In 586 BC the Pagan Babylonians invaded the Holy City of Jerusalem and destroyed Solomon’s Temple. The Israelites were enslaved and taken to Babylon where they unhappily remained. However, in 539 BCE (in Babylon) the Biblical Prophet Daniel (as) was given access to the court of that tyrannical state through Divine intervention. He warned the foolish vainglorious Babylonian ruler of his imminent demise.
Cyrus the Great (ra) of Persia, as he is called, is quite possibly the ‘Dhulqarnayn’ of the Holy Qur’an. He was a great figure who turned Persia into a great bastion of goodness. When he came to power he was inspired by God into many good works.
The evidence shows that he was a great Muslim King (a Muslim means one in submission to God), originally he had been the ruler of a small area, but due to his good qualities of piety, fair dealings and leadership he was made leader of the tribal chiefs of Faaris and the King of Persia and Maydya. He gradually expanded the Persian territory all over the Middle East.
Cyrus was an ideal ruler and he believed that the wealth of the state should be used to assist the people rather than for the personal ends of the rulers. The Torah records how Cyrus was a believer in the religion of the One True God and how he was a kind and merciful ruler.
According to some Islamic scholars King Cyrus was indeed Dhulqarnayn (ra) who is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, whilst according to others the real Dhulqarnayn lived a long time before that. Sometimes Muslims also refer to Dhulqarnayn as being Iskander, but this should not be confused with the Pagan ‘Alexander of Macedonia’ (whose legends were conflated with those of Dhulqarnayn by Arab Christians who wrote romances mixing the two characters in the period before the last Revelation – this lead to some Muslims confusing these two very different people).
Soon after Cyrus became the leader of Persia the King of Asia-Minor Lydia broke a covenant of peace and attacked the Persian Empire. Cyrus quickly led his army on a Western expedition to defend the realm and his forces easily defeated the attackers and liberated the lands of the invading kingdom.
The Greek historian Herodotus recorded the miraculous speed of the Persian invasion, which stretched as far as the Black Sea on the western coast.
Cyrus fought bravely and he defeated the warlike Lydians, but he was merciful to the vanquished people and rather than punishing them he let them be. The civilians were kindly treated and the enemy soldiers were not harmed if they surrendered.
Soon afterwards the Baktarya tribes people rose up and attacked the deserts east of the land of Persia. Cyrus subdued these tribes and beyond this area there were mountains that made further progress impossible. Another time Cyrus made an expedition to the north. He traveled high up and past the Caspian Sea and he reached the Ka-Kayasa Mountains.
When he reached this land the people complained of oppression from barbarians of the Seethen tribe who would come through the pass and plunder the wealth of the people. The Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon record how Cyrus took steps to prevent the barbarians coming through that pass in the mountains.
The area liberated by the enlightened Persian King Cyrus (ra) now spread over a great area (as far as the Indus according to Dara), but now it was time for him to deal with the evil Pagan kingdom of Babel.
Daniel (as) had heralded that the Persians would soon become the rulers of Babylon to the King, but at the time this claim seemed absurd because as the capital was the strongest defended and most powerful city in the world. All power and might belongs to God and He inspired the people of Babylonia to assist the liberating army of Cyrus as it arrived. Together they redirected the city’s river which had formed on of its main defenses.
According to Herodotus, even before Cyrus arrived Gobriyas, the governor of Babel, had betrayed the evil Pagan leadership and the city fell to the liberating forces of goodness. Thus it was that in 539 BCE Cyrus of Persia liberated the Middle East and freed the Israelites.
Babylon became an important city in the Persian Achaemanid Empire, but its days as a center of vainglorious empires and conquests were gone. In the Book of Uzayr-Ezra it was recorded how the King of Faaris (Persia) was inspired by God and how he made a proclamation to his people stating that God had inspired him to make a home for the Israelites in Jerusalem and to rebuild the Temple there.
Cyrus not only proclaimed that the Israelites could return home, but also that the God of the Temple of Solomon was the One True God. Thus in 536 BCE the Israelites returned to the Holy Land thanks to Cyrus. The benevolent Persians allowed them great autonomy and they were able to rebuild the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.
After Cyrus passed away his heir Dara (ra) was also a believer in the One True God. They were both followers of the original Monotheistic teachings of Zoroaster and even the Israelites, with their exclusive tendencies, could perceive Cyrus and Dara as being true believers.
Many Israelites were so comfortable living in Mesopotamia and Persia that they decided not to return to the Holy Land at this time (the descendants of those who remained in Babylon were later to be highly influential and the Babylonian Talmud became more accepted than the Palestinian one some centuries later).
Perhaps partly because Cyrus and Dara were both followers of the pure and original Zoroastrian Monotheism and were able to benefit from the Israelite Prophet Daniel (as), they faced trouble and uprisings from corrupting plots and insurrection of the Magi (Majoos). The Magi had been working to promote their own understanding of the religion through the centuries and probably felt very threatened by the ties of Cyrus and Dara with the Israelites.
One time Dara preached to his people that whatever religion they were from they should submit to God, the God of the Biblical Prophet Daniel (as). He asserted that only the Lord of the Bible was the true ever living God, whose Kingdom is never ending. Dara reminded the people of how God had saved Daniel from the lion and brought Cyrus and himself into being successful rulers (see Daniel 6/25-28). Cyrus and Dara were both rulers the like of which we rarely see.
(from an old blog of mine)