They ask thee concerning Zulqarnain. Say, "I will rehearse to you something of his story." Verily We established his power on earth, and We gave him the ways and the means to all ends. One such way he followed, until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: "O Zulqarnain! Thou hast authority, either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness."
He said: "Whoever doth wrong, him shall we punish; then shall he be sent back to his Lord; and He will punish him with a punishment unheard-of before. "But whoever believes and works righteousness,- he shall have a goodly reward, and easy will be his task as We order it by our Command."
Then followed he (another) way, until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had provided no covering protection against the sun. He left them as they were: He completely understood what was before him.
Then followed he another way, until, when he reached (a tract) between two mountains, he found, beneath them, a people who scarcely understood a word. They said: "O Zulqarnain! The Gog and Magog People do great mischief on earth: shall we then render thee tribute in order that thou might erect a barrier between them and us?
He said: "(The power) in which my Lord established me is better than tribute: Help me ’Eh€f€f0f€ Wlth strength and labor: I will erect a strong barrier between you and them: "Bring me blocks of iron." At length, when he had filled up the space between the two steep mountain-sides‘, He said, Blow with your bellows" Then, when he had made it red as ﬁre, he said: "Bring me, that I may pour over it, molten lead}: Thus were they made powerless to scale it or to dig through it. He said: "This is a mercy from my Lord: But when the promise of my Lord comes to pass, He will make it into dust; and the promise of my Lord is true." On that day We shall leave them to surgelike waves on one another: the trumpet will be blown, and We shall collect them all together. And We shall present Hell that day for Unbelievers to see, all spread out, Unbelievers whose eyes had been under a veil from remembrance of Me, and who had been unable even to hear.
Do the Unbelievers think that they can take My servants as protectors besides Me? Verily We have prepared Hell for the Unbelievers for their entertainment. Say: "Shall we tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds? "Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works?" They are those who deny the Signs of their Lord and the fact of their having to meet Him (in the Hereafter): vain will be their works, nor shall We, on the Day of Judgment, give them any weight. That is their reward, Hell, because they rejected Faith, and took My Signs and My Messengers by way of jest.
As to those who believe and work righteous deeds, they have, for their entertainment, the Gardens of Paradise, wherein they shall dwell for aye: no change will they wish for from them. Say: "If the ocean were ink (wherewith to write out) the words of my Lord, sooner would the ocean be exhausted than the words of my Lord, even if we added another ocean like "lam but a man like yourselves, (but) the to me, that your God is one God. Whoever would it, for its aid.'' Say: “ I am but a man like yourselves, (but) the inspiration has come to me, that your God is one God. Whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner.
(S: 18, V: 83- 110)
A dream of Denial has been mentioned in the Old Testament, in which he witnesses the kingdoms of Media and Paris as a big ram with two horns. Zulqarnain literally means lord of two qarns. Qarn may mean: a horn as in case of a ram or bull, in a metaphorical sense, as in English, the horns of a crescent or the horns of a kingdom or territory, two portions at opposite ends, a summit, a lock of hair, a crest worn by eastern kings on their diadems, referring to time, an epoch and age, a generation.
The most popular interpretation of Zulqarnain is Alexander the Great (356—323BC). But, according to some, it was Persian conqueror Cyrus in 549 BC, who conquered Babylon soon after the conquest of Media (Aljabal) and Lydia (Asia Minor) His conquests were spread from Sindh to Present Turkmenistan, Egypt and Libya and on the other side up to Theresa and Macedonia and in the north territory of his kingdom reached Caucasia and Khawarzam. The entire civilized world was under his rule.
In the west his empire was stretched up to Asia Minor and all the coasts of Syria and in the east it extended up to Bulkh. Gog and Magog were the tribes of Caucasian Mountains situated between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. So many stories have become famous about Gog and Magog, which portray them as imaginary mythological creatures. One of such stories is that at the end of the limits of the land, on one side of the inaccessible mountains inhabited the Gog and Magog and on the other side people of virtue and piety lived. Gog and Magog crossed these mountains through a difficult terrain and attacked the noble people. When Zulqamain preached monotheism to those noble people they told him about Gog and Magog and requested him to help them. When he inquired, he was told that on one of the mountains there lived the children of Gog and on the other one lived the children of Magog. They were the descendants of the son of Noah, Yafs.
One of such unbelievable story is that some of these people are very tall and some are very dwarf. They have so big ears, which dangle on the ground. They spread one ear on the ground and cover themselves with the other one when they sleep. They are uncivilized and live like animals. They do not know of God nor do they acknowledge Him as God. Upon hearing about their invasions and attacks, Zulqarnain ordered to construct an iron wall between the two mountains making it impossible for them to cross. To make an insurmountable wall large sheets of iron were piled on one another in the valley between the mountains and molten lead was poured upon them.
“Then followed he another way, until, when he reached a tract between two mountains, he found, beneath them, a people who scarcely understood a word. They said: "O Zulqarnain! The Gog and Magog People do great mischief on earth: shall we then render thee tribute in order that thou might erect a barrier between them and us?
He said: ”The power in which my Lord has established me is better than tribute: Help me therefore with strength and labor: I will erect a strong barrier between you and them: "Bring me blocks of iron.” At length, when he had ﬁlled up the space between the two steep mountain sides, He said, "Blow with your bellows" Then, when he had made it red as fire, he said: ”Bring me, that I may pour over it, molten lead.”
(S: 18, V: 92-96)
Some ﬁfty years before Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar reigned Babylon. Babylonians worshipped idols and the Nebuchadnezzar was considered to the greatest god and this was his right to inflict punishment upon any kingdom, which he deemed appropriate. He attacked Jerusalem three times and treated the Palestinians like cattle. Josephus; the Jew historian writes; Even the most cruel butcher would not treat the sheep so mercilessly, which he takes to the slaughterhouse, as the Nebuchadnezzar treated the Children of Israel.
The Babylon had grown even stronger after the fall of Ashorites and no kingdom around her had the courage or strength to face her. After the fall of Jerusalem, King Nebuchadnezzar died and Belshazzar, who was a tyrant and self-seeking, became the king. He was not as brave or courageous as his predecessor. Daniel, one of the slaves from Israel, had exalted to the position of a councilor in the Babylonian Court of the king because of his wisdom and knowledge, tried to stop Belshazzar from his tyrannical approach many a times and when he saw that his words had no effect he dissociated himself from the court.
According to the Book of Daniel of Old Testament, Belshazzar, upon instigation of the queen, commanded to serve wine in the golden and silver vessels, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple of Jerusalem. The feast was going on when the Belshazzar saw a hand writing an inscription over the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace and the king saw the part of the hand and his countenance changed and his thoughts troubled him. The mysterious hand wrote MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. The king asked the interpretation of this writing from royal astrologers and the soothsayers and when no one could tell him the meanings of these words. Daniel interpreting this writing said, God has numbered thy kingdom and ﬁnished it. Thou are weighed in the balances and are found wanting. Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
Babylonians were looking for a way to get rid of their tyrant ruler. Some chiefs approached Cyrus and requested him to help them in getting rid of Belshazzar. Cyrus invaded Babylon as promised.
In those days no city had such a strong defenses Babylon had but the people of the city and the governor assisted him to enter the city. He entered the city and Belshazzar was killed, Darius, the Median, took the kingdom and the prophesy of Daniel thus came true.
Darius got various inscriptions engraved upon the rocks of mountains to leave his marks upon the history and made the generations to come to know of his and his predecessor’s achievements, method of governance and their beliefs. According to these inscriptions Cyrus was a pious king who believed in one God unlike the ancient Mogosh religion of Persia.
Ali (RA) has stated that Zulqarnain was not a prophet nor was he an angel. He was a human being who adored God and so did God adore him.
Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) said, “Zulqarnain was a pious and kind king. God liked his deeds and praised him in His Last Book; the holy Quran. He was indeed a great conqueror and a successful king.
When Cyrus conquering city after city reached, in the east, at a point where the limits of civilized world came to an end. He came upon such a people who did not know to erect even a tent what to say of a building and lived like wild animals. Nobody was familiar with the language, which they spoke.
Even the opponents and enemies had praised justice of Cyrus. Old Testament also testifies that he was a God-fearing and helped the Israelis only to free them from the tyrannical rule of the Babylonians and commanded the reconstruction of the Doom of the Rocks in Jerusalem for the worship of one God only.
When people said to him, “O Zulqarnain! The Gog and Magog do great mischief on earth, shall we then render thee tribute in order that thou might erect a barrier between us and them?”
He said, “That which God has granted me is better than the tributes. As a ruler it is my duty to serve my subjects from the enemies and to impose any tax upon you for that would not be fair. The treasures, which God has given me, are sufficient for this work,‘ you only extend hard work and labor to complete it.”
After the construction of the wall Zulqarnain said, “I have constructed this wall as strong as was humanly possible for me but it would not stand eternally and it would turn into dust when the promise of my God is fulﬁlled and the promise of God is indeed true. Everything except my Lord has to come to an end.”
This has also been told in this story that Zulqamain whose story of greatness has been related was not only a conqueror and ruler but was also a staunch believer of One God and in the Hereafter. He was a man of virtuous principles, believed in justice and was a very caring and kind to his subjects. He was not haughty and proud like other tyrant rulers of the world.
Once His Divine Grace Qalander Baba Auliya talking about Gog and Magog said, “Chinese tribes are the progeny of Gog and Mogog, and a time would come when China would ruler over the world and enjoy the supreme sovereignty. It means that this nation would become economically so developed and strong that it would have control all over the world and great empires would bow before her.”
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