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Re.TiReD
12-05-2008, 04:13 PM
The Wisdom of the Story of Dhul Qarnayn

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One night I was asking myself, who is Dhul Qarnayn? Where is he now, how can I get hold of him? I was dreaming of a trip or an expedition to explore his place and find out about the dam (sadd) he built to protect the weak people from the two tribes of Gog and Magog. I was reading intensively in many books of tafseer (explanation of Qur?an) and history and many magazines, each giving a different explanation of the story and the geographical location of the incidents.

I ended up thinking of all these incidents and then reaching one single lesson, that the Qur'an does not call upon us to understand the geographical location of the story or to question about the exact personality of Dhul Qarnayn or who he was. Rather, to focus on the `ibrah (lesson or wisdom) from the whole story.

This is the approach of the Qur'an in talking to its addressees in all its stories. Ponder the story of Pharaoh, the story of Qarun, the story of Al-`Abd As-Salih and Moses, and many other stories.

People would jump and start hurling questions, who is this, and what was the description of that, and where did this happen?

But the Qur'an teaches us all that it is not our business to ask these sort of questions. Yet, Dhul Qarnayn can be any good ruler who helped the oppressed against the oppressor, stopped corruption, applied the law of God, and established justice between all people.

We are taught that we should not ask except about things that bring us benefit. We will have no access to the exact personality of Dhul Qarnayn; different interpretations are given about the man, the location, and the incidents of the past. Only Allah knows, and it is for humans to think about what benefits them, that is, the lesson or the wisdom of the story.

Take, for example, Moses when Pharaoh asked him about the ancient ages and what he knows about them. He answered without hesitation that it is not his business to ask about these and Moses himself is in no way trying to think about their incidents. He accepts what Allah tells him and thinks of the lesson. Pharaoh asked arrogantly:

*{He said: What then is the state of the generations of old?}*

Moses answered:
*{He said: The knowledge thereof is with my Lord in a record. My Lord neither erreth nor forgetteth.}*

Then he tried to let Pharaoh focus on what benefits him, that is knowing his God and declaring obedience to Him:
*{Who hath appointed the earth as a bed and hath threaded roads for you therein and hath sent down water from the sky and thereby We have brought forth divers kinds of vegetation, [Saying]: Eat ye and feed your cattle. Lo! herein verily are portents for men of thought.}*

Then he explained the main purpose of the creation and destruction of the generations of old, which are a lesson for all people:
*{Thereof We created you, and thereunto We return you and thence We bring you forth a second time}*(Ta-Ha 20:51 ? 55).

This is absolutely the lesson to keep in mind and the thing that will benefit all people. Here, we should apply the same methodology and make up our minds to see the lesson beyond the story of Dhul Qarnayn, which is found in Surat Al-Kahf 18:83 ? 98. Some lessons are:

Dhul Qarnayn went far west and found many people and applied the law of God on them. What Dhul-Qarnayn was doing was simply introducing guidance to people and establishing the law amongst them allowing no one of them to encroach upon others? rights. If ?after understanding the law and getting to know it? one of them violated it, then the previously explained punishment was to apply on such a person. In this, there is no injustice, since Dhul-Qarnayn is not forcing them, rather, he is protecting the interest of the whole society against the evil doers. That is why the Qur'an uses the exact word of ?`amila salihan? (behaved in a good way) which means that the person is applying the law and is a good member of the society.

So the punishment was directed to the bad members and the criminals. What Dhul-Qarnayn was doing was simply establishing justice in a society that was known to be living a life of chaos and confusion. Here, the lesson for every ruler is that he should never punish people for something before introducing it to them, to see if they will accept it or not. In addition, he should try his best to convince them of it and guide them to the straight path.


Dhul Qarnayn went far east and saw the rising of the sun and its heat that burns people and he remembered that this heat is nothing compared to the heat of Hellfire. The description in the Qur?an, which means:
*{Until when he reached the land of the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people to whom We had given no shelter from It}* (Al-Kahf 18:90)

This is amazing, since it shows that if the person is not obeying Allah, there will be no protection for him from the Fire.


When Dhul-Qarnayn reached the dwellings of the weak people, and they complained to him and told him about the two tribes of Gog and Magog, he did not stand with his hands tied; rather, he made up his mind and handled the issue seriously as a ruler and a great king. He asked them to bring iron and build a fire to melt it and then to pour molten copper over it and make this strong dam. The lesson here is that he shouldered the responsibility of rulership, helped the weak and protected them, used the intellect that was given to him by Allah to reach a solution, and efected it. He was amazing in his handling, wise in his way, and unique in the manner of his thinking.


One final lesson to bear in mind is that the Qur'an directs us that Dhul Qarnayn made use of the gifts that were given to him by Allah. The Qur?an says what means:
*{Lo! We made him strong in the land and gave unto every thing a road. And he followed a road.}* (Al-Kahf 18:84-85).

We all should never stay idle and do nothing. On the contrary, we should be clever and use the gifts of Allah to make life brighter and people happier. We should trust Allah but work to the best of our abilities. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us to trust Allah but work hard, to do our best and leave the results in the hands of Allah and be sure that He will give us what we need.

We should be good to believe that nothing is better than placing a smile on the lips of other people, our brothers and sisters. Offer many acts of sadaqah (charity) everywhere and help the oppressed: this is the main characteristic of a good ruler and every person. Nothing is better than helping the weak and the needy. It enables us to get closer to God. What we need is just to think and bear the lesson in mind.

WassalamuAlaykum
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