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a resource to critically examine history, texts and beliefs within Islam
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Dhul-Qarnayn and the Alexander Romance
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The story of Dhul-Qarnayn (in Arabic ذو القرنين, literally "The Two-Horned One", also transliterated as Zul-Qarnain or Zulqarnain) is found in the 18th Surah of the Qur'an, al-Kahf (the Cave). While he is never mentioned explicitly by name, the story is clearly based upon a legendary account of Alexander the Great. For centuries, most Muslim historians and Qur'anic commentators endorsed the identity of Dhul-Qarnayn as Alexander, though some also proposed alternatives. In recent years, this identification of Dhul-Qarnayn has become particularly problematic and controversial for Muslim scholars, as historians have gradually discovered that the historical Alexander was a Greek pagan who fashioned himself as a god. (read more)