Solomon in Islam
||This article improperly uses one or more religious texts as primary sources without referring to secondary sources that critically analyze them. (December 2012)|
|King Solomon the Prophet|
Solomon in a Persian painting
|Holy Monarch, Prophet, 'Solomon the Wise', Constructor of the Temple|
|Influenced||Many Jews, Christians and Muslim monarchs|
Solomon (Arabic سليمان Sulaymān) was, according to the Qur'an, a king of ancient Israel as well as the son of David. The Qur'an recognizes Solomon as a prophet and a divinely-appointed monarch. Islamic tradition generally holds that Solomon was the third king of Israel and was a just and wise ruler for the nation.
Islam views Solomon as one of the elect of God, who was bestowed upon with many God-given gifts, including the ability to speak to animals and control jinn. Muslims further maintain that Solomon remained faithful to a one and only God throughout his life; constructed the Temple of Solomon, which became one of the key houses of worship; reigned justly over the whole of the Kingdom of Israel; was blessed with a level of kingship which was given to none after him; and fulfilled all of his commandments, being promised nearness to God in Heaven at the end of his life. Solomon remains one of the most commemorated and popular holy figures in Islam. Muslim tradition further maintains that, along with David (Dāwūd) and Dhul-Qarnayn, Solomon was one of three great monarchs of all time.
Historic narrative in Islam
Note: The following is a brief narrative of Solomon from the Quran and Islamic tradition
Muslims believe that Solomon inherited the throne when David died and became the third King of Israel. He was the successor to his father as both king as well as prophet to the Children of Israel. From the day of his birth, God bestowed many gifts upon Solomon, as He had upon David. Solomon had shown signs of his God-given wisdom even as a youth. In the earliest narrative involving Solomon in the Quran, the Quran says that Solomon was once in the company of his father, when two men came to ask David to judge between them. The first of the two men said that he owned a vineyard of which he took great care the whole year through. But one day when he was absent the other man's sheep had strayed into the vineyard and devoured the grapes. He asked to be compensated for this damage. Upon hearing the man's complaint, Solomon suggested that the owner of the sheep take the other man's vineyard to repair and cultivate until the vines returned to their former state, whereupon he should return it to its owner. At the same time, the owner of the vineyard would care for the sheep and benefit from their wool and milk until his land was returned to him, at which point he would return the sheep to their owner. Solomon's level of judgement, which the Quran says in this particular incident surpassed that of David, would characterize Solomon throughout his life. Wisdom, according to Muslim tradition, would always be associated with Solomon, who would later even be referred to as 'Solomon the Wise'.
When Solomon inherited the position of king over Israel, he prayed to God to grant him a kingdom which would be greater than that of any after him. God accepted Solomon's prayer and gave him what he pleased. It was at this stage that Solomon began to acquire the many gifts that God would bestow upon him throughout his life. The Quran narrates that the wind was made subservient to Solomon, and he could control it of his own will, and that the jinn also came under Solomon's control. The jinn helped strengthen Solomon's reign, building for him monuments, houses of worship, artwork, and reservoirs. God also caused a miraculous spring of liquid brass to flow for Solomon, inevitably to be used by the jinn in their construction. Solomon was even taught the languages of various animals, in particular all the birds. The Quran recounts that, one day, Solomon and his army entered a valley, where there were many ant colonies. On seeing Solomon and his army, one of the ants warned all the others to "...get into your habitations, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you (under foot) without knowing it." Immediately understanding what the ant said, Solomon, as always, prayed to God, thanking Him for bestowing upon him such gifts and further avoided trampling over the ant colonies. Solomon's wisdom, however, was yet another of the gifts he received from God, and Muslims strongly maintain that Solomon never forgot his daily prayer, which, to him, was more important than any of his gifts.
Another important aspect of Solomon's kingship was the size of his army, which consisted of both men and jinn. Solomon would frequently assess his troops and warriors as well as the jinn and all the animals who worked under him. One day, when inspecting his troops, Solomon found the hoopoe missing from the assembly. Shortly later, the hoopoe, however, arrived to Solomon's court, saying "I have compassed (territory) which thou hast not compassed, and I have come to thee from Saba with tidings true. Thus, the hoopoe informed Solomon about the kingdom of Sheba. He further told Solomon that the people of Sheba worshiped the sun, but that the woman who ruled the kingdom was highly intelligent and powerful. Solomon, who listened closely, chose to write a letter to the land of Sheba, through which he would try to convince the people of Sheba to cease in worshiping the sun and to come to the worship of God. Solomon ordered the hoopoe to give the letter to the Queen of Sheba, and then to hide and observe her reaction. The hoopoe accepted Solomon's orders and flew to give the letter to the Queen of Sheba. The Queen then called her ministers in the court and announced the letter of Solomon stating that the people of Sheba, " In the name of Allah" I warned you to stop worshiping the sun and accept Allah as the only God along with Solomon as His messenger. She asked for suggestions from her minister and administration stating that 'O my people I know that you all are powerful and brave warriors and no one on the face of the earth can defeat our army, but still I want your opinion". The people of the court replied to the Queen that you have all the power and authority and whatever order you deliver, you will find us obedient. Then Queen decided to send some gifts and offerings to Solomon.
Death of Solomon
According to the Quran, the death of Solomon was a lesson to be learned,
Then, when We decreed (Solomon's) death, nothing showed them his death except a little worm of the earth, which kept (slowly) gnawing away at his staff: so when he fell down, the Jinn saw plainly that if they had known the unseen, they would not have tarried in the humiliating Penalty (of their Task).
When Solomon was to die, he stood up in prayer holding his cane. There he silently died, but, by God's will, did not fall. He remained in this position, and everyone including the jinn thought that he was still alive. Finally God ordered a termite to weaken the cane so that the body of Solomon fell. It was thereafter believed that the jinn (along with all humans) did not know everything and only God had knowledge of all.
References to Solomon in the Quran
- Appraisals for Solomon: 2:102, 6:84, 21:81–82, 27:15–16, 27:18–23, 27:36–39, 27:44, 34:12–13, 38:30–31, 38:35–40
- Solomon's preaching: 4:163, 27:25, 27:31, 27:44
- Solomon judged: 21:78–79
- Fitna to Solomon: 38:32–34
- Solomon and Queen Balqis (Sheba): 27:28–31, 27:34–44
- The kingdom of Sheba: 27:23, 34:15, 34:18
- Solomon's death: 34:14
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Solomon.|
- Concise Encyclopedia of Islam - Page 374, Cyril Glasse - 1988
- Quran 27:16
- Quran 34:12
- Quran 27:15
- Quran 38:35
- Quran 38:40
- Encyclopedia of Islam, Solomon, Online web.
- Quran 21:78
- Lives of the Prophets, L. Azzam, David and Solomon, pg. 62, Suhail Academy
- Quran 21:79
- Quran 34:13
- Quran 27:18
- Quran 27:19
- Lives of the Prophets, L. Azzam, David and Solomon, pg. 63, Suhail Academy
- Quran 27:20-21
- Quran 27:22
- Lives of the Prophets, L. Azzam, David and Solomon, pg. 64, Suhail Academy
- Quran 34:14