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On The Sources Of The Qur'anic Dhul-Qarnayn


Islamic Awareness
Islamic Awareness, All Rights Reserved.
First Composed: 1st September 1999
Last Updated: 5th March 2006

Assalamu-`alaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

1. Introduction
Among Western scholars, the issue of Dhul-Qarnayn (the two-horned one) in Qur'an
18:82 had been a source of great debate. The debate surrounds not only the identity of
Dhul-Qarnayn but also the sources of the Qur'anic story. Who was he? Was he really
Alexander the Great? Hammer-Purgstall held that Dhul-Qarnayn was one of the old
kings of Yemen. Graf took exception to this view and cited the passages from
Ephippus and Clement that referred to the representations of Alexander as son of
Ammon with horns. He concluded that the identity of Dhul-Qarnayn is that of
Alexander. Graf's conclusions provoked the dissent of Redslob. Redslob, citing the
prophecy of Daniel in which the king of the Medes and Persians is interpreted as the
two-horned ram, proposed that Dhul-Qarnayn was Cyrus the Persian. Beer held that
the Dhul-Qarnayn in the Qur'an had adopted the form of the long awaited Jewish
redeemer or messiah. And others like Geiger have attempted to link Dhul-Qarnayn to
Moses. In the Western scholarhip, the issue of Dhul-Qarnayn's identity was finally
brought to a close by Nldeke who established that Dhul-Qarnayn was none other
than Alexander and the source of the Qur'anic narrations was the Syrian Christian
Legend ascribed to Jacob of Serugh (d. 521 CE). Nldeke dated the Christian
Legend to 514-515 CE. A similar claim that identifies Dhul-Qarnayn with Alexander
was made by Newton and other Christian missionaries/apologists. Nldeke's position
[1]

[2]

[3]

[4]

[5]

[6]

[7]

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was accept by many scholars until it was discovered that the internal evidence of
the Christian Legend suggested a post-Islamic date.
[8]

2. Dating The Christian Legend Attributed To Jacob Of Serug


The dating of the Christian Legend was based on the study of its internal evidence. At
the end of the text there is a mention that on the passing of 826 years, the Huns will
break forth and will subjugate peoples:
And king Alexander fetched [an engraver] and inscribed upon the gate: "The Huns shall go forth and conquer
the countries of the Romans and of the Persians, and shall cast arrows with...., and shall return and enter
their won land. Also I have written that, at the conclusion of eight hundred and twenty six years, the Huns
shall go forth by the narrow way which goes forth opposite Halrs, where the Tigris goes forth like the
stream which turns a mill, and they shall take captives the nations, and shall cut off the roads, and shall
make the earth tremble by their going forth. And again I have written and made known and prophesied that it
shall come to pass, at the conclusion of nine hundred and forty years,.... another king, when the world shall
come to an end by the command of God the ruler of creation. [9]

This passage is considered by all students to be of fundamental chronological


importance. If we compute according to the Era of the Seleucids, the successors of
Alexander (i.e., from 311), then 826-311 yields a year of 515 CE; which was the date
of the great Sabir invasion. This vaticinatio ex eventu (i.e. a prophesy or predication
after the event) is prophesied in the Christian Legend. Considering this vaticination
(prediction or prophesy), Nldeke held the view that the Christian Legend was
composed about 515 CE.
[10]

What about the second prediction or prophesy of the inscription: the 940th year? The
year 629 CE (i.e., 940-311) corresponds to the Greek Era of 940. Nldeke held it to be
a genuine vaticination (prediction or prophesy). He even admits that the Khazars, the
allies of Emperor Herakleios, invaded Armenia through the Caucasus in 627 CE. This
date however, argues Nldeke, did not refer to the beginning of the campaign (as
the Legend would have us suppose), but rather to the conclusion of a protracted
Byzantine-Persian war. Therefore, in Nldeke's opinion, the date 940 of the Greek Era
(= 629 CE) is purely arbitrary, as it should naturally be in the case of a genuine
vaticination.
Hunnius has convincingly argued against Nldeke's sixth century dating of Christian
Legend. He showed that certain parts point to the Khazar invasion of 629 CE - i.e.,
seventh century. Czegldy, using Kmosk's thesis, also argued that the Christian
Legend and metrical discourse of Jacob of Serugh came into its final form after 628
CE and that this argument is conclusive:
[11]

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... it is all the more regrettable that Kmosk's expositions, which settle the dispute, were not published earlier
than a few years ago, and even then only in extracts. Kmosk has a whole series of arguments to prove that
both the metrical Legend and the prose text of the same contain unmistakable references to the war of
Khosrav II and Herakleios. Hence both variants, in their present forms, contain variant of the Legend that
came into being as an adaption definitely after 628. Kmosk's arguments are surely conclusive. An adaption
of this kind is a natural phenomenon in apocalyptic literature: after the passing of the date foretold in the
latest vaticination, the subsequent adapters inserts new prophecies into the text. [12]

This identification only gives us the date 628 CE as terminus a quo (a point of origin
or a first limiting point in time). The text gives no date by which to fix the terminus
ad quem (a final limiting point in time). Similarly Gero says:
Several features of the text [i.e., the Christian Legend] also occur in the Koranic narrative - the famous horns
of Alexander, the journey to the west and then to the east, and of course the central theme of the gate, which
will be opened at an apocalyptic Endzeit by divine command. But although this has been proposed by Nldeke
and often repeated since, the work also does not qualify as a direct source for the 'two-horned' Alexander of
the Koran, at least not in its present form; recent investigations indicate an ex eventu knowledge of the
Khazar invasion of Armenia in A.D. 629.

The prose legend (nesh n) was then in turn the literary source of the Syriac metrical homily discourse
attributed to Jacob of Sarug (sixth century) in the manuscripts. The poem, however, was actually written in
the seventh century, shortly before the Muslim conquest of Mesopotamia and Palestine. [13]

Sir Wallis Budge indicated a long time ago that the Christian Legend had been reworked and is burdened with additions, and that this work is that of Jacob of Serugh is
improbable:
This composition appears to be an abbreviated form of which known to us is that given in the metrical
discourse on Alexander attributed to Jacob of Serugh; both these works, in turn are based upon chapters
xxxvii-xxxix of the second book of Pseudo-Callisthenes according to Muller's greek MS. C. The Christian
Legend has been burdened with many additions, evidently the work of the Christian redactor, which have no
connexion whatever with the story. On the other hand many passages, as, for example, the account of his
descent into the sea in a glass cage, have been entirely omitted. The names of the places which are given us
freely in this legend seem to indicate that it was drawn up at a very late period; that it is the work of Jacob of
Serugh is improbable. [14]

Recent extensive studies on the influence by Syriac Pseudo-Callisthenes on Qur'an


18:60-102 (which includes the story of Dhul-Qarnayn) by Wheeler have shown that it
was the Qur'anic commentaries and not the Qur'an that adopted the Alexander stories
among other near eastern stories to explain the verses 18:60-102. Wheeler's
conclusion can be shown in the following form:
[15]

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3. Conclusions
It has been claimed by Nldeke and subsequent scholarship that the Qur'anic story of
Dhul-Qarnayn was borrowed from the Christian Legend attributed to Jacob of Serugh.
Internal evidence however shows that it was composed after 628 CE. Investigations
by Hunnius, Kmosk and Czegldy have conclusively shown that the writer had ex
eventu (i.e., a prophesy or predication after the event) knowledge of Khazar invasion
of Armenia. The text provides no date by which the terminus ad quem (a final limiting
point in time) can be fixed.
It is not only important to know the dates of composition of the individual works that
are used to establish the theories of borrowing, but to also understand the difference
between the Qur'an and the Qur'anic commentaries.
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References & Notes


[1] F. v. Hammer-Purgstall, "Auszge Aus Saalebi's Buche Der Sttzen Des Sich
Beziehenden Und Dessen Worauf Es Sich Bezieht ", Zeitschrift Der Deutschen
Morgenlndischen Gesellschaft , 1852, Volume 6, p. 506.
[2] K. H. Graf, "Ueber Den "Zweihrnten" Des Koran ", Zeitschrift Der Deutschen
Morgenlndischen Gesellschaft , 1854, Volume 8, pp. 442-449.
[3] G. M. Redslob, "Ueber Den "Zweihrnigen" Des Koran ", Zeitschrift Der Deutschen
Morgenlndischen Gesellschaft , 1855, Volume 9, pp. 214-223.
[4] B. Beer, "Welchen Aufschluss Geben Jdische Quellen ber Den "Zweihrnigen" Des
Koran?", Zeitschrift Der Deutschen Morgenlndischen Gesellschaft , 1855, Volume 9, pp.
785-794.
[5] A. Geiger, Judaism And Islam (English Translation Of Was hat Mohammed aus dem
Judenthume aufgenommen? ), 1970, Ktav Publishing House Inc.: New York, pp. 135136.
[6] Th. Nldeke, "Beitrge Zur Geschichte Des Alexanderroman ", Denkschriften Der
Kaiserlichen Akademie Der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-Historische Classe , 1890,
Volume 37, pp. 31; Theodor Noldeke, "The Koran", Encyclopdia Britannica , 1893,
Volume 16, Adam And Charles Black: Edinburgh, p. 600. This article was reprinted
many times with slight modifications. See T. Nldeke (J. S. Black [Trans.]), Sketches
From Eastern History , 1892, Adam and Charles Black: London & Edinburgh, p. 30.
This article was reprinted and edited by N. A. Newman, The Qur'an: An Introductory
Essay By Theodor Nldeke , 1992, Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute: Hatfield
(PA), p. 9; Also see Theodor Nldeke, "The Koran" in Ibn Warraq, The Origins Of The
Koran: Classic Essays On Islam's Holy Book , 1998, Prometheus Books, p. 43; Also see
Theodor Nldeke, "The Koran" in C. Turner (Ed.), The Koran: Critical Concepts In
Islamic Studies , 2004, Volume I (Provenance and Transmission), RoutledgeCurzon:
London & New York, pp. 77-78.
[7] `Abdallah `Abd al-Fadi, Is The Qur'an Infallible? , 1995, Light of Life: Villach
(Austria), pp. 84-86; R. F. Safa, Inside Islam: Exposing And Reaching For The World Of
Islam, 1996, Creation House: Orlando (FL), p. 71; M. Elass, Understanding the Koran:
A Quick Christian Guide To The Muslim Holy Book , 2004, Zondervan: Grand Rapids
(MI), p. 99. Elass says that "the early linkage, however, provides an embarrassment to
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later Muslim scholarship, for Alexander was a pagan polytheist, and it would not do to
canonize a heathen king as a true prophet of Allah." Not surprisingly, Elass did not
provide the source of early "linkage" leading to "embarrassment"; R. Morey, The
Islamic Invasion: Confronting The World's Fastest Growing Religion , 1992, Harvest House
Publishers: Eugene (OR), pp. 144-145. Robert Morey claims "one of the greatest
errors in the Quran concerns Alexander the Great, who is called Zul-qarnain."; N. A.
Newman, Muhammad, The Qur'an & Islam , 1996, Interdisciplinary Biblical Research
Institute: Hatfield (PA), p. 377. Quoting Nldeke and Schwally, Newman says that the
"Qur'anic narrative is based on Syriac Alexander the Great legend which appears to
have been written in 515-516 AD"; Abdullah Al-Araby, Islam Unveiled, 2002 (10th
Edition), The Pen Vs. The Sword: Los Angeles (CA), p. 44; D. Ali & R.
Spencer, Inside Islam: A Guide To Catholics , 2003, Ascension Press: West Chester (PA),
p. 73. According to Daniel Ali and Robert Spencer, the Qur'an "claims that Alexander
the Great was a Muslim in the story of Zul-qarnain (Sura 18:89-98), whom Muslim
exegetes both ancient and modern identify as Alexander. Such appropriation of
historical figures might be understandable in the case of a figure like Abraham, but
Alexander was not even a monotheist."
[8] See for example: I. Friedlnder, Die Chadhirlegende Und Der Alexanderroman , 1913,
Druck Und Verlag Von B. G. Teubner: Leipzig, p. 278; J. Horovitz, Koranische
Untersuchungen, 1926, Walter De Gruyter: Berlin & Leipzig, p. 111; A. R. Anderson,
"Alexander's Horns", Transactions And Proceedings Of The American Philological
Association, 1927, Volume LVIII, pp. 110-111; A. R. Anderson, Alexander's Gate, Gog
And Magog, And The Inclosed Nations , 1932, The Mediaeval Academy Of America:
Cambridge, MA, pp. 29-30; C. C. Torrey, The Jewish Foundation Of Islam , 1967, Ktav
Publishing House, Inc.: New York, p. 35 and 125.; A. Jeffery, The Koran: Selected
Suras, 1958, The Heritage Press: New York, NY, p. 220, n. 9; J. A. Boyle, " The
Alexander Romance In The East And West ", Bulletin Of The John Rylands University
Library Of Manchester , 1977, Volume 60, pp. 19-20.; M. S. Southgate, Iskandarnamah:
A Persian Medieval Alexander Romance , 1978, Columbia University Press, New York, p.
201; Ibn Warraq, Why I Am Not A Muslim , 1995, Prometheus Books: Amherst, NY, p.
61; A. Rippin, Muslims: Their Religious Beliefs And Practices , 2003, Routledge, p. 22.
[9] E. A. W. Budge, The History Of Alexander The Great Being The Syriac Version Of The
Pseudo-Callisthenes , 1889, Cambridge: At The University Press, p. 154.
[10] K. Czegldy, "The Syriac Legend Concerning Alexander The Great ", Acta Orientalia
Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae , 1957, Volume 7, p. 246.
[11] C. Hunnius, Das Syrische Alexanderlied , 1905, Gttingen, pp. 21-24.
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[12] K. Czegldy, "The Syriac Legend Concerning Alexander The Great ", Acta Orientalia
Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae , op cit., pp. 246-247. Czegldy also discusses
Kmosk's arguments concerning metrical discourse of Jacob of Serug in " Monographs
On Syriac And Muhammadan Sources In The Literary Remains Of M. Kmosk ", Acta
Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae , 1954, Volume 4, pp. 35-36. For the
discussion on the Syriac prose legend refer to pp. 31-34.
[13] S. Gero, "The Legend Of Alexander The Great In The Christian Orient ", Bulletin Of
The John Rylands University Library Of Manchester , 1993, Volume 75, p. 7.
[14] E. A. W. Budge, The History Of Alexander The Great Being The Syriac Version Of The
Pseudo-Callisthenes , op cit., p. lxxvii.
[15] B. M. Wheeler in "Moses Or Alexander? Early Islamic Exegesis Of Qur'an 18:6065", Journal Of Near Eastern Studies , 1998, Volume 57, p. 203.
Back To Sources Of The Qur'an
http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Sources/BBhorned.html

Is The Source Of Qur'an 18:60-65 The Alexander Romances?


Islamic Awareness
Islamic Awareness, All Rights Reserved.
First Composed: 17th August 1999
Last Updated: 17th October 2005

Assalamu-`alaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

1. Introduction
18.60: Behold, Moses said to his attendant, "I will not give up until I reach the junction of the two seas or
(until) I spend years and years in travel."

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18.61: But when they reached the Junction, they forgot (about) their Fish, which took its course through the
sea (straight) as in a tunnel.
18.62: When they had passed on (some distance), Moses said to his attendant: "Bring us our early meal;
truly we have suffered much fatigue at this (stage of) our journey."
18.63 He replied: "Sawest thou (what happened) when we betook ourselves to the rock? I did indeed forget
(about) the Fish: none but Satan made me forget to tell (you) about it: it took its course through the sea in a
marvellous way!"
18.64 Moses said: "That was what we were seeking after:" So they went back on their footsteps, following
(the path they had come).
18.65 So they found one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed Mercy from Ourselves and whom We
had taught knowledge from Our own Presence.
The Holy Qur'an 18:60-65

Western scholars have claimed that Qur'an 18:60-65 is dependent upon stories from the
Alexander Romances. Perhaps the most influential theory regarding the character of Qur'an
18:60-65 is that of Arent Wensinck's article "Al-Khadir " in the Encyclopaedia Of Islam .
This article has been printed in both the first (1927, Volume II) and the second (1978)
editions of the Encyclopaedia Of Islam without any changes.
[1]

2. The Qur'an 18:60-65 & Alexander Romances


According to Wensinck and most of the subsequent scholarship, Qur'an 18:60-65 depends
on elements of Alexander Romances. The primary reason for associating the Qur'anic story
with Alexander is the identification of the fish in Qur'an 18:61 and 18:63 with the dried fish
in certain versions of the Alexander stories, which comes to life when Alexander's cook
washes it in the "spring of life". One of the first people to link the Alexander stories and
Qur'an 18:60-82 were Lidzbarski and Dyroff in 1892. The link was subsequently
developed by Vollers, Hartmann and Friedlnder.
[2]

[3]

[5]

[6]

[4]

[7]

Before Friedlnder's work, the association of the Alexander stories with Qur'an 18:60-82 was
based on the presence of "al-Khidr" in the Arabic, Ethiopic, and Persian versions of the
Alexander stories. The basis of interpretation of Qur'an 18:60-65 was in the light of
identification of the "servant of God" with al-Khidr in Qur'an 18:60-65 and thus the
association of al-Khidr with Alexander. These scholars did not perceive that the Arabic,
Ethiopic, and Persian versions of Alexander stories which feature al-Khidr are not the
sources of Qur'an 18:60-65 ; they are rather based upon the early Islamic commentator's
identification of the "servant of God" in the Qur'an 18:65 with al-Khidr. In other words, the
Arabic, Ethiopic, and Persian versions of Alexander stories came about after the advent of
Islam.
[8]

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The Syriac version of the Alexander stories has been dated from between the sixth and the
tenth centuries. Budge had argued for the Syriac version to be dated roughly between the
seventh and ninth centuries. On the basis of the spelling of proper names and vocabulary,
Wright had argued that the Syriac translation was made from an Arabic original and places it
in the tenth century. Nldeke dated the Syriac version to the late sixth century. He argued
that the spelling and vocabulary indicate not an Arabic but a Pahlavi origin. This dating
was based on the assumption that the bulk of Pahlavi literature appeared in the fifth and sixth
centuries. This appears to be the most accepted dating of the Syriac version. Aside from the
issues of dating, it is important to recognize that the fish episode, which is a key point in both
Friedlnder and Wensinck's argument that Qur'an 18:60-65 was derived from Alexander
stories, does not occur in the Syriac version . The Syriac version is, in fact,
[9]

[10]

... a source of much of non-Koranic Alexander tradition and legend in the Islamic world... [11]

The origin of the fish episode, according to Friedlnder, is a passage from the sermon on
Alexander by Jacob of Serugh dated to early part of the sixth century; the dating is based on
Jacob of Serugh's death in 521 CE. Lines 170-197 describe how an old man tells Alexander
to command his cook to take the salted fish and wash it at every spring of water he finds.
When the fish comes to life, the old man explains, the cook will have found the water of life.
The sermon then continues by mentioning how the cook was washing the fish in the spring
when it comes to life and swims away. The cook, fearing Alexander may want the fish back,
jumps into the water to retrieve the fish and gains immortality himself. A close parallel to
the fish episode is to be found in the Greek versions of the Alexander stories. The story, not
found in recension , occurs in recension . The latter is dated to sometime between
recensions and recension and L, identified as a later manuscript of recension . Let us
summarize the issues surrounding the fish episode in various Greek recensions.
[12]

[13]

[14]

Recension

Date

Contents of the fish episode

recension[15]

The 3rd century CE

None

Between the 4th and 6th


centuries CE

Shorter fish episode. Contains the story of


fish escaping but not the cook gaining
immortality. Cook does not tell anybody
about the fish.

recension[17]

Not earlier than middle of the


6th century CE

Cook takes the water of life in a silver vessel


and gives some of it to Alexander's
daughter.

recension[18]

Not earlier than the 6th century


CE

Cook takes the water of life in a silver vessel


and gives some of it to Alexander's
daughter.

recension

[16]

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In all the Greek recensions, the cook finds the spring of life by accident in contrast with
Alexander's instructions in Jacob of Serug's sermon that the cook used the fish as an
indication that he had found the spring of life.

3. The Case Against The Alexander Romances And The Sermon Of Jacob
Of Serugh
Friedlnder takes the position that the entire story of Moses and al-Khidr in the
commentaries on the Qur'an 18:60-65 is taken from Alexander Romance. According to him
the character identified as Moses in the Qur'an is Alexander. Alexander's cook is made into
two different characters, both the servant of Moses of Qur'an 18:61-65 and the mysterious
servant of God of Qur'an 18:65. Friedlnder opines that the commentaries' identification of
the servant of God with al-Khidr is an attempt to explain the third character of the story.
Wensinck adopts a position similar to that of Friedlnder but he rejects that notion that the
two servants are the same character and the exclusive identification of Alexander's cook with
al-Khidr. Wensinck accepts the identification of Alexander's cook with Moses' servant along
with the fish from the two sources. In order to support his viewpoint, Wensinck says that
the Arabic term "fat", as used for Moses' servant, is more consistent with an appellation for
Alexander's cook. For Wensinck, this shows that Qur'an 18:60-65 is dependent on the
Alexander romance rather than Ibn Shahin's story of Joshua b. Levi from which Qur'an
18:60-65 is allegedly derived. It should also be added that Wensinck denies the connection
which Friedlnder makes between the water of life and the meeting place of the two waters.
[19]

[20]

Brannon Wheeler, who has discussed this issue of "borrowing" as adduced by Friedlnder
and Wensinck in great detail, says that:
There are a number of reservations against these contentions concerning the identity of the "fish" in the
Alexander romance and Q 18:61 and 63. The identity of two fish is itself problematic. While the story in Q
18:60-65 has in common with the fish episode in Jacob of Serugh's sermon a fish whose escape is either
made or noticed just before it is eaten, and mention of the some unusual water, it is not necessary to equate
the two stories. Given the information in the Qur'an alone, it is uncertain that the fish in 18:61 and 63 was
dead and escaped by being brought back to life in the water of life. Q 18:61 states that the two people,
presumably Moses and his companion, forgot their fish, which made its way into the water. Q 18:63 likewise
states that the fish made its way into the water. In neither case is there an indication, first that the fish was
dead and, second, that if it were dead its escape was due to its contact with the water of life. Even if it is
assumed that the fish was dead and escaped by coming back to life, there is no indication in verses 61 or 63
that this resurrection took place on account of the fish coming in contact with the water of life. In fact, in
verse 63 Moses' companion states that the fish escpaed while he and Moses were taking refuge on a rock. [21]

Further he adds that:


More problematic for identifying Q 18:60-65 with the Alexander stories is the tendency of western scholars to
confuse the information given in the Qur'an with its interpretation in the commentaries, just as the scholars
confused the Qur'an and the commentaries in relation to Q 18:66-82. In the case of the fish episode,
Wensinck and others have not paid close enough attention both to the variety within the early commentaries
and to development of the explanations of Q 18:60-65 from the earlier to the later commentaries. For
example, Q 18:61 states that the fish escapes making its way saraban. The term saraban has been
understood as describing the fish's escape as a "miracle" in most translations of this verse. That the fish
escaped by a miracle would be consistent with this episode having been taken from the Alexander Romance,
where the fish, already dead, is brought back to life by the water of life and swims away. This understanding
of the fish's escape is at odds with that of the commentaries, however.[22]

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Wheeler, then discusses al-Tabari's commentary concerning how saraban describes the fish's
escape. Al-Tabari lists three explanations of how saraban describes the fish's escape. The
first explanation says that the fish made it way through a rock or water passage which Moses
later discovered and followed to reach al-Khidr. The second says that wherever the fish
swam the water became solid like rock, and Moses was able to walk over the water to an
island on which he met al-Khidr. The third explanation states that the fish made it way across
dry land only until it reached the water. In all the three explanations, it is assumed that the
word saraban relates to the fish's escape via dry land. Hence there were variety of
interpretations given to Qur'an 18:60-65 in the early Muslim exegesis. Wheeler adds that:
[23]

There is also little indication that Q 18:60-65 was initially identified with the Alexander stories, except in two
reports that reflect an attempt to link the fish in the Qur'an with the fish episode from the Alexander
stories.... This interpretation insofar as it parallels the Alexander stories, must be distinguished from the
information given in the Qur'an itself. The report of Ibn `Abbas is neither the only nor the "original"
interpretation of the passage, but rather, it is an attempt to make an association between the Qur'an and
otherwise extra-Qur'anic stories. [24]

Wheeler points out that in later commentaries, overtime, the fish episode in the Qur'an 18:6065 became increasing identified with the fish episode in the Alexander stories. It is likely that
by the twelfth or possibly as early as eleventh century, based on the Persian recensions of the
Alexander stories, commentators understood the Qur'an 18:60-65 to be an allusion of the
Alexander stories.
Apart from these issues, there are many theories concerning the reconstruction of the history
of the Alexander stories' recensions; many of them based on mere assumptions. It is
uncertain that the Syriac Pseudo-Callithenes was not written as late as the ninth century, even
if we assume it was taken from a Pahlavi original as Nldeke claims. Even if it was taken
from a Pahlavi original, it would be incumbent to show from where the Pahlavi recension is
derived. The most obvious possibilities would be some of the later manuscripts of
recension or recension , which contain roughly the same material. It should be noted that,
however, that the usual reconstruction of the history of the Alexander stories' recensions
make and independent of the Syriac recension, which derives from a
hypothetical recension. Keeping these possibilities in mind Wheeler says:
[25]

It is not possible to show that the Ethiopic and Persian versions of the Alexander stories are derived directly
from the Syriac versions. There are number of problems with the dating of the Syriac versions and their
supposed influence on the Qur'an and later Alexander stories, not the least of which is the confusion of what
has been called the Syriac Pseudo-Callisthenes, the sermon of Jacob of Serugh, and the so-called Syriac
Legend of Alexander. Second, the key elements of Q 18:60-65, 18:83-102, and the story of Ibn Hisham's
Sa`b dhu al-Qarnayn do not occur in the Syriac Pseudo-Callisthenes. The fish episode, found in the sermon of
Jacob of Serugh, although not necessarily the source of Q 18:60-65, is also missing from Syriac PseudoCallisthenes. Third, the brief so-called Legend of Alexander, which has been said to be a prose version of
Jacob of Serugh's sermon, is not identical with the sermon, nor is it necessary to make it dependent upon the
Syriac Pseudo-Callisthenes. It omits several elements found in the Jacob of Serugh's sermon, including the
fish episode, and the elements it does mention could be derived from an independent Greek or Pahlavi source.
Fourth, although Jacob of Serugh's sermon does contain the fish episode, albeit a story not identical with the
more elaborate fish episode in the later Greek recensions, the sermon does not include the same key
elements in the Qur'an and associated with Sa`b dhu al-Qarnayn. [26]

Based on the extensive studies concerning the influence by Syriac Pseudo-Callisthenes on


Qur'an 18:60-102, Wheeler's conclusion can be shown in the following form:
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Thus, the story in Qur'an 18:60-65, although later identified as the fish episode from the
Alexander stories, does not resemble the earlier stories and is independent of the Alexander
stories.
3.1 Dating The Christian Legend Attributed To Jacob Of Serugh
Leaving aside the above discussion on the untenability of the sermon of Jacob of Serugh
being the source of Qur'an 18:60-65, just based on the dates suggested above for the
composition of Jacob of Serugh's sermon, it can be said that this was the source of the fish
story in the Qur'an. Nldeke ascribed the Christian Legend Concerning Alexander to Jacob
of Serugh, who died in 521 CE, and dates its composition 514-515 CE. According to
Nldeke, the Legend reflected the invasion of Sabirian Huns in 515 CE, and that it was
composed soon thereafter. He implied that the theme of the Christian Legend was one which
[27]

[28]

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was created anew out of Alexander Pseudo-Callisthenes. This dating was Nldeke was
accepted with minor reservations.
[29]

However, it was pointed out by Hunnius that the Legend contain an ex eventu (i.e., prophesy
after the fact) knowledge of the Khazar invasion of Armenia (as the allies of Emperor
Herakleios) in 628 CE. Hunnius has convincingly argued against Nldeke's 6th century
dating of Christian Legend. Czegldy, using Kmosk's thesis, has also argued that the dating
the Christian Legend of Jacob of Serugh to 628 CE is conclusive.
[30]

... it is all the more regrettable that Kmosk's expositions, which settle the dispute, were not published earlier
than a few years ago, and even then only in extracts. Kmosk has a whole series of arguments to prove that
both the metrical Legend and the prose text of the same contain unmistakable references to the war of
Khosrav II and Herakleios. Hence both variants, in their present forms, contain variant of the Legend that
came into being as an adaption definitely after 628. Kmosk's arguments are surely conclusive. An adaption
of this kind is a natural phenomenon in apocalyptic literature: after the passing of the date foretold in the
latest vaticination [prediction or prophesy], the subsequent adapters inserts new prophecies into the text. [31]

The identification only gives us the date 628 CE as terminus a quo (a point of origin or a first
limiting point in time). The text of the poem gives no date by which to fix the terminus ad
quem (a final limiting point in time). Similarly Gero says:
Several features of the text [i.e., the Christian Legend] also occur in the Koranic narrative - the famous horns
of Alexander, the journey to the west and then to the east, and of course the central theme of the gate, which
will be opened at an apocalyptic Endzeit by divine command. But although this has been proposed by Nldeke
and often repeated since, the work also does not qualify as a direct source for the 'two-horned' Alexander of
the Koran, at least not in its present form; recent investigations indicate an ex eventu knowledge of the
Khazar invasion of Armenia in A.D. 629.
The prose legend (nesh n) was then in turn the literary source of the Syriac metrical homily discourse
attributed to Jacob of Sarug (sixth century) in the manuscripts. The poem, however, was actually written in
the seventh century, shortly before the Muslim conquest of Mesopotamia and Palestine. [32]

Sir Budge indicated a long time ago that the Christian Legend has been re-worked and is
burdened with additions and that this work is that of Jacob of Serugh is improbable.
This composition appears to be an abbreviated form of which known to us is that given in the metrical
discourse on Alexander attributed to Jacob of Serugh; both these works, in turn are based upon chapters
xxxvii-xxxix of the second book of Pseudo-Callisthenes according to Muller's Greek MS. C. The Christian
Legend has been burdened with many additions, evidently the work of the Christian redactor, which have no
connexion whatever with the story. On the other hand many passages, as, for example, the account of his
descent into the sea in a glass cage, have been entirely omitted. The names of the places which are given us
freely in this legend seem to indicate that it was drawn up at a very late period; that it is the work of Jacob of
Serugh is improbable. [33]

4. Conclusions
It is perhaps best to conclude using Wheeler's study on the alleged sources of the Qur'an
18:60-102; that includes the story of Moses and al-Khidr as well as Dhul-Qarnayn.
It is tempting, given the perplexing character of Q 18:60-82, to make connections between the Qur'an and
other stories circulating in roughly the same period. Q 18:60-82 is rich in symbolism and possible allusions to
other late antique motifs. The explanation given to these verses by Wensinck, and followed by the bulk of

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subsequent scholarship, is mistaken, however, in its lack of adequate attention to the dates and provenance
of the so-called sources for Q 18:60-82. Wensinck's explanation is self-serving in that it supports the
assumption that the Qur'an is comprised of Jewish and Christian materials both garbled in transmission and
confused by Muhammad. By demonstrating that the admixture contained in the Qur'an can be understood
only with knowledge of the original versions of the stories upon which it is dependent, scholars such as
Wensinck were able to put themselves in a privileged position vis--vis other interpretations of the Qur'an.
This approach to Q 18:60-82 results in an erudite-sounding explanation but misses a number of crucial
points.[34]

Further, he adds:
It is important to recognize the Qur'an sharing in larger culture of late antiquity, but it is unfortunate to
ignore the pivotal role played by the early commentators in identifying and appropriating certain late antique
motifs to the understanding of the Qur'an. Q 18:60-82 is not necessarily derived from the Alexander stories.
On the contrary, a more discerning examination of the different texts show that the later recensions of the
Alexander stories are dependent upon the Qur'an as understood through the medium of early Muslim
commentators. Key elements of the later stories, such as the appellation of "Dhu al-Qarnayn" attributed to
Alexander owe their origins to the commentaries. A closer analysis of the commentaries on Q 18:60-82 shows
the development of an increased association of Q 18:60-82 and 83-102 with Alexander stories. This
recognition makes it possible to obtain a fresh understanding of the reconstruction of the history of the later
recensions of the Alexander stories. [35]

As for the Christian Legend, terminus a quo for its composition is 628 CE. In conclusion, it
is not only important to know the dates of composition of the individual works that are used
to establish the theories of borrowing, but also to understand the difference between the
Qur'an and the Qur'anic commentaries.

References & Notes


[1] "Al-Khadir ", Encyclopaedia Of Islam , 1978, Volume IV, E. J. Brill (Leiden) & Luzac &
Co. (London), pp. 902-903.
[2] A. Jeffery, The Koran: Selected Suras , 1958, The Heritage Press: New York (NY), p. 220,
n. 6; C. C. Torrey, The Jewish Foundation Of Islam , 1967, Ktav Publishing House, Inc.: New
York, pp. 123-125; Ibn Warraq, Why I Am Not A Muslim , 1995, Prometheus Books: Amherst
(NY), pp. 60-61; N. A. Newman, Muhammad, The Qur'an & Islam , 1996, Interdisciplinary
Biblical Research Institute: Hatfield (PA), p. 377. A very confusing view is presented by
Newman. It is not clear from Newman's writings what exactly is the alleged source of the
Qur'anic story.
[3] M. Lidzbarski, "Wer Ist Chadhir? ", Zeitschrift Fr Assyriologie Und Verwandte Gebiete ,
1892, Volume 7, pp. 104-106.
[4] K. Dyroff, "Wer Ist Chadhir? ", Zeitschrift Fr Assyriologie Und Verwandte Gebiete ,
1892, Volume 7, pp. 319-327.
[5] K. Vollers, "Chidher?", Archiv Fr Religionswissenschaft , 1909, Volume 12, pp. 234-284.

Page 14 of 45

Page 15 of 45

[6] R. Hartmann, "Zur Erklrung Von Sre 18, 59 ff", Zeitschrift Fr Assyriologie Und
Verwandte Gebiete , 1910, Volume 24, pp. 307-315.
[7] I. Friedlnder, "Zur Geschichte Der Chadhirlegende ", Archiv Fr Religionswissenschaft ,
1910, Volume 13, pp. 92-110; I. Friedlnder, "Alexanders Zug Nach Dem Lebensquell Und
Die Chadhirlegende", Archiv Fr Religionswissenschaft , 1910, Volume 13, pp. 161-246;
Much of the argument from these two articles is in I. Friedlnder's, Die Chadhirlegende Und
Der Alexanderroman , 1913, Druck Und Verlag Von B. G. Teubner: Leipzig.
[8] For Persian Alexander Romances see M. S. Southgate, Iskandarnamah: A Persian
Medieval Alexander Romance , 1978, Columbia University Press: New York, pp. 167-185.
Southgate has depicted the origins of various Alexander romances pictorially on p. 185; For
Ethiopic versions see E. A. W. Budge, The Life And Exploits Of Alexander The Great: Being
A Series Of Translations Of The Ethiopic Histories Of Alexander By The PseudoCallisthenes And Other Writers , 1896, London; A good overview of some of the versions of
Alexander stories is in E. A. W. Budge, The History Of Alexander The Great Being The
Syriac Version Of The Pseudo-Callisthenes , 1889, Cambridge: At The University Press, pp.
lii-cxi.
[9] E. A. W. Budge, The History Of Alexander The Great Being The Syriac Version Of The
Pseudo-Callisthenes , 1889, op cit., p. lx.
[10] Th. Nldeke, "Beitrge Zur Geschichte Des Alexanderroman ", Denkschriften Der
Kaiserlichen Akademie Der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-Historische Classe , 1890,
Volume 37, pp. 30-32.
[11] S. Gero, "The Legend Of Alexander The Great In The Christian Orient ", Bulletin Of The
John Rylands University Library Of Manchester , 1993, Volume 75, p. 5.
[12] E. A. W. Budge, The History Of Alexander The Great Being The Syriac Version Of The
Pseudo-Callisthenes , 1889, op cit., lines 170-197 on pp. 172-175 describe the fish episode in
the sermon on Alexander by Jacob of Serug.
[13] I. Friedlnder, "Alexanders Zug Nach Dem Lebensquell Und Die
Chadhirlegende ", Archiv Fr Religionswissenschaft , 1910, op cit., pp. 210-221 for in-depth
discussion.
[14] The list is derived from the discussion by B. M. Wheeler in " Moses Or Alexander? Early
Islamic Exegesis Of Qur'an 18:60-65 ", Journal Of Near Eastern Studies , 1998, Volume 57,
pp. 194-195.
[15] This recension is found in a single complete manuscript. For other Greek manuscripts
see Parisina Supplementum, Greci 689 in J. Trumpf's, "Eine Unbekannte Sammlung Von
Auszgen Aus Dem Griechischen Alexanderroman ", Classica Et Mediaevalia: Revue
Danoise De Philologie Et D'Histoire, 1965, Volume 26, pp. 83-100; Codex Vaticano Greci
Page 15 of 45

Page 16 of 45

1700 in G. Ballaira's, "Frammenti Inediti Della Perduta Recensione d Del Romanzo Di


Alessandro In Un Codice Vaticano ", Bollettino Del Comitato Per La Preparazione Della
Edizione Nazionale Dei Classici Greci E Latini (NS) , 1965, Volume 13, pp. 27-59.
[16] More information about recension in L. Bergson's, Der Griechische Alexanderroman
Rezension , 1965, Almqvist & Wiksell: Uppsala. For a brief discussion on the manuscripts
that represent recension see pp. v-viii.
[17] A good description of recension is in H. van Thiel's, Die Rezension Des PseudoKallisthenes, 1959, Rudolph Habelt Verlag: Bonn. For various manuscripts of this recension
see pp. 9-.
[18] For recension see R. Merkelbach's, Die Quellen Des Griechischen Alexanderromans ,
1954, C. H. Beck'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung: Mnchen.
[19] "Al-Khadir", Encyclopaedia Of Islam , Volume IV, op cit., p. 904.
[20] ibid., p. 903.
[21] B. M. Wheeler "Moses Or Alexander? Early Islamic Exegesis Of Qur'an 18:6065", Journal Of Near Eastern Studies , 1998, op cit., pp. 195-196.
[22] ibid., pp. 197-198.
[23] ibid., p. 198.
[24] ibid.
[25] ibid., p. 201. A brief and lucid introduction to various recensions can be found in R.
Stoneman's The Greek Alexander Romance , 1991, Penguin Books, pp. 28-31; Also see G.
Cary's The Medieval Alexander , 1956, Cambridge at the University Press, pp. 9-12.
[26] B. M. Wheeler "Moses Or Alexander? Early Islamic Exegesis Of Qur'an 18:6065", Journal Of Near Eastern Studies , 1998, op cit., pp. 201-202.
[27] Th. Nldeke, "Beitrge Zur Geschichte Des Alexanderroman ", Denkschriften Der
Kaiserlichen Akademie Der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-Historische Classe , op cit., pp.
31.
[28] E. A. W. Budge, The History Of Alexander The Great Being The Syriac Version Of The
Pseudo-Callisthenes , 1889, op cit., p. 154.
[29] See A. R. Anderson, "Alexander's Horns ", Transactions And Proceedings Of The
American Philological Association , 1927, Volume LVIII, pp. 110-111; A. R.
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Page 17 of 45

Anderson, Alexander's Gate, Gog And Magog, And The Inclosed Nations , 1932, The
Mediaeval Academy Of America: Cambridge, MA, pp. 29-30; M. S.
Southgate, Iskandarnamah: A Persian Medieval Alexander Romance , 1978, Columbia
University Press: New York, p. 201.
[30] C. Hunnius, Das Syrische Alexanderlied , 1905, Gttingen, pp. 21-24. Interestingly,
Nldeke was aware of this date of Khazar invasion and he holds it as a genuine vaticination.
He even admits that the Khazars, as the allies of Emperor Herakleios, invaded Armenia,
through the Caucasus in 627 CE. This however, argues Nldeke, did not mean the beginning
of a campaign, as the Legend would make us suppose, but rather the conclusion of a
protracted Byzantine-Persian war. Therefore, in Nldeke's opinion, the date 940 of Greek Era
(= 629 CE) is purely arbitrary, as it should naturally be in the case of a genuine vaticination.
For the text of Christian Legend see E. A. W. Budge, The History Of Alexander The Great
Being The Syriac Version Of The Pseudo-Callisthenes , 1889, op cit., p. 154.
[31] K. Czegldy, "The Syriac Legend Concerning Alexander The Great ", Acta Orientalia
Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae , 1957, Volume 7, pp. 246-247. Czegldy also discusses
Kmosk's arguments concerning metrical discourse of Jacob of Serug in " Monographs On
Syriac And Muhammadan Sources In The Literary Remains Of M. Kmosk ", Acta Orientalia
Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae , 1954, Volume 4, pp. 35-36. For the discussion on the
Syriac prose legend refer to pp. 31-34.
[32] S. Gero, "The Legend Of Alexander The Great In The Christian Orient ", Bulletin Of The
John Rylands University Library Of Manchester , op cit., p. 7.
[33] E. A. W. Budge, The History Of Alexander The Great Being The Syriac Version Of The
Pseudo-Callisthenes , op cit., p. lxxvii.
[34] B. M. Wheeler "Moses Or Alexander? Early Islamic Exegesis Of Qur'an 18:6065", Journal Of Near Eastern Studies , 1998, op cit., p. 214.
[35] ibid.
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Who was Dhul-Qarnain and where is his


wall?

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[18:83] And they ask you about Dhul-Qarnain. Say, I shall now recite to you some
narration about him.

Mufti

by

Qur'aan

Mariful

from

Adopted

)Mohammed Shafi (RA



) (

) ( ) (

) (

) (

Translation:
And they ask you about Dhul-Qarnain. Say, "I shall now recite to you some
]narration about him." [18:83
Surely, We gave him power on Earth and provided for him a way to everything.
][18:84
]So he followed a way, [18:85
until when he reached where the sun sets, he found it setting into a miry spring and
found near it a people. We said, "0 Dhul-Qarnain, either you punish or take to
]something good for them!' [18:86
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He said, "As for the one who transgresses, we shall punish him, thereafter he will
be returned to his Lord, and He will punish him - an evil punishment. [18:87]
As for the one who believes and acts righteously, he will have the best in reward,
and we shall deliver to him of our command that which is easy." [18:88]
Commentary
Verse 84 opens with the statement: ( They ask you). Who is asking? Related
narratives show that they were the Quraysh of Makkah, those who were coached to
ask three questions from the Holy Prophet. The purpose was to test his prophethood and veracity. The questions were about Ruh (spirit), Ashab al-Kahf (People of
Kahf) and Dhul-Qarnain. Two of these have already been answered. The story of
the People of Kahf has appeared earlier in this Surah, 9-26. The question about
'Ruh' has appeared towards the later part of the previous Surah (Bani Isra'il). Who
was Dhul-Qarnain and what happened to him? This is the third question. (Al-Bahr
al-Muhit)
Dhul-Qarnain: His identity, period and country and the reason why he was so
named
Why was he named Dhul-Qarnain? (the one having two horns) Regarding its
reason, there are numerous sayings, and strong differences. Some said that he had
two curly locks of hair, therefore, he
was called Dhul-Qarnain. Some others said that he ruled countries of the East and
West, therefore, he was named Dhul-Qarnain. There was someone who also said
that he had marks on his head that resembled those of horns. It appears in some
narratives that he had wound marks on both sides of his head, therefore, he was
identified as Dhul-Qarnain. Allah knows best. But, this much already stands
determined that the Quran has certainly not given him the name of Dhul-Qarnain.
In fact, this name came from the Jews. He may have been known by this name
with them. Whatever part of the event of Dhul-Qarnain has been mentioned by the
Holy Quran is no more than what is described below:
"He was a righteous and just king who reached the East and the West and
conquered countries in between and ruled there justly. All sorts of means had been
provided to him by Allah Ta'ala in order to help him achieve his objectives. On the
route of his conquests, he traveled in three directions: to the far West, to the far
East and then to the mountain range in the North. At the last mentioned place, he
closed the pass in between two mountains by a wall cast in molten metal which
made it possible for the people of the area to stay protected against the pillage of
Gog and Magog."

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As for the question posed by the Jews to test the veracity and prophet-hood of the
Holy Prophet, the answer given had left them satisfied. They did not ask any more
questions, such as: Why was he given the name, Dhul-Qarnain? Which country did
he come from? What period of time did he belong to? This tells us that the Jews
themselves took such questions to be unnecessary and redundant. And it is obvious
that the Quran mentions only that part of history or stories which relates to what is
beneficial in the present life or in the life to come, or on which depends the
understanding of something necessary. Therefore, neither did the Quran take these
things up nor were there any details about it described in any authentic Hadith. And
it was for the same reason that the most righteous forbears of Islam, the Sahabah
and the Tabi'in also paid no particular attention to it.
Now the thing that remains to be addressed is this matter of historical narratives or
that of the present Torah and Injil. Then it is also evident that perennial
interpolations and alterations have not left even the present Torah and 1nj;l intact
as revealed Scriptures. Their status can now be that of history at the most. As for
ancient historical narratives, they are overwhelmingly filled with Isra'ili tales that
come from no authentic source, nor have they been found trustworthy in the sight
of the learned of any time. Whatever the commentators have said in this matter is
a compendium of these very historical narratives. Therefore, there are countless
differences in them. Europeans have given great importance to history in modern
times. No doubt, they have carried out painstaking research in this field. Through
archaeological excavations and collection of inscriptions and artifacts, they have
tried to reach the reality behind past events and in this process, they have come up
with achievements not matched in earlier times. But, archaeological finds,
inscriptions etc., can certainly help support an event but it is not possible to read a
whole event through these. For it, therefore, historical narratives alone have
become the basis. As for the validity of old historical narratives in these matters, we
have just now learnt that their status is no more than that of a story. In their
books, scholars of Tafsir, classical or modern, have reported these narratives in
their historical status only no Quranic objective depends on the element of their
authenticity. Here too, that which is necessary is being written with the same status
in view. A comprehensive research relating to this event appears in 'Qasas alQuran' by Maulana Hifzur-Rahman (RA), re ders with a taste for history may see it
there.
In some narratives, it appears that there have been four kings who ruled over the
whole world - two believers, and two, disbelievers. The believing kings are:
1.

Sayyidna Sulaiman (RA)

2.

and Dhul-Qarnain
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while the disbelieving ones are Nimrod (Namrud) and Nebuchadnezzar (Bukht
Nassar).
About Dhul-Qarnain, it is a strange coincidence that several men have been famous
in the world while bearing the same name. And it is equally strange that the title
Sikandar (Alexander) is also attached with the Dhul-Qarnain of every period of
time.
Approximately three hundred years before Sayyidna Masih (AS), there is a king
known as Sikandar (Alexander). He is identified with the appellations of the Greek,
the Macedonian, the Roman etc. He was the one who had Aristotle (Arastu) as his
minister, who fought a war against Darz (Darius) and who conquered his country
after killing him. This was the very last person to have become known in the world
by the name Sikandar (Alexander). Stories relating to him are comparatively more
famous around the world, so some people have also equated him with the DhulQarnain mentioned in the Qurun. This is totally wrong because this person was a
fire-worshipping polytheist. As for the Dhul-Qarnain mentioned by the Quran, he
may not be a prophet for 'Ulama'have differed about his being a prophet. But,
everyone unanimously agrees thathe was a righteous believer - then, there is the
textual authority of the Quran in its own right which bears testimony to it.
Quoting Ibn 'Asakir, Hafiz Ibn Kathir (RA) s given his complete family tree in alBidayah wa an-NihZyah which ascends to Sayyidn Ibraihim (AS) He has said, 'this is
the Sikandar who is recognized as the Greek, the Egyptian and the Macedonian,
who founded the city of Iskandariyah (Alexandria) after his name and the Roman
calendar dates back to his time. This Sikandar Dhul-Qarnain appeared after a long
passage of time from the first one. This time has been identified as being more
than two thousand years. He was the one who killed Darz (Darius), overpowered
the Persian monarchy and conquered their country. But, this person was a
polytheist. Declaring him to be the one mentioned in the Quran is totally wrong.
Ibn Kathir's own words are being quoted below:
First of all, this research of Imam ibn Kathir, the great scholar of Hadith and history,
helps remove a misconception. It clarifies that this Iskandar, who lived three
hundred years before Sayyidna Masih (AS) who fought Darz (Darius) and the
Persian kings, and who is the founder of Alexandria, is not the Dhul-Qarnain
mentioned in the Quran. This misconception seems to have affected some leading
commentators as well. Abu Hayyan in al-Bahr al-Muhit and 'Allamah 'Alus in Ruh alMa'ani have said that this very Dhul-Qarnain is the one mentioned in the Quran.
The second point emerges from the sentence of Ibn Kathir: ( he was a
prophet). It shows that, in the sight of Ibn Kathir, the weightier opinion was that he
Page 22 of 45

Page 23 of 45
was a prophet. Although, according to the majority of scholars, the weightier
opinion is what Ibn Kathir has himself reportedon the authority Abi al-Tufayl from
Sayyidna 'Ali (RA) that he was neither a prophet nor an angel, rather was a
righteous believer. Therefore, some 'Ulama have explained it by saying that the
pronoun in: ( he was) reverts to Al-Khadir and not to Dhul-Qarnain - which is
closer in sense.
This leaves us with a problem. The Qur'an mentions Dhul-Qarnain. Who is he?
Which period of time did he belong to? Regarding this, sayings of 'Ulama' differ.
According to Ibn Kathir, his time was the time of Sayyidna Ibrahim (RA), two
thousand years before the time of Alexander, the Greek, the Macedonian. Al-Khadir
was his minister. Ibn Kathir has also reported from the early righteous elders in alBidayah wa an-Nihayah that Dhul-Qarnain went for Hajj traveling on foot. When
Sayyidna Ibrahim found out about his arrival, he went out of Makkah to greet him.
It is said that Sayyidna Ibrahim (AS) also prayed for him and passed out some good
counsel to him. (Al-Bidayah, p. 108, v. 3)
Tafsir Ibn Kathir reports from Adhraqi that he did Tawaf with Sayyidna Ibrahim and
offered sacrifice.
And Abu al-Raihan al-Bairuni has said in his book al-'Athar al-Baqiyah 'an al-Quran
al-Khaliyah that 'this Dhul-Qarnain mentioned in the Quran is Abu Bakr ibn Samma
ibn 'Umar ibn Ifriqis al-Himyari, the one who conquered the East and West of the
Earth. Tubba' al-Himyari al-Yamani has shown pride in his poetry that his
grandfather, Dhul-Qarnain, was a believer. He says:
Dhul-Qarnain, my grandfather, was a believing Muslim
A king who conquered the non-believing Earth
He reached the Easts and the Wests seeking
Means of power from the noble Master.
Abu Hayyan has reported this narrative in al-Bahr al-Mubit. Ibn Kathir has also
mentioned it in al-Bidayah wa an-Nihayah. Ibn Kathir adds that 'this Dhul-Qarnain
is the first Tubba' (the title of the kings of Yaman). He was among the Tababi'ah
(plural of Tubba') of Yaman and this is the same person who had ruled in favor of
Sayyidna Ibrahim in the case of Bi'r Sab' (seven wells)' - (al-Bidayah, p. 105, v. 2).
In all these narratives, irrespective of the difference regarding the elements of his
identity, his time period has been identified as that of Sayyidnii Ibraim (AS)

Page 23 of 45

Page 24 of 45
As for the detailed discussion relating to Dhul-Qarnain provided by Maulana HifzurRahman in his book, Qasas al-Qur'an, it can be stated in a nutshell. It can be said
that the Dhul-Qarnain mentioned in the Qur'an is the king of Persia who is called
Khorus by the Jews, Cyrus by the Greeks, Gorush by the Persians and Kai-Khusro
by the Arabs. His period is said to be the period of Daniyal (Daniel) from among the
prophets of Bani Isra'il - much later than the time of Sayyidna Ibrahim This brings it
closer to the time of Iskandar al-Maqduni (Alexander, the Macedonian), the killer of
Darz (Darius). But, the learned Maulana like Ibn Kathir - has also strongly
maintained that Alexander, the Macedonian who had Aristotle as his minister cannot
be the Dhul-Qarnain. The former was a fire-worshipping polytheist while the later, a
righteous believer.
According to his research about the detailed description of Bani Isra'ail falling into
wrongdoing and rebellion twice, and of the respective punishment given to them
twice, as in Surah Bani Isra'il (al-'Isra'), the Quran says on the occasion of the first

transgression of Bani Isra'il:



( We

sent upon you some of Our servants having strong aggressive power, who combed
through the houses -17:5). Here, the men with 'strong aggressive power' are
Nebuchadnezzar and his supporting troops who killed forty thousand - seventy
thousand in some narratives - men from the Bani Isra'il in Baytul-Maqdis, while
taking more than one hundred thousand of them driven like a flock of sheep to his
city of Babel. After that, as regards the second statement ofthe Quran:

( Then We gave you your turn to overpower them - 17:6),'this event
transpired at the hands of the same king, Kai-Khusraw (Khorus or Cyrus). He was a
righteous believer. He confronted Nebuchadnezzar, secured the release of Bani
Isra'il held as captives by him and rehabilitated them back into Palestine. He even
went on to resettle and repopulate the city of Baytul-Maqdis that was ransacked
earlier to the limit that he managed to have all treasures and major effects of
Baytul-Maqdis carried away by Nebuchadnezzar from there returned back into the
possession of Bani Isra'il. Thus, this person proved to be the savior of Bani Isra'il
(the Jews).
It is likely that of the questions the Jews of Madinah had set for the Quraysh of
Makkah which they would ask the Holy Prophet to test his prophethood, was this
question about Dhul-Qarnain and that it had an underlying reason. This question
was special since the Jews took him to be their savior and respected him.
In short, Maulana Hifzur-Rahman has collected a sufficiently large number of
evidences from the prophesies of the prophets of Bani Isra'il with reference to the
present Old Testament as well as from historical narratives to present his research
on this subject. Anyone who finds it imperative to proceed towards additional
research may consult it. My purpose in reporting all these narratives was simply to
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bring into focus sayings of leading Muslim scholars, historians and commentators as
they relate to the life and time of Dhul-Qarnain. To decide as to whose saying is
weightier and worthier out of these is not part of my objective. The reason is that
things not claimed by the Quran nor explained by
Hadith are things we have not been obligated to fix and clarify on our own for that
responsibility does not rest on our shoulders. Thus, whichever saying turns out to
be regarded as more weighty, worthy and sound, the aim of the Qur'an will stand
achieved after all. Allah knows best.
Let us look at the first verse cited above:
( I shall now recite
to you a narration about him - 83). It prompts us to find out as to why the Holy
Qur'an has elected to bypass the possible shorter expression of dhikrah; (his
narrations) at this place and has opted for two words: '(( minhu dhikra')
(some narration about him)? A little reflection would reveal that these two words
have been used as indicators. They tell us that the Quran has not promised to
narrate the entire story of Dhul-Qarnain in its historical setting. Instead, it has
stated that it
will mention it in part. This is evident from the use of the particle: (min) and the
nunnation (tanwzn) of 'dhikra' - a distinct feature of Arabic grammar. As for the
historical debate relating to the name, lineage and time period of Dhul-Qarnain
reported earlier, the Holy Quran has already said in advance that it has skipped it as
something unnecessary.
The word:
-' (sabab) used in: ( and provided for him a
way to everything - 84) is employed ik the Arabic lexicon to denote everything
harnessed to achieve an objective. It includes material instruments and resources
as well as knowledge, insight and experience etc. (al-Bahr al-Muhit). As for the
expression: ( to everything), it means all things needed by a ruler to run
the state system. The sense of the verse is that Allah Ta'ala had provided for the
righteous king Dhul-Qarnain practically everything needed at that time in order that
he could maintain his just rule, establish universal peace and extend his area of
influence to other countries.
Verse 85:
( So he followed a way) means that - though, the material means
related to everything, even those that would facilitate his access to every region of
the world - however, the first thing he did was to use his means to travel in the
direction of the West.

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The statement in verse 86:



( until when he reached where
the sun sets) means that he reached the far limit towards the West beyond which
there was no populated area.

phrase:
( into

The word: ( hami'ah) in the succeeding


a miry spring)
literally means dark marsh or mud carrying the sense of water beneath which there
is dark mud and which causes the water itself to appear black. As for the sense of
his seeing the Sun setting into such a spring, it means that an onlooker perceived it
as setting into the spring because there was no habitation or dry land in sight. This
is like being in an open field while the Sun is setting where as far as one can see
there appears to be no mountain, tree, or structure, naturally one who looks at the
sight would feel that the Sun was sinking into the land mass.

Said in the sentence which follows immediately was:

( and found

near it a people), that is, near this dark spring, Dhul-Qarnain found a people. The
later part of the verse shows that these people were infidels. Therefore, as said in
the next verses, Allah Taala gave Dhul-Qarnain the choice of punishing them right
away for their infidelity. Or, if he so wished, he could choose to deal with them
benevolently by first asking them to consider the message of faith and bring them
round to embrace it through dissemination of information and good counsel. After
that, he could reward those who believe and punish those who do not. In response,
Dhul-Qarnain elected to go by the second option. He said that he would try to bring
them to the straight path through good counsel and advice. Then, he would punish
those who stood by their infidelity and reward those who believed and did what was
good.

The statement:

( We said, '0 Dhul-Qarnain ...) shows that Allah Ta'ala


has himself said this addressing Dhul-Qarnain. Now, if Dhul-Qarnain is taken to be
a prophet, there is no problem here. It will mean that it was said to him through
the medium of revelation. And if, his prophethood is not to be recognized, there is
only one way to rationalize the statement: (qulna: We said) and the address:

Dhul-Qarnain). This way could be to take this address to have been made
to Dhul-Qarnain through the medium of some prophet - as suggested
by the reported presence of Al-Khadir with him. Then, it is also possible that this
revelation is just not the kind of waby that is peculiar to a prophet or messenger of
Allah. May be, it is a waby or revelation in the literal sense like the word:
(awhaina: We revealed or put into the heart) used in the Quran for the mother of
Sayyidna Musa (AS)- though, there is no probability of her being a prophet or
messenger of Allah. But, Abu Hayyan says in al-Bahr al-Muhit that the command
given here to Dhul-Qarnain is a command to punish and kill those people. No such
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command can be given without the authority of a revelation to a prophet. This
action cannot be taken on the authority of Kashf (illumination) and Ilham
(inspiration), nor can it be activated through any other source without the authority
of wahy (revelation) to a nabiyy (prophet). For this reason, no probability other
than the one being mentioned here is sound: Either Dhul-Qarnain himself is taken
to be a prophet, or that there may be a prophet present during his time and it is
through him that Dhul-Qarnain is addressed.
And Allah knows best.

The wall of Zulqarnain By Shaykh Ahmed Ali


The emergence of the mighty tribes of Ya'juj and Ma'juj is also a major sign of
Qiyamah.
Allah says in the Qur'an, "When Ya'juj and Ma'juj are let loose (from their Barrier)
and they swiftly swarm from every mound" (Surah Al-Anbiya)
Allah says in the Qur'an, " (Zulqarnain) said, 'This is a mercy from my Lord, but
when the promise of my Lord comes, He shall level it down (the barrier) to the
ground. And the promise of my Lord is ever true." (Surah Al-Kahf)
Zainab-b-Zahash says: "Once the Prophet awoke from such a sleep that his face
was red and these words were on his tongue, "There is none worthy of worship but
Allah. Destruction is upon the Arabs on account of that evil which has come close to
them. Today a hole as big as this has opened in the wall of Yajuj and Ma'juj. (The
Prophet indicated the size of the hole with his finger and thumb)" (Bukhari/Muslim)
In the lengthy Hadith of Nawwas-b-Saman it has been mentioned, "And Allah will
send Yajuj and Ma'juj and they will come from every lofty place." (Muslim)

Ya'juj Ma'juj and Zulqarnain


Many thousands of years ago the barbarous tribes of Yajuj and Ma'juj were
imprisoned behind an iron wall built by Zulqarnayn. Referred to in the Qur'an in
Surah Al-Kahf. Zulqarnayn was a Muslim Arab (fathul bari) who lived at the time of
the Prophet Ibraheem and not Alexander the Great as it is commonly known. From
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amongst one of the four that ruled the entire world (the other three being Prophet
Sulayman, Nimrod & Buktnasr) he was a pious and just king, provide with all forms
of strength through which he was able to carry his conquests and missions.
Once he carried a mission in three directions, the far west, far east, and then in a
northerly direction. Travelling first in the westerly direction, he conquered the lands
he passed through establishing the laws of Allah therein until he reached the setting
of the sun. There he met people that didn't believe in Allah. Given a choice of
punishing them for their kufr or being lenient by inviting them first to Islam; he
chose the latter and addressed them, ''Those evil-doers who do injustice to
themselves by rejecting Allah will be punished by death in this world and the
hereafter, the fire of hell is their abode. As for those who accept the invitation and
believe in Allah they will be treated leniently and in the hereafter Jannah is their
place of rest.''
After the journey towards the west he made preparation for the journey towards
the east. Conquering the lands he passed through, establishing he laws of Allah
therein. He continued travelling in the easterly direction until he reached the rising
of the sun. In this area of the east he saw a nation receiving the sunshine without
any obstruction and they were dealt with like the previous people in the west.
After the journey to the east he started his northern Journey, he kept on travelling
until he reached the midst of two mountains, it was here he came across a tribe
who complained to him about the tribes of Ya'juj and Ma'juj. Ya'juj and Ma'juj
inhabited the land behind the mountains, plundered them, committed bloodshed,
and then ran away. Observing Zulqarnain's power they asked to set a barrier in
return for a wage for their protection from the disaster and bloodshed, which they
often bore at the hands of Ya'juj Ma'juj. Refusing to accept any wealth he built an
iron wall with their help which Ya'juj Ma'juj could not cross or pierce. (Qurtubi/
Ibne-Kathir)

The wall of Zulqarnain


Many different opinions have been expressed as to the location of the iron wall of
Zulqarnain. Having read many books, the best on the subject I came across was
Sheikh Hifzur-Rahman's "Stories of the Qur'an" and thus have chosen to share a
brief summary of what he has written.
He writes "The Yajuj Ma'juj caused destruction and blood- shed in a vast area, and
because of their oppression many barriers and walls were erected in different times
and places by different kings. Four being the most famous:

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1.

The Great Wall of China which was built by the Chinese King Fagfor 3460
years after Prophet Adam was put on the Earth

2.

The wall in central Asia near Bukhara and Tirmidh in a place called Derbent.

3.

The wall in Dagistan Russia also known as Derbent near the Caspian sea.

4.

The wall which is in the westerly direction to the third in the region of the
Caucasus.

Because these walls were built for one purpose and are all situated in the North, it
has always been very difficult to determine exactly the wall built by Zulqarnain."
He further writes, "The biggest out of the four is the great wall of China and nobody
is of the opinion that this is the wall built by Zulqarnain as it is in the easterly
direction while the Qur'an indicates the wall of Zulqarnain is in the Northerly
direction."
Thus leaving walls 2, 3, and 4.
He writes, "Historians like Masoodi, Istakhari and Hamawi are of the opinion that
the wall of Zulqamain is wall number 3 or 4. Those that have said it is wall number
two have confused the issue due to the location of Derbent which is near Bukhara
and
also
in
Degistan.''
He finally writes, ''Out of two, the historians are of the opinion that it is wall 3 or 4,
the master of hadith Allama Anwar Shah Kashmiri in his book Aqeeda-tul-Islam
holds the opinion that the wall of Zulqarnain is wall number 4, the one in the region
of Caucasus.' (Stories of the Qu'ran)
After this short summary I find myself inclined to Allama Aloosi's opinion I conclude
with his words, ''We do not know the location of this wall and it is very probable
that great seas and mountains stand between us and the wall, and between Ya'juj
Ma'juj and the rest of the world.''

Trying to break free


Abu Huraira (R.A.) narrated that every day Ya'juj Ma'juj try to break free through
the wall of Zulqarnain until they reach the end of it to the extent that they could
actually see the light on the other side. They then return home saying, ''We will
break through tomorrow. '' However, Allah causes the wall to revert to its original
thickness and the next day they start all over again. This process continues each
day as long as Allah wills for them to remain imprisoned. When Allah wishes for
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them to be released, then at the end of that day they will say, ''If Allah wills, we will
break through tomorrow.'' The next day they will find the wall as they left it the
previous day and after breaking through the rest they will escape. (Ahmed,
Tirmidhi, Ibne Majah)
Note: Some ulama have written that this hadith is weak and has been taken from
the Jews as it contradicts with the verse from the Qur'an, ''They are not able to
cross it or pierce it.'' ( Surah Al-Kahf)
However, if found that it is a Marfoo hadith, it still does not contradict the Qur'an as
the Qur'an is referring to the time Zulqarnain built the wall and secondly the word
''naqb'' means a complete hole through which they are able to break free.
The great master of Hadith Ibne Hajr al-Askalani giving reference of Ibne Hibban
and Abd- b-Humaid has mentioned this Hadith and not raised any doubt or
indicated that this hadith is not Marfoo but positively mentioned that Ibne Arabi has
said three miracles are evident from this Hadith and then mentioned the three
miracles:
1) It never occurs to these tribes that they must continue work throughout the
night. After all, they are in such large numbers that they can easily delegate the
work amongst themselves and work in shifts. However, Allah does not allow this
thought
to
occur
to
them.
2) It does not occur to them that they can merely cross the mountain or scale the
wall, which they can do through the aid of equipment they possess in large
numbers. According to a narration by Wahb-b-Munabbah it is known that these
tribes are agriculturists and artisans possessing various types of equipment.
3) The thought of saying, "Insha-allah (if Allah wills)" never enters their minds and
it will only occur to them when Allah wills that they be released.(Fathul-Bari)

Myths
Many myths surround Ya'juj and Ma'juj. One being that the common people believe
that Ya'juj and Ma'juj are not human beings but some kind of third being. How
interesting it may be to believe that they are a third being, the reality is that they
are human beings just like yourself and I, constitute nine-tenths of mankind and
are from the progeny of Prophet Nuh.
The Holy Prophet said, "Ya'juj and Ma'juj are the children of Prophet Adam and not
one will die until thousand are born to him.'' (Abdullah-b-Amr/Fathul-Bari).

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The Messenger of Allah said, "Allah divided mankind into ten parts. Nine tenths
constitute Ya'juj and Ma'juj while the remaining one tenth constitutes the rest of
mankind." (Abdullah-b-Amr/Fathul-Bari).
Hadrat Abu Saeed Khudri narrates that the Messenger of Allah said, "On the Day of
Judgement, Allah will tell Adamto pick out the Jahanamis from his progeny. Adam
will ask, "O Allah, who are they?" Allah will say,"999 out of 1000 are Jahanamis
while the one is a Jannati." On hearing this the Sahaba over taken by fear asked,
"Who will the ONE Jannati be?" The Prophet replied, "Do not grieve the 999 will be
Yajuj Ma'juj while you will be the one Jannati." (Bukhari/Muslim)
A second myth is that people believe that Ya'juj and Ma'juj were created from Adam
without Eve (Hawa) on the basis of Ka'ab's narration, "They are from the children of
Adam. That is Adam had a wet dream, the semen intermingled with the earth and
they were created from that Earth." (Fathul-Bari)
It should be noted that this narration is very weak and objectionable as it is proven
from many Ahadith that the Prophets of Allah do not have wet dreams because the
wet dream is from the devil and the Prophets of Allah are protected from the devil.
Secondly there is a hadith which can be found in Fathul-Bari that clearly states that
they are from the progeny of Prophet Nuh. The Prophet Nuh was definitely from the
children of Adam and Eve.

Physical Appearance of Ya'juj and Ma'juj


There are many different narration's regarding their appearance. These different
narration's suggest that Yajuj and Ma'juj are of three types.
1.

Some are as tall as the tree Arz - that is 120 ft.

2.

Some are four arm lengths tall and four arm lengths wide.

3.

Some spread one ear to sleep on and cover themselves with the other. Some
also state that they are two spans tall and the tallest amongst them are three
spans. (Fathul-Bari)

It should be noted that all the narration's above are weak and should not be taken.
The authentic Ahadith like the Hadith of Nawwas-b- Saman in Muslim suggests that
they are very strong and powerful people whom nobody has the power to fight. It
has also been narrated that they have wide faces, small eyes, grey hair and their
faces are like shields covered with skin. (Musnad Ahmad)
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Emergence of Ya'juj Ma'juj before Qiyamah


A short period after killing the Dajjal, Prophet Jesus will be informed of the release
of Ya'juj and Ma'juj. Obeying Allah's command He will take the Muslims to Mount
Tur for their protection as nobody will be able to kill the Ya'juj Ma'juj. Ya'juj and
Ma'juj will come forth from every lofty place causing destruction and bloodshed
wherever they go. Their first batch will come to lake Tiberias and drink all of its
water. Their last batch will come to it and say, "There was once water in this lake."
Marching on, carrying out pillage and murder to their left and right they will come
to mount of Khamr (a mountain in Jerusalem) and say, "We have killed the
inhbitant of the Earth, let us now kill the inhabitants of heaven." Thus they will
shoot their arrows towards the sky. Allah will return the arrows covered with blood
and these fools will think they have killed those in the heaven. Mean while Prophet
Jesus and his companions will remain confined until the head of an ox becomes
more valuable than 100 gold coins. Prophet Jesus and his companions will pray for
their destruction. Allah, answering their prayer will send insects upon the necks of
Ya'juj Ma'juj and in the morning they will be found dead like one dead man. In the
narration of Abu Saeed al- Khudri which can be found in Tadkhira of Imam Qurtubi,
it has been mentioned; the believers not being able to hear their noise that
morning will say "Will anybody sacrifice his life and see what the situation is."
Volunteering, a believer will come down the mountain thinking that he will never
return . However to his suprise he will find that they are all dead and he will shout,
"Good news! Your enemy has died,"
Prophet Jesus and his companions will come down but will find that the earth is full
with their stinking corpses. Yet again Prophet Jesus and his companions will turn to
Allah and pray. Allah will send birds with necks like the necks of Bactarian camels
which will carry the corpses and throw them where Allah wishes. Thereafter, Allah
will send rain and the earth will be cleaned. (Nawwas-b-Samaan/Muslim)

Sea of Galilee: Drying up!

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Is Zulqarnain Alexander the great?

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Mediator

Jr. Member

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Is Zulqarnain Alexander the great?


on: October 02, 2012, 11:30:53 pm

Some say yes and some say no.


If no, who is Zulqarnain?
If yes, why no record in greek about Alexander became muslim?
Thanks.
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Final Overture

Hero Member

question mark

Re: Is Zulqarnain Alexander the great?


Reply #1 on: October 03, 2012, 06:42:50 am

I remember some scholars said that Zulqarnain lived at the time of Abraham.
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We were the lowest of all people and then Allah gave us glory by Islam, and if we seek glory in anything
other that what Allah has given us, Allah will disgrace us. Umar ibn Khattab

RamziBinNabil

Hero Member

Re: Is Zulqarnain Alexander the great?


Reply #2 on: October 03, 2012, 08:53:14 am

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He is not. Alexander was a polytheist whereas Dhul-Qarnayn (peace and blessings be upon
him) used to only worship Allh, the Most Glorified and Exalted. The following is a
biography of him:
Allah the Almighty says:
{And they ask you about Dhul-Qarnain. Say: "I shall recite to you something of his story."
Verily, We established him in the earth, and We gave him the means of everything. So he
followed a way. Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a
spring of black muddy (or hot) water. And he found near it a people. We (Allah) said (by
inspiration): "O Dhul-Qarnain! Either you punish them, or treat them with kindness." He
said: "As for him (a disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah) who does wrong, we shall punish
him, and then- he will be brought back unto his Lord, Who will punish him with a terrible
torment (Hell)."But as for him who believes (in Allah's Oneness) and works righteousness he
shall have the best reward, (Paradise), and we (Dhul- Qarnain) shall speak unto him mild
words (as instructions)." Then he followed another way. Until, when he came to the rising
place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We (Allah) had provided no shelter
against the sun. So (it was)! And We knew all about him (Dhul-Qarnain). Then he followed
(another) way. Until, when he reached between two mountains, he found, before (near)
them (those two mountains), a people who scarcely understood a word. They said: "O Dhul
-Qarnain! Verily Ya'juj and Ma'juj (Gog and Magog) are doing great mischief in the land.
Shall we then pay you a tribute in order that you might erect a barrier between us and
them?" He said: "That (wealth, authority and power) in which my Lord had established me
is better (than your
tribute). So help me with strength (of men),] will erect between you and them a barrier.
"Give me pieces (blocks) of iron;" then, when he had filled up the gap between the two
mountain-cliffs, he said: "Blow;" then when he had made them (red as) fire, he said: "Bring
me molten copper to pour over them." So they (Ya'juj and Ma'juj (Gog and Magog))) could
not scale it or dig through it. Dhul -Qarnain) said: "This is a mercy from my Lord, but when
the Promise of my Lord comes, He shall level it down to the ground. And the Promise of my
Lord is ever true. "}. (Al-Kahf, 83-98)
Was He a Prophet?
Allah the Almighty praised Dhul-Qarnain in the Glorious Qur'an for his justice. He ruled over
the easts and wests and many regions where he subjected their peoples and ruled them
with perfect justice. The most likely opinion is that he was just a king.

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Also, he was said to be a Prophet, or a Messenger. However, the most unlikely opinion
thereof was that he was an Angel. The latter was narrated after the Leader of the Faithful,
'Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) who heard a man calling another
saying: 0 Dhul-Qarnain! He ('Umar) said: Shut up! Was it not enough with you to name
yourselves after the Prophets, that you take names after those of the Angels?"
It is reported that' Abdullah Ibn 'Amr said: Dhul-Qarnain was a Prophet. Conversely, Abu
Hurairah narrated that Allah's Messenger (Peace be upon him) said: "I do not know whether
Tubba' was a cursed one or not? And, I do not know whether Hudud (the Prescribed
Penalties) are expiatory for their people or not? And, I do not know whether Dhul-Qarnain
was a Prophet or not?" (This Hadith is Odd and Strange)
In other narration, Ibn 'Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) transmitted a report that
goes to the saying that Dhul-Qarnain was a good king whose work was praised in Allah's
Book (the Glorious Qur'an); he was made victorious; and Al-Khadir was his minister, leader
of his army, and his consultant.
Al-Azraqi and others mentioned that Dhul- Qarnain embraced Islam at the hands of Ibrahim
(Abraham) (Peace be upon him) and that he circumambulated around the Ka' bah with him
and his son, Isma'il (Peace be upon them). Also, it was narrated after 'Ubaid Ibn 'Umair and
his son, 'Abdullah and others: that Dhul-Qarnain set out on foot to perform Pilgrimage.
Upon hearing this, Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) welcomed him and invoked Allah for his
sake and gave him advice as well. In addition, Allah the Almighty subjugated for DhulQarnain the clouds to carry him wherever he wished. Allah knows best!
Why was he called "Dhul-Qarnain" (i.e. Owner of the two horns)?
This is a controversial issue, that there is not a definite known reason behind this. Some
said: he had something on his head that looked like two horns. Wahb Ibn Munabih said: He
had two horns of brass on his head. (This interpretation is very weak)
Some scholars from among the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) said: This is
because he ruled over Persian and Roman territories. It was also said: that he reached the
first ray of the rising sun on the east and that on the west and he ruled over all that was in
between. (The latter opinion is more likely true, which is the saying of Az-Zuhari)
Al-Hasan Al-Basri said: He had two braids of hair that he used to fold up and thus was

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called "Dhul-Qarnain". And, Ishaq Ibn Bishr narrated that the grandfather of 'Umar Ibn Shu'
aib said: Dhul Qarnain, once, invited a tyrant king to the way of Allah. The king hit him on
the head and broke one of his horns. Dhul-Qarnain invited him again and the tyrant broke
the second horn. Thus, he was called "Dhul-Qarnain" .
Narrated Ath-Thawri that 'Ali Ibn Abu Talib (May Allah be pleased with him) was once asked
about Dhul-Qarnain. He replied saying: He was a rightly-guided and pious man. He invited
his people to Allah, but they hit him on his horn (side of the head) and he was killed. Allah
the Almighty resurrected him and he invited them again, again they hit him on his second
horn and he was killed (for the second time). Allah the Almighty revived him and thus he
was called "Dhul-Qarnain". In other narrations, it was narrated by Abu At-Tufail after 'Ali Ibn
Abu Talib that he said: He was neither a Prophet, nor a Messenger, nor an Angel, but was a
godly, pious worshipper.
What's his Name?
Scholars disagreed regarding his name. Az Zubair Ibn Bakkar narrated after' Abdullah Ibn,
Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him): His name was 'Abdullah Ibn Ad-Dahhak Ibn
Ma'd; or Mus'ab Ibn 'Abdullah Ibn Qinan Ibn Mansur Ibn 'Abdullah Ibn Al-Azd Ibn Ghauth
Ibn Nabt Ibn Malik Ibn Zaid Ibn Kahlan Ibn Saba' Ibn Qahtan.
It has been narrated in a Hadith that he was from the tribe of Himyar and that his mQther
was Roman, and he was called the Philosopher for the excellence of his mentality. However,
As-Suhaili said: his name was Marzaban Ibn Marzabah. This was mentioned by Ibn Hisham
who mentioned in another location that his name was: As-Sa'b Ibn Dhi Mara'id who was the
grandfather of the Tababi'ah and it was him who gave the verdict to the benefit of Ibrahim
(Peace be upon him) pertaining to the well of As-Sab' .
It was said: He was Afridun Ibn Asfiyan who killed Ad-Dahhak. Al-Qass Ibn Sa' idah Al-Iyadi
said in his famous sermon: 0 folk of Ayad Ibn As-Sa'b! Dhul-Qarnain ruled over the west.
and east, subjugated the Jinn and mankind, and he lived for two thousand years. However,
all this was just like a twinkle of the eye.
Ad- Daraqutni and Ibn Makula mentioned that his name was Hirmis, or Hirwis Ibn Qitun Ibn
Rumi Ibn Lanti Ibn Kashaukhin Ibn Yunan Ibn Yafith Ibn Nuh (Noah (Peace be upon him)),
and Allah knows best!
Ishaq Ibn Bishr narrated after Sa'id Ibn Bashir on the authority of Qatadah as saying:

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Alexander was (called) Dhul-Qarnain, his father was the first Caesar, and he was from
among the offspring of Sam Ibn Nuh (Noah (Peace be upon him)).
At this conjecture one should distinguish between two people who were called DhulQarnain. The first is our pious Dhul-Qarnain while the second is Alexander Ibn Philips Ibn
Masrim Ibn Hirmis Ibn Maitun Ibn Rumi Ibn Lanti Ibn Yunan Ibn Yafith Ibn Yunah Ibn
Sharkhun Ibn Rumah Ibn Sharfat Ibn Tufil Ibn Rumi Ibn AI-As far Ibn Yaqz Ibn Al-'lis Ibn
Ishaq Ibn Ibrahim (Peace be upon him). This lineage was stated by Al-Hafiz Ibn' Asakir in
his Tarikh (History). Moreover, he was the Macedonian, Greek, Egyptian leader who
established Alexandria and basing on whom the Romans set their Calendar. He came after
the first Dhul-Qarnain with a very long time. This was three hundred years before Jesus
(Peace be upon him). His minister was the famous Philosopher Artatalis. Moreover, he was
the one who killed Dara Ibn Dara, and subjugated the Persian kings and seized their lands.
We only drew the reader's attention to this because many people think that the two men
called "Dhul-Qarnain" are me, which is a big mistake for there were great differences
between both. The first was a godly, pious, righteous worshipper of Allah the Almighty, and
he was a just king whose minister was the pious man, Al-Khadlr. Moreover, some scholars
stated that he was a Prophet as well. Whereas, the latter was a polytheist whose minister
was a philosopher as mentioned earlier. In addition, the time elapsed between them both
was more than two thousand years. Hence, none can miss the great differences and
variance between both of them but an ignorant idiot who know nothing at all!
Allah's Saying: {And they ask you about Dhul -Qarnain} was revealed because the people
of Quraish asked the Jews of something about which they would ask the Prophet
Muhammad (Peace be upon him) to test his knowledge. The Jews told them: Ask him about
a man who traveled through the earth, and about some young men who set out and no one
knew what happened to them? Thereupon, Allah the Almighty revealed the stories of the
Owners of the Cave and that of Dhul-Qarnain. Thus, He said: {Say: I shall recite to you
something of his story}, i.e. enough and sufficient news about him and his status. Then, He
said: {Verily, We established him in the earth, and We gave him the means of everything},
i.e. Allah the Almighty expanded his kingdom and provided him with what might enable him
to gain what he wished to. Narrated Qutaibah that 'Ali Ibn Abu Talib was once asked about
Dhul-Qarnain: how could he reach the east and west? 'Ali replied: The clouds wert
subjugated for him, the means (of everything) were provided to him, and he was given
extension pertaining to the light. 'Ali added: Do you want me to go on? The man became
silent and thereupon, 'Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) became silent.
Narrated Abu Ishaq As-Subai'i after 'Amr Ibn 'Abdullah Al-Wada'i: "I heard Mu'awiyah as

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saying: four persons ruled over the earth: Sulaiman Ibn Dawud the Prophet (Peace be upon
them), Dhul -Qarnain, a man from the people of Hulwan, and another man. Someone said:
was it Al-Khadir? Mu'awiyah said: No."
Az-Zubair Ibn Bakkar narrated that Sufyan Ath Thawri said: I have come to know that four
persons ruled over the whole earth: two of them were believers and the other two were
disbelievers. The believing two were: Prophet Sulaiman and Dhul- Qarnain. And, the
disbelieving two were: Namrud and Bikhtinassar." The same was narrated by Sa' id
Ibn Bashir.
Narrated Ishaq Ibn Bishr after Sa' id Ibn Abu 'Urubah after Qatadah after Al-Hasan as
saying: "Dhul-Qarnain was a king after Namrud. He was a pious, righteous Muslim who
traveled through the east and west. Allah the Almighty prolonged his life and granted him
victory over the enemies and to ge1 hold of their properties. He conquered the land,
subjugated the people and traveled through the earth till he reached the east and west.
Allah the Almighty says: {And they ask you about Dhul-Qarnain. Say: "I shall recite to you
something of his story." Verily, We established him in the earth, and We gave him the
means of everything}, i.e. knowledge of seeking the means of fulfilling things. Ibn Ishaq
said: Muqatil claimed that he used to conquer the lands and collect treasures, and used to
offer the people two choices: whether they embrace his religion and follow him, or they be
killed.
Ibn 'Abbas, Mujahid, Sa'id Ibn Jubair, 'Ikrimah, 'Ubaid Ibn Ya' la, As-Sadyi, Qatadah and
Ad-Dahhak said: {and We gave him the means of everything}, i.e. knowledge. Qatadah and
Matar Al-Warraq said: This means landmarks, locations, milestones and traces of the land.
'Abdur Rahman Ibn laid Ibn Aslam said: this means languages as he used not to conquer a
people but he first speaks with them in their own language. The most possible and true
explanation is that he knew all means through which he could fulfill his need or desire. As
he used to take from every conquered region the provisions that enabled him to seize the
next region, and so on.
Some scholars from among the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) mentioned that he
spent one thousand and six hundred years traveling through the land inviting people to the
worship of Allah the Almighty Who has no partner in His Dominion. But, it seems that there
is some exaggeration in specifying that lengthy period, and Allah knows best!
Allah's Statement {So he followed a way. Until, when he reached the setting place of the

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sun} i.e. he reached the place that no one can ever overpass, and he stood on the edge of
the western ocean called Oqyanus wherein the islands called Al-Khalidat "The Eternal Ones".
There, he could watch the setting of the sun. {He found it setting in a spring of black muddy
(or hot) water}, i.e. the sea or ocean, as one who stands ashore sees the sun as if it rises
from and sets in the sea. For this he said {he found it}, i.e. as he thought.
Imam Ahmed narrated after Yazid Ibn Hamn after Al-'Awwam Ibn Haushab as saying: I was
told by a freed-slave of 'Abdullah Ibn 'Amr after 'Abdullah as saying: Allah's Messenger
(Peace be upon him) looked at the sun when it sat and said: "In Allah's blazing fire. Were it
not for its prevention by Allah's Command, it would burn all that is on earth." (This Hadith is
very Strange and Odd and surely it is not an Authentic one)
Dhul-Qarnain is Seeking the Eye of Life:
Ibn 'Asakir reported a lengthy narration in which: Dhul-Qarnain had a friend from among
the Angels called Ranaqil. Dhul-Qarnain asked him: Do you know the place on earth called
"the Eye of Life"? The Angel described to him its location. Dhul-Qarnain set out seeking it
appointing Al-Khadir as his harbinger. Al-Khadir came upon it in the land of darkness and he
drank thereof. But, Dhul-Qarnain did not make it. However, Dhul-Qarnain met with a group
of Angels in a palace there and he was given a stone. When he returned to his army, he
asked the scholars who put it on a scale and put on the other one thousand stones of the
like (weight and shape). However, the scale containing the first stone tilted. He, then, asked
Al-Khadir who put on the other scale a single stone and a handful of dry dust. Al- Khadir's
scale tilted this time. He then commented saying: "This is like the son of Adam, he is never
satisfied till he is buried (covered with dust)". Thereupon, the scholars prostrated
themselves before him as a sign of respect and honor; and Allah knows best!
Then, Allah the Almighty informs us that Dhul-Qarnain gave verdicts pertaining to the
people of that region {We (Allah) said (by inspiration): "0 Dhul Qarnain! Either you punish
them, or treat them with kindness." He said: "As for him (a disbeliever , in the Oneness of
Allah) who does wrong, we shall ! punish him, and then he will be brought back unto his
Lord, Who will punish him with a terrible torment (Hell)} i.e. he tastes the torment in this
present life and in the Hereafter. He began with the torment of the present life for its more
difficult in the sight of the disbeliever. {But as for him who believes (in Allah's Oneness) and
works righteousness he shall have the best reward, (Paradise), and we (Dhul-Qarnain) shall
speak unto him mild words (as instructions)} where he started with the reward of the
Hereafter which is most important and he added thereto kindness, i.e. justice, knowledge
and faith. Allah the Almighty says {Then he followed another way}, i.e. he followed a way to

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return back from the west to the east. Some say that it took him twelve years to return to
the east. {Until, when he came to the rising place of the sun, he found it rising on a people
for whom We (Allah) had provided no shelter against the sun}, i.e. they do not have houses
or any shelters to save them from the blazing sun. Some scholars say: they used to resort
to trenches dug in the earth to shelter then from the burning rays of the sun. Then, Allah
the Almighty says: {So (it was)! And We knew all about him (Dhul-Qarnain)}, i.e. Allah
knows all about his affairs; He preserves and keeps him during his travels through the land
from the west to the east and vice versa.
It was narrated after' Ubaid Ibn 'Umair, his son 'Abdullah and others that Dhul-Qarnain
performed Pilgrimage on foot. Upon hearing that, Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) met him and
on their meeting he invoked Allah for his sake, and advised him. It was said also that he
was brought a horse to ride, but he said: I do not ride (on the back of horses) in a land
wherein Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon him). Hence, Allah the Almighty subjugated for
him the clouds, and Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) gave him the glad tidings pertaining to
this. The clouds used to carry him anywhere he wished for. Allah the Almighty says: {then,
he followed (another) way. Until, when he reached between two mountains, he found,
before (near) them (those two mountains), a people who scarcely understood a word}, i.e.
they were ignorant. It was said that they were the Turk,[1] cousins of Gog and Magog.
However, they told him that Gog and Magog wronged them and practiced mischief in their
land. They offered him a tribute for that he builds a barrier (dam) preventing them from
raiding over them. He refused to take the tribute they offered him finding sufficiency in that
which Allah the Almighty has given him, so {He said: "That (wealth, authority and power) in
which my Lord had established me is better (than your tribute)}. Then, he asked them to
bring him men and tools to erect the barrier between them. Gog and Magog could only
reach them from that place located between two mountain-cliffs. The other paths were
either vast seas, or high mountains. Consequently, he erected it using iron and molten
copper: he put iron instead of bricks and molten copper instead of clay. Allah the Almighty
commented, {So they (Gog and Magog) could not scale it} with escalators, {or dig through
it} with axes or picks. {(Dhul-Qarnain) said: "This is a mercy from my Lord} i.e. Allah the
Almighty decreed this to be a mercy from Him to His slaves that they no longer assaulted by
Gog and Magog. {But when the Promise of my Lord comes} i.e. the time He decided for
them (Gog and Magog) to demolish it and get out attacking mankind near the Last Hour,
{He shall level it down to the ground} this will inevitably take place. As He says {And the
Promise of my Lord is ever true}, and {Until, when Gog and Magog are let loose (from their
barrier), and they swoop down from every mound. And the true promise (Day of
Resurrection) shall draw near (of fulfillment). Then (when mankind is resurrected from their
graves), you shall see the eyes of the disbelievers fixedly staring in horror. (They will say):

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Woe to us! We were indeed heedless of this nay, but we were Zalimun (polytheists and
wrong doers)}. (Al-Anbiya', 96, 97) Allah the Almighty says: {We shall leave them to surge
like waves"on one another} i.e. on the day Gog and Magog will come out, {and the Trumpet
will be blown, and We shall collect them (the creatures) all together}.
Narrated Abu Dawud At- Tyalisi after Ath -Thawri saying: I have been informed that the first
human being to shake hands (with someone else) was Dhul-Qarnain. Moreover, it was
narrated on the authority of Ka'b Al-Ahbar that he said to Mu'awiyah: Dhul-Qarnain on his
death-bed told his mother, after his death, to prepare food and gather the women of the city
and invite them to eat save anyone who lost any of her children (she should not eat
thereof). The mother did as she asked, and none of them stretched a hand towards the
food. She said: Glory be to Allah! Did you all lost children? They answered: By Allah! Yes we
did. And, this was a great condolence for her.
Ishaq mentioned after Bishr Ibn 'Abdullah Ibn Ziyad after some of the People of the Book
(Christians and Jews) the will of Dhul-Qarnain, an eloquent and lengthy advice, and that he
died at the age of three thousand years. (This is very odd and strange)
Ibn 'Asakir said: I was informed that he lived for about thirty-six years. Others said: he
lived for thirty-two years and that he came seven hundred and forty years after Dawud
(David) (Peace be upon him). He came after Adam (Peace be upon him) with five thousand
and one hundred eighty-one years and that his reign lasted for sixteen years. But, that
which he related is true as for the Macedonian Alexander and not our Dhul-Qarnain. He thus
mixed the former with the latter and this is perfectly wrong.
Among those who mixed them and declared both to be just one, was Imam 'Abdul Malik
Ibn Hisham (Narrator of the Prophet's Biography), which was denied and rejected by AlHafiz Abu Al-Qasim As Suhaili. He severely refuted his sayings and set clear boundaries
between the two persons as mentioned earlier. He said: May be some of the former kings
called themselves "Dhul-Qarnain" following the example of the first true one; and Allah
knows best!
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Mediator

Jr. Member

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Re: Is Zulqarnain Alexander the great?


Reply #3 on: October 04, 2012, 07:42:39 am

Thanks, it was very clear.


http://www.central-mosque.com/index.php/Tafseer/dhulqar.html
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RamziBinNabil

Hero Member

Re: Is Zulqarnain Alexander the great?


Reply #4 on: October 05, 2012, 07:39:36 am

Welcome.
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