Qur'anic Tale: Ahlul Kahf (The people of the Cave) - Part I
"Or have you thought that the companions of the cave and the inscription were, among Our signs, a wonder?”
“[Mention] when the youths retreated to the cave and said, ‘Our Lord, grant us from Yourself mercy and prepare for us from our affair right guidance.’"
“So We cast [a cover of sleep] over their ears within the cave for a number of years."
[English Translation of The Qur’an, Al Kahf 18.9-11]
About 400 years after Prophet Isa (AS), a very cruel Roman Emperor by the name of Decius ruled the vast Roman Empire which stretched from Spain to the Persian Gulf. He was an idol worshipper, and the people who lived in the Empire were forced into polytheism. They were mandated to offer sacrifices and pay tribute to the many gods and goddesses they worshipped or risked losing their lives. Amongst their many god and goddesses were the god of war, the goddess of love, the sun god and the god of the oceans.
Some of Decius’ subjects were good Christians who believed in The One True God, Allah (SWT), and his messenger, Isa (AS). The Emperor did not want the people to follow the religion of Allah as was revealed to the Prophet Isa (AS).
Within the Roman Empire, there was a city called Ephesus located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It was a bustling city with a prominent trading seaport attracting merchants from all over the Empire. In the heart of this city lived a few youths that believed in The One True God. They formed a small group and prayed to Allah for guidance in this land of oppression and injustice. They did not want to worship the idols that Emperor Decius was forcing his subjects to worship.
Allah heard their prayers and strengthened their hearts so that they would not be afraid to proclaim their belief to the people of Ephesus. Emboldened by their faith, the youths went to the bazaar one day where many people had gathered to do their shopping. They stood up on a platform—so that all the people in the bazaar could see and hear them—and said: "Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. We shall never call upon any god other than Him because if we did, it would surely be a lie!"
The crowd suddenly stopped and everyone in the bazaar looked up at the youths that had so boldly proclaimed their faith. There were believers in the crowd who were afraid of publicly agreeing with the youths as the punishment for talking about The One True God was torture and execution. The unbelievers in the crowd shouted at the youths. But this did not dissuade them and so they continued: "If our people worship other gods besides Allah, why don't they bring forward an authority clear and convincing for what they do? Who does more harm than the person who invents a lie about Allah?" (Al Kahf 18.14-15).
When Emperor Decius heard about the youths, he called them to question them about their faith. They told him that they worshipped only one God, that he did not have any partners and that they did not associate him with any gods or goddesses. The Emperor became furious and gave them three days to give up their faith. Were they not to abandon their belief after the three days, he would have them killed.
To be continued...
photo credit: Nick Kenrick . via photopin cc