Prophet Solomon (‘a) (Sulayman)

Allah (SwT) has stated the following in the Holy Qur’an:

And Solomon was the heir of David, He said: O men! We have been taught the language of birds, and we have been given all things; most surely this is the manifest grace. (Qur’an, 27:16)

Prophet Solomon (‘a) enjoyed a kingdom greater than that of his father David (‘a), and he was more efficient in governing it. After his marriage with Queen Balqees al-Himyariyya (of the Himyar tribe) of Yemen, his kingdom extended from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, thus becoming the very largest in his contemporary world. You can say he ruled the whole world. His father David (‘a) was more ascetic than him. When he was granted by Allah (SwT) kingdom and wisdom, Solomon (‘a) was only thirteen years old. Ibn ‘Abbas‎ quotes the Messenger of Allah (S) saying,”The world in its entirety was ruled by four: two believers and two unbelievers. The believers were Solomon (‘a) and Dhul-Qarnain (Double-Horns, probably Alexander the Great), and the unbelievers were Nemrud (Nimrod) and Nebuchadnezzar (604 - 561 B.C).” Solomon (‘a) invoked Allah (SwT) saying,

“Lord! Do forgive me and grant me a kingdom which is not fit for (inheritance by) anyone after me” (Qur’an, 38:35).

The Almighty has said,

“We made the wind subservient to him; it followed his command to run gently wherever he desired” (Qur’an, 38:36).

And He has also said,

“And Solomon’s hosts of the jinns and men and birds were gathered to him, and they were formed into groups” (Qur’an, 27:17),

at his service, ready to carry out his orders.

How was Solomon (‘a) more efficient in government than his father David (‘a)? Allah (SwT) Almighty tells us a story in the Holy Qur’an which starts with this verse,

“David and Solomon gave judgment concerning the field when the people’s sheep pastured therein at night, and We were bearers of witness to their judgment” (Qur’an, 21:78).

Sheep raked havoc in it, grazing at night without a shepherd tending them. Two men met David (‘a) in this regard. One of them was the owner of the sheep, whereas the other was the owner of the pasture, or the field. The latter said,”This man’s sheep came at night into my field and did not leave anything in it.”

David (‘a) said,”Go, for the sheep are now yours,” thus making him the owner of both the field and the sheep. Both men later on happened to pass by Solomon (‘a) who asked them how his father had judged between them, and they told him of it, whereupon he sought permission to have audience with his father. His father asked him,”How would you have judged between both men, had you been the judge?”

He said,”I would have given the sheep to the owner of the field for one year so that he would take their young, wool, and other benefits, while the owner of the sheep would sow the seeds in the field as though he were its owner. In the next year, when the field goes back to the way it used to be, I would give it back to its rightful owner and take the sheep back from him.” David (‘a) approved of the judgment of his son Solomon (‘a).

Allah (SwT) Almighty sent prophet David (‘a) a book containing thirteen thousand questions. Allah (SwT) then inspired him to ask his son Solomon (‘a) about them: if he proved capable of correctly answering them, he should be his successor. David (‘a) invited seventy priests and tribal chiefs and seated Solomon (‘a) before them.

He then addressed him saying,”O son! Allah (SwT) has sent down to me a book wherein there are questions, and He ordered me to ask you about them. If you are able to answer them correctly, you are to be the king after me.” He said,”Let the prophet of Allah (SwT) ask whatever he pleases.” So he put forth before him a number of very complex questions, as complex as puzzles; his son answered all of them correctly.

David (‘a), therefore, ascended the pulpit, praised the Almighty then said,”The Almighty has ordered me to appoint Solomon (‘a) as my successor over you.” The Children of Israel became angry and said,”How can a young boy be our ruler when there are among us those who are better than him and more knowledgeable?” David (‘a) invited the chiefs of the tribes from among the Children of Israel a second time and said to them,”What you have said has come to my knowledge; so, let me see your staffs. If any staff becomes a tree and bears fruit, its owner shall be the one in charge after me.”

They agreed, and they brought their staffs after each one of them had written his name on it, then all the staffs were put in a room and the door was closed and secured with locks. The chiefs of the tribes of Israel guarded the room themselves.

In the next morning, he said the congregational prayers with them, then he came and opened the door and took their staffs out, and they were just as they had left them, except Solomon (‘a)’s staff which had shot leaves and produced its fruit. They, therefore, submitted to David (‘a). When David (‘a) saw that, he praised Allah (SwT), conveyed Solomon (‘a) behind him and went about the residences of the Children of Israel saying,”This man shall be my successor over you after me.”

Wahab ibn Manbah has said,”When David (‘a) appointed his son Solomon (‘a) as his successor, he admonished him saying, ‘O Son! Beware of jesting, for its benefit is little, while it incites enmity even among brothers. Beware of anger, for anger demeans the angry one. Uphold the fear of Allah (SwT) and obedience to Him, for they both will conquer everything. Beware of being over-jealous about your wife without a reason, for that will cause the others to be suspicious. Do not covet what people have, for this is wealth in its true meaning. Do not be greedy, for greed is an ever present poverty.

Beware of things for which you will have to apologize by word or by deed. Accustom yourself and your tongue to saying the truth, and always be benevolent. If you can make your day better than the day before, then do just that. Say your prayers with tearful eyes, and do not keep company with those who concern themselves with frivolous things. Do not argue with a learned scholar, and do not make any show of your creed. If you feel angry, go somewhere else, and seek the mercy of Allah (SwT), for His mercy surely encompasses everything.”

Solomon (‘A) And The Ants

Surah al-Naml (Chapter of the Ants, Ch. 27 of the Holy Qur’an) narrates an interesting encounter between Solomon (‘a) and an ant at the valley of the ants. Some scholars say it is a valley in Taif, not far from Mecca, whereas others say it is in Syria.

The latter possibility seems to be more plausible especially in the light of the fact that Solomon (‘a)’s capital was the ancient city of Jerusalem1.Syria (ancient Aram, the land of those who speak Aramaic, mother tongue of Jesus (‘a) Christ and the first language wherein the gospels of the Bible were written) used to include today’s Syria in addition to Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine. In the said Chapter, we are told the following:

And his (Solomon’s) hosts of the jinns and men and birds were gathered to him, and they were formed into groups. When they came to the valley of the ants, an ant said, O ants! Enter your homes lest Solomon and his hosts should crush you while they do not know. So he smiled, wondering at her word, and said, Lord! Grant me that I should be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I should do good with which You are pleased, and make me enter, by Your mercy, into (the company of) Your servants, the good ones. (Qur’an, 27:17-19)

The name of that ant, the head of her group, was Takhia. She called on the other ants to protect themselves by seeking shelter inside their holes. Wind carried what everyone said to Solomon (‘a)’s ears. Solomon (‘a) heard the ant’s statement from the distance of three miles, so he alighted and ordered Takhia brought to him, and she was. He asked her,”Why did you warn the ants? Have you not come to know that I am a fair prophet of Allah (SwT)? Why were you afraid lest I and my hosts should smash you all?”

Takhia said,”O prophet of Allah (SwT)! I did not mean the smashing of the bodies but the smashing of the hearts! I feared lest we should desire what you have been granted and become dazzled and thus be distracted from praising the Almighty! Having heard her terse statement, He said to her,”Admonish me.” Takhia asked Solomon (‘a),”Are you greater than your father David (‘a) or was he greater?” Solomon (‘a) said,”My father David (‘a) (was greater).”

She said,”If so, then why is the number of letters in your name greater than those in the name of your father David (‘a)?” Solomon (‘a) said,”I do not know why.”

The ant said,”Your father had treated his wound with wudd, compassion, so he was called Dawud, and I wish you, O Solomon (‘a), will join your father’s company.” Then she asked him,”Do you know why has the wind been made subservient to you in particular from all other regions of the kingdom?”

Solomon (‘a) said,”I have no knowledge of that.” The ant said,”The Almighty, the most Exalted One, has meant to say this to you: ‘Had I put all the kingdom under your control just as I have done with this wind, it will have slipped from your hands just as wind slips away.’ It was then that he smiled on account of her statement. Ibn ‘Abbas‎ is quoted as saying that the Messenger of Allah (S) was ordered by the Almighty not to kill four types of beings: the hoopoes, the surrad birds, the bees, and the ants.

The following is narrated in a book titled Da’awat al-Rawandi:

“Solomon (‘a) was sitting by the sea shore once when he saw an ant carrying a grain which it took to the sea. Solomon (‘a) kept watching her till she reached the water. It was then that a frog took its head out of the water then opened its mouth. The ant entered inside its mouth and the frog dived into the sea. After a long time, Solomon (‘a) kept thinking about what he had witnessed.

Then the frog came out of the water, opened its mouth, and the ant came out of it, and the grain was not in its mouth. Solomon (‘a) called on her and asked her what she was doing and where she had been. She said, ‘O prophet of Allah (SwT)! There is in the bottom of the sea before your eyes a hallow rock, and inside it there is a blind worm. Allah (SwT), the most Exalted One, created it there, and it cannot get out of it to seek its sustenance, and Allah (SwT) assigned to me the task of carrying its food to it; so, I carry it so it may be sustained thereby. And Allah (SwT) assigned to this frog the task of carrying me, and the water does not harm me, being inside its mouth.

The frog then places its mouth on the rock and I get out of it.” Solomon (‘a) asked her,”Did you ever hear that worm celebrating the praises of Allah (SwT)?”“Yes,” the ant said, adding,”It said the following: ‘O One Who does not forget me, though I am in the depth of this rock, in the depth of this water, I plead to You by Your own sustenance of me not to forget Your believing servants, and to include them in Your mercy.’”2

Solomon (‘A)’s Ring

According to Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (‘a), Allah (SwT) had placed Solomon (‘a)’s power and authority in his ring. Whenever he put it on, the jinns, the humans, the demons, the birds, and all animals would be under his power and would obey him. He would then sit on his throne and Allah (SwT) would send the wind to carry the throne and his train of demons, birds, humans, animals, horses, etc., and would go wherever Solomon (‘a) wanted to. This is the meaning of verses 12 and 13 of Surah Saba’ (Ch. 34) and also 21:81-82. Solomon (‘a) would say his morning prayers in Syria and his noon prayers in Persia. He used to order the devils to carry building stones from Persia and sell them for him in Syria. But when he slashed the horses’ necks and legs, as we are told in 38:33, Allah (SwT) deprived him of his domain. How did that happen? Here is one view, and there are many others:

Solomon (‘a) was very fond of horses. He used to like them and enjoyed seeing them paraded before him from time to time. It is said that he had inherited a thousand of horses from his father.

One day, the parading took too long; it lasted till sunset, causing him to forget about saying his afternoon prayers. He was very sad about that, so he supplicated to Allah (SwT) to bring the sun back so that he could say his afternoon prayers. The Almighty brought the sun back, so Solomon (‘a) performed his prayers. Then he ordered the horses to be brought back to him again. He now took a sword and kept slashing their necks and legs till he killed all of them. This is the meaning of the verse saying,

“Bring them back to me (said Solomon), so he kept slashing their legs and their necks” (Qur’an, 38:33).

Whenever he went to the toilet, Solomon (‘a) would give his ring to one of his servants. It so happened once, as we are told by ar-Razi, that Solomon (‘a) heard about a city on an island. He invaded it and killed its king who had a very beautiful daughter named Jarada. Solomon (‘a) took her captive, and she accepted Islam; therefore, he loved her very much and married her.

But she was very much grieved about her father whom she missed very much, so Solomon (‘a) ordered one Satan to carve an image of her father for her, which he did. Jarada used to go to that image every morning and evening accompanied by her maids, and they would all prostrate before it. Asif ibn Barkhia, his scribe, informed him of what was going on, so Solomon (‘a) reduced that image to pieces and penalized his wife for thus worshipping it.

He also blamed himself for being the cause of it in the first place and went out to the open fields feeling very forlorn and regretful. He poured ashes on his head, sat and wept over his sin, praying Allah (SwT) to accept his repentance.

Solomon (‘a) had another wife named Ameena. Whenever he went to the toilet, or to visit one of his women, he entrusted her with his ring. One day, he left it with her when a sea Satan saw it. The latter assumed Solomon (‘a)’s form, came to Ameena and ordered her to return his ring to him.

He put it on, and soon the devils, the jinns, the humans, the birds, and all animals put themselves under his command. When Solomon (‘a) went out and sought the ring, he did not find it. He, therefore, fled out and passed by the sea shore.

The Children of Israel were disgusted to see how Satan assumed the form of Solomon (‘a). They first went to his mother and asked her,”Have you noticed anything about Solomon (‘a)’s conduct which you found to be reprehensible?” She said,”He used to be the most kind of all people towards you, and now he openly disobeys me.”

They went to his wives and concubines and asked them the same question. They said,”He never approached us during our menstruation, and now he does.” When that Satan was afraid they would discover him, he threw the ring in the sea (Mediterranean). Allah (SwT) sent a fish that swallowed it, and that particular Satan fled away.

The Children of Israel kept looking for Solomon (‘a) for forty days. This is how long Solomon (‘a)’s wife kept worshipping her father’s image as her idol. Solomon (‘a), meanwhile, spent his time wandering by, begging people to feed him. If he happened to tell them that he was Solomon (‘a), they would throw dirt at him, insult him, and ridicule him. He felt very regretful and repented to Allah (SwT) on account of what he had done.

After those forty days were over, he passed by a fisherman fishing and he asked him saying,”Shall I help you provided you give me some of your catch?” The fisherman agreed, so Solomon (‘a) helped him catch some fish. The fisherman, therefore, gave Solomon (‘a) a fish. Solomon (‘a) took it, cut it open and went to wash it. He found the ring inside it, so he put it on. It was then that all the devils, jinns, humans, birds, and animals went back to their previous obedience to him.

He sought that particular Satan who had done what he had done as well as his hosts who had assisted him. He took them all, had them tied, then confined some of them in the bottom of the sea and others in the depth of the stones, invoking on them Allah (SwT)’s Attributes (asma Allah (SwT) al-husna). They are, ever since, jailed there, and they shall remain confined till the Day of Judgment.3

Prophet Solomon (‘a) had finished the reconstruction of the Jerusalem temple which was originally built by his father David (‘a) and most of which was demolished after the demise of Solomon (‘a) by the Babylonian king Bukhtnuzzar who looted everything of value in it. Having finished reconstructing it in 975 B.C., Solomon (‘a) said,”Lord! You have granted me this kingdom out of Your favor on me, and You have made me Your vicegerent on Your earth and blessed me thereby even before I was anything at all; so, all Praise is due to You. Lord! I plead to You to grant whoever enters this place of worship: that none enters it and offers even two prostrations in sincerity should come out of his sins just as his mother had first given birth to him, and nobody enters it and he is a sinner except that You accept his repentance, nor anyone enters it in fear except that You grant him security, nor anyone enters it and he is sick except that You heal him, nor anyone enters it who is impotent except that You make him fertile and You grant him wealth.”

Solomon (‘a) is the one who disseminated the unitarian creed and the worship of Allah (SwT) in the kingdom of Saba’ (Sheba).

I wish I had enough space in this book to narrate to the reader the very interesting story of how Solomon (‘a) came to marry the Queen of Sheba Balqees daughter of al-Shar who belonged to the Arab tribe of Himyar, Yemen, but I have no choice except to stop here in order to conserve space and paper and cut on expense. It suffices to provide the reader with a glimpse of this woman whose kingdom in southern Arabia rivalled that of Solomon (‘a) in Syria and the Mediterranean.

The commanders of her army troops numbered twelve thousand, each commanding one hundred thousand soldiers. The remnants of the temples she had built for the sun and the moon gods can still be seen and are a source of immeasurable interest to archaeologists and anthropologists, and very little has been published about such temples or about their builder. But I have to stop here feeling sad and wishing that there had been Muslim philanthropists who could finance the publication of a book as interesting as this one and twice or three times as big. The best Islamic literature is still in Arabic awaiting those who dig up its treasures then translate them into other languages, especially European languages...

  • 1. One of the oldest cities in the world, Jerusalem dates back to about 1400 B.C. Prophet David (‘a), Solomon (‘a)'s father, made it his capital after taking it from the Jebusites, tribesmen who used to occupy it before then. In 586 B.C., it fell to the Babylonians, and the Roman emperor Titus razed its buildings in 70 A.D. Its name in Hebrew is Ur-o-Shalom, the city of peace, and in Arabic al-Quds, the sacred city. It is also known in pre-Islamic Arabic literature as Eilya' and is discussed on pp. 348-349, Vol. 1, of Mu’jam al-Buldan by Yaqut al-Hamawi (Beirut, Lebanon, Dar al-Kutub al-’Ilmiyya, 1410 A.H./1990 A.D.). According to one opinion, it is named after Eilya' (perhaps Elijah) son of Iram son of Sam son of Noah (‘a), brother of Damascus, Hims (or Homs), Jordan, and Palestine.
  • 2. al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 14, p. 97-98, quoting Da’awat al-Rawandi, a manuscript.
  • 3. al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 14, pp. 99-100.