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Who Was Dhul Qarnayn Mentioned in the Quran?

04 May, 2022
Q As-salamu Alaykum. I want to ask questions about Dhul Qarnayn. I know he is not Alexander the Great. I want to know the geographic location where he was born and the geographic route he took. I know that the Tatars are Muslims, so Ya’juj and Ma’juj (Gog and Magog) are not them. What was said was that Ya’juj and Ma’juj will spread very fast. I want to know where they are located geographically. I know they are people of Hellfire. Thank you and may Allah bestow mercy and knowledge to all Muslims.


Short Answer: The Quran asks us to focus on the wisdom from his story. Only Allah knows who he was, and it is for humans to think about what benefits them. Dhul Qarnayn can be any good ruler who helped the oppressed against the oppressor, stopped corruption, applied the law of God, and established justice among people. There are many lessons learned from this story, some of them mentioned below.


Wa Alaykum as-Salam Mohamed,

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Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question. 

I like your question very much, for it reminds me of myself many years ago when I was still in school, exploring the world, and reading like a bookworm day and night in my dad’s library.

One night I was asking myself, who is Dhul Qarnayn?

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Where is he now, how can I get hold of him?

I was dreaming of a trip or an expedition to his place to find out about the dam (sadd) he built to protect the weak people from the tribes of Gog and Magog.

I was reading intensively in many books of tafseer (explanation of Quran) 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 conclusion: the Quran does not call upon us to understand the geographical location of the story or to question who Dhul Qarnayn was.

Rather, the Quran asks us to focus on the `ibrah (lesson or wisdom) from his story.

Focus on What Benefits You

This is the approach of the Quran 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 start hurling questions about these stories: who is this, and what was the description of that, and where did this happen? 

But the Quran 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 among 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 in surah (chapter) Ta-Ha, verses 51 –55, when Pharaoh asked Moses about the ancient ages and what he knew about them. Moses answered without hesitation that it is not his business.

This is absolutely the lesson to keep in mind and an approach that will benefit all people.

Lessons Learned

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 west and introduced guidance to people and established the law among them, allowing no one 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 be applied, protecting the interest of the whole society against the evil doers.

Dhul Qarnayn was establishing justice in a society that was living in chaos and confusion.

Here, the lesson for every ruler is that he or she should never punish his or her people for rules they have not accepted or understood.

In addition, a ruler should try his or her best to guide his or her people to the straight path. 

– Dhul Qarnayn went far east and saw the rising of the sun and its intense heat.

He was reminded that this heat is nothing compared to the heat of Hellfire. The description is:

{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 realization is amazing. It shows that if one is not obeying Allah, there will be no protection for him or her from the Fire. 

– When Dhul-Qarnayn reached the dwellings of the weak people, and they complained to him about the tribes of Gog and Magog, he did not stand by and do nothing.  

Rather, he took the issue seriously. He asked the people to bring iron and build a fire to melt it.

Then he poured molten copper over it and made a strong dam.

The lesson here is that he shouldered the responsibility of a ruler by helping and protecting the weak.

He used the intellect that Allah gave him to reach a solution, and he enacted 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 Quran shows us that Dhul Qarnayn made use of the gifts that were given to him by Allah.

The lesson here is that none of us should remain idle. On the contrary, we should use the unique gifts Allah has given us to make life brighter and people happier.

We should trust Allah, but work to the best of our abilities.

Thank you and please keep in touch.

Walaikum Asalam.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

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