English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)
by Maulana Muhammad Ali
Chapter 27: Al-Naml — The Naml (Revealed at Makkah: 7 sections, 93 verses)
Section 2 (Verses 27:15–27:31): History of Solomon
وَ لَقَدۡ اٰتَیۡنَا دَاوٗدَ وَ سُلَیۡمٰنَ عِلۡمًا ۚ وَ قَالَا الۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰہِ الَّذِیۡ فَضَّلَنَا عَلٰی کَثِیۡرٍ مِّنۡ عِبَادِہِ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ﴿۱۵﴾
27:15 And certainly We gave knowledge to David and Solomon.1 And they said: Praise be to Allah, Who has made us excel many of His believing servants!
وَ وَرِثَ سُلَیۡمٰنُ دَاوٗدَ وَ قَالَ یٰۤاَیُّہَا النَّاسُ عُلِّمۡنَا مَنۡطِقَ الطَّیۡرِ وَ اُوۡتِیۡنَا مِنۡ کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ ؕ اِنَّ ہٰذَا لَہُوَ الۡفَضۡلُ الۡمُبِیۡنُ ﴿۱۶﴾
27:16 And Solomon was David’s heir, and he said: O people, we have been taught the speech of birds,2 and we have been granted all sorts of things. Surely this is manifest grace.
وَ حُشِرَ لِسُلَیۡمٰنَ جُنُوۡدُہٗ مِنَ الۡجِنِّ وَ الۡاِنۡسِ وَ الطَّیۡرِ فَہُمۡ یُوۡزَعُوۡنَ ﴿۱۷﴾
27:17 And his forces of the jinn and the men and the birds were gathered to Solomon,3 and they were formed into groups.
حَتّٰۤی اِذَاۤ اَتَوۡا عَلٰی وَادِ النَّمۡلِ ۙ قَالَتۡ نَمۡلَۃٌ یّٰۤاَیُّہَا النَّمۡلُ ادۡخُلُوۡا مَسٰکِنَکُمۡ ۚ لَا یَحۡطِمَنَّکُمۡ سُلَیۡمٰنُ وَ جُنُوۡدُہٗ ۙ وَ ہُمۡ لَا یَشۡعُرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸﴾
27:18 Until when they came to the valley of the Naml,4 a Namlite said: O Naml, enter your houses, (so that) Solomon and his forces may not crush you, while they do not know.
فَتَبَسَّمَ ضَاحِکًا مِّنۡ قَوۡلِہَا وَ قَالَ رَبِّ اَوۡزِعۡنِیۡۤ اَنۡ اَشۡکُرَ نِعۡمَتَکَ الَّتِیۡۤ اَنۡعَمۡتَ عَلَیَّ وَ عَلٰی وَالِدَیَّ وَ اَنۡ اَعۡمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرۡضٰىہُ وَ اَدۡخِلۡنِیۡ بِرَحۡمَتِکَ فِیۡ عِبَادِکَ الصّٰلِحِیۡنَ ﴿۱۹﴾
27:19 So he smiled, wondering at her word, and said: My Lord, grant me that I may be grateful for Your favour which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do good such as You are pleased with, and admit me, by Your mercy, among Your righteous servants.
وَ تَفَقَّدَ الطَّیۡرَ فَقَالَ مَا لِیَ لَاۤ اَرَی الۡہُدۡہُدَ ۫ۖ اَمۡ کَانَ مِنَ الۡغَآئِبِیۡنَ ﴿۲۰﴾
27:20 And he reviewed the birds, then said: How is it I do not see Hudhud, or is it that he is one of the absentees?5
لَاُعَذِّبَنَّہٗ عَذَابًا شَدِیۡدًا اَوۡ لَاَاذۡبَحَنَّہٗۤ اَوۡ لَیَاۡتِیَنِّیۡ بِسُلۡطٰنٍ مُّبِیۡنٍ ﴿۲۱﴾
27:21 I will certainly punish him with a severe punishment, or kill him, unless he brings me a clear excuse.
فَمَکَثَ غَیۡرَ بَعِیۡدٍ فَقَالَ اَحَطۡتُّ بِمَا لَمۡ تُحِطۡ بِہٖ وَ جِئۡتُکَ مِنۡ سَبَاٍۭ بِنَبَاٍ یَّقِیۡنٍ ﴿۲۲﴾
27:22 And he did not remain away long, then said: I have encompassed something you do not have comprehensive knowledge of, and I have come to you from Saba’ with sure information6 —
اِنِّیۡ وَجَدۡتُّ امۡرَاَۃً تَمۡلِکُہُمۡ وَ اُوۡتِیَتۡ مِنۡ کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ وَّ لَہَا عَرۡشٌ عَظِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۳﴾
27:23 I found a woman ruling over them, and she has been given all sorts of things and she has a mighty throne.
وَجَدۡتُّہَا وَ قَوۡمَہَا یَسۡجُدُوۡنَ لِلشَّمۡسِ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ وَ زَیَّنَ لَہُمُ الشَّیۡطٰنُ اَعۡمَالَہُمۡ فَصَدَّہُمۡ عَنِ السَّبِیۡلِ فَہُمۡ لَا یَہۡتَدُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۲۴﴾
27:24 I found her and her people adoring the sun instead of Allah, and the devil has made their deeds seem good to them and turned them from the way, so they do not go aright —
اَلَّا یَسۡجُدُوۡا لِلّٰہِ الَّذِیۡ یُخۡرِجُ الۡخَبۡءَ فِی السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ وَ یَعۡلَمُ مَا تُخۡفُوۡنَ وَ مَا تُعۡلِنُوۡنَ ﴿۲۵﴾
27:25 so that they do not worship Allah, Who brings forth what is hidden in the heavens and the earth and knows what you hide and what you proclaim.
اَللّٰہُ لَاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ہُوَ رَبُّ الۡعَرۡشِ الۡعَظِیۡمِ ﴿ٛ۲۶﴾
27:26 Allah, there is no God but He, the Lord of the mighty Throne.Prostration
قَالَ سَنَنۡظُرُ اَصَدَقۡتَ اَمۡ کُنۡتَ مِنَ الۡکٰذِبِیۡنَ ﴿۲۷﴾
27:27 He said: We shall see whether you speak the truth or whether you are a liar.
اِذۡہَبۡ بِّکِتٰبِیۡ ہٰذَا فَاَلۡقِہۡ اِلَیۡہِمۡ ثُمَّ تَوَلَّ عَنۡہُمۡ فَانۡظُرۡ مَا ذَا یَرۡجِعُوۡنَ ﴿۲۸﴾
27:28 Take this letter of mine and hand it over to them, then turn from them and see what (answer) they return.
قَالَتۡ یٰۤاَیُّہَا الۡمَلَؤُا اِنِّیۡۤ اُلۡقِیَ اِلَیَّ کِتٰبٌ کَرِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۹﴾
27:29 She said: Chiefs, an honourable letter has been delivered to me.
اِنَّہٗ مِنۡ سُلَیۡمٰنَ وَ اِنَّہٗ بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ ﴿ۙ۳۰﴾
27:30 It is from Solomon, and it is in the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful,
اَلَّا تَعۡلُوۡا عَلَیَّ وَ اۡتُوۡنِیۡ مُسۡلِمِیۡنَ ﴿٪۳۱﴾
27:31 proclaiming, Do not exalt yourselves against me and come to me in submission.
- The history of David and Solomon, being the history of the temporal greatness of the Israelites, forms really a part of the history of Moses, and reference to it is in fact prophetical, to show that Islam was also destined to rise to greatness temporally as well as spiritually. ↩
- Solomon’s understanding the speech of birds may imply the use he made of birds in carrying messages from one place to another, these messages being metaphorically called the speech of birds. The reference here is to the great resources of Solomon’s kingdom in his victorious marches against near and distant enemies. Note also that Solomon says: We have been taught. This shows that his people also knew that speech. ↩
- The jinn were men belonging to certain mountain tribes whom Solomon had subjugated. Ṭair may mean either birds or horse, i.e., cavalry, as this word is applied not only to birds but also to swift animals such as horses. ↩
- Many of the fables regarding Solomon have been due to a misconception of the word naml, taken as meaning ‘ant’. It should be noted that wādi-l-Naml cannot be properly translated as the valley of the ants, for Naml is a proper noun. According to the classical dictionary Tāj al-‘Urūs, the valley of the Naml is situated between Jibrin and Asqalan. And Namlah is the name of a tribe which literally signifies the eggs of the ants. The name Namlah used also to be given to a child in whose hands an ant was placed at its birth, because it was said such a child would be wise and intelligent. ↩
- The opening words may mean either a review of birds or a review of horses; see v. 17. By Hudhud is not to be understood the lapwing, but a person of that name. In every language many of the proper names given to people will be found to be identical with the names of animals. The Arab writers speak of a king of Himyar as Hudad, which is almost identical with Hudhud mentioned in the Quran. The Bible speaks of a king of Syria, named Ben Hadad (1 Kings 15:18, etc.). The Muntaha-l-arab states that Hudhad was the name of the father of Balqis, the queen of Sheba. The verses that follow show clearly that Solomon was speaking of one of his own officers. The infliction of severe punishment on a small bird by such a mighty monarch, as Solomon, and the exposition of the great religious doctrine of the Unity of God by the lapwing, are quite incomprehensible. ↩
- Saba’ is the same as the Sheba of the Bible. The story as given here is not met with in the Bible, but it was known to Jewish rabbis. The Bible speaks of the coming of the queen of Sheba to Solomon with large presents to test him. See 1 Kings 10 and 2 Chron. 9. And later on, it speaks of many strange women as Solomon’s wives (1 Kings 11). ↩