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Hadrat Sulaiman ( - Peace Be Upon Him) and the Queen of Saba

Sulaiman () was a very powerful prophet and many wondrous stories are told about him. He could understand the speech of animals, even of the lowly ant, but despite his worldly powers, he never forgot Allah. He was grateful to Allah for all his gifts and he always tried to serve Allah.

Sulaiman () had jinn and birds serving in his army as well as men. They were all kept in order and ranks, and Sulaiman () demanded strict discipline among them. That is why he was very upset one day to find that one bird, the hoopoe, was absent without his consent. However, the hoopoe soon appeared to explain his absence. He had been scouting for Sulaiman () in areas where Sulaiman () had not yet scouted. He brought with him an account of the kingdom of Saba (Sheba).

The hoopoe reported that the kingdom of Saba was ruled by a rich and powerful queen. She and her people worshipped the sun and other idols instead of Allah. To test the truth of the hoopoe’s story, Sulaiman () sent a letter to the queen, greeting her and requesting her to submit to Allah.

The queen consulted with her ministers. They informed her that the country had the strength to wage a war, but they entrusted her with the decision of whether to use her armies or seek a peaceful settlement. The queen was reluctant to expose her country to the destruction and waste that would accompany a war. Instead she decided to try to please Sulaiman () by sending him expensive gifts. Her chiefs and ministers agreed with her decision.

When the messengers of the queen delivered the queen’s gifts to Sulaiman (), he rejected the gifts. He said that the gifts which he had received from Allah were infinitely better than those which she had sent. He sent the messengers back with the gifts and a message to the queen that she had better submit or he would send armies which would thoroughly destroy the Sabaeans and their country.

While Sulaiman () was awaiting the arrival of the queen, when she would come to him in submission, he desired that her throne be brought to him. A very strong jinn offered to bring it within a matter of moments. One who had knowledge of the Book said he could bring it within the twinkling of an eye. When the throne had been placed before him, Sulaiman () praised Allah and gave thanks to Allah. Sulaiman () did not desire the conquest of the queen of Saba to enhance his personal power. He desired that her throne be transformed from a seat of no faith to a seat of faith in Allah, that she would lead her people in submission to Allah, not to Sulaiman ().

Sulaiman () had the queen’s throne disguised in order to test whether she would accept it in its changed condition. When she arrived, she was asked whether it was her own throne. She confirmed that it was something like it and that she had been informed by Allah in advance of such a change.

When the queen was asked to enter the palace, she tucked up her skirts, because she thought she had to pass through a pool of water. Sulaiman (), not wishing to humiliate the queen, informed her that what she had mistaken for water was actually smooth slabs of glass which paved the courtyard. The queen acknowledged her misperceptions and submitted in Islam, with Sulaiman (), to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

You can read about this story of Sulaiman () in the Quran 27: 15-44.


Published: February 1993

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Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756