One of the many inspiring stories in the Quran that holds a powerful message is one that comes from Surah Al-Kahf about the “People Of The Cave”. The protagonists of the story is a group of young believers who escaped from a dictatorial King of a pagan society. The bizarre part of the story is how Allah had allowed them to sleep for centuries; they survived through it and remained intact. The place and time of the event are unknown and remain in the wisdom and knowledge of Allah – beyond human comprehension.
Story of The Young People of The Cave
This group of young people came from a noble and wealthy lineage who lived in a society that worshiped idols and had festivals about their false beliefs. Anyone who denounced their tradition would be tortured and even sentenced to death.
However, these young believers would not conform to the society’s way of lives and practices as they strongly believed in the Oneness of God, but had kept that faith in secrecy out of fear for persecutions.
These young people were strangers to each other at first but because they shared the same faith, they met regularly secretly to worship Allah and rejected idolatry completely. But not long enough, words about their meeting had spread across the city and had reached the King. Despite their effort to convince the King to worship the one and only God, the King refused and punished them by taking away their fine possessions and clothing while given the chance of a night to “repent” from their monotheistic belief.
Later that night, they decided to flee from the persecution and Allah protected them from being seen by the King and his men. The young people arrived at a cave, as they had been guided by Allah and they finally went to sleep after a long night. Little did they know, Allah caused them to sleep for centuries in which their age had frozen with time; they didn’t grow old nor did they die.
“And [had you been present], you would see the sun when it rose, inclining away from their cave on the right, and when it set, passing away from them on the left, while they were [laying] within an open space thereof. That was from the signs of Allah. He whom Allah guides is the [rightly] guided, but he whom He leaves astray – never will you find for him a protecting guide.” – [Surah Al-Kahf: 17]
Allah guided them even in their sleep and by the help of Allah, no one had discovered them in the cave until one day, when Allah woke them up from sleep.
As they had woken up from the sleep of – what seems to them was – one night, one of them was sent by the group to town with silver coins to buy some food, while warning this man to remain cautious. But of course, by then the King and his people had died and you can only imagine how everything would have changed in years. Let alone years, but this was centuries!
Not knowing what to anticipate, the young man braved through and tried to buy some food with the silver coins that no was no longer valid for that current century. The townspeople were surprised; they could not make up from the origin of the coins and so he was brought to the Governor to explain himself.
The community was stunned by his story and the Governor asked to introduce him to the other youths of the cave. With Allah’s will and mercy, the society had already turned to the Oneness of God and so the people of the caves were no longer persecuted.
Just like other stories in the Quran, the main theme of this story is to strengthen our iman (faith) and tawakkul (consciousness of God). The lessons behind the story are timeless and hence, applicable to us, until the end of times.
This is a story about young people who were neither prophets nor holding any religious positions. Being young and rich, they didn’t succumb to the indulgent of the worldly lives and instead, dedicated their lives to their beliefs. They lived in a time when it was a challenge to practice Islam and that it was considered as a threat to believe in the Oneness of God.
From this story, we can see that Allah guides everything, from the way the young people turn when they sleep to the way the light was bent by Allah such that it wouldn’t face the sleeping youths.
We’re living in a time when it’s difficult to hold on to our faith; there are various questions we ask ourselves and certain aspect in our lives where we struggle to understand when it comes to fulfilling our obligation to God.
Faith is a delicate thing. It comes and goes; it rises and falls. In a changing society with all the confusing issues arising every day, it’s difficult to be young, adventurous, curious, restless and faithful all at the same time.
But as we can see from this story, the help from Allah is always, always there even when they were deep in their sleep. The help from Allah encompasses beyond our expectation no matter how unlikely an event is when we struggle to hold on to that faith.
Guidance from Allah is always beautifully unexpected; it comes in various forms and it reaches to us differently. Through deprivation and hardship, we’d learn the beauty of that struggle. Everyone at some point in their lives has experienced a helpless situation. But when we truly learn to seek the help of Allah and believe in wholeheartedly, we would never feel deprived nor would we ever be afraid of what’s to come.
Just watch your own story unfold when Allah guides you.