The names of Allah
Most Gracious, Most Merciful
The Gog and Magog (people) 1
Do great mischief on earth:
Shall we then render thee
Tribute in order that
Thou mightest erect a barrierBetween us and them?
95. He said: "(the power) in which
My Lord has established me
Is better (than tribute): 2
Help me therefore with strength
(And labour): I will
Erect a strong barrier
Between you and them:
1. Who were the Gog and Magog people? This question in connected with the question. Who was Zul-qarnain? Some discussion on the question will be found in Appendix VII at the end of this Sura.
What we are mainly concerned with is the spiritual interpretation. The Conqueror had now arrived among a people who were different in speech and race from him, but not quite primitive, for they were skilled in the working of metals, and could furnish blocks (or bricks) of iron, melt metals with bellows or blow-pipes, and prepare molten lead (xviii.96). Apparently they were a peaceable and industrious race, much subject to incursions form from wild tribes who are called Gog and Magog. Against these tribes they were willing to purchase immunity by paying the Conqueror tribute in return for protection. The permanent protection they wanted was the closing of a mountain gap through which the incursions were made.
2. Zul-Qarnain was not greedy and did not want to impose a tribute to be carried away from an industrious population. He understood the power which Allah had given him, to involve duties and responsibilities on his part -- the duty of protecting his subjects without imposing too heavy a taxation on them. He would provide the motive force and organising skill. Would they obey him and provide the material and labour, so that they could close the gap with a strong barrier, probably with well-secured gates? the word radm, translated "Barrier," does not necessarily mean a wall, but rather suggests a blocked door or entrance.
(Source: The Meaning of the Glorious Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali)