the plan for the future
As on 8 July 2013
Taken from: Wikipedia - Alexander the Great in the Quran
The story of Dhul-Qarnayn (in Arabic ذو القرنين, literally "The Two-Horned One", also transliterated as Zul-Qarnain or Zulqarnain), mentioned in the Quran, may be a reference to Alexander III of Macedon (356–323 BC), popularly known as Alexander the Great.
Dhul-Qarnayn is a figure who was well known in the lore of the ancient dwellers of the Arabian Peninsula and is mentioned in the Quran. There have been many different cultural depictions of Alexander the Great since antiquity. The majority of traditional and modern scholars have generally endorsed the identification of Dhul-Qarnayn with Alexander the Great, but some early Muslim scholars saw it as a reference to a pre-Islamic monarch from Persia or south Arabia.
Independently, Western philologists studying ancient Syriac Christian legends about Alexander the Great came to the conclusion that Dhul-Qarnayn is an ancient epithet for Alexander the Great. The Alexander legends, known as the Alexander romance have many similarities to the story in the Qur'an but are also more elaborate and describe Alexander's fantastical deeds in detail, such as the story of Alexander building a wall at the end of the flat Earth.
The identification of Alexander with Dhul-Qarnayn has been a matter of theological controversy amongst Muslim scholars since early times, but similarities between the Qur'an and the Alexander romance folklore were only identified in relatively recent academic research based on the translation of certain medieval Syriac manuscripts. In more recent times, some Muslim scholars have suggested other alternatives, for example that Dhul-Qarnayn may be Cyrus the Great instead of Alexander the Great.
Early Islamic scholars generally endorsed the identification of Dhul-Qarnayn with Alexander. The earliest written identification between Alexander and Dhul-Qarnayn is made by the Muslim hagiographer Ibn Hisham (?-833 AD) in the Sira literature. This identification with Alexander is also endorsed by Islamic tafsir (exegesis) literature dating as far back as the 10th century. Some prominent Islamic scholars in recent times have also endorsed this identification.
As can be seen in the following quotation from Edwards, secular philologists studying ancient Syriac Christian legends about Alexander the Great also came to the conclusion that Dhul-Qarnayn is an ancient epithet for Alexander the Great. Edwards says,
In the 19th century, Orientalists studying the Qur'an began researching the identity of Dhul-Qarnayn. Theodor Nöldeke, believed that Dhul-Qarnayn was none other than Alexander the Great (a dialect of Middle Aramaic). The Syriac manuscripts were translated into English in 1889 by E. A. Wallis Budge.
In the early 20th century Andrew Runni Anderson wrote a series of articles on the question in the Transactions of the American Philological Association. The findings of the philologists imply that the source of the Qur'an's story of Dhul-Qarnayn is the Alexander romance, a thoroughly embellished compilation of Alexander's exploits from Hellenistic and early Christian sources, which underwent numerous expansions and revisions for two-thousand years, throughout Antiquity and the Middle Ages.
Historical background on religious Alexander legendsThere have been many different cultural depictions of Alexander the Great since antiquity, including references in the Hebrew Bible in 1 Maccabees and the Book of Daniel. Alexander the Great was an immensely popular figure in the classical and post-classical cultures of the Mediterranean and Middle East. Almost immediately after his death in 323 BC a body of legend began to accumulate about his exploits and life which, over the centuries, became increasingly fantastic as well as allegorical. Collectively this tradition is called the Alexander romance and some recensions feature such vivid episodes as Alexander ascending through the air to Paradise, journeying to the bottom of the sea in a glass bubble, and journeying through the Land of Darkness in search of the Water of Life (Fountain of Youth).
The earliest Greek manuscripts of the Alexander romance, as they have survived, indicate that it was composed at Alexandria in the 3rd century. The original text was lost but was the source of some eighty different versions written in twenty-four different languages. As the Alexander romance persisted in popularity over the centuries, it was assumed by various neighboring peoples. Of particular significance was its incorporation into Jewish and later Christian legendary traditions. In the Jewish tradition Alexander was initially a figure of satire, representing the vain or covetous ruler who is ignorant of larger spiritual truths. Yet their belief in a just, all-powerful God forced Jewish interpreters of the Alexander tradition to come to terms with Alexander's undeniable temporal success. Why would a just, all-powerful God show such favor to an unrighteous ruler? This theological need, plus acculturation to Hellenism, led to a more positive Jewish interpretation of the Alexander legacy. In its most neutral form this was typified by having Alexander show deference to either the Jewish people or the symbols of their faith. In having the great conqueror thus acknowledge the essential truth of the Jews' religious, intellectual, or ethical traditions, the prestige of Alexander was harnessed to the cause of Jewish ethnocentrism. Eventually Jewish writers would almost completely co-opt Alexander, depicting him as a righteous gentile or even a believing monotheist.
The Christianized peoples of the Near East, inheritors of both the Hellenic as well as Judaic strands of the Alexander romance, further theologized Alexander until in some stories he was depicted as a saint. The Christian legends turned the ancient Greek conqueror Alexander III into Alexander "the Believing King", implying that he was a believer in monotheism. Eventually elements of the Alexander romance were combined with Biblical legends such as Gog and Magog.
During the period of history during which the Alexander romance was written, little was known about the true historical Alexander the Great as most of the history of his conquests had been preserved in the form of folklore and legends. It was not until the Renaissance (1300-1600 AD) that the true history of Alexander III was rediscovered:
Dating and origins of the Alexander legendsThe legendary Alexander material originated as early as the time of the Ptolemaic dynasty (305 BC to 30 BC) and its unknown authors are sometimes referred to as the Pseudo-Callisthenes (not to be confused with Callisthenes of Olynthus, who was Alexander's official historian). The earliest surviving manuscript of the Alexander romance, called the α (alpha) recension, can be dated to the 3rd century AD and was written in Greek in Alexandria:
The Greek variants of the Alexander romance continued to evolve until, in the 4th century, the Greek legend was translated into Latin by Julius Valerius Alexander Polemius (where it is called the Res gestae Alexandri Magni) and from Latin it spread to all major vernacular languages of Europe in the Middle Ages. Around the same as its translation into Latin, the Greek text was also translated into the Syriac language and from Syriac it spread to eastern cultures and languages as far afield as China and Southeast Asia. The Syriac legend was the source of an Arabic variant called the Qisas Dhul-Qarnayn (Tales of Dhul-Qarnayn) and a Persian variant called the Iskandarnamah (Book of Alexander), as well as Armenian and Ethiopic translations.
The version recorded in Syriac is of particular importance because it was current in the Middle East during the time of the Qur'an's writing and is regarded as being closely related to the literary and linguistic origins of the story of Dhul-Qarnayn in the Qur'an. The Syriac legend, as it has survived, consists of five distinct manuscripts, including a Syriac Christian religious legend concerning Alexander and a sermon about Alexander attributed to the Syriac poet-theologian Jacob of Serugh (451-521 AD, also called Mar Jacob). The Syriac Christian legend concentrates on Alexander's journey to the end of the World, where he constructs the Gates of Alexander to enclose the evil nations of Gog and Magog, while the sermon describes his journey to the Land of Darkness to discover the Water of Life (Fountain of Youth). These legends concerning Alexander are remarkably similar to the story of Dhul-Qarnayn found in the Qur'an.
One of the five Syriac manuscripts, as it has survived, can be dated to between 629 AD and 636 AD. There is evidence in the manuscript of "ex eventu knowledge of the Khazar invasion of Armenia in A.D. 629," which suggests that the manuscript must have been burdened with additions by a redactor sometime around 629 AD. The manuscript appears to have been composed as propaganda in support of Emperor Heraclius (575-641 AD) shortly after he defeated the Persians in the Byzantine-Sassanid War of 602–628. It is notable that this manuscript fails to mention the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem in 636 AD by Muhammad's (570-632 AD) successor, Caliph Umar (590-644 AD). This fact means that the manuscript must have been recorded before the "cataclysmic event"`that was the Muslim conquest of Syria and the resulting surrender of Jerusalem in November 636 AD. That the Byzantine–Arab Wars would have been referenced in the manuscript, had it been written after 636 AD, is supported by the fact that in 692 AD a Syriac Christian adaption of the Alexander romance called the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius was indeed written as a response to the Muslim invasions and was falsely attributed to St Methodius (?-311 AD); this Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius equated the evil nations of Gog and Magog with the Muslim invaders and shaped the eschatological imagination of Christendom for centuries.
The manuscripts also contain evidence of lost texts. For example, there is some evidence of a lost pre-Islamic Arabic version of the translation that is thought to have been an intermediary between the Syriac Christian and the Ethiopic Christian translations. There is also evidence that the Syriac translation was not directly based on the Greek recensions but was based on a lost Pahlavi (pre-Islamic Persian) intermediary.
Theological controversyThe identity of Dhul-Qarnayn has been a matter of theological controversy amongst Muslim scholars for centuries. Dhul-Qarnayn was equated with Alexander by classical Islamic scholars during a period when Christians and Jews had themselves co-opted Alexander the Great as a religious figure. However, it is clear that the historical Alexander the Great was a Greek pagan (for example, Alexander's mother Olympias is said to have been a devout member of the orgiastic snake-worshiping cult of Dionysus, and may have slept with snakes). Such historical facts about Alexander the Great became well known only after the Renaissance period (1300-1600 AD) when the Anabasis Alexandri of Arrian (AD 86- 160) was rediscovered. In light of the modern view of Alexander the Great, his identity as Dhul-Qarnayn has become a matter of great controversy for Muslims. In reaction, alternative theories about the identity of Dhul-Qarnayn have been advanced by some Muslim scholars. For example, it has been suggested that Dhul-Qarnayn could be Cyrus the Great (see Cyrus the Great in the Qur'an). The Muslim sentiment against Alexander is reflected in Islamic textbooks (e.g. "Some [Muslim Scholars] say it was Alexander the Great, who lived from 356 BCE to 323 BCE, but that is highly unlikely, given that Alexander was an idol-worshipper."), often with references to his polytheistic religious beliefs and (more recently) his personal relationships.
Dhul-Qarnayn in Islamic literature
Qur'an"Dhul-Qarnayn" (the "Two-Horned One" in English) is a person described in the Qur'an, the sacred scripture believed by Muslims to have been revealed by Allah to Muhammad. The story of Dhul-Qarnayn appears in seventeen short verses of the Qur'an, specifically verses 18:83-99 of Surah Al-Kahf. Dhul-Qarnayn is mentioned in only one place in the Qur'an, unlike the more familiar stories that are repeated throughout the text (for example, Jesus is mentioned in 93 verses in 15 different surahs of the Qur'an). The Qur'anic story describes a man called Dhul-Qarnayn (meaning "the Two-Horned"), who was already familiar to the inhabitants of the region, to whom Allah gave great power, and who traveled to the rising place and setting place of the sun, where he found the sun setting in a murky (or boiling) sea. At this place, Dhul-Qarnayn builds a wall in order to enclose the nations of Gog and Magog. It is thought that Gog and Magog will breach Dhul-Qarnayn's wall before Yaum al-Qiyāmah (the Day of Judgement) and will wreak havoc in the world (Islamic Armageddon):
SiraThe earliest mention of Dhul-Qarnayn outside the Qur'an is found in the works of the earliest Muslim historian and hagiographer, Ibn Ishaq (?-761 AD), which form the main corpus of the Sira (religious biography) literature. Ibn Ishaq's Sira reports that the eighteenth chapter of the Qur'an (which includes the story of Dhul-Qarnayn) was revealed to Muhammad by God on account of some questions posed to Muhammad by the rabbis. The verse was revealed during the Meccan period of Muhammad's life. According to Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad's tribe, the powerful Quraysh, were greatly concerned about their tribesman who had started claiming prophethood and wished to consult the Jewish rabbis' superior knowledge of the scriptures and about the prophets of God. The two Quraysh men described their tribesman, Muhammad, to the Jewish scholars. The rabbis told the men to ask Muhammad three questions:
The famous story in the Sira relates that when Muhammad was informed of the three questions from the Rabbis, he declared that he would have the answers in the morning. However, Muhammad did not give the answer in the morning. For fifteen days, Muhammad did not answer the question. Doubt in Muhammad began to grow amongst the people of Mecca. Then, after fifteen days, Muhammad received the revelation that is Sura Al-Kahf ("The Cave"), the eighteenth chapter of the Qur'an. Surah Al-Kahf mentions the "People of the Cave," a strange story about some young men in ancient times who slept in a cave for many years (which is identical to the Syriac Christian myth of the Seven Sleepers Ephesus). Surah Al-Kahf also mentions the winds (related to the word for spirit, verse 45). Finally, the surah also mentions "a man who travelled a great deal and reached the east and the west of the earth"—namely, Dhul-Qarnayn. Though Ibn Ishaq himself does not explicitly mention the name Alexander, he relates that a storyteller told him that Dhul-Qarnayn was a Greco-Egyptian (an accurate description of Alexander):
Ibn Ishaq's original work is lost, but it has been almost completely incorporated in Ibn Hisham (?-833 AD), another early Muslim historian. Ibn Hisham collected Ibn Ishaq's Sira and added his notes to it; in regards to Dhul-Qarnayn, Ibn Hisham noted:
The theme, amongst Islamic scholars, of identifying Dhul-Qarnayn with Alexander the Great appears to have originated here. Why Ibn Hisham made this identification is not entirely clear.
Pre-Islamic Arabic poetryIbn Ishaq recorded many pre-Islamic Arabic poems in the Sira, including a poem about Dhul-Qarnayn that he claims was composed by a pre-Islamic king of ancient Yemen named Tub'a Abu Kariba As'ad (Tub'a is commonly cited as the first of several kings of Arabia to convert to Judaism):
The poem's reference to "a learned sage" from whom Dhul-Qarnayn sought knowledge from may be a reference to the story of Dhul-Qarnayn and Al-Khidir. Other pre-Islamic Arab poems about Dhul-Qarnayn are also reported in the Sira literature:
One poem by Hassan ibn Thabit reads:
TafsirAlexander is mentioned in the tafsir, the exegesis or commentaries of the Qur'an that were written by prominent early Islamic scholars. Significantly, Alexander the Great is mentioned in Tafsir al-Jalalayn, a well-known Sunni tafsir of the Qur'an from the 15th century. The tafsir notes that Dhul-Qarnayn's name was Alexander and also indicates that Dhul-Qarnayn was not a prophet:
The commentators of the Qur'an debated on whether or not Dhul-Qarnayn was a prophet of Islam; some concluded that he was not a prophet but was a holy man or a "friend of God" since he is mentioned favorably in the Qur'an. In Islam it is ambiguous as to whether or not Dhul-Qarnayn is a full-fledged prophet.
Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (1149-1209 AD), in Tafsir al-Kabir also comments that Dhul-Qarnayn is Alexander the Macedonian. He provides a vague justification, saying that the Dhul-Qarnayn mentioned in the Qur'an travelled to the east and the west achieving victories and so he must be Alexander:
Other Islamic literatureAristotelian Muslim philosophers, such as al-Kindi (801–873 AD), al-Farabi (872-950 AD), and Avicenna (980 - 1037 AD), enthusiastically embraced the concept of Dhul-Qarnayn being an ancient Greek king. They stylized Dhul-Qarnayn as a Greek philosopher king. Ibn Taymiyyah (1263–1328 AD) objected to the identification on the basis that Alexander was a pagan idolater, and he accused the Aristotelian Muslim philosophers such as Avicenna of making the "mistaken" identification:
The Egyptian historian Al-Maqrizi (1364–1442 AD) claimed in his book Al-Khotatt that Dhul-Qarnayn was a Yemenite king named Sa'b and wrote:
The mystic Ibn Arabi (d. 638⁄1240) allegorically interpreted the figure of Dhul-Qarnayn as the heart which controls the left and right sides of the body.
In recent times, Abdullah Yusuf Ali (1872–1953 AD) supported the notion of Dhul-Qarnayn being Alexander the Great and he indicated an extensive knowledge of the legends concerning Alexander:
In his commentary of the Qur'an, Abul Ala Maududi (1903–1979 AD) noted that historically most Muslim scholars had endorsed the identification of Dhul-Qarnayn with Alexander the Great, but recent commentators have forwarded an alternative theory that Dhul-Qarnayn is Cyrus the Great:
Philologists, studying ancient Christian legends about Alexander the Great, have come to conclude that the Qur'an's stories about Dhul-Qarnayn closely parallel certain legends about Alexander the Great found in ancient Hellenistic and Christian writings. There is some numismatic evidence, in the form of ancient coins, to identify the Arabic epithet "Dhul-Qarnayn" with Alexander the Great. There is also a long history of monotheistic religions co-opting the historical Alexander. Finally, ancient Christian Syriac and Ethiopic manuscripts of the Alexander romance from the Middle East have been found which closely resemble the story in the Qur'an. This leads to the theologically controversial conclusion that Qur'an refers to Alexander in the mention of Dhul-Qarnayn.
The two-horned oneThe literal translation of the Arabic phrase "Dhul-Qarnayn," as written in the Qur'an, is "the Two-Horned." Alexander the Great was portrayed with two horns in ancient Greek depictions of Alexander:
The Egyptian god Ammon-Ra was depicted with ram horns. Rams were considered a symbol of virility due to their rutting behavior. The horns of Ammon may have also represented the East and West of the Earth, and one of the titles of Ammon was "the two-horned." Alexander was depicted with the horns of Ammon as a result of his conquest of ancient Egypt in 332 BC, where the priesthood received him as the son of the god Ammon, who was identified by the ancient Greeks with Zeus, the King of the Gods. The combined deity Zeus-Ammon was a distinct figure in ancient Greek mythology. According to five historians of antiquity (Arrian, Curtius, Diodorus, Justin, and Plutarch), Alexander visited the Oracle of Ammon at Siwa in the Libyan desert and rumors spread that the Oracle had revealed Alexander's father to be the deity Ammon, rather than Philip. Alexander styled himself as the son of Zeus-Ammon and even demanded to be worshiped as a god:
Ancient Greek coins, such as the coins minted by Alexander's successor Lysimachus (360-281 BC), depict the ruler with the distinctive horns of Ammon on his head. Archaeologists have found a large number of different types of ancients coins depicting Alexander the Great with two horns. The 4th century BC silver tetradrachmon ("four drachma") coin, depicting a deified Alexander with two horns, replaced the 5th century BC Athenian silver tetradrachmon (which depicted the goddess Athena) as the most widely used coin in the Greek world. After Alexander's conquests, the drachma was used in many of the Hellenistic kingdoms in the Middle East, including the Ptolemaic kingdom in Alexandria. The Arabic unit of currency known as the dirham, known from pre-Islamic times up to the present day, inherited its name from the drachma. In the late 2nd century BC, silver coins depicting Alexander with ram horns were used as a principal coinage in Arabia and were issued by an Arab ruler by the name of Abi'el who ruled in the south-eastern region of the Arabian Peninsula.
In 1971, Ukrainian archeologist B.M. Mozolevskii discovered an ancient Scythian kurgan (burial mound) containing many treasures. The burial site was constructed in the 4th century BC near the city of Ordzhonikidze and is given the name Tovsta Mohyla (another name is Babyna Mogila). Amongst the artifacts excavated at this site were four silver gilded phalera (ancient Roman military medals). Two of the four medals are identical and depict the head of a bearded man with two horns, while the other two medals are also identical and depict the head of a clean-shaven man with two horns. According to a recent theory, the bearded figure with horns is actually Zeus-Ammon and the clean-shaved figure is none other than Alexander the Great.
Alexander has also been identified, since ancient times, with the horned figure in the Old Testament in the prophecy of Daniel 8 who overthrows the kings of Media and Persia. In the prophesy, Daniel has a vision of a ram with two long horns and verse 20 explains that "The ram which thou sawest having two horns is the kings of Media and Persia.":
The Christian Syriac version of the Alexander romance, in the sermon by Jacob of Serugh, describes Alexander as having been given two horns of iron by God. The legend describes Alexander (as a Christian king) bowing himself in prayer, saying:
In Christian Alexander legends written in Ethiopic (an ancient South Semitic language) between the 14th and the 16th century, Alexander the Great is always explicitly referred to using the epithet the "Two Horned." A passage from the Ethiopic Christian legend describes the Angel of the Lord calling Alexander by this name:
References to Alexander's supposed horns are found in literature ranging many different languages, regions and centuries:
For these reasons, among others, the Qur'an's Arabic epithet "Dhul-Qarnayn," literally meaning "the two-horned one," is interpreted as a reference to Alexander the Great.
Alexander's WallThe Qur'an's story describes Dhul-Qarnayn building a great barrier in order to enclose the nations of Gog and Magog who "do great mischief in the earth." A similar story about Alexander is found in the Alexander romance and the origins of the story can be dated as far back as 329 BC.
Early accounts of Alexander's Wall
The building of gates in the Caucasus Mountains by Alexander to repel the barbarian peoples identified with Gog and Magog has ancient provenance and the wall is known as the Gates of Alexander or the Caspian Gates. The name Caspian Gates originally applied to the narrow region at the southeast corner of the Caspian Sea, through which Alexander actually marched in the pursuit of Bessus in 329 BC, although he did not stop to fortify it. It was transferred to the passes through the Caucasus, on the other side of the Caspian, by the more fanciful historians of Alexander. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37–100 AD) mentions that:
Josephus also records that the people of Magog, the Magogites, were synonymous with the Scythians. According to Andrew Runni Anderson, this merely indicates that the main elements of the story were already in place six centuries before the Qur'an's revelation, not that the story itself was known in the cohesive form apparent in the Qur'anic account. Similarly, St. Jerome (347–420 AD), in his Letter 77, mentions that,
In his Commentary on Ezekiel (38:2), Jerome identifies the nations located beyond the Caucasus mountains and near Lake Maeotis as Gog and Magog. Thus the Gates of Alexander legend was combined with the legend of Gog and Magog from the Book of Revelation. It has been suggested that the incorporation of the Gog and Magog legend into the Alexander romance was prompted by the invasion of the Huns across the Caucasus mountains in 395 AD into Armenia and Syria.
Alexander's Wall in Christian legends
Christian legends speak of the Caspian Gates (Gates of Alexander), also known as Alexander's wall, built by Alexander the Great in the Caucasus mountains. Several variations of the legend can be found. In the story, Alexander the Great built a gate of iron between two mountains, at the end of the Earth, to prevent the armies of Gog and Magog from ravaging the plains. The Christian legend was written in Syria shortly before the Qur'an's writing and closely parallels the story of Dhul-Qarnayn. The legend describes an apocryphal letter from Alexander to his mother, wherein he writes:
These pseudepigraphic letters from Alexander to his mother Olympias and his tutor Aristotle, describing his marvellous adventures at the end of the World, date back to the original Greek recension α written in the 4th century in Alexandria. The letters are "the literary expression of a living popular tradition" that had been evolving for at least three centuries before the Qur'an was written.
Medieval accounts of Alexander's Wall
Several historical figures, both Muslim and Christian, searched for Alexander's Gate and several different identifications were made with actual walls. During the Middle Ages, the Gates of Alexander story was included in travel literature such as the Travels of Marco Polo (1254–1324 AD) and the Travels of Sir John Mandeville. The Alexander romance identified the Gates of Alexander, variously, with the Pass of Dariel, the Pass of Derbent, the Great Wall of Gorgan and even the Great Wall of China. In the legend's original form, Alexander's Gates are located at the Pass of Dariel. In later versions of the Christian legends, dated to around the time of Emperor Heraclius (575-641 AD), the Gates are instead located in Derbent, a city situated on a narrow strip of land between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus mountains, where an ancient Sassanid fortification was mistakenly identified with the wall built by Alexander. In the Travels of Marco Polo, the wall in Derbent is identified with the Gates of Alexander. The Gates of Alexander are most commonly identified with the Caspian Gates of Derbent whose thirty north-looking towers used to stretch for forty kilometers between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains, effectively blocking the passage across the Caucasus. Later historians would regard these legends as false:
In the Muslim world, several expeditions were undertaken to try to find and study Alexanders's wall, specifically the Caspian Gates of Derbent. An early expedition to Derbent was ordered by the Caliph Umar (586–644 AD) himself, during the Arab conquest of Armenia where they heard about Alexander's Wall in Derbent from the conquered Christian Armenians. Umar's expedition was recorded by the renowned exegetes of the Qur'an, Al-Tabarani (873-970 AD) and Ibn Kathir (1301–1373 AD), and by the Muslim geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi (1179-1229 AD):
Two hundred years later, the Abbasid Caliph Al-Wathiq (?-847 AD) dispatched an expedition to study the wall of Dhul-Qarnain in Derbent, Russia. The expedition was led by Sallam-ul-Tarjuman, whose observations have were recorded by Yaqut al-Hamawi and by Ibn Kathir:
The Muslim geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi further confirmed the same view in a number of places in his book on geography; for instance under the heading "Khazar" (Caspian) he writes:
The Caliph Harun al-Rashid (763 – 809 AD) even spent some time living in Derbent. Not all Muslim travelers and scholars, however, associated Dhul-Qarnayn's wall with the Caspian Gates of Derbent. For example, the Muslim explorer Ibn Battuta (1304–1369 AD) traveled to China on order of the Sultan of Delhi, Muhammad bin Tughluq and he comments in his travel log that "Between it [the city of Zaitun in Fujian] and the rampart of Yajuj and Majuj [Gog and Magog] is sixty days' travel." The translator of the travel log notes that Ibn Battuta confused the Great Wall of China with that supposedly built by Dhul-Qarnayn.
Gog and MagogIn the Qur'an's story, it is none other than the Gog and Magog people whom Dhul-Qarnayn has enclosed behind a wall, preventing them from invading the Earth. In Islamic eschatology, before the Day of Judgement Gog and Magog will destroy this gate, allowing them to ravage the Earth, as it is described in the Qur'an:
Gog and Magog in Christian legends
In the Syriac Christian legends, Alexander the Great encloses the Gog and Magog horde behind a mighty gate between two mountains, preventing Gog and Magog from invading the Earth. In addition, it is written in the Christian legend that in the end times God will cause the Gate of Gog and Magog to be destroyed, allowing the Gog and Magog horde to ravage the Earth;
The Christian Syriac legend describes a flat Earth orbited by the sun and surrounded by the Paropamisadae (Hindu Kush) mountains. The Paropamisadae mountains are in turn surrounded by a narrow tract of land which is followed by a treacherous Ocean sea called Okeyanos. It is within this tract of land between the Paropamisadae mountains and Okeyanos that Alexander encloses Gog and Magog, so that they could not cross the mountains and invade the Earth. The legend describes "the old wise men" explaining this geography and cosmology of the Earth to Alexander, and then Alexander setting out to enclose Gog and Magog behind a mighty gate between a narrow passage at the end of the flat Earth:
Flat Earth beliefs in the Early Christian Church varied and the Fathers of the Church shared different approaches. Those of them who were more close to Aristotle and Plato's visions, like Origen, shared peacefully the belief in a spherical Earth. A second tradition, including St Basil and St Augustine, accepted the idea of the round Earth and the radial gravity, but in a critical way. In particular they pointed out a number of doubts about the antipodes and the physical reasons of the radial gravity. However, a flat Earth approach was more or less shared by all the Fathers coming from the Syriac area, who were more inclined to follow the letter of the Old Testament. Diodore of Tarsus (?-390 AD), Cosmas Indicopleustes (6th century), and Chrysostom (347–407 AD) belonged to this flat Earth tradition.
Medieval accounts of Gog and Magog
In the Christian Alexander romance literature, Gog and Magog were sometimes associated with the Khazars, a Turkic people who lived near the Caspian Sea. In his 9th century work Expositio in Matthaeum Evangelistam, the Benedictine monk Christian of Stavelot refers to the Khazars as Hunnic descendants of Gog and Magog, and says they are "circumcised and observing all [the laws of] Judaism"; the Khazars were a Central Asian people with a long association with Judaism. A Georgian tradition, echoed in a chronicle, also identifies the Khazars with Gog and Magog, stating they are "wild men with hideous faces and the manners of wild beasts, eaters of blood."
Early Muslim scholars writing about Dhul-Qarnayn also associated Gog and Magog with the Khazars. Ibn Kathir (1301–1373 AD), the famous commentator of the Qur'an, identified Gog and Magog with the Khazars who lived between the Black and Caspian Sea in his work Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah (The Beginning and the End). The Muslim explorer Ahmad ibn Fadlan, in his travelogue regarding his diplomatic mission in 921 AD to Volga Bulgars (a vassal of the Khazarian Empire), noted the beliefs about Gog and Magog being the ancestors of the Khazars.
Thus Muslim scholars associated the Khazars with Dhul-Qarnayn just as the Christian legends associated the Khazars with Alexander the Great.
The rising place of the SunA peculiar aspect of the story of Dhul-Qarnayn, in the Qur'an, is that it describes Dhul-Qarnayn travelling to "the rising place of the Sun" and the "setting place of the Sun," where the Sun sets into a murky (or boiling) spring of water (or mud). Dhul-Qarnayn also finds a people living by the "rising place of the Sun," and finds that these people somehow have "no shelter."
In his commentary of the Qur'an, Ibn Kathir (1301–1373 AD) explains that verse 18:89 is referring to the furthest point that could be travelled west:
In this commentary Ibn Kathir differentiates between the end of the (presumably flat) Earth and the supposed "place in the sky" where the sun sets (the "resting place" of the sun. Ibn Kathir contends that Dhul-Qarnayn did reach the farthest place that could be travelled west but not the "resting place" of the sun and he goes on to mention that the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) tell myths about Dhul-Qarnayn travelling so far beyond the end of the Earth that the sun was "behind him." This shows that Ibn Kathir was aware of the Christian legends and it suggests that Ibn Kathir considered Christian myths about Alexander to be referring to the same figure as the Dhul-Qarnayn mentioned in the Qu'an.
A similar theme is elaborated upon in several places in the Islamic hadith literature, in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim:
The setting place of the sun is also commented on by Al-Tabari (838-923 AD) and Al-Qurtubi (1214 - 1273 AD) and, like Ibn Kathir, they showed some reservations towards the literal idea of the sun setting in a muddy spring but held to the basic theme of Dhul-Qarnayn reaching the ends of the Earth. The later Islamic scholar Imam al-Suyuti (1445-1505 AD) also maintained that the Earth is flat.
That the Earth must be spherical was known since at least the time of Pythagoras (570-495 BC), but this knowledge did not reach ancient folklore such as the Alexander romance where Alexander travels to the ends of a flat Earth. It is notable that, unlike the Babylonians, Greeks, and Indians, the pre-Islamic Arabs had no scientific astronomy. Their knowledge of astronomy was limited to measuring time based on empirical observations of the "rising and setting" of the sun, moon, and particular stars. This area of astronomical study was known as anwa and continued to be developed after Islamization by the Arabs. Astronomy in medieval Islam began in the 8th century and the first major Muslim work of astronomy was Zij al-Sindh written in 830 by al-Khwarizmi. The work is significant as it introduced the Ptolemaic system into Islamic sciences (the Ptolemaic system was ultimately replaced by the Copernican system during the Scientific Revolution in Europe).
The rising place of the Sun in the Alexander legends
An almost identical discourse regarding the rising place of the Sun is found in the Christian legends concerning Alexander the Great. The Christian legend about Alexander explains that when the Sun sets into the fetid sea, it enters into heaven and immediately bows down in obedience to God. Alexander travels to the end of the flat Earth to witness this spectacle. The legend explained that "the old, wise men" told Alexander about the sea in which the Sun rises from the west and in which the Sun sets in the east. The waters of this sea were imagined as being intensely hot from the heat of the Sun when it rose from the waters. Upon hearing about this place, Alexander sets out to the end of the flat Earth and witnesses the Sun rising from the fetid sea. At this place, where the Sun rises out of a terrible sea, Alexander finds a people who have no shelter from the Sun which is literally rising out of an intensely hot sea:
The Christian legend is much more detailed than the Qur'an's version and elaborates at length about the cosmology of the Earth that is implied by the story:
This ancient motif of a legendary figure traveling to the end of Earth is also found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which can be dated to c. 2000 BC, making it one of the earliest known works of literary writing. In the epic poem, in tablet nine, Gilgamesh sets out on a quest for the Water of Life to seek immortality. Gilgamesh travels far to the east, to the mountain passes at the ends of the earth where he grapples and slays monstrous mountain lions, bears and others. Eventually he comes to the twin peaks of Mount Mashu at the end of the earth, from where the sun rises from the other world, the gate of which is guarded by two terrible scorpion-beings. They allow him to proceed through the gate after Gilgamesh convinces them to let him pass, stating his divinity and desperation, and he travels through the dark tunnel where the sun travels every night. Just before the sun is about to catch up with him, and with the North Wind and ice lashing him, he reaches the end. The world at the end of the tunnel is a bright wonderland full of trees with leaves of jewels. The 17th chapter of the apocryphal Book of Enoch describes a journey to the far west where the fire of the west receives every setting of the sun and a river of fire empties into the great western sea. Chapters 72-80 describe the risings and settings of the sun through 12 portals of heaven in the east and west. The myth of a flat Earth surrounded by an Ocean into which the sun sets is also found in the Iliad, the famous epic poem written by Homer and dated to c. 900 BC. The story of creation in the Hebrew Bible, in Genesis 1:10, (dated c. 900-550 BC) is also considered by scholars to be describing a flat Earth surrounded by a sea.
The ancient Greek historian Herodotus (484–425 BC) also gave an account of the eastern "end of the Earth," in his descriptions of India. He reported that in India the sun's heat is extremely intense in the morning, instead of noon being the hottest time of day. It has been argued that he based this on his belief that since India is located at the extreme east of a flat Earth, it would only be logical if the morning were unbearably hot due to the sun's proximity.
Alexander's travelsThe Qur'an and the Alexander romance both have it that Dhul-Qarnayn (or Alexander) travelled a great deal. In the Qur'an`s story of Dhul-Qarnayn, "God gave him unto every thing a road" (or more literally, "We gave him the means of everything" 18:84) He travels as far as the ends of the Earth, to the place on the Earth where the Sun sets (the west) and the place on the Earth where the Sun rises (the east). The Qur'an portrays him traveling to the "setting of the sun." Muslim interpretations of these verses are varied, but classical Muslim scholars seemed to have been of the opinion that Dhul-Qarnayn's journey was real, not allegorical, and that Dhul-Qarnayn's wall is also a real, physical wall somewhere on Earth. In the Christian legends, Alexander travels to the places of the setting and rising of the Sun and this is meant to say that he traveled to the ends of the flat Earth and thus he had traversed the entire world. This legendary account served to convey the theme of Alexander's exploits as a great conqueror. Alexander was indeed a great conqueror, having ruled the largest empire in ancient history by the time he was 25 years old. However, the true historical extent of Alexander's travels are known to be greatly exaggerated in legends. For example, legend has it that upon reaching India,
In reality, while Alexander did travel a great deal, he did not travel further west than ancient Libya and did not travel further east than the fringes of India. According to historians, Alexander invaded India following his desire to reach the "ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea." However, when he reached the Hyphasis River in the Punjab in 326 BC, his army nearly mutinied and refused to march further east, exhausted by years of campaigning. Alexander's desire to reach "the ends of the Earth" was instilled by his tutor Aristotle:
This view of the world taught by Aristotle and followed by Alexander is apparent in Aristotle's Meteorologica, a treatise on earth sciences where he discusses the "length" and "width" of "the inhabited earth." However, Aristotle knew that the Earth is spherical and even provided observational proof of this fact. Aristotle's cosmological view was that the Earth is round but he prescribed to the notion of an "inhabited Earth," surrounded by the Ocean, and an "uninhabited Earth" (though exactly how much of this was understood by his student Alexander the Great is not known).
Al-KhidirSurah Al-Kahf has also been linked to the Alexander romance through a second story. The Qur'an verses 18:60–82, which immediately precede the story of Dhul-Qarnayn, mention the story of Al-Khidir and a fish that miraculously comes to life. It has been theorized that the Qur'an's story was influenced by the story of the Water of Life (Fountain of Youth) mentioned in Eastern versions of the Alexander romance.
In some Islamic traditions, Al-Khidir (literally "the Green One," an enigmatic figure in Islam) is the cousin or servant of Alexander or Dhul-Qarnayn. There are several versions of the Persian Alexander Romance in which Al-Khiḍr figures as a servant of Dhul-Qarnayn or Alexander the Great. In one version, Al-Khidr and Dhul-Qarnayn cross the Land of Darkness to find the Water of Life. Dhul-Qarnayn gets lost looking for the spring, but Khiḍr finds it and gains eternal life. In the Iskandarnamah by an anonymous author, Khiḍr is asked by Dhul-Qarnayn to lead him and his armies to the Water of Life. Khidr agrees, and eventually stumbles upon the Water of Life on his own.
The Qur'an's story is about Moses and Al-Khidir, though the classical Islamic scholars showed some disagreement over whether or not 'Moses' in this story is Moses of the Israelites. In the Qur'an's story, this Moses goes with a servant ( identified as Joshua in Hadith) to the "junction of the two seas". A certain fish (which they presumably had been carrying with them) "in an amazing way" makes its way to the sea. When the servant tells Moses this, they retrace their steps. They then meet one of God's servants (traditionally called Al-Khidir, although not named in the Qur'an) who puts Moses to a test of patience in which Moses must travel with Al-Khidir but not ask any questions. Al-Khidir cracks a hole in a vessel endangering its passengers, then he murders a boy, and then rebuilding a wall each time causing Moses to break his silence. Al-Khidir explains how each of his lawless acts was for a greater good and Moses fails the test of patience. The Qur'anic story is remarkably similar to Jewish folklore concerning Elijah. In the Jewish tale, Rabbi Joshua ben Levi asks to join the prophet Elijah in his wanderings. Elijah grants the Rabbi's wish on the condition that he refrain from asking any questions about any of the prophet’s actions. He agrees and they begin their journey. Elijah carries out "lawless" acts, like Al-Khidir in the Qur'an, and similarly the Rabbi breaks his silence and demands an explanation.
The story in the Qur'an is summarized in a hadith of Sahih Al-Bukhari:
The idea that the sources of these verses are found in the Alexander romance was first proposed by Mark Lidzbarski and Karl Duroff in 1892. In 1913 Israel Friedlander wrote a book on the subject titled`"The Al-Khidir Legend and the Alexander Romance." Early Persian and Ethiopic Muslim legends concerning Alexander made a similar connection between Al-Khidir and Alexander (see figure).
One similarity between the Qur'an story and the Alexander romance concerns the fish that miraculously comes to life. This motif is found in the Syriac sermon by Jacob of Serugh, where Alexander travels in search of the Water of Life (Fountain of Youth). A shorter version of the story in also found in the Greek β-recension of the Alexander romance. In the Syriac legend, Alexander finds a wise man who tells Alexander to take a salted fish and wash it in the fountains in the Land of Darkness, and if the fish comes to life then he will have found the Water of Life:
Another similarity between the Al-Khidir legends and the Alexander romance is the Water of Life. Though the Qur'an does not mention the Fountain of Youth, it is alluded to in the hadith literature. Al-Khidir in the hadith literature is described as being immortal, having taught every prophet before Muhammad, and having the appearance of a young adult but having a long, white beard, and he is even described as being present at Muhammad's funeral:
The story of Al-Khidir, in the Qur'an, does not mention Dhul-Qarnayn, rather only a figure called "Moses" is referred to by name. This would seem to shed doubt on the idea that the story is about Dhul-Qarnayn, as it appears to be a story about Moses of the Israelites. However, the early Islamic literature raises questions about whether the Moses mentioned in the story of the fish is the Moses of the Israelites, or someone entirely different:
The story, in the Alexander romance and in the Qur'an, is considered by scholars to have been influenced by the Epic of Gilgamesh (specifically Giglamesh's search for the Water of Life ). Gilgamesh reaches the water but, like Alexander, fails to become immortal. Like Alexander, Giglamesh also comes to the spot at which the sun rises from the Earth:
A peculiar aspect of the story in the Qur'an is that Al-Khidir is found at a distant place called the "junction of the two seas." This is believed by secular scholars to be a reference to the end of the World, where the sun rises from the outer Ocean sea. The "junction of the two seas" is mentioned in several places in the Qur'an:
This has been compared to the ancient Akkadian myth of the Abzu, the name for a fresh water underground sea that was given a religious quality in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the Abzu underground sea, while the Ocean that surrounded the world was a saltwater sea. This underground sea is called Tehom in the Hebrew Bible. For example, Genesis 49:25 says, "blessings of the heavens above, and Tehom lying beneath". Wensinck explains, "Thus it appears that the idea of there being a sea of sweet water under our earth, the ancient Tehom, which is the source of springs and rivers, is common to the Western Semites". These two bodies of water are also depicted as deities in the Babylonian creation myth, the Enûma Elish, where Abzu is deity of the freshwater ocean and Tiamat is the deity of the salt water ocean. The Enuma Elish begins:
Similarly in Greek mythology, the world was surrounded by Oceanus, the world-ocean of classical antiquity. Oceanus was personified as the god Titan, whose consort was the aquatic sea goddess Tethys. It was also thought that rainfall was due a third ocean above the "Firmament of the Sky" (a vast reservoir above the firmament of the sky is also described in the Genesis creation narrative). A comprehensive understanding of the Earth's water cycle did not exist until the "Origins of Springs" was written by Pierre Perrault in 1674 AD.
Islamic depictions of Alexander the Great
Arabic traditionsAlexander the Great features prominently in early Arabic literature. There are many surviving versions of the Alexander romance in Arabic that were written after the conquest of Islam. It is also thought that pre-Islamic Arabic versions of the Alexander romance may have existed.
The earliest surviving Arabic narrative of the Alexander romance was composed by Umara ibn Zayd (767-815 AD). In the tale, Alexander travels a great deal, builds the Wall against Gog and Magog, searches for the Water of Life (Fountain of Youth), and encounters angels who give him a "wonder-stone" that both weighs more than any other stone but is also as light as dust. This wonder-stone is meant to admonish Alexander for his ambitions and indicate that his lust for conquest and eternal life will not end until his death. The story of the wonder-stone is not found in the Syriac Christian legend, but is found in Jewish Talmudic traditions about Alexander as well as in Persian traditions.
A South Arabian Alexander legend was written by the Yemenite traditionist Wahb ibn Munabbih (?-732 AD) and this legend was later incorporated in a book by Ibn Hisham (?-833 AD) regarding the history of the Himyarite Kingdom in ancient Yemen. In the Yemenite variation, Dhul-Qarnayn is identified with an ancient king of Yemen named Tubba', rather than Alexander the Great, but the Arabic story still describes the story of Alexander's Wall against Gog and Magog and his quest for the Water of Life. The story also mentions that Dhul-Qarnayn (Tubba') visited a castle with glass walls and visited the Brahmins of India. The South Arabian legend was composed within the context of the division between the South Arabs and North Arabs that began with the Battle of Marj Rahit in 684 AD and consolidated over two centuries.
The Alexander romance also had an important influence on Arabic wisdom literature. In Secretum Secretorum ("Secret of Secrets", in Arabic Kitab sirr al-asrar), an encyclopedic Arabic treatise on a wide range of topics such as statecraft, ethics, physiognomy, alchemy, astrology, magic and medicine, Alexander appears as a speaker and subject of wise sayings and as a correspondent with figures such as Aristotle. The origins of the treatise are uncertain. No Greek original exists, though there are claims in the Arabic treatise that it was translated from the Greek into Syriac and from Syriac into Arabic by a well-known 9th century translator, Yahya ibn al-Bitriq (?-815 AD). It appears, however, that the treatise was actually composed originally in Arabic.
In another example of Arabic wisdom literature relating to Alexander, Ibn al-Nadim (?-997 AD) refers to a work on divination titled The Drawing of Lots by Dhul-Qarnain and to a second work on divination by arrows titled The gift of Alexander, but only the titles of these works have survived.
Notably, the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mu'tasim (794-842 AD) had ordered the translation of the Thesaurus Alexandri, a work on elixirs and amulets, from Greek and Latin into Arabic. The Greek work Thesaurus Alexandri was attributed to Hermes (the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology) and similarly contained supposed letters from Aristotle addressed to Alexander.
A more direct Arabic translation of the Alexander romance, called Sirat Al-Iskandar, was discovered in Constantinople, at the Hagia Sophia, and is dated to the 13th century. This version includes the letter from Alexander to his mother about his travels in India and at the end of the World. It also includes features which occur exclusively in the Syriac version. Interestingly, the Arabic legend also retains certain pagan elements of the story, which are sometimes modified to suit the Islamic message:
Another piece of Arabic Alexander literature is the Laments (or Sayings) of the Philosophers. These are a collection of remarks supposedly made by some philosophers gathered at the tomb of Alexander after his death. This legend was originally written in the 6th century in Syriac and was later translated into Arabic and expanded upon. The Laments of the Philosophers eventually gained enormous popularity in Europe:
The Arabic Alexander romance also had an influence on a wider range of Arabic literature. It has been noted that some features of the Arabic Alexander legends found their way into The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor, a medieval story-cycle of Arabic origin. Sinbad, the hero of the epic, is a fictional sailor from Basrah, living during the Abbasid Caliphate. During his voyages throughout the seas east of Africa and south of Asia, he has fantastic adventures going to magical places, meeting monsters, and encountering supernatural phenomena. As a separate example of this influence on Arabic literature, the legend of Alexander's search for the Water of Life is found in One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folktales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age.
Andalusian traditionsAfter the Umayyad Muslim conquest of Al-Andalus (Spain) in 711 AD, Muslim literature flourished under the Caliphate of Córdoba (929 to 1031 AD). An Arabic derivative of the Alexander romance was produced, called Qisas Dhul-Qarnayn (Tales of Dhul-Qarnayn). The material was later incorporated into Qisas Al-Anbiya (Tales of the Prophets):
By 1236 AD, the Reconquista was essentially completed and Europeans had retaken the Iberian peninsula from the Muslims, but the Emirate of Granada, a small Muslim vassal of the Christian Kingdom of Castile, remained in Spain until 1492 AD. During the Reconquista, Muslims were forced to either convert to Catholicism or leave the peninsula. The descendants of Muslims who converted to Christianity were called the Moriscos (meaning "Moor-like") and were suspecting of secretly practicing Islam. The Moriscos used a language called Aljamiado, which was a dialect of the Spanish language (Mozarabic) but was written using the Arabic alphabet. Aljamiado played a very important role in preserving Islam and the Arabic language in the life of the Moriscos; prayers and the sayings of Muhammad were translated into Aljamiado transcriptions of the Spanish language, while keeping all Qur'anic verses in the original Arabic. During this period, a version of the Alexander legend was written in the Aljamaido language, building on the Arabic Qisas Dhul-Qarnayn legends as well as Romance language versions of the Alexander romance.
Persian traditionsWith the Muslim conquest of Persia in 644 AD, the Alexander romance found its way into Persian literature—an ironic outcome considering pre-Islamic Persia's hostility towards the national enemy who conquered the Achaemenid Empire and was directly responsible for centuries of Persian domination by Hellenistic foreign rulers. Islamic Persian accounts of the Alexander legend, known as the Iskandarnamah, combined the Pseudo-Callisthenes material about Alexander, some of which is found in the Qur'an, with indigenous Sassanid Middle Persian ideas about Alexander. For example, Pseudo-Callisthenes is the source of many incidents in the Shahnama written by Ferdowsi (935–1020 AD) in New Persian. Persian sources on the Alexander legend devised a mythical genealogy for him whereby his mother was a concubine of Darius II, making him the half-brother of the last Achaemenid shah, Darius. By the 12th century such important writers as Nizami Ganjavi were making him the subject of their epic poems. The Muslim traditions also elaborated the legend that Alexander the Great had been the companion of Aristotle and the direct student of Plato.
There is also evidence that the Syriac translation of the Alexander romance, dating to the 6th century, was not directly based on the Greek recensions but was based on a lost Pahlavi (pre-Islamic Persian) manuscript.
Central Asian traditionsCertain Muslim people of Central Asia, specifically Bulgar, Tatar and Bashkir peoples of the Volga-Ural region (within what is today Tatarstan in the Russian Federation), carried on a rich tradition of the Alexander legend well into the 19th century. The region was conquered by the Abbasid Caliphate in the early 10th century. In these legends, Alexander is referred to as Iskandar Dhul-Qarnayn (Alexander the Two Horned), and is "depicted as founder of local cities and an ancestor of local figures." The local folklore about Iskandar Dhul-Qarnayn played in an important role in communal identity:
The Iskandar Dhul-Qanryan legends played an important role in the conversion narrative of the Volga Bulgar Muslims:
In 1577 AD the Tsardom of Russia annexed control of the region and Bulgar Muslim writings concerning Dhul-Qarnayn do not appear again until the 18th and 19th centuries, which saw a resurgence of local Iskandar Dhul-Qarnayn legends as a source of Muslim and ethnic identity:
It was only at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries that we begin to see historical legends concerning Iskandar Dhūl-Qarnayn reemerge among Volga-Kama Muslims, at least in written form, and it was not until the 19th century that such legends were recorded from local Muslim oral tradition. In one of his earliest historical works, entitled Ghilālat al-Zamān and written in 1877 the Tatar theologian, Shihāb al-Dīn Marjānī wrote that according to Arabic and other Muslim writings, as well as according to popular legends, the city of Bulghar was founded by Alexander the Great.
2. a b Renard, John (2001). "Alexander". Encyclopedia of the Quran 1 (1st ed.). Brill Academic Publishers. pp. 61–62. ISBN 9004114653.
3. Ma'arefat Al-Maad - Ma'ad Shanasi, موقع المتقين.
4. a b Edwards 2002.
6. a b c d e f g Budge 1889.
7. a b c d e Anderson 1927.
8. McGinn 1998.
9. Broydé 1906.
10. a b Boyle 1974.
11. Beyer, Klaus; John F. Healey (trans.) (1986). The Aramaic Language: its distribution and subdivisions. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht. p. 44. ISBN 3-525-53573-2.
12. a b c Brock 1970.
13. HANAWAY, WILLIAM L. ESKANDAR-NĀMA. Encyclopedia Iranica.
14. a b Zuwiyya 2001
15. a b Zuwiyya 2009.
16. a b c d e f g Stoneman 2003.
17. Czeglédy 1954.
18. Czeglédy 1957.
19. Doufikar-Aerts 2003.
20. "The nonsense about the snakes" is from Plutarch's Life of Alexander (2.6), according to Robin Lane Lox, Alexander the Great 1973:26 and note p. 504; Fox suggests that the snake-handling was the stuprum referred to by Justin9.5.9.
21. Lesson 47, page 217, Paragraph 3 of the main lesson, sentence 2, in the published textbook: What Islam is all About, published by Noorart Inc.
22. Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Surah Al-Kahf, Reason why this Surah was revealed
23. Guillaume p.139.
24. Guillaume p.12.
25. Hāssan b. Thābit cited in R. A. Nicholson (transl.), A Literary History of the Arabs, p. 18, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1962. For the Arabic text on which the translation is based, see Von Kremer, Alfred, Altarabische Gedichte ueber die Volkssage von Jemen, als Textbelege zur Abhandlung “Ueber die südarabische Sage.”, p.15 (No. viii,1.6 sqq), 1867. Both can be read online as Google books previews.
26. Imam Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti. "Tafsir Al-Jalalayn".
27. Razi, Tafsir al-Kabir, commenting on Q. 18:83-98.
28. Ibn Taymiyyah.
29. The Holy Qur'an, Translation and Commentary by Yusuf Ali, Appendix 7, page 763 (1983)
30. Maududi, Abdul Ala (1972). "Tafheem-ul-Qura'an". p. 18:83, note 62.
31. a b c "Coin: from the Persian Wars to Alexander the Great, 490–336 bc". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
32. Griffith 2008.
33. Green 2007. p.382
34. Plutarch, Alexander, 27
35. Encyclopædia Britannica, Alexander III, 1971
36. Alexander the Great coins gallaery
37. The Impact of Alexander the Great’s Coinage in East Arabia, Hellenic Ministry of Culture, description of the exhibit "Presveis," displayed at the Numismatic Museum of Athens
38. Shanks, Jeffrey H. (2005) [http Alexander the Great and Zeus Ammon: A New Interpretation of the Phalerae from Babyna Mogila]. Ancient West & East. Volume 4, Number 1.
39. The Wars of the Jews, VII, vii, Flavius Josephus
40. The Antiquities of the Jews, I, vi, Flavius Josephus
41. Anderson 1932.
42. Letter 77 "To Oceanus", 8, Saint Jerome
43. Gog and Magog : Ezekiel 38-39 as pre-text for Revelation 19,17 and 20,7-10, Sverre Bøe, Mohr Siebec, 2001 (see excerpt) (ISBN 978-3-16-147520-7)
44. Southgate 1978.
45. a b Bretschneider 1876.
46. Anderson, Andrew Runni, ed. (January 1932). Alexander's Gate, Gog and Magog, and the enclosed nations. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Medieval Academy of America. ISBN 978-0-910956-07-9.
47. Tafsir al-Tabari, Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Vol. III, pp. 235–239
48. a b Mu'jam-ul-Buldan, Yaqut al-Hamawi
49. H. A. R. Gibb and C. F. Beckingham, trans. The Travels of Ibn Battuta, A.D. 1325–1354 (Vol. IV). London: Hakluyt Society, 1994 (ISBN 0-904180-37-9), p. 896
50. Gibb, p. 896, footnote #30
51. Leone Montagnini, "La questione della forma della Terra. Dalle origini alla tarda Antichità," in Studi sull'Oriente Cristiano, 13/II: 31-68
52. Flammarion 1877
53. Kevin Alan Brook. The Jews of Khazaria. 2nd ed. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2006.
54. Schultze (1905), p. 23.[verification needed]
55. Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wa'l-Nihayah (The Beginning and the End)
56. Ibn Kathir, "Stories of the Prophets", page 54. Riyadh, SA Maktaba Dar-us-Salam, 2003
57. Collection of Geographical Works by Ibn al-Faqih, Ibn Fadlan, Abu Dulaf Al-Khazraji, ed. Fuat Sezgin, Frankfurt am Main, 1987
58. Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Surah Al-Kahf 18:89, His traveling and reaching the Place where the Sun sets (the West) (link)
59. Sahih Muslim 1:297
60. Dallal, Ahmad (1999), "Science, Medicine and Technology", in Esposito, John, The Oxford History of Islam, Oxford University Press, New York, pg. 162
61. a b Sattari J., "A study on the epic of Gilgamesh and the legend of Alexander." Markaz Publications 2001 (In Persian)
64. Seely 1997.
65. How, Walter W. and Wells, J. A Commentary on Herodotus. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1912. vol 1. p. 290.
66. Thirty Most Famous Stories Retold, James Baldwin (1841–1925)
67. Hammond 1998.
69. Anonymous (1978). Iskandarnamah. New York: Columbia University. p. 55.
70. Anonymous (1978). Iskandarnamah. New York: Columbia University. p. 57.
71. (Khidir in the Hadith, Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 249.)
72. Wheeler 2002.
73. Al-Khidir The Green Man. Review by Claudia Liebeskind in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 6513 (2002) of Patrick Franke. Begegnung mit Khidr: Quellenstudien zum Imaginären im traditionellen Islam. Beiruter Texte und Studien 82. Beirut-Stuttgart 2000. XV + 620p, 23 ill
74. Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 250. (link)
75. Leaman, Olver. ed. (2006). Al-Khidir in The Qur'an: an encyclopedia p.344
76. Wensinck (1918), p.14
77. Wensinck (1918), p. 17
78. Burkert, Walter The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early archaic Age (Harvard University Press) 1992, pp 91-93.
79. a b c Doufikar-Aerts, Faustina (2003). The Last Days of Alexander in an Arabic Popular Romance of Al-Iskandar. in The Ancient Novel and Beyond by Panayotakis, Zimmerman and Keulen.
80. Southgate, Minoo. S. Portrait of Alexander in Persian Alexander-Romances of the Islamic Era. Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 97, No. 3, (July - September , 1977), pp. 278-284
81. Yucesoy, Hayrettin. Messianic Beliefs & Imperial Politics in Medieval Islam: The Abbasid Caliphate in the Early Ninth Century. 2009. University of South Carolina. pp.122-123
82. Hofmann, Heinz. Latin fiction: the Latin novel in context. Routledge, 1999. p.245
83. Zuwiyya, David Z. “Translation and the Arat of Recreation: The legend of Alexander the Great from the Pseudo-Callisthenes to the Aljamiado-Morisco Rrekontamiento del rrey Alisandre” in Sensus de sensu: Estudios filológicos de traducción. Ed. Vicente López Folgado. Córdoba: Universidad de Córdoba (2002). Pp. 243-263.
84. Zuwiyya, David Z. "The Hero of the Hispano-Arabic Alexander Romance Qissat Dhulqarnayn: Between al-Askander and Dhulqarnayn," Kalamazoo, Michigan, 34th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Spring 1999.
85. a b c Frank, Allen J. (2000). "Historical Legends of the Volga-Ural Muslims concerning Alexander the Great, the City of Yelabuga, and Bāchmān Khān". Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée. 89-90: 89–107.