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The Good Governance Model of Prophet Dhul Qarnayn

by | Oct 19, 2016

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This article is a continuation of the topic Concept of Good Governance in Islam concerning the governance of Prophet Dhul Qarnayn.

Lesson from Surah Kahf And Prophet Dhul Qarnayn:

Quran lists some of the greatest lessons and stories in Surah Kahf; one is the governance model of Prophet Dhul Qarnayn. Surah Kahaf is one of the exemplary surahs of the Quran. In this single chapter, three different stories are discussed: of Ashab-al-kahaf (the men of the cave), of Prophet Musa(a.s) and prophet Khizar (a.s), and Prophet Dhul Qarnayn (r.a) or Zulqarnain. In Surah kahaf verses 83-101, Allah talks about Prophet Zul Qar Nain in the following words:

وَيَسۡـــَٔلُوۡنَكَ عَنۡ ذِى الۡقَرۡنَيۡنِ ؕ قُلۡ سَاَ تۡلُوۡا عَلَيۡكُمۡ مِّنۡهُ ذِكۡرًا ؕ‏

(O Muhammad), they ask you about Dhu al-Qarnayn. Say: “I will give you an account of him.

اِنَّا مَكَّنَّا لَهٗ فِى الۡاَرۡضِ وَاٰتَيۡنٰهُ مِنۡ كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ سَبَبًا ۙ‏

We granted him to power in the land and endowed him with all kinds of resources.

فَاَ تۡبَعَ سَبَبًا‏

He set out (westwards) on an expedition,

حَتّٰٓى اِذَا بَلَغَ مَغۡرِبَ الشَّمۡسِ وَجَدَهَا تَغۡرُبُ فِىۡ عَيۡنٍ حَمِئَةٍ وَّوَجَدَ عِنۡدَهَا قَوۡمًا ؕ قُلۡنَا يٰذَا الۡقَرۡنَيۡنِ اِمَّاۤ اَنۡ تُعَذِّبَ وَاِمَّاۤ اَنۡ تَتَّخِذَ فِيۡهِمۡ حُسۡنًا‏

Until he reached the very limits where the sun sets, he saw it setting in dark, turbid waters; nearby, he met people. We said: “O Dhu al-Qarnayn, you can punish or treat them with kindness.

قَالَ اَمَّا مَنۡ ظَلَمَ فَسَوۡفَ نُعَذِّبُهٗ ثُمَّ يُرَدُّ اِلٰى رَبِّهٖ فَيُعَذِّبُهٗ عَذَابًا نُّكۡرًا‏

He said: “We will chastise him who does wrong, where after he will be returned to his Lord, and He will chastise him grievously.

وَاَمَّا مَنۡ اٰمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًـا فَلَهٗ جَزَآءَ ۨالۡحُسۡنٰى ۚ وَسَنَقُوۡلُ لَهٗ مِنۡ اَمۡرِنَا يُسۡرًا ؕ‏

But as for him who believes and acts righteously, his will be a good reward, and we shall enjoin upon him only mild commands.”

ثُمَّ اَتۡبَعَ سَبَبًا‏

Then he set out on another expedition

حَتّٰٓى اِذَابَلَغَ مَطۡلِعَ الشَّمۡسِ وَجَدَهَا تَطۡلُعُ عَلٰى قَوۡمٍ لَّمۡ نَجۡعَلْ لَّهُمۡ مِّنۡ دُوۡنِهَا سِتۡرًا ۙ‏

Until he reached the limit where the sun rises, he found it rising on a people whom We had provided no shelter from.

كَذٰلِكَؕ وَقَدۡ اَحَطۡنَا بِمَا لَدَيۡهِ خُبۡرًا‏

Thus was the state of those people, and We encompassed in knowledge all concerning Dhul Qarnayn.

(AlQuran 18:83-91)

Story From Surah Kahf:

The story of Prophet Dhul Qarnayn. in Surah Kahf, 

ثُمَّ اَتۡبَعَ سَبَبًا‏

Then he set out on another expedition 

حَتّٰٓى اِذَا بَلَغَ بَيۡنَ السَّدَّيۡنِ وَجَدَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِهِمَا قَوۡمًا ۙ لَّا يَكَادُوۡنَ يَفۡقَهُوۡنَ قَوۡلًا‏

When he reached a place between the two mountains, he found beside the mountains a people who scarcely understood anything.

قَالُوۡا يٰذَا الۡقَرۡنَيۡنِ اِنَّ يَاۡجُوۡجَ وَمَاۡجُوۡجَ مُفۡسِدُوۡنَ فِى الۡاَرۡضِ فَهَلۡ نَجۡعَلُ لَكَ خَرۡجًا عَلٰٓى اَنۡ تَجۡعَلَ بَيۡنَـنَا وَبَيۡنَهُمۡ سَدًّا‏

They said: “O Dhul Qarnayn, Gog and Magog are spreading corruption in this land. So shall we pay you taxes on the understanding that you will set up a barrier between them and us?”

قَالَ مَا مَكَّنِّىۡ فِيۡهِ رَبِّىۡ خَيۡرٌ فَاَعِيۡنُوۡنِىۡ بِقُوَّةٍ اَجۡعَلۡ بَيۡنَكُمۡ وَبَيۡنَهُمۡ رَدۡمًا ۙ‏

He answered: “Whatever my Lord has granted me is good enough. But help me with your labor, and I will erect a rampart between you and them.

اٰتُوۡنِىۡ زُبَرَ الۡحَدِيۡدِ ؕ حَتّٰٓى اِذَا سَاوٰى بَيۡنَ الصَّدَفَيۡنِ قَالَ انْـفُخُوۡا ؕ حَتّٰٓى اِذَا جَعَلَهٗ نَارًا ۙ قَالَ اٰتُوۡنِىۡۤ اُفۡرِغۡ عَلَيۡهِ قِطۡرًا ؕ‏

Bring me ingots of iron.” Then, after he had filled up the space between the two mountainsides, he said: “(Light a fire) and ply bellows.” When he had made it (red-like) fire, he said: “Bring me molten copper, which I may pour on it.”

فَمَا اسۡطَاعُوۡۤا اَنۡ يَّظۡهَرُوۡهُ وَمَا اسۡتَطَاعُوۡا لَهٗ نَـقۡبًا‏

Such was the rampart that Gog and Magog could not scale, nor could they pierce it.

قَالَ هٰذَا رَحۡمَةٌ مِّنۡ رَّبِّىۡ ۚ فَاِذَا جَآءَ وَعۡدُ رَبِّىۡ جَعَلَهٗ دَكَّآءَ ۚ وَكَانَ وَعۡدُ رَبِّىۡ حَقًّا ؕ‏

Dhul Qarnayn said: “This is a mercy from my Lord: but when the time of my Lord’s promise shall come, He will level the rampart with the ground.71 My Lord’s promise always comes true.

وَتَرَكۡنَا بَعۡضَهُمۡ يَوۡمَٮِٕذٍ يَّمُوۡجُ فِىۡ بَعۡضٍ وَّنُفِخَ فِى الصُّوۡرِ فَجَمَعۡنٰهُمۡ جَمۡعًا ۙ‏ 

And on that Day, We shall let some of them surge like waves against others, and the Trumpet shall be blown. Then We shall gather them all together.

وَّعَرَضۡنَا جَهَـنَّمَ يَوۡمَٮِٕذٍ لِّـلۡكٰفِرِيۡنَ عَرۡضَا ۙ‏

That will be the Day We shall place Hell before the unbelievers

اۨلَّذِيۡنَ كَانَتۡ اَعۡيُنُهُمۡ فِىۡ غِطَآءٍ عَنۡ ذِكۡرِىۡ وَكَانُوۡا لَا يَسۡتَطِيۡعُوۡنَ سَمۡعًا

Whose eyes had become blind against My admonition and who were utterly disinclined to hear it.

(AlQuran 18:92-101) 

Governance Techniques in Prophet Dhul Qarnayn’s model:

As the above ayahs explain, Prophet Dhul Qarnayn (a.s) was invited to protect the nation from harm. He was approached by locals of that area for their trouble, and he listened to them keenly, advised a solution, and implemented the solution. It is pertinent to mention here that safety measures were temporary, but the wall built was also for the coming generations to ensure the security of future generations. It depicts one of the original qualities of leadership: farsightedness and vision of the future. Other than leadership qualities, the governance model of Prophet Dhul Qarnayn (a.s) is built on solid defense, which is the crucial component of the sovereignty of the modern nation-state system.

Unity Of Command:

We observe the unity of command in the governance model of Prophet Dhul Qarnayn since Prophet Dhul Qarnayn was the only one giving orders and others following him, which also provided an agreement in direction. The policy adopted by Prophet Dhul Qarnayn was purely pro-people, which we find lacking in current governance systems. His system not only saved people but protected land, too, ensuring territorial sovereignty along with the security of life. Building a massive wall was relatively new, but a good leader adopts a challenge-seeking approach in his governance and finds his way out.

People were offering him their wealth, but Prophet Dhul Qarnayn rejected their offer to provide funds from his side. Instead, he demanded labor and collective effort from people. It is the attitude of a natural leader; he must be wise and generous too. We find here another valuable lesson that leadership alone is not enough for prosperity; the masses have to support and obey their leaders, just as this nation did on orders of Dhul Qarnayn. Notice that many words are used for people of the nation in ayah; this depicts that building the wall involved the whole community.

Lesson from Model:

This model delivers many lessons about good governance, i.e., high defense, collective effort, visionary leadership, the unity of command, and much more. The need of the hour is to apply them in our current governance models. This model is just one of the many other management types described in the holy Quran.

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