Definition: The Holy Quran told us that Dhul-Qarnayn was a good king, who believed in Allah and the Day of Judgment. So, Allah established him upon the earth, enforced his sovereign, facilitated conquests for him and gave him a way to everything. He traveled with his victorious army all over the world, east and west, mainland and sea; calling to Allah, governing by His rules and laws and fighting for His sake. When his conquests reached the west, the sun set, he found a people, where he taught them the true faith, established right and justice, and ended injustice and falsehood.
Identity: We cannot set a date, even an approximate, to Dhul-Qarnayn and his conquests. Neither his preponderant identity nor specific reason to be called Dhul-Qarnayn are known for sure. For the cause of his name, people went through different theories. It was told that he used to put a two horn helmet on his head. Some said it was because he reached the two horns of the sun, the west and the east. Others said that he was a king over Persia and Romans. In an attempt to achieving his identity, historians were divided among a lot of potential historical figures, most notably:
Alexander the Great, builder of Alexandria, who conquered Egypt, Levant, Iraq, beyond Mesopotamia, Persia and the Afghans. It was reported that Alexander was a pagan. Neither conquering the west nor building a dam were known among his achievement.
Egypt’s Pharaoh Akhenaten, who introduced uniformity in Egypt. It is said that he is the owner of the vision which was interpreted by the Prophet Joseph. It was reported that Akhenaten was worshiping the sun, not Allah, and none of his conquests were known.
Tubba’: Assaeb ibn al-Harith, the king of Yemen. Some biographies writers and Yemeni poets talked about him. It was debated that if Dhul-Qarnayn was an Arab, Arab polytheists in Mecca would have not asked about him.
Cyrus the Great, or Cyrus, first Emperor of Persia, who was a great conqueror of the followers of the first prophecies, and with him epithets of the Quran matched. He is considered by Christians “Christ of the Lord to whom He opened shutters and doors and conducted plateaus, copper and bars of iron”. Jewish considered him a saint, because he rescued them from the imprisonment of Babylon. It is the Jewish who drafted the question about a Dhul-Qarnayn, so Cyrus the Great likely remains our man.
Good model: Whatever Dhul-Qarnayn might be, he represented a model for a good ruler whom Allah has enabled and gave a way to everything. When he invaded and got control over the globe, neither he forced, became arrogant, overwhelmed, used, nor robbed his people and subjects. Rather he spread justice, rescued vulnerable, prevented the aggression, gave his services for free and used all he got in reconstruction, reform, pushing back the aggression and realization of the right. He did not forget, even amid of the time of his influence, the power of Allah and His might, and that would come back to Him.
The sun set: In his conquests, Dhul-Qarnayn reached the sun set, where (he found it [as if] setting in a spring of dark mud.) Researchers and scholars have stopped long with this Quranic news. However, excluding the impossible surface meaning, they concluded with two opinions:
* The most widespread opinion is that the sun sets down behind oceans, lakes or swamps, so it seems to the viewer as if it is mired in the mud and clay. It is a meaning that fits every sunset, behind every seawater and anywhere in the world. Therefore the owners of this interpretation tend to believe that the three stations of Dhul-Qarnayn, which are the sun set, the sun rise and between the two dams, could be convergent landmarks in one area of the world.
* The second opinion, which is the most modern, believes that of the sun set, in the context in which it was stated, must be a specific geographic area in a state of sunset over time. The new researches revealed a faraway region of the mainland of Brazil, close to the South Pole, that lives in a state of perpetual twilight throughout the year, which reinforced this view and gave credibility to the possibility that the sun set is the last foothold of dry land in the west.
The sun rise: From the sun set, Dhul-Qarnayn went back to sun rise. What was said about the first (the sun set) is close to what is said about the second (the rise), with observing that the word used here is rise, not east. The scholars also have split, ancient and modern, on sunrise in the story, into two opinions as well:
* The first opinion, which is the most common and widespread in religious heritage, explains the sunrise in the story as the last foothold of populated land in the east. They claimed that Dhul-Qarnayn found it uncovered, with no mountains or forests, so people of that place did not have any shield against the sun.
* The second opinion, which became the most attractive, says that the sunrise, in the context in which it was stated, must be a specific geographic area, where the sun never sets over time. The proponents of this view have been chosen a frozen area close to the North Pole, where the sun shines out continuously over more than half a year; so people there do not have any shield against the sun.
Thus, through the efforts to deepen the conviction that the new researches add a more rational explanation to determine the concept and the location of both the sun set and the sun rise in the story of Dhul-Qarnayn, the interpretation of the sun set as the South Pole and the sun rise as the North Pole became common. Sure what is meant by poles is precisely inhabited areas near them, or that was inhabited; because Dhul-Qarnayn found some people at both the sun set and the sun rise.
Between the two dams: There is no conclusive evidence to end the dispute over the place of the two dams between which Dhul-Qarnayn stood and found people too hard for understanding with. They asked him to build a barrier between them and Gog and Magog. It was told that the two dams are mountain chain. Others said they are two water dams which are Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The site of barrier of Gog and Magog is unknown, but narrators and historians, and even the majority of contemporary researchers, think that it is likely somewhere between the mountain chain stretching from Asia Minor to Siberia across the Urals. The latest research nominates the border area between the northern and southern “Ossetia” to be the site of the barrier of Dhul-Qarnayn.
Gog and Magog: They are the two common and mysterious names mentioned a lot in the Holy books of different monotheistic religions. They come to signify folks and creations, at a time, or to denote places, at another. They also appeared in many researches and literary works, and in a variety of languages. What is known about Gog and Magog, for sure, is that they were corrupt in the land, so their neighbors asked rescue form the good King, Dhul-Qarnayn to build a barrier that separated them away. With their help, he built it of rock, iron and brass. Yet, the rest of the questions remained outstanding. Who are they? Are they people, countries or locations? The most important, are they human beings like us? Or are they other creatures? Do they live above the ground or below it? Are their opening a history that passed or a future to come?