There is a Christian legend regarding the people of the cave, as mentioned in the Qur’an in Surah al-Kahf. These people lived in a time between the first coming of Isa (AS) and Muhammad (SAW)… There was a king, named Odysseus, who visited the city of Ephesus (modern-day Turkey) where statues of the Greek gods Zeus, Apollo and Artemis had been erected, which required the citizens of the city to pay respect to the king via visiting and acknowledging these gods. There were seven young people who refused to do so, and they were arrested and put in prison. They managed to escape and ran away to a cave. The king found out and had the cave covered with rocks, and they were buried alive, with the entrance marked with a plaque to show others what happens to those who defy the king…

According to different accounts, between 40-372 go by. A shepherd was passing by and he moved some of the rocks, and sunlight fell on the seven youth inside, and they woke up. Startled, the shepherd ran away. The youth did not know what era they were living in. They noticed the cross/crucifix symbol everywhere, and when they went to buy food, it became apparent that their currency was from three centuries ago…

Theodosius was the king now, and the people were having a theological debate: does only the soul go to heaven, or does the body go with the soul to heaven? The practice of the time was that the country would adopt the position of the king. Theodosius heard of the seven youth and wanted to meet them. Through them it became apparent to all that the body and soul can be preserved by God as they had been preserved for three centuries according to many. Having understood this, the king offered the youth positions of power, which they refused, and they retreated back to the cave to die a natural death, as they felt they had now fulfilled God’s purpose for them.

Many years later, at the time of the Quraysh, this story became popular once more. The Quraysh travelled a lot, and when Muhammad (SAW) came proclaiming Prophethood, they asked him (SAW) about the people of the cave, as well as about Dhul Qarnayn and the ruh (soul, which connects back to the debate at the time of Theodosius). Whilst this legend had been present for many a year among the Christians, the Muslims were learning about this for the very first time…

To be continued, inshaAllah!

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