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Gog and Magog

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Gog and Magog or Yaʾjuj wa Maʾjuj (Arabic: یَأجوج وَ مَأجوج) refers to a tribe or tribes mentioned in the Qur'an and the religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. "Gog" and "Magog" are characterized in religious texts as a cruel group who harassed and abused others and plundered their possessions. On the Qur'anic account, Dhu l-Qarnayn constructed a dam, at the request of people who were oppressed by "Gog" and "Magog", in order to protect them against their aggression. The dam was known as "Sadd Dhu l-Qarnayn" (the Dam of Dhu l-Qarnayn) or the "Dam of Gog and Magog". Some people have speculated that the dam is located in northern Georgia. The Qur'an as well as the religious texts of Christianity and Judaism have referred to the destruction of the dam and the renewed riot of "Gog" and "Magog" as an event in End Time.

The Identity of Gog and Magog

There are several accounts regarding the identity of "Gog" and "Magog":

  • Name of a person: According to some sources, "Gog" and "Magog" was the name of a person.[1] In the Old Testament, Magog is the second son of Japheth who was one of Noah's (a) sons.[2]
  • A geographical location: According to some religious sources, "Gog" and "Magog" does not refer to a person, a tribe, or a number of tribes; rather it refers to a geographical region.[3]
  • Tribes residing in northern Asia: In Islamic sources, "Gog" and "Magog" refers to tribes residing in northern Asia who were engaged in murder and plunder of the possessions of other tribes. According to these sources, the area of their residence ranged from northeastern Asia, that is, Tibet and China, to Arctic Ocean, and from the west to Turkmenistan. Thus, some people take the word, "Gog" and "Magog", to be derived from the Chinese word, "Mongok" or "Monchok", which has transformed into "Ya'juj wa Ma'juj" in Hebrew and Arabic, and into "Gog" and "Magog" in Greek.[4]
  • Another title for Mongols: Some people have speculated that "Gog" and "Magog" were the same as the Mongol people who lived in northeastern Caspian Sea and invaded nearby regions, such as Transoxiana, Armenia, and Azerbaijan as well as farther regions, such as China and the Indian Subcontinent. The Great Wall of China and the Dam of Dhu l-Qarnayn were constructed in order to block their progress.[5] Thus, the riot of "Gog" and "Magog" in the End Time, which is mentioned in the Qur'an, has been interpreted as the invasion of the Mongols in the 7th/13th century.[6]

The Quranic Account

The Qur'an has referred to Gog and Magog in Sura al-Kahf, verses 93-98[7] and Sura al-Anbiya', verse 96[8] as people who caused corruption in the land and harmed others. In Sura al-Anbiya', the riot of "Gog" and "Magog" is mentioned as an indication of the End Time.

The Story of Dhu l-Qarnayn and the Dam of Gog and Magog

In one of his journeys, Dhu l-Qarnayn, a believing king, arrived in a region which was located between two mountains. People of the region told him that "Gog" and "Magog" who lived on the other side of the mountain frequently invaded their lands and plundered everything. People asked Dhu l-Qarnayn to construct a dam preventing "Gog" and "Magog" in exchange for some money. With the help of people, he constructed a dam with molten iron and copper without receiving any money from them. The dam came to be known as the "Dam of Dhu l-Qarnayn" or the "Dam of Gog and Magog".[9] The Qur'an has narrated the story in verses 93 to 98 of Sura al-Anbiya'. Some people believe that the dam is located in Darial Gorge in the north of Tbilisi on the Georgia-Russia border.[10]

The Return of Gog and Magog in the End Time

The Qur'an has prognosticated that the riot of "Gog and Magog" is an indication of the events of the End Time. In the verse 96 of Sura al-Anbiya', God has reported about a sign of the End Time: "Until when Gog and Magog are let loose, and they race down from every slope."

Their riot in the End Time is also prognosticated in the Book of Ezekiel in the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation of John in the New Testament.[11]

In the Iranian Popular Culture

The word, "Ya'juj wa Ma'juj" (Gog and Magog), is used in the folk Persian literature to mean something strange, unfamiliar, and unintelligible.[12]

Notes

  1. Ezekiel, 38:2-3.
  2. Genesis, 10.
  3. Ezekiel, 38:2-3.
  4. Ḥusaynī Ṭihrānī, Maʿād shināsī, vol. 4, p. 86-87.
  5. Ḥusaynī Ṭihrānī, Maʿād shināsī, vol. 4, p. 86-87.
  6. Jaʿfarī, "Dū l-Qarnayn", p. 99.
  7. When he reached [the place] between the two barriers, he found between them a people who could hardly understand a word [of his language].(93)
    They said, ‘O Dhul Qarnayn! Indeed Gog and Magog are causing disaster in this land. Shall we pay you a tribute on condition that you build a barrier between them and us?’(94)
    He said, ‘What my Lord has furnished me is better. Yet help me with some strength, and I will make a bulwark between you and them.(95)
    Bring me pieces of iron!’ When he had levelled up between the flanks, he said, ‘Blow!’ When he had turned it into fire, he said, ‘Bring me molten copper to pour over it.’(96)
    So they could neither scale it, nor could they make a hole in it.(97)
    He said, ‘This is a mercy from my Lord. But when the promise of my Lord is fulfilled, He will level it; and my Lord’s promise is true.’(98)
  8. until when Gog and Magog are let loose, and they race down from every slope.
  9. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 12, p. 533-535.
  10. Ḥusaynī Ṭihrānī, Maʿād shināsī, vol. 4, p. 90.
  11. Ezekiel, 38:2-3; John, 20:7-9.
  12. Khurramshāhī, "Iṣṭilāḥāt-i Qurʾānī", p. 40.

References

  • Ḥusaynī Ṭihrānī, Muḥammad Ḥusayn. Maʿād shināsī. Mashhad: Intishārāt-i ʿAllāma Ṭabāṭabāyī, 1425 AH.
  • Jaʿfarī, Yaʿqūb. 1382 Sh. "Dū l-Qarnayn wa qawm-i yaʾjūj wa maʾjūj." Waqf Mīrāth-i Jāwīdān 41, 42:92-101.
  • Khurramshāhī, Bahāʾ al-Dīn. 1373 Sh. "Iṣṭilāḥāt-i Qurʾānī dar muḥāvira-yi Farsi." Majalla-yi Bayyināt 1:22-42.
  • Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. Tafsīr-i nimūna. Third edition. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1374 Sh.