Word by Word
Then followed he (another) way,
Then he followed a way, towards the east,
The Story of Dhul-Qarnayn
Allah says to His Prophet,
And they ask you, (O Muhammad),
عَن ذِي الۡقَرۡنَيۡنِ
i.e., about his story.
We have already mentioned how the disbelievers of Makkah sent word to the People of the Book and asked them for some information with which they could test the Prophet. They (the People of the Book) said, `Ask him about a man who traveled extensively throughout the earth, and about some young men who nobody knows what they did, and about the Ruh (the soul),' then Surah Al-Kahf was revealed.
قُلۡ سَأَتۡلُو عَلَيۡكُم مِّنۡهُ ذِكۡرًا
Say:""I shall recite to you something of his story.""
Dhul-Qarnayn had great Power
إِنَّا مَكَّنَّا لَهُ فِي الاَۡرۡضِ
Verily, We established him in the earth,
means, `We have given him great power, so that he had all that kings could have of might, armies, war equipment and siege machinery.' So he had dominion over the east and the west, all countries and their kings submitted to him, and all the nations, Arab and non-Arab, served him.
Some of them said he was called Dhul-Qarnayn (the one with two horns) because he reached the two ""Horns"" of the sun, east and west, where it rises and where it sets.
وَاتَيۡنَاهُ مِن كُلِّ شَيۡءٍ سَبَبًا
and We gave him the means of everything.
Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Ikrimah, As-Suddi, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak and others said,
""This means knowledge.""
Qatadah also said,
وَاتَيۡنَاهُ مِن كُلِّ شَيۡءٍ سَبَبًا
(and We gave him the means of everything).
""The different parts and features of the earth.""
Concerning Bilqis, Allah said,
وَأُوتِيَتۡ مِن كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ
she has been given all things. (27:23),
meaning all things that monarchs like her are given.
Thus too was Dhul-Qarnayn:
Allah gave him the means of all things, meaning the means and power to conquer all areas, regions and countries, to defeat enemies, suppress the kings of the earth and humiliate the people of Shirk. He was given all that a man like him would need.
And Allah knows best
His traveling and reaching the Place where the Sun sets (the West)
So he followed a way.
Ibn Abbas said that;
he followed different routes to achieve what he wanted.
Mujahid said that;
he followed different routes, east and west.
According to one report narrated from Mujahid, he said:
means, ""A route through the land.""
""It means he followed the routes and landmarks of the earth. حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ مَغْرِبَ الشَّمْسِ
Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun,
means, he followed a route until he reached the furthest point that could be reached in the direction of the sun's setting, which is the west of the earth.
As for the idea of his reaching the place in the sky where the sun sets, this is something impossible, and the tales told by storytellers that he traveled so far to the west that the sun set behind him are not true at all. Most of these stories come from the myths of the People of the Book and the fabrications and lies of their heretics.
وَجَدَهَا تَغۡرُبُ فِي عَيۡنٍ حَمِيَةٍ
he found it setting in a spring of Hami'ah,
meaning, he saw the sun as if it were setting in the ocean. This is something which everyone who goes to the coast can see:it looks as if the sun is setting into the sea but in fact it never leaves its path in which it is fixed.
Hami'ah is, according to one of the two views, derived from the word Hama'ah, which means mud.
This is like the Ayah:
إِنِّى خَـلِقٌ بَشَرًا مِّن صَلۡصَـلٍ مِّنۡ حَمَإٍ مَّسۡنُونٍ
""I am going to create a man (Adam) from dried clay of altered Hama'h (mud). (15:28),
which means smooth mud, as we have discussed above.
وَوَجَدَ عِندَهَا قَوۡمًا
And he found near it a people.
meaning a nation.
They mentioned that they were a great nation from among the sons of Adam.
قُلۡنَا يَا ذَا الۡقَرۡنَيۡنِ إِمَّا أَن تُعَذِّبَ وَإِمَّا أَن تَتَّخِذَ فِيهِمۡ حُسۡنًا
We (Allah) said (by inspiration):""O Dhul-Qarnayn! Either you punish them or treat them with kindness.""
means, Allah gave him power over them and gave him the choice:if he wanted to, he could kill the men and take the women and children captive, or if he wanted to, he could set them free, with or without a ransom. His justice and faith became apparent in the ruling he pronounced
قَالَ أَمَّا مَن ظَلَمَ
He said:""As for him who does wrong,
meaning who persists in his Kufr and in associating others in worship with his Lord,
we shall punish him,
Qatadah said, i.e., by killing him.
ثُمَّ يُرَدُّ إِلَى رَبِّهِ فَيُعَذِّبُهُ عَذَابًا نُّكۡرًا
and then he will be brought back unto his Lord, Who will punish him with a terrible torment.
meaning a severe, far-reaching and painful punishment.
This implies a confirmation of the Hereafter and the reward and punishment
وَأَمَّا مَنۡ امَنَ
But as for him who believes,
meaning `who follows us in our call to worship Allah Alone with no partner or associate,'
and works righteousness,
فَلَهُ جَزَاء الۡحُسۡنَى
he shall have the best reward,
meaning in the Hereafter, with Allah.
وَسَنَقُولُ لَهُ مِنۡ أَمۡرِنَا يُسۡرًا
and we (Dhul-Qarnayn) shall speak unto him mild words.
`(words of) kindness.
His Journey East
ثُمَّ أَتۡبَعَ سَبَبًا
حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ مَطۡلِعَ الشَّمۡسِ
Then he followed (another) way, Until, when he came to the rising place of the sun,
Allah tells us that Dhul-Qarnayn then traveled from the west of the earth towards the east. Every time he passed a nation, he subjugated the people and called them to Allah. If they obeyed him, all well and good, otherwise he would humiliate them and take their wealth and possessions. From every nation he took what his armies needed to fight the next nation. When he reached the place where the sun rises, as Allah says,
وَجَدَهَا تَطۡلُعُ عَلَى قَوۡمٍ
he found it rising on a people,
meaning a nation,
لَّمۡ نَجۡعَل لَّهُم مِّن دُونِهَا سِتۡرًا
for whom We (Allah) had provided no shelter against the sun.
meaning, they had no buildings or trees to cover them and shade them from the heat of the sun.
""It was mentioned to us that they were in a land where nothing grew, so when the sun rose they would go into tunnels until it had passed its zenith, then they would come out to go about their daily lives and earn themselves a living.""
كَذَلِكَ وَقَدۡ أَحَطۡنَا بِمَا لَدَيۡهِ خُبۡرًا
So (it was)!
And We knew all about him.
Mujahid and As-Suddi said,
""This means that Allah knew everything about him and his army, and nothing was hidden from Him, even though they came from so many different nations and lands. For,
لَا يَخۡفَى عَلَيۡهِ شَىۡءٌ فِي الااٌّرۡضِ وَلَا فِى السَّمَأءِ
Truly, nothing is hidden from Allah, in the earth or in the heaven. (3:5)
His Journey to the Land of Ya'juj and Ma'juj, and building the Barrier
Allah says of Dhul-Qarnayn:
ثُمَّ أَتۡبَعَ سَبَبًا
حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ بَيۡنَ السَّدَّيۡنِ
Then he followed (another) way. Until, when he reached between two mountains,
meaning, he traveled from the east of the earth until he reached a place between the two mountains which were next to one another with a valley in between, from which Ya'juj and Ma'juj (Gog and Magog) will emerge into the land of the Turks and spread mischief there, destroying crops and people.
Ya'juj and Ma'juj are among the progeny of Adam, peace be upon him, as was recorded in the Two Sahihs;
إِنَّ اللهَ تَعَالَى يَقُولُ يَا ادَمُ
فَيَقُولُ لَبَّيۡكَ وَسَعۡدَيۡكَ
فَيَقُولُ ابۡعَثۡ بَعۡثَ النَّارِ
فَيَقُولُ وَمَا بَعۡثُ النَّارِ
فَيَقُولُ مِنۡ كُلِّ أَلۡفٍ تِسۡعُمِايَةٍ وَتِسۡعَةٌ وَتِسۡعُونَ إِلَى النَّارِ وَوَاحِدٌ إِلَى الۡجَنَّةِ
فَحِينَيِذٍ يَشِيبُ الصَّغِيرُ وَتَضَعُ كُلُّ ذَاتِ حَمۡلٍ حَمۡلَهَا فَقَالَ إِنَّ فِيكُمۡ أُمَّتيۡنِ مَا كَانَتَا فِي شَيۡءٍ إِلاَّ كَثَّرَتَاهُ يَأۡجُوجَ وَمَأۡجُوج
""Allah said:""O Adam.""
Adam said, ""Here I am at Your service.""
Allah said, ""Send forth the group of Hellfire.""
Adam said, ""What is the group of Hellfire?""
Allah said:""Out of every thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine will go to Hell and one will go to Paradise.""
At that time young men will turn grey and every pregnant female will drop her load. Among you are two nations who never come to anything but they overwhelm it with their huge numbers. (They are) Ya'juj and Ma'juj.""
وَجَدَ مِن دُونِهِمَا قَوۡمًا لاَّ يَكَادُونَ يَفۡقَهُونَ قَوۡلاً
he found before them a people who scarcely understood a word.
he could not understand their speech, because they were so isolated from other people
قَالُوا يَا ذَا الۡقَرۡنَيۡنِ إِنَّ يَأۡجُوجَ وَمَأۡجُوجَ مُفۡسِدُونَ فِي الاۡاَرۡضِ فَهَلۡ نَجۡعَلُ لَكَ خَرۡجًا
They said:""O Dhul-Qarnayn! Verily, Ya'juj and Ma'juj are doing great mischief in the land. Shall we then pay you a tribute""
Ibn Jurayj reported from Ata' from Ibn Abbas that;
this meant a great reward, i.e., they wanted to collect money among themselves to give to him so that he would create a barrier between them and Ya'juj and Ma'juj.
عَلَى أَن تَجۡعَلَ بَيۡنَنَا وَبَيۡنَهُمۡ سَدًّا
in order that you might erect a barrier between us and them""
Dhul-Qarnayn said with kindness, righteousness and good intentions
قَالَ مَا مَكَّنِّي فِيهِ رَبِّي خَيۡرٌ
He said:""That in which my Lord had established me is better (than your tribute).
meaning, the power and authority that Allah has given me is better for me than what you have collected.
This is like when Suleiman (Solomon), peace be upon him, said:
أَتُمِدُّونَنِ بِمَالٍ فَمَأ ءَاتَـنِى اللَّهُ خَيۡرٌ مِّمَّأ ءَاتَـكُمۡ
Will you help me in wealth What Allah has given me is better than that which He has given you! (27:36)
Similarly, Dhul-Qarnayn said:
`What I have is better than what you want to give me, but help me with strength,� i.e., with your labor and construction equipment,
So help me with strength,
أَجۡعَلۡ بَيۡنَكُمۡ وَبَيۡنَهُمۡ رَدۡمًا
اتُونِي زُبَرَ الۡحَدِيدِ
I will erect between you and them a barrier. Give me Zubar of iron,
Zubar is the plural of Zubrah, which means pieces or chunks of something.
This was the view of Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and Qatadah.
These pieces were like bricks or blocks, and it was said that each block weighed one Damascene Qintar or more.
حَتَّى إِذَا سَاوَى بَيۡنَ الصَّدَفَيۡنِ
then, when he had filled up the gap between the two mountain-cliffs,
means, he put the blocks on top of one another, starting at the bottom, until he reached the tops of the mountains, filling the width and height of the gap.
The scholars differed about the precise width and height.
means, he lit a fire until the whole thing was burning hot.
حَتَّى إِذَا جَعَلَهُ نَارًا
then when he had made them (red as) fire,
قَالَ اتُونِي أُفۡرِغۡ عَلَيۡهِ قِطۡرًا
he said:�Bring me Qitran to pour over them.��
Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, `krimah, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah and As-Suddi said:
it was copper.
Some of them added that it was molten.
This is similar to the Ayah:
وَأَسَلۡنَا لَهُ عَيۡنَ الۡقِطۡرِ
And We caused a fount of Qitran to flow for him. (34:12)
So it resembled a striped cloak.
The Barrier restrains Them, but It will be breached when the Hour draws nigh
Allah tells us that Ya'juj and Ma'juj could not climb over the barrier or penetrate its lower portion. Varying forms of the verb are used here in the Arabic text to reflect the difficulty of the action referred to.
فَمَا اسۡطَاعُوا أَن يَظۡهَرُوهُ وَمَا اسۡتَطَاعُوا لَهُ نَقۡبًا
So they (Ya'juj and Ma'juj) could not scale it or dig through it.
This indicates that they could not penetrate it or dig through it.
Imam Ahmad recorded that Zaynab bint Jahsh, the wife of the Prophet said,
""The Prophet woke from sleep, and he was red in the face.
لَاا إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَيۡلٌ لِلۡعَرَبِ مِنۡ شَرَ قَدِ اقۡتَرَبَ فُتِحَ الۡيَوۡمَ مِنۡ رَدۡمِ يَأۡجُوجَ وَمَأۡجُوجَ مِثۡلُ هَذَا
La ilaha illallah! Woe to the Arabs from the evil that has approached (them). Today a hole has been opened in the barrier of Ya'juj and Ma'juj like this.
and he made a circle with his index finger and thumb. I (Zaynab) said, `O Messenger of Allah, will we be destroyed even though there will be righteous people among us?'
نَعَمۡ إِذَا كَثُرَ الۡخَبَث
Yes, if evil increases.""
This is a Sahih Hadith, both Al-Bukhari and Muslim recorded it
قَالَ هَذَا رَحۡمَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّي
(Dhul-Qarnayn) said:""This is a mercy from my Lord...""
meaning, after it was built by Dhul-Qarnayn.
قَالَ هَذَا رَحۡمَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّي
He said:This is a mercy from my Lord,
for the people, when he placed a barrier between them and Ya'juj and Ma'juj, to stop them from spreading evil and corruption on earth.
فَإِذَا جَاء وَعۡدُ رَبِّي
but when the promise of my Lord comes,
means, when the true promise comes.
He shall Dakka' it down to the ground.
means, will make it flat.
The Arabs use Dakka' to describe a female camel whose back is flat and has no hump.
And Allah says:
فَلَمَّا تَجَلَّى رَبُّهُ لِلۡجَبَلِ جَعَلَهُ دَكًّا
So when his Lord appeared to the mountain, He made it Dakkan. (7:143)
meaning, level to the ground.
وَكَانَ وَعۡدُ رَبِّي حَقًّا
And the promise of my Lord is ever true.
means, it will come to pass without a doubt
We shall leave some of them,
meaning mankind, on that day, the day when the barrier will be breached and these people (Ya'juj and Ma'juj) will come out surging over mankind to destroy their wealth and property.
وَتَرَكۡنَا بَعۡضَهُمۡ يَوۡمَيِذٍ يَمُوجُ فِي بَعۡضٍ
We shall leave some of them to surge like waves on one another;
""That is when they emerge upon the people.""
All of this will happen before the Day of Resurrection and after the Dajjal, as we will explain when discussing the Ayat:
حَتَّى إِذَا فُتِحَتۡ يَأۡجُوجُ وَمَأۡجُوجُ وَهُمۡ مِّن كُلِّ حَدَبٍ يَنسِلُونَ
وَاقۡتَرَبَ الۡوَعۡدُ الۡحَقُّ
Until, when Ya'juj and Ma'juj are let loose, and they swoop down from every Hadab. And the true promise shall draw near... (21:96-97)
وَنُفِخَ فِي الصُّورِ
and As-Sur will be blown.
As-Sur, as explained in the Hadith, is a horn that is blown into. The one who will blow into it is (the angel) Israfil, peace be upon him, as has been explained in the Hadith quoted at length above, and there are many Hadiths on this topic.
According to a Hadith narrated from Atiyah from Ibn Abbas and Abu Sa`id, and attributed to the Prophet,
كَيۡفَ أَنۡعَمُ وَصَاحِبُ الۡقَرۡنِ قَدِ الۡتَقَمَ الۡقَرۡنَ وَحَنَى جَبۡهَتَهُ وَاسۡتَمَعَ مَتَى يُوۡمَرُ
How can I relax when the one with the Horn has put the Horn in his mouth and has knelt down, listening out for the command to be given to him?
They said, ""What should we say?""
حَسۡبُنَا اللهُ وَنِعۡمَ الۡوَكِيلُ عَلَى اللهِ تَوَكَّلۡنَا
""Allah is Sufficient for us and the best Disposer of affairs, in Allah have we put our trust.""
and We shall collect them (the creatures) all together.
means, `We shall bring them all together for Reckoning.'
قُلۡ إِنَّ الاٌّوَّلِينَ وَالاٌّخِرِينَ
لَمَجۡمُوعُونَ إِلَى مِيقَـتِ يَوۡمٍ مَّعۡلُومٍ
Say:""(Yes) verily, those of old, and those of later times. All will surely be gathered together for appointed meeting of a known Day. (56:49-50)
وَحَشَرۡنَـهُمۡ فَلَمۡ نُغَادِرۡ مِنۡهُمۡ أَحَداً
and we shall gather them all together so as to leave not one of them behind. (18:47)"
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