Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gog & Magog And Dhul-Qarnayn

Most people have heard about Gog and Magog, otherwise known as Yajuj and Majuj. But like the story of Khidr, there are different accounts as to who they are and where they’re situated etc.

In the biblical sense, there is a reference to Magog in the Book of Genesis 10 which reveals that he was one of the sons of Japheth who was one of the sons of Nuh AS (Prophet Noah). Japheth (Arabic citation Yafeth ibn Nuh: Japheth son of Noah) is also commonly believed to be the father of the Europeans according to biblical genealogy; the main link stemming from Genesis 10:5 which states that the sons of Japheth moved to the “isles of Gentiles”, believed to be the Greek Isles. According to Josephus:

“Japhet, the son of Noah, had seven sons: they inhabited so, that, beginning at the mountains Taurus and Amanus, they proceeded along Asia, as far as the river Tanais (Don), and along Europe to Cadiz; and settling themselves on the lands which they light upon, which none had inhabited before, they called the nations by their own names” [Antiquities of the Jews, I.6].

Magog was an eponymous ancestor, meaning that he was the ancestor of a people or a nation, hence the denotation that Gog and Magog are a tribe/nation/community of people. There are other cryptic prophecies in the Book of Ezekiel which echo those in the Book of Revelation and the Qur’an. The prophecy itself places Gog and Magog’s attack in “the final part of the years (or days)” or “the time of the end” [Daniel 11:35; 12:9; Rev 12:12].

“Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel” …”And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that swell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the Lord” [Ezekiel, 39:1-6].

Most biblical commentators and scholars relate the time of the Messianic Kingdom to the prophecy. The Book of Revelation speaks of Gog and Magog as “those nations in the four corners of the earth” who are misled by Satan. They advance “over the breadth of the earth” to encircle “the camp of the holy ones and the beloved city” [Revelation, 20:8].

Gog and Magog appear in the Qur’an in the 18th chapter, Surah Al-Kahf (The Cave) [18:83-98] as Yajuj and Majuj. They are described as the progeny of Noah (AS). They are human beings and any reports or postulates of super-natural physical manifestations are owed to Hebrew myths and conjecture. They are also described as evil and destructive in nature and said to have once “caused great corruption on earth” [Qur’an, 18:94]. It has been established that they were the wild tribes of Central Asia and were known by different names: The Scythians, The Parthians, The Tartars, The Mongols & The Huns. They had been making incursions on various empires and kingdoms from ancient times and their destructive ways have been documented in the story of Dhul-Qarnayn.

Dhul-Qarnayn / Thul-Qarnain / Zul-Qarneyn (circa 561 BC) was a righteous king and an adventurer who ruled a large kingdom with an equally large army. He travelled the world from East to West, the Qur’an specifies three directions. There was not a country that was too far for him and his army, nor a climate too hot or too cold, nor an adventure too risky and he was victorious in all his battles. His travels took him to a place which he thought was the end of civilization. He discovered that the people did not have homes or shelter and that they were an ignorant lot. He stayed with them for a while and reformed them, taught them good conduct, how to provide for themselves and about God. After he established good government amongst them, he then travelled further north.

Dhul-Qarnayn and his army reached a country situated between two mountain ranges. The area was well developed and the people in a better condition than those he had encountered before. They begged the king to help them against their neighbours who often robbed, raided and pillaged their homes as well as killed their people. These neighbours were Gog and Magog, or Yajuj and Majuj in the Qur’an. The citizens offered Dhul-Qarnayn a tribute in exchange for his help and protection. He declined the tribute but agreed to help them by building an impenetrable wall to keep out the hostile nation.

It should be worth noting that the invasions of Gog and Magog during this time were not limited to the people of this country and had spread over a substantially vast region; the habitations situated beneath the Caucasus range were their victims on one side, and the inhabitants of Tibet and China were not safe from their oppression on the other side. So several walls had been erected at different times; one such wall being the Great Wall of China which is about 1000 miles long; built to keep the “barbarians” out.

Using a large quantity of iron and molten copper and the labour offered by the citizens, Dhul-Qarnayn raised a huge wall and poured metal over it, filling the space between the two mountains. The invaders could not scale the smooth surface or break through the wall and they remain trapped there until the last days before the Day of Judgement…“Until when Gog and Magog are let loose, and they hasten out of every mound” [Qur’an, 21:96].

They will ask thee of Dhu'l-Qarnayn. Say: I shall recite unto you a remembrance of him. Lo! We made him strong in the land and gave him unto every thing a road. Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu'l-Qarnayn! Either punish or show them kindness. He said: As for him who doeth wrong, we shall punish him, and then he will be brought back unto his Lord, Who will punish him with awful punishment! Then he followed a road. Till, when he reached the rising-place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter therefrom. So (it was). And We knew all concerning him. Then he followed a road. Till, when he came between the two mountains, he found upon their hither side a folk that scarce could understand a saying. They said: O Dhu'l-Qarnayn! Lo! Gog and Magog are spoiling the land. So may we pay thee tribute on condition that thou set a barrier between us and them? He said: That wherein my Lord hath established me is better (than your tribute). Do but help me with strength (of men), I will set between you and them a bank. Give me pieces of iron - till, when he had levelled up (the gap) between the cliffs, he said: Blow! - till, when he had made it a fire, he said: Bring me molten copper to pour thereon [Qur’an, 18:83-96].

Some secular commentators, including some ancient Historians infer that Dhul-Qarnayn (which means ‘he of the two horns’) was Alexander the Great because of his two-horned helmet. Other more contemporary scholars and historians disagree citing that Alexander was a pagan and a worshipper of the Grecian gods whereas Dhul-Qarnayn was a monotheistic believer. Contemporary historians suggest that Dhul-Qarnayn was more likely to be Cyrus the Great, the famous Persian king of the Achamenid Dynasty (600 BC – 530 BC), and many contemporary Islamic scholars agree. Cyrus was a God-fearing and just ruler who had the respect and praise of his entire kingdom including his enemies. He was also a believer and worshipper of God. Many of his personal characteristics as well as the activities he engaged in throughout his life closely resemble that of Dhul-Qarnayn’s.

Where is the wall? Several walls have been identified throughout Asia. One such wall is that of Derbend, a high wall built from iron mixed with molten copper, with iron gates, between two mountains and a ditch of substantial depth, which is situated on the coast of the Caspian Sea in Caucasus. However, many authors, historians, commentators and scholars offer differing opinions about this wall since details about its width and breadth do not match the Qur’ans specifications of the wall of Dhul-Qarnayn. A more notable wall closes the pass to the west of Derbend (Qazween). This pass is situated in the inner parts of the western side of the Caucasus range, runs through very elevated parts of the Caucasus range and is naturally surrounded by two high cliffs of the mountains. This is known as Daryal Pass, also known as “Darra Ahni”, The Iron Pass in Persian. The wall at this pass was found to be built entirely with iron and molten copper. Detailed research was conducted into the construction of this wall and it was established that in fact, it was Cyrus the Great who had erected it.

And (Gog and Magog) were not able to surmount, nor could they pierce (it). He said: This is a mercy from my Lord; but when the promise of my Lord cometh to pass, He will lay it low, for the promise of my Lord is true [Qur’an, 18:97-98].

It is said that when the time draws near, as one of the major signs of the Day of Judgement, Gog and Magog will eventually demolish the wall, with the Will of The Almighty, and spread quickly throughout the world. They will wreck havoc once more, bringing catastrophe and devastation with them. It has been reported by Abu Hurairah (RA) that the Prophet SAW said:

“Gog and Magog dig this wall daily…but when they return the next morning, they find the wall in its original position, rather even more firm. It continues to happen so. But when the prescribed time would come, and Allah SWT would desire that they should come out, it would happen…they would come out (in huge numbers), drink the entire water of the world and people would hide themselves in forts and fortifications.”

Allah SWT will eventually destroy Gog and Magog by either causing glands to develop in their throats or by sending worms that will eat away at their necks. Thereafter Allah SWT will send rain to wash their bodies into the sea and cleanse the earth. No one knows when this will occur, but one day the Prophet SAW was said to be engaging in conversation with his companions when he stopped abruptly. He then said: “Doom for the Arab by the approaching evil. Today the wall of Dhul-Qarnayn has been opened” (Prophet SAW made a round shape with the aid of his thumb and finger).

And only Allah SWT knows.

17 comments:

  1. azra, i wish you well for ramzaan.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for another great Ramadaan post

    ReplyDelete
  3. Surah Al-Kahf is one of my favourites. Weird story about that. No matter where I am, its the one Surah that will always open for me when I open the Qu'ran.

    Thanks. Awesome post.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Once again Awesome post...I did read once not sure where and if the narration is strong or weak, that they are buried in a land of ice, that they are constantly chipping away at it makes me always wonder when they say because of global warming the ice in Antartica etc is melting if it is sign Allahu Alam

    ReplyDelete
  5. i absolutely enjoyed reading this. would you mind quoting the source/link to where some/all of your work comes from?! :P im sorry to be a pain and you dont need to - just gives the entry...context?

    ReplyDelete
  6. JazakAllah.

    Incidentally, Imran Hossein recently released a book on this very topic.

    The launch is next month, I think. But you can download it at:

    http://www.imranhosein.org/books/131-an-islamic-view-of-gog-and-magog-in-the-modern-age.html

    I attended one of his talks when he was in SA last year. Interesting material - though some might call him a bit too hectic.

    Anyway, thanks for posting the story. You use a broader range of sources than just Islamic sources; so it gives a different perspective.

    It's also nice to focus on OTHER stories from the Quran - i.e. not just the Prophets' stories. A lot has been done on lives of the Prophets; but not that much on the other stories in the Quran.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Prixie - Thank you!! :D

    Aads - My pleasure :)

    OH - :) My favourite is Ar-Rahman.

    fatima - thank you. Not sure about the land of ice. I know they're in the north, and the Qur'an is very specific about them and the barrier of iron and molten copper. I guess the area they're in is cold (since its in the north), but in my opinion, i dont think they're chipping ice as much as they're chipping away at the iron...Only Allah knows :)

    Sofi - I learnt about all this when I took an interest in world history in my early teens. I've always been fascinated by history and spent alot of my time reading on everything, quite extensively. Unfortuantely I can't remember all the reading material and sources since i began. When it comes to the biblical quotes, I do draw a little from a book called the Qasasul-Quraan.

    Dreamlife - I agree that alot of the other stories tend to be neglected as people tend to only concentrate on the popular ones. Thanks for the link, I'll be sure to check it out.

    Geeki - Its my pleasure :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. RadioIslam is doing a program on this today. Azra you were ahead of them

    ReplyDelete
  9. Interesting post - I wonder where such a wall now is!

    I got here from naeem.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Very interesting post. Jazakillahu khair for bringing in the Biblical viewpoints. For some reason I thought Dhul Qarnain was waay before the Jewish people and there was controversy over him being Alexander or even Cyrus. Also didn't know we had candidate walls for the famous one he built :)

    Still, I don't think we've come close to explaining it because a lot of other things don't fit. How long were they behind the wall? How is it that the Prophet (saws) said once that today they made their first hole in the wall? How did they survive behind the wall?

    I just get the feeling there's something we're missing. Very intriguing though.

    (Also got here via brnaeem)

    ReplyDelete
  11. mezba - Most believe it to be situated in the inner parts of the western side of the Caucasus range, running through very elevated parts of the Caucasus range. And only Allah SWT knows :)

    fikrpad - Most Islamic Scholars note that it was probably Cyrus. Thing is the Qur'am does not stipulate exactly WHEN Dhul Qarnain ruled... it just says it was a long time ago.

    I think that you are thinking of Gog and Magog behind this wall in terms of the "past". It is not so. If the prophecy is correct, then they are STILL behind this wall and continue to survive behind it, breeding in numbers and attempting to break through it, through their generations.

    This wall is very high and sealed off a steep valley... so its not any arbitrary wall in the middle of no where, and presumably they have the land of this valley to live off.

    The Prophet SAW mentioned that they managed to make that first tiny hole after hundreds of years of attempts - some reports state that he saw this in a vision brought from the Angel Jibrael AS as a message from Allah SWT.

    There are also various reports that they are not like us in terms of civility etc... and if they have been living behind this wall for a couple millenia it would make sense because they haven't been exposed to colonialism, globalisation etc... and have instead been caught in a time warp where their beliefs, systems, traditions may have festered and still be that of the old... aka the times when they roamed the earth and wreaked havoc (or even worse!) And only Allah SWT really knows :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well, you have identified Dhul-Qarnain’s era (circa 561 BC). Not only this, you have cited the iron and copper wall at ‘Derbend’- the Daryal Pass. The actual fact is that the city is Derbent and is situated in Dagestan, Russia on the western shore of Caspian Sea. On the other hand Darial Pass is a narrow gorge located on west of Derbent in Modern Georgia/Russia border. These are only two cross points across the Caucasus Mountains. Derbent is from Persian Dar-Band (Closed gate) and Darial is from Persian Dar-e-Alan (Gates of Alan whereas Alans were ancient Iranian peoples)
    To my knowledge, there is no archeological find that confirms that there was a wall made of iron or copper in these two sites (If this is so, at least the problem of wall is solved). There are indeed defensive walls but are made up of bricks and mud guarded by fortresses and iron gates (Note: Gates not Wall made up of iron or copper) but modern estimates put them to the period of the Sassanid era (Persian Empire contemporary to Muhammad (PBUH) time (around 5th Century AD) so they are not so ancient.
    I have read Imran Hussain’s book. The central thesis is that Gog & Magog have infact been released and that they are now in form of Judeo-Christian Alliance (US, EU and Israel) and Russia waging war against Muslims.
    The problem of the identity of Dhul-Qarnayn, the wall and Gog Magog at all will remain till the time of the last days when Allah will reveal to us as His promise to those who disbelieve Him. Allah has All the Knowledge.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sikandar - I want to know if you've actually been to this wall or to Derbend? I'm guessing Not.

    What I have stated in this post over a year ago was information that I had accumulated over many years in different formats. Some of this information was from people's personal accounts, others from postulates. I will not make any arguments as to the walls' location etc. until I see it with my own two eyes. What I've done here is merely narrate what I've come to learn over the years.

    You said:
    "I have read Imran Hussain’s book. The central thesis is that Gog & Magog have infact been released and that they are now in form of Judeo-Christian Alliance (US, EU and Israel) and Russia waging war against Muslims."

    The problem I have with "books" is that anyone can write one... even men with their own political agendas. I have to strongly disagree with any notion that Gog and Magog are the Jewish/Christian alliance attacking Muslims purely because UNLIKE Dajjal, Gog and Magog are SPECIFICALLY mentioned in the Qur'an. And they do not only appear in the Qur'an, they appear in scriptures of the Jews (The Antiquities of the Jews and the Talmud) and Christians (Book of Genesis, Book of Ezekiel and Book of Revelation) too...

    In Islam, they are mentioned in the Qur'an:
    "But there is a ban on a town which We have destroyed: that they (the people of the town) shall not return. Until the Gog and Magog are let through (their barrier), and they spread out from every direction."(Qur'an 21:96–97)

    In Islam, it is also well known that Gog and Magog's reign of terror will begin AFTER Isa AS's (Jesus') death... so Isa(AS) still has to descend from the heavens and kill Dajjal before Gog and Magog arrive.

    Another thing, the Judeo-Christian alliance you talk about... Do not forget that these incidents were all prophesized a long time ago, when the Prophet SAW warned that toward the end, it would be a crime or offense to be Muslim and that Islam would be under attack... that people would forsake whats righteous and accept the "wrong" as truth etc. etc. etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    1. "But there is a ban on a town which We have destroyed: that they (the people of the town) shall not return. Until the Gog and Magog are let through (their barrier), and they spread out from every direction."(Qur'an 21:96–97)
      --This town could be identified by hadith as Jerujalem. Instead of looking any agenda of Sheikh Imran hosein please read his another scholarly book-"Jerujalem in the Quran'
      I hope that may change your view.
      Off course only Allah SWT knows the truth
      Regards

      Delete
  14. daryal pass has no evidence to suggest it ever had a barrier made of iron. That info is false, sorry

    ReplyDelete