Prophecies on Events Very Near to The Last Hour

By Jamari Mohtar

This is an attempt on my part to paint various scenarios of what may transpire during the Last Hour based on the Quran and the Six Sunans or Sahah Sittah (the Six books of authentic Hadith by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tarmizi, an-Nasai and Ibn Majah or simply known as “The Six Authentic”).

My focus in this instalment is on the two out of the 10 major signs of the Last Hour as foretold by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him, s.a.w). These two signs are Gog & Magog, and the Fire of Yemen. Here’s the Hadith on the 10 major signs of the Last Hour:

Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w) came to us all of a sudden as we were talking. He said: “What are you discussing?” We said: “We are talking about the Hour (of Resurrection).” Thereupon, he (s.a.w.) said: “It will not come until you see ten signs before it. He made a mention of the Smoke, the Dajjal (Anti-Christ), the Daabba (the Beast), the Rising of the Sun from the West, the Descent of Jesus Son of Mary (a.s.) (from Heaven), the emergence of Ya’juj and Ma’juj (Gog & MaGog), and Khusuf (Landslides) will occur in three places: one in the East, one in the West and one in Arabian Peninsula. At the end, a Fire would burn forth from Yemen (or from Aden according to Ahmad), which would drive people to the place of their final gathering place.”  (Sahih Muslim, Ahmad).

 A Brief Remark on Gog and Magog

Based on the above Hadith, the majority of Muslim scholars believe that Gog and Magog have not yet entered the world stage. However, based on the work of the great Muslim scholar, Ibn Khatir [b1300CE (701H), d1373CE (774H)] in his Al-Bidayah wa’l-Nihayah (The Beginning and the End), Gog and Magog are two groups of Turks, descended from Yafith (Japheth) the father of the Turks who is also one of the sons of Prophet Noah.

According to some historians, in addition to being the father (ancestor) of the Turks, Japheth is also the father of the Europeans. Some opine that the Scythians (a minor rival of the Greeks) were Gog and Magog descended from Japheth.

The area inhabited by Gog and Magog is said to be in Central Asia, covering an immense land area of over a million square miles extending from western Hungary/Austria eastward to the Aural Sea, north to the Upper Volga, and its southern region extending all the way to the Caucasus Mountains between the Black and Caspian seas.

When the legendary Dhul-Qarnayn met some of the tribes living in that area in one of his three journeys mentioned in the Quran, they asked for his help against Gog and Magog. He built a huge iron fortress for them to prevent the incursion of Gog and Magog into their area. It wasn’t a prison but rather a demarcation of the southern boundary beyond which Gog and Magog cannot proceed further with their adventures. So this has the effect of limiting their playing and killing fields to the north and hence, Gog and Magog are sometimes referred to as the Kingdom of the North.

The Iron Wall of Dhul-Qarnayn was breached during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) based on a Hadith narrated by Zainab bint Jahsh (r.a): “… once the Prophet (pbuh) awoke from such a sleep that his face was red and he said: ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah. Woe to the Arabs, from the great evil that is approaching them. Today a gap as big as this has opened up in the wall of Yajuj and Majuj …’ and the Prophet (pbuh) indicated the size of the hole by forming a ring with his index finger and thumb.” (Sahih Bukhari)

All the above mean Gog and Magog had already entered the world stage in ancient time and the Iron Wall of Dhul-Qarnayn merely limited their freedom of movement to cause debauchery and mischief to the south, and by the Prophet’s time, they were able to breach even this Iron Wall with the existence of the Khazaria Kingdom at the place where the Iron Wall used to stand.

I have touched on this topic in greater details in my previous posts. It is my contention here that the bulk of people forming the army of the Dajjal (Anti Christ) in the Last Hour are going to be the modern descendants of Gog and Magog.

When Prophet Jesus (Isa a.s.) descends to Earth and killed the Dajjal, the bulk of this surviving Gog and Magog based army of the Dajjal will run helter-skelter to hide and join with their fellow Gog and Magog that have not taken part in the battle against Prophet Isa (a.s.). They bide their time and prepare themselves ruthlessly for the final battle and reappear as a new, formidable breed of Gog and Magog to confront Prophet Isa (a.s.) in what can be dubbed as the “Mother of All Battles”.

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Islamic Eschatology – The Last Hour

FROM the viewpoint of Islamic Eschatology, the Last Hour will not come until all the minor signs pertaining to its coming have been detected and manifested. Based on the many authentic Ahadith, there are between 70 to 100 minor signs preceding the Last Hour.

Once all these minor signs are manifested, the 10 major signs foretold by an authentic Hadith of Imam Muslim will appear that will herald the beginning of The Last Hour. Note that this Hadith did not list the 10 major signs according to chronology.

The Two-Stage Phase of The Last Hour

A) The End of History – the First Stage

The first stage is what I called the End of History. It is a nerve-wrecking event that will occur with the manifestation of one of the 10 major signs – the appearance of a new, powerful breed of Gog and Magog created by Allah. Prophet Isa (Jesus a.s.), together with the remnants of his Muslim army that had rallied behind him while he killed the Dajjal (Anti-Christ), is no match for this invincible breed of Gog and Magog.

Hence, Allah will command Prophet Isa (a.s.) to bring to safety the remnants of his army, along with the Muslim population that has survived the reign of terror of the Dajjal, by seeking refuge at the top of a mountain. Gog and Magog would besiege them on all sides at the foot of the mountain. They will then devise new weapons of war to be unleashed toward the top of the mountain, targeting Nabi Isa (a.s.) and the Muslims.

This prophecy is contained in a Hadith in Sahih Muslim when Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said: “It will be under such conditions that Allah will reveal to Jesus these words: I have brought forth among My servants such people (i.e. the new breed of Gog and Magog) against whom none will be able to fight; you take these people (i.e. remnants of Jesus’ army and the Muslims that had survived the reign of terror of the Dajjal) safely to Tur (a mountain), and then Allah will send Gog and Magog and they will swarm down from every slope.”

In another Hadith of Imam Muslim, the location of Tur (mountain) is specified:

“Gog and Magog would walk until they reach the mountain of al-Khamr, and it is a mountain of Bait al-Maqdis (Jerusalem), and they would say: “We have killed those who are on the earth. Let us now kill those who are in the sky. They would shoot their arrows towards the sky and the arrows would return to them smeared with blood.”

For the believers (Jesus, his army and the Muslims), this will be the final, greatest trial – facing an enemy that Allah has assured them they cannot vanquish. Only Allah can annihilate this invincible enemy. The situation is rather akin to the earlier battles of Islam in which the fledgling Muslims under Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. faced an enemy many times superior in term of numbers and weaponries.

The psychological scenario of the Muslims under the leadership of Prophet Jesus (a.s.) at this climactic event during the first stage of The Last Hour is also analogous to the earlier Muslims under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. For instance, the Quran in describing the Battle of the Trench, which occurred in 624 CE (Christian Era), says:

“Behold! They came on you from above you and from below you, and behold, the eyes became dim and the hearts gaped up to the throats, and ye imagined various (vain) thoughts about Allah! In that situation were the Believers tried: they were shaken as by a tremendous shaking.” [Quran al-Ahzab (33): 10-11].

The essence and wisdom behind all trials and tribulations faced by humankind in the past, present and future are explained in the Quran when Allah says:

“Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, ‘When (will come) the Help of Allah?’ Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!” [Quran al-Baqarah (2): 214]. 

Coming back to the first stage of The Last Hour, after a few days of being besieged and attacked from below by this new, powerful breed of Gog and Magog at Mount Tur, the believers (Jesus and his army along with the surviving Muslim population) are hard pressed and disconsolate and they begin to beseech Allah for His Help. In the words of a Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim:

“Jesus and his companions will then be besieged here (at Tur, and they will be so hard pressed) that the head of the ox will be dearer to them than one hundred dinars. Allah’s Prophet Jesus (a.s.) and his companions will supplicate to Allah, Who will then send to them (i.e. Gog and Magog) insects (which will attack their necks) and in the morning they would perish as one single person. Allah’s Prophet Jesus (a.s.) and his companions will descend from Mount Tur, and they will not find on earth as much space as a single span that is not filled with putrefaction and stench. Allah’s Prophet Jesus (a.s) and his companions will then beseech Allah Who will send birds whose necks would be like those of Bactrian camels and they will carry them (the putrefied and stench remains of Gog and Magog) away and throw them where Allah wills. Then Allah will send rain which no house of mud-bricks or (tent of) camelhair will keep out and it will wash the earth until it resembles the mirror.”

If one finds it incredulous the event surrounding the annihilation of the new, powerful breed of Gog and Magog by mere insects, in our own time, we can already see how vicious and fatal to humans, insects like mosquitoes are in decimating a significant proportion of the human species through their epidemic causing dreaded virus of malaria, dengue and zika.

Furthermore, there is a precedent on this in the Quran when some years before the birth of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), the powerful king of Yemen, Abraha and his army of the Elephant, were annihilated by Allah through pebbles thrown at them by the Ababil birds, when they marched to Mecca with the singular intention of destroying the Kaaba.

With the annihilation of Gog and Magog, Prophet Jesus (a.s.) will then rule the Earth as a just ruler for 40 years, heralding the period of everlasting peace and goodwill among mankind on Earth. This is stated in the following Ahadith:

“By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, son of Maryam (a.s.), (i.e. ‘Isa), will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler.” (Sahih Bukhari)

“The Hour will not be established until the son of Maryam (a.s.) (i.e. ‘Isa) descends amongst you as a just ruler.” (Sahih Bukhari)

At the time of his death, ‘Isa (a.s.) will have reappeared on this earth for forty years.” (Abu Dawood)

Why is this stage called End of History?

From the viewpoint of Islamic Eschatology, history is nothing more than a continuous struggle between Truth (Haq) and Falsehood (Bathil). Truth is represented by the way of life on Earth that is based on Divine Revelation, while Falsehood is way of life on Earth that is in contradistinction to the Divine Guidance.

This historical battle first began when Adam (a.s.) and his wife, Siti Hawwa (Eve) along with their adversary, Iblis (the Devil) were all dislodged from the Garden of Eden to Earth which became their and their descendants’ temporary abode until the End of Time.

At some points of the historical process Truth held sway over Falsehood, while at some other points, Falsehood held sway. But when in victory, none is able to completely vanquish the other side permanently. This victory is in the nature of the adage that it is all right to lose a battle or some battles, but you must win the war to seal the final victory.

The final victory will take place with the onset of the epic historical Mother of All Battles when Truth is able to vanquish Falsehood completely and permanently during the Last Hour when Prophet Isa (a.s.) i.e. Jesus becomes triumphant with the help of Allah in annihilating Gog and Magog.

This will usher in an era of peace and goodwill on Earth for 40 years with his just rule, thus signifying the start of the first phase of the Last Hour, the End of History. Henceforth, there will no longer be history in the sense that the war between Truth and Falsehood ends.

That period of the End of History will come to an end with the demise of Prophet Jesus (a.s.) where he will die a natural death and will be buried in Medina beside Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). His demise will set the second stage of the Last Hour known as The End of Time or simply The End Time.

“After his descension on earth, Prophet Isa (a.s.) will marry. He will have children, and he will remain on earth 19 years after marriage. He will pass away and Muslims will perform his Salaat Janaza (funeral prayer) and bury him next to Rasulullah (s.a.w).” (Tirmidhi)

B) The End of Time – the Second Stage

Before this second stage occurs, there are some events during the lifetime of Nabi Isa (a.s.) that will pave the way for this.

For the first seven years of his just rule on Earth, there will be no rancour between any two persons. After that, Allah will send a cold wind from the direction of Syria and this will slowly envelope and cause the good and pious people to die.

By the time of Nabi Isa’s death, this process of good and pious people dying through the cold wind speeds up and gains momentum so that there will come a time some years after the demise of Jesus when the Earth is populated by bad and evil people.

This prophecy is contained in the two ahadith in which the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) said:

“At that time Allah will send a pleasant wind, which will soothe (people) even under their armpits. He will take the life of every Muslim and only the wicked will survive who will commit adultery like asses and the Last Hour would come to them.” (Sahih Muslim)

“Then people will live for seven years, during which time there will be no rancour between any two persons. After that Allah will send a cold wind from the direction of Syria. None will survive on Earth, having a speck of good in him or faith in him: he will die. Even if some among you were to enter the innermost part of the mountain, this wind would reach that place also and cause your death. I heard Allah’s Apostle (s.a.w.) as saying: Only the wicked people will survive and they will be as careless as birds with the characteristics of beasts. They will never appreciate good nor condemn evil. Then Satan will come to them, in human form, and would say: Don’t you respond? They will say: What do you order us to do? He will command them to worship the idols but, in spite of this, they will have an abundance of sustenance and lead comfortable lives.” (Sahih Muslim)

Notice that there is actually no battle here between Truth (Haq) and Falsehood (Bathil) as the stage of the End of History has long passed with the demise of Prophet Jesus (a.s.). What happens here is that Allah takes away the soul of the good and pious, and hence by default Falsehood prevails to face alone the fury of the End Time.

The Fire of Yemen – Start Time of the End of Time

Then the stage is set for the second stage of the Last Hour i.e. the End Time. This stage will begin with a fire that would burn forth in Yemen – another sign of the 10 major signs foretold by an authentic Hadith of Imam Muslim.

“Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.) came to us all of a sudden as we were talking. He said: “What are you discussing?” We said: “We are talking about the Hour (of Resurrection).” Thereupon, he (s.a.w.) said: “It will not come until you see ten signs before it. He made a mention of the Smoke, the Dajjal (Anti-Christ), the Daabba, the Rising of the Sun from the West, the Descent of Jesus Son of Mary (a.s.) (from Heaven), the emergence of Ya’juj and Ma’juj (Gog & MaGog), and Khusuf (Landslides) will occur in three places: one in the East, one in the West and one in Arabian Peninsula. At the end, a Fire would burn forth from Yemen (or from Aden according to Ahmad), which would drive people to the place of their final gathering place.”  (Sahih Muslim, Ahmad)

“The people will be gathered in three methods:

  1. The first batch will be of those who wish or have a hope (for paradise) and have a fear (of punishment).
  2. The second batch will comprise those who will come to gather, riding: two on a camel, three on a camel, or ten on a camel.
  3. The third batch will be the rest of the people who will be urged to gather by the Fire which will accompany them at the time of their afternoon nap and stay with them where they will spend the night, and will be with them in the morning wherever they may be then, and will be with them in the afternoon wherever they may be then.”  (Sahih Bukhari)

The Swooning Trumpet

This is then followed by the sound of a Trumpet in which all mankind and every living creation of Allah including those in the heavens will immediately faint (swoon) and die. After a lapse of some time, the second Trumpet will be blown indicating the Day of Resurrection followed by the Day of Judgement.

This is encapsulated in the following Quranic verse and Hadith:

And the Trumpet will be blown, and all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth will swoon away, except him whom Allah wills. Then it will be blown a second time, and behold they will be standing, looking on (waiting)” [Quran, al-Zumar (39):68].

“Abu Hurairah said: The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said: “Between the two blowings of the Trumpet there will be forty.” The people said, “O Abu Hurairah! Forty days?” I said: “I am not sure.” They said, “Forty years?” I said: “I am not sure.” They said, “Forty months?” I said: “I am not sure. Then Allah will send rain down from the sky and they will grow as herbs grow. There is no part of a man which will not decay except a single bone at the base of the coccyx, from which he will be re-created on the Day of Resurrection.”  (Muttafaq Alaih)

Imam al-Nawawi said: “What is meant by the words of Abu Hurairah, “I am not sure” is that he could not be certain as to whether what was meant was forty days or years or months; all that he was certain of was that it was forty in general terms. 

In Sahih Muslim, it is narrated that ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr (r.a.) said: “The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said: “… then the Trumpet will be blown and no one will hear it but he will bend his neck to one side and raise it from the other side. The first one who will hear it will be a man who is busy in setting right the cistern meant for supplying water to the camels. He will swoon and the other people will also swoon. Then Allah will send down rain, which will be like dew and there will grow out of it the bodies of people. Then the trumpet will be blown again, and they will stand up and begin to look around.”  

A Third Trumpet?

There is a minority view among the scholars, which says that the Trumpet will be blown thrice – the first Trumpet where people will be terrified, the second, when people will faint (swoon) and die, and the third, when people will be resurrected. But this is based on a weak hadith.

The proponents of a third Trumpet said their view is also based on the difference they noted between the above az-Zumar verse which mentioned about swooning alone, and the an-Naml verse below which talked about being terrified alone, alluding to the existence of a third terrifying Trumpet.

“And (remember) the Day on which the Trumpet will be blown, and all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth, will be terrified except him whom Allah will (exempt). And all shall come to Him, humbled” [Quran al-Naml (27):87]

But the fact that swooning is mentioned in one verse and terror is mentioned in another does not mean, according to most scholars, that they will not happen at the same time when the Trumpet is blown for the first time. Rather they will happen at the same time, so when the Swooning Trumpet is blown the people will be terrified, and will swoon as a result and die.

Then they will remain in that situation for 40 periods of time (the narrator is not certain whether that time period is in days, months or years) as decreed by Allah. Their bodies will decay within this period until there is nothing left but the bone from the base of the coccyx, which is a round bone at the base of the spine.

Then Allah will send a cloud that will release rain, and when the water reaches this bone, the body will grow from it like a plant grows and they will be recreated from this bone, just as Allah created them the first time, for He is able to do all things.

Then a second Trumpet will be blown to signal the Resurrection, and the souls will return to their bodies and will come forth from their graves and hasten to the place of gathering.

If the one who most feared Allah, said, “How can I be at ease when the one who blows the Trumpet (Angel Israfil), has put it to his mouth, bent his forehead and inclined his ear, waiting to see when he will be ordered to blow it?” – as narrated by al-Tirmidhi and others – then what about us who are weak and fall short?

We ask Allah to make us among those who will not be grieved by the greatest terror when the angels will meet them (with the greeting), “This is your Day which you were promised.” [Quran al-Anbiya (21):103].

Askenazic Jews – the descendants of Yajuj Wa Majuj (Gog and Magog)?

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Islamic Eschatology

My sensitivity, sympathy and empathy were often aroused each time I saw video clips on Facebook which showed the brutal treatment of the soldiers of the Zionist regime of Israel on UNARMED, HARMLESS and HELPLESS Palestinian kids, women and the elderly.

Social media like Facebook has done a great service in creating an awareness of such brutalities of the Zionist regime. And people from all over the world and all walks of life greeted this absurdity of the most powerful military in the region to brutalise the weakest sector of the Palestinian society with deep disgust, judging from the comments to the video clips. But what amazed me is the elegant silence of world leaders, supranational bodies such as the UN, OIC, IMF, World Bank and the mainstream media on such brutalities. Are they part of the conspiracy too – a brutal one at that? I don’t think so simply because I don’t believe in conspiracy theories until the facts are proven.

Just a stone’s throw away is another episode of brutality, this time in Syria, where all parties to the conflict – the Assad regime backed by Russia, the Mujahidin backed by the US and the devilish ISIS army of terror who some say is the creation of the Israeli Mossad, locked in a battle to conquer Syria – were guilty of the most horrendous brutality in modern time.

Why does it have to come to this? My mind toys with the idea that could all these happenings signify a prelude to heralding that phase of time called the End of History.

Of course, I’m not referring to the End of History as postulated by Francis Fukuyama who in 1989, seeing the imminent collapse of the Berlin Wall, wrote an essay on The End of History that proposed the advent of western liberal democracy as heralding the endpoint of humanity’s sociocultural evolution and the final form of human government.

“What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government,” said Fukuyama in his 1989 essay.

Oh, how off the mark Fukuyama was, as to this day Western liberal democracy is still not the norm in many parts of the world. It only gave President George W Bush an excuse to invade Iraq under the pretext of spreading democracy to the Iraqis, in addition to punishing Saddam Hussain for stockpiling non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

The End of History I have in mind is based on Islamic Eschatology in which the End of History will precede the End of Time. The End of History in Islamic Eschatology coincides with that time when the Truth (Haq) will vanquish Falsehood (Bathil) and reign supreme for a number of years. But before the Truth reigns supreme, the period preceding it will be filled with horrendous Falsehood, which will result in untold miseries and sufferings for humankind.

For the uninitiated, eschatology refers to the branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of humankind. Specifically it is a set of belief concerning death, the end of the world, or the ultimate destiny of humankind.

The End Time, which features prominently in the various eschatology of several world religions is a period in the future also known as end of days, last days, final days or eschaton.

From the Islamic perspective, eschatology or Ilmu Akhir Zaman is therefore the branch of Islamic scholarship that studies Yawm al-Qiyamah (the Day of Resurrection) or Yawm ad-Din (Day of Judgement). This is believed to be the final assessment of humanity by Allah, with annihilation of all life, resurrection and judgment.

But before this End of Time happens, falsehood in the form of wickedness, cruelties, betrayals and atrocities known as the Age of Great Temptations (The Age of Fitan) will mushroom on this Earth which will culminate in the End of History in which Falsehood will perish at the hands of Truth, and everlasting reign of peace and goodwill on Earth will prevail for some times. Finally, this too will come to an end with the End of Time.

So bear in mind the difference between the End of History and the End of Time.

One aspect of the eschatology of Islam that has riveted my mind is the coming of Yajuj wa Majuj (Gog and Magog) before the period of the End of History. They will work the worst kind of excesses and atrocities on the surface of the Earth. Who are these Gog and Magog? One interesting view has it that this could well be the Askenazic Jews who were instrumental in establishing the Zionist movement which led to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

If this is true, no wonder they are so cruel, wicked and brutal. Read on…

p.s. There is at present a preponderance of the Askenazic over the Sephardic Jews. As late as 1960s the Sephardic Jews numbered only about 500,000, compared with the Ashkenazim of the same period estimated at approximately 12 million. Statistical figures for the contemporary demography of Ashkenazi Jews, oscillate between 10 million and 11.2 million, about 75% of Jews worldwide

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Askenazic Jews – the descendants of Yajuj Wa Majuj (Gog and Magog)?

By Jamari Mohtar | Aug 31, 2016

“There wasn’t one of them who had an ancestor who ever put a toe in the Holy Land. Not only in Old Testament history, but back to the beginning of time. Not one of them! And yet they come to the Christians and ask us to support their armed insurrections in Palestine by saying, “You want to help repatriate God’s Chosen People to their Promised Land, their ancestral home, don’t you? It’s your Christian duty. We gave you one of our boys as your Lord and Savior. You now go to church on Sunday, and you kneel and you worship a Jew, and we’re Jews.” But they are pagan Khazars who were converted just the same as the Irish were converted. It is as ridiculous to call them “people of the Holy Land…”

 – Benjamin Freedman, A Jewish Defector Warns America in a   speech at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. in 1961

The subject of Gog and Magog appears in the Quran in Surah Alkafh when Allah says:

“And they ask you (O Muhammad) about Dhul-Qarnayn. Say: “I will recite to you about him a report. Indeed, We established him upon the earth, and We endowed him with [the knowledge of] the right means to achieve anything [that he might set out to achieve]; and so he chose the right means [in whatever he did].”

[And he marched westwards] till, when he came to the setting of the sun, it appeared to him that it was setting (as if) in a dark, turbid sea; and near it he found a people. Allah said: “O Dhul-Qarnayn, either you punish [them] or else adopt among them [a way of goodness]. He answered: “As for him who does wrong, we will punish him. Then he will be returned to his Lord, and He will punish him with a terrible punishment. But as for him who believes and does righteous deeds, he will have a reward of Paradise, and we shall make binding on him [only] that which is easy to fulfill.”

[And then he marched eastwards] till, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found that it was rising on a people for whom We had provided no coverings against it: thus [We had made them, and thus he left them]; and We did encompass with Our knowledge all that he had in mind.

[And he marched on] till, when he reached [a pass] between the two mountain-barriers, he found beside them a people who could scarcely understand a word [of his language]. They said: “O Dhul-Qarnayn, indeed Gog and Magog are spoiling this land. May we, then, pay unto thee a tribute on the understanding that thou wilt erect a barrier between us and them?” He answered: “That wherein my Sustainer has so securely established me is better [than anything that you could give me]; hence, do but help me with [your labour’s] strength, [and] I shall erect a rampart between you and them!

“Bring me ingots of iron!” Then, after he had [piled up the iron and] filled the gap between the two mountain-sides, he said: “[Light a fire and] ply your bellows!” At length, when he had made it [glow like] fire, he commanded: “Bring me molten copper which I may pour upon it.” And thus [the rampart was built, and] their enemies were unable to scale it, and neither were they able to pierce it. Said [Dhul-Qarnayn]: “This is a mercy from my Sustainer! Yet when the time appointed by my Sustainer shall come, He will make this [rampart] level with the ground: and my Sustainer’s promise always comes true!” [Quran, Alkafh (18): 83-98].

Just a digression on the reason (asbabu nuzul) why the above verses was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). When the Prophet (pbuh) began his mission in Mecca, which lasted for 13 years, the questions uppermost in the minds of the leaders of Mecca were, “Was Muhammad really a prophet? Or was he just a convincing fake? How could we find out?” They finally decided to consult the Jewish rabbis in Yathrib (Medina) about the problem, since Jews had had more dealings with prophets in the past and the rabbis were knowledgeable in the scriptures.

The rabbis advised the leaders of Mecca to ask Muhammad three questions. If he knew the answers to those questions, then he was truly a prophet. The first question was about some young men of long ago, who had left their people and had had a wondrous experience. The second question was about a traveler who had journeyed to the ends of the earth in the east and the west. The third question was about the Spirit, and what it was.

The leaders of Mecca hurriedly sent messengers to Muhammad (pbuh) to ask him the three questions. The Prophet (pbuh) told them to return the following day and he would have the answers for them. However, he failed to add, “in sha Allah,” that is, “if Allah wills.” By the next day he had not received any revelation to help him answer the questions, and he had to ask the messengers to return the following day. This was repeated for fifteen days, while the people of Mecca laughed at Muhammad’s inability to answer the three questions. Finally Jibril appeared to the Prophet (pbuh), and told him the three answers. He also explained the reason for the delay. In Surah Al-Kafh (18: 23-24) is the warning that one should not plan to do anything in the future, without saying, in sha Allah. All that we hope to do is only accomplished by the will of Allah.

The first question was about some young men who remained steadfast in their worship of one God, while the rest of their people turned to the worship of idols. No one is sure of the number of youth involved. That knowledge is Allah’s alone, although many scholars have disputed over the number. To escape persecution, the young men hid in a cave, where Allah caused them to fall asleep for about three hundred years (only Allah knows the exact length of time). They had a dog with them, and to anyone who happened to see them they would have appeared to be awake, and the person would have been filled with fear of them. When they finally awoke, it seemed to them as if only a short time had passed. It was when one of them was sent down to the town to buy food that they learned they had slept for centuries. The account of these sleepers is in the Quran, Surah Alkafh (18): 9-25.

The answer to the second question was about a great traveler identified as Dhul-Qarnayn, “the owner of two horns.” He had great power and had been given the ways and means to do all things. He traveled to the setting of the sun, which set in a murky pool. Nearby there lived a people over whom Dhul-Qarnayn had authority to punish or reward. He chose to punish those who did wrong and then send them back to Allah to be further punished. Those who believed in Allah and were righteous would be rewarded. Then he journeyed to the rising of the sun, where he found a people who had been provided with no protection against the sun. Those people he left completely alone.

As part of his answer to the second question, Muhammad (pbuh) gave information about a third journey, which Dhul-Qarnayn made. He traveled to a place between two mountains, where the people understood scarcely anything about Allah. They asked for his help in building a barrier between them and two beings called Yajuj and Majuj. In return for his assistance they promised to pay tribute to him. However he did not desire tribute. He replied that the power, which he received from Allah, was better than any tribute, which they could offer him. And so he helped them erect a barrier of iron and lead, which Yajooj and Majooj were powerless to climb over or dig through. But the Quran warns that on a day appointed by Allah, they would break out of their place of confinement and cause great destruction. This would be one of the signs that the Day of Judgment was near. The story of Dhul-Qarnayn can be found in the Quran Surah Al-Kafh (18): 83-98.

The third question, about the Spirit, had the shortest answer. The Quran Surah Al-Isra (17): 85 says that the Spirit comes by command of Allah, and that mankind does not have the knowledge to fully understand it. The Jews disputed that they had been given full knowledge in the Torah, but Allah tells us that their knowledge is very small, in comparison to Allah’s knowledge, which could not be recorded even if all the trees on earth were pens and all the seas were ink.

Despite Muhammad (pbuh) having answered all their questions successfully, the rabbis did not recognize him as a prophet, and the Meccan leaders did not follow the rabbis’ earlier advise to follow him as a prophet. But many other people were convinced and the number of believers increased. As the numbers of believers increased, the opposition felt increasingly threatened and resorted to persecution of the followers of Muhammad.

So back to the narrative on Dhul-Qarnayn and Gog Magog – who was Dhul- Qarnayn and who were Gog and Magog?

Some Muslim commentators opined that Dhul-Qarnayn was the Greek King, Alexander the Great of Macedonia, hence the name Iskandar (Alexander) Dhul-Qarnayn was bandied about. But the way the Quran described Dhul-Qarnayn left no doubt that he was a monotheist who was endowed by Allah with power, knowledge and wisdom while Alexander the Great was a Greek pagan believing in the existence of a multitude of Gods.

Perhaps some of the mufasirins (Quranic commentators) who believed that Dhul-Qarnayn was Alexander the Great was influenced by the legend popularized by Jewish historian Titus Flavius Josephus (born Joseph ben Matityahu) who flourished in the 1st century CE (Christian Era). According to that legend, Gog and Magog were locked up by Alexander the Great behind iron gates in the Caspian Mountains, generally identified with the Caucacus Mountains (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, and The Jewish War). This legend must have been current in contemporary Jewish circles by this period, and maybe the reason why the Jewish rabbis of Medina included it in one of the three questions to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the hope of getting more details on Gog and Magog.

A clear idea of who Dhul-Qarnayn was, was given by the great Muslim scholar Imam Ibn Kathir [born 1300 (701H), died 1373 (774H)] in his historical work, Al-Bidayah wa’l-Nihayah (The Beginning and the End) when he said:

“At the time of Abraham (peace be on him), there was a king called Dhul-Qarnayn. He performed Tawaf around the Ka’bah with Abraham (peace be on him) when the latter first built it; he believed in Abraham and followed him. Dhul-Qarnayn was a good man and a great king. Allah gave him great power and he ruled the east and west. He held sway over all kings and countries, and travelled far and wide in both east and west.”

Ibn Kathir, when discussing the origins of Yajuj wa Ma’juj – the people who traditionally inhabited the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, which was where the Khazar Kingdom was originally situated – specifically states that “Gog and Magog are two groups of Turks, descended from Yafith (Japheth), the father of the Turks, one of the sons of Prophet Noah (alahi salam).”

Dhil-Qarnayn’s Iron Wall

Somewhere near Derbend in Central Asia, Hissar District, about 150 miles southeast of Bukhara, there is a very narrow defile, with overhanging rocks, on the main route between Turkestan and India: latitude 38 degrees North; longitude 67 degrees East.  It is now called in Turkish Buzghol-Khana (Goat-house), but was formerly known as the Iron Gate (Arabic, Bab  al Hadid; Persian, Dar-i-ahani; Chinese, T’i-men-kuan).

There is no iron gate there now, but there was one in the 7th century, when the Chinese traveller Hiouen Tsiang saw it on his journey to India.  He saw two folding gates cased with iron hung with bells.  Nearby is a lake named Iskandar Kul, connecting the locality with Alexandar the Great.  We know from history that Alexandar, after his conquest of Persia and before his journey to India, visited Sogdiana (Bukhara) and Maracanda (Samarqand).  We also know from Al Maqdis, the Arab traveller and geographer, who wrote about 375H (985-6 CE) that the Abbasid Caliph al Wathiq (842-846 CE) sent out a mission to Central Asia to report on this Iron Gate. They found the defile 150 yards wide: on two jambs, made with bricks of iron welded together with molten lead, were hung two huge gates, which were kept closed. Nothing could correspond more exactly with the description in the Quran, Surah Alkafh (18):95-96

The Khazars – the first wave of Gog and Magog post Dhul-Qarnayn era

We can safely assume that after the Iron Wall built by Dhul-Qarnayn was in placed, the whole area of Gog and Magog in Central Asia covering an immense land area of over a million square miles extending from western Hungary/Austria eastward to the Aural Sea, north to the Upper Volga, and its southern region extending to the Caucasus Mountains between the Black and Caspian seas were free from the machinations and chicaneries of Gog and Magog. The place was so peaceful that this paved the way for the Silk Route to be discovered which in turn encouraged trade among nations.

Now, fast forward from the time of Dhul-Qarnayn to the 7th century. Out of the blue, there lived at the place where Gog and Magog had been quarantined by Dhul-Qarnayn, the Khazars who were a semi nomadic Turkic warlike people, ruthlessly brutal and exclusively belligerent. They lived between 650 to 1048 CE in a region near the Caspian Sea. For some three centuries (650 – 965 CE) the Khazars dominated the vast area (800,000 square km) extending from the Volga-Don steppes to the eastern Crimea and the northern Caucasus. In fact, an embryonic state of Khazaria began to form sometime after 630 CE.

It was around this time that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) got an inkling that the Iron Wall built by Dhul-Qarnayn had been breached by Gog and Magog based on a Hadith narrated by Zainab bint Jahsh (r.a): “… once the Prophet (pbuh) awoke from such a sleep that his face was red and he said: ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah. Woe to the Arabs, from the great evil that is approaching them. Today a gap as big as this has opened up in the wall of Yajuj and Majuj …’ and the Prophet (pbuh) indicated the size of the hole by forming a ring with his index finger and thumb.” (Bukhari)

According to Rutgers University Professor Peter Golden in his book, An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples: Ethnogenesis And State Formation in the Medieval and Early Modern Eurasia and the Middle East, published in 1992, an embryonic state of Khazaria began to form sometime after 630 CE, when it emerged from the breakdown of the larger Göktürk Qağanate. The tribes that were to comprise the Khazar empire were not an ethnic union, but a congeries of steppe nomads and peoples who came to be subordinated, and subscribed to a core Türkic leadership.

Earlier in 627 CE, the Roman Emperor Heraclius, formed a military alliance with the Khazars for the purpose of a final defeat of the Persians, marking the first time the Khazars were involved in an international relation with a superpower. Upon the first meeting of the Khazar King Ziebel with the Roman Emperor, the Khazars displayed, in full array, their skills at diplomatic flattery – skills that would serve them well and would not disappear with their kingdom. Gibbon recorded this in his Fall of the Roman Empire:

He “with his nobles dismounted from their horses,” says Gibbon, “…and fell prostrate on the ground, to adore the purple of the Caesar.” So enamored was the Byzantine Emperor with this display of obeisance that it eventually led to the offer, along with many riches, of the Caesar’s daughter Eudocia in marriage. That union never took place due to the death of Ziebel while Eudocia was en route to Khazaria. However, in 730 CE, a marriage between a Khazar princess and the heir to the Byzantine Roman Empire resulted in an offspring who was to rule Byzantium as Leo the Khazar. Thus the “King of the North” had skillfully managed to place himself on the throne of the Roman Empire.

Back to the 627 CE Byzantium-Kazar alliance, the Byzantium managed to be victorious in their final battle with the Persians despite a treachery from their ally, the Kazars, who left them at a crucial time during the battle. Although the Sassanids were defeated, it was the Muslims under Caliph Umar al-Khattab who finally finished off once and for all the Sassanian Empire.

It seemed that these traits of being ruthlessly brutal, exclusively belligerent and skillfully talented at flattery and treachery were so successfully passed on to their descendants when the latter managed to convince Britain not to surrender to Germany during World War I in 1916 because they (the descendants) will convince the US to enter the war on the side of the British… oops I’m jumping the gun, more on that later.

In the early part of the 7th century, Islam came northward through the same Kasbek Pass the Khazars had used, and began a long war with the Northern Kingdom. The major attempt of the Muslim armies to take control of the Transcaucasus came in 622 CE while Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) was still leading Islam. The Muslim armies soon conquered Persia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and surrounded the Byzantine heartland (present-day Turkey) in a deadly semi-circle, which extended from the Mediterranean to the Caucasus and the southern shores of the Caspian. This began a long series of incursions by both sides (Khazaria and Islam) that lasted for another thirty years. In 652 CE, Caliph Uthman ibn Affan (r.a.), sent a Muslim army led by Abdal-Rahman ibn-Rabiah to the Caucasus. This army was routed by the Khazars, with the death of four thousand Arab soldiers, including their commander.

Later, there was a brief period of Muslim incursion into Khazaria where Caliph Marwin II, in a surprise, two-pronged attack, drove the Khazars as far back in their own land as the Volga region. His only terms for peace were that the Kagan (King of Khazar) convert to Islam, with which the Khazar king complied, but apparently only long enough for the Muslim Caliph to withdraw back across the Caucasus. This incident preceded by only a few years the Khazar monarch’s conversion to Judaism. Most historians agree as to the motivation behind the Caliph’s withdrawal. The Muslim ruler apparently realised that, unlike the more civilised Persians, Armenians or Georgians, the barbaric Khazars could not be kept under military rule at such a distance.

This first wave of Gog and Magog which began after the Dhul-Qarnayn’s Iron Wall was breached, ended when the Asiatic Rus from Kiev ransacked Kazaria which by then had become a Jewish kingdom. The remnants of the Khazars fled to nearby Hungary, Southern Russia and Bulgaria where the second wave of Gog Magog appeared in European soils, wreaking havoc to Europe in the form of World War I and World War II.

According to Benjamin Freedman, himself a Jew and an apparent long-time associate and confidant of presidents and statesmen, in an address presented in 1961 at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., the Khazars were so belligerent and hostile that they were eventually run out of Asia and scattered amongst the nations of Eastern Europe. Heinrich von Neustadt, around 1300, wrote of them as the “terrifying people of Gog and Magog.”

More on the reasons for the conversion of the Khazars to Judaism, and at what stage of the Gog and Magog wave we are in now, in my next post. Stay tuned.

Wallahu’alam bi sawab