What Do We Know About Gog and Magog?

The coming of Gog and Magog is established in the Qurʾān and Prophetic traditions as one of major signs of the end of time. Allah says:

“Till, when Gog and Magog are unloosed, and they slide down out of every slope, and nigh has drawn the true promise, and behold, the eyes of the unbelievers staring: ‘Alas for us! We were heedless of this; nay, we were evildoers.’” (Qur’an, 21:96-7)

The Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“The Hour will not come until there are ten signs: the rising of the sun from the west, the False Messiah, the Beast, Gog and Magog…” (Ibn Majah)

Who Are They?

Gog and Magog are from the children of Adam and Eve according to the sounder position. The Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“Allah, most-High, says on the Day of Resurrection, ‘Adam!’ So he replies, ‘My Lord, here I am at your service and all good lies before You.’ So He says, ‘Bring forth the party of the Hellfire’ and he will ask, ‘Who are they?’ He says, ‘From every one thousand, they are nine hundred and ninety nine.’Upon hearing this, the youths will turn grey and every pregnant women shall miscarry and you will see the people as if they are intoxicated, but they are not so. Yet the chastisement of Allah is most severe.’ Upon hearing this, they (the Companions) asked, ‘Who of us will be that one if from every thousand nine hundred and ninety nine shall be taken?’ He replied, ‘Bear glad tidings for every one of you Gog and Magog are a thousand.’” (Bukhari)

There is a tradition related to ʿAmr b. ʿᾹṣ that there is not a righteous man amongst them and they are all doomed for Hell.

Ibn Ḥajar mentioned in his commentary on Bukhārī, attributing the position to Imam Nawawī that they are human beings like us from Adam but not from Eve and that Adam had a wet dream and his semen mixed with the soil and Allah created Gog and Magog from it. However, this position has no basis except for a narration ascribed to Kaʾb al-Aḥbār. Therefore, the majority of the scholars believe them to be from both Adam and Eve.

According to Ibn Kathīr, they stem from the progeny of Japheth, the son of Prophet Noah, upon whom be peace. Some of the scholars such as Qurṭubī were of the opinion that they were the Moguls, who emerged in the seventh century IE and decimated the Muslim principalities of the time. However, the coming of Gog and Magog is one of the signs of the end of time and thus this cannot be so.

How Many Are They?

They are vast in number. The Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“Gog and Magog are from the progeny of Adam. If they were to be sent upon the rest of mankind, they would spoil their livelihood. Not one of them shall die except that he leaves over a thousand of his children behind. From them shall emerge three nations: Taʾwīl, Tārīs and Mansak.” (al-Hakim)

It is related from ʿAṭiyyah b. Ḥassān that they are two nations of which each nation comprises 400, 000 and each nation does not resemble the other. It is related that al-Awzāʿī said that the world is made up of seven parts or which six parts of it is occupied by Gog and Magog and the rest of creation reside in the last seventh.

It is related that Qatādah said that around 24, 0000 farsakh (1152000 kilometres) of the world’s land is for other than Gog and Magog: India and Sind have twelve thousand (57600 kilometers), China has eight thousand (38400 kilometers), Europe has three thousand (14,400) and Arabia has one (4800 kilometers). The rest of the land is occupied by Gog and Magog. It is also related from Ibn ʿAbbās that the earth is divided into six parts and all but one fifth of it is occupied by Gog and Magog.

What Do They Look Like?

Ibn Kathīr mentioned that they resemble the Mongolians in their appearance. They have narrow eyes, small flat and thick noses and their hair is reddish black. They have wide faces as if their faces are like lowered shields. The Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“You say that you have no enemy but you will continue to fight (your) enemies until Gog and Magog emerge with wide faces, small eyes, and reddish black hair. They will pour down from every slope as if their faces are like lowered shields.” (Ahmad)

Ibn Ḥajar mentioned other descriptions of Gog and Magog but they are all very weak or fabricated narrations attributed to Kaʿb al-Aḥbār. Some of these narrations relate that they are of three types in height: some of them will be the height of a hand span, two or three, another group of them are four cubits in height, and some of them will be the size of huge cedrus or pinus trees. Qurṭubī narrates from Kaʿb al-Aḥbār and a relation from ʿAlī, may Allah ennoble his face, that they peck the rampart with their beaks and that some of them have horns, claws, tails and protruding fangs and they gorge on raw flesh.

It is said that there is a type from amongst them whose ears are so large that they can lie down on one of them, which is covered in fur, and cover themselves up with the other, which is of thick bare skin. However, Ibn Kathīr was very critical of these opinions and said that they have no basis. Rather, the stronger opinion is that they are humans like us who have been endowed with great strength.

They are mentioned in the Qurʾān in two places: in Sura Anbiyāʾ and Sura Kahf.

“Till, when Gog and Magog are unloosed, and they slide down out of every slope, and nigh has drawn the true promise, and behold, the eyes of the unbelievers staring: ‘Alas for us! We were heedless of this; nay, we were evildoers.’” (Qur’an, 21:96-7)

Then he followed a way until, when he reached between the two barriers, he found this side of them a people scarcely able to understand speech, They said, ’O Dhū al-Qarnayn, behold, Gog and Magog are doing corruption in the earth; so shall we assign to you a tribute, against you setting up a barrier between us and between them?’ He said, ’That wherein my Lord has established me is better; so aid me forcefully, and I will set up a rampart between you and between them. Bring me ingots of iron!’ Until, when he had made all level between the two cliffs, he said, ’Blow!’ Until, when he had made it a fire, he said, ’Bring me, that I may pour molten brass on it. So they were unable either to scale it or pierce it. He said, ’This is a mercy from my Lord. But when the promise of my Lord comes to pass, He will make it into powder; and my Lord’s promise is ever true.’ Upon that day, We shall leave them surging on one another, and the Trumpet shall he blown, and We shall gather them together. (Qur’an, 18:85-99)

Dhū al-Qarnayn built a mighty barrier in the eastern lands according to Ibn Kathīr to prevent Gog and Magog from spoiling the lives of the people. It was between two huge mountains.

Where Is This Rampart?

We do now know where the location of this rampart is, though. There is a tradition related by Bukhārī in which one of the Companions claimed to have come across it. The Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked him to describe it and he said it was like a striped colored cloth. He replied, “You saw it so?” In another relation he said, “I saw it as if it were a striped colored cloth of which part of it was black and part of it was red, and the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied, “You have seen it.”

Many rulers and historians have attempted to locate it. Ibn Kathīr mentions in his book Bidāya wa Nihāya a narration that the Abbasid Sultan Hārūn b. Muḥammad al-Muʿtaṣim b. Hārūn ar-Rashīd (d. 232 IE) sent some of his generals with an army to seek out the rampart and to come back with information regarding it. After much traveling, they came across a rampart in the north east of the lands in a vast area made of steel and copper that had a great door laden with enormous locks.

No one was able to ascend it or the mountains surrounding it due to its height. They found the remnants of steel bricks and weaponry in a tower there and it had guards representing the neighboring kings there. When the men returned from their journey, they had been absent for more than two years and they had seen many terrible and wondrous things.

It is reported that Ibn Baṭūṭah confused the Great Wall of China with the rampart of Dhū al-Qarnayn.

Sayyid Qutb said:

“A rampart was discovered in a graveyard in the city of Termez, Uzbekistan known as the Steel Gate. It was mentioned in the 15 century by the German scholar Sildburger and he recorded it in his journal. It was also mentioned by the Spanish Historian Kalafigo in the year 1403 and he mentioned that it was on the road to Samarqand and India…and perhaps this is the rampart that Dhū al-Qarnayn built.” (Tafsīr fī ẓilāl al-Qurʾān)

Yūsuf b. ʿAbdullāh b. Yūsuf al-Wābil comments in his book Ashrāṭ as-saʿah, “Perhaps this rampart is the wall that surrounds the city of Termez that Yāqūt al-Ḥamawī mentioned in Muʿjam al-Buldān, which is not the rampart of Dhū al-Qarnayn.”

When Will They Break Through the Rampart?

Gog and Magog dig everyday until they almost penetrate the wall. Then their leader will order them to cease digging and resume the next day. That night Allah reinforces the wall stronger than it was the previous. This will go on until the day it is decreed for them to come out on the earth. The next day God will not reinforce it and they will be able to exit. They will ruin everything they touch as mentioned in the tradition of Tirmidhī:

“The Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Zaynab one day in a state of panic, saying, ‘Woe to the Arabs! A great evil has drawn nigh! Today a whole has appeared in the rampart of Gog and Magog the size of this (and he made a ring shape with his thumb and index.’ Zaynab b. Jaḥsh asked, ‘Messenger of Allah, will we be destroyed whilst there are righteous from amongst us?’ He answered, ‘Indeed, if wickedness becomes rife.’” (Bukhari)

When the appointed time comes and the Hour draws nigh, the barrier will collapse and Gog and Magog will emerge with great haste in droves and no one will be able to stand in their way and they will cause great corruption on the earth. This is one of the major signs of the end of time after the killing of the Anti-Christ and just before the blowing of the horn.

“Till, when Gog and Magog are unloosed, and they slide down out of every slope, and nigh has drawn the true promise, and behold, the eyes of the unbelievers staring: ‘Alas for us! We were heedless of this; nay, we were evildoers.’” (Qur’an, 21:96-7)

Ibn Mājah relates in a sound tradition that they will fill the lands with their vast numbers and the Muslims will escape with the livestock to their fortresses and citadels.

The details of their emergence is given in the tradition of an-Nawwās b. Samʿān, may Allah be pleased with him, the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

When Allah reveals to Jesus: ‘I have brought forth servants of mine who no-one can face in battle, so goad my servants on to Mount Tabor!’ Then Allah will send forth Gog and Magog, who will pour down from every slope and they will pass by the Sea of Galilee and drink from it. (In the relation of al-Ḥākim, it does not specify the Sea of Galilee)

The last of them who passes it will say, ‘One time there was water here.’ (in one relation of Muslim when they reach Mount Tabor they will say, ‘We have killed those on the earth, let us now kill those in the heaven!’ and so they hurl their arrows to the skies and Allah returns them back to them covered in blood and they cry out, ‘We have subdued the hosts of the earth and we have overcome those in the heavens with might and loftiness!’)

Jesus, the Prophet of Allah, and his followers will be blockaded whereby the mere head of a bull of theirs will be worth more to them than a hundred gold coins of yours today and so Jesus and his followers will call upon Allah and He will send worms upon their napes and they will all die like one soul (in another sound narration by Ibn Mājah it mentions that they will die in their droves like locusts heaped on top of one another). Then Jesus, the Prophet of Allah and his followers will be taken down to the land (in the tradition of Ibn Mājah, they will be in their fortresses and they will no longer hear them outside and so they request someone goes down and risks his life to see what has happened.

He descends, believing that he will lose his life, and finds that they have all been killed, so he calls back to the others to bear glad tidings for their enemy has been destroyed. They will come out with their animals) and they will not find a hand span of space except that it is filled with their stench and smell. (In the narration of Tirmidhī, the Messenger of Allah said, ‘By the One in whose hand is Muḥammad, the beasts of the land shall grow plump and they will relish over their blessing and their udders will overflow and they will be full and meaty from (eating) their flesh (and blood).’)

Then Jesus, the Prophet of Allah, and his followers will call upon Allah and He will send flying beasts with necks like camels and they will take them away and toss them where Allah wills (in a relation of al-Ḥākim, they are tossed into the ocean or in a fire in yet another relation). (Muslim)

Leave a Reply

Back to top