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 Article
 Bilqis(Queen of Sheba)

Allah the Almighty says:

He inspected the birds, and said: "What is the matter that I see not the hoopoe? Or is he among the absentees? "I will surely punish him with a severe torment, or slaughter him, unless he brings me a clear reason." But the hoopoe stayed not long: he (came up and) said: "I have grasped (the knowledge of a thing) which you have not grasped and I have come to you from Saba' (Sheba) with true news." "I found a woman ruling over them: she has been given all things that could be possessed by any ruler of the earth, and she has a great throne. I found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allah, and Shaitan (Satan) has made their deeds fair-seeming to them, and has barred them from (Allah's) Way: so they have no guidance." [As Shaitan (Satan) has barred them from Allah's Way] so they do not worship (prostrate themselves before) Allah, Who brings to light what is hidden in the heavens and the earth, and knows what you conceal and what you reveal. Allah, La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Lord of the Supreme Throne! [Sulaiman (Solomon)] said: "We shall see whether you speak the truth or you are (one) of the liars."Go you with this letter of mine, and deliver it to them, then draw back from them, and see what (answer) they return." She said: "O chiefs! Verily! Here is delivered to me a noble letter. "Verily it is from Sulaiman (Solomon), and verily, it (reads): In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful: "Be you not exalted against me, but come to me as Muslims (true believers who submit to Allah with full submission). She said: "O chiefs! Advise me in (this) case of mine. I decide no case till you are present with me (and give me your opinions)." They said: "We have great strength, and great ability for war, but it is for you to command: so think over what you will command." She said: "Verily kings, when they enter a town (country), they despoil it and make the most honorable amongst its people the lowest. And thus they do. "But verily! I am going to send him a present, and see with what (answer) the Messengers return." So when (the messengers with the present) came to Sulaiman (Solomon), he said: "Will you help me in wealth? What Allah has given me is better than that which He has given you! Nay, you rejoice in your gift!" [Then Sulaiman (Solomon) said to the chief of her messengers who brought the present]: "Go back to them. We verily shall come to them with hosts that they cannot resist, and we shall drive them out from there in disgrace, and they will be abased." He said: "O chiefs! Which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me surrendering themselves in obedience?" A`Ifrit (strong one) from the jinn said: I will bring it to you before you rise from your place (council). And verily, I am indeed strong, and trustworthy for such work." One with whom was knowledge of the Scripture said: "I will bring it to you within the twinkling of an eye!" Then when he [SulaimanĀ (Solomon)] saw it placed before him, he said: "This is by the Grace of my Lord -to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And whoever is grateful, truly, his gratitude is for (the good of) his own self, and whoever is ungrateful, (he is ungrateful only for the loss of his own self. Certainly my Lord is Rich (Free of all needs), Bountiful." He said: "Disguise her throne for her that we may see whether she will be guided (to recognize her throne), or she will be one of those not guided." So when she came, it was said (to her): "Is your throne like this?" She said: "(It is) as though it were the very same." And [Sulaiman (Solomon)] said: "Knowledge was bestowed on us before her, and we were submitted to Allah (in Islam as Muslims before her)." And that which she used to worship besides Allah has prevented her (from Islam), for she was ofa disbelieving people. It was said to her: "Enter As-Sarh" (a glass surface with water underneath it or a palace): but when she saw it, she thought it was a pool, and she (tucked up her clothes) uncovering her legs. (Sulaiman (Solomon)) said: "Verily, it is a Sarh (a glass surface with water underneath it or a palace)." She said: "My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, and I submit [in Islam, together with Sulaiman (Solomon)] to Allah, the Lord of the `Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists). (An-Naml. 20-44)

Allah the Almighty narrates what had happened between Sulaiman and the hoopoe. All kinds of birds had pioneers or chosen ones who were charged with certain tasks and who periodically attend themselves before Sulaiman, as a habit of the troops with their kings. Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) and others mentioned that the mission of the hoopoe was to search for water in deserts and barren areas. Indeed, the hoopoe has the ability -as granted by Allah the Almighty -to see and identify the locations of underground waters. Sulaiman's hoopoe used to search for underground water and then to lead his troops thereto; they dig the land to get the water out and use it in fulfilling their needs.

One day, Sulaiman (Peace be upon him) wanted the hoopoe, he missed him and did not find him in his appointed position so, he said: {What is the matter that I see not the hoopoe? Or is he among the absentees?} i.e. he is not here, or I can not see him. {I will surely punish him with a severe torment} Sulaiman (Peace be upon him) threatened that he would punish him with some kind of penalty; {or slaughter him, unless he brings me a clear reason} i.e. a clear excuse that may save him from my punishment. Allah the Almighty says: {But the hoopoe stayed not long} i.e. his absence was not so long, then {he (came up and) said} to Sulaiman (Peace be upon him) {I have grasped (the knowledge of a thing) which you have not grasped} i.e. I got to know that which you did not; {and I have come to you from Saba' (Sheba) with true news}. That {I found a woman ruling over them: she has been given all things that could be possessed by any ruler on earth, and she has a great throne}, he is describing the status of the kings and rulers of Sheba in the Yemen: they had a mighty and glorious kingdom along with strong and competent troops. During that period, their king died and left no heirs but a daughter whom they raised as their queen.

Ath-Tha`labi and others mentioned that after her father's death, the people appointed a man under whose rule corruption and mischief prevailed. She proposed to him in marriage and he married her. At their first night together she gave him wine till he got drunk and then she beheaded him and hanged his head on her door. Thereupon, the people raised her over the throne as their queen. She was Bilqis Bint As-Sairah. Her father was called Al-Hudhad, or Shurahil Ibn Dhi Jadan Ibn As-Sairah Ibn Al-Harith Ibn Qais Ibn Saifi Ibn Saba' Ibn Yashjub Ibn Ya `rub Ibn Qahtan. Her father was one of the noblest kings. He refused to get married to Yemeni women. It is said that he got married to a woman from the Jinn whose name was Raihanah Bint As-Sakan who gave birth to that woman whose name is Balqamah, to be known later as Bilqis.

Ath-Tha`labi transmitted on the authority of Sa`id Ibn Bashir on the authority of Qatadah after An-Nadr Ibn Anas after Bashir Ibn Nahik, after Abu Hurairah that Allah's Messenger (Peace be upon him) said: "One of Bilqis 's parents was from among the jinn." (This is a strange Hadith in whose Chain of Transmission there is some kind of Weakness).

Ath- Tha`labi said: I was told by Abu `Abdullah Ibn Qabhunah on the authority of Abu Bakr Ibn Jarjah after Abu Bakrah as saying: Once, Bilqis was mentioned before Allah's Messenger (Peace be upon him) who said: "Such people as ruled by a lady will never be successful." (That sub-Narrator, Isma`il Ibn Muslim is Meccan and he is regarded by the Scholars of Hadith as Weak, i.e. not an authentic narrator).

It is mentioned in Sahih Al-Bukhari from the narration of `Auf on the authority of Al-Hasan, after Abu Bakra that: When Allah's Messenger (Peace be upon him) was informed that the Persians had crowned the daughter of Khusrau as their ruler, he said, "Such people as ruled by a lady will never be successful." (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

And, his saying: {She has been given all things} that could be possessed by any ruler of the earth, {and she has a great throne} i.e. the chair she sits on was ornamented and studded with various jewels, pearls, gold and other magnificent things. Then, he mentioned their disbelief in Allah the Almighty and their worship of the sun instead of Allah and the deceivement of Satan to them by making their deeds look fair-seeming in their eyes, and barring them from Allah's Way, {So they do not worship (prostrate themselves before) Allah, Who brings to light what is hidden in the heavens and the earth, and knows what you conceal and what you reveal} i.e. He knows all secrets and revealed matters whether material or immaterial. {Allah, La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Lord of the Supreme Throne!} i.e. the Greatest Throne which none from among His creatures ever has.

Thereupon, Sulaiman sent the hoopoe with a letter calling them to obey Allah and His Messenger, to repent and submit themselves to his kingship and power. He sent them: {Be you not exalted against me} i. e. do not let your pride prevent you from obeying me, {but come to me as Muslims} i.e. true believers who submit to Allah with full submission. The hoopoe dropped the letter near her and waited to see what she was going to do. However, she gathered the nobles, princes and ministers to have mutual consultation, {She said: "O chiefs! Verily! Here is delivered to me a noble letter}, then she first read its title {Verily it is from Sulaiman (Solomon)}, then she read the rest thereof {and verily, it (reads): In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful: Be you not exalted against me, but come to me as Muslims (true believers who submit to Allah with full submission)}. Then she sought their advice in a very polite manner {She said: 0 chiefs! Advise me in (this) case of mine. I decide no case till you are present with me} i.e. that you give me your opinions, {They said: We have great strength, and great ability for war}, i.e. we can afford war and all it needs of strength, materials, etc. so if you want this choice, we are well prepared thereto {but it is for you to command: so think over what you will command}, hence, they showed full obedience to her and after showing and displaying their abilities before her they left the matter in her hands to see what should be done. Verily, her opinion was wiser and better than theirs as she knew that the sender of the letter was not to be resisted, fooled, or even deceived. {She said: Verily kings, when they enter a town (country), they despoil it and make the most honorable amongst its people the lowest. And thus they do}, i.e. she explains to them that if that king overpowers this kingdom of theirs, she would be the one who receives the severest of punishment and degradation. {But verily! I am going to send him a present, and see with what (answer) the Messengers return} she wanted to bribe Sulaiman with presents and gifts knowing that Sulaiman (Peace be upon him) would not accept from them but Islam, as she and her people were disbelievers while he and his troops are far stronger than them all. For this {When (the messengers with the present) came to Sulaiman (Solomon), he said: Will you help me in wealth? What Allah has given me is better than that which He has given you! Nay, you rejoice in your gift!} Then Sulaiman (Solomon) said to the chief of her messengers who brought the present {Go back to them. We verily shall come to them with hosts that they cannot resist, and we shall drive them out from there in disgrace, and they will be abased} i.e. go back with your gifts for what I have been granted by Allah is far better than these properties, riches and presents with which you rejoice and be filled with arrogance and pride over your own people. {We verily shall come to them with hosts that they cannot resist} i.e. troops that are irresistible and cannot be defeated or encountered, and moreover we shall drive them out from their land, properties and wealth {in disgrace, and they will be abased} i.e. dragging shame, abasement and destruction.

When they heard the news, they rushed declaring their full submission and perfect obedience and willingness to accompany their queen in her leaving for meeting Sulaiman (Peace be upon him). When he (Peace be upon him) heard of their coming and their intention to present themselves before his hand, he said to those (Jinn) from among his present hosts if they would bring him her throne before she manage to come: {A`Ifrit (strong one) from the jinn said: I will bring it to you before you rise from your place (council). And verily, I am indeed strong, and trustworthy for such work) i.e. before you finish your ruling council. It was said that he used to run the affairs of the Banu Israel from the beginning of the day till the noon. {Verily, I am indeed strong, and trustworthy for such work} i.e. I am strong enough to bring the throne to you, and at the same time I am to be entrusted with what it contains of the precious jewels and pearls. But {One with whom was knowledge of the Scripture said} i.e. Asif Ibn Barkhiya who was Sulaiman's maternal cousin, said it was one of the believers from among the Jinn who knew the Greatest Name of Allah the Almighty. It is also said that he was one from among the scholars of the Banu Israel. Moreover, it was said to be Sulaiman himself, which is very strange and odd opinion and which As-Suhaili described to be out of context. A fourth opinion held that it was Gabriel (Peace be upon him). {I will bring it to you within the twinkling of an eye!} i.e. before you send a messenger to the farthest place on earth and he comes back to you. It was also said: before the farthest person you can see reaches you; or before your sight gets weary of starring at some point and your eye closes; or before you regain your sight if you look to the farthest place your sight can reach then you close your eye, (which is the most likely interpretation). {Then when he [Sulaiman (Solomon)) saw it placed before him} i.e. when he saw the throne of Bilqis brought and placed before him, in this too short period, from the Yemen to Jerusalem, {he said: "This is by the Grace of my Lord -to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful!} i.e. this is by the Grace of Allah lam granted and His Grace all people are granted testing them whether they are grateful or ungrateful. {And whoever is grateful, truly, his gratitude is for (the good of) his own self} i.e. the benefit of this returns onto himself, {and whoever is ungrateful, (he is ungrateful only for the loss of his own self. Certainly my Lord is Rich (Free of all needs), Bountiful} i.e. He is neither in need of thanking of the thankful, nor is He harmed by disbelief of the disbelievers.

Then, Sulaiman (Peace be upon him) ordered her throne to be altered and disguised to test her mentality and understanding, saying {that we may see whether she will be guided (to recognize her throne), or she will be one of those not guided. So when she came, it was said (to her): Is your throne like this? She said: (It is) as though it were the very same}, this is due to her understanding and clear insight that she set aside the possibility that it was her own throne for she has just left it far away in the Yemen, and that she did not know that there is any who can do this marvelous act of removing it to Jerusalem.

Allah the Almighty says pertaining to Sulaiman (Peace be upon him) and his people {And (Sulaiman (Solomon)) said: Knowledge was bestowed on us before her, and we were submitted to Allah (in Islam as Muslims before her). And that which she used to worship besides Allah has prevented her (from Islam), for she was of a disbelieving people} i.e. worshipping the sun to whom she used to prostrate herself and her people instead of Allah the Almighty in follow of the religion of her fathers andĀ ancestors with no evidence or proof of this. Sulaiman (Peace be upon him) previously ordered a Sarh (a glass surface with water underneath in which there are various sorts of fish and other sea­creatures) to be built. Afterwards, Bilqis was ordered to enter the Sarh while Sulaiman (Peace be upon him) was sitting on his throne, {But when she saw it, she thought it was a pool, and she (tucked up her clothes) uncovering her legs. (Sulaiman (Solomon)) said: "Verily, it is a Sarh (a glass surface with water underneath it or a palace)." She said: "My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, and I submit [in Islam, together with Sulaiman (Solomon)). to Allah, the Lord of the" Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)}.

It was said: That when Sulaiman (Peace be upon him) wanted to marry her he asked mankind about a way of removing the hair from her legs, and they mentioned the razor, but she feared thereof. Then, he (Peace be upon him) consulted the Jinn who made the bath for him. Thus, he was the first to enter the bath.

At-Tha`labi and others said: When Sulaiman married her he returned the kingdom of Yemen to her and he used to visit her there and stay for three days a month then comes back to Jerusalem on the flying carpet. In addition, he ordered the Jinn to build him three palaces in the Yemen: Ghamdan, Salhin and Bitun. And, Allah knows best!

Ibn Ishaq transmitted after some scholars on the authority of Wahb Ibn Munabih that Sulaiman (Peace be upon him) did not marry her, but he got her married to the king of Ramadan and let her ruling over the Yemen again, and he (Peace be upon him) subjected to her the king of the Jinn in Yemen to build her the aforementioned three palaces. This narration is not authenticated like the previous one, and Allah knows best!

Category Stories from Qur'an Author IBN KATHEER
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