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Thou wouldst have thought them awake, as they lay sleeping, while We turned them now to the right, now to the left,' and their dog 'stretching its paws on the threshold. Hadst thou observed them surely thou wouldst have turned thy back on them in flight, and been filled with terror of them. 18 And similarly, We awakened them that they might question one another. Said a speaker from among them, "How long have you remained [here]?" They said, "We have remained a day or part of a day." They said, "Your Lord is most knowing of how long you remained. So send one of you with this silver coin of yours to the city and let him look to which is the best of food and bring you provision from it and let him be cautious. And let no one be aware of you. 19 for, behold, if they should come to know of you, they might stone you to death or force you back to their faith - in which case you would never attain to any good!" 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 are) three, the fourth of them being their dog; and (others) say: Five, the sixth of them being their dog, making conjectures at what is unknown; and (others yet) say: Seven, and the eighth of them is their dog. Say: My Lord best knows their number, none knows them but a few; therefore contend not in the matter of them but with an outward contention, and do not question concerning them any of them. 22
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