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Cyrus the Great in the Quran

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Zul Qarnain's history
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  1 CYRUS THE GREAT IN THE QURAN Cyrus the Great in the Quran  is a theory that holds that the character of  Dhul-Qarnayn, mentioned in the Quran, should be identified with Cyrus the Great, or at least he is a better fit than the other proposed figures. Dhul-Qarnayn (Arabic for the two-horned ) is mentioned in the Quran. The story of Dhul-Qarnayn appears in sixteen verses of the Quran, specifically the 16 verses 18:83-98 (Al Kahf ). There is extensive ongoing debate on who exactly was the historical character of Dhul-Qarnayn, with various historical, mythical, and sacred figures being proposed. The most popular identification, especially by classical Quran commentators, has been with Alexander the Great. [1]  In recent years, alternative theories supporting other explanations have become dominant. The most prominent of these is the theory that Dhul-Qarnayn was Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian   Empire. [2][3][4]  This theory was first proposed by Indian scholar Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and was later   endorsed by many Sunni and Shia scholars and commentators including Israr Ahmed, Maududi, Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, Allameh Tabatabaei (in  Tafsir al-Mizan ), [5] , Naser Makarem Shirazi (et al., in  Tafsir   Nemooneh ), [6]  Muhammad Ali, [7]  among others. [8]   Contents Analysis  o   1.1The characteristics of Dhul-Qarnain in the Quran  o   1.2The characteristics of Cyrus the Great  o   1.3Journey towards the West  o   1.4Journey towards the East  o   1.5Journey towards the North/Gog and Magog  o   1.6Wall of Cyrus to protect from Gog & Mogog  o   1.7Further indications Analysis[edit]  Abul Ala Maududi, a 20th-century Quran commentator, writes in his Tafsir [9]  that the identification of Dhul-Qarnain has been a controversial topic among Islamic scholars from the earliest times. Generally, commentators have been of the opinion that Dhul-Qarnayn is actually Alexander the Great. However, some characteristics of Dhul-Qarnain described in the Quran, it has been argued, are not applicable to the historical Alexander. The fact that the Alexander-as-Dhul-Qarnain theory actually refers to the semi-mythical Alexander described in the Alexander Romance makes the connection even more problematic for some Islamic scholars. In recent years some commentators are inclined to believe that Dhul-Qarnain was actually Cyrus The Great, an ancient king of  Achaemenid Persia.  The characteristics of Dhul-Qarnain in the Quran [edit]   The characteristics of Dhul-Qarnain in the light of his story as given in the Quran are as follows:  2 (1)  The title Dhul-Qarnain ( The Two-Horned ) should have been quite familiar to the Jews, for it was at their instigation that the disbelievers of  Mecca put this question to Muhammad. According to Maududi's commentary on Surah 18 states: This Surah was sent down in answer to the three questions which the mushriks of Makkah, in consultation with the people of the Book, had put to the Holy Prophet in order to test him. These were: (1) Who were the Sleepers of the Cave ? (2) What is the real story of Khidr? and (3) What do you know about Dhul-Qarnain? As these three questions and the stories involved concerned the history of the Christians and the Jews, and were unknown in Hijaz, a choice of these was made to test whether the Holy Prophet possessed any source of the knowledge of the hidden and unseen things. Allah, however, not only gave a complete answer to their questions but also employed the three stories to the disadvantage of the opponents of Islam in the conflict that was going on at that time at Makkah between Islam and un-belief .[1]    Therefore, one must investigate the Judaic literature and oral tradition available to Jews at the time of Muhammad in order to learn the identity of the person known as The Two-Horned . (2)  Dhul-Qarnayn must have been a great ruler and conqueror whose conquests might have spread from the East to the West and then to the North or the South. Before the revelation of the Quran in 609CE, there were several historical figures who were known to have been conquerors of such caliber. (3)  This title should be applicable to such a ruler who constructed a strong wall across a mountain pass to protect his kingdom from the incursions of tribes or nations associated with  Gog and Magog . In order to investigate this, one must determine the identity of Gog and Magog. One must also consider where and when such a wall was built, if at all, and by whom. (4)  Besides possessing the aforementioned characteristics, he should also be a mono-theist and a just ruler, since the Quran has stressed these characteristics more than anything else in the quoted passages. The characteristics of Cyrus the Great [edit]  (1)  The first of these characteristics may be applicable to Cyrus. The Prophet Daniel, in the Biblical account, saw a vision that the united kingdom of Media and Persia was like a two-horned ram before the rise of the Greeks. The Book of Daniel Chapter 8 says: 2 In the vision I was looking and saw myself in Susa the capital, in the province of  Elam , and I was by the river Ulai. 3 I looked up and saw a ram standing beside the river. It had two horns. Both horns were long, but one was longer than the other, and the longer one came up second. 4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. All beasts were powerless to withstand it, and no one could rescue from its power; it did as it pleased and became strong. 5 As I was watching, a male goat appeared from the west, coming across the face of the whole earth without touching the ground. The goat had a horn between its eyes. 6 It came toward the ram with the two horns that I had seen standing beside the river, and it ran at it with savage force.    The New Revised Standard Version  of the Bible gives the following interpretation from Gabriel: As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of  Media and Persia.   3 A two horned  Elamite figure wrestling with serpents. The relief of  Cyrus the Great near his tomb in Pasargadae, former capital of the Persian Empire.  The two horns have been related to the name Dhul-Qarnayn . Furthermore, two horns  and two horned symbolism was not an unknown emblem of the kingdoms of Persia and its predecessors, for we see that Elamite kings used this symbol routinely in their insignia. The Jews had a very high opinion of Cyrus the Great, because it was his invasion which brought about the downfall of the kingdom of  Babylon and the liberation of the Israelites.   (2)  The second characteristic is applicable to Cyrus to a great extent but not completely. Though his conquests spread to Syria and Asia Minor in the West and to Bākhtar ( Balkh) in the East, there is no trace of any of his great expeditions to the North or to the South, whereas the Quran makes an explicit mention of his third expedition. However some historians do verify the probability of such a voyage. Nevertheless, this third expedition is not completely out of question for history tells us that Cyrus' kingdom extended to Caucasia in the North. (3)  As regards Gog and Magog, it has been established that they were the wild tribes of Central Asia who were known by different names: Scythians, Parthians, Tartars, Mongols, and Huns, who had been making incursions on various kingdoms and empires from very ancient times. It is also known that strong bulwarks had been built in southern regions of Caucasia, though it has yet to be determined historically whether these were built by Cyrus. (4)  As regards the third characteristic, Cyrus is the only known conqueror among the ancient rulers, to whom this may be applicable, for even his enemies have been full of praise for him for his justice, and, Ezra, asserts that he was a God-worshiper and a God-fearing king who set free the Israelites   because of his God-worship, and ordered that the Temple of Solomon be rebuilt for the worship of God. Thus in the light of the above, it is possible to conclude that of all the historical conquerors who had died before the revelation of the Quran, Cyrus alone is the one to whom the characteristics of Dhul-Qarnain are most applicable. There is no other historical conquerors to whom the characteristics stated in the Quran are as much applicable as to Cyrus.  4 The historical Cyrus was a Persian ruler whose rise began about 549 BCE. Within a few years he had conquered the kingdoms of  Media and Lydia; by 539 BCE he had conquered Babylon. There was no   powerful kingdom left to oppose him. His conquests extended eastward to Turkistan; westward to Ionia; northward to Caucasia — covering, in fact, much of the known civilized world. Journey towards the West [edit]  The Achaemenid Empire after Cyrus's conquests. According to Ibn Kathir, it means that he followed a route to the West of the earth until he reached   the last boundary of the land, beyond which there was ocean. Verse 18:86 says: He found it setting in a muddy spring (Pickthall). If Dhul-Qarnain was Cyrus, then that place would be the western limit of  Asia Minor and the muddy spring (or warm spring according to some hadiths [10] ) would be the Aegean Sea. The word `ain in Quran verse 18:86 means spring or source of water from the   ground, as in other verses according to Lane's Lexicon: The place [or aperture] whence the water of a ة  [i.e. pipe or the like,] pours forth : (K, TA:) as being likened to the organ [of sight] because of the water that is in it. (TA.) And, (K, TA,) for the same reason, (TA,) ‡ The place whence issues the water of a well. (TA.) And, (S, Msb  , K, &c.,) for the same reason, as is said by Er- Rághib, (TA,) ‡ The نْ ع  (S, Msb,) or source, or spring, (K, TA,) of water, (S, Wsb, K, TA,) that wells forth from the earth, or ground, and runs : (TA: [and accord. To the Msb, it app. Signifies a running spring:] of the fem. gender  [11]  The word bahr (not used in this verse) means sea or large body of water [12]  and appears in many other verses in the Quran to mean sea. Journey towards the East [edit]   That is, when he advanced towards the East in Babylon, the people, who had no shelter were the captured tribes of Israel. The reason the Quran mentions no more on the topic is because the whole epic is written in the Book of Kings, of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). [ citation needed  ]  The Quran simply says at 18:90, To the extent that when he reached the rising-place of the sun, he found it rising upon a nation for which We had not kept any shelter from it. [13]   Journey towards the North/Gog and Magog [edit]   The two mountains must have been parts of that mountain range which runs between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. This must be, for beyond them was the territory of Gog and   Magog. It was difficult to communicate with them: their language was almost foreign to Dhul-Qarnain and his companions, and, as they were quite barbaric, none could understand their language, nor were they acquainted with any foreign language.
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