10. When the youths took shelter in the cave, they said, “Our Lord, give us mercy from Yourself, and bless our affair with guidance.”
11. Then We sealed their ears in the cave for a number of years.
12. Then We awakened them to know which of the two groups could better calculate the length of their stay.
13. We relate to you their story in truth. They were youths who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance.
14. And We strengthened their hearts, when they stood up and said, “Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth; we will not call on any god besides Him, for then we would have spoken an outrage.”
15. “These people, our people, have taken to themselves gods other than Him. Why do they not bring a clear proof concerning them? Who, then, does greater wrong than he who invents lies and attributes them to God?”
16. “Now that you have withdrawn from them, and from what they worship besides God, take shelter in the cave. And your Lord will unfold His mercy for you, and will set your affair towards ease.”
17. You would have seen the sun, when it rose, veering away from their cave towards the right, and when it sets, moving away from them to the left, as they lay in the midst of the cave. That was one of God’s wonders. He whom God guides is truly guided; but he whom He misguides, for him you will find no directing friend.
18. You would think them awake, although they were asleep. And We turned them over to the right, and to the left, with their dog stretching its paws across the threshold. Had you looked at them, you would have turned away from them in flight, and been filled with fear of them.
19. Even so, We awakened them, so that they may ask one another. A speaker among them said, “How long have you stayed?” They said, “We have stayed a day, or part of a day.” They said, “Your Lord knows best how long you have stayed.” “Send one of you to the city, with this money of yours, and let him see which food is most suitable, and let him bring you some provision thereof. And let him be gentle, and let no one become aware of you.”
20. “If they discover you, they will stone you, or force you back into their religion; then you will never be saved.”
So the youths are in their states of slumber, and then they are awakened in order to retell the tell and judge on their ability to calculate and reason. This may give indication that besides good deeds, also learning how to become a thinking and reasoning soul is important for a muslim.
It seems that these youths in their states of sleep gained insight from the astral journeys and now will become the Signs or messengers for their nation and people. This must be a nation were they were pagans and had many different gods and confusing belief structures.
These men in the cave were asleep but in a state of active dreaming and their bodies seemed to be moving around. It would scare onlookers concerned, but these men were safe and traveling in their dreams to some realms unseen. I like how it talks about their dog being guard at the door of the cave. No doubt in my mind after owning a dog now do I know for a fact dogs were created to be man’s best friend and protector.
In line 18 you learn that these youths escaped their village from being forced into a religion they did not believe in and now they could send one of them back to the village to tell the people of what happened with full confirmation in their souls they were on the right path in not believing in many gods, but now just One unifying force.