THE PROPHET SOLOMON (pbuh)

 

SIMILARITES BETWEEN PROPHET SOLOMON (PBUH) AND DHU'L-QARNAYN (PBUH)

The Qur'an informs us of Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh), another Muslim leader who ruled a great kingdom. His life was quite similar to Prophet Solomon's (pbuh).

They Both Had Power

God gave both "power and authority in the land" (Qur'an, 18:84). The words power and authority may imply the great importance of their kingdom's economic, military, and political power. Thanks to this power, Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh) ruled over a great expanse of territory and established order therein. (For detailed information about Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh), see Harun Yahya, Signs of the End Times in Surat al-Kahf [New Delhi: Goodword Books, 2004].)

They Were Intelligent and Believed in God

The Qur'an states that God granted Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh) "a way to everything" (Qur'an, 18:84). In other words, he was a perceptive, cautious, and intelligent leader who could solve every problem. Examples of Prophet Solomon's (pbuh) intelligence, from his command over jinns and demons to his administration of his kingdom, are related in the Qur'an.

Like Prophet Solomon (pbuh), Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh) also ruled a powerful and wealthy state whose fame had spread far and wide. People came to him seeking solutions to what they considered complex problems, and even those nations that lived beyond his kingdom knew him as a person who impeded corruption in the land. For example, a people between the two mountains, scarcely able to understand speech, asked him for help:

They said: "O Dhu'l-Qarnayn. Gog and Magog are causing corruption in the land. Can we, therefore, pay tribute to you in return for your constructing a barrier between us and them?" (Qur'an, 18:94)

Superior Military Power

The Qur'an, which informs us of Prophet Solomon's (pbuh) mighty army, states that Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh) also had a powerful military force:

We said: "O Dhu'l-Qarnayn. You can either punish them or else you can treat them with gentleness." He said: "As for those who do wrong, we will punish them and then they will be returned to their Lord. He will punish them with a dreadful punishment." (Qur'an, 18:86-87)

Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh) used his great military might to treat unbelievers who brought corruption into the land with great harshness and to defeat their plans to oppress others. Thus, a king ruling a vast territory must have a very strong military.

They Judged with Justice

Earlier, we discussed Prophet Solomon's (pbuh) methods of treating others justly. From the Qur'an's account of Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh), we can see that he was also very just and fair. For example, he was ready to help any people defend themselves against corruption and oppression. The fact that both accounts emphasize both leaders' just administration shows that in order to ensure global security, happiness, justice, and stability, the existence of a very strong legal system supported by military and police power is essential.

A calligraphic inscription in the jali-thuluth script by
Şeyh Ali Bedevi:

Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
(Qur'an, 39:53)

They Refused All Gifts

Prophet Solomon (pbuh) did not accept the Queen of Saba's gift, but told her envoys to take it back and tell her:

When it reached Solomon, he said: "Would you give me wealth when what God has given me is better than what He has given you? No, rather it is you who delight in your gift." (Qur'an, 27:36)

And Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh) told the people who offered to pay him a tax for his help that:

"The power my Lord has granted me is better than that." (Qur'an, 18:95)

The fact that both leaders refused these gifts and reminded those who offered them that God was the sole owner of all possessions shows that they were sincere Muslims. These examples contain good advice for every Muslim leader.

 

Whatever you have been given is only the enjoyment of the life of this world. What is with God is better and longer lasting. (Qur'an, 42:36)


He bequeathed their land, their houses, and their wealth to you, and another land you had not yet trodden on. God has power over all things. (Qur'an, 33:27)

They Always Turned toward God

Prophet Solomon (pbuh), who had superior moral qualities and was a faithful servant, constantly turned toward God. Whenever he was successful or victorious, or whenever God gave him a blessing, Prophet Solomon (pbuh) turned toward Him in worship and remembered that all power belongs to Him. Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh) had the same moral character. For example, when he was able to protect the people from Gog and Magog, he praised God in the following words:

They were, therefore, unable to climb over it. Nor were they able to make a breach in it. He [Dhu'l-Qarnayn] said: "This is a mercy from my Lord. But when my Lord's promise comes about, He will crush it flat. The promise of my Lord is surely true." (Qur'an, 18:97-98)

They Ruled over Jinns

As we know, our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) said that there were two leaders in the past who had founded great kingdoms: Prophet Solomon (pbuh) and Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh). Prophet Solomon (pbuh) controlled some jinns; perhaps Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh) had a similar control. The people of Gog and Magog, against whom Dhu'l-Qarnayn's (pbuh) help was requested, may have been jinns.

In these two accounts, particularly the one about Prophet Solomon (pbuh), the jinns are mentioned quite often. This may signify that the End Times, when God may place the jinns and demons at the service of human beings. (Only God knows the truth.)

The Use of Tar or Molten Copper

Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh), using a substance called alayhi qitran, made an effective barrier against Gog and Magog:

[Dhu'l-Qarnayn said:] "Bring me ingots of iron." Then, when he had made it level between the two high mountainsides, he said: "Blow," and when he had made it a red hot fire, he said: "Bring me molten copper [or tar] to pour over it." (Qur'an, 18:96)

The meaning of alayhi qitran is molten copper or tar. The Qur'an says that this same substance was also under Prophet Solomon's (pbuh) command:

And We gave Solomon power over the wind-a month's journey in the morning and a month in the afternoon. And We made a fount of molten copper flow out for him. And some of the jinns worked in front of him by his Lord's permission. And if a single one of them deviates at all from Our command, We let him taste the punishment of the Searing Blaze. (Qur'an, 34:12)

There is a noticeable similarity between the two leaders' use of this substance. Perhaps Prophet Solomon (pbuh) used this substance to establish his control over the jinns and the demons. Perhaps it was tar, for Qur'an 14:50 mentions "wearing shirts of tar," which shows that this substance is also found in Hell.

In fact, right after this verse mentions that this substance was given on the orders of Prophet Solomon (pbuh), it says that the jinns served him. Both Prophet Solomon (pbuh) and Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh) may have used this substance to control the jinns. Perhaps it contained an ingredient that affected them. (God knows the truth.)

The words ayna al-qitri refer to the molten copper or tar over which Prophet Solomon (pbuh) and Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh) were given control. These pictures show examples of how copper and tar are used.

Good Tidings about the End Times

The dominion exercised by Prophet Solomon (pbuh) and Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh) is very good news for all Muslims, because these accounts contain important indications about the End Times.

Muslims who meticulously keep within the limits God established for humanity, strive to make Islamic morality dominant in the world, and withstand all difficulties will be superior in all periods of history, for God will always help and support them. As both Prophet Solomon (pbuh) and Dhu'l-Qarnayn (pbuh) had these qualities, God gave them authority in the land (and, of course, all of His other spiritual graces). The same dominion will occur, with God's permission, in the End Times, for He has promised this to believers.

 

TWO ADMINISTRATIONS DESCRIBED IN THE QUR'AN

The Qur'an gives two important examples of state administration: that of the Queen of Saba and that of Pharaoh.

What happened after Prophet Solomon (pbuh) invited the Sun-worshipping Sabaeans to the true faith gives some idea of how their kingdom was administered.

After receiving Prophet Solomon's (pbuh) letter, the Queen of Saba assembled her advisors and asked for their opinions. In other words, she did not have the sole right to make decisions that affected the kingdom. The queen valued her advisors' ideas, and they respected her and authority. This shows that Saba may have had an administrative system that was similar to democracy.


North Africa, twelfth century, Spink College, London (Qur'an, 27:36-39) Surat an-Naml tells of the meeting between Prophet Solomon (pbuh) and the Queen of Saba, during which she saw his wealth and power.

At first sight, Pharaoh may have had a similar type of administration. He appears to have had a council of prominent persons who had great influence. But they led him astray and gave him commands that would cause dissension and injustice. They talked to Pharaoh in the following way:

They said: "Detain him [Moses] and his brother, and send out marshals to the cities." (Qur'an, 7:111)

The Egyptian government at this time may be called an oligarchy, for power was in the hands of a limited number of people. The power of such a government is most often proportionate to its material or military strength, and its governing body is always a tiny minority in proportion to the people it governs. These individuals govern the land for their own profit and pleasure. We can see from the Qur'an that Pharaoh's system of government was an oligarchy.

As "Then We sent Moses and his brother Aaron with Our Signs and clear authority to Pharaoh and his ruling circle. But they were a proud and despotic people" (Qur'an, 23:45-46) reveal, Pharaoh and his court formed a community that sought to impose its will on others. The oligarchic class, which was composed of Pharaoh's counselors, magicians, and soldiers, established its intellectual dominion over the public so that the people would remain loyal to the pharaonic system. In addition, it inculcated the masses with the false belief that Pharaoh was a superior being. Basing his rule upon this misguided system, Pharaoh and his circle oppressed the people. In fact, the Qur'an states that:

No one believed in Moses, except for a few of his people, out of fear that Pharaoh and the elders would persecute them. Pharaoh was high and mighty in the land. He was one of the profligate. (Qur'an, 10:83)

Another evident proof of this administration's oppressive nature was segregating the people according to their race or religion and deliberately oppressing the Tribe of Israel.

Pharaoh exalted himself arrogantly in the land and divided its people into camps, oppressing one group of them by slaughtering their sons and letting their women live. He was one of the corrupters. (Qur'an, 28:4)

In Qur'an 7:127, we are told that Pharaoh had "absolute power." This power came from his army. We can understand his government's power from the commands he gave to his soldiers:

Pharaoh sent marshals into the cities. (Qur'an, 26:53)

They said: "Detain him [Moses] and his brother, and send out marshals to the cities." (Qur'an, 7:111)

As the above verses indicate, this oppressive state mechanism and system of intelligence gathering allowed the state hierarchy to watch over the kingdom's remotest regions. This supervision shows the strict discipline and oppression of Pharaoh's administration.

In the Queen of Saba's meeting with Prophet Solomon (pbuh), as well as her subsequent conversion and submission to him, there may be an indication that Saba knew no such oppression. The Qur'an relates that:

She said: "My Lord, I have wronged myself, but I have submitted with Solomon to the Lord of all the worlds." (Qur'an, 27:44)

In other words, Saba's method of administration was pretty democratic for that period of time. The people were not oppressed, the most important decisions of state were taken after agreement was secured among all levels of government, and there was mutual respect and freedom of conscience. It seems to have been a model in which rights were protected.

By describing these different systems of government, God shows us that one system opposed religious morality, whereas another one lived quite close to that morality, even though it had not yet heard of or embraced the true religion.

THE END OF SABA

Many verses mention that Saba had a strong army. We are told that its commanders left the final decision to the queen, as the following verse indicates:

"We possess strength and great force. But the matter is in your hands, so consider what you command." (Qur'an, 27:33)

But Saba's strong army turned out to be of no use, for despite the prophet's warnings, the Sabaeans's continued ungratefulness for God's blessings caused them to be punished generations later with a disastrous flood. The Qur'an describes the places in which the Sabaeans lived:


The 'Arim flood, which followed the Ma'rib dam's collapse, covered Saba with water and destroyed the city.

There was also a sign for Saba in their dwelling place: two gardens-one to the right and one to the left. [We said to them:] "Eat of your Lord's provision and give thanks to Him: a bountiful land and a forgiving Lord." (Qur'an, 34:15)

The Sabaeans lived in a land of striking beauty and of fruitful vines and gardens. Located on trade roads, they lived lives of considerable comfort and had built one of the finest cities of that time. Given their high standard of living and beautiful environment, it was their duty to eat of their Lord's provision and give thanks to Him.

But they did not do this, for they were ungrateful:

But they turned away. So, We unleashed against them the flood from the great dam and exchanged their two gardens for two others containing bitter-tasting plants, tamarisk, and a few lote trees. That is how We repaid them for their ingratitude. Are any but the ungrateful repaid like this? (Qur'an, 34:16-17)

The Sabaeans thought that their success and wealth came from their own effort. As these verses say, God willed His retribution, in the form of a great flood, to fall upon them and destroy them. Those who are ungrateful for God's blessings, who do not follow the way shown by the prophets, and who ignore the revealed Books that He has sent down will receive their reward for their actions both in this world and in the world to come. This is God's law, for He decrees:

That is some of the news of the cities that We relate to you. Some of them are still standing, while others are now just stubble. We did not wrong them; rather, they wronged themselves. The deities they called upon besides God did not help them at all when God's command came upon them. They did nothing but increase their ruin. (Qur'an, 11:100-01)

Saba Destroyed by the 'Arim Flood

According to historical sources, Saba was one of the four great civilizations of southern Arabia. Its inhabitants were a sophisticated people who had reached a high level of technology, as we can tell from the Ma'rib dam, one of their most important achievements. As the Sabaeans were establishing their civilization, they built this dam and began to irrigate the surrounding land, and develop a very comfortable lifestyle.

The Ma'rib dam was 16 meters (52 feet) high, 60 meters (196 feet) wide, and 620 meters (2,034 feet) in length. Scholars estimate that it irrigated 9,600 hectares of land: 5,300 hectares on the southern plain and 4,300 hectares on the northern plain. Sabaean inscriptions sometimes refer to these two plains as "Ma'rib and the two plains."11 So, the Qur'anic expression of "two gardens-one to the right and one to the left" probably means these vines and gardens that stretched across two valleys. This dam, as well as the irrigation water it supplied to the surrounding land, made the area famous as the best irrigated and most productive land in southern Arabia.

The extensive repairs made during the fifth and sixth centuries CE did not prevent its collapse in 542. The ensuing flood, which the Qur'an calls the Arim flood, destroyed the Sabaeans' vineyards, gardens, and farms that they had cultivated for centuries. The Saba kingdom then entered a period of rapid decline and gradually disappeared.

Archeological finds and historical sources corroborate this event. The Qur'an speaks of the Sayl al-'Arim (i.e., the 'Arim flood). The word 'arim can mean dam or barricade. So, Sayl al-'Arim indicates that the flood happened because the dam collapsed.

German archeologist Werner Keller, author of Und die Bible Hat Doch Recht (The Holy Book Was Right), accepted the Qur'anic account of this flood and wrote that the existence of such a dam and the destruction of the whole kingdom by its collapse proves that the Qur'an's example of the people of the garden was indeed realized.12

The Ma'rib dam, which now has become a desolate ruin, is a lesson for all people who, like the Sabaeans, are ungrateful for God's blessings and so deserve His punishment. In a moment, all of their wealth was gone. (For a detailed discussion, see Harun Yahya, The Perished Nations [Ta Ha Publishers, Ltd.: 2002].)

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11. "Marib", Islam Ansiklopedisi: Islam Alemi, Tarihi, Cografya, Etnografya ve Bibliyografya Lugati (Encyclopedia of Islam: Historical, Geographical, Ethnographical and Bibliographic Dictionary of the Islamic World), vol. 7, 323-39.
12. Werner Keller, Und die Bibel hat doch recht (The Bible as History; a Confirmation of the Book of Books) (New York: William Morrow, 1956), 207.

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