The other day during sahur my other half told me he was watching TV at midnight the repeat of last years of Jejak Rasul - and it is about Nabi Sulaiman a.s. and I asked him to tell me the story about King Solomon. I dont remember many stories of Prophets - I think from now on it will be my topic every now and then one Prophet at a time - so that i could remember and tell my kids ..
PROPHET SULAI'MAN (Solomon)
Sulai'man inherited Dawud's (David) prophethood and dominion. After his father's death, Sulai'man became king. He begged Allah for a kingdom such as none after him would have, and Allah granted his wish. Besides wisdom, Allah had blessed Sulai'man with many abilities. He could command the winds and understand and talk to birds and animals. Allah directed him to teach both men and jinns to mine the earth and extract its minerals to make tools and weapons. He also favored him with a mine of copper, which was a rare metal in those days.
During his time horses were the common mode of transportation. They were very essential for defense, to carry soldiers and cart provisions and weapons of war. The animals were well cared for and well trained. One day Sulai'man was reviewing a parade of his stable. The fitness, beauty and posture of the horses fascinated him so much that he kept on stroking and admiring them. The sun was nearly setting, and the time for the middle prayer was passing by. When he realized this, he exclaimed: "I surely love the finer things of life than the service of my Lord! Return them to me."
One day Sulai'man gathered his army, which had different battalions of men, jinns, birds, and animals. He marched them to the country of Askalon.
While they were passing through a valley, an ant saw the approaching army and cried out to warn the other ants: "Run to your homes! Otherwise, unaware, Sulai'man and his army might crush you!" Sulai'man, hearing the cry of the ant, smiled. He was glad that the ant knew him to be a prophet who would not intentionally harm Allah's creation. He thanked Allah for saving the ants' lives.
In Jerusalem, on a huge rock, Sulai'man built a beautiful temple to draw the people to worship Allah. Today this building is known as "The Dome of the Rock." From there, a large band of followers joined Sulai'man 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. Sulai'man 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.
He set out to find the hoopoe bird, which could detect water under the ground. He sent signals all over the hoopoe to call on him, but it was nowhere to be found. In anger, he declared that unless the bird had a good reason for its absence, he would punish it severely.
The hoopoe eventually came to Sulai'man 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." Sulai'man 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, Satan 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 Allah the Almighty."
To check the hoopoe's information, Sulai'man sent a letter to the queen with the bird. He instructed the bird to remain hidden and to watch everything.
The hoopoe dropped the letter in front of the queen and flew away to hide. She excitedly opened and read it: "Verily! It is from Sulai'man, and verily! It reads: 'In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, and Most Merciful; be you not exalted against me, but come to me as Muslims (true believers who submit with full submission).'" (27:30-31 Quran).
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 Sulai'man'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 Sulai'man, selected from our most precious treasure. The courtiers who will deliver the gifts will also have an opportunity to learn about Sulai'man and his military mighty."
Sulai'man's reconnaissance team brought him the news of the arrival of Bilkis' messengers with a gift. He immediately realized that the queen had sent her men on a probing mission thus, he gave orders to rally the army. The envoys of Bilqis, entering amidst the well-equipped army, realized that their wealth was nothing in comparison to that of the kingdom of Sulai'man's palace floors, which were made of sandalwood and inlaid with gold.
They noticed Sulai'man 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.
The envoys marveled at the splendor surrounding them. They eagerly presented their queen's precious gifts and told Sulai'man that the queen wished that he would accept them as an act of friendship. They were shocked by his reaction: he did not even ask to open the covers of the containers! He told them: "Allah hagiven me plenty of wealth, a large kingdom, and prophethood. I am, therefore, beyond bribery. My only objective is to spread the belief in Tawheed, the Oneness of Allah."
He also 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 Sulai'man. Accompanied by her royal officials and servants, she left Sheba, sending a messenger ahead to inform Sulai'man that she was on her way to meet him.
Sulai'man asked the jinns in his employ whether anyone among them could bring her throne to he palace before she arrived. One of them said; "I will bring it to you before this sitting is over." Sulai'man did not react to this offer; it appeared that he was waiting for a faster means. The jinns competed with each other to please him. One of them named Ifrit said: "I will fetch it for you in the twinkling of an eye!"
No sooner had this one - who had the knowledge of the Book - finished his phrase than the throne stood before Sulai'man. The mission had, indeed, been completed in the blinking of an eye. Sulai'man'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 Sulai'man.
When Bilqis arrived at Sulai'man's palace, she was welcomed with pomp and ceremony. Then, pointing to the altered throne, Sulai'man asked 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; et, she detected a striking similarity and replied: "It is as if it were the very one, and resembles mine in every respect." Sulai'man judged that she was intelligent and diplomatic.
He 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. Sulai'man pointed out to her that it was made of solid glass.
She was amazed. She had never seen such things before. 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 Allah, as well. She repented, gave up sun worship, accepted the faith of Allah, and asked her people to do the same.
It was finished; Bilqis saw her people's creed fall apart before Sulai'man. She realized that the sun which her people worshipped was nothing but one of Allah's creatures.
Sulai'man's public work was largely carried out by the jinns. This was a punishment for their sins of making people believe that they were all-powerful, knew the unseen, and could foresee the future. As a prophet, it was Sulai'man's duty to remove such false beliefs from his followers.
Sulai'man lived amidst glory, and all creatures were subjected to him. Then Allah the Exalted ordained for him to die. His life and death were full of wonders and miracles; thus, his death harmonized with his life and glory. His death, like his life, was unique. The people had to learn that the future is known neither by the jinns, nor by the prophets, but by Allah alone. Sulai'man's effort in this direction did not end with his life, for even his death became an example. He was sitting holding his staff, overseeing the jinns at work in a mine. He died sitting in this position. For a long time no one was aware of his death, for he was seen sitting erect. The jinns continued with their sand toil, thinking that Sulai'man was watching over them.
Many days later, a hungry ant began nibbling Sulai'man's staff. It continued to do so, eating the lower part of the staff, until it fell out of Sulai'man's hand, and his great body fell to the ground. People hurried to him, realizing that he had died a long time ago and that the jinns did not perceive the unseen, for had the jinns known the unseen, they would not have kept working, thinking that Sulai'man was alive.