Archeology Spirituality Travel X-Files

Story Of The Sleepers In The Cave: Early Time Travellers?

Is time travel possible? Is it slowly becoming a reality?

Why not, if we consider the fact we live in an age when the “wormhole theory” is broadening our horizons  and helping us explore the possibility of Interstellar travel. Time travel events have been part of various religious traditions, holy texts do not directly address the idea of time travel, but indicate the idea that Mighty Power (God, Allah, Creator etc) does not experience time in the same narrow way that human beings do. If we open our minds than we’ll be able to see that modern science helps us prove rather than disprove religious miracles like Story of the Sleepers of the cave, Throne of Sheeba (Saba) or the Night Journey (Isra wal Miraj). They are all recorded in Quran and some in the old testament.

Legend of the Seven Sleepers

The story of the sleepers of the cave (Ashab al Kahf) is perhaps the most revisited stories in the Quran and evokes interest in all age groups.

In Judaic tradition this event is commonly is known as the story of seven sleepers.  The Quran has deemed the detail on their number unimportant. It is about how a group of pious youth fled the persecution by their people for their belief. They along with their dog sought refuge inside a cave.  It is  believed by many including Maulana Mawdudi  (famous Islamic scholar) that their cave  was located in Ephesus,  modern day  Turkey.

Abd al-Aziz and Aqa Mirek (attr.),The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus Discovered by Alexander the Great, Folio from a Falnama (Book of Omens) 1550s Qazvin, Metmuseum, NY

Translation of three verses from the Quran are copied below:

[18:19] When we awakened them, they asked each other, “How long have you been here?” “We have been here one day or part of the day,” they answered. “Your Lord knows best how long we stayed here, so let us send one of us with this money to the city. Let him fetch the good lawful food, and buy some for us. Let him keep a low profile, and attract no attention.”

[18:25] They stayed in their cave three hundred years, increased by nine.

[18:26] Say [To them], “God is the best Knower of how long they stayed there.” He knows all secrets in the Heavens and the earth. By His grace you can see; by His grace you can hear. There is none beside Him as Lord and Master, and He never permits any partners to share in His kingship.”

As can be noted from the verses above, sleep befalls them while in the cave. When they woke up, they sent out from among them a member to bring food. When that person reaches town, he discovers the vast changes that have occurred. His coin is found to be 100’s of year old.  The Quran mentions the figure  of 309 years. Similar stories have been part of the folklore across different cultures.

Seven sleepers (Menologion of Basil II).
The seven dormitories of Ephesus are venerated as saints by the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church (Image Source)

 The Cave, A Pilgrimage Site

There is no evidence whether the incident took place, the cave, however, was turned into a pilgrimage site.

The grotto associated with the Seven Sleepers, located on the eastern slope of Panayirdag hill, became a highly venerated site and a major place of pilgrimage from the 5th to 15th centuries. Many people were buried in the grotto with the Sleepers. A brick church was built above the seven original tombs, with mosaic floors and marble revetments. A large, domed mausoleum was added to the cave in the 6th century.

Excavations were carried out in the Grotto of the Seven Sleepers between 1927 and 1930. Intriguingly, the archaeologists discovered that the cave complex predates the legend by several centuries. An abundance of lamps found in the Grotto date from before the 5th century, and not all of them are Christian.

Some researchers suggests that the story could be understood as an echo of shamanistic beliefs.  “What shamans in many cultures did was to fall into a sort of sleep, or trance, in which their souls left their bodies and explored other planes of existence,” archeologist and historian John Bedell writes on his blog site . “The lore of shamanism is full of shamans whose power was so great that they could do this for years; even more common are stories of shamans who did this on their first magical journeys, falling into comas of fabulous length before wakening to tell of marvellous things.”

Although the legend has no real explanation, it is one of the first authentic reports of time travel and till date remains a mystery.

source:; ancient-origins

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