قَالُوا يَا ذَا الْقَرْنَيْنِ إِنَّ يَأْجُوجَ وَمَأْجُوجَ مُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَهَلْ نَجْعَلُ لَكَ خَرْجًا عَلَىٰ أَن تَجْعَلَ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَهُمْ سَدًّا
They (a people who lived in a place before two mountain-barriers) said: “O Dhu’l-Qarnayn! Gog and Magog are causing disorder in this land. May we pay you a tribute so that you set a barrier between us and them.” (Al-Kahf 18:94)
This “barrier” could be the Chinese Wall or Demirkapi in the Caucasus or in any other place. However, considering the descriptions in the verses to follow, it is very difficult to identify it exactly. It would require hard, serious research to do so. For this reason, we need to pay attention more to the people before the barrier than the barrier itself. Indeed, as long as the people for whom Dhu’l-Qarnayn built a barrier to separate them from Gog and Magog are able to remain spiritually firm and powerful, the disorder and seditions that Gog and Magog may cause can be prevented or at least rendered harmless.
In my opinion, certain general meanings or rules are to be searched for in the Qur’anic narrative of Dhu’l-Qarnayn. We should study it from the perspective of the characteristics of a just, powerful state; a just, righteous, and powerful ruler or government; and the imperatives for the maintenance of such a state and government. Otherwise, we would be relating only a story from the depths of history, and our benefit from the Qur’ān would therefore be either very limited or none at all.
Another point in the verse worth discussing is the fact that Dhu’l-Qarnayn, who was the representative of justice and righteousness in the world, supported the weak and downtrodden, who could not even express themselves. Those who were suppressed or downtrodden at that time were some oppressed peoples. Those who oppressed them were Gog and Magog, who caused disorder in the region. During one of their wild and crazy insurgencies, Dhu’l-Qarnayn was able to stop those two tyrannical tribes who did not care about honor, religion, and morality and whose true lineage and identity was unknown. Later on, they will be prevented by the just and righteous “inheritors of the earth” every time they attempt a new insurgency or cause great havoc, destruction, and corruption in the world, and this will continue until what is indicated by the following verse occurs:
Eventually, a day will come when Gog and Magog will be let loose, and they will rush down from every mound. (Al-Anbiyā’ 21:96)