Solomon In Islam

This article covers the prophet of the Israelites, Solomon, in Islam.

Sulaymān ibn Dāwūd (سُلَيْمَان ابْن دَاوُوْد‎, Solomon son of David) was, according to the Quran, a Malik (مَـلِـك‎, King) and Nabī (Prophet) of the Israelites. Islamic tradition generally holds that he was the third King of the Jewish people and a just and wise ruler of the nation.

Islam views Solomon as one of the elects of God, who was bestowed upon with many God-given gifts, including the ability to speak to animals and rule jinn. Muslims further maintains that he remained faithful to a one and only God throughout his life; and reigned justly over the whole of the Israelites; was blessed with a level of Kingship which was given to none after him and before him; and fulfilled all of his commandments, being promised nearness to God in Paradise at the end of his life. Arab historians regarded Solomon as one of the greatest rulers around the world.

Narrative in the Quran

Judgment on the field

In the earliest narrative involving Solomon, the Qur’an says that Solomon was in the company of his father, when two men came to ask David to judge between them regarding a ḥarth (حَـرث‎, field). 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 judgment, which the Qur’an says in this particular incident surpassed that of David, would characterize Solomon throughout his life. Ḥikmah (Wisdom), according to Muslim tradition, would always be associated with Solomon, who would later even be referred to as Sulaimān al-Ḥakīm (سُلَيْمَان ٱللْحَكِيْم‎, “Solomon the Wise”).

Solomon in Islamic literature

Solomon in Islamic literature

Reign

When David died, Solomon inherited his position as the Prophetic King of the Israelites. He prayed to God to grant him a Kingdom which would be unlike 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 Qur’an 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, and the unbelievers among them along with the Shayāṭīn were forced building for him monuments. God also caused a miraculous ʿayn (عَيْن‎, ‘fount’ or ‘spring’) of molten qiṭr (قِطْر‎, ‘brass’ or ‘copper’) to flow for Solomon, to be used by the jinn in their construction.

Solomon was even taught the languages of various animals, such as ants. The Quran recounts that, one day, Solomon and his army entered a wadin-naml (وَادِ ٱلْنَّمْل‎, valley of the ant) On seeing Solomon and his army, a namlah (نَمْلَة‎, female ant) 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 maintain that Solomon never forgot his daily prayer, which was more important to him than any of his gifts.

Conquest of Saba’

Ruins of a temple at Ma'rib, the former capital of Saba' in what is now the South Arabian country of Yemen

Ruins of a temple at Ma’rib, the former capital of Saba’ in what is now the South Arabian country of Yemen

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 HUD-hud (هُدْهُد‎, Green peafowl or Hoopoe) missing from the assembly. Shortly later, however, the Hud-hud 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.” The Hud-hud 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 Hud-hud to give the letter to the Queen of Sheba, and then to hide and observe her reaction. The Hud-hud accepted Solomon’s orders, and flew to give the letter to her. The Queen then called her ministers in the court and announced the letter of Solomon stating to the people of Sheba: “In the name of Allah the Compassionate the Merciful, I warned you to stop worshiping the sun, and accept Allah as the only God, 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: “You have all the power, and whatever order you deliver, you will find us obedient.” Eventually, however, the Queen came to Solomon, announcing Islām (Submission) to God.

Death

According to the Qur’an, 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).

— Qur’an, Surah 34 (Saba’), Ayah 14

Mahammaddim in the Song of Solomon

Further information: Muhammad in the Bible and Prophet Muhammad In The Bible

As inspired by Verses of the Qur’an, Muslims would imply that Muhammad ibn Abdullah is mentioned in the Song of Songs, Chapter 5, noting the consonantal similarity between Muhammad’s Arabic name (مُـحَـمَّـد‎, consonant letters: m-ħ-m-d) and the Hebrew word in the 16th Verse which was translated as “Altogether lovely,” that is ‘Mahammaddim’ (מַחֲמַדִּים‎, consonant letters: m-ħ-m-d-y-m).

Solomon and Jamshid

Jamshid was the fourth king of the world, according to the Shāhnāma of the poet Firdausī. Like Solomon, he was believed to have had command over all the angels and demons of the world and was both king and high priest of Hormozd (middle Persian for Ahura Mazda). He was responsible for many great inventions that made life more secure for his people: the manufacture of armor and weapons, the weaving and dyeing of clothes of linen, silk, and wool, the building of houses of brick, the mining of jewels and precious metals, the making of perfumes and wine, the art of medicine, the navigation of the waters of the world in sailing ships. He Jamshid had now become the greatest monarch the world had ever known. He was endowed with the royal farr (Avestan: khvarena), a radiant splendor that burned about him by divine favor.

Due to similarities between the two wise monarchs, some traditions conflate the two. For example, Solomon was associated with ruling over southwestern Iran in the works of al-Balkhi. Persepolis was believed to be the seat of Solomon and described as “playground of Solomon” by scholars such as Mas’udi, Muqaddasi, and Istakhri. Other Muslim authors have opposed the belief that Solomon once ruled in Iran, arguing that any similarities between the lives and deeds of Solomon and Jamshid are purely coincidental, the two being distinct and separate personages. The latter view has been vindicated by scholarship in the field of Indo-European mythology, which has demonstrated conclusively that the character Jamshid derives from the early Zoroastrian deity Yima, whereas Quranic and Biblical scholarship support a measure of historicity for the wise prophet king.

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
  • Fitnah 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

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia