AT first when one reads the Qur’an to understand its basic meanings, one gets intrigued by the numerous instances in this Divine Scripture where Allah narrates stories from the past.
One such interesting story is narrated in Surah Al-Naml (The Ants), the 27th chapter of the Qur’an. Verses 15-44 narrate the story of Prophet Sulaiman (peace be upon him) in detail, complete with real-life events and intriguing dialogue. It opens up an enigmatic world bygone: spectacular palace with crystal-clear glass floors under which water gushed. It mentions the conversation of ants; a hoopoe bird’s news-reporting; and the story of an amazing Jinn. What also shine through these verses are Prophet Sulaiman’s qualities as a just ruler.
n Tight discipline
Prophet Sulaiman (peace be upon him) profusely thanked Allah for granting him a dominion and resources that none other possessed on earth. He would keep the armies of men, animals and jinn under strict scrutiny and have them line up in straight rows for drills. On such an occasion he noticed a hoopoe missing. Absconding resulted in severe penalty under Prophet Sulaiman’s rule. On enquiry, though, the hoopoe revealed that it had been absent because it had spotted a nation ruled by a woman (Saba) that worshipped the sun besides Allah.
n Proactive Da’wah
Prophet Sulaiman had dominion under his kingship the like of which none other had been ever granted, which he had inherited from his father, Prophet Dawood (peace be upon him). We can gauge the unique blessings that Allah gave him by the fact that he could even understand the language of animals! Yet, these special blessings did not turn him into a slothful, arrogant, or corrupt ruler. He was after all a prophet of Allah.
Ever conscious of worshipping his Creator, thanking him, and aspiring to establish monotheistic creed on earth, he endeavored to use all his abundant resources to make sure that Tawheed prevailed in the land.
That is why, on hearing the hoopoe’s report, he immediately instructed that a letter be sent to the Queen of Saba, not just to verify if the hoopoe was telling the truth, but also to invite her to monotheism or else prepare her to face the army of Prophet Sulaiman.
n Indifference to lavish gifts
When the Queen of Saba responded to his letter of invitation towards Tawheed by sending him precious gifts, to see if he accepts it or not, he immediately refuses to be swayed by worldly benefit or avarice of riches. He also declares that what Allah had already provided him with was better!
Instead, he immediately asks his subordinates, from the animals and jinn, that who would bring her throne to him as quickly as possible.
n Preference to knowledge
Among the Jinn subservient to his commands was a physically strong one called Ifreet. Ifreet first offers to get the throne for him in the time it would take him to stand up from his seat. Another Jinn, who was more knowledgeable in Divine Scripture, offered to bring the throne in the blink of an eyelid!
Prophet Sulaiman gave the responsibility of getting the throne to the latter, as knowledge had made him superior in skill and speed. This also shows that Prophet Sulaiman was wise: he chose the option that would achieve his objective sooner.
n Remembrance of Allah
As soon as the queen’s throne was placed before him, Prophet Sulaiman realized the extent of the power and authority that Allah had blessed him with, and expressed how it was actually a test to see if he would be grateful for it by using it only for the pleasure of Allah, or whether he would be ungrateful.
Living in an era when leaders and rulers unabashedly embezzle funds and misuse privileges, resources and armed forces that Allah has placed at their disposal in the temporary life of this world, Prophet Sulaiman’s moving story of firmness upon Tawheed, unflinching justice, strict discipline, open gratitude for blessings, and indifference to bribes and gifts is an eye-opening example for us all to emulate.
– Saudi Gazette