37 ISLAM AND RUSSIA (10) (Dr. Qazi Muhammad Barakatullah) ZUL QARNAIN: “And they ask thee concerning Zul Qarnain. Say, I will recite to you something of this account.” Quran (18:84) Before proceeding to know and establish the identity of Zul Qarnain, it is necessary to state the reasons why at all his story has been related in the Holy Quran and why it has found such prominent mention in the present Surah. A pointed reference has already been made in this Surah to the two periods of the great material progress of Western Christian nations. Its opening verses give a somewhat detailed account of the Dwellers of the Cave. After an account of the early persecution of the Dwellers of the Cave and the later material progress and prosperity of their successors, the Western Christian nations, an account of the Isra or Spiritual Journey of Moses which represents the advent of the Holy Prophet of Islam has been given in some detail in order to show that with the Holy Prophet’s appearance the first period of the material prosperity and progress of the Christian peoples would come to an end, and though it would still be possible for them to make some progress they would reach the zenith of their material glory and greatness for a second time, long after his advent. The second period of material pomp and show and grandeur of the Christian people is represented in Divine Scriptures by the phenomenal rise to power of Gog and Magog which forms one of the central themes of the present Surah . Because politically Gog and Magog and Zul Qarnain are inseparably linked with each other, Zul. Qarnain’s account also has been given in some length in this Surah. Zul Qarnain seems to be the king who founded the Medo-Persian Empire which represented the two horns of the rams of Daniel’s famous dream: “I saw the ram pushing westward and northward and southward, so that no beast might stand before him, neither was there 38 ‘ REVIEW OF RELIGIONS any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will and became great.” (Dan. 8:4,20,21). Quite in harmony with this part of Daniel’s dream, the Quran mentions three journeys of Zul Qarnain (18:87,91,94). This fact leads powerful support to the inference that Zul Qarnain was the descriptive name of a king of Media and Persia. And of all kings of Media and Persia, the description given in the Quran most fitly applies to Cyrus. The Quran has mentioned four distinctive marks of Zul Qarnain: (a) He was a powerful monarch- and a kind and just ruler, (18:85,89). (b) He was a righteous servant of God and was blessed with divine revelation (18:92,99). (c) He marched to the West and made great conquests till he came to a place where he found the sun setting, as it were, in a pool of murky water and then he turned to the East and conqured and subdued vast territories (18:87,88). (d) He went to a midway region where a savage people lived and where Gog and Magog made great inroads; and he built a wall there to stop these inroads. (18:94-98). Of the great rulers and famous military captains of ancient times Cyrus possesses, in the greatest measure, the four above mentioned qualities, he, therefore, rightly deserves to be considered the Zul Qarnain of the Quran. The words, the setting place of the sun, signify the western most parts of Cyrus’s Empire or the north-western boundry of Asia Minor and refer to the Blacksea, because it formed the western-north boundry of his empire. The verse 18:87 refers to the expedition which Cyrus undertook against his enemies in the West. Cyrus believed in Life after Death. (18:88). He was a follower of Zoroaster. And of all religions, second only to Islam, Zoroastrianism has laid the greatest stress on life after death. There can be no doubt that Cyrus and his Persian followers were faithful believers in the pure doctrine of Zoroaster, and disdainfully regarded foreign cults. The verse 18:91 refers to Cyrus’s expedition to the East of Afghanistan and Baluchistan which were treeless barren tracts on ISLAM AND RUSSIA 39 which the sun beat down fiercely. It may also apply to the people who lived in the plains which extended for hundreds of miles to the east of Seistan and Herat and to the north of Duzdab up to Meshed. The verse 18:93 refers to Cyrus’s third expedition to the north of Persia to the territory between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasian mountains. The two mountains signify two barriers. The pass of Derbent in which the Wall was built was bounded on one side by the Caspian Sea and on the other by the Caucasian mountains. These two served as two barriers for it. The Verse 18:94 refers to the people of regions who spoke a language different from that of Cyrus, but living in the immediate neighbourhood of Persia and, having coastal contact with the Persjans and the Medians, they had learnt to understand to speak fheir language, though very imperfectly and with great difficulty. The region in which the wall was built was adjacent to Persia and later formed a part of it. Now, however, it is included in the Russian territories.” (F.N. 1719-1727; English Commentary) Explanation: The fall of Communism has connection with Zul Qarnain as described in the Holy Quran. The question is who is Zul Qarnain? The answer is now cited: 1. It means horn. Zul Qarnain then means: Lord of the two horns (East and West). Thus Zul Qarnain represents the two horns of the ram of Prophet Daniel’s dream. (Dan. 8:4,20-21) 2. It means a century. By Zul Qarnain is then meant one whose life span covers two centuries. It applies on the Promised Messiah of the latter days that is Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India, in whom prophecies of the Promised Messiah have been fulfilled. He established the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam in one century and carried over his message to another century. He is, as such, Zul Qarnain of our time-period. 3. It refers to the prophecy that the Mahdi and Isa are one and the same person. 40 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS It thus applies to’ the Promised Messiah who accordingly holds spiritual offices of both Mahdi and Isa blended into his person. Some say, Alexander the Great was Zul Qarnain: Some Muslim commentators contend that Zul Qarnain was one of the Iranian Kings. Hazrat Maulana Nurud Din, Knalifatul Masih I, said that most likely he was King Qaiqbad. But Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II holds that as of research, the epithet applies to the Iranian King Khorus known as Cyrus. (Tafseer-i-Kabir, pg. 491-508). The Promised Messiah proclaimed to be the Zul Qarnain of this age. And the narration in the Holy Quran regarding Zul Qarnain is not just an episode but refers to him for crushing the devilish powers and establishing the Kingdom of God on Earth- (Roohani Khazain, Vol. 21, p. 314) Refering to the Chapter Al-Kahf, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, The Promised Messiah said: “The biggest of calamities which are destined to appear in the time of the Promised Messiah is the calamity of Gog and Magog and Dajjal (i.e. Anti-Christ). They would constitute a divine trial for the Muslims as a result of their ignoring and disobeying God —• It must be known that Gog and Magog are the attributive names of the people who would make use of fire in their productions and hence will be known as Gog and Magog. Ajij (the root of Yajuj Majuj, the Arabic expression for Gog and Magog) being an attribute of fire. Likewise their wars will be with firery weapons — and there will be a great shaking on the earth because of these two nations, mountains shall begin to move and darkness will prevail everywhere. The Muslims will be severely afflicted by this calamity which will consume all their wealth, dignity, and prosperity. At that critical juncture, the Promised Messiah will stand before his exalted Lord and will pray with a pain-stricken voice. And as ice melt before fire, so with a melted heart the Promised Messiah will pray for Muslims over this calamity that has befallen them, and will continue praying with extreme agony and pain of heart until his prayer shall be heard because he occupies a worthy position before his Lord. , Then will descend protecting and helping angels from ISLAM AND RUSSIA 41 heaven and Allah will do whatever He likes at that time. He will save the people from all sufferings.. The Promised Messiah will be recognized on earth in the same way as he has been recognized in heaven, and then will his acceptance grow deep among common people as well as rich people, so much so, that even kings shall seek blessings from his garments. All this shall happen from the Exalted Allah though it is strange in the eyes of people.” (Khutba Ilhamiah: pg. 317-8). GOOD COMPANIONSHIP 0 ye who believe! Fear Allah and be with the truthful. (Quran: 9:119) And keep thyself attached to those who call on their Lord morning and evening seeking His pleasure. (18:29) 0 ye who believe! Take not others than your own people as intimate friends; they will spare no pains to ruin you. (3:119) 0 ye who believe! Take not for your friends those who make a jest and sport of your religion from among those who were given the Book before you and the disbelievers. And fear Allah if you are believers. (5:58) Let not believers take disbelievers for friends in preference to believers – and whoever does that has no connection with Allah – except that you guard yourselves fully against them. (3:29)