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The Test of Bilqis Print E-mail

When Sulayman brought the throne of Bilqis before she and her people arrived, he issued orders that some of its features should be altered, so that he could test her and see whether she recognized it and how composed she would be when she saw it. Would she hasten to say either that it was her throne or that it was not So he said:

﴿نَكِّرُواْ لَهَا عَرْشَهَا نَنظُرْ أَتَهْتَدِى أَمْ تَكُونُ مِنَ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَهْتَدُونَ﴾

(Disguise her throne for her that we may see whether she will be guided, or she will be one of those not guided.) Ibn `Abbas said: "Remove some of its adornments and parts.'' Mujahid said: "He issued orders that it should be changed, so whatever was red should be made yellow and vice versa, and whatever was green should be made red, so everything was altered.'' `Ikrimah said, "They added some things and took some things away.'' Qatadah said, "It was turned upside down and back to front, and some things were added and some things were taken away.''

﴿فَلَمَّا جَآءَتْ قِيلَ أَهَكَذَا عَرْشُكِ﴾

(So when she came, it was said: "Is your throne like this'') Her throne, which had been altered and disguised, with some things added and others taken away, was shown to her. She was wise and steadfast, intelligent and strong-willed. She did not hasten to say that this was her throne, because it was far away from her. Neither did she hasten to say that it was not her throne, when she saw that some things had been altered and changed. She said,

﴿كَأَنَّهُ هُوَ﴾

((It is) as though it were the very same. ) This is the ultimate in intelligence and strong resolve.

﴿وَأُوتِينَا الْعِلْمَ مِن قَبْلِهَا وَكُنَّا مُسْلِمِينَ﴾

(Knowledge was bestowed on us before her, and we had submitted to Allah.) Mujahid said, "This was spoken by Sulayman.''

﴿وَصَدَّهَا مَا كَانَت تَّعْبُدُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ إِنَّهَا كَانَتْ مِن قَوْمٍ كَـفِرِينَ ﴾

(And Saddaha that which she used to worship besides Allah has prevented her, for she was of a disbelieving people.) This is a continuation of the words of Sulayman -- according to the opinion of Mujahid and Sa`id bin Jubayr, may Allah be pleased with them both -- i.e., Sulayman said:

﴿وَأُوتِينَا الْعِلْمَ مِن قَبْلِهَا وَكُنَّا مُسْلِمِينَ﴾

(Knowledge was bestowed on us before her, and we had submitted to Allah.) and what stopped her from worshipping Allah alone was

﴿مَا كَانَت تَّعْبُدُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ إِنَّهَا كَانَتْ مِن قَوْمٍ كَـفِرِينَ﴾

(that which she used to worship besides Allah, for she was of a disbelieving people.) What Mujahid and Sa`id said is good; it was also the view of Ibn Jarir. Then Ibn Jarir said, "It could be that the subject of the verb.

﴿وَصَدَّهَا﴾

(And Saddaha) refers to Sulayman or to Allah, so that the phrase now means:

﴿مَا كَانَت تَّعْبُدُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ﴾

(She would not worship anything over than Allah.)

﴿إِنَّهَا كَانَتْ مِن قَوْمٍ كَـفِرِينَ﴾

(for she was of a disbelieving people.) I say: the opinion of Mujahid is supported by the fact that she declared her Islam after she entered the Sarh, as we shall see below.

﴿قِيلَ لَهَا ادْخُلِى الصَّرْحَ فَلَمَّا رَأَتْهُ حَسِبَتْهُ لُجَّةً وَكَشَفَتْ عَن سَاقَيْهَا﴾

(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 had commanded the Shayatin to build for her a huge palace of glass beneath which water was flowing. Anyone who did not know the nature of the building would think that it was water, but in fact there was a layer of glass between a person walking and the water.

 

 
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