Who was Dhul-Qarnain and where is his wall?
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
[18:83] And they ask you about Dhul-Qarnain. Say, I shall now recite to you some narration about him.
Adopted from Mariful Qur’aan by Mufti Mohammed Shafi (RA)
وَيَسۡـَٔلُونَكَ عَن ذِى ٱلۡقَرۡنَيۡنِۖ قُلۡ سَأَتۡلُواْ عَلَيۡكُم مِّنۡهُ ذِڪۡرًا (٨٣) إِنَّا مَكَّنَّا لَهُ ۥ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَءَاتَيۡنَـٰهُ مِن كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ سَبَبً۬ا (٨٤) فَأَتۡبَعَ سَبَبًا (٨٥) حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا بَلَغَ مَغۡرِبَ ٱلشَّمۡسِ وَجَدَهَا تَغۡرُبُ فِى عَيۡنٍ حَمِئَةٍ۬ وَوَجَدَ عِندَهَا قَوۡمً۬اۗ قُلۡنَا يَـٰذَا ٱلۡقَرۡنَيۡنِ إِمَّآ أَن تُعَذِّبَ وَإِمَّآ أَن تَتَّخِذَ فِيہِمۡ حُسۡنً۬ا (٨٦) قَالَ أَمَّا مَن ظَلَمَ فَسَوۡفَ نُعَذِّبُهُ ۥ ثُمَّ يُرَدُّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِۦ فَيُعَذِّبُهُ ۥ عَذَابً۬ا نُّكۡرً۬ا (٨٧) وَأَمَّا مَنۡ ءَامَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَـٰلِحً۬ا فَلَهُ ۥ جَزَآءً ٱلۡحُسۡنَىٰۖ وَسَنَقُولُ لَهُ ۥ مِنۡ أَمۡرِنَا يُسۡرً۬ا
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]
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]
Verse 84 opens with the statement: يَسۡـَٔلُونَكَ (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 prophet-hood 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 Qur’an 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 Qur’an 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.”
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 Qur’an 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 Qur’an 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 Qur’anic 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 al-Quran’ 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:
- Sayyidna Sulaiman (RA)
- and Dhul-Qarnain
while the disbelieving ones are Nimrod (Namrud) and Nebuchadnezzar (BukhtNassr).
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 Dhul-Qarnain mentioned in the Qurun. This is totally wrong because this person was a fire-worshipping polytheist.
As for the Dhul-Qarnain mentioned by the Qur’an, 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 Qur’an in its own right which bears testimony to it.
Quoting Ibn ‘Asakir, Hafiz Ibn Kathir (RA) s given his complete family tree in al-Bidayah 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 Qur’an 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 al-Ma’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: وانھ کان نبیا (he was a prophet). It shows that, in the sight of Ibn Kathir, the weightier opinion was that he 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: وانھ (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 al-Bidayah 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 Qur’an 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)
As for the detailed discussion relating to Dhul-Qarnain provided by Maulana Hifzur-Rahman 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 Qur’an says on the occasion of the first transgression of Bani Isra’il: عَلَيۡڪُمۡ عِبَادً۬ا لَّنَآ أُوْلِى بَأۡسٍ۬ شَدِيدٍ۬ فَجَاسُواْ خِلَـٰلَ ٱلدِّيَارِۚ (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 Qur’an: ثُمَّ رَدَدۡنَا لَكُمُ ٱلۡڪَرَّةَ عَلَيۡہِمۡ (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 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: قُلۡ سَأَتۡلُواْ عَلَيۡكُم مِّنۡهُ ذِڪۡرًا (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 ذِڪۡرًہ dhikrah; (his narrations) at this place and has opted for two words: مِّنۡهُ ذِڪۡرًا ((‘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 Qur’an 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: مِّنۡ(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: سَبَبً۬-‘ (sabab) used in: وَءَاتَيۡنَـٰهُ مِن كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ سَبَبً۬ا (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: مِن كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ (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: فَأَتۡبَعَ سَبَبًا (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.
The statement in verse 86: حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا بَلَغَ مَغۡرِبَ ٱلشَّمۡسِ (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.
The word: حَمِئَةٍ۬ (hami’ah) in the succeeding phrase: فِى عَيۡنٍ حَمِئَةٍ۬ (into 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: وَوَجَدَ عِندَهَا قَوۡمً۬اۗ (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: قُلۡنَا يَـٰذَا ٱلۡقَرۡنَيۡنِ (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: يَـٰذَا ٱلۡقَرۡنَيۡنِ O 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: واوحینا (awhaina: We revealed or put into the heart) used in the Qur’an 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 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 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:
- The Great Wall of China which was built by the Chinese King Fagfor 3460 years after Prophet Adam was put on the Earth
- The wall in central Asia near Bukhara and Tirmidh in a place called Derbent.
- The wall in Dagistan Russia also known as Derbent near the Caspian sea.
- 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 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)
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).
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.
- Some are as tall as the tree Arz – that is 120 ft.
- Some are four arm lengths tall and four arm lengths wide.
- 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)
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)