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 dhul qarnain (cyrus the great)

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yasser balesaria
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PostSubject: dhul qarnain (cyrus the great)   Wed Aug 06, 2008 8:46 pm

Dhul-Qarnayn (Arabic for "the two-horned") is mentioned in the Qur'an. The story of Dhul-Qarnayn appears in sixteen verses of the Qur'an, specifically the 16 verses 18:83-98 (Al Kahf). There is extensive ongoing debate on who exactly was the historical character of Dhul-Qarnayn. Traditionally, many believe that Dhul Qarnayn is modelled on Alexander The Great, through the intermediary of the Alexander Romance. However, in recent years, alternative theories have been proposed supporting other explanations. The most prominent of these is the theory that Dhul-Qarnayn was none other than Cyrus the Great of Achaemenid Persia. This theory has been endorsed by such scholars as Maududi, the Indian minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad[1], Allameh Tabatabaei,[2] and Naser Makarem Shirazi[3], among others. Cyrus was also a follower of Zoroastrianism,[4] which has some similarities to Islam and Judaism.




Analysis
Maududi writes in his Tafsir[5] The identification of Dhul-Qarnain has been a controversial matter from the earliest times. Generally, commentators have been of the opinion that Dhul-Qarnayn is actually Alexander, but some characteristics of Dhul-Qarnain described in the Qur'an, it has been argued, are not applicable to the historical Alexander. The fact that the Alexander-as-Dhul-Qarnay theory actually refers to the semi-mythical Alexander described in the Alexander Romance makes the connection even more problematic for some Islamic scholars. Today some commentators are inclined to believe that Dhul-Qarnain was actually Cyrus The Great, an ancient king of Achaemenid Persia.

The characteristics of Dhul-Qarnain in the light of his story as given in the Qur'an now follow:

(1) The title Dhul-Qarnain ("The Two-Horned") should have been quite familiar to the Jews, for it was at their instigation that the disbelievers of Mecca put this question to Mohammad. Therefore one must turn to Judaic literature in order to learn who was the person known as "The Two-Horned" or which was the kingdom known as "The Two-Horned."

The Book of Daniel Chapter 8 says [6]:

"2 In the vision I was looking and saw myself in Susa the capital, in the province of Elam, and I was by the river Ulai. 3 I looked up and saw a ram standing beside the river. It had two horns. Both horns were long, but one was longer than the other, and the longer one came up second. 4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. All beasts were powerless to withstand it, and no one could rescue from its power; it did as it pleased and became strong. 5 As I was watching, a male goat appeared from the west, coming across the face of the whole earth without touching the ground. The goat had a horn between its eyes. 6 It came toward the ram with the two horns that I had seen standing beside the river, and it ran at it with savage force."
The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible gives the following interpretation from Gabriel: "As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia."

Furthermore, two horns and two horned symbolism was not an unknown emblem of the kingdoms of Persia and its predecessors, for we see that Elamite kings used this symbol routinely in their insignia.

(2) Dhul-Qarnayn must have been a great ruler and a great conqueror whose conquests might have spread from the East to the West and on the third side to the North or to the South. Before the revelation of the Qur'an there had been several historical figures, who are known to have been conquerors of such calibre. So one must confine one's search for Dhul-Qarnayn to one such person. Cyrus The Great is the candidate that fits this description quite fittingly.

(3) This title should be applicable to such a ruler who might have constructed a strong wall across a mountain pass to protect his kingdom from the incursions of the Gog and Magog. In order to investigate this, one must determine as to who were the Gog and Magog. One must also consider when such a wall was historically built, if at all, and by whom and to which territory it was adjacent to.

(4) Besides possessing the aforementioned characteristics, he should also be a God-worshipper and a just ruler, since the Qur'an has brought into prominence these characteristics more than anything else in the quoted passages.

As mentioned above, the first of these characteristics is easily applicable to Cyrus, for according to the Bible Prophet Daniel saw in his vision that the united kingdom of Media and Persia was like a two-horned ram before the rise of the Greeks. (Dan. 8: 3,"20). The Jews had a very high opinion of "The Two-horned" one, because it was his invasion which brought about the downfall of the kingdom of Babylon and the liberation of the Israelites (also refer to E.N. 8 of Chapter XVII).

The second characteristic is applicable to Cyrus to a great extent but not completely. Though his conquests spread to Syria and Asia Minor in the West and to Bākhtar (Balkh) in the East, there is no trace of any of his great expeditions to the North or to the South, whereas the Qur'an makes an explicit mention of his third expedition. However some historians do verify the probability of such a voyage. Nevertheless, this third expedition is not completely out of question for history tells us that Cyrus' kingdom extended to Caucasia in the North. As regards Gog and Magog, it has been established that they were the wild tribes of Central Asia who were known by different names: Scythians, Parthians, Tartars, Mongols, and Huns, who had been making incursions on various kingdoms and empires from very ancient times. It is also known that strong bulwarks had been built in southern regions of Caucasia, though it has yet to be determined historically whether these were built by Cyrus.

As regards the last characteristic, Cyrus is the only known conqueror among the ancient rulers, to whom this may be applicable, for even his enemies have been full of praise for him for his justice, and, Ezra, asserts that he was a God-worshipper and a God-fearing king who set free the Israelites because of his God-worship, and ordered that the Temple of Solomon be rebuilt for the worship of God.

Thus in the light of the above, it is easy to conclude that of all the conquerors who had died before the revelation of the Qur'an, Cyrus alone is the one to whom the characteristics of "Dhul-Qarnain" are most applicable. There is no other conqueror to whom the characteristics stated in the Qur'an are as much applicable as to Cyrus.

The historical Cyrus was a Persian ruler whose rise began about 549 BCE. Within a few years he had conquered the kingdoms of Media and Lydia; by 539 BCE he had conquered Babylon. There was no powerful kingdom left to oppose him. His conquests extended eastward to Turkistan; westward to Ionia; northward to Caucasia--covering, in fact, much of the known civilized world.


Journey towards West
"The limit where the twin suns set" does not mean the "place" of the setting of the sun. According to Ibn Kathir, it means that he marched to the West conquering one country after the other until he reached the last boundary of the land, beyond which there was ocean. "He found the sun setting in black muddy waters of the sea": if Dhul-Qarnain was Cyrus, then that place would be the western limit of Asia Minor and the "black waters" would be the Aegean Sea. This interpretation is supported by the use of the word "`ain" instead of "bahr" in the Qur'an.

Journey towards East
That is, "When he advanced towards the East, conquering one country after the other, he reached a territory where the limits of the civilized world had come to an end and beyond which was the territory of barbaric people, who had no shelter at all of tents or buildings."


Journey towards north/Gog & Magog
The "two mountains" must have been parts of that mountain range which runs between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. This must be, for beyond them was the territory of Gog and Magog. "It was difficult to communicate with them: their language was almost foreign to Dhul-Qarnain and his companions, and, as they were quite barbaric, none could understand their language, nor were they acquainted with any foreign language."

As has already been pointed out, Gog and Magog were the wild tribes of North Eastern Asia which, from the very early times had been making inroads on settled kingdoms and empires in Asia and Europe and ravaging them. According to Genesis (Chapter 10), they were the descendants of Japheth, the son of Noah, and the Muslim historians have also accepted this. And according to the book of Ezekiel (Chapters 38, 39), they inhabited the territories of Meshech (Moscow) and Tubal (Tubalsek). According to the Israelite historian Josephus, they were the Scythians and their territory spread to the north and the east of the Black Sea. According to Jerome, Magog inhabited the territory to the north of Caucasia near the Caspian Sea.

He said: "As a ruler it is my duty to protect you from the ravages of your enemies: therefore it is not lawful for me to levy any extra taxes on you for this purpose. The treasury that Allah has placed in my custody, suffices for this purpose. You shall, however, have to help me with your manual labour."


The Wall
He said: "Though I have built a very strong iron-wall, as far as it was possible for me, it is not ever-lasting, for it will last only as long as Allah wills, and will fall down to pieces when the time of my Lord's promise shall come. Then no power in the world shall be able to keep it safe and secure."

Some people have entertained the misunderstanding that the wall attributed here to Dhul-Qarnain refers to the famous Great Wall of China, whereas this wall was built between Derbent and Dar'yal, two cities of Daghestan in the Caucasus, the land that lies between the Black Sea and the Caspian. There are high mountains between the Black Sea and Dar'yal having deep gorges which cannot allow large armies to pass through them. Between Derbent and Dar'yal, however, there are no such mountains and the passes also are wide and passable. In ancient times savage hordes from the north invaded and ravaged southern lands through these passes and the Persian rulers who were fearful of them had to build a strong wall, 50 miles long, 29 feet high and 10 feet wide, for fortification purposes, ruins of which can still be seen.[7] Though it has not yet been established historically who built this wall in the beginning, Muslim historians and geographers assign it to Dhul-Qarnain because its remains correspond with the description of it given in the Qur'an, despite the fact that the wall is in fact Sassanid in origins, and thusly is about 1000 years too late to have been built by Cyrus.
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PostSubject: Re: dhul qarnain (cyrus the great)   Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:08 pm

Quote :
As regards Gog and Magog, it has been established that they were the wild tribes of Central Asia who were known by different names: Scythians, Parthians, Tartars, Mongols, and Huns

Quote :
As has already been pointed out, Gog and Magog were the wild tribes of North Eastern Asia which

Interesting.....
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Qamar Ariff
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PostSubject: Re: dhul qarnain (cyrus the great)   Wed Sep 07, 2011 6:07 am

I think apart from answering the queries of the quraish originating from the Jewish rabbis in Madinah, the story of dzulqarnain is to inform us of the true identity of yajuj majuj. I agree with your views and analysis that yajuj and majuj is most likely Cyrus the great for all reasons you've stated above. More importantly, yajuj majuj lived north of the caucuses mountain and looking at history, around 700ad these people were called khazars and they converted to judaism around that time. They were the descendants of the modern day Ashkenazi Jews which make up of 95% of modern day Jewry. The balance 5% are sherpadic Jews who are the remnants of the original middle eastern Jews or what is referred to in the Quran as bani Israel.

Interesting enough, in the Quran there is an interest prophecy in suratul anbiya verse 95 where Allah says "A ban is laid on this town which we have destroyed and they shall not return until gog magog are let loose and they swarm from elevated places"

Some have interpreted this town as being Jerusalem , they as being bani Israel and gig Magog as being Ashkenazi Jews. Thus would have meant that this prophecy has been fulfilled.

An interesting thought.
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