The Persian story of ZULQARNEEN

Persian Texts in Translation

Packard Humanities Institute – Persian Literature in Translation

It has been mentioned above that, according to the majority of historians, there were no other prophets sent between Nûh and Ebrahim, except Hûd and Sâlah. Some of the ancients, however, tell us that the greater Zulqarneen had been honoured after Sâlah and before Ebrahim with the exalted dignity of ambassadorship and prophecy; and Mujâhad has informed us after A’bdullah Bin O’mar—u. w. b., etc.—that the greater Zulqarneen was one of the prophets sent by God, and that the reason for the truth of this assertion is, because the glorious Lord of unity had honoured him with the allocution, ‘O Zulqar*neen!’* which cannot be addressed except to the perfect essences and virtuous spirits of prophets, u. w. b. p. According to the most correct tradition Zulqarneen was not Alexander the Grecian, whose biography is recorded in the history of the kings of Persia, because his genealogy ascends to Yâfuth the son of Nûh, whereas Alexander the Greek is one of the descendants of A’yss the son of Esahâq, of the children of Sâm the son of Nûh. This view has been adopted by commentators, such as I’mâd-ud-din Bin Kathir in his book entitled ‘Bedâyet wa Nuhâyet,’ and arguments have been adduced in support of the truth of his having been a prophet. Sanân Bin Thâbut Allashbuhi has related in his work entitled ‘Jâmi’ that Zulqarneen had been sent after Sâlah, and that he lived in Europe, possessed of great power and an extensive kingdom, and was constantly engaged in waging wars against infidels, until his noble disposition impelled him to visit various cities and countries. He first undertook an expedition to the West, and, as infidels dwelt there who would not be admonished by his words, nor desist from idolatry, infidelity and sinful acts, he sojourned one year among them, and attacked and exterminated the majority of them with his merciless scimitar. After having established a Musalmân colony in that country, he went to Jerusalem and remained there for some time; then he turned towards the East, and journeyed till he approached the habitations of Yajûj and Majûj.* Zulqarneen there entered a city which contained a large population, governed by a noble, affable and hand*some king, who hastened to meet Zulqarneen; as soon as he was informed of his approach, he brought offerings of nice and acceptable presents, and became a partaker in the obedience to the Lord of both worlds.* Zulqarneen looked at the sovereign and the people of that country with mercy, and rejoiced them with his favours. As they had been for a long time oppressed and injured by Yajûj and Majûj, and were unable to resist them, they were glad to inform Zulqarneen of all this, who, trusting in divine grace, made the necessary preparations to remove the oppression and tyranny of Yajûj and Majûj.


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