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 3 (Verses 27:32–27:44): History of Solomon
قَالَتۡ یٰۤاَیُّہَا الۡمَلَؤُا اَفۡتُوۡنِیۡ فِیۡۤ اَمۡرِیۡ ۚ مَا کُنۡتُ قَاطِعَۃً اَمۡرًا حَتّٰی تَشۡہَدُوۡنِ ﴿۳۲﴾
27:32 She said: Chiefs, advise me in this affair of mine; I never decide an affair until you are in my presence.
قَالُوۡا نَحۡنُ اُولُوۡا قُوَّۃٍ وَّ اُولُوۡا بَاۡسٍ شَدِیۡدٍ ۬ۙ وَّ الۡاَمۡرُ اِلَیۡکِ فَانۡظُرِیۡ مَاذَا تَاۡمُرِیۡنَ ﴿۳۳﴾
27:33 They said: We are possessors of strength and possessors of mighty prowess. And the command is yours, so consider what you will command.
قَالَتۡ اِنَّ الۡمُلُوۡکَ اِذَا دَخَلُوۡا قَرۡیَۃً اَفۡسَدُوۡہَا وَ جَعَلُوۡۤا اَعِزَّۃَ اَہۡلِہَاۤ اَذِلَّۃً ۚ وَ کَذٰلِکَ یَفۡعَلُوۡنَ ﴿۳۴﴾
27:34 She said: Surely the kings, when they enter a town, ruin it and make the noblest of its people low; and that is what they do.
وَ اِنِّیۡ مُرۡسِلَۃٌ اِلَیۡہِمۡ بِہَدِیَّۃٍ فَنٰظِرَۃٌۢ بِمَ یَرۡجِعُ الۡمُرۡسَلُوۡنَ ﴿۳۵﴾
27:35 And surely I am going to send them a present, and to see what (answer) the messengers bring back.
فَلَمَّا جَآءَ سُلَیۡمٰنَ قَالَ اَتُمِدُّوۡنَنِ بِمَالٍ ۫ فَمَاۤ اٰتٰىنَِۧ اللّٰہُ خَیۡرٌ مِّمَّاۤ اٰتٰىکُمۡ ۚ بَلۡ اَنۡتُمۡ بِہَدِیَّتِکُمۡ تَفۡرَحُوۡنَ ﴿۳۶﴾
27:36 So when (the envoy) came to Solomon, he said: Will you help me with wealth? But what Allah has given me is better than what He has given you. Indeed, you are exultant because of your present.1
اِرۡجِعۡ اِلَیۡہِمۡ فَلَنَاۡتِیَنَّہُمۡ بِجُنُوۡدٍ لَّا قِبَلَ لَہُمۡ بِہَا وَ لَنُخۡرِجَنَّہُمۡ مِّنۡہَاۤ اَذِلَّۃً وَّ ہُمۡ صٰغِرُوۡنَ ﴿۳۷﴾
27:37 Go back to them, so we shall certainly come to them with forces which they have no power to oppose, and we shall certainly expel them from there in disgrace, and they shall be humbled.
قَالَ یٰۤاَیُّہَا الۡمَلَؤُا اَیُّکُمۡ یَاۡتِیۡنِیۡ بِعَرۡشِہَا قَبۡلَ اَنۡ یَّاۡتُوۡنِیۡ مُسۡلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۳۸﴾
27:38 He said: Chiefs, which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?2
قَالَ عِفۡرِیۡتٌ مِّنَ الۡجِنِّ اَنَا اٰتِیۡکَ بِہٖ قَبۡلَ اَنۡ تَقُوۡمَ مِنۡ مَّقَامِکَ ۚ وَ اِنِّیۡ عَلَیۡہِ لَقَوِیٌّ اَمِیۡنٌ ﴿۳۹﴾
27:39 One audacious among the jinn said: I will bring it to you before you rise up from your place; and surely I am strong, trustworthy for it.3
قَالَ الَّذِیۡ عِنۡدَہٗ عِلۡمٌ مِّنَ الۡکِتٰبِ اَنَا اٰتِیۡکَ بِہٖ قَبۡلَ اَنۡ یَّرۡتَدَّ اِلَیۡکَ طَرۡفُکَ ؕ فَلَمَّا رَاٰہُ مُسۡتَقِرًّا عِنۡدَہٗ قَالَ ہٰذَا مِنۡ فَضۡلِ رَبِّیۡ ۟ۖ لِیَبۡلُوَنِیۡۤ ءَاَشۡکُرُ اَمۡ اَکۡفُرُ ؕ وَ مَنۡ شَکَرَ فَاِنَّمَا یَشۡکُرُ لِنَفۡسِہٖ ۚ وَ مَنۡ کَفَرَ فَاِنَّ رَبِّیۡ غَنِیٌّ کَرِیۡمٌ ﴿۴۰﴾
27:40 One having knowledge of the Book said: I will bring it to you in the twinkling of an eye.4 Then when he saw it settled beside him,5 he said: This is of the grace of my Lord, that He may try me whether I am grateful or ungrateful. And whoever is grateful, he is grateful only for the good of his own soul, and whoever is ungrateful, then surely my Lord is Self-sufficient, Bountiful.
قَالَ نَکِّرُوۡا لَہَا عَرۡشَہَا نَنۡظُرۡ اَتَہۡتَدِیۡۤ اَمۡ تَکُوۡنُ مِنَ الَّذِیۡنَ لَا یَہۡتَدُوۡنَ ﴿۴۱﴾
27:41 He said: Alter her throne for her; we may see whether she follows the right way or is of those who do not go aright.6
فَلَمَّا جَآءَتۡ قِیۡلَ اَہٰکَذَا عَرۡشُکِ ؕ قَالَتۡ کَاَنَّہٗ ہُوَ ۚ وَ اُوۡتِیۡنَا الۡعِلۡمَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِہَا وَ کُنَّا مُسۡلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۴۲﴾
27:42 So when she came, it was said: Was your throne like this? She said: It is as it were the same; and we were given the knowledge before about it, and we submitted.7
وَ صَدَّہَا مَا کَانَتۡ تَّعۡبُدُ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ ؕ اِنَّہَا کَانَتۡ مِنۡ قَوۡمٍ کٰفِرِیۡنَ ﴿۴۳﴾
27:43 And what she worshipped besides Allah prevented her; for she was from a disbelieving people.
قِیۡلَ لَہَا ادۡخُلِی الصَّرۡحَ ۚ فَلَمَّا رَاَتۡہُ حَسِبَتۡہُ لُجَّۃً وَّ کَشَفَتۡ عَنۡ سَاقَیۡہَا ؕ قَالَ اِنَّہٗ صَرۡحٌ مُّمَرَّدٌ مِّنۡ قَوَارِیۡرَ ۬ؕ قَالَتۡ رَبِّ اِنِّیۡ ظَلَمۡتُ نَفۡسِیۡ وَ اَسۡلَمۡتُ مَعَ سُلَیۡمٰنَ لِلّٰہِ رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿٪۴۴﴾
27:44 It was said to her: Enter the palace. But when she saw it she thought it was a great expanse of water, and prepared herself to meet the difficulty.8 He said: Surely it is a palace made smooth with glass. She said: My Lord, surely I have wronged myself, and I submit with Solomon to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.9
- Why was Solomon angry on receiving a present from the queen? Later events, as narrated further on, show that the present sent to Solomon was a throne which was decorated either with nude art or with idolatrous paintings, or was offensive in some other way. Solomon’s order in v. 38 to bring her throne to him shows clearly that by it was meant the throne which she had sent to him as a present, and his order in v. 41 to make alterations in this throne shows that the paintings on the throne were abhorrent to a true worshipper of God. ↩
- As usual, the narrative here omits the return of the messengers to the queen, and her willingness to submit to Solomon on receiving the threat mentioned in the last verse, and continues at the point where Solomon makes preparations to receive her. By her throne is meant the throne which she had sent as a present. ↩
- The rising up from the place does not signify his standing up from the sitting posture, but his marching away from the place where he was at the time. The reference to being trustyworthy shows that the execution of the work required an honest worker. The audacious jinn is apparently one of the Amalekites, who were men of large stature. ↩
- By one having knowledge of the Book is meant an Israelite as against the Amalekite referred to above. The literal meaning of the concluding words of the sentence is, before your gaze returns to you. It is the same as in the twinkling of an eye, the idea conveyed being that he could do it without delay. ↩
- Strange and curious legends are introduced by some commentators on the supposition that the events narrated took place in immediate succession. The words so when he saw it settled beside him do not indicate that he saw it settled in the course of the conversation given in the previous passage. It is an altogether different incident. ↩
- As pointed out in v. 36 footnote, Solomon was offended by the throne which the queen sent him as a present because of the indecent or idolatrous paintings on it, and therefore before she came to him, he caused certain alterations to be made in the throne. The purpose of the alteration is given here in express words, whether she follows the right way. In fact, she seems to have invited Solomon in the symbolic language of the paintings on the throne to her religion of idolatry, and by making alterations Solomon indicated that he could not make a compromise with idolatry. ↩
- By putting the question, was your throne like this? Solomon wanted to draw her attention pointedly to the alterations made. The queen’s answer shows that her envoy had already told her that Solomon was offended by the present which she had sent — we were given the knowledge before about it. The submission referred to in the act of surrendering her kingdom does not mean that she had turned a Muslim. This is made clear in v. 43; she was prevented from becoming a true Muslim owing to her worship of the sun. Hence submission to God comes later; see the concluding words of v. 44. ↩
- The use of the word sāq (lit. shank or lower leg) to signify difficulty or distress in many phrases is a recognized idiomatic usage in Arabic. The expression used here means that she prepared herself to meet the difficulty. (Editor’s Note: The literal translation, she bared her legs, has been made the basis of many groundless, vulgar stories about this episode.) ↩
- It appears that, in order to impress upon the queen that it was the unseen hand of God that worked in nature, Solomon made water to flow under the smooth glass floor of his palace. Thus he conveyed to her the message in symbolic language that God was the real force behind all, as she had conveyed to him the message of idolatry in the symbolic language of the throne she had sent him as a present. The queen mistook the glass for the water which ran beneath; and when Solomon drew her attention to it, she at once realized her own error in worshipping outward objects, like the sun, while the real force or the source of life was Allah, Whose hand worked in these objects. Perhaps in words, too, he impressed on her the great message of Divine Unity. The result was that the queen accepted the religion of Solomon — I submit with Solomon to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. The Quran here contradicts the Bible which holds that Solomon had gone over to idol-worship on account of his non-Israelite wives, while the Quran states that his wives were converts to his religion and believers in Divine Unity. ↩