In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Judicious Queen Exhausted all Diplomatic Avenues to Safeguard Wellbeing of Her Nation When Dealing With a Very Powerful Opponent –[A far cry from the immaturity of some smaller nations that lend an ear to manipulative foreign instigators who push them into a situation to anger and provoke their much more powerful neighbours, so that they can use them for proxy wars and geopolitical agendas]
Allaah stated that when Bilqees [may Allaah have mercy upon her] received the letter sent by Prophet Sulaymaan [peace be upon him]], she said: [ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلۡمَلَؤُاْ إِنِّىٓ أُلۡقِىَ إِلَىَّ كِتَـٰبٌ۬ كَرِيمٌ – O chiefs! Verily! Here is delivered to me a noble letter]- Meaning, a letter of great stature from the greatest kings of the earth. Then she made known the content of the letter and said:
إِنَّهُ ۥ مِن سُلَيۡمَـٰنَ وَإِنَّهُ ۥ بِسۡمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
أَلَّا تَعۡلُواْ عَلَىَّ وَأۡتُونِى مُسۡلِمِينَ
Verily! It is from Sulaiman (Solomon), and verily! It (reads): In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful; be you not exalted against me, but come to me as Muslims (true believers who submit to Allah with full submission)- Meaning, do not attempt to make yourself superior to me; but rather bring yourself under my authority, submit to my commands and come to me as Muslims. This is very a precise statement together with a perfect clarification, because indeed it included forbidding them from being haughty towards him and persisting upon that state of theirs, commanded them to submit to his command, come under his authority, come to him and called them to Islam. This shows that it is recommended to begin with the Basmalah “In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, The Bestower of (special Mercy to the believers)” in Books, and writing one’s name in the first line of the letter.
And due to her determination and sound intellect, she gathered the senior people of her nation state and the (important) men of her kingdom, and said: [يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلۡمَلَؤُاْ أَفۡتُونِى فِىٓ أَمۡرِى – O chiefs! Advise me in (this) case of mine]- Meaning, tell me what I should respond with- should we obey him and submit or what else should we do?
[مَا ڪُنتُ قَاطِعَةً أَمۡرًا حَتَّىٰ تَشۡہَدُونِ – I decide no case till you are present with me]- Meaning, I do not a make a final decision on an affair except after consulting you. [قَالُواْ نَحۡنُ أُوْلُواْ قُوَّةٍ۬ وَأُوْلُواْ بَأۡسٍ۬ شَدِيدٍ۬ – They said: We have great strength, and great ability for war]- Meaning, if you reject speech and refuse to obey him, then indeed we are strong enough to fight. It appeared that this view is what they were ready to act upon and it would have been the cause of their destruction if finalised; but also they did not make a final decision on that; rather they said: [وَٱلۡأَمۡرُ إِلَيۡكِ – but you (i.e. the Queen) are in command]- Meaning, the final decision is yours; because they knew that she possessed sound intelligence and determination, and one who was sincere to them. [فَٱنظُرِى مَاذَا تَأۡمُرِينَ – so think over what you will command]- Meaning, look into the matter, reflect and then decide. So, she said to them – whilst being satisfied with what they said and clarifying the evil outcomes of fighting -[إِنَّ ٱلۡمُلُوكَ إِذَا دَخَلُواْ قَرۡيَةً أَفۡسَدُوهَا – Verily! Kings, when they enter a town (country), they despoil it]- Meaning, killing, capturing, pillaging and destroying its homes; [وَجَعَلُوٓاْ أَعِزَّةَ أَهۡلِهَآ أَذِلَّةً۬ۖ – and make the most honourable amongst its people low]- Meaning, they make the noble leaders among the lowest, therefore the decision to fight is not an upright one; but also I am not going to obey him before learning more about him, send someone who would unveil his affair to me and ponder upon it, so that we would be upon clear-sightedness regarding his affair. Then she said: [وَإِنِّى مُرۡسِلَةٌ إِلَيۡہِم بِهَدِيَّةٍ۬ فَنَاظِرَةُۢ بِمَ يَرۡجِعُ ٱلۡمُرۡسَلُونَ – But verily! I am going to send him a present, and see with what (answer) the messengers return]- Meaning, whether he would continue to hold onto his view or become dazzled due to the present and change his view; (find out) about his state of affairs and that of his armies.
Then she sent a gift to Sulaymaan to be delivered by the intelligent ones and those men of sound opinion among her people; but when they came to Sulyamaan with the present, he said – whilst rejecting this initiative of theirs and manifested his anger due their failure in responding to what he sought after – [أَتُمِدُّونَنِ بِمَالٍ۬ فَمَآ ءَاتَٮٰنِۦَ ٱللَّهُ خَيۡرٌ۬ مِّمَّآ ءَاتَٮٰكُم – Will you help me in wealth? What Allah has given me is better than that which He has given you!] – Meaning, neither is your present of significance to me nor am I happy with it, because Allah has given me what suffices and to be in need of it. [بَلۡ أَنتُم بِہَدِيَّتِكُمۡ تَفۡرَحُونَ – Nay, you rejoice in your gift!]- Meaning, because of your love for this worldly life and the little you have in comparison to what Allah has bestowed on me. Then Sulaymaan advised the messenger of the Queen, but did not do so in writing, because of what he noticed that the messenger was of sound intelligence and would convey his message just as he stated. He said: [ٱرۡجِعۡ إِلَيۡہِمۡ فَلَنَأۡتِيَنَّهُم بِجُنُودٍ۬ لَّا قِبَلَ لَهُم بِہَا وَلَنُخۡرِجَنَّہُم مِّنۡہَآ أَذِلَّةً۬ وَهُمۡ صَـٰغِرُونَ – Go back to them. We verily shall come to them with hosts that they cannot resist, and we shall drive them out from there in disgrace, and they will be abased].
So the messenger of the Queen returned, delivered Sulaymaan’s message and that they get ready to go to Sulayman. Sulayman knew that they would come to him, so he said to the jinn and humans who were in his presence: [قَالَ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلۡمَلَؤُاْ أَيُّكُمۡ يَأۡتِينِى بِعَرۡشِہَا قَبۡلَ أَن يَأۡتُونِى مُسۡلِمِينَ – He said: “O chiefs! Which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me surrendering themselves in obedience?]
[ قَالَ عِفۡرِيتٌ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡجِنِّ أَنَا۟ ءَاتِيكَ بِهِۦ قَبۡلَ أَن تَقُومَ مِن مَّقَامِكَۖ وَإِنِّى عَلَيۡهِ لَقَوِىٌّ أَمِينٌ۬ – An Ifrit (strong) from the jinns said: “I will bring it to you before you rise from your place (council). And verily, I am indeed strong, and trustworthy for such work]. [قَالَ عِفۡرِيتٌ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡجِنِّ – An Ifrit (strong) from the jinns said]. An Ifreet is an extremely strong and forceful one (amongst the Jinn). And what is apparent here is that at that Sulayman was in Sham at the time, so the distance between him and Saba was a period of four months journey- two months to go there and two months to return; however regardless of this, the Ifreet said, “I take it upon myself to bring it – regardless of its big size and heftiness, and regardless of its distance- before you can rise from your (council). Customarily, the councils take a long time and they take most of the forenoon- about one third of the day. This is the mostly the time period of councils, but it may take lesser or more than that. So, there was a subject of this great King (Sulaymaan) who was bestowed with the power and ability to do what was greater than the offer of the Ifreet. Allaah said: [قَالَ ٱلَّذِى عِندَهُ ۥ عِلۡمٌ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ أَنَا۟ ءَاتِيكَ بِهِۦ قَبۡلَ أَن يَرۡتَدَّ إِلَيۡكَ طَرۡفُكَۚ – One with whom was knowledge of the Scripture said: “I will bring it to you within the twinkling of an eye!] The Qur’aan commentators stated that he was man – a scholar and righteous in the presence of Sulyamaan, and he was called Aaif Ibn Barkhiyaa. He knew Allaah’s Greatest Name through which Allaah responds and gives when invoked and asked.
Allaah said that he said: [أَنَا۟ ءَاتِيكَ بِهِۦ قَبۡلَ أَن يَرۡتَدَّ إِلَيۡكَ طَرۡفُكَۚ – I will bring it to you within the twinkling of an eye!]- Meaning, by invoking Allaah with that Name. And Allaah knows best as to whether this is what is intended or that this person had knowledge of the scripture through which he was able to bring something that was far away and attain what was very difficult to attain (by the will of Allaah).
Prophet Sulyamaan’s Reaction When He Saw The Throne of Bilqees In His Presence
Allaah [The Exalted] said:
فَلَمَّا رَءَاهُ مُسۡتَقِرًّا عِندَهُ ۥ قَالَ هَـٰذَا مِن فَضۡلِ رَبِّى لِيَبۡلُوَنِىٓ ءَأَشۡكُرُ أَمۡ أَكۡفُرُۖ وَمَن شَكَرَ فَإِنَّمَا يَشۡكُرُ لِنَفۡسِهِۦۖ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ رَبِّى غَنِىٌّ۬ كَرِيمٌ۬
Then when he (Sulayman) saw it (Bilqees’s Throne) placed before him, he said: “This is by the Grace of my Lord to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And whoever is grateful, truly, his gratitude is for (the good of) his ownself, and whoever is ungrateful, (he is ungrateful only for the loss of his ownself). Certainly! My Lord is Rich (Free of all wants), Bountiful]. [فَلَمَّا رَءَاهُ مُسۡتَقِرًّا عِندَهُ – Then when he (Sulayman) saw it (Bilqees’s Throne) placed before him], he praised Allaah [The Exalted] for ability placed at his disposal, his kingdom and the affairs facilitated for him. Then he said: [هَـٰذَا مِن فَضۡلِ رَبِّى لِيَبۡلُوَنِىٓ ءَأَشۡكُرُ أَمۡ أَكۡفُرُۖ – This is by the Grace of my Lord to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful!]- Meaning, to test me by way of of it. He was not beguiled kingdom, authority and power as is the habit of the ignorant kings; rather he knew that this was a test from his Lord, so he was scared of not being thankful for these blessings. [An Excerpt from Tafseer As-Sadi. slightly paraphrased]