Dhul-Qarnayn: The Two Horned One

Jumu’ah Mubarak! Since today is the blessed day of Friday, today’s daily post will be a lesson from Surah al-Kahf. As we know Surah al-Kahf should be recited every Friday.

The last and final story Allah (swt) shares with us in Surah al-Kahf is the story of the great ruler, Dhul-Qarnayn. The story along with the story of the People of the Cave was revealed to the Prophet (saw) in response to the disbelievers who challenged the Prophet (saw) to tell them about these famous stories from the past. So, who exactly is this Dhul-Qarnayn? It is widely speculated among classical scholars of the past and modern Islamic scholars that Cyrus the Great of Persia was Dhul-Qarnayn. The exact identity of Dhul-Qarnayn is not described in the Qur’an and Hadith.


Dhul-Qarnayn was a pious believer who lived a rather simple life. It is known that he was a man who Allah (swt) had blessed immensely. He was blessed with a militarily focused mind, the ability to govern various kingdoms, and great wisdom about life. He was a believer in Allah (swt) and was on the straight path. Throughout his military travels and expeditions he would often reflect and contemplate the signs of Allah (swt). He lived his life traveling from one land to the next in order to establish justice and alleviate the suffering of the average person.

Indeed We established him upon the Earth, and We gave him to everything a way. So he followed a way.

Surah al-Kahf, Ayah 84-85

Dhul-Qarnayn traveled far and wide throughout his life. It is said that he ruled the Earth from east to west. On one of his expeditions he came to a western land where he found the Sun setting as if in a spring of dark mud. It was in this place where he discovered a group of people who were living under extremely oppressed conditions and the land was filled with corruption. Allah (swt) mentions about this location in Surah al-Kahf when He says,

“O Dhul-Qarnayn, either you punish (them) or else adopt among them (a way of) goodness.”

Surah al-Kahf, Ayah 86

Dhul-Qarnayn went into the community and corrected their ways. He educated them on the difference between right and wrong. He was also responsible for liberating this land from the oppressors who ruled over this land. He aided the weak and oppressed in their fight to try and establish justice in the land.

After liberating this community, he led his army ahead until one day against the rising sun, he encountered a group of people who were extremely backward and ignorant in their ways. They would be living in the open air without any shelter or protection against the Sun.

Then he followed a way. Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had not made against it any shield.

Surah al-Kahf, Ayah 90

He was able to educate these people and taught them about proper shelter. He shared much wisdom with these people. He taught them many practical skills as well such as carpentry along with basic agricultural methods. After educating these people, he continued on his journey.

The next leg of his journey is the most interesting part of his journey. He ends up meeting a very exotic group of people so far from his homeland, they could hardly understand his language.

The group of people complained to Dhul-Qarnayn of two corrupters in their land. These two corrupters and oppressors are Ya’juj (Gog) and Ma’juj (Magog). Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an,

“O Dhul-Qarnayn, indeed (Ya’juj) Gog and Magog (Ma’juj) are great corrupters in the land. So may we assign for you an expenditure that you might make between us and them a barrier?”

Surah al-Kahf, Ayah 94

So, the question arises, who are these two corrupters Ya’juj and Ma’juj? Islamically speaking, there is little known about who they are. We don’t know what race they are, what their exact location is, and what form they appear in. There are numerous hadith about them spreading mischief and corruption in the world. In the Qur’an and hadith there are prophecies that mention the appearance of Ya’juj and Ma’juj close to the Day of Judgment. They will then reappear on the Earth and cause great trouble and mischief.

Many scholars have tried to point to certain races of today being Ya’juj and Ma’juj, however we are actually not sure of who they are. This remains as being part of the knowledge of the unseen. I want this post to only be one that takes its perspective from the Qur’an and authentic hadith, and not speculation.

Once the people complained to Dhul-Qarnayn about Ya’juj and Ma’juj, Allah (swt) gave Dhul-Qarnayn the knowledge needed to solve this communities problem. With divine wisdom from Allah (swt), Dhul-Qarnayn instructed the community to construct a giant wall or dam made of iron between the two mountains. Finally, he ordered them to then pour molten copper on the wall to strengthen it and make it extremely impenetrable.

He said, “That in which my Lord has established me is better (than what you offer), but assist me with strength; I will make between you and them a dam. Bring me sheets of iron” – until, when he had leveled (them) between the two mountain walls, he said, “Blow (with bellows),” until when he had made it like fire, he said, “Bring me, that I may pour over it molten copper.” So Ya’juj and Ma’juj were unable to pass over it, nor were they able (to effect) in it any penetration.

Surah al-Kahf, Ayah 95-97

The qadr (will) of Allah (swt) is still to pass. From the prophecies we know that one day close to the end of times, the wall or barrier will be broken down and from there Ya’juj and Ma’juj will emerge and will spread great trials and tribulations throughout the land.

Dhul-Qarnayn said, “This is a mercy from my Lord; but when the promise of my Lord comes, He will make it level, and ever is the promise of my Lord true.” And We will leave them that day surging over each other, and then the Horn will be blown, and We will assemble them in (one) assembly.

Surah al-Kahf, Ayah 98-99

There are a number of lessons we can extrapolate from the life of Dhul-Qarnayn. We should realize that all abilities and power come from Allah (swt). Whenever a person feels an urge to do something good, he/she should use those abilities and whatever power he/she has for enjoining good and forbidding evil. In addition, sincerity will make us want to perform good deeds. An individual’s sincerity will allow Allah (swt) to make it easy for us to spread his message to the world. We also must always remember that as a collective ummah we all have a chance to change something. Whether it be standing up for justice, helping to alleviate the suffering of people, or spreading the message of tawheed and Islam to the people around us. We all have different opportunities in life that we have to take advantage of. If we have sincerity, Allah (swt) will give us victory. Dhul-Qarnayn traveled was able to free people from oppression and was able establish justice throughout the land because of his sincere belief in Allah (swt) and his drive for helping humanity.

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2 thoughts on “Dhul-Qarnayn: The Two Horned One

  1. Assalamualaikum wr wb.

    The first verse of surah Al Kahf starts with; (All) praise is due to Allah, Who revealed the Book to His servant and did not make in it any crookedness.

    Believers must accept that this book is the truth and beyond crookedness. What was revealed in another verse could be found in another verse in the quran. The answer to the character of Dhul Qarnayn can be found in the Quran itself.
    Qs.18:54. And certainly We have explained in this Quran every kind of example, and man is most of all given to contention.

    The word Dhul Qarnayn means the “leader of of two nations”. The people of the east and west.
    Similarities between Dhul Qarnayn and Prophet Sulaiman alaihi salam.

    Prophet Sulaiman pbuh is Dhul Qarnayn.

    Here’s a list of similarities between the two characters.
    1️⃣ Kingship
    🔹Dhul Qarnayn was a king.
    🔸Prophet Sulaiman Pbuh was also a King.

    2️⃣Both were blessed with many great things to help them accomplished their tasks that was to spread the word of god.

    🔹Dhul Qarnayn – Qs 18:84
    Surely We established him in the land and granted him means of access to every thing.

    🔸Prophet Sulaiman Pbuh – Qs 27: 16
    And Sulaiman was Dawood’s heir, and he said: O men! we have been taught the language of birds, and we have been given all things; most surely this is manifest grace.

    3️⃣ Both makes journeys far and wide.

    🔹Dhul Qarnayn – Qs 18:85 to 93 his travelled.
    🔸Prophet Sulaiman Pbuh – Qs 21:81,
    And (We made subservient) to Sulaiman the wind blowing violent, pursuing its course by his command to the lands which We had blessed, and We are knower of all things.

    4️⃣ Both were blessed with wisdoms.
    🔹Dhul Qarnayn – Qs 18:86, 87 & 88.
    Until when he reached the place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea, and found by it a people. We said: O Zulqarnain! either give them a chastisement or do them a benefit. He said: As to him who is unjust, we will chastise him, then shall he be returned to his Lord, and He will chastise him with an exemplary chastisement: And as for him who believes and does good, he shall have goodly reward, and We will speak to him an easy word of Our command.

    🔸Prophet Sulaiman Pbuh – Qs 21:78 & 79.
    And Dawood and Sulaiman when they gave judgment concerning the field when the people’s sheep pastured therein by night, and We were bearers of witness to their judgment. So We made Sulaiman to understand it; and to each one We gave wisdom and knowledge; and We made the mountains, and the birds to celebrate Our praise with Dawood; and We were the doers.

    5️⃣ Both were able to understand many languages.
    🔹Dhul Qarnayn Qs.18:93. Until when he reached (a place) between the two mountains, he found on that side of them a people who could hardly understand a word.

    🔸Prophet Sulaiman Pbuh – Qs 27:16
    And Sulaiman was Dawood’s heir, and he said: O men! we have been taught the language of birds, and we have been given all things; most surely this is manifest grace.

    6️⃣ And here’s the best part.
    They were both given the technology to manipulate both iron and copper!

    🔹Dhul Qarnayn – Qs 18:96
    Bring me blocks of iron; until when he had filled up the space between the two mountain sides, he said: Blow, until when he had made it (as) fire, he said: Bring me molten copper which I may pour over it.

    🔸Prophet Sulaiman pbuh – Qs 34:10, 11 & 12. And certainly We gave to Dawood excellence from Us: O mountains! sing praises with him, and the birds; and We made the iron pliant to him, Saying: Make ample (coats of mail), and assign a time to the making of coats of mail and do good; surely I am Seeing what you do. And (We made) the wind (subservient) to Sulaiman, which made a month’s journey in the morning and a month’s journey in the evening, and We made a fountain of molten copper to flow out for him, and of the jinn there were those who worked before him by the command of his Lord; and whoever turned aside from Our command from among them, We made him taste of the punishment of burning.

    7️⃣ And both refused to accept gifts.
    🔹Dhul Qarnayn – Qs.18:95, They said: O Dhul Qarnayn! surely Gog and Magog make mischief in the land. Shall we then pay you a tribute on condition that you should raise a barrier between us and them
    🔸Prophet Sulaiman Pbuh – Qs.27:36, So when he came to Sulaiman, he said: What! will you help me with wealth? But what Allah has given me is better than what He has given you. Nay, you are exultant because of your present;

    Allah knows best.
    And May Allah guide us to his straight path.


  2. سلم عليكم

    Dear brothers,

    The story of Dhul-Qarnayn’s expedition and Ya’juj wa Ma’juj in Surah Al Kahf had remained a mystery for 14 centuries… until recently when it was presented using an unprecedented methodology i.e. Quranic methodology i.e. extraction of interpretation and meaning of the Quran using the Quran alone and no other man-made sources (i.e. narration, seerah, tafseer or old scriptures).

    Please watch:


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