This Rocks! / Impersonating Solomon?

Even More Quranic Fables and Islamic Myths

Sam Shamoun

It is time, once again, to examine some more of the legends and myths of the Quran and Islamic tradition. According to the Quran, the disbelievers accused Muhammad or the Quran’s author of reproducing the fables of the ancients:

When Our signs are recited to him, he says, 'Fairy-tales of the ancients!' S. 68:15

When Our signs are recited to him, he says, 'Fairy-tales of the ancients!' S. 83:13

We are about to provide here some more evidence proving that the unbelievers were right, that the Quran and Islam presents rehashed myths and ancient tales as God’s words.

The particular fairytales we are about to present in this article also affect the perspicuity of the Quran. These particular legends call into question the clarity of the Quran because they are directly related to some verses which make little to no sense. The only way that the reader can even understand what these texts are talking about is by consulting the Muslim commentaries and/or Islamic literature such as the hadith or Sira.

We will be citing more than one Islamic source so as to avoid the accusation that this is merely the opinion of a single person, or that the interpretation is an isolated one, not shared by others.

The Rock that Gave Birth

The Quran refers to a so-called prophet named Salih who was sent to a people called Thamud in order to call them to repentance. In order to convince his people that he was God’s spokesperson, Salih brought forth a she-camel as a miraculous sign:

And to Thamood their brother Salih; he said, 'O my people, serve God! You have no god other than He; there has now come to you a clear sign from your Lord -- this is the She-camel of God, to be a sign for you. Leave her that she may eat in God's earth, and do not touch her with evil, lest you be seized by a painful chastisement. And remember when He appointed you successors after Ad, and lodged you in the land, taking to yourselves castles of its plains, and hewing its mountains into houses. Remember God's bounties, and do not mischief in the earth, working corruption.' Said the Council of those of his people who waxed proud to those that were abased, to those of them who believed, 'Do you know that Salih is an Envoy from his Lord?' They said, 'In the Message he has been sent with we are believers.' Said the ones who waxed proud, 'As for us, we are unbelievers in the thing in which you believe.' So they hamstrung the She-camel and turned in disdain from the commandment of their Lord, saying, 'O Salih, bring us that thou promisest us, if thou art an Envoy.' So the earthquake seized them, and morning found them in their habitation fallen prostrate. S. 7:73-78 Arberry

Since there is nothing miraculous about having or bringing forth a she-camel, we are left baffled as to how this sufficed as a satisfactory sign. It isn’t until we turn to the Muslim expositors that we are able to fully appreciate just how truly amazing and supernatural the she-camel was. Renowned Sunni commentator Ibn Kathir, commenting on these verses from Sura 7, stated:

Thamud asked that a Camel APPEAR FROM A STONE, and it did

Prophet Salih said, …

<"Indeed there has come to you a clear sign from your Lord. This she-camel of Allah is a sign unto you;"> meaning, a miracle has come to you from Allah testifying to the truth of what I came to you with. Salih's people asked him to produce a miracle and suggested a certain solid rock that they chose, which stood lonely in the area of Hijr, and which was called Al-Katibah. They asked him to bring a pregnant camel out of that stone. Salih took their covenant and promises that if Allah answers their challenge, they would believe and follow him. When they gave him their oaths and promises to that, Salih started praying and invoked Allah (to produce that miracle). All of a sudden, the stone moved and broke apart, producing a she-camel with thick wool. It was pregnant and its fetus was visibly moving in its belly, exactly as Salih's people asked. This is when their chief, Jundu` bin `Amr, and several who followed him believed. The rest of the noblemen of Thamud wanted to believe as well, but Dhu'ab bin `Amr bin Labid, Al-Habbab, who tended their idols, and Rabbab bin Sum`ar bin Jilhis stopped them. One of the cousins of Jundu` bin `Amr, whose name was Shihab bin Khalifah bin Mikhlat bin Labid bin Jawwas, was one of the leaders of Thamud, and he also wanted to accept the message. However, the chiefs whom we mentioned prevented him, and he conceded to their promptings. The camel remained in Thamud, as well as its offspring after she delivered it before them. The camel used to drink from its well on one day and leave the well for Thamud the next day. They also used to drink its milk, for on the days she drank water, they used to milk her and fill their containers from its milk. Allah said in other Ayat, …

<And inform them that the water is to be shared between (her and) them, each one's right to drink being established (by turns)> [54:28] and, …

<Here is a she-camel: it has a right to drink (water), and you have a right to drink (water) (each) on a day, known.> [26:155] The camel used to graze in some of their valleys, going through a pass and coming out through another pass. She did that so as to be able to move easily, because she used to drink a lot of water. She was a tremendous animal that had a strikingly beautiful appearance. When she used to pass by their cattle, the cattle would be afraid of her. When this matter continued for a long time and Thamud's rejection of Salih became intense, they intended to kill her so that they could take the water for themselves every day. It was said that all of them (the disbelievers of Thamud) conspired to kill the camel. Qatadah said that he was told that, "The designated killer of the camel approached them all, including women in their rooms and children, and found out that all of them agreed to kill her." This fact is apparent from the wording of the Ayat, …

<Then they denied him and they killed it. So their Lord destroyed them because of their sin, and made them equal in destruction!> [91:14], and, ...

<And We sent the she-camel to Thamud as a clear sign, but they did her wrong.> [17:59] Allah said here, ...

<So they killed the she-camel> Therefore, these Ayat stated that the entire tribe shared in agreeing to this crime, and Allah knows best. (Source)


Thamud kills the She-Camel

Imam Abu Ja`far Ibn Jarir and other scholars of Tafsir said that the reason behind killing the camel was that a disbelieving old woman among them named Umm Ghanm `Unayzah, the daughter of Ghanm bin Mijlaz, had the severest enmity among Thamud towards Salih, peace be upon him. She had beautiful daughters and she was wealthy, and Dhu'ab bin `Amr, one of the leaders of Thamud, was her husband. There was another noblewoman whose name was Saduf bint Al-Muhayya bin Dahr bin Al-Muhayya, who was of noble family, wealthy and beautiful. She was married to a Muslim man from Thamud, but she left him. These two women offered a prize for those who swore to them that they would kill the camel. Once, Saduf summoned a man called Al-Habbab and offered herself to him if he would kill the camel, but he refused. So she called a cousin of hers whose name was Musaddi` bin Mihraj bin Al-Muhayya, and he agreed. As for `Unayzah bint Ghanm, she called Qudar bin Salif bin Jundu`, a short person with red-blue skin, a bastard, according to them. Qudar was not the son of his claimed father, Salif, but the son of another man called, Suhyad. However, he was born on Salif's bed (and thus named after him). `Unayzah said to Qudar, "I will give you any of my daughters you wish, if you kill the camel." Qudar bin Salif and Musaddi` bin Mihraj went along and recruited several mischievous persons from Thamud to kill the camel. Seven more from Thamud agreed, and the group became nine, as Allah described, when He said, ...

<And there were in the city nine men, who made mischief in the land, and would not reform.> These nine men were chiefs of their people, and they lured the entire tribe into agreeing to kill the camel. So they waited until the camel left the water well, where Qudar waited beside a rock on its path, while Musaddi` waited at another rock. When the camel passed by Musaddi` he shot an arrow at her and the arrow pierced her leg. At that time, `Unayzah came out and ordered her daughter, who was among the most beautiful women, to uncover her face for Qudar, encouraging Qudar to swing his sword, hitting the camel on her knee. So she fell to the ground and screamed once to warn her offspring. Qudar stabbed her in her neck and slaughtered her. Her offspring went up a high rock and screamed. `Abdur-Razzaq recorded from Ma`mar that someone reported from Al-Hasan Al-Basari that the offspring said, "O my Lord! Where is my mother" It was said that her offspring screamed thrice and entered a rock and vanished in it, or, they followed it and killed it together with its mother. Allah knows best. When they finished the camel off and the news reached Prophet Salih, he came to them while they were gathered. When he saw the camel, he cried and proclaimed, ...

<"Enjoy yourselves in your homes for three days."> [11:65] (Source; the bolded underline emphasis is ours)

Al-Tabari wrote in his History:

What happened then regarding them and Salih was told by al-Hasan b. Yahya- ‘Abd al-Razzaq- Isra’il- ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. Rufay‘- Abu al-Tufayl: Thamud said to Salih, "Bring us a sign if you are indeed truthful." Salih said to them, "Go to an elevation on the land," and it shook violently as a woman in labor shakes, and it opened up, and from its midst a camel came forth. Salih said, "This is God’s camel, a token unto you. Let her feed in God’s land, and do not hurt her, lest a painful torment seize you…"

One of the people came to Salih and said, "Hurry, go to your camel, it has been hamstrung." At this he went to them, and they came forth to meet him and sought his forgiveness, saying, "O prophet of God, only so-and-so hamstrung her, so it is not a sin of ours." He said, "See if you can overtake her young. If you overtake him perhaps God will remove the punishment from you." So they went forth seeking him. But when the young camel saw his mother upset, he went to a low mountain called al-Qarah and ascended it. They went to seize him, but God gave command to the mountain and it grew so tall in the sky that not even the birds could reach it. Salih entered the city, and when the young camel saw him, he wept until his tears flowed. Then he approached Salih and grumbled once, then again, then again. Salih said, "Each grumble is the term of one day. Enjoy yourselves in your homes for these three days. This is no false promise. The sign of punishment is that on the first day your faces will become yellow in the morning, on the second day they will become red, and on the third day black." (The History of Al-Tabari: Prophets and Patriarchs, translated by William M. Brinner [State University of New York Press (SUNY), 1987], Volume II, pp. 41, 44)

Here are the comments of the two Jalals on Sura 7:73:

And, We sent, to Thamūd (Thamūda, read without declining [the noun], as denoting the tribe [of Thamūd] itself) their brother Sālih. He said, 'O my people, worship God! You have no god other than Him. Truly there has come to you a clear proof, an illustration, from your Lord, of my truthfulness - this is the she-camel of God, a sign for you (lakum āyatan is a circumstantial qualifier operated by the import of the demonstrative noun [hādhihi, 'this']) - they had asked him to make it come out of a [specific] rock which they had designated. So leave her to feed throughout God's earth, and do not touch her with harm, either by hamstringing or beating her, lest you be seized by a painful chastisement. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold emphasis ours)

The late Christian writer ‘Abdallah ‘Abd al-Fadi quoted renowned Muslim exegete Al-Baidawi’s Anwar al-Tanzil wa Asrar al-Ta’wil who wrote:

It was reported [regarding Thamud] that, after ‘Ad, they reinhabited their lands and succeeded them. They multiplied their lands and succeeded them. They multiplied and lived very long lives, outliving even their own buildings, so that they hewed for themselves houses from the mountains. They had much fertility and affluence so that they did mischief in the lands and corrupted it by worshipping idols. Thereupon, God sent to them Salih, one of their nobility, who warned them. But they asked him for a sign. He said, "What sign do you want?" They said, "Go out with us to our feast." There, call upon your God, and we will call upon ours; and we will follow the one whose prayer will be answered." He went out with them, and they called upon their gods, but their prayer was not answered. Then their Lord Janda ‘Ibn Amr pointed to a secluded rock called al-Katiba ["the writer"], and said to Salih, "Bring forth out of this rock, a huge, hairy, dappled she-camel. Do that, and we will believe you." So Salih accepted their requests and said, "If I do that, will you believe?" They said yes. He, therefore, prayed and called upon his Lord, and the rock was in such labour as with a she-camel, great with child. [The rock] split apart, revealing a huge, hairy, dappled she-camel, just as they described… Salih said to them "Catch up with the young camel, perchance the chastisement will be removed from you." But they could not prevail against it, since the rock opened after it had foamed, and the young camel went into it… (Al-‘Fadi, Is the Qur’an Infallible? [Light of Life, P.O. Box 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria], pp. 260-261; bold emphasis ours)

The translators of The Majestic Qur’an have a footnote to Sura 7:73 where they say:

When Allah sent Salih (peace be upon him) to the people of Thamud, his people asked him to prove he was a Prophet of Allah, by asking his Lord to bring a living, female camel out of a boulder. Salih (peace be upon him) duly prayed and Allah immediately granted his wish. Some of those who saw this miracle at once believed, but the rest continued to disbelieve, despite the proof they had demanded. Although the Prophet Salih (peace be upon him) asked his people not to touch the camel, and to allow her to graze freely, they hamstrung and killed her. After this the Prophet Salih (peace be upon him) and his followers left his people to the wrath of Allah, Who destroyed them. (The Majestic Qur’an: An English rendition of its Meanings [The Nawawi Foundation (Chicago) & The Ibn Khaldun Foundation (London), 2000], p. 159, fn. 342)

They also repeat this in several places where Salih is mentioned, such as here:

Since the she-camel was a miracle created by Allah from a rock, as Salih’s people demanded, the Prophet Salih warned and told them not to harm her, lest Allah’s wrath descend upon them. (Ibid., p. 229, fn. 456)

And here:

The she-camel of Prophet Salih was a miraculous animal which Allah brought forth from a rock. The Prophet Salih agreed with his people that one day the tribe of Thamud and their animals would drink at the water, while the next day only the she-camel would drink. Thamud slaughtered the camel the tribe was destroyed. (Ibid., p. 595, fn. 807)

The foregoing helps us appreciate the following statement:

What, do they not consider how the camel was created, S. 88:17

In the case of Salih, we can consider how truly amazing the creation of that camel was!

As we have seen above, the story of Salih in the Quran makes little sense without the added information from the commentators. A reader would never arrive at the understanding of the Muslim expositors by consulting the Quran alone, since its foundational piece, the creation of that camel from a rock, is not mentioned in the Quran at all. This is another example of the incoherence of the Quran(*).

Furthermore, the incompleteness of the Quran in regard to this incident proves that the author was able to build upon a known story. Asking the audience to "consider how the camel was created" (S. 88:17), a detail that is not supplied by the Quran itself, is strong evidence that the author was able to presuppose the prior familiarity and knowledge of his hearers, confirming that these were indeed ancient fables (S. 68:15, 83:13) that were known to his audience. If the story had been new, or unknown, then neither would the listeners have understood it, nor would the commentators have been able to provide all those extra details that cannot be found in the Quran. That is unless, of course, the Muslim expositors simply decided to make these stories up.

Solomon’s Phantom Menace:
The Case of the Mysterious Body

The Quran narrates many fantastic details regarding Solomon, such as his having control over the winds and demons (jinns), speaking the language of animals, insects and birds etc. There is one passage in particular that is rather perplexing. The Quran says that Solomon repented as a result of Allah placing an unspecified body on his throne:

Certainly We tried Solomon, and We cast upon his throne a mere body; then he repented. He said, 'My Lord, forgive me, and give me a kingdom such as may not befall anyone after me; surely Thou art the All-giver.' S. 38:34-35

This cryptic reference raises many questions, some of which are mentioned here.

So that the reader may not be left completely bewildered about this verse, Al-Tabari provides the following "background information":

Muhammad b. al-Husayn related to us- Ahmad b. al-Mufaddal – al-Suddi said about [God’s] word: And verily We tried Solomon, and set upon his throne a body - he said, [this was] the devil, when he sat on [Solomon’s] throne for forty days. He continued: Among Solomon’s one hundred wives, was one called "Jaradah." She was his favorite wife and the most trusted. When he was impure or went out for his need, he would take off his ring, and he would trust no one of the people but her with it. She went to him one day and said, "My brother has a dispute with so-and-so, and I should like you to settle it for him when he comes to you." He said, "Of course." But he did not do it, and he was afflicted. He gave her his signet ring and entered the toilet. But the devil came out in his form. He said, "Give me the ring!" and she gave it to him. Then he went and sat on Solomon’s seat. Afterward, Solomon came out and asked her for his signet ring, and she said, "Did you not take it before? He said, "No," and went out of his place bewildered.

The devil continued judging the people for forty days. The people found fault with his judgments, and the readers and scholars of the Children of Israel assembled, and came and entered to [Solomon’s] wives and said, "We find fault with this, and if it is Solomon, then he has lost his senses. We disapprove of his judgments." [Al-Suddi] continued: the women wept upon [hearing] this. The people approached them on foot until they reached [the devil] and surrounded him. Then they unrolled and read the Torah. He flew from before them until he rested upon an embattlement with the signet ring. Then he flew until he reached the sea, and the signet ring, falling from him into sea, was swallowed by one of the fish.

[Al-Suddi] continued: Solomon approached in the state in which he was, until he reached one of the fishermen on the sea, and he was hungry. Solomon’s hunger had become very strong, and he asked [the fisherman] for food from their catch, saying, "Verily I am Solomon." One of the fishermen arose and struck him with a staff, cutting open his head. Solomon began to wash off his blood – he was on the seashore – and the fishermen blamed their companion who had struck him, saying: "How bad was what you did when you struck him!" He said, "It was because he claimed that he was Solomon."

They gave him two fish they had caught, but he did not busy himself with what he had of the catch until he stood at the seashore and split open the two [fish], beginning to wash them, and found his signet ring in the stomach of one. He took it, put it on, and God restored his glory to him and his dominion. The birds came so that they hovered over him, and the people knew it was Solomon. The people rose and asked his pardon for what they had done. He said, "I shall not praise you for asking pardon, nor will I blame you for what you did. This matter had to be."

He went until he reached his dominion, he sent for the devil, and he was brought to him. The wind and the demons were made to work for him on that day; they had not been subordinated to him before then, for that is His word: "Bestow upon me sovereignty such as shall not belong to anyone else after me. Lo! You are the Bestower."

He sent for the devil, and he was brought. [Solomon] gave orders to place him in a chest of iron, then it was shut and locked with a lock. He sealed it with his signet ring, then he gave orders to cast it unto the sea. The devil will be in it until the Hour arrives. His name was Habaqiq. (The History of Al-Tabari: The Children of Israel, translated by William M. Brinner [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1991] Volume III, pp. 170-172; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Al-Tabari also narrates a slightly different version of the story where he claims that Solomon was punished for making an image of the deceased father of one of his wives, which she then idolized:

He had a chief concubine named al-Aminah to whom, when he entered the privy or when he wished to have intercourse with one of his wives, he would give his signet ring until he purified himself, because he would not touch his signet ring unless he was [ritually] pure. His dominion was in his signet ring, and one day, he gave it to her as he used to do, then he entered his privy. The Devil who was master of the sea, who was named Sakhr, came to her in Solomon’s form. Aminah saw nothing unlike Solomon in him, and when he said, "My signet ring, O Aminah!" she gave it to him. He put it on his hand and went out, sat on Solomon’s throne, and the birds, jinns, and men surrounded him.

Solomon came out and went to al-Aminah, but his condition and appearance had changed for everyone who saw him. When he said, "O Aminah, my signet ring!" she replied, "And who are you?" He said, "I am Solomon b. David." She said, "You lie! You are not Solomon b. David. Solomon came and took his signet ring. He is that one, sitting on his throne in his dominion."

Solomon realized that his sin had overtaken him. He went out and began to stand at one of the houses of the Israelites, saying, "I am Solomon b. David," but they would throw dirt on him and insult him, saying, "Look at this madman! What does he say? He claims that he is Solomon b. David." When Solomon saw that, he turned to the sea, and would carry fish to the market for the seafaring men. Each day, they would give him two fish. When evening came, he would sell one fish for some loaves of bread, and grill the other and eat it. He remained thus for forty days – the same amount of time that the idol had been worshiped in his dwelling. Asaph and the powerful men of the Israelites found fault with the judgment of God’s enemy, the Devil, during those forty days. Asaph said, "O assembly of the Children of Israel! Have you noticed the same change in the judgment of the son of David that I have noticed?" They said "Yes." He said, "Give me time to enter to his wives so that I may ask them whether they have found the same fault in his private affairs that we have found with his public affairs with the people and his outward behavior." He went o Solomon’s wives and said. "Woe unto you! Have you found something wrong in Solomon’s behavior as we have found wrong?" They said, "The worst of it is that he will not leave any woman of us who is menstruating alone, and he does not wash himself from impurity." Asaph said: "Verily we are God’s, and to Him do we return! Verily that is a clear test." Then he returned to the Israelites and said, "What he does in private is worse than what he does in public."

When forty days had passed, the Devil flew away from his council chamber. As he passed over the sea, he threw the signet ring into it, and a fish swallowed it. One of the fishermen saw that fish and caught it. Solomon had worked for him from the beginning of that day until evening, so he gave Solomon two fish, [including] the one that had the signet ring. Solomon went out with his two fish and sold the one in whose stomach was no signet ring for some loaves of bread. He then applied himself to the other fish, cutting it open in order to grill it, and was confronted by his signet ring in its stomach. He took it, placed it on his hand, and fell down, prostrating himself to God. The birds and jinns surrounded him, and people approached him, and he knew that what had come upon him was only because of what he had let happen in his household. He returned to his dominion and manifested repentance for his sin. He commanded the demons, saying, "Bring [Sakhr] to me!" The demons sought him until they caught him, and he was brought. Solomon bored a hole in a stone for him and put him inside. Then he closed it up with another [stone], bound it with iron and lead, and gave orders for it to be cast into the sea. (Ibid., bold and capital emphasis ours)

Renowned Mu`tazila scholar al-Zamakhshari narrates similar reports, as well as some additional ones:

Some say that after twenty years (of rule) Solomon was subjected to a test and he reigned after that for twenty more years. The testing of Solomon proceeded as follows: When a son was born to Solomon, the satans (who were made subservient to Solomon) said: 'If this son continues to live, we will not be able to escape forced labour; thus, we should kill him or cause him to sink into madness.' Solomon learned of their plan, however, and caused his son to rise up into the clouds (so that he was hidden). Then he was completely surprised when God set a dead body on the throne (in his place), and he became aware of the sin he had (committed in that he had) not trusted in his Lord in this affair. He asked for forgiveness and turned in repentance to God.

The following account is related from the Prophet: Solomon (once) said: 'Tonight I shall visit seventy wives and each shall bear a knight who shall fight for God.' But he failed to add: 'If God wills.' Then he visited the wives, but only one became pregnant and she brought a monster into the world. By him in whose hand my soul lies, had he added 'if God wills', then all the knights (would have been born and) would have fought for God. God's words certainly We tried Solomon refer to this.

Such reports and similar ones are not to be rejected. On the other hand, regarding the (following) stories about the signet-ring, the satans, and the worship of idols in Solomon's house, God knows best whether they are true. It is related that Solomon received news of Sidon, a coastal city, and (he learned) that a powerful king ruled there, against whom one is powerless because (this king) is protected by the sea. Then Solomon set out on the wind until he came down on Sidon with his hosts of jinn and men, and he killed the king of this city. Now, Solomon found here a daughter of the king named Jarada who was the most beautiful to behold among all of mankind, and he selected her for himself. She declared herself to be surrendered to God (aslamat), and Solomon loved her. But the tears that she shed out of grief for her father would not be dried up; so Solomon commanded the satans to make an image (sura) of her father and to clothe it according to his style. Jarada and her maids then went to this image in the mornings and evenings in order to worship it; as was customary in her father's kingdom. When (the vizier) Asaf reported this to Solomon, Solomon had the image destroyed and he punished the woman. Then he went out (of his palace) to a deserted place to be in solitude, and ashes were spread out before him. Then he sat down, humbly doing penance before God.

(Another account of idolatry in the house of Solomon reads as follows:) Solomon had a slave named Amina, who became a mother (umm walad) through him. (Once) when he went for purification or to cohabit with one of his wives, he deposited with Amina his signet-ring in which his power lay. He left it with her for one whole day; then the satan who lives in the sea came to her. This satan, whose name was Sakhr and who had proved to be indispensable to Solomon in the task of building the Temple (bait al-muqaddas), came to her in the form (sura) of Solomon, and said: 'Amina, (give me) my signet-ring!' Then he put the ring on (his finger) and sat down on Solomon's throne. (This ring) placed under his command the birds, the jinn, and men. Also, he transformed the outward appearance of Solomon so that when the[sic] later came to Amina to fetch the signet-ring, she took him for a stranger and drove him away. Then he realized that he had fallen into a state of sin, and he wandered among the houses as a beggar. Whenever he said: 'I am Solomon,' people threw dirt at him and insulted him. Then he went to the fishermen whom he assisted by hauling the fish. For this they gave him two fish per day, and he remained in this situation for forty days, that is, for as long as idolatry was practised in his house. However, Asaf and the (other) great men of Israel did not acknowledge the sovereignty of the satan (who had taken over Solomon's throne). Now, when the Asaf questioned the wives of Solomon regarding (the imposter), they answered: 'He exempts none when one of us bleeds and does not purify herself from uncleanness.' On the other hand, others say that the rule of the satan included everyone, and not just the wives. (At the end of the period of testing Solomon) the satan dashed away and threw the ring into the sea. A fish swallowed it and came into the hands of Solomon, who split open the belly of the fish and saw the ring there. When he put the ring on (his finger) and knelt down to worship, his power returned to him. Then he drilled a hole in a stone boulder for Sakhr and put him in it and closed the whole with another boulder. Next, he had the two boulders bound together firmly with iron and lead, and he cast him (with the boulders) into the sea.

Others say that when Solomon was put to a test, the ring fell from his hand again and again and would not cling (to his finger) any longer. Then Asaf said: 'You must undergo a test on account of your transgression, as the signet-ring no longer wants to remain still on your hand.' At this, Solomon turned to God in repentance. (Helmut Gtje, The Qur'an and its Exegesis [Oneworld Publications, Oxford 1996], pp. 116-118)

Noted Muslim commentators al-Jalalayn wrote this in reference to S. 38:34:

And We certainly tried Solomon: We tested him by wresting his kingdom from him, because he had married a woman [solely] out of his desire for her. She used to worship idols in his [own] home without his knowledge. Now, [control of] his kingdom lay in his ring. On one occasion, needing to withdraw [to relieve himself], he took it off and left it with this woman of his, whose name was al-Amīna, as was his custom; but a jinn, [disguised] in the form of Solomon, came to her and seized it from her. And We cast upon his throne a [lifeless] body, which was that [very] jinn, and he was [the one known as] Sakhr - or it was some other [jinn]; he sat upon Solomon's throne and so [as was the case with Solomon] the birds and other [creatures] devoted themselves to him [in service]. When Solomon came out [of his palace], having seen him [the jinn] upon his throne, he said to the people, 'I am Solomon [not him]!' But they did not recognise him. Then he repented - Solomon returned to his kingdom, many days later, after he had managed to acquire the ring. He wore it and sat upon his throne [again]. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source)

One commentary attributed to Ibn Abbas says:

(And verily We tried Solomon) by the loss of his kingdom for 40 days, the number of days in which the idols were worshipped in his house, (and set upon his throne a (mere) body) a devil. (Then did he repent) then did he return to his kingdom and to the obedience of his Lord and repented from his sin. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn 'Abbs; source)

These stories contradict God’s true Word, the Holy Bible, since it says absolutely nothing about Solomon being dethroned for some time due to a demon impersonating him, which then caused him to work for fishermen, events which would definitely have been mentioned if it were true. Can you imagine, a demon impersonated one of Israel’s greatest kings and duped God’s people into thinking he was Solomon without God intervening or his prophets saying a single word about it?

Furthermore, how could God allow Satan to sleep with the wives of his prophets, allowing them to commit acts of adultery and being defiled by an evil, unclean spirit?

But there is an even greater problem, a greater dilemma, which results from these stories. If Satan could impersonate Solomon and deceive people then this opens the door for the possibility of Satan appearing as any prophet in order to mislead people. This would also mean that Satan or a demon could appear in the form of Muhammad so as to deceive Muslims into thinking that he was God’s prophet and that Islam is true. In fact, this story from the Islamic sources strengthens our case that either Satan or another demon masqueraded as the angel Gabriel in order mislead and deceive Muhammad into thinking that he was one of God’s prophets. Basically, by citing these narrations regarding Solomon, Muslims have opened Pandora’s box!

Realizing this dilemma, al-Zamakhshari stated:

The pious scholars reject such (interpretations) and say that these belong to the false stories of the Jews. The satans are not capable of such acts. That God would give to them power over his servants so that they could change the laws (for the community), and that he would give to them power over the wives of the prophets so that they could commit adultery with them, is a detestable idea. The religious laws might differ concerning the use of statues (tamathil), for God said (in the Qur'an): 'The jinn made for Solomon whatever he wished - palaces, statues, ...' (Sura 34:13/12). However, one cannot believe that God would permit his prophet to bow down before an idol (sura). Should something take place (in Solomon's kingdom of which he is) unaware, then certainly it is not to be charged against him. (Ibid., p. 118)

The above narrations were so humiliating to the Muslim translators of the English version of Tafsir Ibn Kathir that they decided to leave them out of their translation. Here is what they wrote regarding Ibn Kathir’s commentary on Sura 38:34-35:

Allah does not explain exactly what this Jasad was which He placed on his throne. We believe that Allah tested him by placing this Jasad on his throne, even though we do not know what it was. Everything that has been said concerning it has been taken from the Isra'iliyat, and we do not know what is true. (Since the word means "corporeal" interpretations centered around some form of Jinn.) Allah knows best. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Volume 8 (Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 51 to the end of Surat Ad-Dukhan), Abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore; first edition, September 2000], p. 331, f. 1; underline emphasis ours)

Does anyone blame them for being embarrassed by such fabulous tales and myths?

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