According to some scholars, this story is resided in the age middle prior to Muhammad (SAW) and after Essa (AS). During these times religion of Essa (AS) was practiced very covertly. People who follows the teaching of Essa (AS) hide them self from public while they were worshiping.
it was the period when majority of the people were of disbelievers. They worship idols; they prostrate and sacrifice to those idols. It was a dark age when there is only few are following what Essa (AS) preached, and this was considered as a crime to worship or practice any order religion.
Dacius was the governor appointed by the roman emperor on this town or the state. He was an oppressor, a tyrant person who enforced this idol worshiping over the people, and if he find out about any other religion, he punished those people till death or tortured them to convert into idol worshipers.
While Dacius was making sure that everyone follows the religion of idols, there were seven young men according to the Qur’an; they were not relatives of each other in any manner, they all were individual that came for the Tauheed( oneness of Allah (SWT)). these young men belongs to the high ranking families of that time.
With the resolution to follow the path of Allah (SWT), they decided to hold a meeting somewhere outside the town near some tree, so that no one can hear or see them. When they all gathered under this tree, one of them said, we all know why we are here, does someone have courage to declare that reason.
After a silence one of them said: I came here because I don’t believe in the Shirq that my people are upon, I believe in Allah and Allah alone. By reach to this other six agreed with him. Now these seven men decided to worship Allah (SWT) in a secret place. They find a cave in outskirts of the town where they can worship Allah to gather, and no one else can see them.
Allah (SWT) wanted to make there lives a lesson, from the Qur’an for all of us. After few days, a group of people passed from near that cave where these young men were busy in worship of Allah. When those men saw that these men were practicing different form of religion, a new custom religion, other than of Dacius commanded.
They go back and meet Dacius, they told him that there are seven men that are practicing new form of religion other than worshiping there gods. They said that we don’t worship false man made idols claimed as gods, and Allah alone is worthy of worship; they disobeyed your every commandment. Dacius order his soldiers to bring those men in front of him as soon as possible.
When these men were presented in front of the Governor Dacius, he ask them: who do you believes in? They said: Allah is our Lord, the lord of heavens and the earth. They stood firm on their decision, we won’t worship anyone except Allah (SWT). They asked Dacius: where is the proven document or any material the say these man made idols are gods? Man made them, and if we can make them then why we should worship them? They are just false gods.
Dacius enforced his cruelty on them, he gave them one more chance to reconsideration about there religion. Dacius knows that these men are from the high ranking families of the state, he cannot put them in jail or tortured them just like he did to common men, and he gave them a day to make up their minds for what he said about change to idol worshiping.
When governor released them, they decide to leave the town, isolate them self from all of this and spend their time in cave, and worship Allah in isolation. Allah (SWT) has his mercy on us and he will show us the right path. They go to the cave, and waited for the blessing of Allah (SWT).
These young men were not prophets, not messenger, or had don’t have any revelations from Allah or no Angels came to them. Allah (SWT) answered their prayers beyond from their imagination, this became miracle not only for them but to all of those who were there at that time and for the people rest of the time who ever read the Qur’an.
With the power of their believe and takwa, they came to this cave were they decide to live their lives in isolation; Allah (SWT) decree that these young men were going to sleep for three hundred years, and Allah (SWT) preserved their bodies in a way that when they woke up the felt that they only sleep for few hours, and that feeling of terror and fear from that Governor was also preserved with them as them have before they go to sleep. (Subhan Allah).
When they wake up one of them asked how long did we sleep? one of them said i think for a day, other one said may be two days, another one said no look at the sun it was setting we only slept for half of the day, now it evening could someone go into the market and bring food we are starving now.
One of them manage to reach the market, he bought some food a shop, when he paid for that food he gave the same currency that he had three hundred years ago, currency from the time of governor Dacius. The shop keeper didn’t recognize that currency, then he went to another shop but nobody recognizes that currency. Gradually when the news spread in the market about this currency then people realized that he is not from around here.
One of man said these this currency is a treasure, where you find it from, he replied: what are you saying this is the same currency issued by governor Dacius. The man from the market said, this currency is around three hundred years old, Dacius was governor of this town three centuries ago. Who are you and where you get this currency?
When the news of this person spread and reached to the ruler of that time, he called him in, he asked about the full story, and then he asked him to take me to your other six friends. He takes the ruler to the cave and he ruler was amazed when he meets all of these men in the cave.
This is the story of young men who sacrifice everything for the sake of pleasing Allah (SWT).