لَأُعَذِّبَنَّهُ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا أَوْ لَأَذْبَحَنَّهُ أَوْ لَيَأْتِيَنِي بِسُلْطَانٍ مُبِينٍ (النمل: 21).
فَمَكَثَ غَيْرَ بَعِيدٍ فَقَالَ أَحَطتُ بِمَا لَمْ تُحِطْ بِهِ وَجِئْتُكَ مِنْ سَبَإٍ بِنَبَإٍ يَقِينٍ (النمل: 22).
إِنِّي وَجَدتُّ امْرَأَةً تَمْلِكُهُمْ وَأُوتِيَتْ مِنْ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَلَهَا عَرْشٌ عَظِيمٌ (النمل: 23).
وَجَدْتُهَا وَقَوْمَهَا يَسْجُدُونَ لِلشَّمْسِ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَزَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَعْمَالَهُمْ فَصَدَّهُمْ عَنْ السَّبِيلِ فَهُمْ لاَ يَهْتَدُونَ (النمل: 24).
أَلاَّ يَسْجُدُوا لِلَّهِ الَّذِي يُخْرِجُ الْخَبْءَ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا تُخْفُونَ وَمَا تُعْلِنُونَ (النمل: 25).
اللَّهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ رَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ (النمل: 26).
قَالَ سَنَنظُرُ أَصَدَقْتَ أَمْ كُنتَ مِنْ الْكَاذِبِينَ (النمل: 27).
اذْهَب بِكِتَابِي هَذَا فَأَلْقِهِ إِلَيْهِمْ ثُمَّ تَوَلَّ عَنْهُمْ فَانظُرْ مَاذَا يَرْجِعُونَ (النمل: 26).
قَالَتْ يَا أَيُّهَا المَلَأُ إِنِّي أُلْقِيَ إِلَيَّ كِتَابٌ كَرِيمٌ (النمل: 29).
إِنَّهُ مِنْ سُلَيْمَانَ وَإِنَّهُ بِاِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ (النمل: 30).
أَلاَّ تَعْلُوا عَلَيَّ وَأْتُونِي مُسْلِمِينَ (النمل: 31).
قَالَتْ يَاأَيُّهَا المَلَأُ أَفْتُونِي فِي أَمْرِي مَا كُنتُ قَاطِعَةً أَمْرًا حَتَّى تَشْهَدُونِ (النمل: 32).
قَالُوا نَحْنُ أُوْلُوا قُوَّةٍ وَأُولُوا بَأْسٍ شَدِيدٍ وَالأَمْرُ إِلَيْكِ فَانظُرِي مَاذَا تَأْمُرِينَ (النمل: 33).
قَالَتْ إِنَّ الْمُلُوكَ إِذَا دَخَلُوا قَرْيَةً أَفْسَدُوهَا وَجَعَلُوا أَعِزَّةَ أَهْلِهَا أَذِلَّةً وَكَذَلِكَ يَفْعَلُونَ (النمل: 34).
وَإِنِّي مُرْسِلَةٌ إِلَيْهِمْ بِهَدِيَّةٍ فَنَاظِرَةٌ بِمَ يَرْجِعُ الْمُرْسَلُونَ (النمل: 35).
فَلَمَّا جَاءَ سُلَيْمَانَ قَالَ أَتُمِدُّونَنِ بِمَالٍ فَمَا آتَانِيَ اللَّهُ خَيْرٌ مِمَّا آتَاكُمْ بَلْ أَنْتُمْ بِهَدِيَّتِكُمْ تَفْرَحُونَ (النمل: 36).
ارْجِعْ إِلَيْهِمْ فَلَنَأْتِيَنَّهُمْ بِجُنُودٍ لاَ قِبَلَ لَهُمْ بِهَا وَلَنُخْرِجَنَّهُمْ مِنْهَا أَذِلَّةً وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ (النمل: 37).
قَالَ يَاأَيُّهَا المَلَأُ أَيُّكُمْ يَأْتِينِي بِعَرْشِهَا قَبْلَ أَنْ يَأْتُونِي مُسْلِمِينَ (النمل: 38).
قَالَ عِفْريتٌ مِنْ الْجِنِّ أَنَا آتِيكَ بِهِ قَبْلَ أَنْ تَقُومَ مِنْ مَقَامِكَ وَإِنِّي عَلَيْهِ لَقَوِيٌّ أَمِينٌ (النمل: 39).
قَالَ الَّذِي عِنْدَهُ عِلْمٌ مِنْ الْكِتَابِ أَنَا آتِيكَ بِهِ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَرْتَدَّ إِلَيْكَ طَرْفُكَ فَلَمَّا رَآهُ مُسْتَقِرًّا عِنْدَهُ قَالَ هَذَا مِنْ فَضْلِ رَبِّي لِيَبْلُوَنِي أَأَشْكُرُ أَمْ أَكْفُرُ وَمَنْ شَكَرَ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِ وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ رَبِّي غَنِيٌّ كَرِيمٌ (النمل: 40).
قَالَ نَكِّرُوا لَهَا عَرْشَهَا نَنظُرْ أَتَهْتَدِي أَمْ تَكُونُ مِنْ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَهْتَدُونَ (النمل: 41).
فَلَمَّا جَاءَتْ قِيلَ أَهَكَذَا عَرْشُكِ قَالَتْ كَأَنَّهُ هُوَ وَأُوتِينَا الْعِلْمَ مِنْ قَبْلِهَا وَكُنَّا مُسْلِمِينَ (النمل: 42).
وَصَدَّهَا مَا كَانَتْ تَعْبُدُ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ إِنَّهَا كَانَتْ مِنْ قَوْمٍ كَافِرِينَ (النمل: 43).
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 (النمل: 44).
وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَى ثَمُودَ أَخَاهُمْ صَالِحًا أَنْ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ فَإِذَا هُمْ فَرِيقَانِ يَخْتَصِمُونَ (النمل: 45).
قَالَ يَاقَوْمِ لِمَ تَسْتَعْجِلُونَ بِالسَّيِّئَةِ قَبْلَ الْحَسَنَةِ لَوْلاَ تَسْتَغْفِرُونَ اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ (النمل: 46).
قَالُوا اطَّيَّرْنَا بِكَ وَبِمَنْ مَعَكَ قَالَ طَائِرُكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ بَلْ أَنْتُمْ قَوْمٌ تُفْتَنُونَ (النمل: 47).
وَكَانَ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ تِسْعَةُ رَهْطٍ يُفْسِدُونَ فِي الأَرْضِ وَلاَ يُصْلِحُونَ (النمل: 46).
قَالُوا تَقَاسَمُوا بِاللَّهِ لَنُبَيِّتَنَّهُ وَأَهْلَهُ ثُمَّ لَنَقُولَنَّ لِوَلِيِّهِ مَا شَهِدْنَا مَهْلِكَ أَهْلِهِ وَإِنَّا لَصَادِقُونَ (النمل: 49).
وَمَكَرُوا مَكْرًا وَمَكَرْنَا مَكْرًا وَهُمْ لاَ يَشْعُرُونَ (النمل: 50).
QURAN KAREEMs SURAL AN NAMLAYAH NO 21 – 44
(27:21) I will inflict severe punishment on him or maybe even slaughter him unless he comes forth with a convincing reason (for his absence).”28
28. Some people of modern time say that the hud-hud (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 (peace be upon him), 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 (peace be upon him) 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 Quran, it becomes evident that this is no commentary of the Quran but its distortion. After all, why should the Quran 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 (peace be upon him) 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 dispatched 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 parts in their sequence as presented in the Quran.
First of all, Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) expresses his gratitude to Allah for His this bounty: “We have been taught the speech of the birds.” In this sentence, firstly, the word tair 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 word language or tongue would have been used concerning it and not speech. Then, a person’s knowing the tongue of
other people is not so extraordinary a thing that it should be specially mentioned. Today there are among our thousands of men and women, who can speak and understand many foreign languages. This is in no way an unusual achievement that may be mentioned as an extraordinary gift of God.
Then the Quran says, “For Solomon (peace be upon him) 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, because of which one may take them in another meaning than their well-known lexical meaning. Then the word ins occurred between the words jinn and tair which does not allow taking it meaning that the jinn and the tair were, intact, 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
A little further on, the Quran says that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) said this when during his review of the birds he found the hud-hud missing. If the tair were human beings and hud-hud also was the name of a man, a word or two should have been there to indicate this so that the poor reader should not have taken the word for a bird. When the group is mentioned is clearly of the birds and a member 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 (peace be upon him) says, “I will punish him severely, or even slaughter him unless he presents before me a reasonable excuse.” A man is killed, hanged, or sentenced to death, but never slaughtered. Some hard-hearted people may even slaughter another person out of vengeance, but it cannot be expected of a Prophet (peace be upon him) that he would sentence a soldier of his army to be slaughtered only for the offense of desertion, and Allah would mention this heinous act of the Prophet (peace be upon him) without a word of disapproval.
A little further on, we shall again see that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) 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 (peace be upon him) was not aware of the preliminary social etiquette that even common people like us also observe when we send our servant to a neighbor? 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 Quran, he should frankly say that he does not believe in this narrative of the Quran. It is sheer hypocrisy to misconstrue plain and clear words of the Quran according to one’s own whims only in order to cover up one’s lack of faith in it.
(27:22) Not before long the hoopoe came up and said: “I have obtained a knowledge which you could not. I have brought for you sure news about Sheba.29
29. Sheba was a well-known commercial people of southern Arabia, whose capital city of Marib lay about 55 miles to the northeast of Sana, 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, as well as Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Rome. That is why they were famous for their wealth in ancient times; so much so that according to Greek historians they were the richest people in 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 Quran also refers to it in (Surah Saba: Ayat 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 (peace be upon him) 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 Agqabah), 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 (peace be upon them), knew Saba. We find the following words of his prayer in Psalms.
“Give the king thy judgment, 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.”
Therefore, what the hud-hud means to say is this: “The knowledge of the things I have seen with my eyes in the central city of the Sabaeans has not yet reached you.”
(27:23) I found there a woman ruling over them, one who has been endowed with all things and has a mighty throne.
(27:24) I found that she and her people prostrate themselves before the sun rather than Allah.30″ Satan31 has made their deeds appear attractive to them and has, thus, debarred them32 from the Right Path so they do not find true guidance
30. This shows that the people of Saba at that time 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 has in fact descended from an ancestor whose
name was Abd Shams (slave of the sun, or sun-worshiper) and whose title Saba. This is supported by the Israelite traditions as well. According to these when the hud-hud arrived with the Prophet Solomon’s (peace be upon him) letter, the queen of Sheba was going the worship 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-hud’s speech but its speech ended with: “they prostrate themselves before the sun”, and these words are addition by Allah to its speech. 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 the hud-hud and the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) 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-Maani, also preferred the same opinion.
32. That is, Satan has made them believe that earning worldly wealth and making their lives more and more grand and pompous is the only real and best use of their mental and intellectual, and physical powers. Apart from these, they need not think seriously of 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 heart’s content.
(27:25) that they would prostrate themselves before Allah Who brings to light all that is hidden in the heavens and the earth33 and knows all that you conceal and all that you 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 the human 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 Allah 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 worshiped but worship was due to Him alone who is the All-Knowing and the All-Wise Being, whose power is bringing into existence new and
ever new phenomenon every moment.
(27:26) Allah – none is worthy of worship save He; He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne.35
35. This is one of the verses of the Quran, where its recital makes it obligatory to perform a Sajdah (prostration), and there is a consensus on this among Muslim jurists. The object of performing a Sajdah here is that a believer should set himself apart from the sun-worshipers and should declare by his action that he does not regard the sun but Allah Almighty alone as his Deity and Lord.
(27:27) Solomon said: “Soon shall we see whether you have spoken the truth or are one of those that lie.
(27:28) Take this letter of mine, deliver it to them, and then draw back from them, and observe what they do.”36
36. Here ends the role of the hud-hud (hoopoe). The rationalists deny it’s 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 sun worship, that it should have worshiped One God instead of having gone astray, and then on its return to the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him), it
should so clearly make a report of all its observations before him. Due to these very reasons, the open atheists object that the Quran is a book of fables and legends; then those who try to interpret the Quran 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 do these people have by which they could tell, with absolute certainty, what powers and abilities the different species of animals and their different individuals have? The information that they possess only consists of the results inferred from the grossly
insufficient observation made by them of the life and behavior 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, 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 Allah, 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 that 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 insufficient knowledge as the criterion and belie this statement of Allah or distort it out of its true meaning.
(27:29) The Queen said:” Know my nobles that a gracious letter has been delivered to me.
(27:30) It is from Solomon, and it is: “In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.”
(27:31) (It says): “Do not act towards me with defiance, but come to me in submission.”37
37. That is, “The letter is 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 begins with the name of Allah, the
Compassionate, and Merciful, which is an unusual way of correspondence and is not followed by any kingdom in the world. (4) Then, it is also unusual that a letter should be written only in the name of Allah, the Exalted, spare from all 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).” “Come to me in submission” can have two meanings: (1) “Present yourselves in submission”; and (2) “present yourselves as Muslims (after embracing Islam).” The first meaning is in accordance with the Prophet Solomon’s (peace be upon him) position as a ruler, and the second with his position as a prophet. Probably this comprehensive word was used in order to convey both 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.
(27:32) (After reading the letter) the Queen said: “Nobles, let me have your counsel in this matter for I make no firm decision without you.”38
38. The words used in the text are hatta tash-hu-dun (until you are present, or unless you bear witness). That is: “I regard your presence necessary when I 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.
(27:33) They said: “We are strong and are given to vehement fighting. But the decision is yours. we consider what you would like to command.”
(27:34) The Queen said: “When the kings enter a country they cause corruption in it and abase those of its people who are held in honor .39 This is what they are wont to do.40
39. In this one sentence a thorough criticism has been made of imperialism. The kings’ invasion of other countries and the victorious nations’ violence against the oppressed nations has never been for the sake of reform and goodwill. The 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 its means of prosperity, power, and honor, crush down all self respecting elements, instill in their member’s attitudes of slavery, flattery, treachery, and spying against one another, imitating 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 that 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) 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 that have been added as a parenthesis in support
of the queen’s speech.
(27:35) I will send them a gift and then see with what answer my envoys return.”
(27:36) Now, when (the envoy of the Queen) came to Solomon, he said: “Do you want to aid me with wealth? Whatever Allah has granted me is much more than what He has given you.“41 (Keep for yourselves) your gift in which you are exulting.
41. This sentence is not meant to express pride and vanity. What it means to say is this: “I 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 free 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.
(27:37) Envoy, go back to those who sent you and we shall certainly come upon them with hosts 42 whom they will be unable to resist. We shall drive them out from there, and they will suffer humiliation and disgrace.”
42. There is a subtle gap between this and the previous sentence, which one can easily fill up with a careful study of the discourse. It means this: “O messengers, take these gifts back to the people who have 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.”
(27:38) Solomon said:43 “My nobles, which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?”74
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 (peace be upon him) 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 was coming to personally hear the invitation from the king 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 (peace be upon him) 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 (peace be upon him) 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 that time it was lawful to take it into his possession. May Allah 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 (peace be upon him) wanted to
show a miracle also to the queen and her courtiers besides preaching his message so that she might know what extraordinary powers Allah, Lord of the world, had granted His prophet so that she might be convinced that Solomon (peace be upon him) was surely a prophet of
Allah? Some modern commentators have put an even more strange meaning to this verse.
They translate the verse thus: “Which of you can bring me a throne for the queen:” whereas the Quran has used the word bi-arshi-ha which means “her throne”, and not biarshil- laha, “a throne for her”. They mistranslate the verse in order to get rid of what the Quran has
stated that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) wanted the queen’s own throne to be brought froth Yaman to Jerusalem and that too before the queen’s arrival.
(27:39) A stalwart of the jinn said: “I will bring it to you before you rise from your council.45 Surely I have the power to do so and I am trustworthy.”
45. From this it becomes obvious whether the jinns under the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) 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 Marib, the capital of Saba, from Jerusalem was, even as the crow flies, 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 is a very strong and robust person. This task cannot be performed even by a jet plane 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 all 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.”
(27:40) And he who had some knowledge of the Book said: “I will bring it before the twinkling of your eye.’“47 When Solomon saw the throne placed firmly beside him, he cried out: “This is by the grace of my Lord so that He may test me whether I give thanks for (His Bounty) or act with ingratitude.48 Whoever is grateful is so to his own good; and whoever is ungrateful, let him know that my Lord is Immensely Resourceful, Most Bountiful.”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, the knowledge of which he had. No explanation of these things has been given either in the Quran or in any authentic Hadith. Some of the
commentators say that it was an angel, and others say that it was a man. 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 this information, and Imam Razi’s opinion does not even fit in with the Quranic 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 guesswork. 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 Quran, 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 ina moment by the power of his knowledge.
48. The words of the Quran are very clear in this regard. This person’s claim did not remain a claim like a jinn’s, but, in fact, as soon as he made the claim the throne was seen placed before the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) the next moment. Just consider these
“T will bring it to you before your gaze returns to you. Then when he saw it 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 from the favor of my Lord, that He may test me whether I give thanks or I am ungrateful” can be relevant only if the event is extraordinary; otherwise if only a skillful 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 (peace be upon him) should have spontaneously exclaimed: “This is from the favor of my Lord” and feared that the prompt arrangement of a throne for the honorable 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 Allah.
As for the question as to how a royal throne was fetched over a distance of 1,500 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 with 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 a matter of moments. The
God who by His one command brought this huge universe into being, has the power to have moved the throne of the queen of Sheba at a speed greater than the speed of light. In this very Quran, it has been stated that Allah, by His powers, took his servant Muhammad (peace be upon him) from Makkah to Jerusalem and also brought him back on the same night.
49. That is, He does 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 of somebody’s ingratitude or thanklessness. He is Sovereign in His own right. His Sovereignty
is not dependent on His creation’s acknowledgment or rejection. The same thing has been expressed in the Quran through the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him): “If you prove thankless, you and all the dwellers of the earth, (you should know that) Allah is All- Sufficient and worthy of all praise by Himself.” (Surah Ibrahim: Ayat 8). The same theme is contained in a Hadith Qudsi related in Sahih-Muslim saying:
“Allah 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 all 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 that I credit to your account, and then fully recompense you for them. So, whoever receives something good, let him be grateful to Allah, and whoever receives something else, let him curse his own self
(27:41) Solomon said:50″ Set the throne before her casually, and let us see whether she gets to the Truth or is one of those who are not guided to what is right.”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 (peace be upon him).
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 a distant place like Jerusalem,” and also (2) “whether she is guided aright after seeing this wonderful miracle, or persists in her error.” This refutes the wrong idea of the people who say that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) 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.
(27:42) When the Queen arrived, she was asked: “Is your throne like this one?” She said: “It seems as if it is the same.52We had already come to know this and we had submitted ourselves.”53
52. This also refutes the speculations of those people who depict the event in a manner as though the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) wanted to have a throne made for the queen and for this purpose he invited tenders and a strong robust artisan offered to make him a throne in a matter of a few hours, but an expert craftsman submitted that he could make and produce it in no time. This whole guess-work is destroyed by the fact that Solomon (peace be upon him) himself ordered the throne to be fetched before him (Ayat 38), and when it had been fetched, ordered his servants to set it before the queen casually (Ayat 41), and then when she arrived, she was asked whether her throne was like that (Ayat 42), and she answered, “(It is) as though it were the very one.” Obviously, there could be no room for 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) as though it were the very one”, what
could be the relevance of adding this sentence if it is supposed that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) had gotten a throne manufactured and set the same before her? Even if it is assumed that no effort was spared to have a throne manufactured closely resembling that of a queen’s throne, what could have made a sun-worshiping queen exclaim “We had already known this and we had become Muslims!”
(27:43) What prevented her (from accepting the True Faith) was her worshipping deities other than Allah, for she belonged to an unbelieving people.54
54. This sentence has been added by Allah to clarity the queen’s position, saying that she was not obdurate and stubborn. She had been an unbeliever till then mainly because she came from 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 the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him), she discerned the right way and the hindrance was removed forthwith.
(27:44) She was told: “Enter the palace.” But when she saw it, she thought it was a pool of water and she bared both her calves (to enter into it). Solomon said: “This is a slippery floor of crystal.”55 Thereupon she cried out: “My Lord, I have been inflicting much wrong on myself. Now I submit myself with Solomon to Allah, the Lord of the whole Universe.”56
55. This was the last thing that opened the queen’s eyes. The first thing was Solomon’s (peace be upon him) letter that began with the name of the All-Compassionate, the All- Merciful Allah, 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 from which she came to know about Solomon’s pious life, his wisdom, and his message of the truth. This very thing had induced her to travel to Jerusalem to personally meet the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him), and to this, she had referred when she said: “and we had surrendered (to Allah)”. The fourth thing was the removal of her throne from Marib to Jerusalem in no time, from which the queen realized that he had Allah’s power with him. Now this was the last thing that
removed every doubt from her mind regarding the unique and great personality of the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him). 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 for every small favor and his life was so different from the life of those who were enamored of the world, she exclaimed the words that follow.
56. This story of the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) and the queen of Sheba has been related in the Old and the New Testaments and the Israelite traditions in different ways, but the Quranic narration differs from all others. A resume of the story as given in the Old
The testament is as follows:
“And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great company. When she came to Solomon, she communed with him of all 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 cup bearers 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 my own land of thine acts, and of thine wisdom:
Howbeit I believed not their words until I came, and thine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame 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 thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne. And she gave the king a 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 to king Solomon. And king Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all 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 1 King, 10: 1-13).
In the New Testament, the following sentence only has been reported from a discourse of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) about the queen of Sheba.
“The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment 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 (peace be upon him) and the queen of Sheba as given in the rabbinical traditions resembles most parts of the Quranic version. The hoopoe’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 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 traveling 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 Quran. But there is no mention whatsoever in these traditions of the Prophet Solomon’s reply on receipt of the gift, having the queen’s throne fetched from Marib, his bowing down before God in thankfulness for every favor of His, and the queen’s embracing the faith ultimately, at his hand, his belief in the oneness of God, etc. And worst of all, these wicked people have accused Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) 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 a section of the Jewish learned men have been highly critical of the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon
him). 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 favor has the Quran done to the Israelites by cleansing the personalities of their elders of the filth thrown at them by themselves, and yet the Israelites, ungrateful as they are, look upon the Quran and him who brought it as their enemies.