Islamic Web Library

An Islamic Resource Center

18:98 The idea of Gog and Magog is Allegorical

2 min read

 He said: “This is a mercy from my Lord: But when the promise of my Lord comes to pass, He will make it into dust; and the promise of my Lord is true.”

Some of the classical commentators (e.g., Tabari) regard this as a prediction of a definite,
historic event: namely, the future break-through of the savage tribes of “Gog and Magog”, who are
conceived of as identical with the Mongols and Tatars (see note 95 above). This “identification” is mainly
based on a well-authenticated Tradition – recorded by Ibn Hanbal, Bukhari and Muslim – which tells us
that the Apostle of God had a prophetic dream to which he referred, on awakening, with an
exclamation of distress: “There is no deity save God! Woe unto the Arabs from a misfortune that is approaching:
a little gap has been opened today in the rampart of Gog and Magog!” Ever since the late Middle
Ages, Muslims have been inclined to discern in this dream a prediction of the great Mongol invasion in
the thirteenth century, which destroyed the Abbasid Empire and, thus, the political power of the
Arabs. However, the mention, in verses 99-101 of this surah, of “the Day” – i.e., the Day of
Judgment – in connection with “Gog and Magog” shows that “the time appointed by my Sustainer” relates to
the coming of the Last Hour, when all works of man will be destroyed. But since none of the
Qur’anic references to the “approach” or the “nearness” of the Last Hour has anything to do with the
human concept of time, it is possible to accept both of the above interpretations as equally valid in the
sense that the “coming of the Last Hour” comprises an indefinite – and, in human terms, perhaps
even immensely long span of time, and that the break-through of the godless forces of “Gog and
Magog” was to be one of the signs of its approach. And, finally, it is most logical to assume (especially
on the basis of 21:96-97) that the terms Yajuj and Majuj are purely allegorical, applying not to
any specific tribes or beings but to a series of social catastrophes which would cause a complete
destruction of man’s civilization before the coming of the Last Hour.


Asad, Muhammad (1980). The Message of the Quran.

About Post Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *