Solomon peace be upon him

وَوَهَبْنَا لِدَاوُودَ سُلَيْمَانَ نِعْمَ الْعَبْدُ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ ﴿38:30﴾ 

(38:30) We bestowed upon David (an illustrious son), Solomon. *32 How excellent a servant (of Ours he was)! Indeed he constantly turned to Us in devotion.
*32 The Prophet Solomon has been mentioned already at the followings places: AI-Baqarah: 102, Bani Isra’il: 5, AI-Anbiya’: 78-82, An-Naml: 15-44, Saba: 12-14. 
Surah 38. Suad verse 30 
وَلَقَدْ آَتَيْنَا دَاوُودَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ عِلْمًا وَقَالَا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي فَضَّلَنَا عَلَى كَثِيرٍ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿27:15﴾
 
(27:15) (On the other hand,) We gave knowledge to David and Solomon, *18and they said, “Praise is for Allah Who exalted us above many of His believing servants.” *19
*18 That is, the knowledge of the Reality, the knowledge that whatever they have is not theirs but the gift of Allah and whatever rights they have been granted over those things should be used strictly according to Allah’s will, for they will be held answerable before Allah, the real Owner, for the right and wrong use of those rights. This knowledge is the opposite of the ignorance in which Pharaoh was involved. The type of character built on the ignorance has been presented in the preceding verses. Now, in the following verses, the model of the character built on the knowledge is being presented. The sort of kingdom, wealth, power and grandeur were common on both the sides. The Pharaoh had been given these as well as the Prophets David and Solomon. But the distinction of the ignorance and the knowledge built and moulded them into entirely different personalities.
*19 That is, “There were other believing, servants as well, who could be blessed with vicegerency. But it is only Allah’s favour, not due to any special quality in ourselves, that He has chosen us to be rulers over this kingdom.”
وَدَاوُودَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ إِذْ يَحْكُمَانِ فِي الْحَرْثِ إِذْ نَفَشَتْ فِيهِ غَنَمُ الْقَوْمِ وَكُنَّا لِحُكْمِهِمْ شَاهِدِينَ ﴿21:78﴾
(21:78) And We bestowed the same favour upon David and Solomon: Remember the occasion when the two were judging a case regarding a field into which the goats of other people had strayed at night, and We Ourself were watching their conduct of the case.
فَفَهَّمْنَاهَا سُلَيْمَانَ وَكُلًّا آَتَيْنَا حُكْمًا وَعِلْمًا وَسَخَّرْنَا مَعَ دَاوُودَ الْجِبَالَ يُسَبِّحْنَ وَالطَّيْرَ وَكُنَّا فَاعِلِينَ ﴿21:79﴾
(21:79) At that time We guided Solomon to the right decision, though We had bestowed wisdom and knowledge upon both of them. *70
*70 There is no mention of this event in the Bible nor in the Jewish literature. According to the Muslim commentators, it happened like this: The goats of one person entered into the field of another person at night. The latter brought his complaint to Prophet David who decided that the strayed goats should be given to the owner of the field. Prophet Solomon, however, differed with this and opined that the goats should remain with the owner of the field up to the time that the former tilled and prepared the field as before. In regard to this Allah says, “We led Solomon to the right decision”. As regards the legal aspect of the matter we cannot say with certainty what is the Islamic law in such a case nor is there any Tradition of the Holy Prophet to explain or support it. That is why the jurists have differed about it.
It should, however, be noted that in this context, the incident has been cited to show that the Prophets were after all human beings in spite of their Godgiven powers and abilities. In this case, Prophet David committed an error of judgment because he was not guided by AIIah as was Prophet Solomon, though both of them were Prophets. In the succeeding passage the wonderful powers of both have been mentioned to show that they were God-given and did not snake anyone a god.
Incidentally, we learn froth this verse that if two judges give different decisions about one and the same case, both of them will be regarded as righteous, though the decision of only one of them will be correct, provided that both are duly qualified for sitting in judgement on the case. The Holy Prophet has stated the same principle more elaborately. In a Tradition of Bukhari, he is reported by ‘Amar bin ‘As to have said, “If a judge does his very best to arrive at the right decision, he will get a double reward in case of a right judgment and a single reward if his judgment is wrong.” According to another Tradition, cited by Abu Da’ud and Ibn Majah, on the authority of Buraidah, he is reported to have said, “Judges are of three kinds and only one of them will go to Paradise: the one who recognizes the Truth and decides according to it. On the other hand, the one who recognizes the Truth but gives his decision against it, will go to Hell, and he too, who sits in judgment on a case without the necessary knowledge (and competence). “
وَلِسُلَيْمَانَ الرِّيحَ عَاصِفَةً تَجْرِي بِأَمْرِهِ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا وَكُنَّا بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَالِمِينَ ﴿21:81﴾
(21:81) And We had subdued to Solomon the strongly blowing wind which sped at his bidding to the land wherein We had placed Our blessings, *74 for We had the knowledge of everything.
*74 This is also explained in XXXIV: 12: “And for Solomon We had subjected the wind which covered a month’s journey in the morning and a month’s journey in the evening”, and in XXXVIII: 36: “So We subjected the wind to him. It blew softly at his bidding whither-soever he wanted it to blow.” Thus it is clear that the wind was so subjected to Prophet Solomon that the voyages to places at one month’s sea journey could be performed conveniently, because a favourable wind was always blowing for his ships to and from those places.
It is confirmed by the Bible that Prophet Solomon had developedsea trade on a large scale. ( I Kings, 10: 22). On the one side, his trade ships sailed from Ezion-geber, through the Red Sea, towards Yaman and other southern and eastern lands, and on the other, his naval fleet called Thar-shish, sailed on the Mediterranean to the western countries. The great furnace which he had built at Ezion-geber for melting and moulding ores extracted from the copper and iron mines in the `Arabah in Edom, has been confirmed by modem archaeological researches as well. This molten iron and copper was used in building ships besides being put to other uses. The Qur’an refers to this when it says: “….and We made a fountain of molten copper to flow for him (Solomon)….” (XXXIV:12).
As ,regards the subjection of the wind, it may mean that Allah, by His special favour, had so arranged that the wind-and sea voyages in those days depended entirely on wind-was always favourable for Prophet Solomon’s fleet. But if we take the literal meaning of v. 81: “it sped at his bidding”, there will be no harm, for Allah is able to give such powers to any of His servants He pleases.
وَمِنَ الشَّيَاطِينِ مَنْ يَغُوصُونَ لَهُ وَيَعْمَلُونَ عَمَلًا دُونَ ذَلِكَ وَكُنَّا لَهُمْ حَافِظِينَ ﴿21:82﴾
(21:82) And We had subjected to him many of the satans who dived into the sea for him, and performed other works besides this: and We kept watch over all of them. *75
*75 The subjection of “satans” has been explained in XXXIV:12-13. Incidentally, these verses of the Qur’an clearly show that the satans and jinns who worked for Prophet Solomon belonged to quite a different genus from human beings. Therefore, it is wrong to pervert the Qur’an to prove that “they were human beings” as some modernist commentators have tried to do. It is obvious from the wording of the Qur’an and the context in which the story of the jinns has been related, that they were not human beings. Had they been so this would have been no special favour to Solomon, because human beings had already built the gigantic monuments like the pyramids of Egypt.
Surah 21. Al-Anbiya
إِذْ عُرِضَ عَلَيْهِ بِالْعَشِيِّ الصَّافِنَاتُ الْجِيَادُ ﴿38:31﴾
(38:31) And when one evening well-trained and running horses of noble breed were brought to him *33
*33 The words as-sefinat-ul- jiyad in the original imply the horses, which are very calm and quiet when they stand, and very fast-moving when they run.
فَقَالَ إِنِّي أَحْبَبْتُ حُبَّ الْخَيْرِ عَنْ ذِكْرِ رَبِّي حَتَّى تَوَارَتْ بِالْحِجَابِ ﴿38:32﴾
(38:32) he said: “Lo! I have come to love this wealth *34 on account of the remembrance of my Lord.” And when the horses disappeared,
*34 The Arabic word khair in the Text is used for abundance of wealth as well as for horses metaphorically. As the Prophet Solomon had kept these horses for fighting in the way of Allah, he called them “khair”.
رُدُّوهَا عَلَيَّ فَطَفِقَ مَسْحًا بِالسُّوقِ وَالْأَعْنَاقِ ﴿38:33﴾
(38:33) (he ordered): “Bring these horses back to me,” and then he began to gently stroke their shanks and necks. *35
*35 There is a difference of opinion among the commentators about the translation and commentary of these verses. One section of them interprets them as follows:
The Prophet Solomon became so absorbed in reviewing the horses and watching their races, that he forgot to offer his ‘Asr Prayer, or according to some others, to perform certain devotions that he used to perform before the sunset. Then when the sun went down, he commanded that the horses be brought back, and when they came back, the Prophet Solomon started slashing them with the sword, or in other words, slaughtering them as a sacrifice to Allah, because they had caused him to become heedles: of the remembrance of Allah. Accordingly, the verses have been translated thus: “And he :aid: I so preferred the love of this wealth that I became heedless of the remembrance (the ‘Asr Prayer, or the special devotions) of my Lord till (the sun) went down (behind the veil of the west). (Then he commanded : ) bring them back, (and when the horses came back) he began to stroke their shanks and necks (with the sword).” Although this commentary has been given by some major commentators, it is not plausible for the reason that in this the commenentator ha: to add three things from himself, which have no basis whatever. In the first place, he has to assume that the Prophet Solomon’s ‘Asr Prayer was lost in the occupation, or some special devotions that he used to perform at that time, whereas the words of the Qur’an are only to the effect: “I so preferred this wealth that I became heedless of the remembrance of my Lord. ” In these there is no ground for taking any word for the `Asr Prayer or the special devotions. Secondly, he also assumes that the sun set where as there is no mention of the sun whatever. On the contrary, when one reads the words hatta tawarar bil-hijab (when they disappeared from sight) one’s mind automatically turns to as-safinat ul jiyad (well-bred horses) which have been mentioned in the preceding verse. Thirdly, he also has to assume that the Prophet Solomon did not simply stroke the shins and necks of the horses with the hand but stroked them with the sword, whereas the Qur’an does not contain the words mashan-bis-saif or any other pointer from which stroking may be taken to mean stroking with the sword. We have a fundamental difference with this kind of the commentary. In our opinion, only in four cases it would be right to interpret the words of the Qur’an in other than their normally accepted meaning: (1) Either there should be a pointer to it in the words of the Qur’an itself; or (2) there should be an allusion to it at some other place in the Qur’an; or (3) an explanation of it should be afforded by some authentic Hadith; or (4) it should have some other reliable source, e.g., if it pertains to history, there should be an historical evidence to support it; if it pertains to the manifestations of the universe, there should be authentic scientific knowledge to substantiate it; and if it pertains to the Shari’ah values, the sources of Islamic law should explain it. In the absence of any of these, we do not think it is right to invent a story on the basis of one’s own imagination and add it to the words of the Qur’an.
One section of the commentators has differed a little from the about translation and commentary. They say that the pronoun in both hatta tawarat bil-hijab and ruddu-ha ‘alayya turns only to the sun. That Is, when the `Asr Prayer was lost and the sun went down behind the veil of the west, the Prophet Solomon said to the workers of destiny: “Turn the sun back so that the `Asr time comes back for me to offer the Prayer.” So, the sun retreated and he performed his Prayer. Hut this commentary is even more unacceptable than the previously mentioned one not because Allah is powerless to bring the sun back, but because Allah has made no mention of it anywhere. On the contrary, if such a wonderful miracle had actually been worked for the sake of the Prophet Solomon, it would certainly be worthy of mention. Moreover, if the extraordinary event of the returning of the sun after having set had actually taken place; the history of the would would never be without it. In support of this commentary these commentators _present some Ahadith also in order to prove that the returning of the sun after having set is not a rare event that happened only once, but it has happened several times. There is the mention of bringing the sun back in connection with the Holy Prophet’s Ascension (mi’raj); the sun was also brought back on the occasion of the Battle of the Trench for the Holy Prophet, and also for Hadrat `Ali, when the Holy Prophet was sleeping with his head in Hadrat Ali’s lap and his ‘Asr Prayer was lost: then the Holy Prophet had prayed for the return of the sun and it had returned. But the reasoning from these traditions is even weaker than the commentary in support of which they have been presented. Ibn Taimiyyah has proved as fabricated the tradition about Hadrat `Ali after a detailed discussion of its chains and transmitters. Imam Ahmad says it has no basis, and Ibn Jauzi says that it is without any doubt a forged tradition. The tradition of the sun’s being brought back on the occasion of the Battle of the Trench also is weak according to some traditionists and fabricated according to others. As far as the tradition regarding the event of the Ascension is concerned, the truth about it is that when, the Holy Prophet was describing what had happened in the Night of Ascension, before the disbelievers of Makkah, they asked for a proof of it. The Holy Prophet replied that on the way from Jerusalem he had seen a caravan at such and such a plce, which had met with such and such an accident. When asked as to when that caravan would reach Makkah, the Holy Prophet named the day. When the day came, the people of the Quraish waited for the caravan all day till the sun began to set. On this occasion the Holy Prophet prayed that the sun should not set till the caravan had arrived. So, the caravan actually arrived before the sunset. Some reporters even have stated that the day on that occasion had been enhanced by an hour, and the sun had stood still for that long. The question is: Are such traditions sufficient evidence for the proof of such an extraordinary event? As we have said above, the returning of the sun, or its standing still for an hour, is no ordinary event. Had such an event actually taken place, it would have become well known the world over. Its mention and narration could not remain restricted to only a few reporters.
The third section of the commentators interprets these verses as any unbiased person would interpret them from these words. According to this commentary, what actually happened was this: When a squadron of fine, wellbred horses was presented before the Prophet Solomon, he said: “I love this wealth not for the sake of personal glory or desire but for the cause of raising the Word of my Lord.” Then he ordered that the horses run a race, and they disappeared from sight. Then he ordered that they be brought back, and when they were brought back, according to Ibn `Abbas: “He started passing his hand on their necks and shanks with love.” This same commentary is correct in our opinion, because it corresponds to the words of the Qur’an, and for the sake of the full meaning, nothing needs to be added to it, which may neither be in the Qur’an, nor in any authentic Hadith, nor in the Israelite history. Besides, one should also note that Allah has narrated this event immediately after using epithets like ni’m al-‘abd, inna-hu awwab (an excellent servant, who turned to His Lord over and over again) for the Prophet Solomon. This clearly shows that the object is to relate this message: Behold, what a good servant of Ours he was! He loved the means of kingly pomp and glory not for the sake of the world but for Our sake! After watching – and reviewing his grand cavalry he did not boast of his power and grandeur like the worldly rulers but even at that time he remembered only Us.
وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا سُلَيْمَانَ وَأَلْقَيْنَا عَلَى كُرْسِيِّهِ جَسَدًا ثُمَّ أَنَابَ﴿38:34﴾
(38:34) Surely We put Solomon to the test and cast upon his throne a mere body. Thereupon he penitently turned (to Us).
قَالَ رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَهَبْ لِي مُلْكًا لَا يَنْبَغِي لِأَحَدٍ مِنْ بَعْدِي إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْوَهَّابُ ﴿38:35﴾
(38:35) He said: “My Lord, forgive me and bestow upon me a kingdom such as none other after me will deserve. Surely You are the Bounteous Giver.” *36
*36 In view of the contest, the real object here is to relate this event; the preceding verses are an introduction to it. Just as above this, first the Prophet David was praised, then the event narrated by which he was put to temptation, then it was said that Allah Almighty dces not spare even such a beloved servant from accountability, then about his noble nature it was said that as soon as he was warned of the temptation, he repented and bowed before Allah and withheld himself from the act, so also here the sequence is like this: First, the Prophet Solomon’s high rank and his deep sense of devotion has been mentioned, then it is said that he also was put to the test, then it has been stated that when a mere body was placed on his throne, he immediately felt warned on his error, and pleading the forgiveness of his Lord, withdrew from the act, because of which he was involved in the temptation. In other words, Allah by means of these two stories wants to impress two things upon the reader simultaneously: (1) Not to speak of the common men, even high-ranking Prophets were not spared from His strict accountability; and (2) the right attitude for man is not to brag and feel proud after committing an error, but to bow down humbly before his Lord as soon as he realizes his sin. It was the result of this attitude that Allah not only forgave the mistakes of those illustrious men but blessed them with still more favours and kindness.
Here, the question again arises as to what was the temptation in which the Prophet Solomon was involved; what is the meaning of placing a mere body on his throne, and what was the nature of the warning on the occurrence of which he repented? In reply to this the commentators have adopted four different points of view:
One section of them has related a long story whose details are disputed, but their resume is this: The error committed by the Prophet Solomon was either that one of his wives continued to worship the idols in the palace for forty days and he remained unaware of it, or that he remained confined to his residence for a few days and did not attend to redressing of the oppressed people’s grievances. For this he was punished as follows: A satan somehow made away with his ring by which he ruled over the jinns, men and wind. As soon as he lost the ring he was deprived of his powers and he remained wandering from place to place for forty days; in the interval the satan continued to rule in the guise of Solomon. The placing of a mere body on Solomon’s throne implied this very satan, who had sat on his -throne. Some people have gone to the extent to say that during that period even the chastity of the women in the royal household did not remain safe from the satan. At last from his conduct the ministers and the chiefs and the scholars of the court began to doubt that he was not Solomon. Therefore, when they opened the Torah before him, he fled. On the way the ring fell from his hand in the sea, or he cast it into the sea himself, and a fish swallowed it. Then, somehow the Prophet Solomon came by the fish. When in order to cook it, he cut open its belly he found his ring in it. Then, no sooner did he get the ring than the jinns and men presented themselves humbly before him.–This whole story, from the beginning to the end, is nonsensical and absurd, which the converts from among the Jews and Christians took from the Talmud and other Israelite traditions and spread it among the Muslims. It is strange that some of our well known scholars took these traditions as authentic and cited them as the explanation of the allusions of the Qur’an, whereas neither is there any truth in Solomon’s ring, nor could his glorious works be attributed to any ring, nor had the satans been given the power that they might disguise themselves as Prophets and mislead the people, nor can it be imagined about Allah that He would punish a Prophet for an error in such a manner as to enable a satan to corrupt and destroy a whole community, disguised as a prophet. The Qur’an itself repudiates this commentary. In the verses that follow Allah says: When Solomon met with the trial, and he asked Our forgiveness for it, then We subdued the wind and the satans to him. Hut, on the contrary, according to the above commentary, the satans were already under his control by virtue of the ring. It is strange that the scholars who have made this commentary did not care to consider what the subsequent verses say.
The second section of them says that a son was born to the Prophet Solomon after twenty years. The satans feared that if he became king after Solomon, they would continue to remain slaves as they were under him. Therefore, they plotted to kill him. When Solomon came to know of this plot, he hid the child in the clouds so that he was brought up there. This was the temptation in which he was involved: he placed reliance on the protection of the clouds instead of having trust in Allah. For this he was punished in this way that the child died and fell on his throne as a mere body …. This tale also is baseless and is expressly against the Qur`an, for in this also it has been assumed that the winds and satans were already under the Prophet Solomon’s control, whereas the Qur’an in clear words has stated their subjection to be an event that took place after the trial.
The third section says that the Prophet Solomon one day swore that he would go in to his 70 wives that night, and from each a warrior would be born, who would fight in the cause of Allah, but while he said this he did not say: In sha A//ah: if Allah so wills. Consequently, only one wife conceived and from her also a defective child was born, whom the midwife brought and placed on his throne. This Hadith has been reported by Hadrat Abu Harairah from the Holy Prophet and it has been related by Bukhari and Muslim and other traditionists in several ways. In Bukhari itself this tradition has been related at different places in different ways. At one place the number of the wives has been stated as 60 and at others 70 or 90 or 99 or 100. As far as the chains of the transmitters are concerned, most of the traditions have strong chains, and their authenticity cannot be disputed from the point of view of the principles of reporting. But the subject-matter of the Hadith is patently against reason, and proclaims aloud that such a thing could not have been said by the Holy Prophet, as reported. But, on the contrary, he might have probably mentioned it as an example of the foolish and nonsensical tale-telling of the Jews, and the hearer might have misunderstood that the Holy Prophet himself had stated it as an event. To force the people to accept such traditions only on the strength of their chains of transmitters would be making religion a matter of mockery and jest. Everyone can calculate for himself that even in the longest night of winter the interval between the `Isha` and the Fajr Prayers cannot be of more than ten to cloven hours. If the minimum number of the wives be 60, it would mean that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) went on having intercourse with them continuously for 10 to 11 hours that night at the rate of six wives per hour, without having a moment’s rest. Is it practically possible? And can it be expected that the Holy Prophet might have related it as an event? Then in the Hadith nowhere has it been said that the body that had been placed on Solomon’s throne, as stated in the Qur’an, implied the malformed child. Therefore, it cannot be claimed that the Holy Prophet had narrated this event as a commentary of this verse. Furthermore, though it is understandable why the Prophet Solomon asked for Allah’s forgiveness on the birth of the child, one fails to understand why, along with the prayer for forgiveness, he prayed: “My Lord, grant me a kingdom as may belong to no one else after me. “
Another commentary which Imam Razi has preferred is this: The Prophet Solomon was afflicted with a serious disease, or on account of an impending danger his body had been reduced to a mere skeleton. But this commentary also does not conform to the words of the Qur’an. The Qur’an says: “We put Solomon to the test and placed a mere body on his throne. Then he turned (to Allah). ” From these words no one can understand that the mere body implied the body of the Prophet Solomon himself. They clearly show that putting to the test implied some error that. he happened to commit. On this, the way he was given the warning was that a mere body was placed on his throne, and when he realized his error he turned to Allah.
As a matter of fact, this is one of the most difficult places of the Qur’an, and we do not find any indisputable ground for giving a definite and absolute commentary of it. But if the words of the Prophet Solomon’s prayer: “My Lord, forgive me, and grant me a kingdom as may belong to no one else after me,” are read in the light of the Israelite history, it appears that probably he cherished in his heart the desire that his son should succeed him on the throne so that His kingdom and sovereignty should continue in his own race after him. This same thing has been called a “temptation” for him by Allah, and he realized this when his heir Rehoboam grew up into an unworthy young man, whose ugly manners clearly foretold that he would not be able to sustain the mighty kingdom of the Prophets David and Solomon (peace be upon them) even for a few days. °Placing a mere body on his throne” probably means that the son whom he wanted to succeed him on the throne, was an unworthy person. Therefore, he restrained his desire, asked for Allah’s forgiveness and prayed that the kingdom should end with him, and he would curb his desire to have it continued in his dynasty. The Israelite history also shows the same thing. The Prophet Solomon did not make any will about his successor, nor made it binding for the people to obey a particular person. After him his ministers put Rehoboam on the throne, but not long afterwards ten tribes of Israel took northern Palestine and broke away, and only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the throne of Jerusalem.
فَسَخَّرْنَا لَهُ الرِّيحَ تَجْرِي بِأَمْرِهِ رُخَاءً حَيْثُ أَصَابَ﴿38:36﴾
(38:36) We subjected the wind to him, so that it blew gently at his bidding, wherever he directed it, *37
*37 For explanation, see Surah Al-Anbiya`: 81 and E.N. 74 thereof. However, there is one thing which requires further explanation here. In Surah Al Anbiya` where mention has been made of subjecting the wind for the Prophet Solomon, it has been described as `the strongly blowing wind, but here “which blew gently at his bidding” . This means that the wind in itself was strong and violent as is needed for moving the sailing-ships but it had been made gentle for the Prophet Solomon in the sense that it blew whither-so-ever he wanted it to blow for his commercial fleets.
وَالشَّيَاطِينَ كُلَّ بَنَّاءٍ وَغَوَّاصٍ ﴿38:37﴾
(38:37) and We also subjected the devils to him – all kinds of builders and divers;
وَآَخَرِينَ مُقَرَّنِينَ فِي الْأَصْفَادِ ﴿38:38﴾
(38:38) and others that were bound with chains. *38
*38 For explanation, see Al-Anbiya’: 82, An-Naml: 17, 39 and the E.N.’s thereof. “The satans” imply the jinns, and “the satans bound in chains” imply the serving satans, who were fettered and imprisoned as a punishment for making mischief. It is not necessary that the fetters and chains in which those satans were bound might be made of iron and they might appear as bound in them like the human prisoners. In any case, they were imprisoned in a manner that they could neither escape nor were able to commit further mischief.
هَذَا عَطَاؤُنَا فَامْنُنْ أَوْ أَمْسِكْ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ ﴿38:39
(38:39) “This is Our bestowal. So give or withhold as you wish without account.” *39
*39 This verse can have three meanings: (1) “This is Our unlimited gift: you have the authority to give of it freely w whomsoever you like and keep it from whomsoever you like;” (2) “this is Our gift: you may give of it to whomsoever you like and keep it from whomsoever you like: you will not be called to account for giving it or keeping it from the people;” and (3) Another meaning of it given by some commentators is: The satans have been placed entirely under your control: you may set free whomsoever you like and restrain whomsoever you like: you will not be held accountable for this.”
وَإِنَّ لَهُ عِنْدَنَا لَزُلْفَى وَحُسْنَ مَآَبٍ ﴿38:40﴾
(38:40) Indeed an exalted position of nearness awaits him and an excellent resort. *40
*40 Here, the object is to tell that just as a servant’s arrogance causes Allah’s displeasure and wrath, so does his humility earns Allah’s pleasure and approval for him. If a servant commits an error and becomes even more arrogant when warned, he is led to the same fate as is being mentioned in connection with the story of Adam and Satan below. Contrary to this, if a servant happens to commit an error and he repents and bows down before his Lord humbly, he is blessed with such bounties as the Prophets David and Solomon were blessed with. The prayer that Solomon had made after seeking Allah’s forgiveness, was literally fulfilled and Allah actually granted him a kingdom as had neither been granted to anyone before him nor bestowed on anyone after him. Having control over the winds and the jinns is an extraordinary power, which has been granted only to the Prophet Solomon and to none else in human history.
Surah 38. Suad
وَوَرِثَ سُلَيْمَانُ دَاوُودَ وَقَالَ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ عُلِّمْنَا مَنْطِقَ الطَّيْرِ وَأُوتِينَا مِنْ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ إِنَّ هَذَا لَهُوَ الْفَضْلُ الْمُبِينُ﴿27:16﴾
(27:16) And Solomon succeeded David, *20 and he said, “O people, we have been taught the speech of the birds, *21 and we have been granted all sorts of things. *22 This is indeed a great favour (of Allah).”
*20 Succession here dces not mean inheritance of wealth and properties, but the succession to the Prophet David in the Prophethood and vicegerency. For the wealth and possessions, if at aII transferred, could not be transferred to the Prophet Solomon only, because Prophet David had other children also. Therefore, this verse cannot be cited to refute the Hadith reported from the Holy Prophet, saying, “The inheritance left by us, the Prophets, is not divided as such. whatever we leave behind is charity.” (Bukhari) And: “There is no heir to a Prophet. Whatever he leaves behind, is divided among the needy and the indigent of the Muslims.” (Musnad Ahmad. Traditions from Abu Bakr, Ahadith No. 60 and 78). The Prophet Solomon was the youngest son of the Prophet David. His Hebrew name Solomon is a synonym of Salim (right-minded, affable). He succeeded the Prophet David in 965 B.C. and ruled his kingdom for forty years, till 926B.C. For other details of his life and works, see E. N.’s 74-75 of AIAnbiyaa in The Meaning of the Qur’an, Vol. VII). Our commentators have greatly exaggerated’ the vastness of his kingdom, and have held that he ruled over a large part of the world. The fact, however. is that his kingdom comprised only the present Palestine and Transjordan and a part of Syria. (See Map: Kingdom of the Prophets David and Solomon, The Meaning of the Qur’an, Vol. II, Bani Israel E. N. 7).
*21 There is no mention in the Bible that the Prophet Solomon had been taught speech of the birds and animals, though the Israelite traditions contain a reference to it. (Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. Xl.p. 598)
*22 That is, “Allah has bestowed on us all sorts of things.” This, however, should not be understood literally; it only means the abundance of the wealth and the means of life granted by Allah. This was not said proudly by Prophet Solomon but only to express his gratitude to Allah for His grace and bounty and favours.
وَحُشِرَ لِسُلَيْمَانَ جُنُودُهُ مِنَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنْسِ وَالطَّيْرِ فَهُمْ يُوزَعُونَ ﴿27:17﴾
(27:17) For Solomon were gathered hosts of jinn and men and birds, *23which were kept under strict discipline.
*23 The Bible dces not either make any mention that there were jinns also in the Prophet Solomon’s armies, and he took service from them; but the Talmud and the rabbinical traditions contain details of this. (Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. XI, p. 440). Some of the present-day writers have strained every nerve to prove that the words jinn and fair do not refer to the jinns and birds but to men who performed different duties in the Prophet Solomon’s army. They say that the Jinn haply the people of the mountain tribes whom Prophet Solomon had subdued and who performed teats of great strength and skill under him; and fair implies cavalry which could move much faster than the infantry. But these are indeed the worst examples of misinterpreting the Qur’an. The Qur’an here mentions three distinct kinds of the army consisting of the men, the jinns and the birds, and all the three gave been qualified by the prefix a1 (alif-!am) to denote a class. Therefore, al jinn and al–tair could not be included in al-ins (the men), but could be two separate and different classes from the men. Moreover, a person who has a little acquaintance with Arabic cannot imagine that in this language the mere word a/ Jinn could ever imply a group of the men, or al–tair troops mounted on horses, nor could any Arab understand these meanings from these words. Calling a man a jinn only figuratively because of some supernatural feat of his, or a woman a fairy because of her beauty, or a fast moving person a bird dces not mean that the words Jinn and fairy and bird will henceforth be taken to mean a powerful man and a beautiful woman and a fast moving person respectively. These are only the metaphoric and not the real meanings of these words. In a discourse, a word is used in its figurative instead of its real meaning, and the listeners also will take it in that meaning, only when there exists in the context a clear pointer to its being figurative. What, after all, is the pointer in the context here from which one may understand that the words jinn and tair have been used not in their real and lexical meaning but in their figurative meaning? Contrary to this, the work and the state of a member each of the two groups that have been mentioned in the following verses, fall entirely against the purport of this interpretation. If a person dces not want to believe in something stated in the Qur’an, he should frankly say that he does not believe in it. But it would be moral cowardice and intellectual dishonesty if one should force the clear words of the Qur’an to give the meaning that he wants them to give, and tell the world that he believes in what the Qur’an says, whereas he dces not, in fact, believe in it but believes in his own distorted meaning.
حَتَّى إِذَا أَتَوْا عَلَى وَادِ النَّمْلِ قَالَتْ نَمْلَةٌ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّمْلُ ادْخُلُوا مَسَاكِنَكُمْ لَا يَحْطِمَنَّكُمْ سُلَيْمَانُ وَجُنُودُهُ وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ ﴿27:18﴾
(27:18) (Once he was marching in an expedition with them) until when they came to the valley of the ants, an ant said, “O ants, get into your holes lest Solomon and his hosts should trample you down without even knowing it. “ *24
*24 This verse also has been greatly misconstrued by some commentators of the present day. They say that wad-in naml does not mean “valley of the ants”, but it is the name of a valley that was in Syria, and namlah does not mean an ant but it is the name of a tribe. Thus, according to them, the verse means this: “When the Prophet Solomon reached the valley of the ants, a Namilite said, ‘O people of the Naml tribe ……” But this also is an interpretation which is not supported by the words of the Qur’an. Even if we took wad-in-naml to be the name of a valley and supposed that it was inhabited by the tribe of Bani an-Naml, it would be against the Arabic idiom and usage to speak of a member of the tribe as namlah. Although there are many Arab tribes which have been named after the animals, e.g. Kalb (dog), Asad (lion), etc”., yet no Arab would ever say in respect of a member of the Kalb or the Asad tribe: “A dog said, or a lion said, etc. Therefore, it would be against the Arabic idiom to say in respect of a member of the Naml tribe: “A namlah (ant) said this.” Then a member of the Naml tribe’s warning the people of his tribe, saying, “O Namilites, get into your houses lest Solomon’s hosts should trample you down without even knowing it,” becomes meaningless, It has never happened that an army of men should have trampled down a group of men without knowing it. If the army has come with the intention of an attack, it would be useless for the other side to get into their houses, for in that case the invaders would follow them into their houses, and trample them more ruthlessly. And if the army is only on the routine march, it is just enough to clear off the way for it. Human beings may be harmed by the marching columns, but it can never happen that the soldiers on the march would trample down other men without knowing it. Therefore, if Bani an-Naml were a tribe of human beings, and one of its members were to warn his people, then in case of an attack, he would have said, “O Namilites, flee your houses and take refuge in the mountains lest Solomon’s armies should destroy you. ” And in case there was no danger of an attack, he would have said, “O Namilites, clear off the way lest one of you should be harmed by the marching columns of Solomon’s armies.” This error in the interpretation is on account of the Arabic idiom and the subject-matter. As for the name of the valley and the tribe of Bani an-Naml inhabiting it, it is a mere hypothesis for which there exists no scientific proof. Those who hold that wad-in -naml was the name of a valley have themselves pointed out that it had been so named because of the abundance of ants in it. Qatadah and Muqatil say, “It is a valley in the land of Syria where ants are found in abundance. But in no book of history and geography and in no archaeological research it is mentioned that it was inhabited by a tribe called Bani an-Naml. Thus, it is merely a concoction that has been invented to support one’s own interpretation . This story is also found in the Israelite traditions but its latter portion falls against the Qur’an as well as against the regal dignity of the Prophet Solomon. According to it, when the Prophet Solomon was passing through a valley which abounded in ants, he heard an ant calling out to the other ants to say, “Get into your holes, otherwise you will be trampled down by Solomon’s hosts.” At this, Prophet Solomon displayed great vanity before the ant to which the ant rejoined, ” What are you?-the product of a mere sperm-drop ! ” Hearing this the Prophet Solomon felt greatly ashamed. (Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. X1, p. 440). This shows how the Qur’an corrects the wrong traditions of the Israelites, and cleanses the filthy spots with which they had themselves branded the characters of their Prophets. It is these traditions about which the Western orientalists shamelessly claim that the Qur’an has plagiarized them for its narratives. Rationally also it is not at all inconceivable that an ant should warn members of its’ own species of an impending danger and tell them to get into their holes. As for the question as to how the Prophet Solomon heard it, the answer is: It is not all difficult to understand the crude speech of an ant for a person whose senses can comprehend and receive a subtle message like the Word of Revelation
فَتَبَسَّمَ ضَاحِكًا مِنْ قَوْلِهَا وَقَالَ رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَى وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَدْخِلْنِي بِرَحْمَتِكَ فِي عِبَادِكَ الصَّالِحِينَ﴿27:19﴾
(27:19) Hearing its words, Solomon laughed smilingly and said “O My Lord, restrain *25 me so that I may render thanks to Thee for Thy favours which Thou hast bestowed upon the and my parents, and (enable me) to do such good works as may please Thee; and admit me, by Thy mercy, among Thy righteous servants. “ *26
*25 “Restrain me…thanks to Thee” means this: “O my Lord! the wonderful powers and abilities that You have given me are such that if I become even a little forgetful and heedless, I might transgress the bounds of service and be puffed up with pride and go astray. Therefore, O my Lord, restrain me so that I may remain grateful to You for all Your blessings instead of being ungrateful. “
*26 “Admit me..righteous servants” probably implies this: “I should be included among the righteous in the Hereafter and should enter Paradise along with them.” For a person who dces righteous acts will automatically be righteous, but one’s entry into Paradise in the Hereafter cannot come about merely on the strength of one’s good works, but it will depend on Allah’s mercy. According to a Hadith, the Holy Prophet once said, “Merely the deeds of any one of you will not enable him to enter Paradise.” It was asked, “In your case too, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “Yes, I also shall not enter Paradise only on the strength of my deeds, unless Allah Almighty covers me with His mercy.” This prayer of the Prophet Solomon on this occasion becomes irrelevant if an Naml is taken to mean a vibe of human beings and namlah a member of that tribe. After all, there could be nothing extraordinary in the warning given by a member of a human tribe to the people of his vibe about the approaching troops of a powerful king that it should have induced the king to make such a prayer to Allah. However, a person’s having such a wonderful power of comprehension that he may hear the speech of an ant from a distance and also understand it, is certainly something extraordinary, which can involve a person in self-conceit and vanity. In such a case only the prayer of the Prophet Solomon can be relevant.
وَتَفَقَّدَ الطَّيْرَ فَقَالَ مَا لِيَ لَا أَرَى الْهُدْهُدَ أَمْ كَانَ مِنَ الْغَائِبِينَ ﴿27:20﴾
(27:20) (On another occasion) Solomon reviewed his birds *27 and said, “How is it that 1 do not see the hoopoe? Has he disappeared somewhere?
*27 That is, the birds whose troops, as mentioned above, were included in the armies of Prophet Solomon like the troops of the men and jinns. It is just possible that the Prophet Solomon had employed them for communicating messages, hunting and performing other such services.
لَأُعَذِّبَنَّهُ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا أَوْ لَأَذْبَحَنَّهُ أَوْ لَيَأْتِيَنِّي بِسُلْطَانٍ مُبِينٍ﴿27:21﴾
(27:21) I will punish him severely, or even slaughter him, unless he presents before me a reasonable excuse” *28
*28 Some people of the modern time say that the hud-bud (hoopoe) does not mean the bird commonly known by this name, but is the name of a man who was an officer in the army of Solomon. This claim is not based on any historical research in which they might have found a person named hud-hud included in the list of the officers of the government of the Prophet Solomon, but they base their claim on the argument that the custom of naming human beings after animals is prevalent in Arabic as in other languages and was also found in Hebrew. Moreover, the, work that has been ascribed to the hud-hud in the following verses and its conversation with the Prophet Solomon, can, according to them, be only performed by a human being. But if one keeps in view the context in which this thing occurs in the Qur’an, it becomes evident that this is no commentary of the Qur’an but its distortion. After aII, why should the Qur’an put the intellect and intelligence of man to the test by using enigmatic language ‘? Why should it not clearly say that a soldier of the Prophet Solomon’s cavalry, or platoon, or communication department, was missing, whom he ordered to be searched out, and who came and gave this news and whom he despatched on such and such a mission? Instead, it uses such language that the reader, from the beginning to the end, is compelled to regard it as a bird. Let us, in this connection, consider the tarts in their sequence as presented in the Qur’an. First of aII, the Prophet Solomon expresses his gratitude to AIIah for His this bounty: “We have been taught the speech of the birds.” In this sentence, firstly, the word Lair has been used absolutely which every Arab and scholar of Arabic will take in the meaning of a bird, because there is nothing in the context that points to its being figurative; secondly, if tair implied a group of men and not a bird, the ward language or tongue would have been used concerning it and not speech. ‘Then, a person’s knowing the tongue of another people is not so extraordinary a thing that it should be specially mentioned. Today there are among us thousands of men and women, who can speak and understand many foreign languages. This is in no way an unusual achievement which may be mentioned as an extraordinary gift of God. Then the Qur’an says, “For Solomon were gathered hosts of jinns and then and birds.” In this sentence, firstly, the words Jinn and ins (men) and tair have been used as names for three well-known and distinct species denoted by these words in Arabic. Then they have been used absolutely and there is nothing in the context that may point to any of them being used metaphorically, or as a simile. hecause of which one may take them in another meaning than their well- known lexical meaning. Then the word ins has occurred between the words jinn and Lair which does not allow taking it in the meaning that the Jinn and the tair were, in tact, two groups included in the species of ins (men). Had this been meant the words would have been: ul jinn wat-tair min-al-ins and not min-al- Jinn wal-ins W at-tair. A little further un the e Qur’an says that the Prophet Solomon said this when-during his review of the birds hr found the hud-hud missing. If the fair were human beings and hud-hud also was the name of a man, a word or two should Dave been there to indicate this so that cite poor reader should not have taken the word for a bird. When the group being mentioned is clearly of the birds and a number of it is called hud-hud. how can it be expected that the reader will of his own accord understand them to be human beings’? Then the Prophet Solomon says, “1 will punish him severely, or even slaughter him, unless he presents before me a reasonable excuse.” A man is killed, or hanged, or sentenced to death, but never slaughtered. Some hard-hearted person may even slaughter another person out of vengeance, but it cannot be expected of a Prophet that he would sentence a soldier of his army to be slaughtered only for the offence of desertion, and Allah would mention this heinous act of the Prophet without a word of disapproval. A little further on we shall again see that the Prophet Solomon sends the same hud-hud with a letter to the queen of Sheba and tells him “to cast it before her”. Obviously, such an instruction can be given to a bird but not at all to a man when he is sent as an envoy or messenger. Only a foolish person will believe that a king would send his envoy with a letter to the queen of another country and tell him to cast or throw it before her. Should we suppose that the Prophet Solomon was not aware of the preliminary social etiquette which even common people like us also observe when we send our servant to a neighbour? Will a gentleman tell his servant to carry his letter to the other gentleman and throw it before him? All these things show that the word hud-hud here has been used in its lexical meaning, showing that he was not a man but a bird. Now, if a person is not prepared to believe that a hud-hud can speak those things that have been ascribed to it in the Qur’an, he should frankly say that he does not believe in this narrative: of the Qur’an. It is sheer hypocrisy to misconstrue plain and clear words of the Qur’an according to one’s own whims only in order to cover up one’s lack of faith in it.
فَمَكَثَ غَيْرَ بَعِيدٍ فَقَالَ أَحَطتُ بِمَا لَمْ تُحِطْ بِهِ وَجِئْتُكَ مِنْ سَبَإٍ بِنَبَإٍ يَقِينٍ ﴿27:22﴾
(27:22) The bird did not take long when it came and said, “I have obtained knowledge of things of which you have no knowledge. I have brought sure information about Saba. *29
*29 Saba’ were a well-known commercial people of southern Arabia, whose capital city of Ma’rib lay about 55 miles to the north-east of San`a’, the present capital of Yaman. They rose to power after the decline of the Minaean Kingdom in about 1100 B.C. and flourished for a thousand years in Arabia. Then in 115 B.C. they were replaced by the Himyarites, the other well-known people of southern Arabia, who ruled Yaman and Hadramaut in Arabia and Habash in Africa. The Sabaeans controlled the whole trade that passed between eastern Africa, India, the Far East and Arabia itself, on the one hand, and Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome on the other. That is why they were famous for their wealth in the ancient times; so much so that according to the Greek historians they were the richest people of the world. Besides trade and commerce, another great reason for their prosperity was that they had built dams here and there in their country to store rainwater for irrigation purposes, which had turned their whole land into a veritable garden. The Greek; historians have made mention of the unusual greenery of their country; and the Qur’an also refers to it in Surah Saba’: 15.The statement of the hud-hud, `I have obtained knowledge of things of which you have no knowledge”, does not imply that the Prophet Solomon was wholly unaware of Saba’. Obviously, the ruler of Syria and Palestine whose kingdom extended to the northern shores of the Red Sea (Gulf of `Aqabah), could not be unaware of a people who ruled the southern shores (Yaman) of the same Red Sea, and who also controlled an important pan of the international trade. Moreover, according to Psalms, Solomon’s father, Prophet David, knew Saba’ We lied the following words of his prayer in Psalms “Give the king thy judgement, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son (i.e. Solomon)… The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba (i.e. of Yaman’s and Habash’s branches) shall offer gifts.” (72: 1-2, 10-11). Therefore, what the hud-hud means to say is this: “The knowledge of the things 1 have seen with my eyes in the central city of the Sabaeans. has not yet reached you.”
إِنِّي وَجَدْتُ امْرَأَةً تَمْلِكُهُمْ وَأُوتِيَتْ مِنْ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَلَهَا عَرْشٌ عَظِيمٌ ﴿27:23﴾
(27:23) There I have seen a woman ruling over her people: she has been given all sorts of provisions, and she has a splendid throne.
 
وَجَدْتُهَا وَقَوْمَهَا يَسْجُدُونَ لِلشَّمْسِ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَزَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَعْمَالَهُمْ فَصَدَّهُمْ عَنِ السَّبِيلِ فَهُمْ لَا يَهْتَدُونَ﴿27:24﴾
(27:24) I saw that she and her people prostrate themselves before the sun instead of Allah. “ *30 —- Satan *31 made their deeds seem fair to them, *32and hindered them from the highway: therefore, they do not find the right path
*30 This shows that the people of Saba’ at that lime followed the religion of sun-worship, which is also supported by the ancient traditions of Arabia. Ibn ishaq has cited the genealogists’ saying to the effect that Saba’ have in fact descended from an ancestor whose name was `Abd Shams (slave of the sun, or sun-worshipper) and title Saba’. This is supported by the Israelite traditions as well. According to these when the hud=hud arrived with the Prophet Solomon’s letter, the queen of Sheba was going for the worship of the sun-god, and it threw the letter on the way before the queen.
*31 The style shows that the sentences from here to the end of the paragraph are not a part of the hud-bud’s speech but its speech ended with: “they prostrate themselves before the sun”, and these words are an addition by Allah to its speech. ‘I his opinion is supported by the sentence: “He knows all that you conceal and reveal.” These words give the impression that the speaker and the addressees here are not he hud-hud and the Prophet Solomon and his courtiers respectively, but the speaker is Allah and the addressees the mushriks of Makkah, for whose admonition this story has been related. From among the commentators, ‘Allamah Alusi;, the author of Ruh-al-Ma ani, also has preferred the same opinion.
*32 That is, Satan has made them believe that earning the worldly wealth and making, their lives more and more grand and pompous is the only real and fit use of their mental and intellectual and physical powers. Apart from these, they need not think seriously on anything else: they need not bother themselves to see whether there was any factual reality behind the apparent life of the world or not, and whether the basis of their religion, morality, culture and system of life accorded with that Reality or went utterly against it. Satan satisfied them that when they were making adequate progress in respect of wealth and power and worldly grandeur, they had no need to see whether their beliefs and philosophies and theories were correct or not, for the only proof of their being correct was that they were earning wealth and enjoying life to their hearts content.
أَلَّا يَسْجُدُوا لِلَّهِ الَّذِي يُخْرِجُ الْخَبْءَ فِي السَّمَوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا تُخْفُونَ وَمَا تُعْلِنُونَ ﴿27:25﴾
(27:25) that they may prostrate themselves before that God Who brings to light the hidden things of the heavens and the earth *33 and knows all that you conceal and reveal. *34
*33 That is, He is bringing continuously into existence those things which before their ‘ birth were hidden here and there: He is bringing out continuously countless kinds of vegetation and minerals from the bowels of the earth: He is manifesting from upper space such things as could not even be conceived by Ruman mind before their manifestation.
*34 That is, His knowledge embraces everything; the open and hidden are alike for Him; He is aware of everything. By citing these two attributes of AIIah the object is to impress that if they had not been deluded by Satan, they could have seen the right way clearly: they could have perceived that the hot burning sphere of the sun which has no sense of its own existence, did not deserve to be worshipped but worship was due to Him alone Who is the All-Knowing and the AlI-Wise Being, and Whose power is bringing into existence new and ever stew phenomena every moment.
اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ رَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ ﴿27:26﴾
(27:26) Allah: none but He is worthy of worship: He is the Owner of the glorious Throne. *35
*35 This is one of those verses of the Qur’an, whose recital makes it obligatory for one to perform a Sajdah (prostration), and there is a consensus on this of the Muslim jurists. The object of performing a Sajdah here is that a believer should set himself apart from the sun-worshippers and should decalre by his action that he does not regard the sun but Allah Almighty alone as his Deity and Lord.
قَالَ سَنَنْظُرُ أَصَدَقْتَ أَمْ كُنْتَ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ ﴿27:27﴾
(27:27) Solomon said, “We shall just now see whether what you say is true, or that you area liar.
اذْهَبْ بِكِتَابِي هَذَا فَأَلْقِهِ إِلَيْهِمْ ثُمَّ تَوَلَّ عَنْهُمْ فَانْظُرْ مَاذَا يَرْجِعُونَ ﴿27:28﴾
(27:28) Take this letter of mine and cast it before them; then get aside and see what reaction they show.” *36
*36 Here ends the role of the hud-hud (hoopoe). The rationalists deny its being a bird for the reason that a bird could not possibly be endowed with such powers of observation, discrimination and expression that it should pass over a country and should come to know that it is the land of Saba`, it has such and such a system of government, it is ruled by a certain woman, its religion is sunworship, that it should have worshipped One God instead of having gone astray, and then on its return to the Prophet Solomon it should so clearly make a report of aII its observations before him. Due to these very reasons the open atheists object that the Qur’an is a book of fables and legends; then those who try to interpret the Qur’an rationally misconstrue its clear words in order to prove that the hud-hud was not at all a bird but he was a man. But the question is: What scientific information have these gentlemen got by which they could tell with absolute certainty what powers and abilities the different species of animals and their different individuals have got? The information that they possess only consists of the results interred froth the grossly insufficient observation made cursorily by them of the life and behaviour of the animals. In fact, man has not so far been able to know through any certain means what different animals know and what they see and hear. and what they feel and think and understand, and how the mind of each one of them works. Yet, whatever little observation has been made of the life of the different species of animals, it has revealed some of their wonderful abilities. Now, when AIIah, Who is the Creator of these animals, tells us that He had taught the speech of the birds to one of His Prophets and blessed him with the ability to speak to them, and the Prophet’s taming and training had so enabled a hud-hud that it could make certain observations in the foreign lands and could report theta to the Prophet, we should, in fact, be prepared to revise our little knowledge about the animals in the light of Allah’s statement. But, instead, we commit the folly of taking our this insufficient knowledge as the criterion and belie this statement of AIIah or distort it out of its true meaning.
قَالَتْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ إِنِّي أُلْقِيَ إِلَيَّ كِتَابٌ كَرِيمٌ ﴿27:29﴾
(27:29) The queen said, “O chiefs, a very important letter has been cast before me.
إِنَّهُ مِنْ سُلَيْمَانَ وَإِنَّهُ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ ﴿27:30﴾
(27:30) It is from Solomon, and it begins with the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
أَلَّا تَعْلُوا عَلَيَّ وَأْتُونِي مُسْلِمِينَ ﴿27:31﴾
(27:31) It says, `Do not adopt a rebellious attitude against me and present yourselves as Muslims before me’.” *37
*37 That is, “The letter l s important for several reasons: (1) It has reached me in an unusual way. Instead of an envoy it has been brought and dropped at me by a bird. (2) It is from Solomon, the great ruler of Palestine and Syria. (3) It has heen begun with the name of AIIah, the Compassionate, and Merciful, which is an unusual way of correspondence and is not followed by any kingdom in the world. l41 Then, it is also unusual that a letter should be written only in the name of AIIah, the Exalted, spare from alI other gods and goddesses. (5) The most important thing in it is that it quite clearly and plainly invites us to give up rebellion and adopt obedience and present ourselves before Solomon in submission (or as MUSlImS).” “Present yourselves as Muslim” can have two meanings: (I) “Present yourselves in submission”; and (2) “present yourselves as Muslims (after embracing lslam).” The tirst meaning is in accordance with the Prophet Solomon’s position as a ruler, and the second with his position as a Prophet. Probably this comprehensive word was used in order to convey both the meanings through the letter. The same sort of invitation has always been extended by Islam to independent nations and governments that they should either accept Islam and become equal partners in the Islamic system of life, or surrender political independence and submit to the system of Islam and pay Jizyah
قَالَتْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ أَفْتُونِي فِي أَمْرِي مَا كُنْتُ قَاطِعَةً أَمْرًا حَتَّى تَشْهَدُونِ ﴿27:32﴾
(27:32) (Having read out the letter) the queen said, “O chiefs, counsel me in this matter; I do not take a decision in any matter without (consulting) you.” *38
*38 The words used in the Text are: hatta tash-hu-dun (unless you are present, or unless you bear witness). That is: “1 regard your presence necessary when 1 take a decision in important matters, and also that whatever decision I take you should be there to testify that it is right and correct.” This shows that though the system of government among Saba’ was kingship, it was not tyrannical; but the ruler of the time decided matters in consultation with the important people in the government.
قَالُوا نَحْنُ أُولُواْ قُوَّةٍ وَأُولُواْ بَأْسٍ شَدِيدٍ وَالْأَمْرُ إِلَيْكِ فَانْظُرِي مَاذَا تَأْمُرِينَ ﴿27:33﴾
(27:33) They replied, “We are a powerful people, and good fighters. The decision, however, rests with you. You may yourselves consider as to what command you should give.”
قَالَتْ إِنَّ الْمُلُوكَ إِذَا دَخَلُوا قَرْيَةً أَفْسَدُوهَا وَجَعَلُوا أَعِزَّةَ أَهْلِهَا أَذِلَّةً وَكَذَلِكَ يَفْعَلُونَ ﴿27:34﴾
(27:34) The queen said, “When the kings enter a land, they ruin it and debase its honourable people; *39 they do just the same. *40
*39 In this one sentence a thorough criticism has been made of imperialism. The kings’ invasion of the other countries and the victorious nations’ violence against the oppressed nations has never been for the sake of reform and goodwill. ‘fire object has been to control and exploit the means and resources of sustenance granted to the other nation by God, and make it so helpless that it should never be able to rise in resistance and demand its share. For this purpose they block up all it, means of prosperity, power and honour, crush down aII selfrespecting elements, instil in its members attitudes of slavery, flattery, treachery and spying against one another, imitation of the conqueror and respect for his civilization, contempt of their own civilization and other such mean qualities of character. Thus, gradually they bring them down to such a low level of character where they may not hesitate even to sell off any of their most sacred objects of heritage and be ready to perform any wretched service on payment.
*40 This sentence has two meanings and both are equally probable: 1 1) It may be a part of the queen of Sheba’s speech, which she might have added in order to emphasize her foregoing words; and (2) it may be Allah’s words which have been added as a parenthesis in support of the queen’s speech.
وَإِنِّي مُرْسِلَةٌ إِلَيْهِمْ بِهَدِيَّةٍ فَنَاظِرَةٌ بِمَ يَرْجِعُ الْمُرْسَلُونَ﴿27:35﴾
(27:35) I shall send to them a gift, and then wait to see with what reply my envoys return.”
فَلَمَّا جَاءَ سُلَيْمَانَ قَالَ أَتُمِدُّونَنِ بِمَالٍ فَمَا آَتَانِيَ اللَّهُ خَيْرٌ مِمَّا آَتَاكُمْ بَلْ أَنْتُمْ بِهَدِيَّتِكُمْ تَفْرَحُونَ ﴿27:36﴾
(27:36) When (the envoy of the queen) came to Solomon, the king said “Do you want to help me with wealth? What God has given me is much more than what He has given you *41 ‘ May you yourselves rejoice in your gift!
*41 This sentence is not meant to express pride and vanity. What it means to say is this: “1 have no desire for your wealth; I only desire that you should believe, or at least submit to a righteous system. if you agree to neither of these alternatives, it is not possible for me to accept the bribes of wealth and leave you tree in the , matter of a polytheistic and wicked system of life. What my Lord has given me is enough for me to cherish any desire for your wealth.
ارْجِعْ إِلَيْهِمْ فَلَنَأْتِيَنَّهُمْ بِجُنُودٍ لَا قِبَلَ لَهُمْ بِهَا وَلَنُخْرِجَنَّهُمْ مِنْهَا أَذِلَّةً وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ ﴿27:37﴾
(27:37) (O messengers,) go back to your people; we shall bring against them such forces° *42 which they will not be able to withstand, and we shall drive them out (of their land) humbled and disgraced.”
*42 There is a subtle gap between this and the previous sentence, which one can easily till up by a careful study of the discourse. It means this: “O Messengers, take ties gift back to the people who nave sent you. They will either have to yield to our first proposal, i. e. they should come before us as Muslims, or we shall bring forces against them.”
قَالَ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ أَيُّكُمْ يَأْتِينِي بِعَرْشِهَا قَبْلَ أَنْ يَأْتُونِي مُسْلِمِينَ ﴿27:38﴾
(27:38) To his courtiers Solomon *43 said, “Which of you can fetch me her throne before those people come to me in submission? “ *44
*43 The details of the story that have been omitted are to the effect: The envoys returned to the queen with the gift and made a report of what they had seen and heard; the queen decided on the basis of what she heard about the Prophet Solomon to make a visit to Jerusalem to see him personally; she left Saba’ for palestine accompanied by her royal entourage and Sent a message to Solomon’s court that she washerself coming to personally hear the invitation from the king himself and to have a direct talk with him. Here, the story is resumed from the time when the queen had reached near Jerusalem and was going to appear before Solomon in a day or two.
*44 That is, the same throne about which the hoopoe(hud- hud) had reported, “She has a splendid throne.” Some commentators have given a strange interpretation here. They say that the Prophet Solomon wanted to have the throne before him before the queen’s arrival because he wanted to take possession of it. For he feared that if the queen became a Muslim. it would be unlawful to take possession of her property without her approval: therefore, he made haste to have the queen’s throne with him even before her arrival in Jerusalem because at chat time it was lawful to take it into his possession. May AIIah pardon us! This is a strange concept about the intention of a Prophet. Why should one not understand the verse in the light that Prophet Solomon wanted to show a miracle also to the queen and her courtiers besides preaching his message so that she might know what extraordinary powers AIlah, Lord of the worlds, had granted His Prophet so that she might be convinced that Solomon was surely a Prophet of Allah`? Some modern conunentators have put an even more strange meaning on this verse. They translate the verse thus: “Which of you can bring me a throne for the queen:'” whereas the Qur’an has used the word bi- ‘arshi-ha which means “her throne’, and not bi-‘arshil,-laha, “a throne for her”. They mistranslate the verse in order to get rid of what the Qur’an has stated that the Prophet Solomon wanted the queen’s own throne to be brought froth Yaman to Jerusalem and that too before the queen’s arrival.
قَالَ عِفْريتٌ مِنَ الْجِنِّ أَنَا آَتِيكَ بِهِ قَبْلَ أَنْ تَقُومَ مِنْ مَقَامِكَ وَإِنِّي عَلَيْهِ لَقَوِيٌّ أَمِينٌ ﴿27:39﴾
(27:39) A mighty one from among the jinns submitted, “I shall fetch it to you even before you rise from your place *45 : I possess the necessary power for it and am trustworthy. “ *46
*45 From this it becomes obvious whether the jinns under the Prophet Solomon were, according to the interpretation of some rationalist commentators of the modern times, from among mankind or from among the hidden creation commonly known as jinns. Obviously, the sitting of the Prophet Solomon’s court would at the most be of three to four hours, and the distance of Ma’rib, capital of Saba’, from Jerusalem was even as the crow dies, not less than 1500 miles. To fetch a splendid throne of a queen from such a distant place in such a short time could not be possible for a man, even if he be a very strong and robust person. This task cannot be performed even by a jet plane of today. The throne was not lying in a jungle from where it had just to be fetched. It lay in a queen’s palace, which must have been well-guarded, and in the absence of the queen it must have been kept in a secure place If a man had gone to fetch it, he should have been accompanied by a commando force so that he could overwhelm the guards and snatch away the throne. How could alI this be accomplished before the rising of the court? This thing can be conceived only in connection with a real Jinn !
*46 That is, “You can trust me in that I will not carry it away, nor steal any valuable thing from it. “
قَالَ الَّذِي عِنْدَهُ عِلْمٌ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ أَنَا آَتِيكَ بِهِ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَرْتَدَّ إِلَيْكَ طَرْفُكَ فَلَمَّا رَآَهُ مُسْتَقِرًّا عِنْدَهُ قَالَ هَذَا مِنْ فَضْلِ رَبِّي لِيَبْلُوَنِي أَأَشْكُرُ أَمْ أَكْفُرُ وَمَنْ شَكَرَ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِ وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ رَبِّي غَنِيٌّ كَرِيمٌ ﴿27:40﴾
(27:40) He who possessed knowledge of the Book, spoke out, “1 will fetch it to you in the twinkling of an eye. “ *47 As soon as Solomon saw the throne placed before him, he exclaimed: “This is by the Grace of my Lord so that He may test me (to see) whether I am grateful or ungratefull! *48 And the one who is grateful is grateful only for the good of his own self; as for the one who is ungrateful, my Lord is All-Sufficient and Self-Exalted. “ *49
*47 Nothing is known with certainty as to who this person was, what special knowledge he had and what Book is referred to here, whose knowledge he had. No explanation of these things has been given either in the Qur’an or in any authentic Hadith. Some of the commentators say that it was an angel; others say that it was a tnan. Then they differ as to the identity of the man. Someone mentions the name of Asaf bin Barchiah, who, according to the rabbinical traditions, was the Prince of Men. Someone says that he was Khidr; someone mentions some other name; and Imam Razi insists that it was the Prophet Solomon himself. But none of these has any reliable source for his information, and Imam Razi’s opinion does not even fit in with the Qur’anic context. Likewise, about the Book also the commentators differ. Someone says that it refers to Lauh-i-Mahfuz (the Preserved Tablet) and some other takes it for the Book of Law. But all this is mere guess-work. Similar guesses have been made about the knowledge the man had from the Book. We only know and believe what has been said in the Qur’an, or what becomes evident from its words In any case the person was not from among the jinns, and possibly he was a man. He possessed some extraordinary knowledge, which had been derived from some Divine Book (al-Kitab) . The jinn had claimed to fetch the throne within a few hours by means of his physical strength; this man fetched it in a moment by the power of his knowledge.
*48 The words of the Qur’an are very clear in this regard. This person’s claim did not remain a claim like the jinn’s, but, in tact, as soon as he made the claim the throne was seen placed before the Prophet Solomon the next moment. just consider these words: – “The person said, `I will bring it to you in the twinkling of an eye.’ As soon as Solomon saw the throne placed before him….” Anyone who reads these words, regardless of the extraordinary nature of the event, will surely understand that no sooner did the person utter these words than the event as claimed by him took place forthwith. There is, therefore, no need to make far-fetched interpretations of this plain matter. Then, on seeing the throne, the Prophet Solomon’s exclaiming, “This is by the Grace of my Lord so that He may test me (to see) whether I am grateful or ungrateful!” can be relevant only if the event be extraordinary; otherwise if only a skilful craftsman of the king had hurriedly made or arranged a throne for the queen, it could not be so novel an event at which the Prophet Solomon should have spontaneously exclaimed: “This is by the Grace of my Lord!…” and feared that the prompt arrangement of a throne for the honourable guest might cause him to become ungrateful to Allah instead of being grateful. After all, there could be no question of a believing ruler’s becoming involved in vanity and self-conceit on this small achievement, especially when he was not merely an ordinary believer but a Prophet of AIIah As for the question as to how a royal throne was fetched over a distance of I ,500 miles in the twinkling of an eye, it can be briefly answered thus: “The concepts of time and space, and matter and movement, that we have formed on the basis of our experiments and observations, are only applicable to us. These concepts are not correct in respect to God, nor is He bound by these. Not to speak of an ordinary throne, His power can make the sun; and even much larger stars, travel millions of millions of miles in the matter of moments. The God Who by His one Command brought this huge universe into being, had the power to have moved the throne of the queen of Sheba at a speed greater than the speed of light. In this very Qur’an it has been stated that AIIah, by His powers, took his servant Muhammad (may Allah’s peace be upon him) from Makkah to Jerusalem and also brought him back in the same night.
*49 That is. He dces not stand in need of somebody’s gratefulness. His Godhead is neither enhanced by an iota by somebody’s gratefulness nor diminished by that amount by somebody’s ingratitude or thanklessness. He is a Sovereign in His own right. His Sovereignty is not dependent on His creation’s acknowledgement or rejection. The same thing has been expressed in the Qur’an through the Prophet Moses: “If you prove thankless, you and all the dwellers of the earth, (you should know that) AIIah is All-Sufficient and worthy of all praise by Himself.” (Ibrahim: 8). The same theme is contained in a Hadith Qudsi related in Muslims saying: “AIIah says: O My servants, if you all men and jinns, from the beginning to the end, together become like the heart of the most righteous person among you, it will not cause any increase in My Kingdom; and O My servants, if you aII men and jinns, from the beginning to the end, together become like the heart of the most sinful person among you, it will not cause any decrease in My Kingdom. O My servants, it is your own deeds which I credit to your account, and then fully recompense you for them. So, whoever receives something good, Iet him be grateful to AIIah, and whoever receives something else, let him curse his own self only”.
قَالَ نَكِّرُوا لَهَا عَرْشَهَا نَنْظُرْ أَتَهْتَدِي أَمْ تَكُونُ مِنَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَهْتَدُونَ ﴿27:41﴾
(27:41) Solomon said, *50 “Se her throne before her casually; let us see whether she reaches the truth, or she is one of those who are not guided aright. “ *51
*50 As to how the queen reached Jerusalem and how she was received, has been omitted. The story is resumed from the time when she had arrived at the palace to see Prophet Solomon .
*51 This is a meaningful sentence, which means: (1) “Whether she understands or not that it is her own throne which has been fetched in no time from her capital to distant place like Jerusalem;” and also (2) “whether she is guided aright after seeing this wonderful miracle, or persists in her error.” This ref utes the wrong idea of the people who say that the Prophet Solomon intended to take possession of the throne. Here he himself clearly says that he had done this in order to help the queen see Guidance.
فَلَمَّا جَاءَتْ قِيلَ أَهَكَذَا عَرْشُكِ قَالَتْ كَأَنَّهُ هُوَ وَأُوتِينَا الْعِلْمَ مِنْ قَبْلِهَا وَكُنَّا مُسْلِمِينَ ﴿27:42﴾
(27:42) When the queen arrived, she was asked, “Is your throne like this`?” She replied, “It is just the same. *52 We had already known this and we had surrendered (or we had become Muslims). “ *53
*52 This also refutes the speculations of those people who depict the event in :t manner as though the Prophet Solomon wanted to have u throne made for the queen and for this purpose he invited tenders and a strong, robust artisan offered to make hint a throne in the matter of a few hours, but ,n expert craftsman submitted that he could make and produce it in no time. This w hole guess-work is destroyed by the tact that Solomon himself ordered the throne to be fetched before him (v. 381,, and when it had been fetched, ordered his servants to set it before the queen casually Iv. 41), and then when she arrived, she was asked whetlter her throne was like that (v. 42), and she answered, “It is just the same.” Obviously, there could he no room for the absurd interpretations in the face of such a clear statement of facts. If there is still any doubt left, it can be satisfied by the next sentence.
*53 That is, “Even before we saw this miracle we had been convinced by what we had heard of Solomon (peace be upon him) that he was a Prophet of Allah, and not merely a ruler of a kingdom.” After seeing the throne and saying, “It is just the same”, what could be the relevance of adding this sentence if it is supposed that the Prophet Solomon had got a throne manufactured and set the same before her? Even if it is supposed that no effort was spared to have a throne manufactured closely resembling the queen’s what special excellence it could have to make a sun- worshipping queen exclaim “We had already known this and we had become Muslims!”
وَصَدَّهَا مَا كَانَتْ تَعْبُدُ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ إِنَّهَا كَانَتْ مِنْ قَوْمٍ كَافِرِينَ ﴿27:43﴾
(27:43) The worship of the deities whom she served instead of Allah had hindered her (from believing), for she came of an unbelieving people. *54
*54 This sentence has been added by AIIah to clarity the queen’s position, saying that she was not obdurate and stubborn. She had been an unbeliever till then mainly hecause she canto of an unbelieving people. As she had become accustomed to bowing down before a false deity since her childhood, it had become a hindrance for her to the right way. As soon as she came in contact with !he Prophet Solomon, she discerned the right way and the hindrance was removed Forthwith.
قِيلَ لَهَا ادْخُلِي الصَّرْحَ فَلَمَّا رَأَتْهُ حَسِبَتْهُ لُجَّةً وَكَشَفَتْ عَنْ سَاقَيْهَا قَالَ إِنَّهُ صَرْحٌ مُمَرَّدٌ مِنْ قَوَارِيرَ قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي وَأَسْلَمْتُ مَعَ سُلَيْمَانَ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ﴿27:44﴾
(27:44) She was asked to enter the palace. When she saw it, she thought it was a ‘pool of water, so she tucked up her skirt to enter it. Solomon said, “It is the glossy floor of glass. “ *55 At this she exclaimed, “O my Lord! I have (hitherto) been unjust to myself; now I submit myself, with Solomon, to Allah, Lord of the worlds. “ *56
*55 This was the last thing that opened the queen’s eyes. The tirst thing was Solomon’s letter that had been begun with the name of the AII-Compassionate, the AII-Merciful AIlah, a way different front the common custom prevalent among the kings. The second was his rejection of her gifts, which made the queen understand that he was a different kind of king. The third was the report made by the queen’s envoys froth which she came to know about Solomon’s pious life, his wisdom and his message of the Truth. This very dung had induced her to travel to Jerusalem herself to personally meet the Prophet Solomon, and to this she had referred when she said. “We had already known this and we had become Muslims.” The fourth thing was the removal of her throne from Ma’rib to Jerusalem in no time, from which the queen realized that he had allah’s power at Itil hack. Now this was the last thing that removed every doubt front her mind regarding the unique and great personality of the Prophet Solomon. When she saw that in spite of possessing every means of comfort and ease and a grand palace for a dwelling, he was so free from every conceit, so God-fearing and righteous and so grateful to God that he bowed before Him far every small favour and his life so different from the life of those who were enamoured of the world, she exclaimed the words that follow.
*56 This story of the Prophet Solomon and the queen of Sheba has been related in the Old and the New Testaments and the Israelite traditions in different ways, but the Qur’anic narration differs from alI others. A resume of the story as given in the Old Testament is as follows: “And when the queen of Sheba heard of the tame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great company . when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of aII that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions …… And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cupbearers also, and their apparel; and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report which I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thine wisdom: Howbeit I believed nut their words, until I carte, and thine eves had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of they wisdom Was not told rte: for thou exceedest the (ante that 1 heard. Happy are thy men. and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the Lord they God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne ….. And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices great abundance and precious stones: neither was there any such spice as the queen of Sheba gave king Solomon ….. And king Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba aII her desire, whatever she asked ….. So she turned, and went away to her own land, she and her servants.” (2 Chronicles, 9: 1-12. A similar account is also found in I Kings, 10: 1-13). In the New Testament. the following sentence only has been reported from a discourse of the Prophet Jesus about the queen of Sheba . “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgement with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” (Matthew, 12: 42; Luke, 11: 31). The story of the Prophet Solomon and the queen of Sheba as given in the rabbinical traditions resembles in most parts with the Qur’anic version. The hopoe’s absence, then its .arrival and reporting about Sheba and its queen, the Prophet Solomon’s sending her a letter through it, the hoopoe’s dropping the letter in front of the queen right at the time when she was going for sun-worship, the queen’s calling for her ministers’ council, then her sending of valuable gifts to Solomon, her travelling to Jerusalem and meeting him personally, her arrival in the palace and thinking that Prophet Solomon was sitting in the midst of a pool of water, tucking up her skirt in order to enter it-all this has been mentioned in these traditions as in the Qur’an. But there is no mention whatsoever in these traditions of the Prophet Solomon’s reply on receipt of the gift, having the queen’s th rune fetched from Ma’rib, his bowing down before God in thankfulness for every favour of His, and the queen’s embracing the Faith ultimately, at his hand, his belief in the oneness of God, etc. And worst of aII, these wicked people have accused Prophet Solomon of having committed adultery, God forbid, with the queen of Sheba, giving rise to an illegitimate race, which gave birth to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, who destroyed Jerusalem. (jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. XI, p. 443). The fact of the matter is that n section of the Jewish learned men have been highly critical of the Prophet Solomon. They have accused him of heinous crimes like violating the Commandments of the Torah, of pride of government, pride of wisdom, of being a hen-pecked husband, and of luxurious living, polytheism and idol-worship. (Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. XI, pp. 439-441). It is due to this propaganda that the Bible presents him only as a king instead of a Prophet, a king who was lost in the love of polytheistic women against the Divine Commandments, whose heart was turned away from God, and was turned to other gods and goddesses. (I Kings, 11: 1-11). As against this it can be seen what great favour has the Qur’an done to the Israelites by cleansing the personalities of their elders of the tilth thrown at them by themselves, and yet the Israelites, ungrateful as they are, look upon the Qur’an and him who brought it as their enemies.
Surah 27. An-Naml

The death of the Prophet Solomon

 

فَلَمَّا قَضَيْنَا عَلَيْهِ الْمَوْتَ مَا دَلَّهُمْ عَلَى مَوْتِهِ إِلَّا دَابَّةُ الْأَرْضِ تَأْكُلُ مِنْسَأَتَهُ فَلَمَّا خَرَّ تَبَيَّنَتِ الْجِنُّ أَنْ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ الْغَيْبَ مَا لَبِثُوا فِي الْعَذَابِ الْمُهِينِ ﴿34:14﴾ 

(34:14) When We executed Our decree of death on Solomon, nothing indicated to the jinn that he was dead except a worm eating away his staff. So when Solomon fell down, the jinn realised *23 that had they known what lies in the realm beyond perception, they would not have continued to be in this humiliating chastisement. *24
*23 Another meaning of the sentence can be: “The true state and condition of the jinns became clear and exposed. ” According to the first meaning, it will mean: “The jinns realized that their claim to havc the knowledge of the unseen was wrong. ” According to the second, it will mean: “The people who thought that the jinns possessed the knowledge of the unseen, came to know that they had no such knowledge. ” 
*24 Some modern commentators havc interpreted it as follows: As the Prophet Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was unworthy and given to luxurious living and surrounded by flatterers, he could not sustain the heavy burden of responsibility that fell on his shoulders after the death of his great father. A short time after his succession, the kingdom collapsed, and the frontier` tribes (i. e. , of the jinns) whom the Prophet Solomon had subdued by his mighty power, rebelled and broke away. But this interpretation does not at all conform to the words of the Qur’an. The scene depicted by the words of the Qur’an is somewhat like this: Death came to the Prophet Solomon in a state when he was standing or sitting with-the support of a staff. His body stood in place due to the staff, and the jinns continued to perform their duties and services, thinking that he was living. At last, when the wood-louse started eating away the staff and it became hollow from within, the Prophet Solomon’s body fell down; then the jinns realized that he had died. After all, why should this clear and unambiguous description of the event be construed to mean that the wood-louse implied the unworthiness of the Prophet Solomon’s son, and the staff implied his power and authority and the falling down of his body implied the disintegration of his kingdom? Had Allah meant to say all this, there was no dearth of the words in the vast Arabic language. The Qur’an, in fact, has nowhere used such enigmatic language. How could the common Arabs, who were its first addressees, have solved this riddle? 
Then, the most absurd part of this interpretation is that according to it the jinns imply the people of the frontier tribes whom the Prophet Solomon had subdued to perform certain services under him. The question is, which of these tribes had claimed to have the knowledge of the unseen, and whom did the mushriks regard as the knower of the unseen? A person who reads the last words of the verse with open eyes can himself see that jinn here necessarily implies a group of beings who either had themselves made a claim to have the knowledge of the unseen, or who, the people believed, had the knowledge of the unseen; and the secret of this group’s being ignorant and unaware of the unseen became disclosed when they continued to serve the Prophet Solomon under the impression that he was living, whereas he had died. This statement of the Qur’an was enough to induce an honest person to revise his this opinion that the jinn imply the frontier tribes, but the people who feel shy of admitting the existence of the hidden creation called the jinn before the materialistic world stilt insist on this interpretation of theirs in spite of the plain meaning of the Qur’an. 
At several places in the Qur’an Allah tells that the mushriks of Arabia regarded the jinns as the associates of Allah, and as His children, and used to seek their refuge: “They set up the jinns as partners with AIlah. whereas He has created them. ” (Al-An’am:100). “And they have invented a blood-relationship between Allah and the jinns.” (As-Saffat: 1S8). “And that, some people from among the men used to seek refuge with some people from among the jinns.” (AI-Jinn: 6). 
One of their beliefs was that they regarded the jinns as the knowers of the unseen and hidden. and used to turn to them to obtain knowledge of the hidden things. Allah has related this event here in order to repudiate this belief and to make the Arabs realize that they are following the false creeds of ignorance without any valid reason, whereas the fact is that chest beliefs are absolutely baseless. (For further explanation, see E.N. 63 below). 
 
Surah 34. Saba
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