The messengers eagerly delivered the gift of Bilkis to Suleiman with a promise of friendship. Sulaiman replied, “Will you help me in wealth? What Allah has given me is better than what He has given you! Nay, rejoice in your gift!” Then Sulaiman turned to the leader of her messengers and said, “Go back to them. We shall surely come to them with multitudes which they cannot resist and we shall drive them from there in disgrace and they shall be humbled.” Horrified, the messengers soon returned to their queen and delivered Sulaiman’s message, along with an account of the greatness of Sulaiman’s kingdom.
Bilkis decided to meet Sulaiman in person along with her officials. When he received this message, Sulaiman decided to show Bilkis and her officials the power of the miracles Allah had bestowed on him. He asked his army, “Which of you can bring me the throne of Bilkis before they come to me and surrender in obedience?” Ifrit, one of the mighty Djinns, immediately replied to Prophet Sulaiman: “I will bring it to you before you rise from your place. And verily, I am indeed strong and trustworthy for such work.” (27:30)
But Sulaiman remained silent, waiting for a better offer. Another jinn with knowledge of the scriptures spoke up: “I will bring it to you before your gaze returns to you.” And when he saw it, he said: This is a favor from my Lord, to test me whether I should be grateful or ungrateful. And whoever is grateful, his gratitude is only for himself. And whoever is ungrateful, verily my Lord is free from need and generous.” (27:40)
“I’ll bring it to you in the twinkling of an eye!” And in a split second, the throne of Bilkis was brought to Prophet Sulaiman from over 2,000 miles. Sulaiman himself was amazed at the miracle Allah had bestowed on him and praised his Lord immensely. Sulaiman then ordered the jinn: “Disguise from her, her throne; we shall see whether she will be guided [to the truth] or whether she will be of those who are not guided.” (27:41) Then he ordered the jinn to build a palace with floors of thin but sturdy glass, beneath which rivers flowed.
When Bilkis arrived, her throne immediately caught her attention. Noticing Bilkis’ reaction to the throne, Sulaiman asked, “Is your throne like this?” Bilkis was thoroughly confused. She wondered if her throne had really come here or if someone could have forged it. Cautiously she replied, “It’s as if it were exactly the same.” Sulaiman found her intelligent and diplomatic, so he invited her to his palace. When Bilkis was about to enter, she mistook the glass floor for water and lifted her skirts. The Qur’an says: “She thought it was a body of water and bared her shins [to wade through]. He (Ibrâhîm) said: “Verily it is a palace [whose floor is] made of glass.” She said: “My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself and I submit with Solomon to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.” (27:44)
Bilkis realized that Sulaiman’s kingdom was indeed unlike any palace she had seen before. She beheld his wisdom and humility along with his mighty power and accepted him as the Messenger of Allah. She repented and embraced Islam along with her people.
THE DEATH OF PROPHET SULAIMAN
Prophet Sulaiman lived and reigned in glory. Much of his public work was done by the jinns as punishment for leading people to believe that jinns had knowledge of the unseen. Sulaiman taught his people that only Allah had such knowledge. Even the death of Prophet Sulaiman was a lesson in this regard.
The future is not known to the jinn nor to the prophets, but only to Allah.
Sulaiman sat with his staff in his hand, surveying a number of jinns working in a mine. The jinn, who were terrified of Sulaiman, targeted the building heavily, when Allah decided to take Sulaiman’s life.
No one was aware of his death until, days later, a hungry ant began to nibble on his wooden staff. As he continued to eat, the staff broke and the body of Prophet Sulaiman leaning on it fell to the ground. The people ran to their Prophet, and soon they realized that he had died long ago. Thus everyone learned that if the jinn had possessed the knowledge of the unseen, they would not have tormented themselves with hard work, thinking that Sulaiman was watching them. Sulaiman’s life and death is indeed full of miracles, from which humanity can draw incredible lessons.
“And when We decreed the death of Solomon, nothing warned the jinn of his death, except a creature of the earth which ate his rod. But when he fell, it became clear to the jinn that if they had known the unseen, they would not have remained in humiliating punishment.” (34:14)