After Sayyiduna ‘Isa’s ascension towards the skies, the condition of Christians worsened miserably. People started worshipping idols and compelling others to do the same. Especially one of their kings named Decius (Daqiyanoos) was so cruel that if anyone would refuse to worship idols, he would kill him.
Who were the people of the cave?
The people of the cave were the noble people of the city of Ephesus and were the respected courtiers of the king. But these people were true believers and were against idol worshipping. In order to safeguard their faith after facing oppressive conduct of king Decius, they ran away from his kingdom.
They took refuge in a cave in a nearby mountain and went to sleep. They remained asleep for a period of more than three hundred years. When Decius searched for them and came to know about their presence in the cave, he became extremely furious. He ordered to barricade the cave with a stone wall so that the captives may die there and the cave may become grave for them.
However, the person who was assigned to execute that task by Decius was a very pious and a faithful person. He engraved the names of the companions of the cave, their number, and their whole incident on a slate and after placing it in a copper box, he buried it in the foundation of the wall that he erected. Likewise, he preserved a similar slate to this one in the royal treasury too.
After a few days
After a few days, the king Decius died and kingdoms kept changing until a very kind-hearted and just person, named ‘Badrus’ became the king. He ruled the country for sixty eight years gloriously. During his reign, religious deviations broke out and some people refuted the belief in resurrection after death and the Day of Judgement.
The king became grief-stricken. As such, he confined himself in a home and implored earnestly in the court of Allah with tearful eyes: ‘O Allah ( ), reveal such a sign that people start believing in the resurrection after death and in the Day of Judgement.’ This invocation of the king was accepted. A shepherd selected the same cave as a shelter for his goats breaking the wall down.
As soon as the wall fell down, the people who broke the wall were struck with extreme horror and they ran away. The companions in the cave woke up from their sleep by the command of Allah and exchanged greetings (Salam) and engaged in talking to each other. They then also offered their Salah. When they felt hungry, they said to one of their companions Yamleekha: ‘Go to the bazaar and bring some food. Also, find out secretly what Decius intends to do with us?
So Yamleekha Went
So, Yamleekha went to the market. He was astonished to see that Islam has spread everywhere and people were openly reciting the Kalimah (article of faith) of Sayyiduna ‘Isa علیہ السلام . Seeing all this, Yamleekha was amazed and exclaimed out of astonishment: ‘O Allah ( )! What is happening here! In this city, it was a crime to even utter the name of Islam.
How come this revolution has taken place?’ Afterwards, he went to a bakery to purchase food and gave a coin of the times of Decius to the salesman. This coin was no longer in use and there was no one alive who could recognize that coin either. The shopkeeper became suspicious, thinking that perhaps the possessor of that coin has discovered some old treasure. Therefore, the shopkeeper handed him over to the authorities.
They interrogated him about the treasure and said, ‘Tell us, where is the treasure?’ Yamleekha said, ‘There is no treasure. This is our money.’ The authorities said, ‘How can we believe this coin is yours? This coin is three hundred years old and centuries have passed since this coin was in use.
This coin is no longer used and you are still young. So tell us clearly so that this myth can be solved.’ Hearing this, Yamleekha said, ‘You tell me, how is the king Decius?’ The authorities said, ‘Today, there is no king with this name on the face of the earth. Yes, hundreds of years ago there was an evil-hearted and unjust king with this name, who was an idol worshipper.’
Yamleekha stated, ‘It is a matter of just a day before that we fled due to his fear to safeguard our faith and our lives. My companions are in a nearby cave. You people come with me. I will make you meet them.’ Therefore, the authorities and seniors of the city reached near the cave in large numbers. The companions in the cave were waiting for Yamleekha.
Seeing the delay in his return, they presumed that Yamleekha might have been arrested. When they heard noise of people coming at the entrance of the cave, they thought that perhaps the army of Decius has arrived to arrest them. Therefore, these people engaged themselves in the remembrance of Allah and repentance devoutly.
The authorities discovered the copper box when they reached the cave.
They took the slate out and read its contents. They discovered that the names of the companions of the cave were written on it, and it was also mentioned that they are a group of true believers who had taken refuge in this cave to safeguard their faith due to the fear of Decius.
Decius barricaded this cave with a wall to confine them. The author further wrote on the slate, ‘I have mentioned these facts with the intention that whenever the cave will be opened, people may become aware of what the people of the cave suffered’. The authorities were stunned to read the account written on the slate.
These people informed their king ‘Badrus’ about the event. Immediately, king Badrus rushed to the cave along with his courtiers and the distinguished people of the city. The companions of the cave came out of the cave, embraced the king and revealed their entire story. King Badrus fell into prostration and thanked Allah that his invocation was accepted. Allah has revealed such a sign that has strengthened everybody’s belief about the resurrection after death.
The companions of the cave prayed that may Allah protect the king and his kingdom.
They further said, ‘Now we leave you under the protection of Allah ’. The companions of the cave said greetings, :السلام علیکم and went back inside the cave and went asleep. Allah made them die in the same state. King Badrus made timber coffins and placed the sacred bodies of the companions of the cave inside them.
Allah infused such a dignity in the hearts of the people about the companions of the cave that no one had the courage of going near the cave’s entrance. This is how Allah preserved the dead bodies of the companions of cave. After this, the king Badrus constructed a mosque at the entrance of the cave, fixed an annual celebration day, and asked people to visit it on that day like an Eid day. (Khaazin, vol. 3, pp. 198-200)
Number of companions of the cave
When there arose the conflict of opinion amongst people regarding the number of companions in the cave; the following verse was revealed:
Proclaim, ‘My Lord well knows their number – no one knows them except a few’.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (Translation of Quran)] (Part 15, Surah Al-Kahf, verse 22)
It has been narrated by Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah Bin ‘Abbas 2رضی اللہ عنہا, ‘I am amongst those few people who know the number of the companions in the cave’, adding that ‘the number of companions is seven and the eighth was their dog’.
(Tafseer As-Saawi, vol. 4, pp. 1191; part 15, Surah Al-Kahf, verse 22)
Allah has mentioned the account of the companions in the cave in the Holy Quran by saying that:
Did you know that the people of the cave and people near to the forest were Our wonderful signs? When the young men took refuge in the cave – then said, ‘Our Lord! Grant us mercy from yourself, and grant us guidance in our affair.’ We then struck upon their ears in the cave for a number of years. We then awakened them to see which of the two groups more accurately tells the period they had stayed. We shall narrate their account to you accurately; they were young men who believed in their Lord, and We increased the guidance for them.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (Translation of Quran)] (Part 15, Surah Al-Kahf, verse 9-13)
In the next verses, Allah has mentioned the full account of the companions in the cave which we have already mentioned.
Names of Ashab-e-Kahf
There is also a difference of opinion about the names of Ashab e Kahf. Sayyiduna ‘Ali رضی اللہ عنہ has reported that the names of Ashab-e-Kahf are Yamleekha, Makshleena, Mashleena, Marnoosh, Dabarnoosh, Shaznoosh and the seventh was a shepherd who joined them. Sayyiduna ‘Ali رضی اللہ تعالیٰ عنہ did not mention about him. Qitmeer was the name of their dog, while their city was called ‘Ephesus’ and the name of the tyrant king was Decius.
(Madarik-ut-Tanzeel vol. 3, pp. 206; part 15, Surah Al-Kahf, verse 22)
It has been mentioned in Tafseer As-Saawi that the names of Ashab-e-Kahf are Maksamleena, Yamleekha, Toonas, Naynwas, Saryoonas, Zonawanas and Falastutyunas. The later was a shepherd who joined them on the way and the name of their dog was ‘Qitmeer’.
(As-Saawi, vol. 4, pp. 1191, part 15, Surah Al-Kahf, verse 22)
Prominent features of the names of Ashab-e-Kahf
Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas رضی اللہ عنہما has mentioned that an amulet (Ta’weez) made with the names of Ashab-e-Kahf is beneficial for nine things:
- To call back someone who has fled away and to escape from enemies to save oneself.
- To extinguish fire, write it on a piece of cloth and place it in the fire.
- For the children who cry or for the fever that comes after every third day.
- Fasten it over the right shoulder for a headache.
- String it round the neck of the patient of Umm-us-Sibyaan.
- To have a safe land or sea journey
- For the protection of wealth
- To have an increase in wisdom
- For the salvation of sinners
(As-Saawi, vol. 4, pp. 1191; part 15, Surah Al-Kahf, verse 22)
How many days did Ashab-e-Kahf remain asleep for?
When following verse of the Holy Quran was revealed :
وَ لَبِثُوۡا فِیۡ کَہۡفِہِمْ ثَلٰثَ مِائَۃٍ سِنِیۡنَ وَازْدَادُوۡا تِسْعًا ﴿۲۵﴾.
(Part 15, Surah Al-Kahf, verse 25)
(i.e. and they stayed in their cave for three hundred years and nine more), the pagans said that we are aware about the Ashab-e-Kahf’s stay in the cave for three hundred years but we do not know about the nine years period. The Holy Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم said, ‘You people are counting on the basis of solar years whereas the time mentioned in the Holy Quran is according to the lunar years. In every one hundred solar years, there is an addition of three lunar years.’
(As-Saawi, vol. 4, pp. 1193; part 15, Surah Al-Kahf, verse 25)
- The resurrection after death is a reality and the event of Ashab-e-Kahf is a sign and evidence for this that has been mentioned in the Holy Quran.
- A person who migrates from his native country for the sake of safeguarding his faith and belief, Allah provides such means for his safety from the unseen that are beyond our perception.
- There are blessings and beneficial effects in the names of the chosen people of Allah.
- Badrus who was a faithful and a kind-hearted king, fixed a day for annual commemoration for people to come and visit the cave of Ashab-e-Kahf. From this, we can deduce that the tradition of celebrating anniversary of the pious saints (‘ ./ dates back to ancient times.
- The construction of the Masjid in the vicinity of the holy shrines of the saints ( ‘ ./ and performing worship there is also a blissful old tradition because king Badrus constructed a Masjid by the cave of Ashab-e-Kahf that has been mentioned in the
Holy Quran. (واللہ تعالٰی اعلم)