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.