Jochen Katz, not Dhu'l Qurnain in Murky Waters

In the Name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful

The verse:

"Until when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting as if in a pool of murky water, and near it he found a people. WE said, `O Dhu'l Qarnain, you may punish them, or treat them with kindness.' (Al- Quran chapter 18 verse 86)

Answering Islam's allegation is found in :

http://www../Quran/Contra/qe003.html

Here Jochen states :

"first: It is scientifically proven that the sun does not go down in a muddy spring."

Response :

Are you not aware of the fact that the words "the place were the sunset"; signify the westernmost parts of Cyrus’ Empire or the north-western boundary of Asia Minor and refer to the Black Sea becasue it formed the north-western boundary of the Empire of Cyrus ? The verse refers to the expedetion which Cyrus undertook agaist his enemies in the West.

"Soon after the conquest of the Midian empire Cyrus was attacked by a ccalition of other powers of the East-Babylon, Egypt and Lydia, joined by Sparta, the greatest military power of Greece. In the spring of 546 Croesus of Lydia began the attack and advanced into Cappadocia, while other powers were still gathering their troops. But Cyrus anticipated them; he defeated Croesus and followed him to his capitsl. In the Autumn of 546 Sardis was taken and the Lydian kingdom became a province of the Persians . . . during the next few years the Persian army supressed a rebellion of the Lydians. The King of Cilcia voluntarily acknowledged the Persian supremacy" (Enc. Brit., & Historians’ History of the World, under Cyrus)

The words, "he found it (the sun) setting in a spring of murky water,"

signify that it is not a small pool to which they refer. The waters referred to are so extensive that if one were to take his stand on the shore at the time of sunset, the sun would appear to be setting in the sea.

It is only the Ignorance of Christain Scholars, they have repeatdly attempted to claim they have found acronisms in the Quran while there is none. They attempt to show theit overzealous followers that the Quran should be taken literally, when they have no knowledge of history or for that fact, Quran way of speech.

Second part of accusation, verse under refrence:

"Till, when he reached the rising-place of the sun,

he found it rising on a people

for whom We had appointed no shelter from it."

-- Sura 18:90

Katz's accusation:

>Second: This seems to presuppose a flat earth, otherwise how can there be an >extreme point in the West or in the East? It does not say, he went as far as >possible on land in these directions and then observed the sun-rise or sun-set >while standing at this shore. A sunrise there would be basically just the same as >at any other place on this earth, at land or sea. It would still look as if it is setting >"far away". It does say, that he reached THE PLACE where the sun sets and in >his second journey the place where it rises."

The fact of the matter is that there is no mention of there being a flat earth here in verse 91. Rather Allah in this verse is speaking of Dhu’l Qarnian conquests to the East.

This verse refers to Cyrus’s Expedition to the East--to Afganastan and even Baluchistan. The words, "on a people for whom We had made no shelter agaist it" , signify that at that time the Afghans were an uncivilized people. They did not live in houses made of brick and stone but huts and tents. The words may also apply to Baluchistan. But very sketchy refrences about Cyrus’ expedetions to Afghanasta and Baluchistan are found in books of history. Contemporary historians, most of them being Greek, having given detailed accounts of the conquests of Cyrus in the West but have very little to say abouthis conquests in the East. They do not go beyond remarking that in the East Cyrus attacked regions in the neighnourhood of Afghanastan. But as Seistan then formed a part of the Persian Empire we are inclined to the view that the verse can apply to baluchistan also because the words: "for whom We had made no shelter against it,"given an apt description of this barren and arid country, full of deserts and rocks, the verse may also apply to the people who have lived in the plains which have extended for hundred of miles to the east of Siestan and Herat and to the north of Duzdab up to Meshed.

Christain Scholars have no idea of what they are talking about, they are of my opinion not completly ignorant. We can say that their allegations stem from hate for Islam. They produce baseless arguments to take the attention of their followers away from the falsehood of their own teology.

More on Dhu'l Qarnian

Before proceeding to know and establish the identity of Dhul Qarnain it is necessary to state the reasons why at all his story has been related in the Quran and why it has found such prominent mention in the present Sura. A pointed reference has already been made in this Sura to the two periods of the great material progress of the Christian nations. In the opening verses of this chapter we find a somewhat detailed account of the Dwellers of the Cave. We are told that in the early days of Christianity, Christians were true and righteous followers of their Faith. Even in later years when they came to acquire great political power but lost much of their spiritual vitality and religious fervor, they did not altogether become divorced from their religion because till that time they had retained some faith in Jesus and became also a new dispensation which demanded their allegiance had not yet come into force.

After the story of the Dwellers of the Cave an account of the Isra or Spiritual Journey of Moses which represents the advent of the Holy Prophet of Islam has been given in some detail in order to show that with the Holy Prophet’s appearance the first period of the material prosperity and progress of the Christian people would come to an end and thou it would still be possible for them to make some progress they would reach the zenith of their material glory and greatness for a second time long after his advent. Spiritually, however, they would be a dead people and without the Holy Prophet’s acceptance there would-be no redemption for them. This second period of material pomp and grandeur and the spiritual death of the Christian people are represented in divine Scriptures by the phenomenal rise to power of Gog and Magog which forms one of the central themes of the present Sura. Because politically Gog and Magog and Dhul Qarnian are inseparably linked with each other, as will appear from the following paragraphs, Dhu’l Qarnian’s account also has been given at some length in this Sura.

Now as to Gog and Magog. These names were given to certain tribes who lived in the extreme north-west of Asia and eastern Europe. The fertility of the Asiatic plains led these tribes to make inroads into the south and the south-west of Asia. If these incursions had been uniformly successful the whole course of subsequent human history would have completely changed and, like the marauding Aryans before them, these people would have also settled in Asia and would have been converted to the various religions of the East. But, as it is explained in the following verses, Dhu’l Qarnain set up a formidable barrier which prevented their spreading into Asia and thus compelled them to move further West. Thus they became hedged between the extreme north-west of Asia and eastern Europe and instead of penetrating into Asia they spread into other parts of Europe. There they came into contact into Christianity which they accepted and made their national Faith. But these people never ceased to cast longing eyes on the fertile lands of Asia and to cherish an intense desire to conquer them. The sense of frustration at their failure to fulfill their heartfelt desire deepened with every generation till it developed into a feeling of political hostility toward the Asiatic peoples which burst forth in full flurry in the last three centuries. Thus Dhu’l Qarnian’s efforts to check these peoples from spreading into Asia, in a way, led to the great spiritual havoc caused among by Dajjal which is the second name of Gog and Magog. As both Gog and Magog and Dhu’l Qarnian are intimately connected with each other, Dhu’l Qarnian has found a mention in the Quran along with the account of the second rise to power and prosperity of Christian nations, who in our age, represent Gog and Magog.

Who is Dhul Qarnian to whom the present and the following several verses refer and when and where did he live? Before an answer to this question is attempted it must be pointed out that the Quran is not a book of history. It does not merely record an historical event to establish its authenticity. The so-called stories mentioned in the Quran are, infact, so man y prophecies about the future events. The story of Dhu’l Qarnain also belongs to the same category. It is not merely an account of the military exploits of a great and noble conqueror who lived in the past but it contains also a prophetic reference to another great historical personage, a World Reformer, who was to appear in some future time---- our own time. About the appearance of this reformer who has been called "The Promised Messiah and Madhi" repeated mention is made in Muslim Scriptures (Bukhari, Maja etc.) Thus the story of Dhu’l Qarnian posesses both an historical and a spiritual significance and therefore deserves special study.

Dhu’l Qarnian was the founder of the Medo Persian Empire which represented that two horns of the ram of Daniel’s famous dream. Daniel says:

"I saw the ram pushing westward and Northward and Southward; So that no beast might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great" (Dan. 8:4)

Quite in Harmony with this part of Daniel’s dream, the Quran mentions three journeys of Dhu’l Qarnian (vv. 87, 91, 94). This fact lends powerful support to the inference that Dhu’l Qarnain is the descriptive name of a king of Media and Persia. And of all the kings of Media and Persia, the description given in the Quran most fitly applies to Cyrus. He ascended to the throne of Persia after the death of his father and subsequently conquered Media which was a greater kingdom than Persia, and thus was fulfilled the second part of Daniel’s dream:

"and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns : and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other and the higher came up last" (Dan. 8:3)

The Quran has mentioned four distinctive marks of Dhu’l Qarnian:

(1) He was a righteous servant of God, and was blessed with divine revelation (vv. 87, 92 & 99).

(2) He was a great conqueror and a kind and just ruler; and he treated the nations he conquered most benevolently (vv. 86, 89).

(3) He marched to the West and made great conquests till he came to a place where he found the sun setting in a pool of murky water and then he turned to the East and subdued vast territories (vv. 85, 87, 88, 89)

(4) Lastly of all he went to a midway region where lived a savage people and where Gog and Magog made inroads, and he built a wall there to stop these inroads (vv. 94---98).

Now of the great monarchs and great military captains of ancient times Cyrus possesses in greatest measure the four above mentioned qualifications. He therefore more than anybody else deserves to be considered as the Dhu’l Qarnian of the Quran.

The first distinguished mark of Dhul Qarnian mentioned above is that he was a righteous man of God ad was blessed with divine revelation. The Bible agrees with the Quran in this respect. The Bible says:

"That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to cyrus, to Cyrus whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him, ...........that thou mayest know that I, the Lord which call thee by thy name, am the God if Isreal . . . . . Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jermiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the sprit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing saying: Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, the Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He hath charged me to build to build him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah" (Isaiah, 44:28; 45: 1--3; Ezra. 1:1-2 & 2 Chron. 36: 22--23)

Thus according to the Bible Cyrus was Jehova’s "friend", His "anointed" and "shepherd" and "performed all His pleasure" (Jew. Enc., vol. 4, p. 404 &Enc. Bib., vol. 1, col.980).

Dhu’l Qarnain’s second characteristic according to the Quran is that he was a great conqueror and ruler of vast territories. About this the Bible says:

"Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, the Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He hath charged me to build Him a house at Jerusalem . . . whose hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will lose the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates. . . . . I will go before thee and make the crooked places straight; I will break the in pieces the gates of brass and cut in sunder the bars of iron.; and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places.." (Ezra 1:2 ; Isaiah 45: 1--3).

In this respect history also supports the Quran and the Bible: It represents Cyrus as a great conqueror and a very humane ruler who treated the nations he conquered most generously and in return received their most willing allegiance:

"I knew that there were some who willingly obeyed Cyrus, that were may days’ journey, and others that were even some months’ journey distant from him, some, too, who had never seen him and some who knew very well that they never should see him; and yet they readily submitted to his government; for he so far excelled all other kings, as well as those that had received their dominion from their forefathers, as those that had acquired it by their own efforts. . . . . . . More than this he as most humane. His shield is stained by no horrible deeds of blood, of frightful revenge and cruelty. . . . He spared and made gifts to conquered enemies. . . . Because no wide stream of blood separated him from the vanquished, he found the only possible basis for his giant structure in the raising of conquerors and the conquered to equal privileges. . . . . . Who is there that approaches him? He is not only beloved by his own people as a father incomparable in every way. . . . . He was not the product of any child of his age but its creator and father." (Historians’ History of the World, under Cyrus)

Dhu’l Qarnian’s third outstanding mark mentioned in the Quran is that he conquered and established a vast empire in the Eats as well as in the West. Now it is a well known fact of history that Cyrus ruled over vast territories which extended to the waters of the Black Sea I the West and to the confines of Afghanistan, Samaarcand and Bukhara in the East. About his conquests in the West it may be briefly stated that he had hardly become the ruler of Media and Persia when Croesus, the King of Lydia (Asia Minor), from his capitol Sardis, instigated the rulers of Babylon, Ninevah and Greek colonies which had extended to the north of Asia Minor to the sea of Mamora. Thus he reached that pool of murky water which was situated to the west of that country.

About Cyrus’ conquests in the East the Historians History of the World (vol. 2, under Cyrus) says:

"How far to the east Cyrus extended his dominion we do not know, but it is probable that all the countries to the East which are mentioned in the older inscriptions of Darius as a subjection or rebellion were already subject in the time of Cyrus. In this case Chorasmia (Kharezm, the modern Khiva) and Sodgiana (Sa,arcand and Bukhura) belonged to him. He doubtlessly ruled over a large portion of Afghanastan." (Historians History of the World)

The following extract also from Historian’ History of the World (under Cyrus) throws further light on the vast range of the conquests of Cyrus in both the West and the East.

"But Cyrus finding, in like manner, the nations of Asia independent and setting out with a little army of Persians, obtained the dominion over the Medes by their own choice, and over the Hyrcanians in a similar manner; he subdued the Syrians, Assyrians, Arabians, Cappadocians, both the Phyrgians, the Lydians, Carians, Phoenicians and Babylonians; he had under his rule the Bactarians, Indians and Cilicians as well the Sacians, Paphlagonians and Magadidians and many other nations of whom we cannot enumurate even the names. He had dominions over the Greeks that were settled in Asia and going down to the sea over the Cyprians and Egyptians. These nations he ruled thoug they spoke neither the same language with himself nor with one another; yet he was able to extend the fear of himself over so great a part of the World, that he astonished all and no one attempted anything against him. . . ....without a struggle the greatest empires, the two conquerors of Ninevah, both themselves and their own kings in chains, as had been done to none other; even Tyre, that proud and mighty city, unconquered and unconquerable, with whose lion courage his predecessor and his successor, Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander alike, wrestled so fiercely so long, did homage to him of her own free will. Above all the little people of the Jews hailed him at the waters of Babylon as they had done no mortal before or since, as the victor and rescuer, the liberator and savior" (Histornian’s History of the World)

The fourth notable feature of Dhu’l Qarnain referred to in the Quran is that after his conquests he turned his attention to a midway region. Here lived a half savage people who were the targets of constant attacks Gog and Magog and he built a wall to stop these inroads. Now in order to fully to understand and appreciate this Quranic passage it is necessary to know who Gog and Magog were. About these people the bible says:

"Son of man set thy face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, and Prophecy against him, and say Thus saith The Lord God: Behold, I am against thee, O Gog prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal: and I will about and put hooks into thy jaws. . . Persia, Cush and Put with them" (Ezekiel 38 verses 2---6)

This shows that according to the Bible, which is our first main source of information about Gog and Magog, Russia, Moscow, and Tobolsk which are all situated in the northern regions are the homeland of these people.

History supports this Biblical account of Gog and Magog. Magog is mentioned in Genesis 10:2 as the second son of Japheth, between Gomer and Madia. Gomer representing the Cimmerians who lived to the east of Asia Minor and Media the Medes, Magog must be a people located east of the Cimmerians and west of the Medes. But in the list of the nations (Genesis 10) the term connotes rather the complex of Barbarian peoples dwelling at the extreme north and north-east of the geographical survey covered by the chapter........ In (Ezekiel 39:6) Magog occurs as the name of a northern people, the leader of whom is Gog and in revelation Gog and Magog are considered a comprehensive term for the powers of evil. Josephus identified them with the Scythians, a name which among the classical writers stands for a number of unknown ferocious tribes. According to Jerome Magog was situated beyond the Caucaus, near the Caspian Sea. This also is the northern region where the Scythians lived. Herodutus indicates that these nomads (Scythians) came through the natural gate between the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea, the pass of Darband, the pass of Darband (Jew. Enc., under Gog and Magog & Historians’ History of the World, vol. 2, p 582).

Now as quoted above from the Bible, Gog and Magog had conquered Persia and it is a well known fact of history that:

"Persia fell into the hands of the Scythians or Median Emperor who ruled Ecbanata from whom it was delivered by Cyrus the Great" (Historians’ History of the World, vol. 2, p. 589)

So it seems clear that the Scythians or Gog and Magog occupied territories to the north and north-east of the Black Sea and that they came from these territories through a pass of Darband and invaded and conquered and ruled over the Persians and that Cyrus had defeated them and delivered the Persians from their clutches.

As to the last point about Dhu’l Qarnain--that he built a strong wall as a barrier against the inroads of Gog and Magog--we find that exactly at the place which according to Herodotus was the pass through which the Scythians made their raids upon Persia stood a wall, the famous wall of Derbent. The Encyclopedia Britanica (under Derbent) refers to this wall as follows:

"Derbent or Darband, a town of Persia, Caucasia, in the province of Daghestan, on the western shore of the Caspian. . . . And to the south lies the southward extremity of the Caucasian wall, 50 miles long or otherwise known as Alexanders wall, blocking the narrow pass of the Iron Gate or the Caspian Gate. This when entire had a height of 29 feet and a thickness of 10 feet, and with iron gates and numerous watch-towers formed a veritable defense of the Persian frontier." (Encyclopedia Britanica, see under derbent)

This extract shows that there existed a wall which served as a barrier against, and protected Persia from, the attacks of Scythians in the north. It is generally believed that this wall was built by Alexander the Great but this popular belief is against the proven facts of history. Alexander defeated Darius in the summer of 330 B.C., but this defeat did not give him possession of the whole of Persia. Without pausing to take rest he proceeded to subdue the whole country, but had hurriedly to come back to quell a revolt in his rear. After this he marched on to Kabul, where he had to face another revolt in his army and it was only the winter of 329 B.C., that he could come to India. He finished all this journey in such haste that some historians have doubted that it could have been completed in such a short time. Anyhow, it is admitted that he fought his way to India and did not stop anywhere. From India he returned to Persia in 324 B.C., where he again had to face a revolt in his army. After subduing it he started for home and died on the way June, 323 B.C., (Enc. Brit., 14th edition, volume 1, pp. 569, 570). These facts show that his military expeditions were like a whirlwind and he conquered a large part of the world in a very short time. Amidst these wolrdlwind expeditions he could not give attention to any vast project such as the building of a large wall of the nature of that under discussion. The popular notion that Alexander built the wall seems to have arisen from the fact that Muslim commentators mistook Dhu’l Qarnian for Alexander.

But is Alexander did not built the wall it does not prove that Cyrus built it. We are not in the possession of quite incontestable and conclusive historical evidence to show that Cyrus did build this wall. Our conclusion that he was its builder is based only on the following circumstantial evidence:--

(a) Darius about whom Cyrus had seen a vision that his wings would overshadow Europe and Asia ascended the Persian throne after the death of the son of Cyrus. In order to break the power of the Scythians Darius passed through Greece and attacked them from across Europe. It is inconceivable that Darius should have undertaken such a long, arduous and roundabout journey to attack these people from across south-east Europe when they lived very near him in the north. The inevitable conclusion is that the existence of a huge wall which only Cyrus before him could have built had made it impossible for him to cross over to the other side with a large force. Nor was it possible for him to demolish it or take his army safely through the gates. So in-order to fulfill his mission the only possible and wise course open to Darius was to attack the Scythians from the side of Europe.

(b) If there existed no impassable barrier of the nature of that under discussion it is inconceivable that, wise and far-seeing strategist as he was, Darius should have adopted a circuitous route of thousands of miles across Europe to attack the Scythians, leaving his own country exposed to their attacks from across the border.

(c) The fact that before the time of Cyrus the Scyhtians made constant and uninterrupted raids on Persia but after his conquests these raids completely ceased leads to the very probable conclusion that he must have set up a barrier which effectively checked these attacks, and that the barrier must be the famous wall at Derbent, mistakenly known as Alexander’s wall.

And Allah Knows Best!

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