Can you please give information about Ashab Al-Kahf (People Of The Cave)?

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Can you please give information about Ashab Al-Kahf (People Of The Cave)?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Author: İslam Ansiklopedisi, 09-2-2006

It is a phrase used for a group of young believers known as cave friends or sleepers in the cave. This event, which is narrated in the eighteenth chapter of the Quran and which gives the chapter its name, is the story of young believers who abandoned their tribe that rejected belief in Allah and adopted idolatry and who took refuge in a cave and whose situation is exemplary in terms of belief in the hereafter and resurrection after death. Those people, who are known as "Ashabu'l-Kahf wa'r-Raqim" that is, "People of the Cave and the Inscription", rejected the belief of the community in which they lived and stated that they accepted the orders and prohibitions of Allah; therefore, they were prosecuted by the Roman military governor and they were wanted to be punished. Those believers, who did not want to be punished like that, left their city secretly, and entered a cave near the city and hid there. According to the prevalent narration in the books of history and tafsir, this event took place near Tarsus in the second half of the third century, when Anatolia was under Roman rule. Decius, who was the governor of the region, called them and wanted them to abandon their belief; he warned them that he would kill them if they did not do so. Those believing youths said that their belief was right that it was a wrong and superstitious belief for man to show respect to an idol that he himself made and that they would not give up their religion; they left the city after saying so. The believing youths hid in the cave in the foot of a mountain outside the city together with a dog that followed them. "So they stayed in their Cave three hundred years, and (some) add nine (more).” (al-Kahf,18/25). The young people who lived there for three hundred and nine years were moved to the right and left by the grace and miracle of Allah so that their bodies would not decay during that period and they were kept alive. After that period, one day in the afternoon, they woke up. When they woke up, they felt as if they had slept for one day. After they had left the city, this event was forgotten and many other events happened after that. When the young people woke up, they sent one of them to the city to buy food with the money they had. When the young man called Yemliha approached the city, he was surprised. The roads and the surroundings of the city had changed a lot. A lot of time passed after the Period of Decius, who tortured Christians at that time. When Yemliha wanted to buy bread, the baker who saw the money in his hand suspected that he had found a treasure due to the appearance of his clothes and informed the authorities about him. When the state of the man who wanted to do shopping with the coins of three hundred years earlier was regarded as strange, he was taken to the presence of the ruler. Probably, Theodaius was the ruler then. Yemliha informed them about what had happened. However, at that time, Christianity had replaced idolatry and there was a community that believed in resurrection after death there. Finding what Yemliha narrated interesting, the people of the city and the ruler went to the place where the cave was and where the other young people were. When they got to the cave, Yemliha and his friends disappeared together with their dog. The ruler built a temple in front of the entrance of the cave and declared the cave a holy place. After that incident, the belief in the hereafter strengthened. Many people started to believe in the resurrection after death.  

The issue of their number is controversial. We see that their names are written as follows in the resources: Yemliha, Mekselina, Meslina, Mernush, Debernush, Sazenush ve Kefetatayyush. The name of their dog is known as Qitmir. It is believed that the event took place near Tarsus but there are narrations that it took place in Elbistan, Maraş and even in the Urumchi region of Eastern Turkistan. Christians believe that it took place in Ayasuluk Church.

It does not matter where it took place. What matters is the fact that the story mentioned in the Quran strengthens the belief in the hereafter and calls people to believe it.

Ahmed AĞIRAKÇA

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