read

Prophet David (‘a) (Dawud)

Allah (SwT) Almighty has said,

O David! Surely We have made you a ruler in the land. (Qur’an, 38:26)

Prophet David (‘a) is the son of Eisha son of Awfayth son of Yu’az son of Solomon (‘a) son of Yakhshun son of Amenothab son of Hasrun son of Baris son of Yahuda son of Jacob son of Isaac son of Abraham (‘a), the Friend of Allah (SwT), blessings of Allah (SwT) with them.

David (‘a) was a servant and prophet of Allah (SwT) and His Vicegerent in Jerusalem. Allah (SwT) Almighty has said,

“And Allah gave him kingdom and wisdom” (Qur’an, 2:251).

Allah has also said,”We gave David the Psalms” (Qur’an, 4:163)

which are now part of the Old Testament. Allah (SwT) never gave any of His creation a voice as sweet as the one which He bestowed on David (‘a). He used to recite the Psalms in seventy different tones. Whenever he sat alone by the mountains praising Allah (SwT), the mountains would respond with praises of their own; so did all species of animals and birds, even the wild beasts and the lions. They would all get near him and praise the Almighty with him as soon as they heard his voice. The flowing water stood still, and so did the wind. Allah (SwT) Almighty has said,

“And certainly We gave David excellence from Us: O mountains! Sing praises with him, and the birds, and We made the iron pliant to him” (Qur’an, 34:10).

Allah (SwT) Almighty has also said,

“Surely We made the mountains sing the glory (of Allah) in unison with him at the evening and at sunrise, and the birds gathered together; all joined in singing with him” (Qur’an, 38:18-19).

The Messenger of Allah Muhammad (S) has said,”The most favored prayers to Allah (SwT) were those of David (‘a), and the most favored of fast to Allah (SwT) was that of David (‘a): he used to sleep only half the night and stand for prayers one third of it, then sleep during its remaining sixth.

He used to fast a day and break it another, and he never ran away whenever he was challenged.” This tradition has been recorded by al-Bukhari. Al-Bukhari has also mentioned that,”Muhammad ibn Abdullah‎ has quoted al-Awwam saying that he once asked Mujahid about the prostration in Surah Sad (chapter 38). Mujahid said that he had asked Ibn ‘Abbas‎ the same question, and that the latter had informed him that it was the prostration made by David (‘a) in repentance and in thanksgiving.

Allah (SwT), Praised be His Name and Exalted is He, has said,

“And We made the iron pliant to him, saying: Make ample (coats of mail)” (Qur’an, 34:10-11).

When David (‘a) came to rule the Children of Israel, he used to go out to the public disguised. Whenever he saw a man who did not recognize who he (David (‘a)) was, he would come and ask him what he thought of David (‘a), so the man would praise him and express his satisfaction. While he was one day doing that, Allah (SwT) sent him an angel in human form. David (‘a), as usual, came and asked him what he thought of him.

The angel answered,”He is a very good man had it not been for a fault in him.” David (‘a) asked him,”And what is that, O servant of Allah (SwT)?” He answered,”David (‘a) eats and feeds his family from the government’s treasury.” So he realized it and invoked Allah (SwT) to help him do something whereby he would not need the treasury but would instead spend some of his earnings by way of charity. Allah (SwT), therefore, taught him how to make coats of mail, and he was the first person to make them.

Before then, they used to be pieces of tin. It is said that he used to sell each coat of mail for four hundred dirhams. He would eat and feed his family from its price then give some of it to the poor and the destitute. This is referred to in this verse:

And We taught him the making of coats of mail for you so that they might protect you in your wars” (Qur’an, 21:80),

and also,

“And make the coats of mail according to a measure” (Qur’an, 34:11),

that is, neither very small, else they should stick to one’s body and thus harm it, nor too big, else they should break the rings. He used to do that and he thus made a fortune.

It is narrated that Luqman (‘a) the wise saw David (‘a) making a coat of mail, and he was surprised at it but did not know what it exactly was. He wanted to ask him about it but he was too shy. He kept silent till David (‘a) finished making it. David (‘a) then stood and put it on saying,”What a shirt for the warrior!” Luqman (‘a), hence, understood what it was for, so he said,”Silence is wisdom, and few are those who uphold it.”

Allah (SwT) Almighty has said,

“Has there come to you the story of the litigants when they made an entry into the private chamber (of David) by climbing over the walls? They entered on David, and he was frightened of them” (Qur’an, 38:21).

Scholars have disputed regarding the reasons why Allah (SwT) Almighty had put His prophet David (‘a) to the sin test. Some of them reason saying that he one day invoked his Lord to grant him the status which He had granted his forefathers, Abraham (‘a), Isaac and Jacob, and asked Him to test him with the same whereby He tested them, and to grant him of the honor as much as He had granted them. Both al-Suddi and al-Kalbi quote Muqatil who, in turn, quotes his mentors saying, and their statements support one another, that David (‘a) divided his days into three portions: a day to arbitrate among people, a day to enjoy his women in private, and a day to worship his Lord and read.

While reading, he used to quite often read about the distinction of Abraham (‘a), Isaac and Jacob, peace with them, so he said,”Lord! I see that all goodness has gone with my fathers who came before me.” Allah (SwT) inspired him that they were tried with trials with which nobody else was ever tried, and that they remained steadfast. Abraham (‘a) was tried with Nemrud’s fire and with the attempted slaying of his son. Isaac was tried with the possibility of his being slain, while Jacob was so grieved because of losing Joseph that he lost his eye sight,”While you yourself were never tried with anything like that,” the Almighty told him.

David (‘a) said,”Lord! Try me, and grant me as You granted them!” Allah (SwT), therefore, inspired him that he would be tried on such-and-such a month, on such-and-such a day; so,”seek refuge against failing the test with perseverance,” the Almighty added.

On the appointed day, David (‘a) entered his private chamber and kept saying his prayers and reciting the Psalms. While he was doing that, Satan came to him in the form of a golden dove decorated with every beautiful color imaginable. It fell within his reach, so he stretched his hand to it to catch it.

According to some narratives, he wanted to give it to one of his young sons. As he stretched his hand to catch it, it flew a short distance away, so he followed it. Then it flew and fell in a hole. He went to catch it, but again it flew away from the hole. David (‘a) kept watching it to see where it would fall again so that he would send someone to hunt it for him. Meanwhile, he looked and, according to al-Kalbi, he saw a woman bathing in an orchard by the river.

Al-Suddi says that he saw her on her house’s rooftop. He found her to be the most beautiful woman his eyes had ever seen, and he admired her beauty. Soon she turned and noticed him, so she spread her hair to cover her entire body, causing him to admire her even more.

He inquired about her, and he was told that she was Sabigh (Bathsheba) daughter of Shayea and wife of Uriah son of Hanan, the Hittite. References to her story are in the Old Testament; see 2 Samuel 11; 12; 1 Kings 1; 2; and the New Testament, Matthew 1.6.

Her husband was then participating in an invasion of the Balkan areas together with Job son of Soorya, a nephew of David (‘a). David (‘a) wrote his nephew Job, who was commander of the troops, to send Uriah to a particular place and to advance him before the ark of covenant, sacred symbol of the Israelites1.

Anyone who was presented before it, according to their traditions, was not permitted to retreat till Allah (SwT) enabled him to achieve either victory or martyrdom. So he sent him. Victory was on his side, and the nephew wrote David (‘a) to inform him of the good news. David (‘a) then sent him another letter ordering him to send Uriah to another campaign wherein the foe was mightier, but this time he was killed.

When the waiting period [of grief] for his wife was over, David (‘a) married her and she came to be the mother of prophet Solomon (‘a) the wise, peace with him.

When David (‘a) married Uriah’s wife, he enjoyed his marriage for a short period of time before Allah (SwT) sent him two angels in the form of human beings. They sought audience with him. They found out that that day was the one he had scheduled, as was his habit, to adore his Maker, so the guards did not permit them to enter.

But they were able to climb over his private chamber while he was saying his prayers, and he was frightened by seeing them thus entering without permission. To this does this verse refer:

“Has there come to you the story of the litigants when they made an entry into the private chamber by climbing over the walls? When they entered on David, and he was frightened of them, they said: Fear not; two litigants of whom one has acted wrongfully towards the other; therefore, decide between us with justice, and do not act unjustly, and guide us to the right way. Surely this is my brother; he has ninety-nine ewes and I have a single ewe” (Qur’an, 38:21-23).

When one of them said that his brother had ninety-nine ewes, David (‘a) asked the other,”What do you have to say?” He said,”I have ninety-nine ewes and he has one ewe, and I want to take it and complete my ewes to a hundred.” He asked him,”Even against his will? He said,”Yes.” David (‘a) said,”We do not permit you to do that, and if you try to do it, we will whip this and this of you,” meaning the tip of his nose and forehead.

So the man said,”O David (‘a)! You are more deserving than me to be whipped, since you have ninety-nine wives whereas Uriah had only one wife. Why did you expose him to death till he was killed and you married his widow?” David (‘a) had passed his judgment before listening to the argument of the other opponent. Some scholars say that David (‘a) then looked around and did not find anyone, so he realized what had befallen him. This is the meaning of the verse saying,

“David (‘a) was sure that We had tried him, so he sought the protection of his Lord, and he fell down bowing and turned time after time (to Him)” (Qur’an, 38:24).

Of course there are scholars who dispute the story of the bird altogether, saying that all prophets of the Almighty are protected from sinning, and that the story was the product of imagination of some Israelites. Surely Allah (SwT) knows best.

Zakariyya (‘a) quotes Anas ibn Malik saying that he heard the Messenger of Allah (S) saying,”When David (‘a) looked at that woman, he made a covenant to the Children of Israel and instructed the ruler of al-Balqa (the Balkans) that if the foe was there, he should present so-and-so before the Ark of Covenant. They used the Ark to seek (Divine) assistance, and anyone who was presented before it was not to return till he was either killed or caused the enemy to flee. The woman’s husband was killed. Two angels came down to narrate his tale.

This is how David (‘a) realized what he had done, so he prostrated and remained for forty nights prostrating and weeping till vegetation grew from his tears around his head, and the ground eroded his forehead while saying, as he prostrated, ‘David (‘a) has slipped a slip further than the east from the west.

Lord! If You do not have mercy on David (‘a)’s weakness and forgive his sin, his sin will be the tale of the creation after him.’ Gabriel came to him after forty nights and said, ‘O David (‘a)! Allah (SwT) Almighty has forgiven the distress that has overtaken you, and now you know that Allah (SwT) is Just and does not oppress; but about so-and-so,’ meaning Uriah, ‘when he comes on the Day of Judgment and says, ‘Lord! Where is my blood which David (‘a) had spilled?’ Why don’t you ask your Lord about that? If you wish, I can do that myself.’ He said, ‘Yes, do it.’

So Gabriel asked his Lord, and David (‘a) went back to his prostration and kept prostrating as long as Allah (SwT) willed. Then Gabriel descended again and said, ‘O David (‘a)! I have asked Allah (SwT) about the matter regarding which you had sent me, and Allah (SwT) Almighty has said: Tell David (‘a) that Allah (SwT) will gather you both on the Day of Judgment and say to Uriah: Grant what David (‘a) owes you to Me, and he will agree, then I will say: You may remain in Paradise as long as you wish and you will have in it whatever you want in place of your blood.’

Supplication By Prophet David (‘A)

According to the reference known as Ara’is al-Tha’labi, when Prophet David (‘a) was visited by the two angels and passed a judgment which indicted his own self, the latter went back to their original form and ascended to heaven saying that the man had indicted his own self. David (‘a) realized that that was a test from the Almighty, so he prostrated and kept prostrating for forty days during which he never lifted his head except for an extreme urgency or to perform the prescribed prayers. He neither ate nor drank but kept crying till grass grew around his head while he was still invoking his Lord and praying Him to accept his repentance. As he prostrated, he kept repeating the following:

الويل لداود ثم الويل لداود، سبحان الله خالق النور. الويل لداود ثم الويل له حين يؤخذ بذقنه فيدفع الى المظلوم، سبحان الله خالق النور. الويل لداود ثم الويل الطويل له حين يسحب على وجهه مع الخاطئين الى النار، سبحان الله خالق النور. الويل لداود ثم الويل الطويل له حين تقربه الزبانية مع الظالمين الى النار، سبحان الله خالق النور.

Woe unto David (‘a), then woe unto David (‘a), Praise to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of the light. Woe unto David (‘a) then a lengthy woe unto him when he is taken by the chin and pushed to the one whom he oppressed, Praise to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of the light. Woe unto David (‘a) then a lengthy woe unto him when he is dragged on his face with the sinners into the fire, Praise to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of the light. Woe unto David (‘a) then a lengthy woe unto him when the denzines of hell lodge him with the wrongdoers into the Fire, Praise to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of the light.

According to the same reference, David (‘a) also kept invoking his Lord thus:

سبحان الله الملك الأعظم الذي يبتلي الخلق بما يشاء، سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي لم أتعظ بما وعظت به غيري، سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي أنت خلقتني و كان في سابق علمك ما أنا صائر اليه، سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي، يغسل الثوب فيذهب درنه و وسخه، و الخطيئة لازمة لي لا تذهب عني، سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي أمرتني أن أكون لليتيم كالأب الرحيم و للأرملة كالزوج العطوف، فنسيت عهدك، سبحان الله خالق النور. الويل لداود اذا كشف عنه الغطاء فيقال هذا داود الخاطيء، سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي، بأي عين أنظر اليك يوم القيا مة و انما ينظر الظالمون من طرف خفي؟ الهي بأي قدم أقوم أمامك يوم تزل أقدام الخاطئين؟ سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي الخطيئة لازمة لي، سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي من أين يطلب العبد المغفرة الا من عند سيده؟ سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي مطرت السماء، و لم تمطر حولي، سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي أعشبت الأرض و لم تعشب حولي لخطيئتي، سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي أنا الذي لا أطيق حر شمسك، فكيف أطيق حر نارك؟ سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي أنا الذي لا أطيق صوت رعدك، فكيف أطيق صوت جهنم؟ سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي كيف يستتر الخاطئون من خطايا هم و أنت شاهدهم حيث كانوا؟ سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي قرح الجبين و رق القلب و جمدت العينان من مخافة الحريق على جسدي، سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي تسبح لك الطير بأصوات ضعاف تخافك، و أنا العبد الخاطيء الذي لم أرع وصيتك، سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي الويل لداود من الذنب العظيم الذي أصاب، سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي أسألك يا اله ابراهيم و اسماعيل و اسحق و يعقوب أن تعطيني سؤلي فان اليك رغبتي، سبحان الله خالق النور. اللهم برحمتك اغفر لي ذنوبي و لا تباعدني من رحمتك بهواي. اللهم اني أعوذ بك من دعوة لا تستجاب و صلاة لا تقبل و عمل لا يقبل، سبحان الله خالق النور. اللهم اغفر لي بنور وجهك الكريم ذنوبي التي أوبقتني، سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي فررت بذنوبي و اعترفت بخطيئتي فلا تجعلني من القانطين و لا تخزني يوم الدين، سبحان الله خالق النور. الهي قرح الجبين و فنيت الدموع و تناثر الدود من ركبتي و خطيئتي ألزم بي من جلدي؛ سبحان الله خالق النور.

Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, the Greatest King Who tries the creation however He pleases; Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! I have not sought admonishment from what You have admonished others, Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! You are my Creator, and You knew in advance what I would do, Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord!

The garment is washed, and its filth and uncleanness is thus removed, whereas the sin lingers and never goes away from me; Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! You ordered me to be like a kind father to the orphan, to the widow like a compassionate husband, but I forgot the promise I made to You; Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Woe unto David (‘a) when the curtains are removed, and it will be said,”This is David (‘a) the sinner!”

Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! With what eyes shall I look at you on the Judgment Day while the oppressors look only stealthily? Lord! With what feet shall I stand before You on the Day when sinners’ feet shall slip away? Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! The sin never parts with me, Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! From whom does a slave seek forgiveness save from his master?

Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! The sky has poured its rain, but it did not rain around me, Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! The ground has produced its vegetation but not around me because of my sin; Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! I am the one who can be frustrated by the heat of Your sun; so, how shall I be able to withstand the fire of Your inferno? Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light!

Lord! I am the one who cannot withstand the sound of the thunder You cause, so how shall I bear the sound of Hell? Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! How can the sinners shield themselves from their sins while You see them wherever they may be? Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord!

The forehead now has pus, the heart is weakened and the eyes are frozen out of fear of the fire on my body; Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! The birds sing Your praise with feeble voices, fearing You, while I am Your weak sinful servant who did not heed Your advice; Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! Woe unto David (‘a) because of the great sin which has afflicted him, Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! I plead to You by the status reserved with You for my forefathers, Abraham (‘a), Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob, to grant me my plea, for I direct it to You;

Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! By Your mercy, forgive my sins and do not distance me from Your mercy because of my inclinations. Lord! I seek refuge with You from a supplication which is not heeded, a prayer which is not accepted, a good deed which is not appreciated, Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! By the Light of Your Gracious Countenance, forgive my sins which have dragged me into the pit, Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! Lord! I have escaped with my sins and admitted my transgression, so do not cause me to despair, and do not shame me on the Judgment Day, Glory to Allah (SwT) ‎, Creator of light! I have escaped from my sins to You, and I have admitted my sin; so, do not make me among the despondent and do not shame me on the Day they are raised again; Glory to the Creator of light! Lord! My forehead now has pus, my tears have dried up, worms have scattered from my knees, while my sin is closer to me than my skin; Glory to Allah (SwT), Creator of light!

At that time he heard a call,”Are you hungry so that you will be fed or thirsty so that you will be given water, or oppressed so that you will be redressed?” No reference was made in the call to his sin, so he let out one cry whereby everything around him was stirred in motion, then he cried out,”Lord! The sin I have committed!” He was addressed,”O David (‘a)! Raise your head, for your Lord has forgiven you.” But he did not raise his head, so Gabriel came to him and lifted his head up.

David (‘a) heard his Lord’s call saying that He had forgiven him, so he said,”Lord! How so while You do not wrong anyone?” He said,”Go to Uriah’s grave and call on him, and I shall enable him to hear you, then ask him to forgive you.”

David (‘a) went out till he came to Uriah’s grave, and he had put on the most coarse of clothes and sat near his grave. Then he called on him,”O Uriah!” Uriah answered,”Here I am! Who has interrupted my pleasure and woke me up?” David (‘a) said,”I, David (‘a), have!” He said,”What brought you to me, O prophet of Allah (SwT)?” He said,”I have come to ask for your forgiveness.” Uriah said,”What sin have you committed against me?” David (‘a) answered,”I caused you to be killed.”

He said,”You exposed me to the reward of Paradise, and you are forgiven.” Allah (SwT) then inspired to David (‘a):”Have you not come to know that I am Just and I do not rule except equitably? Why don’t you tell him that you married his wife?”

So David (‘a) went back again to Uriah’s grave and called on him again,”O Uriah!” He answered,”Who has now interrupted my pleasure?” He said,”I, David (‘a), have.” He said,”O prophet of Allah (SwT)! What do you need now? Haven’t I forgiven you?” He said,”Yes, but I did not do what I did to you except because of your wife, and I have married her.” So Uriah remained silent, and he did not answer him. David (‘a) called on him again, and Uriah did not answer him. David (‘a) stood up and healed the dust over his head and wailed thus,

Woe and woe unto David (‘a)! Glory to the Creator of light! Woe unto David (‘a), and a prolonged woe unto David (‘a)! Glory to the Creator of light! Woe unto David (‘a) and eternal woe unto David (‘a) when the scales are set up on the Day of Judgment! Glory to the Creator of light! Woe unto David (‘a) and eternal woe unto David (‘a) when he will be dragged on his face with the sinners into the fire! Glory to the Creator of light! Woe unto David (‘a) and eternal woe unto David (‘a) when the custodians of Hell bring him and the wrongdoers to the fire! Glory to the Creator of light!

The call from heavens came again,”O David (‘a)! I have forgiven your sin and I have had mercy on you; I have pitied your prolonged stay, answered your plea and corrected your step.” He said,”Lord! How do You forgive me and my fellow has not?” He said,”O David (‘a)! Whether he forgives you or not, I shall grant him on the Day of Judgment what his eyes never saw nor his ears ever heard, then I shall say to him, ‘O servant of Mine! Are you now pleased?’

He shall say, ‘Where did all this come from and I did not earn it myself?’ I shall then say, ‘This is a compensation to you for the sake of My servant David (‘a),’ then I shall ask him to grant your blood to Me, and he will do so.” David (‘a) then said,”Lord! Now I have come to realize that You have, indeed, forgiven me.” This is the meaning of the verse,

“… and most surely he had nearness to Us and an excellent resort” (Qur’an, 38:25).

  • 1. This Arc of Covenant was so sacred to the Hebrews that they regarded it as representative of God. Touching it was a desecration punishable by death. Its presence implied victory, so it was always carried into battle by poles thrust through rings on its sides. It was brought by David (‘a) to Jerusalem and placed by Solomon (‘a) at the Temple, then it disappeared.