The story of Talut and Jalut

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Al-Quran gives an account of a group in Bani-Israeel. They were with a prophet of God. They asked the prophet to appoint a king or leader for them so that they fight in the cause of Allah. In previous posts we have seen that when Al-Quran mentions ‘fight in the cause of Allah’, it is never physical war or fighting. This fighting is always ideological fighting (please see posts ‘non-physical fighting 1-3). We can state in this case with confidence that the account of fighting in this story is ideological fight, on the basis of negation by Allah of speculation of angels that the khalifa of Allah promotes bloodshed on earth (2:30). These people who believed with the prophet, as usual, were thrown out of their circles and even their families may have abandoned them, which is evident from their statement in below ayahs. This is a usual scenario, when people revert to the true teachings of the prophet and Allah’s book they are thrown out of their circles of faith and labeled ‘ infidels’.

2:246-247 أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الْمَلَإِ مِن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ مِن بَعْدِ مُوسَىٰ إِذْ قَالُوا لِنَبِيٍّ لَّهُمُ ابْعَثْ لَنَا مَلِكًا نُّقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۖ قَالَ هَلْ عَسَيْتُمْ إِن كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ أَلَّا تُقَاتِلُوا ۖ قَالُوا وَمَا لَنَا أَلَّا نُقَاتِلَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَقَدْ أُخْرِجْنَا مِن دِيَارِنَا وَأَبْنَائِنَا ۖ فَلَمَّا كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقِتَالُ تَوَلَّوْا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّنْهُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالظَّالِمِينَ وَقَالَ لَهُمْ نَبِيُّهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ بَعَثَ لَكُمْ طَالُوتَ مَلِكًا ۚ قَالُوا أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ عَلَيْنَا وَنَحْنُ أَحَقُّ بِالْمُلْكِ مِنْهُ وَلَمْ يُؤْتَ سَعَةً مِّنَ الْمَالِ ۚ قَالَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَاهُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَزَادَهُ بَسْطَةً فِي الْعِلْمِ وَالْجِسْمِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ يُؤْتِي مُلْكَهُ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ

Have you not turned your vision to the chiefs of the children of Israeel after Moosa? they said to a prophet among them. “Appoint for us a king, so that we may fight in the cause of Allah.” He said. “Is it not possible, if it is written for you to fight, that that you will not fight?” They said. “How could we not fight in the cause of Allah, seeing that we were casted out of our circles and our sons?” thus when it was written on them to fight, they turned back, except a few of them and Allah Has full knowledge of those who do wrong.

Their prophet said to them, “Allah appointed Talut as king for you.” They said. “How can he has authority over us when we are better fitted than he to exercise authority, and he is not even gifted abundant wealth?” He said. “Allah has chosen him over you, and has gifted him abundantly with knowledge and bodily prowess. Allah grants His kingdom to whom He pleases. Allah is encompassing in knowledge.”
This group of Bani-Israeel who were believers, they asked their prophet to appoint a leader for them in order to be organized in their ideological fight with their nation who had casted them out of their circles of faith. They were surprised when their prophet informed them of the appointment of ‘Talut’ as their King as Talut was not endowed with wealth. In the eyes of Allah, knowledge and good health are more important criteria for the leader who can lead the believers in their ideological fighting.

2:248 وَقَالَ لَهُمْ نَبِيُّهُمْ إِنَّ آيَةَ مُلْكِهِ أَن يَأْتِيَكُمُ التَّابُوتُ فِيهِ سَكِينَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَبَقِيَّةٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ آلُ مُوسَىٰ وَآلُ هَارُونَ تَحْمِلُهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ

And their prophet said to them. “A sign of his kingdom is that there shall come to you the box, therein security from your Lord, and the relics left by the people of Moosa and the people of Haroon, carried by angels. In this is an ayat/sign for you if you indeed are the believers.”
The ayat/sign for these people was a box within which was safety and security from the Lord and the relics from the people of Moosa (a.s) and Haroon (a.s). A probable manifestation of this sign of a box could be the cover of Hajre Aswad which is affixed at Kaaba, the house of Allah. This box contains some pieces of stone which could be relics of the tablets from Moosa’s (a.s) time. This box is affixed at a most blessed place on Earth. If the fixing details of this box with the Kaaba walls become known and it is found that this box is affixed with Kaaba wall without the need of any screws or nails, then the above hypothesis will become much more certain supported by the statement in above ayat that the box is carried by angels.

2:249 فَلَمَّا فَصَلَ طَالُوتُ بِالْجُنُودِ قَالَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مُبْتَلِيكُم بِنَهَرٍ فَمَن شَرِبَ مِنْهُ فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي وَمَن لَّمْ يَطْعَمْهُ فَإِنَّهُ مِنِّي إِلَّا مَنِ اغْتَرَفَ غُرْفَةً بِيَدِهِ ۚ فَشَرِبُوا مِنْهُ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّنْهُمْ ۚ فَلَمَّا جَاوَزَهُ هُوَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ قَالُوا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا الْيَوْمَ بِجَالُوتَ وَجُنُودِهِ ۚ قَالَ الَّذِينَ يَظُنُّونَ أَنَّهُم مُّلَاقُو اللَّهِ كَم مِّن فِئَةٍ قَلِيلَةٍ غَلَبَتْ فِئَةً كَثِيرَةً بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ

When Talut set forth with the armies, he said. “Allah will test you with a stream, if anyone drinks from it, he does not belongs to me. Only the one who does not feed on it belongs to me except that he takes a handful with his hand.” Then they all drank of it, except a few. When they crossed it,- he and the faithful ones with him,- they said. “This day we don’t have the strength for us (to face) Jalut and his forces.” Those who were convinced that they would meet Allah, said. “How often, by Allah’s will, has a small force vanquished a big one? Allah is with those who are with patience.”
The stream mentioned in above ayat seems to be a symbolical one. It is unlikely to be a supernatural stream of water, which saps out strength from people. Those who would indulge deeply in this symbolical stream will find themselves to be overwhelmed and not be able to fight. This stream most probably is the stream of false logic and deviant religious system that Jalut and his followers have mastered and they are very well versed in it. The believers when they set out to fight ideologically with the unbeliever leaders, they were advised to just indulge superficially in their knowledge base (symbolically the stream) and not delve deep into it. The false logic system of unbelievers is responded by the logic and ayahs of Allah which engulfs the falsehood. This is symbolically akin to Moosa’s (a.s) encounter with the magicians. Moosa (a.s) did not confront the magicians with the0 likes of their magic. He instead countered them with what was given by Allah.

2:250-251 وَلَمَّا بَرَزُوا لِجَالُوتَ وَجُنُودِهِ قَالُوا رَبَّنَا أَفْرِغْ عَلَيْنَا صَبْرًا وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وَانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ فَهَزَمُوهُم بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَقَتَلَ دَاوُودُ جَالُوتَ وَآتَاهُ اللَّهُ الْمُلْكَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَعَلَّمَهُ مِمَّا يَشَاءُ ۗ وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُم بِبَعْضٍ لَّفَسَدَتِ الْأَرْضُ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ

When they advanced to meet Jalut and his forces, they said “Our Lord! Pour out patience on us and make our steps firm and help us against the nation of rejectors.” By Allah’s will they routed them; and David slew Jalut; and Allah gave him authority and wisdom and taught him whatever He willed. And had Allah not checked one set of people by means of another, there would be violence on earth but Allah is full of bounty to all the worlds.
Dawood (a.s) destroyed Jalut in this fight. Allah made Dawood the Khalifa/successor on earth. A question arise in some people’s mind that when in Quran, Allah told the angles about His intention of making khalifa on earth they objected that the khalifa would do bloodshed and violence but Allah told them that their concern was false. The rejection of the concern of violence and bloodshed by Allah strongly suggests that the fight between Dawood (a.s) and Jalut was not a physical fight, but rather an ideological fight. Also, the same ayat suggests that actually Jalut was the violence monger and since Dawood (a.s) destroyed him and his false system of belief, in this way Allah checked violence on earth.

2:30 وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

And when your Lord said to the angels. “I will create a khalifa on earth.” They said. “Will You place therein one who will make violence therein and shed blood?- while we do celebrate Your praises and glorify Your holy (name)?” He said. “I know what you know not.”

A question comes to mind that how could angels say that the Khalifa would do bloodshed and violence on earth, while they did not have knowledge of the future. This actually replicates the assumption of many people, who say that religion causes wars and blood shed while mankind does not need divine guidance to know what is goodness. Then there is another group who justifies physical fighting and violence in the cause of Allah in the name of ‘Holy war’. Allah dismisses the notion that the khalifa does physical killing. Khalifa of Allah destroys the false hood in ideological fight with the leaders of falsehood.

2:31-33  وَعَلَّمَ آدَمَ الْأَسْمَاءَ كُلَّهَا ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى الْمَلَائِكَةِ فَقَالَ أَنبِئُونِي بِأَسْمَاءِ هَٰؤُلَاءِ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ  قَالُوا سُبْحَانَكَ لَا عِلْمَ لَنَا إِلَّا مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ  قَالَ يَا آدَمُ أَنبِئْهُم بِأَسْمَائِهِمْ ۖ فَلَمَّا أَنبَأَهُم بِأَسْمَائِهِمْ قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُل لَّكُمْ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ غَيْبَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَأَعْلَمُ مَا تُبْدُونَ وَمَا كُنتُمْ تَكْتُمُونَ

And He (Allah) taught Adam the names of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said. “Tell me the names of these if you are truthful.” They said. “Glory to You, We don’t have any knowledge except what you have taught us. Verily, it is You who have perfect knowledge and wisdom.” He said. “O Adam! Tell them their names.” When he had told them, Allah said. “Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heavens and earth, and I know what you reveal and what you conceal?”

Adam is representative of mankind. The names and nouns in Quran also have attributes associated with them which represent their properties. Allah created Adam and mankind with the capability of learning about all the names in the universe and properties of the same. This knowledge is constantly granted by Allah to man and due to which man progresses in knowledge as much as God wishes. This capability of progressing in knowledge is not with the angels. Allah exposes those who hide in the garb of angels expressing outwardly that we keep on glorifying God’s praises while the ‘Adam’ does violence and blood shed on earth. While they themselves are the violence mongers and are jealous of ‘Adam’ progressing in knowledge. Allah exposes these evil beings and grants his viceregency to his ‘khalifa’ who does not promote violence and blood-shed and progresses in knowledge with the help of Allah.

38:26 يَا دَاوُودُ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَاكَ خَلِيفَةً فِي الْأَرْضِ فَاحْكُم بَيْنَ النَّاسِ بِالْحَقِّ وَلَا تَتَّبِعِ الْهَوَىٰ فَيُضِلَّكَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَضِلُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ بِمَا نَسُوا يَوْمَ الْحِسَابِ

O Dawood! We did indeed make you a khalifa/vicegerent on earth, thus judge between people in truth and don’t follow the desire, for it will mislead you from the path of Allah. For those who wander astray from the path of Allah, for them is a grievous penalty as they forget the day of account.

24:55 وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَىٰ لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّن بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا ۚ يَعْبُدُونَنِي لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا ۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, make them vicegerents in earth, as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their judgement – that which He likes for them; and that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they were to one of security and peace. ‘They will worship Me (alone) and not associate any with Me and If any do reject after this, they are rebellious ones.’