Mosque Name: Seven Sleepers Cave Mosque
Year of construction (AH): unknown
Year of construction (AD): 7th Century
GPS: 31°53’56.14"N 35°58’25.81"E
Original Qibla: Petra
Rebuilt facing Mecca: never
They were young men, as God described them in the Qur’an, who believed in the Lord. God said to his prophet Muhammad: “Do you think the Men of the Cave and al-Raqim were among Our signs; a wonder.” (Sura 18), al-Kalif, or the Cave, or the Sleepers.)
Around the fourth century a story began to circulate in eastern Christianity, of seven young men who were trying to escape from persecution. A dog led them to a cave where they fell asleep, with the dog guarding them. When they awoke, one of the young men went into town to buy some bread. The merchant was amazed at how old their coins were, and he discovered that they had slept three hundred years. The king was summoned and interrogated the youth. The king then sent for the men involved. He assembled them and said, “You disagreed concerning spirit and body. Now the Almighty has sent you a sign. Here is a man of the people of a late king.” The youth said, “Let us go to my friends .” The king and his men set out on the road and reached the cave. The youth said, “Let me enter to join my friends.” But when he saw them , God smote him. The king and his men were kept waiting. Finally, they entered and beheld perfect bodies but with no life in them. The king exclaimed, “This is a God-sent sign.” (According to al-Hasan b. Yahya-‘Abd al-Razzaq-Mu’ammar-Qatadah-‘Ikrimah, Al Tabari Vol 4)
There are several locations that claim to be the cave of the sleepers. The first is in Ephesus in modern day Turkey. There is also a cave filled with carved sarcophagi from the late Roman and Byzantine periods, called the Cave of Seven Sleepers in the village of Rajib south of Amman Jordan. There are ruins of a church, and two mosques. The earliest mosque clearly points directly towards Petra.
The earliest version of this story comes from the Syrian bishop Jacob of Sarug (c. 450–521), which is itself derived from an earlier Greek source, now lost. The Qur’an (c. 630 AD) tells the story in Sura 18. An outline of this tale appears in Gregory of Tours (b. 538, d. 594), and in Paul the Deacon’s (b. 720, d. 799) History of the Lombards. The best-known Western version of the story appears in Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend.