Rome came to know of their escape and found that they were hiding in a cave, he ordered to construct a wall to seal the cave so that they should perish within and the cave be turned into their grave as a punishment to their crime of not listening to him and trying to run away from his domain. The man who was given the task of constructing the wall was a person of good nature. He got the names of those youths and the details of the happening inscribed on a bronze tablet and buried it near the foundation of the wall in a copper box. According to the legends a similar tablet containing the names of those youths was deposited in the royal treasury.
After sometime Decius died and centuries passed by, kings came and perished so much so that a righteous king named Badros became the ruler of Rome and ruled the country for 68 years. In his times people were divided upon the issue of Life after Death. Some of the people, under the inﬂuence of distorted teachings of Judaism, denied any concept of life after death and Resurrection. Badros, who himself was a Christian and believed in resurrection and life after death, grew worried He wanted people to have faith in resurrection and life after death. So he earnestly prayed to God to grant him some sign that should convince his people of Resurrection after the Doomsday and life after death.
In those days, a person chose that cave to use it as a pen for his sheep and got the wall demolished. When the wall fell and the people saw in the cave it terriﬁed them and they ran away in fright.
If thou had come up on to them thou would have certainly turned back from them in ﬂight and would have certainly been ﬁlled with terror of them.
(S: 18, V: 18)
They got up fresh and bright, full of life and ﬁlled with inner solace and bliss. They offered their prayers and asked one anther if someone had any idea as to how long they had been there sleeping.
And they stayed in that cave for three hundred years and some add it up to nine hundred. Say, "God knows best how long they stayed, with Him is the knowledge of the secrets of the heavens and the earth. ”
(S: 18, V: 25-26)
Then they sent one of them, whose name was Yamlikha, giving him some money to the town to bring some food for them. They also told him to be careful lest he is recognized and they be traced through him.
When Yamlikha reached the town he couldn’t recognize the town. It was all changed. All had become Christians and there was nobody to worship Diana. He managed to find a baker. When he made the payment for his purchases using the coins that had the picture of Decius, the baker was surprised to see that coin and he asked him as to where did he find that coin because that was a centuries old coin and that he must have found an old treasure.
was his own money. And, h so that the matter reached the told him to tell him about the found treasure because the coin he was having belonged to the era of Decius who had died many centuries before. When Yamlikha heard that Kaiser Decius had passed away centuries ago, he was dumb founded and couldn’t say anything. After a while when he recovered his senses, he told the mayor, it was only yesterday when he along with his companions had ﬂed from the town and had taken refuge in a cave in the nearby mountains, to save themselves from the tyranny of Decius. And, that if they wished he could take them to them. Mayor and the chiefs of the town along with a number of on lookers came to the cave where his other companions were hiding.
When they saw a mob coming towards the cave they thought that their companion had been apprehended and he gave them in to the Decius Army. But when the people reached the cave and they saw the others and it was conﬁrmed that they belonged to era of Decius and they had been asleep till then, the people had much ﬁrmer faith in rising after death. The mayor saw the copper box and upon opening he found the bronze tablet having their names and the name of their dog, which are: Mccilmena Yamlikha, Martens, Benonus, Sarinonus, Zononus Chasﬁeti Taunus and the Name of their dog was Qatmeer.
It was written on that tablet that these in this cave fearing the Decius to save their faith and religion. Decius upon coming to know sealed off the cave by constructing this wall. This is written so that whenever this cave is opened people should have knowledge about them.
This inscription left everyone wonder-stricken and people celebrated the praises of God who had sent a sign for them to believe in Resurrection and life after death. The mayor informed the Kind Badros who visited the cave and thanked God for acceding to his prayer. Companions of the Cave met the king and went back to the cave to enter the realm of eternal slumber.
In those times Dooms Day and the Day of Judgment were the most popular topics of discussion among the people. A group of Jews; Sadoquies had opted to deny the Doomsday and the Day of Judgment altogether. They used the quotation of the Old Testament to support their arguments with such skill and tactfully that the Christian Scholars had no answer to their reasoning nor they could prove it with any example that Hereafter is another phase of life. Minds of Sadoquies were set so low that they were not ready to accept that after the life of this world they would ever be resurrected and there would be the Day of Judgment when they would be called to account for their deeds in the life of this world here. This debate usually ended in favor of Jews who rejected the concept of life of hereafter altogether.
God has narrated the story of the Companions of the Cave to put an end to their misleading thinking. It is not at all difficult for God to Put someone to sleep and awaken him after three hundred of more Years and in spite of passage of this long duration of time l1lS form and features are also maintained without suffering any Signs of aging. Extraordinary events can take place as and when God so wills.
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