The Wonderful Story Of Zelgharnine
 

VERSE NO.8391

The third question that the Jewish Arabs raised to test our prophet, was about Zelgharnine. The other two questions that he answered, were about the soul, and the seven sleepers. In all the three narrations, there are incidents which may take us out of this limited field of our present life and nature. They will show us that the world is not exactly as what we see it and feel it.

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The story of Zelgharnine has occupied the thought of our scholars and researchers for many centuries, in order to know who this faithful and righteous king really was!? In our commentary, we will begin to explain his personality and the lessons that we may learn from the three historical episodes of him, so as to illustrate how power and opportunities should be used in the service of God:

``They ask you about Zelgharnine: Say; soon shall I recite to you a mention of him.'' This verse implies that people were already acquainted with the story and history of Zelgharnine in our prophet's life time, but it must have had some ambiguities, that the people wanted to have it cleared.

Zelgharnine was a powerful and righteous king, with all sorts of means and facilities, to do much of what he wanted. He had a good deal of knowledge and wisdom, correct management, and great armed forces, besides skilled man power, and whatever of physical and spiritual possibilities that he needed:

``And he followed a way, until he reached the setting point of the sun, in a muddy dark spring of water with a people beside it.'' Here, we ought to know that the sun will never set upon the earth. East and West of the sun are two relative terms. So we know from this verse that Zelgharnine's expedition to the west, terminated to a spring, with eruption of a kind of dark water, as if it was muddy; beside which lived a certain group of people:

``We said; O, Zelgharnine! You may either punish them or treat them kindly.''

Some commentators have understood the phrase; ``We said, O, Zelgharnine.'' To imply that, the king was an apostle too, whom God inspired with the commandments. There are also commentators who think otherwise. They believe that, the word of God was induced to them, rather than being inspired. God's word and intention can be easily induced to any one and to anything, at any time and place.

After receiving the Divine instruction, Zelgharnine decided to [ 33 ]

protect the weak and the righteous people, by punishing the evildoers, and meanwhile he believed that the just and the true punishment would come in the Hereafter, in the God's Final Judgement. He therefore regulated his punishments so as to maintain a good order among the community of those semicivilized people, and left the rest for God's Final Judgement. In other word, he took it easy for them, and though his power was very great, he imposed no heavy task upon the people, so that his rules and orders for them was easy to follow.

After that, Zelgharnine proceeded on another expedition, and this time towards the east:

``He then followed another way, until he reached where it seemed to him to be the rising place of the sun.'' His second expedition was towards the East, and he went on that way, until he met with some primitive people, who were nude, and exposed to sun rays!

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92- AFTER THAT HE FOLLOWED A WA 00 Y:

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93- UNTIL HE REACHED BETWEEN TWO MOUNTAINS, AND THERE HE FOUND A PEOPLE, OTHER THAN THE TWO (AFOREMENTIONED) WHO COULD NOT UNDERSTAND A WORD.

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94- THEY SAID: ``O, ZELGHARNINE! GOG AND MAGOG ARE MAKING MISCHIEF IN (OUR) LAND. MAY WE PAY YOU A [ 34 ]

TRIBUTE, SO AS TO MAKE A BARRIER BETWEEN US AND BETWEEN THEM?''

(( 95 )) 95- HE SAID: ``THAT IN WHICH MY LORD HAS ESTABLISHED ME, IS BETTER. YOU JUST HELP ME WITH (MAN) POWER, TO MAKE A PROTECTIVE BARRIER BETWEEN YOU AND BETWEEN THEM.''

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96- BRING ME BLOCKS OF IRON. (HE THEN PILED THEM UP) UNTIL IT LEVELLED WITH TWO ENDS OF THE MOUNTAINS, HE SAID: ``BLOW''; UNTIL THE (IRON WALL) BECAME RED-HOT, HE SAID; ``BRING ME MOLTEN COPPER TO POUR ON IT.''

(( 97 )) 97- SO THEY WERE NOT ABLE EITHER TO CLIMB IT OR PIERCE IT THROUGH.

(( 98 )) 98- HE SAID: ``THIS IS A MERCY FROM MY LORD. THEN WHEN THE PROMISE OF MY LORD CAME TO PASS, HE WILL LEVEL IT WITH GROUND, AND THE PROMISE OF MY LORD HAS ALWAYS BEEN TRUE.''

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THE COMMENTARY
HOW WAS THE IRON BARRIER CONSTRUCTED


VERSE NO.9298

Zelgharnine proceeded on a third journey, and came between two mountains, where he found a people who could not understand the language of Zelgharnine and his hosts, except through interpretation. They were more developed than the other two kind of people that he had encountered before. The verses here imply that they were industrious a people, and to some extent skilled in the metal works. They could provide iron blocks or bricks, and have melted copper. They could make use of blowers, to increase the heat, and turn iron to red-hot or even melt it.

They were a peaceful people too, and were willing to provide security and peace, by paying special taxes and tributes to their conquerors. They therefore made known to Zelgharnine that Gog and Magog made mischief in their land, and disturbed their security every now and then. They asked the king to close up the wide gap which was between the two mountains from where they were invaded by the wild tribes. They added that they were ready to pay special taxes, or tributes, for the construction of a barrier in the gap. Zelgharnine knew his power to have been given him through the Mercy and Grace of God; and that, his duty was to help and to protect his subjects without imposing heavy taxes and hard duties on them. He therefore considered their request, and said to them:

``That in which my Lord has established me is better. Just give me a hand of power so as to build a protective barrier between you and between them.''

He then managed to fill the gap between the two mountains with pieces of iron. By his order, fire was blown so that the iron pile turned red-hot and melted to a mixture, making out a firm wall; high enough not to be scaled. He then asked for melted copper, which was poured upon the red-hot barrier, to make it hard enough, not to be pierced through! It was finally finished to resist any attempt to climb it, or to dig it through. [ 36 ]

Zelgharnine did that great constructional work that his weak subjects needed, but claimed no credit for himself in doing that, as if he knew it to be his duty! He only tried to turn the attentions through the work, to God, who provided them with the necessary means and materials for their security and protection:

``He said; This is a Mercy from my Lord. Then when the promise of my Lord comes to pass, He will level it with the ground.'' In other word he said; what remains forever is God and God's Mercy; and even this iron barrier has a limited life, and when its hour comes, it will crumble to dust.

LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM THIS NARRATIVE

The above mentioned three episodes of Zelgharnine's history, includes many useful lessons for us to learn, some of which are as follows:

.In this material world, no work can be done, and nothing can be made, without the use of necessary means, apparatus, and instruments. .The sun will not set in a dark muddy water, but a great personality may fall or set in a slimy swamp of sin and mistake. A piece of cloud may cover and conceal the glory of the sun, and in the same way, a sin, a slip, or even a mistake, may spoil reputation of a great man. .No ruler can rule well without punishing the evil doers, and rewarding the righteous subjects with utmost justice, and this is why Zelgharnine said:

``As for he who has oppressed, I shall soon punish him....but as for he who believed and did righteous deeds, for him shall be good reward...''

.Imposing heavy duties, and heavy taxes upon the subjects, will decrease the governor's popularity and lawfulness. .See that Zelgharnine listened and gave ear even to the people who knew not to speak, and could not express their feelings easily, and so should be a good and just ruler. [ 37 ]

.Security and safety is the first aid, and the most important necessity of life, which the ruler should give it the needed priority. Therefore, the ruler should construct the greatest barrier against the corruptors and evil doers of the land.

WHO WAS ZELGHARNINE?

In Arabic language, ``GHARNINE'' literally means two horns, two mountain peaks, two epochs, two centuries, and also two RHINOCEROS. The prefix, ``ZEL'' will add ownership, and hence we may translate, ``Zelgharnine'', to the owner of two horns like a RAM. Sure enough Zelgharnine was a great king, but why was he called the owner of two horns? Some commentators believe that, the king has had two horns fixed in his crown, made of jewels and in the form of beautiful peacock's feather; or, perhaps in the form of the horns of a ram. As to the question that who was the king with such a crown, or having the marks given him by Qura"n; some expounders have thought him to be Alexander the Great, but others have raised doubts about him, because, according to Qura"n, Zelgharnine was a man of faith. He believed in God, as well as in Resurrection Day; while Alexander the great believed in idols, and Grecian gods.

Many commentators, and in particular ABULKALA"M AZA"D, who was the minister of education in India; in his famous analytic book, gives clear evidences that, Zelgharnine of Qura"n is the ancient king of Persian, known as Cyrus the Great.

In the 19th century, in the excavations of MORGHA"B near the ESTAKHR of FARS, a statue of Cyrus the Great was discovered which was in the form of a Man, with two eagle wings, and a crown on his head, having two horns like that of a ram. Then a group of known excavators from Germany came to see and study the image, and made sure that what is written in the O.T. in the BOOK OF DANIEL, which will follow shortly, applies to Cyrus the Great, who had two born or something like that in his crown.

In the old Testament, in DAN8 we read thus: [ 38 ]

1``In the third year that BELSHAZZAR was king, I saw a second vision. In this vision I suddenly found myself in the walled city of SUSA in the province of ELAM. I was standing by the river ULAI, and there, beside the river I saw a ram that had two long horns, one of which was longer than the other. I watched the ram butting with his horns to the west, the north, and the south. No animal could stop him or escape his power. He did as he pleased and grew arrogant.

5While I was wondering what this meant, a goat came rushing out of the West, moving so fast that his feet didn't touch the ground. He had one prominent horn between his eyes. He came towards the ram, which I had seen standing beside the river, and rushed at him with all his force. I watched him attack the ram. He was so angry that he smashed into him and broke the two horns. The ram had no strength to resist. He was thrown to the ground and trampled on, and there was no one who could save him.

15I was trying to understand what the vision meant, when suddenly some one was standing in front of me. I heard a voice call out over the river ULAI, saying: ``GABRIEL! Explain to him the meaning of what he saw. Gabriel came and stood beside me and I was so terrified that I fell to the ground.

He said to me, ``Mortal man, understand the meaning:'' 20-The ram you saw that had two horns represents the kingdom of Media and Persia. The goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the prominent horn between his eyes is the first king. The verses of Qura"n imply that Zelgharnine was a faithful believer, and very kind to all. He was very just in judgement and attracted God's special Mercy and Grace on himself. He was the friend of good doers, and the foe of evil and oppressor. He was not in love with wealth, and used his power for the good of people, and for the welfare of his subjects. He, sincerely believed in God, as well as in the Resurrection Day.

He managed to construct the strongest of barriers without using mud and bricks, or stones, as was usual; and with the aim of providing security and safety for a group of weak people who wanted to leave in peace.

HERODOTUS, the ancient Greek historian has written:

``Cyrus the Great commanded his soldiers not to draw their sword, except against a warrior. He ordered that, any soldier who bent or cast down his spear [ 39 ] and sword should not be harmed. By such commandments Cyrus reduced much of the misfortunes and afflictions of the war. He was kind and generous and was not greedy. He was very wise and his main slogan was: "SERVICE TO PEOPLE"''

WHO WERE THE GOG AND MAGOG?

Gog and Magog are mentioned twice in the Holy Qura"n. In the above verse (No.94) they have been introduced as a mischief maker people in the land, and also in S 21:96 we read:

``Until the Gog and Magog are let through (THE BARRIER) and they shall break forth from every hill.'' The two verses imply that they were a wild, lawless, cruel, and blood-thirsty people; who lived on plunder of other nations, and making trouble for neighbouring people.

Almost all the commentators have agreed that they were the wild tribes of central ASIA, who made sudden and hostile incursion on settled kingdoms and empires, at various stages of the history. The Chinese Empire built the great wall of China to prevent the invasion and plunder of a group of them who were called the Mongols.

The Persian Empire has also suffered from them at various time and place. The last of their raid was in the 12th century, leaded by GENGHIS KHAN in which they utterly destroyed many great cities like NISHA"BUR. We may conclude that the people of CAUCASIA were those who asked Cyrus in his journey, to build them a barrier to prevent the sudden attack of these wild and cruel people.

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99- ON THAT DAY, WE LEAVE SOME OF THEM WAVING IN SOME OTHER. AND IT WILL BE BLOWN IN THE TRUMPET, THEN WE SHALL GATHER THEM TOGETHER. [ 40 ]

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100- AND WE SHALL EXPOSE THE HELL THAT DAY TO THE UNBELIEVERS, WHAT AN EXPOSING!

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101- THOSE WHOSE EYES WERE COVERED FROM REMEMBERING ME, AND COULD NOT HEAR THE TRUTH.

(( 102 )) 102- DO THEN THOSE WHO DISBELIEVED THINK THAT THEY CAN TAKE MY SERVANTS AS PATRONS BESIDES ME? WE HAVE PREPARED THE HELL FOR DISBELIEVERS TO ALIGHT.


THE COMMENTARY
THE ABODE OF DISBELIEVERS


VERSE NO.99102 Before the great summons come from God, and before the trumpet is blown in order to form the bodies once again, and to raise the dead; making them ready for final judgement the above verse refers to the condition in which Man exists:

``On that Day we leave some of them waving in some other.'' As to the meaning of the phrase: ``WAVING IN ONE ANOTHER'' various meanings have been suggested by different commentators. Some say that they wave, because of their great numbers. When there are a great many people in one place, we idiomatically say the place waves with man and woman. It may also mean that they are trembling with fear, just like a sea when it is waving with storm. *****

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WAVING IN ONE ANOTHER

I understand something else from the term, ``WAVING'' in the above phrase: Hazrat Imam Ali (AS) has said; ``Soul in the body of Man, is like the meaning in a word.'' Here in this verse, the reference is to the condition of Mankind before the great summon comes from God, and before the trumpet is blown. This is when the bodies are still in their graves, and Resurrection has not yet begun.

In this condition, the existence of Man consists of the elements of which his body was made, and his soul, whatever it is. Here the likeness of the souls of man and woman, is the likeness of the picture and form of them, in the Electromagnetic fields. That is to say; in one Satellite T.V. Transmission, millions of pictures, of the same man or thing, or other man or things, are waving in one another, in the same field and in any point. Yet they are all distinguished from one another by their frequency, amplitude, and intensity of wave! It is possible to detect and show them to one living eye, with the help of a suitable detector or receiver. So is the condition in which our souls wave in one another, before our Resurrection; or at least it can be a good example. Then Allah will make a body for us, as He has done before, to detect our soul and to be as a receiver for the next monitor or illustration of it.

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE

Then the trumpet will be blown by the arch angel of God whose name is ``ISRA"FIL'', and all are summoned for the Final Judgement of God. After that, Allah will expose the Hell, to the unbelievers whose eyes were covered from remembering God, and who did not listen to the word of truth. In this world, there are infinite signs of God which may convey His Message, but what is to be done when some one does not want to see or hear something!?

These unbelievers are those who thought they could take God's servants as their patrons and protectors, besides God. [ 42 ]

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103- SAY: ``SHALL WE INFORM YOU OF THOSE WHO ARE THE GREATEST LOSERS IN THEIR WORK?''

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104- THOSE WHOSE EFFORTS IN THIS WORLD'S LIFE HAS BEEN LOST, AND YET THEY THINK THEY HAVE DONE WELL.

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105- THEY ARE THOSE WHO DISBELIEVED THE SIGNS OF THEIR LORD AND MEETING HIM. SO THEIR (GOOD) DEEDS ARE NEGATED (RENDERED OF NO VALUE). THEN IN THE RESURRECTION DAY, WE HOLD NO WEIGHT FOR THEM.

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106- SO IS HELL THEIR REWARD FOR WHAT THEY DISBELIEVED AND TOOK MY SIGNS AND MESSENGERS IN MOCKERY.

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107- VERILY THOSE WHO BELIEVED AND DID RIGHTEOUS DEEDS, IN THE GARDENS OF PARADISE WILL THEY ALIGHT.

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108- THEREIN THEY ABIDE FOREVER, WISHING NO TRANSFER. (FROM THEIR PLACE OF ABODE) [ 43 ]

THE COMMENTARY
THE GREATEST OF LOSERS


VERSE NO.103108

The above verses, and the others which will follow, up to the end of the chapter of the cave, are some sort of a conclusion, and the last summing up of the discourses in this chapter. It beings with introducing the greatest of losers, saying: ``....They are those whose efforts in this world's life has been lost, and yet they think that they have done well.''

The loss is not only to lose some material gain or money. The real loss is when someone loses his main capital. What a capital is more valuable than our knowledge and wisdom, than our natural faculties, and after all our life and youth, if we waste them and obtain nothing in exchange. When such powers in Man turn to be destructive, instead of being constructive, Man may lose whatever he has.

Poor and helpless are those who boast on their work in this life, and on what they think they have sown of seeds, but when they come to harvest they find nothing, and see that even their seeds and capitals have all been lost; and find all their work of no avail! They at last come to know that no one's aid and protection is of any use except that of God, but too late now.

They were going wrong, but they thought they were right and acquiring merits. This was because they did not do what they did, purely for God. There was hidden selfish motives in their service and worship, and even their charity was for outward show. Therefore, no weight can be given to the works and motives that are not sincerely for God.

Unless we believe in God, and in His Final Judgement and know that our deeds are all recorded, we cannot open an account, or give a credit for our deeds. To disbelieve in God, and to take His signs and Messengers in mockery, will negate all the positive deeds of Man. How can we expect a good result of our deeds, when we do not take the higher life seriously and treat such an important tenet as a jest? How [ 44 ]

can we sow the seeds in a salty land and expect to reap sweet good fruit?

A good example of those who are wrong and losers, and yet they think they do good and acquire merits are the monks, hermits, and anchorites. They retire from the world, and devote themselves to asceticism. They leave their society and live in solitude, and do not marry, for religious reasons they say! They make lawful things unlawful for themselves, while no Divine Religion, nor even a common sense, wants to prevent and even to blame Man for observing the laws of nature and creation.

And so are the great losers those who replace Monotheism for Trinity, and truth with superstitions, and yet they think they observe God's true religious law.

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110- SAY: ``VERILY I AM A MANKIND THE LIKE OF YOU. IT IS INSPIRED TO ME THAT YOUR GOD IS THE ONLY ONE GOD. SO, HE WHO HOPES TO MEET HIS LORD, SHOULD DO RIGHTEOUS DEEDS, AND ASSOCIATE NO ONE IN THE WORSHIP OF HIS LORD.''