Sunday, September 23, 2018

Alexander's wall

This is a Muslim book for children about Alexander the Great, known in the Quran as Dhul Qarnayn (the two-horned one). If children will find this short story interesting, I honestly don't know. I know I wouldn't have, but I was one of those annoying precocious kids who read non-fiction about *real* history already in first grade! Besides, I hated rhyme, and this story is (more or less) rhymed.

It's a rather basic story about how Dhul Qarnayn builds a great wall to keep out Gog and Magog (Yajooj and Majooj in the Quran) from his kingdom. The identity of Gog and Magog is unclear as usual, but presumably refers to the many nomadic peoples north of Persia or the Caucasus who periodically invaded the fertile lands to the south. According to legend, Alexander did indeed build a wall to keep them out. In both the Bible and the Quran, the invasion of Gog and Magog heralds Judgment Day, and in the Muslim version, they will first breach Alexander's wall.

Since Alexander was a polytheist, the identification between him and the Quranic figure have always been somewhat contentious within Islam, something solved in this story by not mentioning Dhul Qarnayn's actual identity and pointing out that only Allah knows whether he was a prophet or not. I will only give this e-book two stars, but with the caveat that only Allah knows whether other children will find it interesting or not! ;-)

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