The story of Sheba covers the encounter between Prophet Sulaiman (AS) and Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba. In addition to being a prophet of God, Sulaiman was also a noble king. Meanwhile, Allah blessed the Queen of Sheba with abundant riches. However, she and her people were astray and yet to accept the oneness of Allah and submit to Him. They were deluded in their ignorance and needed to be guided to the right path. Allah mentioned the Queen of Sheba’s fascinating story in the Holy Quran.
Sulaiman’s powerful kingdom
Sulaiman’s central role as a prophet was the same as that of all prophets. He was tasked with calling on people to affirm that Allah is the only God worthy of worship, free of any associates or rivals. In addition, he established Allah’s commands.
As a king, he led a kingdom of epic stature. Allah bestowed unique powers on him, which enabled him to command an incredibly mighty and well developed army. Under him, the Children of Israel enjoyed a remarkably successful period.
His army included men, jinn, and birds. This incredible military might was only possible due to the unusual variety of powers Allah had granted Sulaiman. He possessed the ability to understand and talk to birds, as well as control over the Jinn. In addition, he was a superb leader of men. This massive force was said to consist of hundreds of thousands of members.
Sulaiman’s army heads for Sheba
Sulaiman and his army proceeded towards Sheba. Sulaiman was interested in observing the land’s remarkable change from being barren to becoming one of fertility and greenery. As they came close to an army of ants, one of the ants noticed their march and called out to their fellow ants to go into their dwellings to avoid being squashed by Sulaiman and his army without them realizing it.
Sulaiman understood the ant’s speech and was thankful to Allah for rescuing the ants’ lives. This proves what a kind and humane leader he was, despite the spectacular force he commanded. He then noticed that a certain bird was missing from his army. It was the hoopoe, which possessed the capability to sense underground waterways. Sulaiman had wished to learn more about the reason for Sheba’s land’s newfound fertility.
As we learn in Surah An Naml, Sulaiman took attendance of the birds and asked about the missing hoopoe, warning of a strong punishment or slaughter if the bird didn’t provide a clear reason.
The Queen of Sheba and her people were astray
The bird in question, however, soon showed up. It shared pertinent information concerning both the state of the Queen and the people of Sheba with Sulaiman. The hoopoe gave an honest account of their predicament, as we see in Surah An Naml. It mentioned the magnificent throne of Queen Bilqis, and the immense wealth at her disposal.
Nevertheless, the bird had witnessed Bilqis and her people steeped in ignorance, worshipping the sun. Satan deceived them, making their wrongdoing appealing to them. Therefore, they were astray and devoid of guidance.
Sulaiman’s messages to Bilqis
As mentioned in Surah An Naml, Sulaiman then said that they will see whether the bird was being honest or not. He told the bird to take his letter to Sheba and wait for the reply. He sent a letter to Queen Bilqis, urging her not to be arrogant. Then, he called on her to come to him as a believer who submits.
The Queen exhibited wisdom, consulting her chiefs before deciding how to respond. The chiefs expressed confidence in their strong army’s proficiency in the case of a war. She wisely opted against going to war after considering how calamitous it could be for her nation. Instead, she sent some men with gifts to the Prophet Sulaiman (AS) to see how he would answer.
The messengers took the gifts to Sulaiman’s palace and personally witnessed his formidable army and tremendous affluence. Sulaiman refused to accept the gifts and stated that Allah had given him all the wealth, resources, and blessings he needed. He sent them back, warning that he would have to annihilate Sheba if Bilqis didn’t comply.
Bilqis visits Sulaiman’s palace and embraces Islam
Bilqis sensibly chose to visit Sulaiman after her messengers informed her of the amazing marvels they had witnessed. During her journey, Sulaiman made a jinn bring Bilqis’ majestic throne to him. When the Queen reached, he asked if she recognized her throne. Bilqis’ measured response to this extraordinary occurrence was to say that it is as if it was her throne.
Finally, when she was entering the palace, she came across a glass floor below which there was water. She failed to recognize the glass and thought it was only water. Hence, she lifted up her clothes to proceed. Consequently, Prophet Sulaiman (AS) informed her that it is a floor made of glass.