Ibn Al-Jawzi, from alwaraq.com
Preliminary translation by James Holmes

Dhul-Qarnein was a righteous servant who possessed the East and West and everything therein. His friend, the angel Raphael, visited him and they spent the day in conversation. “O Raphael, tell me of how you and the other angels worship (God) in heaven” upon which Raphael wept, “there is he who stands and never sits, he who remains prostrated and he who bows forward……………and they all say: Praise the Most Holy - King of Angels and Spirit – we worship you Lord as it is your right to be worshipped.” Dhul-Qarnein wept bitterly “I want to live for ever that I might submit to my Lord.” “Do you really want that?” checked Raphael, “Nay,” so he continued, “God keeps a spring on Earth called the spring of life, and he who drinks from it’s enchanted waters will never die even if he asks for death.”
“Do you know the whereabouts of this spring?” asked Dhul-Qarnein. “No, but other (angels) talk about a gloom God has put on Earth in which neither man nor ghost sets foot, and it is thought to be in there.”

Dhul-Qarnein gathered governors, scholars and prophetic signs (augurs) “Have you found in your reading, in the prophets’ sayings or in your ancestors, mention of a spring called the spring of life?” “No,” they replied. “Have you found, then, that God placed a gloom on Earth in which no man nor ghost sets foot?” “No,” and one of the scholars called Afshanjir exclaimed “O King, you haven’t asked about that (before)” so Dhul-Qarnein informed him of what Raphael had said concerning the spring and gloom. Afshanjir said “On reading Adam’s testament I found that God had indeed placed gloom on Earth in which neither man nor ghost sets foot.” “In which land is it?” “It is on the sun’s horn” (where the sun rises)

Dhul-Qarnein roused (his domain) and rallied the nobles, the kings and the men of understanding and started for where the sun rises from. They journeyed for 12 years until they reached the edge of the Gloom. This certainly wasn’t night as the Gloom twisted and coiled like smoke. (Forthwith) they set up camp and he summoned the learned. “I want to enter this Gloom.” “King, those prophets before you didn’t even request that – so don’t you. We fear that you are happy to go in – loathe it for it is a place of corruption and decay. Dhul Qarnein insisted “I must proceed” Then they fell to the ground in prostration and plead with him a second time, “We fear punishment from God, that you have accepted this as our course.”

When he insisted for a second time, they said, resignedly, ‘The matter is yours”.
“Which pack animal is the can see the most clearly at night?” he asked the same men. “The horse” “Which horse?” “The mare” “Which mare?” “The virgin”
So Dhul-Qarnein sent for 6000 virgin mares and picked 6000 sturdy, keen-witted men from his army and gave each one a mare. Al-Khidr, Vizier and maternal cousin of Dhul-Qarnein, led a division of 2000 whilst Dhul-Qarnein stayed with the main body of 4000, and told those remaining “Don’t leave your camp for these 12 coming years – if we return to you, good, otherwise go home to your own countries.” Al-Khidr pressed “King, when we are in the Gloom we won’t know the distances or be able to see each other – what will we do if we get lost?” Dhul-Qarnein gave Al-Khidr a red sistrum “If you lose each other, beat this sistrum on the ground and the lost will find their way back to it’s rattle” And he took it thus and departed – he knew what Dhul-Qarnein sought.

Whilst Al-Khidr was travelling (with his men) he came across a valley and thought the spring might be there. As he stood on the cliff edge, he ordered his men to stay where they were, and hurled the sistrum downwards. After a long pause he heard it land and went down after it to find it resting on the spring’s shore. He took of his clothes and slipped into the pool whose waters were whiter than milk and sweeter than honey, and drank, and washed and performed ablutions before getting out and dressing. Al-Khidr threw the sistrum towards his companions and chased it until they were reunited and continued with their journey.

And though Dhul-Qarnein later passed that valley with his division, they couldn’t see it for the Gloom and wandered for forty days and nights until they came out into light. This was neither sun nor moonlight and the ground was red and sandy. Lo! And then there was castle, a parasang in height, walled and with no door. Dhul-Qarnein parted from his soldiers until he came to the entrance. It was rimmed with iron. Hanging from this rim, suspended between ground and sky, was a black bird that looked somewhat like a swift – though one with a cruel beak. “Who’s that?” cried the bird, disturbed by Dhul-Qarnein’s footsteps. “I’m Dhul-Qarnein” “Tell me then…………………has the use of baked brick and plaster in building increased?” “Yes” affirmed Dhul-Qarnein. The bird trembled and inhaled so as to inflate himself, blocking off a third of the entrance. “Have falsehoods in the land increased?” “Yes” And the bird performed the same ritual, now blocking off two thirds of the entrance. “Have musicians become more numerous?” “Yes.” The bird completely jammed the entrance and everything between the castle’s two walls. And (seeing he couldn’t pass) Dhul-Qarnein’s heart sank.

But the bird continued, “Have people abandoned the testimony that there is no god but God?” “No” The bird exhaled and deflated to two thirds of its previous size. “Have people abandoned their obligatory prayers?” “No” The bird deflated by a another third. “Have people abandoned post-coital ablutions?” “No” And the bird returned it’s original size and instructed Dhul-Qarnein to “proceed up this staircase to the highest part of the castle.” He did this and came out on a roof where a man was standing. On hearing Dhul-Qarnein’s pitter-patter, he cried “Who’s that?” “I’m Dhul-Qarnein”………………………………… “and who are you?” “I am the Keeper of the Bugle” answered the man “and Judgement Day is nigh. I’m awaiting my lord’s command upon which I’ll blow.” Then he handed Dhul-Qarnein a stone weight, “Take this for if it’s satisfied you’ll be satisfied and if it’s hungry you’ll be hungry.”

He returned with it to his men who placed it in his first hand, and another stone in the second. And when he leant to one side (because of the greater weight of the second stone) they replaced with another and so on until they had been through 1000, but they never balanced (the second hand’s stone always outweighed the original one that was still in the first hand.) Then Al-Khidr placed a handful of soil on top of the original stone and picked up another, at random, and put it in Dhul-Qarnein’s second hand. They balanced – he stood upright. “You are thus afflicted” observed Al-Khidr, “Man is never satisfied until he is covered with earth in the same way this stone wasn’t satisfied until we covered it with earth.”

“Indeed you speak the truth………………………………..don’t search for me after this journey???” And with that he ventured back into the middle of the Gloom and stood in a valley of topaz. “What’s this beneath us?” asked one of his cohorts. “Take it, for he who takes (the topaz) regrets and he who gives away (the topaz) regrets.” So one person picked it up, and another put it back down?????????????????????????
Then Dhul-Qarnein returned to the castle and lived there until he died.

Al-Hasan Al-Bosri narrates that “Dhul-Qarnein used to ride with front-guard of 600,000 men and a rear-guard of the same number.

Alexander’s mother used to write to him. Ku’b Al-Ahbar says “Alexander’s mother was all-knowing. When news reached her that her son had conquered the cities, subjugated the men and enthralled their kings, she wrote to him, “In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. From Ruqaiyah, mother of Alexander, to Alexander the deceased; the weak who only through his Lord has strength; the one who’s Lord can either crush or exalt. My son, don’t make you’re a wonder for that will spoil you. Don’t call for greatness in vanity, for that will enfeeble you. Lower yourself to he who raises you…………………………………………
Don’t court avarice, for that will enervate you and detract from you. Look at the treasures you have gathered and send all of them to me by a single man and shabby horse.