بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Al-Kitab gives an interesting account of communication between Prophet Sulieman A.S and Queen of Saba in Sura Namal, twenty seventh Sura/chapter of Al-Kitab.
27:20-24 وَتَفَقَّدَ الطَّيْرَ فَقَالَ مَا لِيَ لَا أَرَى الْهُدْهُدَ أَمْ كَانَ مِنَ الْغَائِبِينَ لَأُعَذِّبَنَّهُ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا أَوْ لَأَذْبَحَنَّهُ أَوْ لَيَأْتِيَنِّي بِسُلْطَانٍ مُّبِينٍ فَمَكَثَ غَيْرَ بَعِيدٍ فَقَالَ أَحَطتُ بِمَا لَمْ تُحِطْ بِهِ وَجِئْتُكَ مِن سَبَإٍ بِنَبَإٍ يَقِينٍ إِنِّي وَجَدتُّ امْرَأَةً تَمْلِكُهُمْ وَأُوتِيَتْ مِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَلَهَا عَرْشٌ عَظِيمٌ وَجَدتُّهَا وَقَوْمَهَا يَسْجُدُونَ لِلشَّمْسِ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَزَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَعْمَالَهُمْ فَصَدَّهُمْ عَنِ السَّبِيلِ فَهُمْ لَا يَهْتَدُونَ
And he (Suleiman/Solomon) inspected the fliers; and he said. “Why is it I don’t see Hudhud? Or is he among the absentees? “I will certainly punish him severely, or slaughter him, unless he bring me a manifest authority.” He (Hudhud) did not take long to come, and said. “I have compassed which you has not compassed, and I have come to you from ‘Saba’ with a certain news. “I found (there) a woman ruling over them and provided with every requisite; and she has a great throne. “I found her and her people worshipping the sun besides Allah. Satan has made their deeds seem pleasing in their eyes, and has kept them away from the Path,- so they receive no guidance,-
Hudhud represents the intelligence officer of King Suleiman A.S. He informs him of a great Kingdom of Saba, ruled by a female (a symbol of feminism). She and her people are bowing to the Sun, which could be a symbolic way of stating that they bow to things which are manifestly clear. People in the modern world believe in things made clear by laws of Science as opposed to believers who believe in Ghaib/Unseen as well, e.g things which Science does not recognize such as existence of God. Satan has made the people of ‘Saba’ proud of their achievements and has carried them away from the straight path. Hudhud told Solomon that this nation of Saba has no chance of returning to Allah’s path as Satan has prevented them from it very effectively
27:27-31 قَالَ سَنَنظُرُ أَصَدَقْتَ أَمْ كُنتَ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ اذْهَب بِّكِتَابِي هَٰذَا فَأَلْقِهْ إِلَيْهِمْ ثُمَّ تَوَلَّ عَنْهُمْ فَانظُرْ مَاذَا يَرْجِعُونَ قَالَتْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ إِنِّي أُلْقِيَ إِلَيَّ كِتَابٌ كَرِيمٌ إِنَّهُ مِن سُلَيْمَانَ وَإِنَّهُ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ أَلَّا تَعْلُوا عَلَيَّ وَأْتُونِي مُسْلِمِينَ
(Suleiman) said. “Soon shall we see whether you have told the truth or you are from the liars! “Go, with my book/writing, and deliver it to them, then draw back from them, and (wait to) see what answer they return”. (The queen) said. “Ye chiefs! here is delivered to me – a very honourable book/writing. “It is from Sulieman, and it is with the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. “Do not look down upon me, and come to me as muslim/submitter”
As Hudhud told Sulieman, that the nation of Saba has no chance of returning to Allah’s path, Sulieman said, lets see what you predict is right or wrong. Deliver my book/letter to them and see what they come back with. As the letter was delivered to the Queen, she said to her councillors, “A very honorable letter of invitation from Sulieman has been delivered to me, this is an invitation to the Allah the most Gracious, and to come to Sulieman to be a Muslim/submitter”.
27:32-33 قَالَتْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ أَفْتُونِي فِي أَمْرِي مَا كُنتُ قَاطِعَةً أَمْرًا حَتَّىٰ تَشْهَدُونِ قَالُوا نَحْنُ أُولُو قُوَّةٍ وَأُولُو بَأْسٍ شَدِيدٍ وَالْأَمْرُ إِلَيْكِ فَانظُرِي مَاذَا تَأْمُرِينَ
She said. “Ye chiefs! Advise me in (this) my affair. No affair do I firmly decide unless in your presence.” They said. “We are endued with strength, and given to vehement war, but the command is with thee; so consider what you would command.”
She told the councillors that Sulieman has asked not to look down upon him as normally people of advanced nations do stereotype the religious people, meaning Suleiman’s invitation is different than others towards Allah’s path. The councillors however, advised that we are people of great knowledge and strength. They assumed that Suleiman would be no different than the other religious charlatans who are actually looking for worldly gains, wealth and power so that he can control their wealth and power by becoming their spiritual leader. They advised, however, the matter to be decided by her, so she can test if Suleiman is actually after worldly gains or is truthful in his invitation towards Allah, the most Gracious.
27:34-35 قَالَتْ إِنَّ الْمُلُوكَ إِذَا دَخَلُوا قَرْيَةً أَفْسَدُوهَا وَجَعَلُوا أَعِزَّةَ أَهْلِهَا أَذِلَّةً ۖ وَكَذَٰلِكَ يَفْعَلُونَ وَإِنِّي مُرْسِلَةٌ إِلَيْهِم بِهَدِيَّةٍ فَنَاظِرَةٌ بِمَ يَرْجِعُ الْمُرْسَلُونَ
She said. “Kings, when they enter a country, despoil it, and make the noblest of its people its meanest thus do they behave. “But I am going to send him a present, and (wait) to see with what (answer) return (my) messengers.” Now when (the embassy) came to Suliemann, he said. “Will ye give me abundance in wealth? But that which Allah has given me is better than that which He has given you! Nay it is ye who rejoice in your gift!
The queen said that normally Kings are after worldly gains and cause wars. She needs to know if Suleiman’s real intention is invitation to Allah’s path, or he may be using Allah’s name as an excuse for his interest in wealth and land. She thought of testing Solomon’s real intention, to send him such a gift of wealth that would have been difficult to be refused by a materialistic person. Then she would know if Sulieman is really interested in Allah’s mission or is he after the wealth of her kingdom.
27:36-37 فَلَمَّا جَاءَ سُلَيْمَانَ قَالَ أَتُمِدُّونَنِ بِمَالٍ فَمَا آتَانِيَ اللَّهُ خَيْرٌ مِّمَّا آتَاكُم بَلْ أَنتُم بِهَدِيَّتِكُمْ تَفْرَحُونَ
ارْجِعْ إِلَيْهِمْ فَلَنَأْتِيَنَّهُم بِجُنُودٍ لَّا قِبَلَ لَهُم بِهَا وَلَنُخْرِجَنَّهُم مِّنْهَا أَذِلَّةً وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ
When (the embassy) came to Suleiman, he said. “Will ye give me abundance in wealth? But that which Allah has given me is better than that which He has given you! Nay it is ye who rejoice in your gift!”Go back to them, and be sure we shall come to them with such forces as they will never be able to confront. We shall expel them from there in disgrace, and they will feel humbled (indeed).”
When the queen’s gift of wealth came to Suleiman, he told them that he is not interested in wealth as the blessings of Allah that he has are much more in value than money. Sulieman told them if they take pride in their awesome throne/system and advanced knowledge (represented by their worship of Sun) and reject Allah’s message, we will come to them with such forces of reasoning and logic that they would never be able to confront. The likes of these forces they would not have seen or heard before and they will surely be defeated and humbled in front of their own people.
27:38 قَالَ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ أَيُّكُمْ يَأْتِينِي بِعَرْشِهَا قَبْلَ أَن يَأْتُونِي مُسْلِمِينَ
He said (to his own men). “Ye chiefs! which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?”
The throne represent her system of governance. Sulieman asked his councillors to bring it to him.
27:41 قَالَ نَكِّرُوا لَهَا عَرْشَهَا نَنظُرْ أَتَهْتَدِي أَمْ تَكُونُ مِنَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَهْتَدُونَ
He said. “Transform her throne for her. let us see whether she is guided (to the truth) or is one of those who receive no guidance.”
Sulieman asked to make from her own system, something strange. In order to see if she can see the faults within her own system and get guidance thereby.
27:42 فَلَمَّا جَاءَتْ قِيلَ أَهَٰكَذَا عَرْشُكِ ۖ قَالَتْ كَأَنَّهُ هُوَ ۚ وَأُوتِينَا الْعِلْمَ مِن قَبْلِهَا وَكُنَّا مُسْلِمِينَ
So when she arrived, she was asked, “Is this your throne?” She said, “It was like that; We were given knowledge, before this, and we have submitted (to Allah).
So, when she arrived and she was shown her own system made into something strange, she was able to recognize the faults of her system and said that she become muslim/submitter to Allah. She already had knowledge about Allah, however, Satan has prevented them from Allah’s path by his reasoning as Satan eludes people with very effective reasoning and argument from both left and right sides (7:17).
27:44 قِيلَ لَهَا ادْخُلِي الصَّرْحَ ۖ فَلَمَّا رَأَتْهُ حَسِبَتْهُ لُجَّةً وَكَشَفَتْ عَن سَاقَيْهَا ۚ قَالَ إِنَّهُ صَرْحٌ مُّمَرَّدٌ مِّن قَوَارِيرَ ۗ قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي وَأَسْلَمْتُ مَعَ سُلَيْمَانَ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
She was asked to enter the Palace; but when she saw it, she thought it was a lake of water, and she tucked up her skirts (in preparation to enter the water), . He said. “This is but a palace paved with glass crystals.” She said. “O my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul. I do (now) submit (in Islam), with Sulieman to the Lord of the Worlds.
People usually come with the mind set that following Islam, is pure hardship and its instructions are difficult to comprehend and adopt. This mind set prevents them from delving deeper and making efforts to get clarity on its commands. While Allah’s system is actually designed with the intention to reduce hardships and make life better for the followers. A parable could be drawn from the action of Queen of Saba when she was asked to enter a Palace. She thought it was water and she will have to brace through water. As she had made up her mind to follow the order, she prepared herself for entering the water. But later, it turned out that it was not water she had to brace though, instead it was a crystal clear, Palace.
29:41 مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ كَمَثَلِ الْعَنكَبُوتِ اتَّخَذَتْ بَيْتًا ۖ وَإِنَّ أَوْهَنَ الْبُيُوتِ لَبَيْتُ الْعَنكَبُوتِ ۖ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ
The example of those who take protectors other than Allah is that of the spider, who builds a house; and truly the flimsiest of houses is that of the spider;- if they but knew.
The belief system of an individual can be thought of his psychological house in which he feels protection. This house is made by him from inputs from his environment and brought up. Initially this house is built without knowledge of Allahs’ message and when the truth of Allah’s message comes to one, the initial psychological house is shattered like the house of a spider. Compared to that initial house, the house which is built in the light of Allah’s Ayas is like a crystal clear palace.
34:15-19 لَقَدْ كَانَ لِسَبَإٍ فِي مَسْكَنِهِمْ آيَةٌ ۖ جَنَّتَانِ عَن يَمِينٍ وَشِمَالٍ ۖ كُلُوا مِن رِّزْقِ رَبِّكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لَهُ ۚ بَلْدَةٌ طَيِّبَةٌ وَرَبٌّ غَفُورٌ فَأَعْرَضُوا فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ سَيْلَ الْعَرِمِ وَبَدَّلْنَاهُم بِجَنَّتَيْهِمْ جَنَّتَيْنِ ذَوَاتَيْ أُكُلٍ خَمْطٍ وَأَثْلٍ وَشَيْءٍ مِّن سِدْرٍ قَلِيلٍ ذَٰلِكَ جَزَيْنَاهُم بِمَا كَفَرُوا ۖ وَهَلْ نُجَازِي إِلَّا الْكَفُورَ وَجَعَلْنَا بَيْنَهُمْ وَبَيْنَ الْقُرَى الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا قُرًى ظَاهِرَةً وَقَدَّرْنَا فِيهَا السَّيْرَ ۖ سِيرُوا فِيهَا لَيَالِيَ وَأَيَّامًا آمِنِينَ فَقَالُوا رَبَّنَا بَاعِدْ بَيْنَ أَسْفَارِنَا وَظَلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ فَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَحَادِيثَ وَمَزَّقْنَاهُمْ كُلَّ مُمَزَّقٍ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّكُلِّ صَبَّارٍ شَكُورٍ
There was, for Saba, a Sign in their dwellings- two Gardens, to the right and to the left. “Eat of the Sustenance (provided) by your Lord, and be grateful to Him”. a City fair and nice, and a Forgiving Lord. But they turned away (from Allah), and We sent against them the flash flood, and We converted their two garden (rows) into “gardens” producing bitter fruit, thorny plant, and stunted trees. That was the requital We gave them because they rejected and never do We give (such) requital except to the rejecters. Between them and the Cities on which We had poured our blessings, We had placed Cities in prominent positions, and between them We had appointed stages of journey in due proportion. “Travel therein, secure, by night and by day.” But they said. “Our Lord! Place longer distances between our journeys” and they wronged themselves. Thus, We made them as stories, and We dispersed them all in scattered fragments. Verily in this are Signs for every patient and grateful one.
The above Ayas give some description of Saba. Their dwellings will always be there as signs of Allah. Previously the two great gardens on left and right side, reduced by flash floods to semi desert.