The Miraculous Sleep


  People of the Cave

 

People of Cave

Allah the Almighty says: says:

{Do you think that the people of the Cave and the Inscription (the news or the names of the people of the Cave) were a wonder among Our Signs? (Remember) when the young men fled for refuge (from their disbelieving folk) to the Cave.

They said: “Our Lord! Bestow on us mercy from Yourself, and facilitate for us our affair in the right way!” Therefore, We covered up their (sense of) hearing (causing them to go in deep sleep) in the Cave for a number of years.

Then We raised them up (from their sleep), that We might test which of the two parties was best at calculating the time period that they had tarried. We narrate unto you (0 Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) their story with truth: Truly they were young men who believed in their Lord (Allah), and We increased them in guidance.

And We made their hearts firm and strong (with the light of Faith in Allah and bestowed upon them patience to bear the separation of their kith and kin and dwellings.) when they stood up and said: “Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, never shall we call upon any llah (god) other than Him,’ if we did, we should indeed have uttered an enormity in disbelief.”These our people have taken for worship alihah (gods) other than Him (Allah). Why do they not bring for them a clear authority? And who does more wrong than he who invents a lie against Allah.

(The young men said to one another): “And when you withdraw from them, and that which they worship, except Allah, then seek refuge in the Cave; your Lord will open a way for you from His Mercy and will make easy for you your affair (i.e. will give you what you will need of provision, dwelling).” And you might 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 midst of the Cave.

That is (one) of the Ayat (proofs, evidences, signs) of Allah. He whom Allah guides, he is the rightly guided,’ but he whom He sends astray, for him you will find no Wali (guiding friend) to lead him (to the Right Path). And you would have thought them awake, whereas they were asleep. And We turned them on their right and on their left sides, and their dog stretching forth his two forelegs at the entrance [of the Cave or in the space near to the entrance of the Cave (as a guard at the gate)]. Had you looked at them, you would certainly have turned back from them in flight, and would certainly have been filled with awe of them.

Likewise, We awakened them (from their long deep sleep) that they might question one another. A speaker from among them said: “How long have you stayed (here)?” They said: “We have stayed (perhaps) a day or part of a day.” They said: “Your Lord (Alone) knows best how long you have stayed (here). So send one of you with this silver coin of yours to the town, and let him find out which is the good lawful food, and bring some of that to you.

And let him be careful and let no man know of you. “For, if they come to know of you, they will stone you (to death or abuse and harm you) or turn you back to their religion; and in that case you will never be successful.” And thus We made their case known (to the people), that they might know that the Promise of Allah is true, and that there can be no doubt about the Hour.

(Remember) when they (the people of the city) disputed among themselves about their case, they said: “Construct a building over them,. their Lord knows best about them,.” (then) those who won their point said (most probably the disbelievers): “We verily shall build a place of worship over them.” (Some) say they were three, the dog being the fourth among them; and (others) say they were five, the dog being the sixth, guessing at the unseen; (yet others) say they were seven, and the dog being the eighth.

Say (0 Muhammad (Peace be upon him)): “My Lord knows best their number; none knows them but a few.” So debate not (about their number) except with the clear proof (which We have revealed to you). And consult not any of them (people of the Scripture –Jews and Christians) about (the affair on the people of the Cave.

And never say of anything, “I shall do such and such thing tomorrow.” Except (with the saying), “if Allah will!” And remember your Lord when you forget and say: “It may be that my Lord guides me unto a nearer way of truth than this.”

And they stayed in their Cave three hundred (solar) years, adding nine (for lunar years). Say: “Allah knows best how long they stayed. With Him is (the knowledge on the Unseen of the heavens and the earth. How clearly He sees, and hears (everything)! They have no Wali (Helper, Disposer of affairs, Protector) other than Him, and He makes none to share in His Decision and His Rule.”(Al-Kahf, 9-26)

The reason behind the revelation of these verses and those relating the story of Dhul-Qarnain was cited by Muhammad Ibn Ishaq in his biography of the Prophet (pbuh): that the people of Quraish sent to the Jews asking them for things to test the Prophet (Peace be upon him) with. The Jews said: ask him about a group of people who disappeared in the past and none has any knowledge about them; about a man who traveled through the land; and about Ar-Ruh (the Spirit). Thereupon, Almighty Allah revealed His Statement, {And they ask you (0 Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) concerning the Ruh (the Spirit); Say: “The Ruh (the Spirit) is one of the things, the knowledge of which is only with my Lord. And of knowledge, you (mankind) have been given only a little”} (Al-Isra‘, 85) and, {And they ask you about Dhul-Qarnain. Say (0 Muhammad (Peace be upon him)): “I shall recite to you something of his story”}(Al-Kahf, 83) and here He says{Do you think that the people of the Cave and “Ar-Raqim” the Inscription (the news or the names of the people of the Cave) were a wonder among Our Signs?}, i.e. they are not more amazing than what We have given you of the great news, astonishing signs and gigantic wonders.

However, a cave is a hole in the mountain. Mentioned Shu’ aib Al-Jiba’i: their cave was called “Haizam”. As for “Ar-Raqim”, Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) said: I do not know what it means! Some scholars such as Ibn Jarir and others said: it is the record where their news and names are written thereafter. It was also said: it is the name of the mountain their cave was in. However, many other things were said pertaining to this, but the knowledge thereof rests only with Allah the Almighty Who knows the best! Shu’aib Al-Jiba’i said: their dog was called “Himran”.

The fact that the Jews knew about them nullifies the claim of some interpreters that they were after Jesus (Peace be upon him) and that they were Christians. However, it is clear that their people were idol-worshippers. Many interpreters and historians said that they lived during the lifetime of a king called “Diqyanus” and that they were sons of some nobles or kings.

They met on a feast day and saw the rituals their people were performing in Worship of the idols. At this very moment, Allah removed the veils from their hearts and they realized that their people were wrong-doers. Consequently, they deserted the religion of their people and resorted to the worship of Allah Alone. It is also said: that each one of them when guided by Allah to the True Religion, abandoned his people and they coincidentally gathered in one place.

Imam Muslim transmitted in his Sahih the following Prophetic Hadith which supports that meaning: “Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) as saying: Souls are troops collected together and those who familiarized with each other (in the heaven from where these come) would have affinity, with one another (in the world) and those amongst them who opposed each other (in the Heaven) would also be divergent (in the world).” That, they asked one another about their affair and hence, they agreed on deserting and abandoning their people and fleeing with their true religion.

Allah the Almighty says:

It is We who relate to you, [O Muhammad], their story in truth. Indeed, they were youths who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance.And We made firm their hearts when they stood up and said, “Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. Never will we invoke besides Him any deity. We would have certainly spoken, then, an excessive transgression.These, our people, have taken besides Him deities. Why do they not bring for [worship of] them a clear authority? And who is more unjust than one who invents about Allah a lie?” (Al-Kahf, 13-15)

“Clear authority” here means obvious evidence or proof. {And who does more wrong than he who invents a lie against Allah. (The young men said to one another): “And when you withdraw from them, and that which they worship, except Allah,} (Al-Kahf, 15, 16) i.e. when you deserted them and their idols that they used to worship others instead of Allah the Almighty.

Our Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) said: {And (remember) when Ibrahim (Abraham) said to his father and his people: “Verily, I am innocent of what you worship, except Him (i.e. Allah Alone I worship none) Who did create me; and verily He will guide me “}. (Az-Zukhruf, 26, 27) Thus, some of these young men said: as you did desert your people’s religion, you should also desert them in body and figure so as to be safe from the possibility that their evil may touches you, {then seek refuge in the Cave,. your Lord will open a way for you from His Mercy and will make easy for you your affair (i.e. will give you what you will need of provision, dwelling)}, (Al-Kahf, 16) i.e. Allah will draw on you His cover, protect you and reward you with the best of all rewards.

Then, Allah described the cave to which they resorted stating that its door is to the north saying: {And you might 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}, i.e. the sun rises on the western side of their cave, then it declines to the right side thereof. And, when it sets its rays come towards the cave from its eastern side. Here, the wisdom is that the sun enters their cave on its rising and setting in order to refresh the air from time to time. {While they lay in the midst of the Cave. That is (one) of the Ayat (proofs, evidences, signs) of Allah}, i.e. their stay on this state for a very long period of time without eating and drinking is one of the Signs of Allah and a proof of His Magnificent Ability.

And you might 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

{He whom Allah guides, he is the rightly guided,. but he whom He sends astray, for him you will find no Wali (guiding friend) to lead him (to the Right Path). And you would have thought them awake, whereas they were asleep}, for their eyes were open in order to be kept sound. {And We turned them on their right and on their left sides}, it was said: they used to be turned from one side to the other once every year. However, the number of the turnings is known only to Allah the Almighty who knows best!

Allah the Almighty says: {And their dog stretching forth his two forelegs at the entrance [of the Cave or in the space near to the entrance of the Cave (as a guard at the gate)]}, i.e. their dog which accompanied them when they abandoned their people did not enter the cave with them, instead, it stayed at the entrance stretching forth his two forelegs there at. This is for it was highly disciplined and also as a sign of honor to them because the angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog. Thus, the dog was blessed because he was in their company. However, many tales and narrations were invented with regard to the dog’s name and color.

Scholars differed on the location of this cave. Some of them said: It is in the land of Aylah (i.e. Jerusalem). Others said: It is in the land of Ninawa. And others said: it is in the Sham (Syrian territories) which is more proper and Allah knows best![1] After Allah the Almighty gave us perfect and complete description of them and made us as seeing them, He said: {Had you looked at them, you would certainly have turned back from them in flight, and would certainly have been filled with awe of them}, i.e. because of the dignity and loftiness of their appearance. The addressed here is not only Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) but also all mankind because it is a human nature to feel awe when seeing a magnificent or dignified thing.

Then, Allah the Almighty awakened them (from their long deep sleep) after three-hundred and nine years; then a speaker from among them said: {“How long have you stayed (here)?” They said: “We have stayed (perhaps) a day or part of a day.” They said: “Your Lord (Alone) knows best how long you have stayed (here). So send one of you with this silver coin of yours to the town} the coins they had were called “Dafsus”. {And let him find out which is the good lawful food, and bring some of that to you}, i.e. to eat thereof.

This is a sign of their piety and god-fearing. {And let him be careful} during entering that town {and let no man know of you. For, if they come to know of you, they will stone you (to death or abuse and harm you) or turn you back to their religion; and in that case you will never be successful}, i.e. if you turn back to their religion after you are saved by Allah the Almighty.

All this because they thought they slept a day or part of a day, and they did not imagine to have slept for more than three-hundred years. The period in which almost everything have changed and their generation passed away and other generations inhabited the land.

Thus, when one of them went to the town to get the food, he feared that the people would recognize him, so he disguised. Instead, the town and its people found him to be a stranger and feared that he might be a spy or that he could harm them in any way. Some scholars said that he escaped from them. But, others said: he informed them with the news and took them to the cave to see his companions.

When they approached the cave, he entered it and told his companions all about the period they spent sleeping in the cave and they confessed it to be the Divine Decree of Allah the Almighty. It was said: They went on sleeping; and others said: They all fell dead.

As for the people of the city, it was said that they could not see their place in the cave. Or, they could not enter the cave because of their cowardice, or feeling their lofty dignity. However, they (the people of the city) disputed among themselves about their case, some of them said: {Construct a building over them}, i.e. block the cave’s gate to prevent them from getting out or anyone from touching them with harm. But, those who won their point said: that will be blessed because its nearness to these righteous and godly people.

This was common in the previous eras and periods prior to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). But, Islam rejects this deed (building places of worship over the graves of anyone even if it is a Prophet): the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians for they built the places of worship at the graves of their Prophets.” The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was warning (Muslims) against what the previous nations used to do with the graves of their pious people.

Allah the Almighty says: {And thus We made their case known (to the people), that they might know that the Promise of Allah is true, and that there can be no doubt about the Hour}, i.e. to let the people know that resurrection is true and that there can be no doubt about the Hour if they know that these young men slept for more than three- hundred years then they were awaken unchanged.

So, He Who kept them in this state all that period, is capable to resurrect and give life again to the dead bodies after they undergo decomposition. Really, the believers do not doubt this in the least: {Verily, His Command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, ‘Be!’ -and it is!}. (Ya-Sin, 82)

Then, He says: {(Some) say they were three, the dog being the fourth among them,’ and (others) say they were five, the dog being the sixth, guessing at the unseen,’ (yet others) say they were seven, and the dog being the eighth}, as Allah cited the dispute of the people among themselves as to their number.He cited three sayings, the first two He refuted and the third He stated, a matter which indicates that the third is the true one. However, Allah guided His Prophet (Peace be upon him) to the good manners to be followed in such a case: that one should say “Allah knows best!” For this, Allah the Almighty says: {My Lord knows best their number}.

His Statement: {None knows them but a few}, from among the people. (So debate not (about their number) except with the clear proof (which We have revealed to you)}, i.e. an easy debate and do not exert yourself in such matters.

{And consult not any of them (people of the Scripture -Jews and Christians) about (the affair or) the people of the Cave}, as He concealed their number from the very beginning of the story, saying: {Truly they were young men who believed in their Lord (Allah)}. (Al-Kahf, 13) So, if there was any benefit in mentioning their number, Allah the Almighty would certainly revealed it to us from the very beginning!

Allah the Almighty says: {And never say of anything, “I shall do such and such thing tomorrow.” Except (with the saying), “if Allah will!” And remember your Lord when you forget and say: “It may be that my Lord guides me unto a nearer way of truth than this “}, this is a great and high moral lesson taught by Allah the Almighty that when anyone wishes to do something, he should say “If Allah wills”, because man cannot know what is hidden with Allah for tomorrow or for the future.

Allah the Almighty says: {And remember your Lord when you forget}, for forgetting may be caused by the Devil, and remembering Allah gets the Devil out of one’s heart and thus he remembers what he has forgotten. {And say: “It may be that my Lord guides me unto a nearer way of truth than this”}, i.e. if there were controversies and disputes about something, one should resort to Allah Who can facilitate it and make it so easy. Then, Allah the Almighty says: {And they stayed in their Cave three hundred (solar) years, adding nine}, i.e. for lunar years. {Say: Allah knows best how long they stayed}, i.e. if you are asked about this and you do not know exactly the answer, you should only attribute the matter to Allah the Almighty {With Him is (the knowledge on the Unseen of the heavens and the earth}, i.e. He knows the Unseen and gives knowledge thereof to none but Whom He wishes from among His creatures; {How clearly He sees, and hears (everything)!}, i.e. He puts everything in its proper place with His Perfect Knowledge and Justice. Then, He says: {They have no Wali (Helper, Disposer of affairs, Protector) other than Him, and He makes none to share in His Decision and His Rule}, i.e. He is the only Disposer of affairs and He is the King Who rules over everything.


[1] In the sixties, an archaeologist called Muhammad Tayseer Zabyan discovered a cave in Jordan, six miles away from Amman, in a region called” Ar-Rajeeb” whose description goes with that which is mentioned in the verses. The great scholar, Abu Al-A’ la Al-Maududi visited it and agreed with many scholars who viewed the same opinion. And, I myself visited it in 1986. (Majdi M. Ash-Shahawi)

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Story of Three persons blocked in a Cave


The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Three persons of a people before you, were on a journey when they were overtaken by a storm and therefore they took shelter in a cave. A rock slipped down from the mountain and blocked the exit from cave.
One of them said: “The only way for deliverance left is to beseech Allah in the name of some virtuous deed.” Thereupon one of them supplicated, “O Lord, my parents were very old, I used to offer them their nightly drink of milk before my children and the other members of the family. One day I went astray far away in search of green trees and could return only after my parent had gone to sleep. When I had milked the animals and brought their nightly drink to them, They were fast asleep, but I did not like to disturb them, nor would give any part of the milk to my children and other members of the family till after my parents had their drink. Thus, with the vessel in hand, I awaited their awakening till the flush of dawn, While the children cried out of hunger at my feet. When they woke up, they had their drink. O Lord, if I did this thing seeking only your pleasure, then do relieve us of the distress wrought upon us by this rock.”
Thereupon, The rock moved a little but that not enough to let them pass out.
Then the second man supplicated: “O Lord, I had a cousin whom I loved her more passionately than any loves a woman. I tried to seduce her but she would have none of me, till in a season of great hardship due to famine, she approached me (for help) and I gave her one hundred and twenty Dinars on condition that she would have sexual intercourse with me. She agreed, and when we got together and I was just going to have intercourse with her, she pleaded: ‘Fear Allah, and do not break the seal unlawfully’; whereupon I moved away from her, despite the fact that I desired her most passionately; and I let her keep the money I had given her. O Lord, if I did this thing seeking only your pleasure, then do move the distress in which we find ourselves.”
Again the rock moved a little but not enough to let them pass out.
Then the third supplicated: “O Lord, I hired some laborers and paid them their dues, but one of them left leaving behind what was due to him. I invested it in business and the business prospered greatly.” After a time the laborer came Back and said: ‘O servant of Allah, hand over to me my wages.’ I said to him: ‘All that you see is yours – camels, cattle, goats and slaves.’ He said: ‘Don’t play joke with me, O servant of Allah.’ I assured him: ‘I am mot joking.’ So he took all of it sparing nothing. O Lord, If I did this seeking only for your pleasure, do relieve us of our distress.”
The rock then moved away, and all the three came out of the cave safe and sound.
(This Hadith indicates that one can only ask Allah for help directly or through his performed good deeds. But to ask Allah through dead or absent prophets, saints, spirits, holy men, angels etc. is absolutely forbidden in Islam and it is a kind of disbelief.)