Dhul-Qarnain’s two temptations: the attack above and below

Dhul-Qarnayn, “He of the Two Horns”, is a figure mentioned in Surah Al-Kahf of the Quran, where he is described as a great and righteous ruler who built a long wall that keeps Gog and Magog from attacking the people of the West.

Surah Al-Kahf is a portion of the Quran that contains a secret map for the explorer. We live in an age of exploration, so let the map be known to the explorers, that they might be rightly guided.

Why is a tailor interested in cartography and exploration? Because the expedition is dangerous and requires a garment that will protect the body from strange fire. The secret beauty of the surah can clothe the People of Understanding with a powerful garment, a garment of strength to navigate the waves of Time itself, a Prophetic garment of light, a garment to protect the traveler from the alien dangers above and below.

The worshipers examine the verses with little understanding. They read it as children read. They read “Dhul-Qarnain” and debate who he was. Was he Alexander? Cyrus? They read about his journey from west to east, and his construction of the barrier to defend the eastern people from Gog and Magog, and debate the geographies of the narrative. Some say Magog is the Mongols at Central Asia. Other match Magog to more contemporary politics. These attempts are folly.

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A good garment

Why can’t the believers peel the skin of the hadiths to reveal the true fruit and have their thirst quenched for a moment? In that fruit they will find peace. The fruit that they may eat at the prayer house.

Read the hadiths regarding the good garments, and peel the skin:

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Isbaal (wearing one’s garment below the ankles) may apply to the izaar (lower garment), the shirt or the turban. Whoever allows any part of these to trail on the ground out of arrogance, Allaah will not look at him on the Day of Judgement.” (reported by Abu Dawud, no. 4085, and al-Nisaa’i, no. 5334, with a saheeh isnaad).

Ibn ‘Abbaas reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah will not look at the one who wears his lower garment below his ankles.” (Reported by al-Nisaa’i in al-Mujtabaa, Kitaab al-Zeenah, Baab Isbaal al-Izaar).

Everyone has a cosmology from which they understand their religion and their life. A cosmology can be ugly or it can be a beautiful mandala. But all cosmologies are garments.

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The meaning of life

God exists.

God is Love. So there is the creation, because Love entails lovers. Creation is the lover. The meaning of life is Love.

The creation is infinite mercy. Mercy is always delivered by a merciful agent. So there must be God, because God is the infinitely Merciful. The Quran urges us to contemplate creation as the proof of God. The many small signs are proofs. But extend your contemplation to the whole of creation. Another name for the Cosmos is Beloved Mercy. And so there must be a Merciful Lover.

The Dar of Umm Waraqah

The people debate the hadith relating to Umm Waraqah. Oh, but this is a pomegranate, that their thirst could be quenched for a moment. If only their quarrel could break the skin.

Believers, take this garment to the masjid:

The noble Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), along with his Companions, would go to visit Umm Waraqah (ra) at her home on the day of Friday. When the noble Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) announced his decision to go to war at Badr, Umm Waraqah (ra) humbly requested, “Grant me permission to go to war with you. I will look after the sick and wounded. Maybe Allah (most high) will honour me with martyrdom.” The noble Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied, “Stay at your home. Certainly Allah (most high) will grant you martyrdom.” For this reason she became known as Shahidah (female martyr) from then on.
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