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LESSONS FROM SOLOMON STORY IN THE QUR'AN

MIT
7/25/2017
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Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon) the son of Prophet Daawud (Daavid) peace be upon them both was one of Allah’s most beloved slaves. He was given Prophethood and Kingship and was given extraordinary divine dominion with which he communicated with the birds, the animals and with which the Jinnkind and humankind were made subservient to his order.

His story is narrated in the Glorious Qur’an in many facets with all depicting grandeur, greatness and splendor , which carry oceans of wisdom and lessons for all class of human beings; rulers, scholars and worshippers. One of these facets worthy of consideration here is his story with the Queen of Sheba known as Queen Bilqis (peace be upon her)

As earlier mentioned, Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) had a very large army of men, jinn, and birds (Muslims believe that jinn are created beings, both good and bad, that we cannot see).

One day, he was reviewing this army when he noted that the hoopoe bird was absent without permission. It was the job of the hoopoe to look for water when the army needed it.

The bird had been travelling in the country of Saba (Sheba), which is in modern-day Yemen, and it returned and declared to Solomon:

وَجِئْتُكَ مِن سَبَإٍۭ بِنَبَإٍ يَقِينٍ

إِنِّى وَجَدتُّ ٱمْرَأَةً تَمْلِكُهُمْ وَأُوتِيَتْ مِن كُلِّ شَىْءٍ وَلَهَا عَرْشٌ عَظِيمٌ

وَجَدتُّهَا وَقَوْمَهَا يَسْجُدُونَ لِلشَّمْسِ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ وَزَيَّنَ لَهُمُ ٱلشَّيْطَٰنُ أَعْمَٰلَهُمْ فَصَدَّهُمْ عَنِ ٱلسَّبِيلِ فَهُمْ لَا يَهْتَدُونَ

 

{I come to you from Sheba with sure news. I found a woman ruling over the people, she has been given many blessings and has a mighty throne! I found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allah. Satan made their conduct appear good to them, and diverted them from the path, so they are not guided} (An-Naml:22-4)

Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon) was a deeply religious servant of Allah and was distressed that a whole people should be lost in worshipping the sun, rather than the One God who created it.

He decided to send a message to the Queen, whose name was Bilqis, inviting her and her people to worship God.

The letter of Prophet Solomon Queen Bilqis reads as follows:

 

٣٠  إِنَّهُۥ مِن سُلَيْمَٰنَ وَإِنَّهُۥ بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

أَلَّا تَعْلُوا۟ عَلَىَّ وَأْتُونِى مُسْلِمِينَ

It is from Solomon, and it is, 'In the Name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful. Do not defy me, and come to me submissively (as Muslims).'"(An-Naml:30-31)

Bilqis, too, was a wise ruler and when she received the letter, she was suspicious that Solomon really wanted to control her territory. She decided to send him gifts and to see what his reaction to her splendid gifts would be. In this way, she would know if Solomon was only interested in wealth.

Bilqis was impressed by Solomon’s reaction. Not only was he not interested in her gifts of gold and jewels, but he was actually quite offended to receive them. The belief in God was better to him than precious jewels-a great lesson for thought-.

The Queen of Sheba decided to travel to Solomon to see with her own eyes the one who had sent a message to her. Travelling a long distance with her courtiers, she eventually arrived at the court of Solomon.

Bilqis was known to have a magnificent throne, and one of the jinn offered to Solomon to bring this throne before he could have time to stand up. Another wise man among the scholars of Prophet Suleiman’s subjects at the court offered to bring the throne to him within the blinking of an eye, and sure enough, the throne of Sheba was transported to him, so that it was waiting for her, in disguise, when she arrived:

 

فَلَمَّا جَآءَتْ قِيلَ أَهَٰكَذَا عَرْشُكِ ۖ قَالَتْ كَأَنَّهُۥ هُوَ ۚ وَأُوتِينَا ٱلْعِلْمَ مِن قَبْلِهَا وَكُنَّا مُسْلِمِينَ

 

{So when she arrived, she was asked, “Is this thy throne?” She said, “It seems the same. And knowledge was bestowed on us in advance of this, and we have submitted to Allah (in Islam).”}  (An-Naml:42)

Having recognized her throne and recognized the wisdom of Solomon, Bilqis entered the magnificent palace.

Its floor was made of shimmering glass, which shined like water, and the queen, thinking it to be real water, lifted her skirts so that she would not get wet, which must have been very undignified for a queen, especially when Solomon told her:

 

قَالَ إِنَّهُۥ صَرْحٌ مُّمَرَّدٌ مِّن قَوَارِيرَ ۗ

{…This is but a palace paved smooth with slabs of glass..} (An-Naml:44)

The story of the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon has a very beautiful ending. The queen declares:

 

قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّى ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِى وَأَسْلَمْتُ مَعَ سُلَيْمَٰنَ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلْعَٰلَمِينَ

{O my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul: I do (now) submit (in Islam), with Solomon, to the Lord of the Worlds.} (An-Naml:44)

This story is told in great detail in the Quran, which surely tells us that it is important and that it has something to teach. So what, then, can we learn from the story of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba?

SOME LESSONS FROM THIS STORY:

People who read with scholarly lenses shall find every sentence of this story unfolding wisdom and lessons. Prophet Solomon did not punish the hoopoe before asking it the reason of its absence. If you observe an unusual act of someone under you do not passed judgment or prescribe punishment without trying to know the reason that motivated that act. During the golden era of the leader of the believers; Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), a man came to complain that his two slaves have stolen someone’s camel and then slauhftered it and ate its meat. Umar (may Allah be pleased with him)-asked the children whether it was true to which they affirmed. He asked them again what was the reason behind that act and they replied it was dire hunger, they were kept to hard labor by their master and he did not provide them food. Umar( may Allah be pleased with him) released the two slaves and fined their master to pay for the camel and warned him of punishment if he continues to put his slaves to work without food.

We also note the queen’s reaction when she is first told about Islam she suspects a trick. When the messenger arrives with the message of Solomon, she doubts the true intentions of Solomon. Surely, she thinks, no one can be telling me about God just for my own sake.

There must be a hidden agenda. Isn’t that the reaction some of us have when we hear the words of God being spoken? “Why are they inviting me to learn about Islam? What are they really after?”

In a world given over to greed and acquiring more, often at the expense of someone else, it seems rather odd that people would invite us to learn about Islam for no other reason than for the sake of conveying the message.

And yet, Prophet Solomon’s invitation had no ulterior motive. He only wanted what was best for Bilqis. And what was best for her was to abandon the worship of the sun and the moon and the stars and to worship, instead, the One who created the heavens and the earth and everything in between.

Among other lessons is the consultative spirit of the Queen of Sheba; Bilqis(peace be upon her). She consulted the sub-kings of her kingdom about the appropriate course of action and reply, to which they opted for a military course of action-an opinion that would have led to the complete annihilation of the whole kingdom of Saba’ (Sheba) considering the strength of Prophet Solomon’s army-. She however saw a different opinion through the lens of her diplomatic intellect, hence, she suggested a diplomatic strategy to verify the conscience behind the invitation she received, she said as mentioned by the Glorious Qur’an:

 

قَالَتْ إِنَّ ٱلْمُلُوكَ إِذَا دَخَلُوا۟ قَرْيَةً أَفْسَدُوهَا وَجَعَلُوٓا۟ أَعِزَّةَ أَهْلِهَآ أَذِلَّةً ۖ وَكَذَٰلِكَ يَفْعَلُونَ

“She said, "When kings enter a city, they devastate it, and subjugate its dignified people. Thus they always do” (An-Naml:34)

This is a great lesson to the leaders of this modern era of weapons of mass destruction, military actions have not been able to gain any praiseworthy

 Successes so far. The whole world today is lamenting under the unwise military actions by some governments carried against other governments.

Another lesson from this story is the reaction of Solomon to being offered gifts. What use are gold and jewels to him, he says, when he has been given everything he could want by believing in God? This might seem strange to those who are not Muslim, but for the devout Muslim, the sincere believer, the gift of Islam is greater than any amount of gold and silver.

The story teaches that wealth, power and authority should not be used for destruction. They should be in guiding people and bringing peace and security to societies and nations. The idol-worshipping state of the Queen of Saba’ ; Bilqis and her people is among one of the greatest states of insecurity both in this world and hereafter. Worshipping others besides Allah is a great injustice to the Creator of this universe. Queen Bilqis and her people became very happy and secured when they abandoned their servitude to the sun and offered it to the creator of the sun.

Prophet Solomon never attributed the powers Allah gave him to his own self, rather he always recognize Allah as the Giver and Bestower and always offer thanks and appreciations to Him Alone. When the whole throne Queen Bilqis was presented before him in a twinkle of an eye, he said:

 

هَٰذَا مِن فَضْلِ رَبِّى لِيَبْلُوَنِىٓ ءَأَشْكُرُ أَمْ أَكْفُرُ ۖ وَمَن شَكَرَ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِۦ ۖ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ رَبِّى غَنِىٌّ كَرِيمٌ

“"This is from the grace of my Lord, to test me, whether I am grateful or ungrateful. He who is grateful, his gratitude is to his own credit; but he who is ungrateful-my Lord is Independent and Generous." (An_Naml:40)

Many are those who attribute their material and political successes to their knowledge and hard work. For such people their master is Qaarun; the big disbeliever who was given so much wealth and treasures but he attributed his material success to his knowledge and refused to pay the poor due on it(zakat or charity), hence, Allah made him to sink down the earth and was swallowed therein till the Day of Resurrection.

Finally, the response of the Queen of Sheba to all of this is quite simple: she submits to God and to Islam. “Islam” is an Arabic word which comes from a root word meaning both “peace” and “submission.”

Bilqis finds peace in her heart when she submits to God. It is such a simple thing to do, yet for many, it is one of the most difficult. The story of the visit to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba is meant to teach us that submitting to God is richer than silver or gold, and better than splendor or wealth.






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