قَالَتْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ أَفْتُونِي فِي أَمْرِي مَا كُنتُ قَاطِعَةً أَمْرًا حَتَّىٰ تَشْهَدُونِ

She said: Ye chiefs!

Advise me in (this)

My affair: no affair

Have I decided

Except in your presence.

قَالُوا نَحْنُ أُولُو قُوَّةٍ وَأُولُو بَأْسٍ شَدِيدٍ وَالْأَمْرُ إِلَيْكِ فَانظُرِي مَاذَا تَأْمُرِينَ

They said: We are endued

With strength, and given

To vehement war:

But the command is

With thee; so consider

What thou wilt command.

الَتْ إِنَّ الْمُلُوكَ

She said: Kings,

& > The character of Queen Bilqis as disclosed here, is that of a ruler enjoying great wealth and dignity, and the full confidence of her subjects. She does nothing without consulting her Council, and her Council are ready to carry out her commands in all things. Her people are manly, loyal, and contended, and ready to take the field against any enemy in their country. But their queen is prudent in policy, and is not willing to embroil her country in war. She has the discrimination to see that Solomon is not like ordinary kings who conquer by violence. Perhaps in her heart she has a ray of divine light already, though her people are yet Pagans. She wishes to carry her people with her in whatever she does, because she is as loyal to them as they are to her. An exchange of presents would probably establish better relations between the two kingdoms. And perhaps she anticipates some spiritual understanding also, a hope which has afterwards realised. In Bilqis we have a picture of womanhood, gentle, prudent, and able to tame the wilder passions of her subjects.

إِذَا دَخَلُوا قَرْيَةً أَفْسَدُوهَا وَجَعَلُوا أَعِزَّةَ أَهْلِهَا أَذِلَّةً ۖ وَكَذَٰلِكَ يَفْعَلُونَ

when they

Enter a country, despoil it,

And make the noblest

Of its people its meanest

Thus do they behave.

وَإِنِّي مُرْسِلَةٌ إِلَيْهِم بِهَدِيَّةٍ فَنَاظِرَةٌ بِمَ يَرْجِعُ الْمُرْسَلُونَ

But I am going to send

Him a present, and (wait)

To see with what (answer)

Return (my) ambassadors.

فَلَمَّا جَاءَ سُلَيْمَانَ قَالَ أَتُمِدُّونَنِ بِمَالٍ فَمَا آتَانِيَ اللَّهُ خَيْرٌ مِّمَّا آتَاكُم بَلْ أَنتُم بِهَدِيَّتِكُمْ تَفْرَحُونَ

Now when (the embassy) came

To Solomon, he said:

Will ye give me abundance

In wealth? But that which

Allah has given me is better

Than that which He has

Given you! Nay it is ye

Who rejoice in your gift!

& > Bilqis thought she had arranged with womanly tact to conciliate Solomon, and at the same time pacify her warlike subjects; but the effect of the embassy with presents was the very opposite. Solomon took it as an insult that she should send her presents instead of her submission to the true Religion! He flung back the presents at her, as much as to say, -Let these baubles delight your own hearts! Allah has blessed me with plenty of worldly goods, and something infinitely better: His Light and Guidance! Why do you say nothing about that? Will you only understand the argument of armies and violence?- Or perhaps his speech was only meant for the Sabaean crowd. For when she actually came, he treated her kindly, and she accepted the religion of Unity.

ارْجِعْ إِلَيْهِمْ فَلَنَأْتِيَنَّهُم بِجُنُودٍ لَّا قِبَلَ لَهُم بِهَا وَلَنُخْرِجَنَّهُم مِّنْهَا أَذِلَّةً وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ

Go back to them, and be sure

We shall come to them

With such hosts as they

Will never be able to meet:

We shall expel them

From there in disgrace

And they will feel

Humbled (indeed).

قَالَ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ أَيُّكُمْ يَأْتِينِي بِعَرْشِهَا

He said (to his own men):

Ye Chiefs! which of you

Can bring me her throne

& > The throne is symbolical of power and dignity. So far her throne was based on material wealth: Solomon is going to alter it to a basis of Faith and the Religion of Unity.

قَبْلَ أَن يَأْتُونِي مُسْلِمِينَ

Before they come to me

In submission?

قَالَ عِفْرِيتٌ

Said an Ifrit

& > a large, powerful jinn, reputed to be wicked and crafty: hence he is anxious to be recognised as one that could be trusted.

مِّنَ الْجِنِّ أَنَا آتِيكَ بِهِ قَبْلَ أَن تَقُومَ مِن مَّقَامِكَ ۖ وَإِنِّي عَلَيْهِ لَقَوِيٌّ أَمِينٌ

of the Jinns:

I will bring it to thee

Before thou rise from thy

Council: indeed I have

Full strength for the purpose,

And may be trusted.

قَالَ الَّذِي عِندَهُ عِلْمٌ

Said one who had knowledge

& > The symbolic meaning still continues. The big Ifrit had boasted of his brute strength, and his reliability. But this is not enough to transform a power (throne) based on materialism into one based on inward knowledge, knowledge of the heart and spirit, the sort of knowledge that comes from the Book of the Grace of Allah, the spirit of truth and benevolence which is the invisible magic of Prophets of Allah. Even if worldly power and common honesty may be able to effect some good, it will take a comparatively long time, while the magic of spiritual love acts instantaneously. Solomon was thankful to Allah for he had men endowed with such power, and he had the throne of Bilqis transported to his Court and transformed as he desired, without Bilqis even knowing it.

مِّنَ الْكِتَابِ أَنَا آتِيكَ بِهِ قَبْلَ أَن يَرْتَدَّ إِلَيْكَ طَرْفُكَ ۚ فَلَمَّا رَآهُ مُسْتَقِرًّا عِندَهُ قَالَ هَٰذَا مِن فَضْلِ رَبِّي

Of the book: I will

Bring it to thee within

The twinkling of the eye!

Then when (Solomon) saw it

Placed firmly before him,

He said: This is

By the grace of my Lord

& > If Solomon had been ungrateful to Allah, if he had worked for his own selfish or worldly ends, he could have used the brute strength of Ifrit to add to his worldly strength and glory. Instead, he uses the higher magic of the Book – or the Spirit – to transform the throne of Bilqis for her highest good, which means also the highest good for her subjects, by the divine Light. He had the two alternatives, and he chooses the better, and he thus shows his gratitude to Allah for the Grace He had given him.

لِيَبْلُوَنِي أَأَشْكُرُ أَمْ أَكْفُرُ ۖ وَمَن شَكَرَ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ رَبِّي غَنِيٌّ كَرِيمٌ

To test me whether I am

Grateful or ungrateful!

And if one is grateful,

Truly his gratitude is (a gain)

For his own soul; but if

Any is ungrateful, truly

My Lord is Free of All Needs,

Supreme in Honour!

& > Man’s gratitude to Allah is not a thing that benefits Allah for Allah is high above all the needs; it benefits a man’s soul and gives him higher rank in the spiritual world. Per contra, man’s ingratitude will not detract from Allah’s Glory and Honour or the value of Allah’s generous gifts to man: for Allah is supreme in honour, glory and generosity.

قَالَ نَكِّرُوا لَهَا عَرْشَهَا نَنظُرْ أَتَهْتَدِي

He said: Transform her throne

Out of all recognition by her:

Let us see whether she

Is guided (to the truth)

& > The throne having been transformed, it will be a test to see whether Bilqis recognises it as her own and accepts it of her own free will as her own, or rejects it as something alien to her, something she will not accommodate herself to. So in our life. We get used to certain habits and customs and certain ways of thought. Allah’s message comes to transform us and set us on a different kind of throne, with our own active and willing consent. If we are wise, we feel honoured and grateful. If we are -obviously rebellious- we reject it as not our own, and pine for the old slavery, as the Israelites pined for Egypt when they were under Allah’s guidance in the wilderness.

أَمْ تَكُونُ مِنَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَهْتَدُونَ

Or is one of those who

Receive no guidance.

فَلَمَّا جَاءَتْ قِيلَ أَهَٰكَذَا عَرْشُكِ ۖ قَالَتْ كَأَنَّهُ هُوَ

So when she arrived,

She was asked, Is this

Thy throne? She said,

It was just like this;

& > Bilqis stands the test. She knows it was her throne, yet not exactly the same, for it was now much better. And she is proud of her good fortune, and acknowledges, for herself and her people, with gratitude, the light which was given to them by Allah, by which they recognised Allah’s prophet in Solomon and received the true Religion with all their will and heart and soul.

وَأُوتِينَا الْعِلْمَ مِن قَبْلِهَا وَكُنَّا مُسْلِمِينَ

And knowledge was bestowed

On us in advance of this,

And we have submitted

To Allah (in Islam).

وَصَدَّهَا مَا كَانَت تَّعْبُدُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهَا كَانَتْ مِن قَوْمٍ كَافِرِينَ

And he diverted her

From the worship of others

Besides Allah: for she was

(Sprung) of a people

That had no faith.


No less were David and Solomon versed

In knowledge and mystic wisdom. Even

Solomon could appreciate the wisdom

Of the humble Ant. He used all his power

And resources in extending the Kingdom

Of Allah. In wonderful ways did he lead

The Queen of Sheba to the Light of the Faith

Of Unity, and confirmed her in pure

Worship, the worship of the Lord of the Worlds.


وَإِذَا وَقَعَ الْقَوْلُ

And when the Word is

& > The Decree or Sentence, the Decision to end the respite and restore the true values of right and wrong in a New World: their cup of iniquity will then have been full.

عَلَيْهِمْ أَخْرَجْنَا لَهُمْ دَابَّةً مِّنَ الْأَرْضِ

Fulfilled against them (the unjust),

We shall produce from the earth

A Beast to (face) them:

& > The Beast will be one of the Signs of the Last Day to come, before the present World passes away and the New World is brought into being. In symbolic language it would represent Materialism. It will be the embodiment of worldly triumph, which will appeal to a misguided and degenerate world, because such a corrupt world will have no assured belief in the Signs of Allah or in spiritual Light. It will itself be a Sign or Portent, closing the door of repentance; the Beast may have reference to the symbolism in the Book of Revelation (XII), which closes the New Testament:

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter (Psalm II).


Why do the nations conspire

and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth rise up

and the rulers band together

against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,

Let us break their chains

and throw off their shackles.

The One enthroned in heaven laughs;

the Lord scoffs at them.

He rebukes them in his anger

and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

I have installed my king

on Sion, my holy mountain.

I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:

He said to me – You are my son;

today I have become your father.

Ask me,

and I will make the nations your inheritance,

the ends of the earth your possession.

You will break them with a rod of iron;

you will dash them to pieces like pottery.

Therefore, you kings, be wise;

be warned, you rulers of the earth.

Serve the Lord with fear

and celebrate his rule with trembling.

Kiss his son, or he will be angry

and your way will lead to your destruction,

for his wrath can flare up in a moment.

Blessed are all who take refuge in him.


And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

Now have come the salvation and the power

and the Kingdom of our God,

and the Authority of his Messiah.

For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,

who accuses them before our God day and night,

has been hurled down.

They triumphed over him

by the blood of the Lamb

and by the word of their testimony;

they did not love their lives so much

as to shrink from death.

Therefore rejoice, you heavens

and you who dwell in them!

But woe to the earth and the sea,

because the devil has gone down to you!

He is filled with fury,

because he knows that his time is short.

When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.

تُكَلِّمُهُمْ أَنَّ النَّاسَ كَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا لَا يُوقِنُونَ

He will speak to them,

For that mankind did not

Believe with assurance

In our Signs.

وَيَوْمَ نَحْشُرُ مِن كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ فَوْجًا مِّمَّن يُكَذِّبُ بِآيَاتِنَا فَهُمْ يُوزَعُونَ

One Day We shall gather

Together from every people

A troop of those who reject

Our Signs, and they shall

Be kept in ranks –

حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءُوا قَالَ أَكَذَّبْتُم بِآيَاتِي

Until, when they come

(Before the Judgement Seat),

(Allah) will say: Did ye

Reject My Signs, though ye

& > The charge against them will be: You had knowledge, and yet you arrogantly rejected My Signs: is that true, or have you any plea in your defence?

وَلَمْ تُحِيطُوا بِهَا عِلْمًا أَمَّاذَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

Comprehended them not

In knowledge, or what

Was it ye did?

وَوَقَعَ الْقَوْلُ

And the Word will be

& > There will be no plea, because the charge will be be only too true. The Decree will be passed and executed.

عَلَيْهِم بِمَا ظَلَمُوا فَهُمْ لَا يَنطِقُونَ

Fulfilled against them, because

Of their wrongdoing, and they

Will be unable to speak

(In plea).

أَلَمْ يَرَوْا أَنَّا جَعَلْنَا اللَّيْلَ لِيَسْكُنُوا فِيهِ وَالنَّهَارَ

See they not that We

Have made the Night

For them to rest in

And the Day to give

& > Night, Day, Rest, and Light: both in the literal and the symbolic sense. All with a scrap of faith or spiritual insight could see that the Night is a blessing when used for rest and a curse when used to cover ignorance or sin; and that the Day is for work and enlightenment, and its misuse is ingratitude to Allah. Or, understand Truth and practice Righteousness while it is yet Light and the Messenger of Allah is here to guide you: for there comes the Night when Endeavour will cease and there will be no room for Repentance.

مُبْصِرًا ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ

Them light? Verily in this

Are Signs for people

That believe!

وَيَوْمَ يُنفَخُ فِي الصُّورِ فَفَزِعَ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَن فِي الْأَرْضِ إِلَّا مَن شَاءَ اللَّهُ ۚ وَكُلٌّ أَتَوْهُ دَاخِرِينَ

And the Day that the Trumpet

Will be sounded – then will be

Smitten with terror those

Who are in the heavens,

And those who are on earth,

Except such as Allah will please

(To exempt): and all shall come

To His (Presence) as beings

Conscious of their lowliness.

& > Arrogance will flee with Ignorance, and Self will see itself in its true place – that of humility and lowliness – when the scales of ignorance fall from its eyes.

وَتَرَى الْجِبَالَ تَحْسَبُهَا جَامِدَةً

Thou sees the mountains

And thinkest them firmly fixed:

& > This is so in the present phase of phenomenal things, both literally and figuratively. There seems nothing more firm or fixed or permanent than the -eternal hills- yet when the New Order of things comes and the New World is brought into being, they will be as flimsy and insubstantial as clouds. So, in the revelation of things in the spiritual world, persons or things or ideas that seem so great and so firmly established now will pass away like mere fancies and give way to the Reality of Allah.

وَهِيَ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ ۚ صُنْعَ اللَّهِ الَّذِي أَتْقَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ

But they shall pass away

As the clouds pass away:

(Such is) the Artistry of Allah,

Who disposes of all things

& > The present phenomenal world and the FUTURE that is to be, all have a definite object and purpose in the Plan of Allah, Who knows perfectly what we are, what we do, what we think, and what we need. Who can praise his artistry enough?

إِنَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَفْعَلُونَ

In perfect order; for He is

Well acquainted with all that ye do.

مَن جَاءَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُ خَيْرٌ مِّنْهَا وَهُم مِّن فَزَعٍ يَوْمَئِذٍ آمِنُونَ

If any do good, good will

(Accrue) to them therefrom;

And they will be secure

From terror that Day.

وَمَن جَاءَ بِالسَّيِّئَةِ فَكُبَّتْ وُجُوهُهُمْ فِي النَّارِ

And if any do evil,

Their faces will be thrown

Heading into the Fire:

& > it may be that the very things of which we were proudest, which we considered foremost in our present order of the world, will be the first to go into the Fire, as they are but the window-dressing of Evil.

هَلْ تُجْزَوْنَ إِلَّا مَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

Do ye receive a reward

Other than that which ye

Have earned by your deeds?

& > There will be no punishment except such as has been deserved by actual conduct in the present life of probation.

إِنَّمَا أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَعْبُدَ رَبَّ

For me, I have been

Commanded to serve the Lord

& > This was spoken in Makkah, say about the 5th year before the Hijrah, when the Holy Prophet and his adherents were being persecuted as enemies to the cult of Makkah. So far from being against the true spirit of the Holy City of Makkah, it was actually in furtherance of that spirit, which had been overlaid by the idolatries and abominations of the Pagan Quraysh. They are told that the new Teaching is from the Lord of Makkah itself, the One TRUE God, Who had sanctified it in the time of Abraham. Lest they should think that it was a local or tribal or narrow cult, it is added that He is not only Lord of this city, but LORD of the Worlds, to Whom belong all things. It is a universal message: but how sad it would be if the Makkans, among whom it came first, were to reject it?

هَٰذِهِ الْبَلْدَةِ الَّذِي حَرَّمَهَا وَلَهُ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ ۖ وَأُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

of this City, Him Who has

Sanctified it and to Whom

(Belong) all things:

And I am commanded

To be of those who bow

In Islam to Allah’s Will –

وَأَنْ أَتْلُوَ الْقُرْآنَ

And to rehearse the Quran

& > The duty of the Prophet and his adherents was, first, to accept Islam and become themselves shining examples of Allah’s grace and mercy, as they in fact were, and secondly to preach that message and spread that Light to all around. It was not for them to force it on unwilling people: for all who rejected it would find their own spiritual loss in such rejection. But they must clearly warn them of the consequences.

فَمَنِ اهْتَدَىٰ فَإِنَّمَا يَهْتَدِي لِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَن ضَلَّ فَقُلْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُنذِرِينَ

And if any accept guidance,

They do it for the good

Of their own souls,

And if any stray, say:

I am only a Warner.

وَقُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ سَيُرِيكُمْ

And say: Praise be to Allah,

Who will soon show you

& > If a few years after that, many wonderful things happened that removed the doubts of the doubters and confirmed the faith of the Believers. They showed how the logic of events proved the true mission of the holy Prophet. Other things some minds may not be able to grasp. But the logic of events is for all to see.

آيَاتِهِ فَتَعْرِفُونَهَا ۚ وَمَا رَبُّكَ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ

His Signs, so that ye

Shall know them; and thy Lord

Is not unmindful

Of all that ye do.

& > Trials and tribulations, persecution and exile, and the patient endurance and constancy with which they were met by the Believers – all are known to Allah and will be credited to their spiritual account.


Revelation shows us a glimpse of the spiritual

World, guides us in this life, and gives us

The Hope of eternal Bliss in the Hereafter.

It works a complete transformation in us,

As it did with Moses when he saw

The mystic Fire and was given the Signs

With which to reclaim a people lost

In superstition and sin, and proud of sin.

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