Promosi Alexander Bukan Zulkarnain (7)
Dipetik dari The Star – 30 Januari 2009
By MUMTAJ BEGUM
HISTORY is incredibly vast and complex, and much of its subject matter is constantly reviewed. The academic community continuously debates documented evidence, questioning if facts have been distorted for political purposes or if they are, indeed, the truth.
Because history is constantly being rewritten as new evidence is uncovered, PhD student Afareez Abdul Razak found the desire and urgency to uncover the answers to his questions.
The International Islamic University Malaysia student became especially interested in who King Zulkarnain really is. Since 2006, he has been trying to refute the fact that King Zulkarnain (as mentioned in the Quran) is not Alexander the Great, the Macedonian King commonly referred as Iskandar Zulkarnain in history books.
The student of Islamic understanding and Quranic studies was researching four kings of the ancient world – Namrud, Solomon, Nebuchadnezzar and Zulkarnain – when he noticed that according to the author of Sejarah Melayu, Tun Sri Lanang, the Sultans were descendents of Iskandar Zulkarnain.
Afareez explained: “Tun Sri Lanang had the best intentions, to give authority to the Sultan’s lineage, to unite the people. But this claim might not necessarily be the truth. This was previously brought up by Prof Dr Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah (the Indonesian Islamic populist intellectual better known as Hamka).”
According to online encyclopedia Wikipedia, historically, Zulkarnain has been identified as Alexander the Great, and this remains the opinion of most secular historians, however contemporary Islamic scholars are divided on the issue, some identifying Zulkarnain as Cyrus the Great.
Afareez shares that the scholars identify three possible candidates as Zulkarnain – Alexander the Great, Cyrus the Great and the King of the Himyar Empire.
Afareez theorises that Cyrus the Great is a far better candidate for Zulkarnain than Alexander. “The way Alexander the Great acted as a ruler does not tally with the Zulkarnain mentioned in the Quran. Cyrus established the human rights charter whereas Alexander was criticised for committing massacres.”
Wanting to present his findings and give the public a chance to weigh the evidence, Afareez approached the mass media with his theory. After presenting his case for four months, the concept of a five-episode documentary titled Alexander Bukan Zulkarnain began to form last year when FM Production agreed to make the documentary. Then The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (SKMM) granted the expedition RM1mil and Astro and Celcom joined as broadcast partners.
Two film crews were dispatched to the six locations — director Mohd Zamani Mohamad travelled to Russia, Greece and Egypt, while director Azizul Hisham Azizan took on Yemen, Iraq and Uzbekistan.
“We needed to retrace the steps of King Zulkarnain to determine who he really was. And in order to disprove that he is Alexander, we retraced his steps too,” explained Afareez.
The shoot proved to be challenging for both Zamani and Azizul from the start, because of the language barriers and extremely hot weather.
Zamani recalled: “When we got to Athens in Greece, we met with a lot restrictions despite the fact that we had letter from the authorities saying we had permission to shoot at the site. And the weather in Egypt was unbearable – it was 55°C … one of our cameramen collapsed! We were fasting too, so it was a bit of a challenge.”
For Azizul, one incident in Yemen stood out. “We were at a politically volatile town and the guide was insistent that we get out of there. We were getting ready to leave when a teenager approached our van and revealed that he had a grenade in his hand. We watched him to see if he’d throw the grenade as we drove away. Only when he was out of sight were we able to breathe a sigh of relief.”
Besides putting up with the red tape, danger and even war (the crew was in Russia when it invaded Georgia), the team was sometimes disappointed to learn that the artefacts it had gone in search of no longer existed.
As the film crew was filming the historical locations and interviewing scholars in each place, they found different descriptions pertaining to what was supposed to be just one man. So could there be truth to this theory that Alexander the Great was not Zulkarnain?
Afareez said: “We are presenting the findings from all points of view, showing the evidence, to enable the audience to reach its own conclusion. The purpose of this is to stimulate learning. This experience has taught me that there’s still so much more to learn.”
> Don’t miss Alexander Bukan Zulkarnain on Astro Oasis (channel 106) tonight at 10pm. Catch the repeats on Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. The Celcom 3G video of the documentary can be accessed by keying in *8884.
*Afareez Abd Razak adalah penyelidik yang memberi inspirasi kepada pelaksanaan dokumentari “Alexander Bukan Zulkarnain”. Beliau sedang menerbitkan buku ilmiahnya berkisar kepada kajian ini.