Ahl Alkhf: People of Cave Reawaken in Saber [Archives:2001/42/Reportage]

October 15 2001

Abdulalem Baggash
Taiz is distinguished for its strategic location. It is situated in the northern slopes of a very high, skyward, and well-known mountain called Saber Mountain at an altitude of 3070 meters. Saber Mountain by itself is a wonder as it embraces the city in its arms. Many springs and streams run on its sides and give a heavenly beauty to the villages located around. Until recently, you could only see darkness when you looked at them at night. However, the situation considerably evolved as a result of an amazing road which was paved from Taiz to the top of the mountain. Most of the villages have been since then provided with electricity. By seeing all this at night, you cannot help admiring the captivating and beauty of the whole scenario. Indeed, some people climb this majestic mountain to enjoy a spectacular scenery.
It is said that the inhabitants of the Saber Mountain have transmitted from one generation to another the knowledge of the presence of the Cave in their region, as mentioned in the Holy Quran, inside a small old mosque. The mosque is known as the mosque of the People of the Cave (Gamae Ahl Al-Kahf). It is situated in south of Taiz at the top of the Saber Mountain in a small village called Al-Meaqab. The Mosque of People of the Cave is considered to be of great strategic importance and represents a religious monument in the history of Yemen.
It is believed that the mosque is a blessed venue where the Young Men, Ahl Al-Khaf or (Alfetia), came for peace and devoted themselves for the services of God. During their time and for hundreds of years, the people used to be pagans.
Their story was narrated in the Holy Quran in a Surra called Ahl Al-Kahf (the People of the Cave). The story was chronologically placed after the story of Noah and the flood, a worldwide deluge which was mentioned in the Holy Quran and various other ancient religions.
Numerous narrations and illustrations emerged to try to find the exact location of the People of the Cave which had been ignored for a long time. It is said that it can be found in Al-Raqeem Mountain in Jordan, while other sources indicate the Cave to be in Iraq or in Syria.
In Yemen, it is believed that the real spot of the Cave is in Saber Mountain in Taiz. Researchers confirmed this hypothesis through recent discoveries and historical evidences. The head of the mosque there, Mohammed Abdu Al-Faqee, said that the task of his family has been to inform people of the exact location where the People of the Cave stayed for a long time. The place (the Cave) exactly lies under the mosque. Moreover, there is a person who shows people where the People of the Cave lived. His job, called Al-Mansoob, has been inherited by oral tradition from one generation to the next.
The small white mosque located in Al-Meeqab village consists of two adjacent buildings. One of them is smaller and older. It presents only one room and a hole in the corner of the mosque. This hole is roofed with stones and is enclosed by a decorated wooden cage. It is believed that the old mosque’s Kiblah direction pointed toward Jerusalem in Palestine, before being directed to the Kabaa in the North. The establishment of the old mosque dates back to the pre-Islamic era and its repairs go back to around 800 years. Historical sources mention that the new building was erected by Ahmad Bin Alwan, the leader of the mystic (Sufi) movement in Yemen and is characterized by its decorated wooden pillars.
Yemeni historians indicate also that a small suburb in Taiz was called Deqianos, as it is believed that the People of the Cave emerged during the reign of the king Deqianos. He was described as the ” the liar” who forced the Young Men to flee the city. While the Young Men believed in God, their companions were pagans as the king. It is said that these Young 
Men were threatened by the king who wanted them to worship the pagan divinities and abandon their own God. Consequently, the Young Men had to leave and climbed the mountain for protection. The People of the Cave hid and slept in the cave for 309 years as narrated by the Holy Quran. This clearly shows that the story of the People of the Cave is true. The Holy Quran’s descriptions match those made by the population of the village: “And you might have seen the sun, when it rose, declining to the right from their Cave, and when it set, turning away from them to the left, while they lay in the midst of the Cave. That one of the proof evidences of Allah.”
The cave’s entry is located in the mosque and interestingly a gentle wind coming out from the hole can be felt. The population of the village think that there is a another cave situated at the bottom of Saber Mountain communicating with to top where the People of the Cave might have stayed. Many visitors from all over the world come regularly to pay a visit to this historical site.