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One would think them (the youths) awake while, in fact, they were sleeping. We turned their bodies from right to left and their dog stretched its front legs on the ground. Had one looked them over, he would have run away from them in terror. 18 Such (being their state), we raised them up (from sleep), that they might question each other. Said one of them, "How long have ye stayed (here)?" They said, "We have stayed (perhaps) a day, or part of a day." (At length) they (all) said, "Allah (alone) knows best how long ye have stayed here.... Now send ye then one of you with this money of yours to the town: let him find out which is the best food (to be had) and bring some to you, that (ye may) satisfy your hunger therewith: And let him behave with care and courtesy, and let him not inform any one about you. 19 "For if they come to know of you, they will stone you (to death or abuse and harm you) or turn you back to their religion, and in that case you will never be successful." 20 And so We made them (the unbelievers) stumble upon them, so that they might know that the promise of Allah is true and that there is no doubt about the Hour. They argued among themselves over their affair, then (the unbelievers) said: 'Build a building over them (their remains). Their Lord knows best who they were. 'But those who prevailed over the matter said; 'We will build around them a Mosque' 21 (Some) say they were three, the dog being the fourth among them; (others) say they were five, the dog being the sixth, guessing at the unseen; (yet others) say they were seven, the dog being the eighth. Say (O Muhammad SAW): "My Lord knows best their number; none knows them but a few." So debate not (about their number, etc.) except with the clear proof (which We have revealed to you). And consult not any of them (people of the Scripture, Jews and Christians) about (the affair of) the people of the Cave. 22
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