Comparing Solomon in the Bible and Qur’ān

In this article, we’re comparing the life of Solomon (Sulaiman) from both the Biblical and the Qur’ānic accounts, as both are extremely different. It’s well known that Solomon was the son of king David and Bathsheba. According to the Bible, David desired to build a house for God and while this pleased the LORD, it wasn’t allowed because David was a man of war.

Solomon Chosen To Build The House of God (1 Chronicles 28:2-6)

1 Chronicles 28:2-3

The LORD required the one who would build His house would have clean hands, this disqualified David, therefore, God told David that his son (Solomon) would build the house (temple).[1]

1 Chronicles 28:5-6

Solomon in the Bible was given the divine commission to build the house of God, the 1st temple in Jerusalem. This historical event is absent in the Qur’ān, but some Muslims claim that Al-Aqsa Mosque was built by Solomon. This is a fabrication as Al-Aqsa Mosque was erected by Umar in the 7th century and expanded during the Umayyad Caliphate. According to one Muslim site (islamreligion.com) they claim Al-Aqsa Mosque was built by Solomon without any historical proof.[2]

Solomon ruled Israel for 40 years between 971 BC – 931 BC, he built the first temple and died in 931 BC[3] that’s before the 7th century. Therefore, the Islamic narrative is false as Solomon was dead before Al-Aqsa was built.

Sulaiman Talks with Ants (Q 27:18, 19)

In the Qur’ān we read that Allah gives Sulaiman the ability to talk with Ants and understand them. You can find the relevant Surah in An-Naml (The Ant).

27:18 An-Naml (The Ant)

There’s a big problem Ants don’t talk they communicate through Pheromones[4] which is a secreted chemical that triggers a social response in members of the same species in this case other ants. Therefore, Ants cannot talk but the Qur’ān claims the ant talked. This is completely unscientific and proves that Allah doesn’t even grasp such a simple concept, and he’s supposed to be the creator?

It is believed to be the first time antennae have been found to be a two-way communication device, rather than just a receptor. Biologists from the University’s School of BioSciences analysed the behaviour and surface chemistry of hundreds of ants to examine how they interacted. The key focus was the use and function of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) — a layer of waxy build-up that covers an ant’s body and that of many other insects, such as bees, wasps, flies, and beetles. CHCs are a group of multi-purpose chemical compounds that not only protect animals from dehydration, but also form a crucial part of their communication toolbox. Ants use these chemicals to identify whether another is a friend or foe.

Ant antennae are a two-way communication system (www.sciencedaily.com)

The following verse Qur’ān 27:19 says Sulaiman was amused at the ants’ speech. Muslims claim the Qur’ān has scientific miracles yet science doesn’t agree with the teachings of Islam as we’ve just proven with the above quote.

27:19 An-Naml (The Ant)
27:22 An-Naml

These ayats say ants talk and Sulaiman was “amused” understanding the ants’ “speech”. This is completely unscientific as ants communicate with chemical compounds according to science.

Sulaiman’s Army of Birds (Q 27:22)

According to the Qur’ān Sulaiman was inspecting his army and realised a bird was missing from among the rest. He probed as to the hoopoe’s whereabouts and wanted to punish the bird for its absenteeism. Within a short time, the bird came back and spoke with king Solomon in 27:18.

An-Naml 27:22

You will not find this story in the Bible, but Muhammad was notorious for taking stories from Jewish folklore.[5]

A story originating from the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Gittin 68a–b, relates that when Solomon built the Temple he captured Ashmedai, king of the demons, in order to utilise his knowledge in locating the mythical shamir, capable of splitting the stones to build the Temple. In this story Solomon not only controls the king of the demons but also makes use of secret knowledge held by the wild rooster, identified as the hoopoe, who has possession of the shamir. The hoopoe is described as a bird that managed to make the wilderness bloom. For this purpose the hoopoe asked the angel of the sea for the shamir, which was capable of cutting through any material, and swore to take good care of it. The hoopoe’s method was to arrive at distant uninhabited places, place the shamir on a mountain and split the rock; then it would bring seeds and sow them in the cracks formed in the rock. Solomon cunningly managed to convince Ashmedai to reveal the location of the hoopoe’s nest and to take possession of the shamir (on this legend and its versions, see Kaminka 1922–1933:221–224; Kushelevsky 2009:II, 85–111; Schwartz 2010:384). In this story, Solomon is revealed as a magician who controls the demons, but he has no direct ‘discourse’ with the hoopoe nor does he divine based on the bird’s flight. His wisdom is manifested in managing to decipher the unknown location of the shamir and to reap benefit from creatures with whom normal people do not converse (demons and birds).

‘And God gave Solomon wisdom’: Proficiency in ornithomancy

If you’d like to read more about where this story comes from, you can download the following PDF from HTS Teologiese/Theological Studies. Pages 4-8 give more details on the Jewish folklore story of king Solomon and the hoopoe bird.

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Sulaiman practised black magic in (Q 34:12)

According to Surah 34:12, Sulaiman practised black magic, he was able to command the wind and ride on a magic carpet. Not only that but he was able to command the Jinn (devils), Ibn Abbas says that Sulaiman built magic buildings from Allah, below is the Tafsir for this verse.

Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas

وَلِسُلَيْمَانَ الرِّيحَ غُدُوُّهَا شَهْرٌ وَرَوَاحُهَا شَهْرٌ ۖ وَأَسَلْنَا لَهُ عَيْنَ الْقِطْرِ ۖ وَمِنَ الْجِنِّ مَنْ يَعْمَلُ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِ ۖ وَمَنْ يَزِغْ مِنْهُمْ عَنْ أَمْرِنَا نُذِقْهُ مِنْ عَذَابِ السَّعِيرِ

Translated it says “And to Suleiman the wind tomorrow is a month and it will be a month and we have asked him the eye of the country and from the Jinn who works in his hands with the permission of His Lord and whoever is emerging from them for something.”

Yusuf Ali translates “And to Solomon (We made) the Wind” and Pickthall says “and (We gave him) certain of the jinn who worked before him” there’s also this idea among Muslims that Suleiman used a magic ring which enabled him to be able to control the jinn and wind.[6]

Sad 38:36-38

How can this be a prophet of God when he’s taking part in the things God says He hates? This flys in the face of who God is, God doesn’t change His mind as if He’s against magic then changes His mind. This is another way we can see how Allah and Yahweh are not the same God.

There are some harsh words against magic and sorcery in the Bible, at times it’s called an abomination and whoredom in the eyes of God. Here are some particular verses which tell us God is against magic and sorcery (Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:11) especially one specific passage that comes to mind.

Isaiah 8:19

Solomon’s Normal Death (1 Kings 11:41-43, 2 Chronicles 9:29-31)

According to the Bible, Solomon was king over Israel for forty years, he died a normal death but not before he fell into idol worship.

Unfortunately, we’re informed about Solomon’s error in marrying foreign women, the reason why this was wrong was that Solomon allowed himself to be led away from the God of Israel by the women he married. These women worshipped false gods, which had a detrimental effect on Solomon to the point that he himself started worshipping false gods.[7]

1 Kings 11:1– 13

Besides the fact that the scriptures showcase Solomon’s wisdom, there was nothing supernatural about his death. He was buried in the city of David according to 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles.

1 Kings 11:41-43
2 Chronicles 9:29-31

Sulaiman’s Strange Death (Q 34:14)

Another story in the Qur’ān speaks of Sulaiman’s death as he was supported against his by his staff. Apparently, no one knew he died until a worm ate through the walking stick that was holding him up. Once the worm ate through the stick Sulaiman fell down and that’s when they realised he died.

34:14 Saba (Sheba)

For further clarification here’s the Pickthall translation of this verse in the Qur’ān.

[34:14]  … And when We decreed death for him, nothing showed his death to them save a creeping creature of the earth which gnawed away his staff. And when he fell the jinn saw clearly how…

Islamic sources like the Tafsir say that he (Sulaiman) was standing dead for a full year!

Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas

Let’s put this in perspective, Sulaiman was a king who had hundreds of subjects who were constantly in his presence and serving him. They would most certainly have had to communicate with him, all of his wives would have wanted to be intimate with him and since he was dead you would think that no response from him would have made his wives discover he was dead?

Conclusion

How can anyone be so gullible to believe that Suleiman talked with ants when ants can’t talk but communicate through chemicals, and an army of birds as well? And he was dead standing up for one year surrounded by countless people and no one knew he was dead? Yet Muslims will claim the Qur’ān is full of scientific miracles when it gets so many scientific things wrong. The only truth is the words which are found in the Bible, Solomon was not someone who practised black magic or spoke with ants. The stories found in the Qur’ān are silly stories taken from folklore.

The real truth is the Lord Jesus, He can free Muslims from their sins and offers them everlasting life. It’s in their own best interest for them to come to Christ for salvation. Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Come to Jesus Abdools and be saved!

Footnotes

[1] “Chapter 28 resumes the preparations for temple building which were left off at the end of chapter 22. It comprises three speeches by David: (a) verses 1– 10, addressed primarily to the leaders and confirming Solomon as the person divinely chosen to build the temple; (b) verses 11– 19, addressed to Solomon, explaining the divinely given plans for the temple; (c) verses 20– 21, a final exhortation to Solomon to begin the work.” Selman, M. (2008). Totc 1 chronicles. IVP.

[2]Muslims believe that Masjid al Aqsa (the Holy Mosque in Jerusalem) was rebuilt or expanded by King Solomon. According to Islamic history, Prophet Jacob, built Masjid al Aqsa approximately 40 years after his grandfather Prophet Abraham built the House of God in Mecca. Islam totally rejects the notion that King Solomon built a temple on the Masjid al Aqsa site, and herein lays one of the basic differences between Jewish and Islamic belief. It is what causes some of the dilemmas that exist in the Holy Land today. Although a Prophet in all three monotheistic religions, small differences about the nature and history of Solomon have, over time, created great divides.” Aisha Stacey (2009, May 11). THE ANCIENT KINGDOM OF ISRAEL (PART 6 OF 6): KINGSHIP AND PROPHETHOOD. Retrieved from https://www.islamreligion.com/articles/2501/ancient-kingdom-of-israel-part-6/

Chapter (17) sūrat l-isrā (The Night Journey) 17:7

[3]“Solomon (Reign: 971 – 931 BCE, Born: unknown, Died: c.931 BCE) is described in the Hebrew Bible and later in the Qur’an, where he is described as a Prophet. The biblical accounts identify Solomon as the son of David. He is also called Jedidiah in the Tanakh (Old Testament), and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah split; following the split his patrilineal descendants ruled over Judah alone. The Bible accredits Solomon as the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem, and portrays him as great in wisdom, wealth, and power, but ultimately as a king whose sin, including idolatry and turning away from God, leads to the kingdom being torn in two during the reign of his son Rehoboam. Solomon is the subject of many other later references and legends” Timeline Index (2022). Solomon, 3rd King of Israel. Retrieved from https://www.timelineindex.com/content/view/2714

[4] “Communication between individuals is essential in any organized society, and for ants — whose colonies have been known to contain as many as 306 million worker ants — this is no different. However, whereas human societies most notably use sound, sight, and touch to communicate between individuals, ant societies also make great use of chemical signals called pheromones. Ants use pheromones in a number of different ways, such as releasing ‘danger’ pheromones upon death to alert nearby ants, or to create chemical trails from their nest to promising food sources. Other ants in the colony can use their antennas to detect these pheromones and respond accordingly.” David Lugmayer (2016, February 17). sciencenode.org Understanding chemical communication in ant societies. Retrieved from https://sciencenode.org/feature/understanding-chemical-communication-in-ant-societies.php

[5] Our newly crowned national bird, the hoopoe, may not be kosher or particularly hygienic, but it is fit for a king. Hailed on Thursday by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel as the ideal choice for the honor, the hoopoe, known in Hebrew as duchifat, holds an ambiguous position in Hebrew scriptures. Due to its association with King Solomon, the bird is traditionally viewed in a positive light. According to Jewish folklore (as well as the Koran), the hoopoe helped lead King Solomon to the Queen of Sheba. Unsure about the queen’s purity and motives, Solomon confided in the bird and trusted its advice. The king also praised the hoopoe’s observation techniques and called it “wise.” Adam Kredo & Greer Fay Cashman (2008, May 29). Dirty, treif, but fit for a king, the hoopoe’s our nat’l bird. Retrieved from https://www.jpost.com/israel/dirty-treif-but-fit-for-a-king-the-hoopoes-our-natl-bird

[6] The name ‘Sulaiman’ refers to the Islamic prophet Sulaymān bin Dāwūd, known from earlier Christian and Jewish tradition and sacred texts as King Solomon, son of King David. Sulaymān is frequently mentioned in the Qur’an, with many descriptions of his esoteric knowledge granted by God: he could understand the speech of birds and animals (Q. 27:16, 19), and he was able to command legions of jinn (Q. 21:82, 34: 12). His magic power was believed to be effected by the means of a talismanic ring engraved with ‘the most great name’ of God, which in Arabic magical texts and on amulets is represented by seven symbols, ‘the seven seals of Solomon’. One of the symbols which makes up the ‘seven seals of Solomon’ is a five or six-pointed star. The star alone, whether a pentagram or hexagram, is a very common amulet encountered in Islamic magic which is itself called ‘the seal of Solomon’, khātam Sulaymān. Very occasionally, the star is eight-pointed, and this may have been a crucial link with the eight-looped symbol, which has become known in Malay as ‘the ring of Solomon’, cincin Sulaiman. British Library (2019, November 27). The Ring of Solomon in Southeast Asia. Retrieved from https://blogs.bl.uk/asian-and-african/2019/11/the-ring-of-solomon-in-southeast-asia.html

[7] “a– a. Cf. LXX , which rearranges vv. 1– 3 to emphasize Solomon’s many wives followed by his love for foreign women and his apostasy: “And King Solomon was a lover of women. And he had seven hundred royal wives and three hundred concubines. And he took Gentile women, and the daughter of Pharaoh, Moabites, Ammonites, Syrians, and Idumeans, Hittites and Amorites, of the nations concerning which the L-rd said to the sons of Israel, ‘You shall not go in to them, and they shall not come in to you, lest they turn away your hearts after their idols.’ To them, Solomon clung in love” (see Hrozny , Abweichungen 70– 72; Vanoni 24– 57).” Sweeney, M. A. (2013). I & ii kings (2007) : A commentary. Presbyterian Publishing Corporation.

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