In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

The Sleepers

Young Enlightened Submitters

During the first centuries of Christianity there was a lot of pressure on the followers of the new religion. Jesus Christ was sent as a prophet of God to the people to ask them to worship God alone. He came to correct all the mistakes done by the followers of the Jewish faith and to guide them back to the true religion of worshipping God alone. In a city called Ephesus, located in today's Turkey, the Emperor at that time, several hundred years ago, was not a believer and refused to believe in God alone. He did not like the new religion and was punishing those who do not listen to him or follow him. Many of the Christians at this time were punished, expelled from their homes or killed for refusing to obey him.

Some young men, 3, 5 or 7 men, no one really know how many of them then, refused to obey the Emperor and want to continue to worship God alone. They were afraid that the Emperor may kill them if they stayed around or force them to obey him. They took their dog with them and escaped the city and found a cave outside the city. They decided to hide in the cave. God decided to put them to sleep for 300 years until the Emperor and his children die and the good believing Christian take control of the city. When they woke up after 300 years they felt hungry and sent one of them to buy them food from the city. When he went to the city and bought the food, he gave them the old money he had. The people of the city then realized this person is one of the youths who escaped to the cave and were delighted to find them. They treated them well and allowed them to worship God alone, freely until they died and buried them in the cave.

The story of the sleepers of Ephesus is told in the Quran in Sura 18 that is called "The Cave".

Picture of the Cave

I seek refuge in God from Satan the rejected

[18:1] Praise GOD, who revealed to His servant this scripture, and made it flawless.
[18:2] A perfect (scripture) to warn of severe retribution from Him, and to deliver good news to the believers who lead a righteous life, that they have earned a generous recompense.
[18:3] Wherein they abide forever.
[18:4] And to warn those who said, "GOD has begotten a son!"
[18:5] They possess no knowledge about this, nor did their parents. What a blasphemy coming out of their mouths! What they utter is a gross lie.
[18:6] You may blame yourself on account of their response to this narration, and their disbelieving in it; you may be saddened.
[18:7] We have adorned everything on earth, in order to test them, and thus distinguish those among them who work righteousness.
[18:8] Inevitably, we will wipe out everything on it, leaving it completely barren.
[18:9] Why else do you think we are telling you about the people of the cave, and the numbers connected with them? They are among our wondrous signs.
[18:10] When the youths took refuge in the cave, they said, "Our Lord, shower us with Your mercy, and bless our affairs with Your guidance."
[18:11] We then sealed their ears in the cave for a predetermined number of years.
[18:12] Then we resurrected them to see which of the two parties could count the duration of their stay therein.
[18:13] We narrate to you their history, truthfully. They were youths who believed in their Lord, and we increased their guidance.
[18:14] We strengthened their hearts when they stood up and proclaimed: "Our only Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. We will never worship any other god beside Him. Otherwise, we would be far astray.
[18:15] "Here are our people setting up gods beside Him. If only they could provide any proof to support their stand! Who is more evil than the one who fabricates lies and attributes them to GOD?
[18:16] "Since you wish to avoid them, and their worshiping of other than GOD, let us take refuge in the cave. May your Lord shower you with His mercy and direct you to the right decision."
[18:17] You could see the sun when it rose coming from the right side of their cave, and when it set, it shone on them from the left, as they slept in the hollow thereof. This is one of GOD's portents. Whomever GOD guides is the truly guided one, and whomever He sends astray, you will not find for him a guiding teacher.
[18:18] You would think that they were awake, when they were in fact asleep. We turned them to the right side and the left side, while their dog stretched his arms in their midst. Had you looked at them, you would have fled from them, stricken with terror.
[18:19] When we resurrected them, they asked each other, "How long have you been here?" "We have been here one day or part of the day," they answered. "Your Lord knows best how long we stayed here, so let us send one of us with this money to the city. Let him fetch the cleanest food, and buy some for us. Let him keep a low profile, and attract no attention.
[18:20] "If they discover you, they will stone you, or force you to revert to their religion, then you can never succeed."
[18:21] We caused them to be discovered, to let everyone know that GOD's promise is true, and to remove all doubt concerning the end of the world. The people then disputed among themselves regarding them. Some said, "Let us build a building around them." Their Lord is the best knower about them. Those who prevailed said, "We will build a place of worship around them."
[18:22] Some would say, "They were three; their dog being the fourth," while others would say, "Five; the sixth being their dog," as they guessed. Others said, "Seven," and the eighth was their dog. Say, "My Lord is the best knower of their number." Only a few knew the correct number. Therefore, do not argue with them; just go along with them. You need not consult anyone about this.
[18:23] You shall not say that you will do anything in the future,
[18:24] without saying, "GOD willing."* If you forget to do this, you must immediately remember your Lord and say, "May my Lord guide me to do better next time."
[18:25] They stayed in their cave three hundred years, increased by nine.
[18:26] Say, "GOD is the best knower of how long they stayed there." He knows all secrets in the heavens and the earth. By His grace you can see; by His grace you can hear. There is none beside Him as Lord and Master, and He never permits any partners to share in His kingship.

The rest of Sura 18 is great. Try to read it!


flawless= has no mistakes.

scripture = sacred book, for example the Quran and the Bible.

retribution= receiving of punishment or reward.

recompense= reward.

Abide= live in.

blasphemy= insult.

distinguish= know the difference.

inevitably= for sure.

barren = not good for anything.

narrate= tell the story.

portent= marvel, miracle.

fetch= find.

  1. How many people were in the cave ?
  2. Why did the sleepers of the cave hide in the cave?
  3. How many years did the sleepers of the cave sleep ?
  4. What should you say, if you plan to do something in the future ?
  5. What did Jesus ask the people to do ?