* A soul seeking wisdom as a treasure of life *
April 9 2020
The story of Dhul-Qarnayn in The Holy Quran also provides insight into the characteristics of an ideal leader.
translated as “the possessor of the two horns,” is a legendary king mentioned in Chapter 18 of The Quran, Surah al-Kahf (“The Cave”).
The final story in Surah Al Kahf is in relation to Dhul-Qarnayn.
This story, including the story of the people of the cave (Al-kahf) was revealed in response to the efforts by the Jews of Mecca to discredit Rasulullah SAW.
Their scholars had knowledge of certain tales only known to the religious elite amongst them, and they challenged Rasulullah SAW by giving him certain key words and asking him to describe these stories in full to prove that he was indeed a Prophet. Not having Jewish or Christian ancestry, these stories were not known to the community of Makkah at that time and were not part of their traditions. So, the only means of which Rasulullah SAW could have told them the details was if the story was revealed by Allah himself (through the angel Jibril AS).
This is a parenthetical clause which has been inserted here because of its relevancy to the preceding verse, in which it was asserted that the correct number of the sleepers of the cave is known only to Allah and a research into it is a useless task. Therefore one should refrain from investigating into unimportant things, nor enter into discussions about them.
This has led to the instruction contained in the parenthetical clause for the benefit of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the believers who have been told never to make a positive assertion like this: I will do this thing tomorrow, for you do not know whether you will be able to do that thing or not: you have neither the knowledge of the unknown nor have full powers to do what you like. If ever inadvertently you utter anything like this, you should at once remember your Lord and say, InshaAllah. Besides this you do not know whether there will be any good for you in the thing about which you say: I will do this. It is possible that you may do another thing better than that. Therefore you should trust in God and say: I hope that my Lord will guide me in this matter with that thing which is nearer to the right way for me.
The Quran narrates the story of how Allah establishes Dhul-Qarnayn as a powerful ruler on earth and allows the king the freedom to do with his subjects as he pleases.
Immediately, Dhul-Qarnayn creates a straightforward legal code wherein the righteous will be rewarded and praised, while the evil will be punished. However, he also acknowledges that punishments on earth can be imperfect, and that Allah is ultimately the final judge of mankind.
In this way, Dhul-Qarnayn demonstrates humility, an essential quality of an ideal leader. He recognizes that his power and authority come from God, and that his kingdom on earth is an ultimately flawed attempt to replicate the justice of the Kingdom of Heaven. If only real-world leaders could follow this example
Even though the concept of God’s judgment is not universally applicable in the modern world, politicians should acknowledge that virtually every political system is flawed in some way. An ideal modern ruler would understand that his/her political power — regardless of its origin — ultimately carries with it a responsibility to establish justice and improve the existing system.
exemplifies other good leadership qualities in his dealings with a nation being terrorized by the monsters Yajuj and majuj.
First, when the people offer Dhul-Qarnayn tribute in exchange for helping them, he responds that God’s rewards are better than earthly ones. He exhibits self-restraint and does not succumb to greed.
Since God has already blessed him with a powerful kingdom, Dhul-Qarnayn considers the tribute unnecessary and decides to help this nation solely due to his sense of justice.
However, Dhul-Qarnayn motivates the people to help themselves rather than allowing them to accept a handout. While he supplies the technical expertise necessary to forge a barrier preventing the entry of Yajuj and Majuj, he instructs the people to bring their own raw materials and aid in the construction. In this way, Dhul-Qarnayn models the importance of collective action in tackling nationwide problems.
In the modern world, it is clear that governments are not the solution to all societal ills; instead, people from all walks of life must work together to resolve these issues. Politicians may be necessary to supply the required leadership or expertise, but in many cases, the will of a nation’s people will dictate an initiative’s success or failure.
Dhul-Qarnayn’s story ends rather abruptly after the above example, but Quranic exegesis and analysis reveal other important features of his leadership. Since Dhul-Qarnayn is alleged to be a historical figure, scholars over the centuries have continuously debated his identity.
Interestingly, a large number of scholars agree that he was a pre-Islamic figure not associated with Jews or Christians, the traditional “Peoples of the Book.” In fact, most schools of thought consider him to be either Alexander the Great, a pagan, or Cyrus the Great, a Zoroastrian.
In any case, this means that Dhul-Qarnayn’s principles of good governance are widely applicable to diverse societies, not only Abrahamic ones. This also references a message of religious pluralism; even though Dhul-Qarnayn may not have been one of the “People of the Book,” he still exhibited traits like justice and humility that are central to Islam.
Was Dhul-Qarnayn actually Alexander, Cyrus or a completely different person? We may never know. But since his true identity is a mystery, we can analyze his actions without historical bias. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself must have believed that Dhul-Qarnayn’s story was worthy of frequent reading and reflection, since he strongly recommended that believers read Sura al-Kahf every Friday. Indeed, Muslims can be inspired by Dhul-Qarnayn’s respect for God’s justice and his pious commitment to God’s commands. Even person can learn from this legendary king by striving to emulate his personal qualities of humility, self-restraint and his commitment to justice.
While it is impossible for anyone to be a perfect leader, Muslims everywhere can benefit from a sincere commitment to Dhul-Qarnayn’s governing ideals. After all, The Quran declares, : Surah Ali 'Imran [3:104-114] - Al-Qur' - Quran
|3.104. There must be among you a community calling to good, and enjoining and actively promoting what is right, and forbidding and trying to prevent evil (in appropriate ways). They are those who are the prosperous.|
وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
104. There must be among you a community calling to good, and enjoining and actively promoting what is right, and forbidding and trying to prevent evil (in appropriate ways). They are those who are the prosperous.
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