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Bilqis consults with Her Chiefs

When she read Sulayman's letter to them and consulted with them about this news, she said:

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلۡمَلَؤُاْ أَفۡتُونِى فِىٓ أَمۡرِى مَا ڪُنتُ قَاطِعَةً أَمۡرًا حَتَّىٰ تَشۡہَدُونِ

("O chiefs! Advise me in (this) case of mine. I decide no case till you are present with me.'') meaning, `until you come together and offer me your advice.'

﴿ قَالُواْ نَحۡنُ أُوْلُواْ قُوَّةٍ۬ وَأُوْلُواْ بَأۡسٍ۬ شَدِيدٍ۬

(They said: "We have great strength, and great ability for war...'') They reminded her of their great numbers, preparedness and strength, then they referred the matter to her and said:

﴿ وَٱلۡأَمۡرُ إِلَيۡكِ فَٱنظُرِى مَاذَا تَأۡمُرِينَ

(but it is for you to command; so think over what you will command.) meaning, `we have the power and strength, if you want to go to him and fight him.' The matter is yours to decide, so instruct us as you see fit and we will obey. Ibn `Abbas said: "Bilqis said:

﴿ إِنَّ ٱلۡمُلُوكَ إِذَا دَخَلُواْ قَرۡيَةً أَفۡسَدُوهَا وَجَعَلُوٓاْ أَعِزَّةَ أَهۡلِهَآ أَذِلَّةً۬‌ۖ

(Verily, kings, when they enter a town, they destroy it and make the most honorable amongst its people the lowest.) And Allah said:

﴿ وَكَذَٲلِكَ يَفۡعَلُونَ

(And thus they do.) Then she resorted to peaceful means, seeking a truce and trying to placate Sulayman, and said:

﴿ وَإِنِّى مُرۡسِلَةٌ إِلَيۡہِم بِهَدِيَّةٍ۬ فَنَاظِرَةُۢ بِمَ يَرۡجِعُ ٱلۡمُرۡسَلُونَ

(But verily, I am going to send him a present, and see with what the messengers return.) meaning, `I will send him a gift befitting for one of his status, and will wait and see what his response will be. Perhaps he will accept that and leave us alone, or he will impose a tax which we can pay him every year, so that he will not fight us and wage war against us.' Qatadah said: "May Allah have mercy on her and be pleased with her -- how wise she was as a Muslim and (before that) as an idolater! She understood how gift-giving has a good effect on people.'' Ibn `Abbas and others said: "She said to her people, if he accepts the gift, he is a king, so fight him; but if he does not accept it, he is a Prophet, so follow him.''

﴿ فَلَمَّا جَآءَ سُلَيۡمَـٰنَ قَالَ أَتُمِدُّونَنِ بِمَالٍ۬ فَمَآ ءَاتَٮٰنِۦَ ٱللَّهُ خَيۡرٌ۬ مِّمَّآ ءَاتَٮٰكُم بَلۡ أَنتُم بِہَدِيَّتِكُمۡ تَفۡرَحُونَ ٱرۡجِعۡ إِلَيۡہِمۡ فَلَنَأۡتِيَنَّهُم بِجُنُودٍ۬ لَّا قِبَلَ لَهُم بِہَا وَلَنُخۡرِجَنَّہُم مِّنۡہَآ أَذِلَّةً۬ وَهُمۡ صَـٰغِرُونَ

(36. So, when (the messengers with the gift) came to Sulayman, he said: "Will you help me in wealth What Allah has given me is better than that which He has given you! Nay, you rejoice in your gift!'') (37. "Go back to them. We verily, shall come to them with armies that they cannot resist, and we shall drive them out from there in disgrace, and they will be abased.'')

The Gift and the Response of Sulayman

More than one of the scholars of Tafsir among the Salaf and others stated that she sent him a huge gift of gold, jewels, pearls and other things. It is apparent that Sulayman (peace be upon him) did not even look at what they brought at all and did not pay any attention to it, but he turned away and said, rebuking them:

﴿ أَتُمِدُّونَنِ بِمَالٍ۬

("Will you help me in wealth'') meaning, `are you trying to flatter me with wealth so that I will leave you alone with your Shirk and your kingdom'

﴿ فَمَآ ءَاتَٮٰنِۦَ ٱللَّهُ خَيۡرٌ۬ مِّمَّآ ءَاتَٮٰكُم

(What Allah has given me is better than that which He has given you!) means, `what Allah has given to me of power, wealth and troops, is better than that which you have.'

﴿ بَلۡ أَنتُم بِہَدِيَّتِكُمۡ تَفۡرَحُونَ

(Nay, you rejoice in your gift!) means, `you are the ones who are influenced by gifts and presents; we will accept nothing from you except Islam or the sword.'

﴿ ٱرۡجِعۡ إِلَيۡہِمۡ

(Go back to them) means, with their gift,

﴿ فَلَنَأۡتِيَنَّهُم بِجُنُودٍ۬ لَّا قِبَلَ لَهُم بِہَا

(We verily, shall come to them with armies that they cannot resist,) they have no power to match them or resist them.

﴿ وَلَنُخۡرِجَنَّہُم مِّنۡہَآ أَذِلَّةً۬

(and we shall drive them out from there in disgrace,) `we shall drive them out in disgrace from their land.'

﴿ وَهُمۡ صَـٰغِرُونَ

(and they will be abased.) means, humiliated and expelled. When her messengers came back to her with her undelivered gift, and told her what Sulayman said, she and her people paid heed and obeyed him. She came to him with her troops in submission and humility, honoring Sulayman and intending to follow him in Islam. When Sulayman (peace be upon him) realized that they were coming to him, he rejoiced greatly.

﴿ قَالَ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلۡمَلَؤُاْ أَيُّكُمۡ يَأۡتِينِى بِعَرۡشِہَا قَبۡلَ أَن يَأۡتُونِى مُسۡلِمِينَ قَالَ عِفۡرِيتٌ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡجِنِّ أَنَا۟ ءَاتِيكَ بِهِۦ قَبۡلَ أَن تَقُومَ مِن مَّقَامِكَ‌ۖ وَإِنِّى عَلَيۡهِ لَقَوِىٌّ أَمِينٌ۬ قَالَ ٱلَّذِى عِندَهُ ۥ عِلۡمٌ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ أَنَا۟ ءَاتِيكَ بِهِۦ قَبۡلَ أَن يَرۡتَدَّ إِلَيۡكَ طَرۡفُكَ‌ۚ فَلَمَّا رَءَاهُ مُسۡتَقِرًّا عِندَهُ ۥ قَالَ هَـٰذَا مِن فَضۡلِ رَبِّى لِيَبۡلُوَنِىٓ ءَأَشۡكُرُ أَمۡ أَكۡفُرُ‌ۖ وَمَن شَكَرَ فَإِنَّمَا يَشۡكُرُ لِنَفۡسِهِۦ‌ۖ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ رَبِّى غَنِىٌّ۬ كَرِيمٌ۬

(38. He said: "O chiefs! Which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me surrendering themselves in obedience (as Muslims)'') (39. An `Ifrit from the Jinn said: "I will bring it to you before you rise from your place. And verily, I am indeed strong and trustworthy for such work.'') (40. One with whom was knowledge of the Scripture, said: "I will bring it to you within the twinkling of an eye!'' Then when he saw it placed before him, he said: "This is by the grace of my Lord -- to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And whoever is grateful, truly, his gratitude is for himself; and whoever is ungrateful, certainly my Lord is Rich, Bountiful.'')

How the Throne of Bilqis was brought in an Instant

Muhammad bin Ishaq reported from Yazid bin Ruman: "When the messengers returned with word of what Sulayman said, she said: `By Allah, I knew he was more than a king, and that we have no power to match him, and that we can gain nothing by being stubborn with him. So, she sent word to him saying: "I am coming to you with the leaders of my people to see what you will instruct us to do and what you are calling us to of your religion.'' Then she issued commands that her throne, which was made of gold and inlaid with rubies, chrysolite and pearls, should be placed in the innermost of seven rooms, one within the other, and all the doors should be locked. Then she told her deputy whom she was leaving in charge, "Take care of my people and my throne, and do not let anyone approach it or see it until I come back to you.'' Then she set off to meet Sulayman with twelve thousand of her commanders from the leaders of Yemen, under each of whose command were many thousands of men. Sulayman sent the Jinn to bring him news of her progress and route every day and night, then when she drew near, he gathered together the Jinns and humans who were under his control and said:

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلۡمَلَؤُاْ أَيُّكُمۡ يَأۡتِينِى بِعَرۡشِہَا قَبۡلَ أَن يَأۡتُونِى مُسۡلِمِينَ

(O chiefs! Which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me surrendering themselves in obedience (as Muslims)).''

﴿ قَالَ عِفۡرِيتٌ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡجِنِّ

(An `Ifrit from the Jinn said:) Mujahid said, "A giant Jinn.'' Abu Salih said, "It was as if he was a mountain.''

﴿ أَنَا۟ ءَاتِيكَ بِهِۦ قَبۡلَ أَن تَقُومَ مِن مَّقَامِكَ‌ۖ

(I will bring it to you before you rise from your place.) Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "Before you get up from where you are sitting.'' As-Suddi and others said: "He used to sit to pass judgments and rulings over the people, and to eat, from the beginning of the day until noon.''

﴿ وَإِنِّى عَلَيۡهِ لَقَوِىٌّ أَمِينٌ۬

(And verily, I am indeed strong and trustworthy for such work.) Ibn `Abbas said: "Strong enough to carry it and trustworthy with the jewels it contains. Sulayman, upon him be peace, said, "I want it faster than that.'' From this it seems that Sulayman wanted to bring this throne as a demonstration of the greatness of the power and authority that Allah had bestowed upon him and the troops that He had subjugated to him. Power such as had never been given to anyone else, before or since, so that this would furnish proof of his prophethood before Bilqis and her people, because this would be a great and wondrous thing, if he brought her throne as if he were in her country, before they could come to it, although it was hidden and protected by so many locked doors. When Sulayman said, "I want it faster than that,

﴿ قَالَ ٱلَّذِى عِندَهُ ۥ عِلۡمٌ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ

(One with whom was knowledge of the Scripture said:) Ibn `Abbas said, "This was Asif, the scribe of Sulayman.'' It was also narrated by Muhammad bin Ishaq from Yazid bin Ruman that he was Asif bin Barkhiya' and he was a truthful believer who knew the Greatest Name of Allah. Qatadah said: "He was a believer among the humans, and his name was Asif.''

﴿ أَنَا۟ ءَاتِيكَ بِهِۦ قَبۡلَ أَن يَرۡتَدَّ إِلَيۡكَ طَرۡفُكَ‌ۚ

(I will bring it to you within the twinkling of an eye!) Meaning, lift your gaze and look as far as you can, and before you get tired and blink, you will find it before you. Then he got up, performed ablution and prayed to Allah, may He be exalted. Mujahid said: "He said, O Owner of majesty and honor.'' When Sulayman and his chiefs saw it before them,

﴿ قَالَ هَـٰذَا مِن فَضۡلِ رَبِّى

(he said: "This is by the grace of my Lord...'') meaning, `this is one of the blessings which Allah has bestowed upon me.'

﴿ لِيَبۡلُوَنِىٓ ءَأَشۡكُرُ أَمۡ أَكۡفُرُ‌ۖ وَمَن شَكَرَ فَإِنَّمَا يَشۡكُرُ لِنَفۡسِهِۦ‌ۖ

(to test whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And whoever is grateful, truly, his gratitude is for himself;) This is like the Ayat:

﴿ مَّنۡ عَمِلَ صَـٰلِحً۬ا فَلِنَفۡسِهِۦ‌ۖ وَمَنۡ أَسَآءَ فَعَلَيۡهَا‌ۗ

(Whosoever does righteous good deed, it is for himself; and whosoever does evil, it is against himself.) (41:46)

﴿ وَمَنۡ عَمِلَ صَـٰلِحً۬ا فَلِأَنفُسِہِمۡ يَمۡهَدُونَ

(and whosoever does righteous good deed, then such will prepare a good place for themselves.) (30:44).

﴿ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ رَبِّى غَنِىٌّ۬ كَرِيمٌ۬

(and whoever is ungrateful, certainly my Lord is Rich, Bountiful.) He has no need of His servants or their worship.

﴿ كَرِيمٌ۬

(Bountiful) He is Bountiful in and of Himself, even if no one were to worship Him. His greatness does not depend on anyone. This is like what Musa said:

﴿ إِن تَكۡفُرُوٓاْ أَنتُمۡ وَمَن فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ جَمِيعً۬ا فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَغَنِىٌّ حَمِيدٌ

(If you disbelieve, you and all on earth together, then verily, Allah is Rich, Owner of all praise.) (14:8). It is recorded in Sahih Muslim:

« يَقُولُ اللهُ تَعَالَى: يَا عِبَادِي لَوْ أَنَّ أَوَّلَكُمْ وَآخِرَكُمْ وَإِنْسَكُمْ وَجِنَّكُمْ كَانُوا عَلَى أَتْقَى قَلْبِ رَجُلٍ مِنْكُمْ مَا زَادَ ذَلِكَ فِي مُلْكِي شَيْئًا. يَا عِبَادِي لَوْ أَنَّ أَوَّلَكُمْ وَآخِرَكُمْ وَإِنْسَكُمْ وَجِنَّكُمْ كَانُوا عَلَى أَفْجَرِ قَلْبِ رَجُلٍ مِنْكُمْ مَا نَقَصَ ذَلِكَ مِنْ مُلْكِي شَيْئًا. يَا عِبَادِي إِنَّمَا هِيَ أَعْمَالُكُمْ أُحْصِيهَا لَكُمْ ثُمَّ أُوَفِّيكُمْ إِيَّاهَا فَمَنْ وَجَدَ خَيْرًا فَلْيَحْمَدِ اللهَ، وَمَنْ وَجَدَ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ فَلَا يَلُومَنَّ إِلَّا نَفْسَه »

(Allah, may He be exalted, says: "O My servants, if the first of you and the last of you, mankind and Jinn alike, were all to be as pious as the most pious among you, that would not add to My dominion in the slightest. O My servants, if the first of you and the last of you, mankind and Jinn alike, were all to be as evil as the most evil one among you, that would not detract from My dominion in the slightest. O My servants, these are deeds which I am recording for you, and I will judge you according to them, so whoever finds something good, let him praise Allah, and whoever finds otherwise, let him blame no one but himself.'')

﴿ قَالَ نَكِّرُواْ لَهَا عَرۡشَہَا نَنظُرۡ أَتَہۡتَدِىٓ أَمۡ تَكُونُ مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ لَا يَہۡتَدُونَ فَلَمَّا جَآءَتۡ قِيلَ أَهَـٰكَذَا عَرۡشُكِ‌ۖ قَالَتۡ كَأَنَّهُ ۥ هُوَ‌ۚ وَأُوتِينَا ٱلۡعِلۡمَ مِن قَبۡلِهَا وَكُنَّا مُسۡلِمِينَ وَصَدَّهَا مَا كَانَت تَّعۡبُدُ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ‌ۖ إِنَّہَا كَانَتۡ مِن قَوۡمٍ۬ كَـٰفِرِينَ قِيلَ لَهَا ٱدۡخُلِى ٱلصَّرۡحَ‌ۖ فَلَمَّا رَأَتۡهُ حَسِبَتۡهُ لُجَّةً۬ وَكَشَفَتۡ عَن سَاقَيۡهَا‌ۚ قَالَ إِنَّهُ ۥ صَرۡحٌ۬ مُّمَرَّدٌ۬ مِّن قَوَارِيرَ‌ۗ قَالَتۡ رَبِّ إِنِّى ظَلَمۡتُ نَفۡسِى وَأَسۡلَمۡتُ مَعَ سُلَيۡمَـٰنَ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ

(41. He said: "Disguise her throne for her that we may see whether she will be guided, or she will be one of those not guided.'') (42. So when she came, it was said, "Is your throne like this'' She said: "As though it were the very same.'' And he said, "Knowledge was bestowed on us before her, and we had submitted to Allah (as Muslims).'') (43. And Saddaha that which she used to worship besides Allah has prevented her (from Islam), for she was of a disbelieving people.) (44. It was said to her: "Enter As-Sarh,'' but when she saw it, she thought it was a pool, and she (tucked up her clothes) uncovering her legs. Sulayman said: "Verily, it is a Sarh Mumarrad of Qawarir.'' She said: "My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, and I submit, together with Sulayman to Allah, the Lord of all that exits.'')