Who is Dhul-Qarnayn?
Written By: Muhammad Akbar
Translation : Rana Muhammad Ashiq
Who was Dhul- Qarneyn? This question was still to be answered, when a scholar awarded this title of Dhul-Qarneyn to Alexander the Great and another named Cyrus to deserve this title. Encyclopedia Britannica, Daira Maarif Islamiyah and other research books seem to be a failure in satisfying the readers in this respect. But the Holy Quran provides sufficient material in this connection. Different verses of the Holy Quran and Bible indicate very explicitly that in fact Dhul- Qarneyn was the title of Solomon (AS). This was neither the name of Cyrus nor the title of Alexander according to History known to us. I am not going to thrust forcibly this idea of being Dhul-Qarneyn as the title of Solomon (AS) in the mind of the reader but want to explain it in the light of explicit arguments. First of all ponder on those 16 Quranic verses that give information on Dhul- Qarneyn, the translation of which is given below:
- And they ask you about Dhul-Qarneyn. Say: “I shall recite to you story about him.”(18:83).
- Indeed, We established him upon the earth, and We gave him the means of everything. (18:84).
- So he followed a way. (18:85).
- Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and he found near it a people. We said: “O Dhul-Qarneyn, either you punish (them) or adopt among them (a way of) kindness.” (18:86).
- He said: “As for him who does wrong, we shall punish him. Then he will be brought back to his Lord, so He will punish him with an awful punishment.” (18:87).
- “And as for him who believes and does righteously, so his will be a goodly reward. And we shall speak to him gently about our command.” (18:88).
- Then he followed a way. (18:89).
- Until, when he reached the rising place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had provided no shelter from it. (18:90).
- Thus (it was). And indeed, We had encompassed what he had in knowledge. (18:91).
- Then he followed a way. (18:92).
- Until, when he reached between the two mountains, he found beside them a people who could scarcely understand a word. (18:93).
- They said: “O Dhul-Qarneyn, indeed Gog and Magog are causing mischief in the land. Shall we then pay you a tribute in order that you might set between us and them a barrier?” (18:94).
- He said: “That in which my Lord has established me is better. So help me with strength (of men), I will set between you and them a strong barrier.” (18:95).
- “Bring me sheets of iron.” Until, when he had filled up (the gap) between the cliffs, he said: “Blow.” Until, when he had made it a fire, he said: “Bring me that I may pour over it molten copper.” (18:96).
- So they (Gog and Magog) were not able to surmount it, nor were they able to pierce it. (18:97).
- He said: “This is a mercy from my Lord. Then when the promise of my Lord shall come to pass, He shall make it into dust. And the promise of my Lord is true.” (18:98).
There is a mention of setting place of the sun i.e. west and rising place of sun i.e. east in the above 16 verses of Surah Kahaf. An ordinary man could not travel western and eastern places in those days. However, it was possible and easy for Solomon (AS) because Allah had given him the control over the wind to take him wherever, he wanted. In Surah Suad Allah says “We subjected to him the wind, it blew by his command gently wherever he intended.”(38:36). Moreover, in Surah Saba Allah tells us “And (We subjected) the wind for Solomon, its morning walk (was journey of) a month, and its evening walk (journey of) a month. (34:12).
Attention: Morning or evening walk of Prophet Solomon (AS) was equivalent to one month’s travelling distance. In those days, any mechanical transport was not invented and thus available to travel. However, a Caravan could travel thirty (30) miles in a day even on the back of horses and camels. According to these calculations one month’s traveling distance works about nine hundred miles. When a man like Solomon (AS) could travel nine hundred miles in a morning or evening walk, if started traveling he would very easily travel the eastern and western places of the earth. Thus, the Dhul- Qarneyn was the title of Solomon (AS).
In the above mentioned verses of Surah Al Kahaf, it has been narrated that We said: “O Dhul-Qarneyn, either you punish (them) or adopt among them (a way of) kindness.” (18:86). This verse shows that Dhul-Qarneyn had a continuous contact with Allah Almighty and he received revelations (Vahi) from Allah Almighty. It is a strong argument because Dhul-Qarneyn was not only a King or Ruler he was a Prophet of Allah too. This only comes true in case of Solomon (AS) because he was a King and Prophet of Allah at the same time. In case of Alexander the Great and Cyrus we do not have any such evidence which can prove that they were prophets of Allah besides good generals.
This is also proved from Quran that Dhul-Qarneyn was completely aware of the Day of Reckoning (Qiamah). To be aware of the Day of Reckoning (Qiamah) shows that Dhul-Qarneyn was a prophet of Allah. Verse 98 of Surah Al Kahaf says, “He said: This is a mercy from my Lord. Then when the promise of my Lord shall come to pass, He shall make it into dust. And the promise of my Lord is true.” (18:98).
There is a mention in verses 92 to 98 that Gog and Magog used to enter the land of another people (nation) through a pass between the two mountains and after raiding and robbing them used to go back. When the suffered people saw the extra ordinary means and resources, and powers and authority possessed by Dhul-Qarneyn, they thought that he might be able to resolve their grievances and miseries. They talked to Dhul-Qarneyn regarding their problem of Gog and Magog who were causing mischief in their land and asked him to set a barrier between the two mountains in order to stop entering Gog and Magog into their lands. In return they offered that they would pay tribute (taxes) to meet the expenses to be incurred on the Project. He (Dhul-Qarneyn) replied that he would do all whatever he could and the resources Allah had given him were better and sufficient to accomplish the project of setting a barrier. But he asked the people to help him by providing man power (workers) and he will accomplish the project and will erect a thick wall between Gog and Magog and them.
He asked the people to bring him sheets of iron and fill the gap with these sheets between the two mountains. When the people filled up the gap between the two mountains up to their cliffs with iron sheets, then he said to them to blow the fire to melt the copper and when copper melted, Dhul- Qarneyn ordered to pour that molten copper between the two mountains. So in this way a thick wall was constructed between them and Gog and Magog. So after that Gog and Magog were not able to surmount it, nor were they able to pierce in to it. (18:97).
Dhul-Qarneyn poured a lot of copper between the two mountains. Only that man could pour that much copper between the two mountains who had a large treasure (mines) of this much quantity of copper. It means that Dhul-Qarneyn had those large mines of copper with him which he used in constructing the wall. In the Holy Quran, in verse 12 of Surah Saba it is mentioned that Allah Almighty had granted Solomon (AS) such a fountain which from flowed molten copper in large quantity. “We caused the fount of copper to gush forth for him (Solomon AS).” (34:12).
So for the man who had molten founts of copper under his possession, it was not difficult for him to collect copper in equivalence of the quantum of mountains. So Solomon (AS) had that much copper that could fill the gap between the two mountains. Thus, another link has been established that Dhul-Qarneyn was the title of Solomon (AS) as he had that treasure of copper used in constructing the wall.
But here another question arises that there was a long distance between the founts of molten copper and the mountains where the wall was constructed. In an era (period) when neither the metaled roads were constructed nor modern transport invented and was available to transport such huge quantities of coppers to such long distances, how its transportation became possible? However, it was not a problem for Solomon (AS) because he had such mighty jinns and human beings as his courtiers who could make all impossible things possible. According to Surah Nahal, when the issue of bringing the throne of Queen Balquees arose before him, then a mighty One from among the jinn said: “I will bring it to you before that you rise from your place (i.e. before the meeting is concluded or dispersed), and indeed, I am for such (task) strong and trustworthy.” (27:39). And he who had knowledge from the Scripture said: “I will bring it to you before your gaze returns to you.” Then when he saw it placed before him. (27:40). Thus, he brought the throne of Queen Balquees just in a twinkling of an eye. So, that courtier who brought the throne of Queen Balquees just in a twinkling of an eye, he could carry those founts of copper to the distant pass between the two mountains. Thus, another link is established that Dhul-Qarneyn was the title of Solomon (AS).
Apart from that, another question arises that for melting copper, big basins and cooking pots were required. These are also available with Solomon (AS). “They worked for him what he desired, of the shrines, and statues, and basins like ponds, and immovable heavy cooking-pots” (34:13). Thus, Solomon had big basins like ponds, and immovable heavy cooking-pots, hence, another link is established that Dhul-Qarneyn was the title of Solomon (AS).
Besides the human beings Solomon (AS) had jinns from whom he got very big and heavy tasks done. “And among the jinns, those who worked before him by the permission of his Lord.” (34:12). “And the devils, every builder and diver.” (38:37). This verse shows that Prophet Solomon (AS) had masons and workers who could construct buildings and they constructed copper wall between the two mountains. Thus, another link is established that Dhul-Qarneyn was the title of Solomon (AS).
It can be understood from the descriptive way of Quran that most of the verses have been repeated more than twice. In Surah Kahaf, the people living on this side of the pass said to Dhul-Qarneyn “Shall we then pay you a tribute” (18:94). Then Dhul-Qarneyn replied in these words. “That in which my Lord has established (given) me is better.” (18:95). In other words Dhul-Qarneyn said, “ I have already everything given by Allah All mighty and I do not have any desire or need anything ( money or wealth) from you in this respect. In the same way in Surah Namal, when Queen of Saba had sent her delegate to Solomon (AS) with precious gifts, then in the reply, Solomon(AS) had said “Would you help me with wealth. But that which Allah has given me is better than that which He has given you. But, it is you who rejoice in your gifts.” (27:36), meaning that which I have already been given by Allah is better than your gifts and I do not have any desire or greed to have that wealth. The descriptive way of both these verses shows that these words were spoken by the same person. Thus, it is proved that Dhul-Qarneyn was the title of Solomon (AS).
Similarly, Allah said in Surah Kahaf “O Dhul-Qarneyn, either you punish (them) or adopt among them (a way of) kindness.” (18:86). In Surah Saud Allah says to Solomon (AS), “This is Our gift, so you bestow it, or withhold without reckoning.” (38:39). These verses seem to be twin because the same person is addressed but at two places in different ways.
Bible tells us that the other name of Prophet Jacob (AS) was Israel. But Quran has not explicitly said anywhere that the other name of Prophet Jacob (AS) was Israel. But when the children of Jacob have been named as the Children of Israel, it is proved that the other name of Prophet Jacob (AS) was Israel. Quran witnesses that every prophet was mentioned with different names. In the same way, Prophet Solomon (AS) was also mentioned as Dhul-Qarneyn.
It has been said in Solomon’s Psalms, Chapter 72 of the Divine Book “Zaboor” of the Old Testament that:
Psalm 1. O Allah! Give your truthfulness to the Prince.
Psalm 3. The flowers of peace and truthfulness will grow from the foothills for these people.
Psalm 8. His Kingdom will spread from ocean to ocean and from river Euphrates to the end of earth.
Psalm 9. People living in the deserts and plains will bow their heads before him and his enemies will encounter failure.
Psalm 10. The Kings of Tharsis, i.e. far away areas and islands will submit to him offerings. The kings of Saba and Saiba will bring to him gifts and presents.
Psalm 11. All the kings will bow their heads before him and all the nations will be submissive to him.
Thus, Allah had informed this world through His Book “Zaboor” that such a prophet will be a king whose kingdom will spread from ocean to ocean i.e. up to the eastern and western places of the earth and the words “peace from the foothills” indicate that he will fill the gap between the two mountains and by bringing the miseries of the people to an end, he will bring peace to them. The description of Dhul-Qarneyn in Quran is similar and identical to that of Solomon (AS) in “Zaboor”. This is also a strong argument that Dhul- Qarneyn was the title of Solomon (AS).
Dhul-Qarneyn means having two horns in the head. To decorate the crown with two horns was a symbol of glory and splendor of Majestic Kings at that time. Solomon (AS) had that type of crown and when he used to go out for a walk or he flew in the air, the people in the far away areas recognized him by his two-horn-crown and called him by the name of Dhul-Qarneyn, as the people living near the pass and for whom he had built the wall had called him “O Dhul-Qarneyn” (Al Kahaf/18:94).
But the question arises here that what is the proof that during the era of Solomon’s (AS) rule, kings used to wear the crown having two horns in it. We find the answer to it in Chapter 75 of the divine book of “Zaboor” where it is mentioned that in that era the tribal chiefs used to wear this type of crown having horns in it. Thus, in Chapter 75 of “Zaboor” it is mentioned:
Psalm 4: Say to the mischievous ones not to raise up their horns.
Psalm 5: Do not raise up your horn.
Psalm 6: And I will cut the horns of all mischievous ones but the horns of well-behaved and truthful will be raised up.
And there is a mention of a question in the Holy Quran, “And they ask you about Dhul-Qarneyn”. (Al Kahaf/18:83). There is a characteristics of the Holy Quran that it asks a question and then itself gives the answer and there is no question is Quran about which it had remained silent or ambiguous. But, however, there are open signs for the searchers and scholars in it.
That Alexander the Great traveled only up to the Indian sub-continent in the east and during this travel he fell sick, then he soon started to retreat and died while on the way to home. Thus he could not reach to the place of rising sun. Cyrus only sent military convoys and forces and he himself traveled less. Thus, both of these could not be Dhul-Qarneyn. Solomon (AS) had prayed from Allah to grant him great kingdom and according to Quran, “He said: O My Lord, forgive me and bestow on me sovereignty, such as shall not belong to any after me. Indeed, You are the Bestower”. (Saud/38:35). As a result of his appeal, Allah granted him sovereignty over both East and west and because of these two Eastern and Western kingdoms Allah might have granted him the title of Dhul-Qarneyn.
Now let us study following translations from the Holy Quran:
- “And (We subjected to him) the devils, every builder and divers”. (Saud/38:37).
- “And of the devils were those who dived (into the sea) for him, and carried out other jobs besides that. And We were guardian over them.” (Al Ambia/21:82).
Question: Why the work force of Solomon (AS) who used to construct huge buildings and dive for him were called devils in the above verses? After all what did they do that Quran called them devils?
Answer: To answer this question we have to go back in its whole back ground of historical facts. These historical facts are as follows:
- Prophet Solomon (AS) Dhul-Qarneyn’s morning and evening walks were equivalent to one month’s traveling distance as mentioned in Surah Saba that “And (We subjected) the wind for Solomon, its morning walk (was journey of) a month, and its evening walk (journey of) a month.
- Similarly, in Surah Suad Allah says “We subjected to him the wind, it blew by his command gently wherever he intended.”(38:36).
- Bible tells us that the capital of Solomon (AS) Dhul-Qarneyn was near the river Euphrates as mentioned in Psalm 8, Chapter 72 of Zaboor, that his Kingdom will spread from ocean to ocean and from river Euphrates to the end of earth.
It means that Solomon (AS) traveled for morning and evening walk from the Capital on river Euphrates to the eastern places where Pakistan is located these days. His limit of walk was Mountain Sulaimon named after the name of Prophet Solomon and it still continues to be known by this name. For descending Solomon (AS) Dhul-Qarneyn on this mountain, its peak was cut in such a way that this place became plateau or flat like a smooth plain. Therefore, this peak was named as Takhat-e-Solomon, meaning the Throne of Solomon (AS) and the people who have visited that place have seen Takhat-e-Solomon, or the Throne of Solomon.
Now the question arises which buildings Solomon got constructed by the devils. The cut off portion of mountain Suleiman is similar and identical in shape with the map of Egyptian pyramids. It seems that someone had cut very big stones from the mountains and then the Egyptian pyramids were constructed with these stones. Egyptian pyramids are the biggest wonders amongst the seven wonders of the ancient world. It seems that Solomon (AS) got these biggest wonders constructed by the devils. The similarity and identity of these pyramids with the cut off mountainous throne of Solomon (AS) at mountain Suleiman shows that these pyramids were got constructed by Solomon (AS). This task of constructing pyramids does not seems to be the work of human beings. Probably these were constructed by the devils who were under the complete control of Solomon (AS). The devil workers who were brought under complete control of Solomon (AS) by Allah were under compulsion to obey the orders of Solomon (AS) during his life time. But after the death of Solomon (AS) they started their satanic activities to de track the people. They constructed the statue of Sphinx (ابوالہول) besides the pyramids in order to give a wrong message to the people that Solomon (AS) was an idolater and disbeliever. And this message worked well as some of the Jews started believing that Solomon was a magician and they refused to accept Solomon (AS) as messenger and prophet of Allah. The Quran has called the workers of Solomon (AS) as devils because they got involved in satanic activities like magic and constructed statue of Sphinx (ابوالہول).
This article was published in Nawa-e-Waqat on 6 June, 1995, in local weekly News Paper “Jaloos” on 8 Feruary, 1995 and in Qoumi Awaz on 5 June, 1995.