Cave of The Seven Sleepers (Ashab al-Kahf) – Tarsus, Turkey

There are differing accounts when it comes to the location of the cave of the seven sleepers mentioned in the Qur’an, also known as Ashab al-Kahf. Some scholars mention that it is in Izmir, Turkey, others say it is in Jordan and some even mention that it is located here, around 10-12 kms from the city of Tarsus in Turkey. 

We noticed the sign for this place on our way from Mersin to Adana and immediately decided to do a U Turn and take the exit

We immediately noticed how peaceful and tranquil the area was. Located on the top of a hill, a beautiful mosque with two minarets stands in front of the cave. 

As you walk on, you will see some stairs leading down behind the Mosque. You have to be careful as you’re walking down to ensure you don’t hit your head against the rocks like I did!

Once inside, its a phenomenal feeling knowing that this may have been the place where the seven young devoted believers opposed the ways of Daqyanus, also known as Decius and strongly believed that there was only one God. 

Even though this place is underground and looks confined, there is a real feeling of space despite all this. 

The formation of the rocks is really quite spectacular. 

Visitors come here to reflect and pray remembering the strong faith of the seven faithful youths. 

On the way out of the city of Tarsus where they were about to persecuted by Decius, they came across a monotheist shepherd called Keshkitatnus who knew the region well and when they told him the reason behind their trip, he and his dog Qitmir went with them and guided them towards the cave. It was here that they made the prayer: “Our Lord, bestow on us mercy from Yourself and prepare for us from our affairs right guidance” (Qur’an 18:10). 

Allah after answering their prayers, made them sleep here for 300 years or 309 according to the Lunar calendar. Upon awaking, they believed that they had only slept for a day or a day and a half. They instructed one of their companions Tamilkha also known as Malcus to go and buy some food from the market and investigate the situation with Decius. When Tamlikha gave his coin for some food, the vendor believed that he had found treasure and asked Tamnlikha to show them the cave. They obviously could not believe what they were hearing or seeing. 

After suspicion arose, Tamlikha was taken to the monotheist leader of the time, Arius. Arius upon witnessing this ordeal said that this had happened 300 years ago and there was no way this could be true. 

The youths were all invited back to the city by Arius but they decided to retreat back to the cave and not go. It was then that Allah made them disappear. Not much is known beyond that. 

A mosque was built by the people at the time and it was not until the time of the Seljuk Ottomans that the Mosque was restored. This mosque is still in service today. 

Their graves are unknown but their secret was great.  


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