People of the Cave (Part-3)



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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 thereat. 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!8 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 her 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 godfearing. {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.

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By: Ibn Katheer Translated by Ali As-Sayed Al-Halawani

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