12) Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon) [Pbuh]
Solomon(pbuh) inherited David(pbuh)‘s prophethood and dominion. This was not a material inheritance, as prophets do not bequeath their property. It is given away to the poor and needy, not to their relatives. Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) said: ‘The prophets’ property will not be inherited, and whatever we leave is to be used for charity.”
And We had certainly given to David and Solomon knowledge, and they said, “Praise [is due] to Allah, who has favored us over many of His believing servants.”
And Solomon inherited David. He said, “O people, we have been taught the language of birds, and we have been given from all things. Indeed, this is evident bounty.”
And gathered for Solomon were his soldiers of the jinn and men and birds, and they were [marching] in rows.
(Surah 27: 15-17)
Solomon(pbuh) Becomes King
After his father’s death, Solomon (pbuh) became king. He begged Allah for a kingdom such as none after him would have, and Allah granted his wish. Besides wisdom, Allah had blessed Solomon (pbuh) with many abilities. He could command the winds and understand and talk to birds and animals. Allah directed him to teach both men and jinns to mine the earth and extract its minerals to make tools and weapons. He also favored him with a mine of copper, which was a rare metal in those days.
Allah’s Gifts to Solomon (pbuh)
Almighty Allah revealed:
And to David We gave Solomon. An excellent servant, indeed he was one repeatedly turning back [to Allah ].
[Mention] when there were exhibited before him in the afternoon the poised [standing] racehorses.
And he said, “Indeed, I gave preference to the love of good [things] over the remembrance of my Lord until the sun disappeared into the curtain [of darkness].”
[He said], “Return them to me,” and set about striking [their] legs and necks.
And We certainly tried Solomon and placed on his throne a body; then he returned.
He said, “My Lord, forgive me and grant me a kingdom such as will not belong to anyone after me. Indeed, You are the Bestower.”
So We subjected to him the wind blowing by his command, gently, wherever he directed,
And [also] the devils [of jinn] – every builder and diver
And others bound together in shackles.
[We said], “This is Our gift, so grant or withhold without account.”
And indeed, for him is nearness to Us and a good place of return.
(Surah 38: 30-40)
Solomon(pbuh) Hears the Ant’s Warning
One day Solomon gathered his army, which had different battalions of men, jinns, birds, and animals. He marched them to the country of Askalon.
While they were passing through a valley, an ant saw the approaching army and cried out to warn the other ants: “Run to your homes! Otherwise, unaware, Solomon (pbuh) and his army might crush you!” Solomon (pbuh), hearing the cry of the ant, smiled. He was glad that the ant knew him to be a prophet who would not intentionally harm Allah’s creation. He thanked Allah for saving the ants’ lives.
Allah the Almighty narrated:
And gathered for Solomon were his soldiers of the jinn and men and birds, and they were [marching] in rows
Until, when they came upon the valley of the ants, an ant said, “O ants, enter your dwellings that you not be crushed by Solomon and his soldiers while they perceive not.”
So [Solomon] smiled, amused at her speech, and said, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to do righteousness of which You approve. And admit me by Your mercy into [the ranks of] Your righteous servants.”
(Surah 27: 17-19)
Solomon (pbuh)’s Travels
In Jerusalem, on a huge rock, Solomon (pbuh) built a beautiful masjid to draw the people to worship Allah. Today this building is known as ‘The Dome of the Rock.” From there, a large band of followers joined Solomon(pbuh) on pilgrimage to the Holy Mosque in Mecca. After they had completed their hajj, they traveled to Yemen and arrived in the city of Sana.
Solomon(pbuh) was impressed by their clever method of channeling water all over their cities. He was keen to build similar water systems in his own country but did not have enough springs.
The Hoopoe Brings Information to Solomon (pbuh)
He set out to find the hoopoe bird, which could detect water under the ground. He sent signals all over for the hoopoe to call on him, but it was nowhere to be found. In anger, he declared that unless the bird had good reason for its absence, he would punish it severely.
The hoopoe eventually came to Solomon(pbuh) and explained the reason for its delay: “I have discovered something of which you are not aware. I have come from Sheba (Saba) with important news. Solomon became curious, and his anger subsided. The bird continued: “Saba is ruled by a queen named Bilkis (Bilqis), who has plenty of everything, including a splendid throne. But in spite of all this wealth, Satan has entered her heart and the hearts of her people. She rules their minds completely. I was shocked to learn that they worship the sun instead of Allah the Almighty.”
To check the hoopoe’s information, Solomon(pbuh) sent a letter to the queen with the bird. He instructed the bird to remain hidden and to watch everything.
The Queen of Sheba Sends Gifts
The hoopoe dropped the letter in front of the queen and flew away to hide. She excitedly opened and read it:
Indeed, it is from Solomon, and indeed, it reads: ‘In the name of Allah , the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful,
Be not haughty with me but come to me in submission [as Muslims].’ ”
(Surah 27: 30-31)
The queen was very disturbed and hurriedly summoned her advisors. They reacted as to a challenge, for they felt that there was someone challenging them, hinting at war and defeat, and asking them to submit to his conditions.
They told her that they could only offer advice, but it was her right to command action. She sensed that they wanted to meet Solomon’s invasion threat with a battle. However, she told them: “Peace and friendship are better and wiser; war only brings humiliation, enslaves people, and destroys the good things. I have decided to send gifts to Solomon, selected from our most precious treasure. The courtiers who will deliver the gifts will also have an opportunity to learn about Solomon and his military might.”
Solomon (pbuh) rejects the Queen’s gifts
Solomon (pbuh)‘s reconnaissance team brought him the news of the arrival of Bilkis’s messengers with a gift. He immediately realized that the queen had sent her men on a probing mission; thus, he gave orders to rally the army. The envoys of Bilkis, entering amidst the well-equipped army, realized that their wealth was nothing in comparison to that of the kingdom of Solomon (pbuh). They belittled their golden gift as they passed over Solomon(pbuh)‘s palace floors, which were made of sandalwood and inlaid with gold.
They noticed Solomon surveying his army, and they were surprised at the number and variety of soldiers, which included lions, tigers, and birds. The messengers stood in amazement, realizing that they were in front of an irresistible army.
The envoys marveled at the splendor surrounding them. They eagerly presented their queen’s precious gifts and told Solomon (pbuh) that the queen wished that he would accept them as an act of friendship. They were shocked by his reaction: he did not even ask to open the covers of the containers! He told them: “Allah has given me plenty of wealth, a large kingdom, and prophethood. I am, therefore, beyond bribery. My only objective is to spread the belief in Tawheed, the Oneness of Allah.”
He also directed them to take back the gifts to the queen and to tell her that if she did not stop her kind of worship he would uproot her kingdom and drive its people out of the land.
The Queen Decides to Visit Solomon (pbuh)
The queen’s envoys returned with the gifts and delivered the message. They also told her of the wonderful things they had seen. Instead of taking offense, she decided to visit Solomon (pbuh). Accompanied by her royal officials and servants, she left Sheba, sending a messenger ahead to inform Solomon (pbuh) that she was on her way to meet him.
Solomon (pbuh) asked the jinns in his employ whether anyone among them could bring her throne to the palace before she arrived. One of them said: “I will bring it to you before this sitting is over.” Solomon(pbuh) did not react to this offer; it appeared that he was waiting for a faster means. The jinns competed with each other to please him. One of them named Ifrit said: “I will fetch it for you in the twinkling of an eye!”
No sooner had this one – who had the knowledge of the Book – finished his phrase than the throne stood before Solomon (pbuh). The mission had, indeed, been completed in the blinking of an eye. Solomon (pbuh)‘s seat was in Palestine, and the throne of Bilqis had been in Yemen, two thousand miles away. This was a great miracle performed by one of those sitting with Solomon (pbuh).
The Queen’s Visit with Solomon (pbuh)
When Bilqis arrived at Solomon (pbuh)‘s palace, she was welcomed with pomp and ceremony. Then, pointing to the altered throne, Solomon (pbuh) asked her whether her throne looked like that one. She looked at it again and again. In her mind she was convinced that her throne could not possibly be the one she was looking at, as hers was in her palace; yet, she detected a striking similarity and replied: “It is as if it were the very one, and resembles mine in every respect.” Solomon (pbuh) judged that she was intelligent and diplomatic.
He then invited her into the great hail, the floor of which was laid in glass and shimmering. Thinking it was water, as she stepped on the floor, she lifted her skirt slightly above her heels, for fear of wetting it. Solomon (pbuh) pointed out to her that it was made of solid glass.
She was amazed. She had never seen such things before. Bilqis realized that she was in the company of a very knowledgeable person who was not only a ruler of a great kingdom but a messenger of Allah, as well. She repented, gave up sun worship, accepted the faith of Allah, and asked her people to do the same.
It was finished; Bilqis saw her people’s creed fall apart before Solomon (pbuh). She realized that the sun which her people worshipped was nothing but one of Allah’s creatures.
The sun eclipsed within her for the first time, and her heart was lit by a never-fading light, the light of Islam.
Solomon is informed about the Queen of Sheba
Almighty Allah told us this story in the Quran:
And he took attendance of the birds and said, “Why do I not see the hoopoe – or is he among the absent?
I will surely punish him with a severe punishment or slaughter him unless he brings me clear authorization.”
But the hoopoe stayed not long and said, “I have encompassed [in knowledge] that which you have not encompassed, and I have come to you from Sheba with certain news.
Indeed, I found [there] a woman ruling them, and she has been given of all things, and she has a great throne.
I found her and her people prostrating to the sun instead of Allah , and Satan has made their deeds pleasing to them and averted them from [His] way, so they are not guided,
[And] so they do not prostrate to Allah, who brings forth what is hidden within the heavens and the earth and knows what you conceal and what you declare –
Allah – there is no deity except Him, Lord of the Great Throne.”
[Solomon] said, “We will see whether you were truthful or were of the liars.
Take this letter of mine and deliver it to them. Then leave them and see what they will return.”
(Surah 27: 20-28)
The Queen Sends Gifts
She said, “O eminent ones, indeed, to me has been delivered a noble letter.
Indeed, it is from Solomon, and indeed, it reads: ‘In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful,
Be not haughty with me but come to me in submission [as Muslims].’ “
She said, “O eminent ones, advise me in my affair. I would not decide a matter until you witness [for] me.”
They said, “We are men of strength and of great military might, but the command is yours, so see what you will command.”
She said, “Indeed kings – when they enter a city, they ruin it and render the honored of its people humbled. And thus do they do.
But indeed, I will send to them a gift and see with what [reply] the messengers will return.”
So when they came to Solomon, he said, “Do you provide me with wealth? But what Allah has given me is better than what He has given you. Rather, it is you who rejoice in your gift.
Return to them, for we will surely come to them with soldiers that they will be powerless to encounter, and we will surely expel them therefrom in humiliation, and they will be debased.”
(Surah 27: 29-37)
The Queen Visits Solomon
[Solomon] said, “O assembly [of jinn], which of you will bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?”
A powerful one from among the jinn said, “I will bring it to you before you rise from your place, and indeed, I am for this [task] strong and trustworthy.”
Said one who had knowledge from the Scripture, “I will bring it to you before your glance returns to you.” And when [Solomon] saw it placed before him, he said, “This is from the favor of my Lord to test me whether I will be grateful or ungrateful. And whoever is grateful – his gratitude is only for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever is ungrateful – then indeed, my Lord is Free of need and Generous.”
He said, “Disguise for her her throne; we will see whether she will be guided [to truth] or will be of those who is not guided.”
So when she arrived, it was said [to her], “Is your throne like this?” She said, “[It is] as though it was it.” [Solomon said], “And we were given knowledge before her, and we have been Muslims [in submission to Allah].And that which she was worshiping other than Allah had averted her [from submission to Him]. Indeed, she was from a disbelieving people.”
She was told, “Enter the palace.” But when she saw it, she thought it was a body of water and uncovered her shins [to wade through]. He said, “Indeed, it is a palace [whose floor is] made smooth with glass.” She said, “My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, and I submit with Solomon to Allah, Lord of the worlds.”
(Surah 27: 38-44)
Jinns and Solomon (pbuh)
Solomon (pbuh)‘s public work was largely carried out by the jinns. This was a punishment for their sins of making people believe that they were all powerful, knew the unseen, and could foresee the future. As a prophet, it was Solomon (pbuh)‘s duty to remove such false beliefs from his followers.
Solomon (pbuh)’s Death
Solomon lived amidst glory, and all creatures were subjected to him. Then Allah the Exalted ordained for him to die. His life and death were full of wonders and miracles; thus, his death harmonized with his life and glory. His death, like his life, was unique. The people had to learn that the future is known neither by the jinns nor by the prophets, but by Allah (pbuh) alone. Solomon’s effort in this direction did not end with his life, for even his death became an example.
He was sitting holding his staff, overseeing the jinns at work in a mine. He died sitting in this position. For a long time no one was aware of his death, for he was seen sitting erect. The jinns continued with their strife and toil, thinking that Solomon (pbuh) was watching over them.
Many days later, a hungry ant began nibbling Solomon (pbuh)‘s staff. It continued to do so, eating the lower part of the staff, until it fell out of Solomon’s hand, and his great body fell to the ground. People hurried to him, realizing that he had died a long time ago and that the jinns did not perceive the unseen, for had the jinns known the unseen, they would not have kept working, and thinking that Solomon (pbuh) was alive.
Solomon (pbuh)’s Death
Allah the Exalted revealed:
And to Solomon [We subjected] the wind – its morning [journey was that of] a month – and its afternoon [journey was that of] a month, and We made flow for him a spring of [liquid] copper. And among the jinn were those who worked for him by the permission of his Lord. And whoever deviated among them from Our command – We will make him taste of the punishment of the Blaze.
They made for him what he willed of elevated chambers, statues, bowls like reservoirs, and stationary kettles. [We said], “Work, O family of David, in gratitude.” And few of My servants are grateful.
And when We decreed for Solomon death, nothing indicated to the jinn his death except a creature of the earth eating his staff. But when he fell, it became clear to the jinn that if they had known the unseen, they would not have remained in humiliating punishment.
(Surah 34: 12-14)