You Did Not Know This Before
(IslamWeb) Dr . Gary Miller
Undoubtedly, there is an attitude in the Qur'an which is not found anywhere else. It is interesting how when the Qur'an provides information, it often tells the reader, "You did not know this before." Indeed, there is no scripture that exists which makes that claim. All of the other ancient writings and scriptures that people have do give a lot of information, but they always state where the information came from.
For example, when the Bible discusses ancient history, it states that this king lived here, this one fought in a certain battle, another one had so may sons, etc. Yet it always stipulates that if you want more information, then you should read the book of so and so because that is where the information came from.
In contrast to this concept, the Qur'an provides the reader with information and states that this information is something new. Of course, there always exists the advice to research the information provided and verify its authenticity. It is interesting that such a concept was never challenged by non-Muslims fourteen centuries ago. Indeed, the Makkans who hated the Muslims, and time and time again they heard such revelations claiming to bring new information; yet, they never spoke up and said, "This is not new. We know where Muhammad got this information. We learned this at school." They could never challenge its authenticity because it really was new.
In concurrence with the advice given in the Qur'an, to research information (even if it is new), when 'Umar was caliph, he chose a group of men and sent them to find the wall of Dhul-Qarnayn. Before the Qur'anic revelation, the Arabs had never heard of such a wall, but because the Qur'an described it, they were able to discover it. As a matter of fact, it is now located in what is called Durbend in the Soviet Union. [Note: The city of Derbend (Durbend, Derbent, Derband) is located in Daghestan on the West coast of the Caspian sea, about 150 miles south-east of Grozny, Chechnia and about 140 miles north north-west of Baku, Azerbaijan.
Derband was also known as Bab al-Abwab in early Muslim history. Al-Tabari mentions it in his famous work 'Tarikh al-rusul wa'l Muluk' (History of Messengers and Kings) when discussing the events of 14 A.H. (646 C.E.), during the reign of the second rightly guided Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him).
The city is also mentioned by Yaqut in Mu'jam al-Buldan. It had fortifications meant to repel invasions from the north of Caucasus, and where once powerful Kingdom of Khazar ruled. The history of Khazars has been well documented since the middle of the first millennium C.E., and their kingdom disintegrated in 966 C.E.
Derbend was used as the main point of entry from the north of Caucasus to the south into Persian territory.
Abdullah Yusuf Ali, the famous translator of the meaning of the Qur'an, discusses some opinions on Dhul Qarnayn (Zul-Qarnain) in Appendix VII at the end of Sura 'Kahf', the 'Cave".
The famous historian Ibn Kathir mentions that Dhul-Qarnayn was a pious king, who lived during the time of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham, PBUH) and he performed the Tawaaf around the Ka'bah with Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) when he built it.