Cave of Ashabe-Kahf (interior)
The main view above shows a section of the interior. The crafted stone blocks are tombs; one of them has a viewing hole through which bones can be seen (inset). The bones of the dog have also been displayed.
- The Prophet (s.a.w.) was challenged by the Quraysh of Makkah who did not believe in his message to answer three questions passed onto them by the Jews. One of the questions was, “Who were the youth who disappeared, and how many were they?” The Jews knew that the Prophet (s.a.w.) would only be able to tell the story if he was indeed a prophet.
- The Prophet (s.a.w.) had no clue and said that he would answer them tomorrow, hoping for the answer to be revealed to him through Jibraeel (a.s.) but forgetting to say ’Inshallah’ (if Allah wills). No revelation came to the Prophet (s.a.w.) for 15 days, leading the Quraysh to greatly abuse and revile him.
- The answer, however, was eventually revealed to the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a Surah named after the cave (Al-Kahf) of the sleepers. The Quran revealed the exact story that the Jews knew of, and it answered the questions similarly to the information they had. The Quran confirmed that they slept for 309 years, which the Jews knew of. The Quran however did not give an exact answer as to how many they were. Allah (swt) revealed:“(Some) will say: They were three, their dog the fourth, and (some) say: Five, their dog the sixth, guessing at random: and (some) say: Seven, and their dog the eighth. Say (O Muhammad): My Lord is best aware of their number. None knowth them save a few. So contend not concerning them except with an outward contending, and ask not any of them to pronounce concerning them.” [18:22]
- The Jews themselves did not know exactly how many there were (whether 3,5 or 7) and were astonished when the Quran gave all the possible numbers they had suspected for the number of sleepers.
References: Stories of the Prophets – Ibn Kathir, Wikipedia