A succinct account of the story unfolds that these men were natives of a city, ruled by Roman Emperor Decius (Dagianus). The Commentators identify it as the city of Undulus (Spain). Others assert that it was a city of Asia Minor, while some mention a place in the South of Palestine called Apla near the present day Uqaba. All these are, however, mere conjectures and none presents a definite answer. Monastic living was considered to be highly meritorious in Christianity and a large number of people used to spend a lifetime in caverns. Many a human skeletons have been recovered from such caverns from different locations. But it cannot be determined whether these remains are of the same Men of the Cave as mentioned in the Quran.
According to some scholars Raqim is a valley in which lies this Cave, while some surmise that it is the name of their settlement. The modern historians have also carried out a research but the outcome is nothing definite. All that they have been able say with some degree of authenticity is that the Men of Cave were a few young men, belonging to the affluent families of the kingdom and were all Christians. Their King was a tyrant, and the nation as a whole had taken to idol worship. These young men abhorred the ways of their nation, and upon witnessing idol worship at a national ceremony they decided to separate from their people. But someone informed the King who summoned and reprimanded them, and gave them a last chance to cither revert to polytheism or face execution. So instead of reverting to disbelief they preferred to take refuge in the wilderness. They hid themselves inside the Cave and sought the protection of Allaah-SWT . They were put to a comfortable slumber by the Most Merciful, which lasted for three hundred and nine years.
In the meantime the world outside had changed. A believing ruler named Bedosus had taken over the country. Allaah-SWT woke them up. As they went to the marketplace to buy some food, the people in the market were amazed to see the coins they offered. The news was carried to the King and the event became a manifestation of Divine Omnipotence and an evidence to Resurrection. When they departed from the King's Court and returned to the Cave, Allaah-SWT let death prevail and no one ever saw them thereafter. This was a summary of the event. What Quran has revealed about it is indeed the truth and worth pondering over.
First of all is the mention of Allah-SWT's Magnificence and His-SWT Glory as well as His-SWT Great Favour. All praise and excellence belongs to Him-SWT . He-SWT revealed unto His-SWT bondsman a Book which is far above the slightest of doubts of being inclined or partial towards anyone. Be it rhetoric or intrinsic excellence, this Book determines a straight path without being influenced or biased by any event, class of people or any other thing. It discourses the truth rather explicitly and warns the erring and the disobedient of the dire consequences. It conveys glad tiding of rewards to those who have been blessed with faith; who not only claim to be believers but also act righteously in accord with the teachings of the Holy Prophet-SW which is what faith demands. Such believers will be rewarded amply and will enjoy these rewards eternally. Besides, all those who hold that Allaah-SWT has begotten children are being reprimanded over their words. For what they utter is indeed a grave blasphemy. They utter something of which they have no knowledge, nor did their ancestors have any evidence of it. Such people are indeed great liars.
The Holy Prophet-SW’s Compassion For Mankind
Inspite of all the blasphemy and impudence displayed by the non believers, the Holy Prophet-SW's kind-heartedness towards them is such as if their deprivation from faith would aggrieve him to death. So he is being comforted by Allaah-SWT that he should not take it upon his heart, for this world is a place of trial and no one will be forced into faith. Is this not a great favour that Allaah-SWT has sent such a clement Messenger-SW and blessed mankind with the glorious Quran? Now it is upon them to decide which way they wish to choose. So the Holy Prophet-SW must not feel anguished for them.
Wealth And Possessions Are A Source Of Adornment
And We-SWT have created so much on earth for its beautification and adornment, that it attracts people. But the sole purpose of life is not to excel in worldly gains. Rather the world has been created as a trial to see who overcomes these hurdles to act righteously and prefers to obey Allaah-SWT and His-SWT Prophet-SW to pursuing worldly affluence. All this buzz of life is until a time pre ordained. Eventually everything will be destroyed and the earth levelled up.
So O Reader! In your opinion, is the tale of the Men of Cave the most incredible wonder of Our Omnipotence? Absolutely not! Rather the creation of heavens and earth, the programming of an infinitely vast multi functional system and its continuous running are far more amazing feats, to which people do not attach any importance. They still fail to acknowledge the Magnificence of the Creator. Is the preservation of a few men more amazing or the sustenance of a universe?
The story revolves a round a small group of young men who refused to capitulate to a tyrant's ungodly demand. They sacrificed all their worldly possessions for their faith and took refuge in the Cave. They called out to Allaah-SWT : "Our Rabb-SWT ! Shower us with Your Mercy and make the right way easy for us." They meant that when they had abandoned the world for His-SWT Sake and had taken to the Cave. He-SWT may be kind enough to make them triumph in their mission and let not the infidels overpower them.
The Condition For Acceptance Of A Prayer
This proves that a prayer made purely for a gain in Deen, without coveting any worldly benefits with the spirit of attaining Allah-SWT's Nearness is definitely answered, even though what is asked may seem logically an improbability. So Allaah-SWT in order to free them of all worries, fears and necessities of temporal life put them to deep slumber which lasted for over three centuries. He-SWT then awakened them to see as to who amongst them could guess the duration of their siesta in the lap of Divine Mercy, and also to establish a great Sign for the mankind adducing a proof to His-SWT Omnipotence.