Bismillah Hirahaman Niraheem
Story of Sulaiman(PBUH) and Bilqis, Queen of Sheeba [Quran Ch 27:20-44]
The Hoopoe Brings Information to Sulaiman(PBUH)
He set out to find the hoopoe bird, which could detect water under the ground. He sent signals all over the hoopoe to call on him, but it was nowhere to be found. In anger, he declared that unless the bird had a good reason for its absence, he would punish it severely.
The hoopoe eventually came to Sulaiman(PBUH) and explained the reason for its delay. “I have discovered something of which you are not aware. I have come from Sheba (Sab’a) with important news.” Sulaiman(PBUH) became curious, and his anger subsided. The bird continued: “Sab’a is ruled by a queen named Bilkis (Bilqis), who has plenty of everything, including a splendid throne.
But in spite of all this wealth, Satan has entered her heart and the hearts of her people. She rules their minds completely. I was shocked to learn that they worship the sun instead of Allah the Almighty.”
To check the hoopoe’s information, Sulaiman(PBUH) sent a letter to the queen with the bird. He instructed the bird to remain hidden and to watch everything.
The Queen of Sheba Sends Gifts
The hoopoe dropped the letter in front of the queen and flew away to hide. She excitedly opened and read it:
“Verily! It is from Sulaiman(PBUH), and verily! It reads: ‘In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, and Most Merciful; be you not exalted against me, but come to me as Muslims (true believers who submit with full submission).'” ( Ch 27:30-31 Quran).
The queen was very disturbed and hurriedly summoned her advisors. They reacted as to a challenge, for they felt that there was someone challenging them, hinting at war and defeat, and asking them to submit to his conditions.
They told her that they could only offer advice, but it was her right to command action. She sensed that they wanted to meet Sulaiman(PBUH)’s invasion threat with a battle. However, she told them:
“Peace and friendship are better and wiser; war only brings humiliation, enslaves people and destroys the good things. I have decided to send gifts to Sulaiman(PBUH), selected from our most precious treasure. The courtiers who will deliver the gifts will also have an opportunity to learn about Sulaiman(PBUH) and his military mighty.”
Sulaiman(PBUH)’s Rejects the Queen’s Gifts
Sulaiman(PBUH)’s reconnaissance team brought him the news of the arrival of Bilkis’ messengers with a gift. He immediately realized that the queen had sent her men on a probing mission thus, he gave orders to rally the army. The envoys of Bilqis, entering amidst the well-equipped army, realized that their wealth was nothing in comparison to that of the kingdom of Sulaiman(PBUH)’s palace floors, which were made of sandalwood and inlaid with gold.
They noticed Sulaiman(PBUH) surveying his army, and they were surprised at the number and variety of soldiers, which included lions, tigers, and birds. The messengers stood in amazement, realizing that they were in front of an irresistible army.
The envoys marveled at the splendor surrounding them. They eagerly presented their queen’s precious gifts and told Sulaiman(PBUH) that the queen wished that he would accept them as an act of friendship. They were shocked by his reaction: he did not even ask to open the covers of the containers! He told them: “Allah hagiven me plenty of wealth, a large kingdom, and prophethood. I am, therefore, beyond bribery. My only objective is to spread the belief in Tawheed, the Oneness of Allah.”
He also directed them to take back the gifts to the queen and to tell her that if she did not stop her kind of worship he would uproot her kingdom and drive its people out of the land.
The Queen Decides to Visit Sulaiman(PBUH)
The queen’s envoys returned with the gifts and delivered the message. They also told her of the wonderful things they had seen. Instead of taking offense, she decided to visit Sulaiman(PBUH). Accompanied by her royal officials and servants, she left Sheba, sending a messenger ahead to inform Sulaiman(PBUH) that she was on her way to meet him.
Sulaiman(PBUH) asked the jinns in his employ whether anyone among them could bring her throne to the palace before she arrived. One of them said; “I will bring it to you before this sitting is over.” Sulaiman(PBUH) did not react to this offer; it appeared that he was waiting for a faster means. The jinns competed with each other to please him. One of them named Ifrit said: “I will fetch it for you in the twinkling of an eye!”
No sooner had this one – who had the knowledge of the Book – finished his phrase than the throne stood before Sulaiman(PBUH). The mission had, indeed, been completed in the blinking of an eye. Sulaiman(PBUH)’s seat was in Palestine, and the throne of Bilqis had been in Yemen, two thousand miles away. This was a great miracle performed by one of those sitting with Sulaiman(PBUH).
The Queen’s Visit with Sulaiman(PBUH)
When Bilqis arrived at Sulaiman(PBUH)’s palace, she was welcomed with pomp and ceremony. Then, pointing to the altered throne, Sulaiman(PBUH) asked her whether her throne looked like that one. She looked at it again and again. In her mind she was convinced that her throne could not possibly be the one she was looking at, as hers was in her palace; et, she detected a striking similarity and replied: “It is as if it were the very one, and resembles mine in every respect.” Sulaiman(PBUH) judged that she was intelligent and diplomatic.
He then invited her into the great hall, the floor of which was laid in glass and shimmering. Thinking it was water, as she stepped on the floor, she lifted her skirt slightly above her heels, for fear of wetting it. Sulaiman(PBUH) pointed out to her that it was made of solid glass.
She was amazed. She had never seen such things before. Bilqis realized that she was in the company of a very knowledgeable person who was not only a ruler of a great kingdom but a messenger of Allah, as well. She repented, gave up sun worship, accepted the faith of Allah, and asked her people to do the same.
It was finished; Bilqis saw her people’s creed fall apart before Sulaiman(PBUH). She realized that the sun which her people worshipped was nothing but one of Allah’s creatures. The sun eclipsed within her for the first time, and her heart was lit by a never fading light, the light of Islam.
Courtesy : Excerpts from Stories of the Prophets by Al-Imam ibn Kathir