Bi-smi llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm.
❝The Story of Prophet Sulaymān [عليه السلام] (Solomon)❞
Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) inherited Dāwūd (ʿalay-hi salām)’s prophethood and dominion.
Allāh says in Qur’ān, in Sūrah al-Naml (The Ants), Chapter 27, verse 15-17:
❝wa-la-qad ʾātaynā dāwūda wa-sulaymāna ʿilman wa-qālā l-ḥamdu li-llāhi lladhī faḍḍalanā ʿalā kathīrin min ʿibādihi l-muʾminīn❞
[Certainly We gave David and Solomon knowledge, and they said, ‘All praise belongs to Allah, who granted us an advantage over many of His faithful servants.’]
❝wa-waritha sulaymānu dāwūda wa-qāla yā-ʾayyuhā n-nāsu ʿullimnāmanṭiqa ṭ-ṭayri wa-ʾūtīnā min kulli shayʾin ʾinna hādhā la-huwa l-faḍlu l-mubīn❞
[Solomon inherited from David, and he said, ‘O people! We have been taught the speech of the birds, and we have been given out of everything. Indeed this is a manifest advantage.’]
❝wa-ḥushira li-sulaymāna junūduhū mina l-jinni wa-l-ʾinsi wa-ṭ-ṭayri fa-hum yūzaʿūn❞
[And there were gathered before Solomon his hosts of jinns and men, and birds, and they were all set in battle order (marching forwards)].
In Jerusalem, on a huge rock, Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) built a beautiful mosque to draw the people to worship Allāh. Today this building is known as “The Dome of the Rock.” From there, a large band of followers joined Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) on pilgrimage to the Holy Mosque in Mecca. After they had completed their hajj, they traveled to Yemen and arrived in the city of San’a.
Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) was impressed by their clever method of channeling water all over their cities. He was keen to build similar water systems in his own country, but did not have enough springs.
One day, he reviewed the birds, and said:
❝mā liya lā ʾarā l-hudhuda ʾam kāna mina l-ghāʾibīn❞
[Why do I not see the Hud Hud? Or is he absent?]
― Sūrah al-Naml (The Ants), Chapter 27, verse 20.
In anger, Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) declared:
❝la-ʾuʿadhdhibannahū ʿadhāban shadīdan ʾaw la-ʾadhbaḥannahū ʾaw la-yaʾtiyannī bi-sulṭānin mubīn❞
[‘I will surely punish him with a severe punishment, or I will surely behead him, unless he brings a clear-cut excuse.’]
― Sūrah al-Naml (The Ants), Chapter 27, verse 21.
The Hud Hud eventually came to Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) and explained the reason for its delay. ❝I have discovered something of which you are not aware. I have come from Sheba (Sab’a) with important news.❞
Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) became curious, and his anger subsided. The bird continued: ❝Sab’a is ruled by a queen named Bilkis (Bilqis), who has plenty of everything, including a splendid throne. But in spite of all this wealth, Shaytān has entered her heart and the hearts of her people. She rules their minds completely. I was shocked to learn that they worship the sun instead of Allāh the Almighty.❞
To check the Hud Hud’s information, Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) sent a letter to the queen with the bird. He instructed the bird to remain hidden and to watch everything.
Hud Hud dropped the letter in front of the queen and flew away to hide. She excitedly opened and read it:
❝ʾinnahū min sulaymāna wa-ʾinnahū bi-smi llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm❞
[It is from Solomon, and it begins in the name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful.]
❝ʾallā taʿlū ʿalayya wa-ʾtūnī muslimīn❞
[Be you not exalted against me, but come to me as Muslims (true believers who submit with full submission).]
― Sūrah al-Naml (The Ants), Chapter 27, verse 30-31.
The queen was very disturbed and hurriedly summoned her advisors. They reacted as to a challenge, for they felt that there was someone challenging them, hinting at war and defeat, and asking them to submit to his conditions.
They told her that they could only offer advice, but it was her right to command action. She sensed that they wanted to meet SSulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām)’s invasion threat with a battle. However, she told them: “Peace and friendship are better and wiser; war only brings humiliation, enslaves people and destroys the good things. I have decided to send gifts to Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām), selected from our most precious treasure. The courtiers who will deliver the gifts will also have an opportunity to learn about Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) and his military mighty.”
The envoys of Bilqis, entering amidst the well-equipped army, realized that their wealth was nothing in comparison to that of the kingdom of Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām)’s palace floors, which were made of sandalwood and inlaid with gold.
They noticed Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) surveying his army, and they were surprised at the number and variety of soldiers, which included lions, tigers, and birds. The messengers stood in amazement, realizing that they were in front of an irresistible army.
Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) said:
❝ʾa-tumiddūnani bi-mālin fa-mā ʾātāniya llāhu khayrun mimmā ʾātākum bal ʾantum bi-hadiyyatikum tafraḥūn❞
[‘Are you aiding me with wealth? What Allah has given me is better than what He has given you. Rather you are exultant over your gift!]
― Sūrah al-Naml (The Ants), Chapter 27, verse 36.
Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) directed them to take back the gifts to the queen and to tell her that if she did not stop her kind of worship he would uproot her kingdom and drive its people out of the land.
The queen’s envoys returned with the gifts and delivered the message. They also told her of the wonderful things they had seen. Instead of taking offense, she decided to visit Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām). Accompanied by her royal officials and servants, she left Sheba, sending a messenger ahead to inform Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) that she was on her way to meet him.
Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) asked the jinns in his employ:
❝yā-ʾayyuhā l-malaʾu ʾayyukum yaʾtīnī bi-ʿarshihā qabla ʾan yaʾtūnī muslimīn❞
[‘O [members of the] elite! Which of you will bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?]
― Sūrah al-Naml (The Ants), Chapter 27, verse 38.
The jinns competed with each other to please him. One of them named Ifrit said:
❝ana ʾātīka bihī qabla ʾan yartadda ʾilayka ṭarfuka❞
[I will fetch it for you in the twinkling of an eye!]
― Sūrah al-Naml (The Ants), Chapter 27, verse 40.
No sooner had this one – who had the knowledge of the Book – finished his phrase than the throne stood before Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām). Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām)’s seat was in Palestine, and the throne of Bilqis had been in Yemen, two thousand miles away. This was a great miracle performed by one of those sitting with Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām).
Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) then said:
❝nakkirū lahā ʿarshahā nanẓur ʾa-tahtadī ʾam takūnu mina lladhīna lā yahtadūn❞
[‘Disguise her throne for her, so that we may see whether she is discerning or if she is one of the undiscerning ones.’]
― Sūrah al-Naml (The Ants), Chapter 27, verse 41.
So when she came, it was said [to her], whether her throne looked like that one. She looked at it again and again. In her mind she was convinced that her throne could not possibly be the one she was looking at, as hers was in her palace; she detected a striking similarity and replied: “It is as if it were the very one, and resembles mine in every respect.” Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) judged that she was intelligent and diplomatic.
Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) then invited her into the great hall, the floor of which was laid in glass and shimmering. Thinking it was water, as she stepped on the floor, she lifted her skirt slightly above her heels, for fear of wetting it. Sulaymān (ʿalay-hi salām) pointed out to her that it was made of solid glass.
She was amazed. She had never seen such things before.
❝rabbi ʾinnī ẓalamtu nafsī wa-ʾaslamtu maʿa sulaymāna li-llāhi rabbi l-ʿālamīn❞
[‘My Lord! Indeed I have wronged myself, and I submit with Solomon to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds.’]
― Sūrah al-Naml (The Ants), Chapter 27, verse 44.
Bilqis realized that she was in the company of a very knowledgeable person, who was not only a ruler of a great kingdom but a messenger of Allāh, as well.
She repented, gave up sun worship, accepted the faith of Allāh, and asked her people to do the same.
The sun eclipsed within her for the first time, and her heart was lit by a never fading light, the light of Islām.