Prophet Solomons (pbuh) Superior Moral Character
Having talked about Prophet Solomon's (pbuh) God-given knowledge, glorious kingdom and mighty army, we will now discuss one of his most important characteristics: his superior morality. Throughout his life, he invited people to live a moral life that would please God and served as a role model of deep faith and high moral character.
He Always Turned toward God
… What an excellent servant! He truly turned to his Lord. (Qur’an, 38:30)
The Qur'an reveals that Prophet Solomon (pbuh) constantly turned toward God, prayed to Him, and revealed all of his desires to Him.
Although he lived at a time when idolatry was widespread, he never put anything on the same level with God. Rather, he only desired to please God and make His religion supreme. Therefore, he sought the approval of no other person or creature. For example, he invited the sun worshippers of Saba to abandon their ancestral belief system and submit to God.
We tested Solomon and placed a lifeless body on his throne. Then he returned. He said: "My Lord, forgive me and give me a kingdom the like of which will never be granted to anyone after me. Truly, You are the Ever-Giving." (Qur'an, 38:34-35)
Whenever Prophet Solomon (pbuh) encountered any difficulty, anxiety, or blessing, he immediately turned toward God. He remembered God in every conversation and made every decision with His name in mind. God tested Prophet Solomon (pbuh) in various ways, but his response was always morally good. For example, as the above verse shows, during one test the first thing that came to his mind was to pray to God and take refuge in His generous mercy.
… [Solomon] said: "This is part of my Lord's favor, to test me to see if I will give thanks or show ingratitude. Whoever gives thanks only does so to his own gain. Whoever is ungrateful, my Lord is Rich Beyond Need, Generous." (Qur'an, 27:40)
Prophet Solomon (pbuh) displayed this moral character in times of distress as well as in times of success and victory, for he was a humble servant who knew his own helplessness before God. He realized that every success, like every difficulty, was a test from God.
He Always Gave Thanks to God
… "Work, O family of David, in thankfulness!" But very few of My servants are thankful. (Qur'an, 34:13)
As He did with Prophet David (pbuh), God bestowed upon Prophet Solomon (pbuh) blessings that no one had ever received. God willed him to use the mercy, which He bestowed upon him, as a means of thanking and remembering Him. In return, Prophet Solomon (pbuh) was always thankful, humble, and sincere, and directed all of his deeds toward God because he knew that he would have to answer for his responses to those blessings on the Day of Judgment.
"My Lord, keep me thankful for the blessing You have bestowed on me and on my parents; keep me acting rightly, pleasing You; and admit me, by Your mercy, among Your servants who are righteous."(Qur'an, 27:19)
The Qur'an relates that after Prophet Solomon (pbuh) heard the ants' conversation, he immediately turned toward God in prayer. Knowing that God was the real possessor of the blessings he had received, he showed that the sole purpose of his every word and deed was to gain His good approval.
God gave him the best reward for his sincere and faithful morality and announced these good tidings in Qur'an 38:40: "He will have nearness to Us and a good Homecoming." In another verse, He stated: "We gave knowledge to David and Solomon who said: 'Praise be to God, Who has favored us over many of His servants who are believers'" (Qur'an, 27:15).
Moreover, when Prophet Solomon (pbuh) saw this female ant's compassion for her community, he immediately thought of his mother and father. This reaction shows that people should thank God for the blessings that came to them through their parents (e.g., nurture from infancy, upbringing, shelter, and education), because these blessings actually come from God.
Prophet Solomon (pbuh) Loved Animals
When, toward the close of day, nobly-bred, swift-footed steeds were brought before him, he [Solomon] said: "Truly do I love the love of good because of the remembrance of my Lord." — [repeating these words as the steeds raced away, ] until they were hidden by the veil [of dust]. (Qur'an, 38:31-32)
Obviously, Prophet Solomon (pbuh) devoted a certain amount of time to these horses, which gladdened the hearts of those who enjoyed watching their skillful and elegant gaits and postures. As he observed them, he praised God. All believers should strive for this exemplary behavior, for they should remember God when meeting with any form of beauty because of the profound effect that any form of beauty will form in their spirits. This effect comes from the believers' deep love of God.
Most of those who are far removed from the beautiful things that religious morality brings are reserved and become careless and insensitive. However, as we clearly see in Prophet Solomon’s (pbuh) behavior, Muslims think deeply, are extremely sensitive toward the beautiful things around them, and take pleasure in art and beautiful things. They are aware of God's blessings, know how to enjoy them, and thank Him for them. In any case, as God says: "Say: 'Who has forbidden the fine clothing God has produced for His servants and the good kinds of provision?' Say: 'They are [lawful] in the life of this world unto all who have believed—to be theirs alone on the Day of Rising'" (Qur'an, 7:32), the beautiful things in the world are created for Muslims.
[Solomon said:] "Return them to me!" And he set about stroking their shanks and necks. (Qur'an, 38:33)
Prophet Solomon (pbuh) expressed his love in both word and deed. Here, we see most clearly his power to express his love. Generally, people do not always express their love and affection properly. In fact, they usually shrink away from expressing these feelings. A person's ability to show sincere affection toward someone else is a gift from God. In the Qur'an, God says that he gave this ability to Prophet John (pbuh), one of His faithful servants:
[We said to him:] "John, take hold of the Book with vigor." We gave him judgment while still a child. And tenderness and purity from Us—he guarded against evil. (Qur'an, 19:12-13)
The Qur'an gives examples of Prophet Solomon's (pbuh) love for other animals, such as the ant mentioned above. A female ant, seeing Prophet Solomon (pbuh) and his army coming, told her fellow ants to return to the nest so that Prophet Solomon (pbuh) and his army would not injure them unwittingly. The word unwittingly indicates that while Prophet Solomon (pbuh) was waging war, he was so compassionate that he would not even harm an ant.
This incident shows the importance of loving animals, because believers can understand better the beauties of creation and the deep wisdom with which God created living things. As one verse relates:"… there is beauty in them [animals] for you…" (Qur'an, 16:6). So, his love for animals is an expression of the wonder felt for God's perfect creation.
The Qur'an reveals that one of the benefits animals can give to human beings is security. For example, dogs can ensure their masters' safety. Qur'an 18:18 mentions the dog that belonged to the Companions of the Cave. Many other verses encourage people to love animals and examine the proofs of creation that they reflect.
Prophet Solomon's (pbuh) Attitude toward Possessions
… "Truly do I love the love of good because of the remembrance of my Lord."(Qur'an, 38:32)
As this verse says, Prophet Solomon (pbuh) praised God for the splendor of his wealth and stated that he loved his possessions because they made him remember God. We must consider his words carefully, for other verses assert that the love of possessions may lead people astray. For example: "Truly, man is ungrateful to his Lord and indeed he bears witness to that. Truly, he is fierce in his love of wealth" (Qur'an, 100:6-8).
Wealth and love of possessions harden the hearts of most people and alienate them from religion, because they think that they have earned their possessions through their own efforts. For this reason, they become arrogant and feel self-sufficient. Forgetting that they need God, they become wrapped up in their ambition to amass more wealth. Instead of living to serve God, they live to accumulate wealth. Muslims must avoid this trap by abandoning their greed and recognizing Him as the true source of their wealth and possessions.
Prophet Solomon (pbuh) showed us how Muslims should look at wealth and possessions: Aware of their true owner, Muslims must consider their wealth and possessions as no more than a means to remember God. Muslims who realize this great truth do not grow arrogant or haughty when wealth and possessions are given to them, or worry about losing them.
Rather, they thank God for what He has given and use it in accordance with God's will and to win His good pleasure. They regard God's bestowal of great wealth, power, and magnificence upon them as a blessing and a means for proving their sincere belief in Him. As a result, their love, fear, and respect for God will grow even greater.
Given these facts, faithful and devout Muslims are the best guardians of wealth, possessions, and power. One such person was Prophet Solomon (pbuh) who, despite the fact that no one had as much power as he did, was always sincere, approached God with deep reverence, and served His religion.
From this verse, we learn that people can love their possessions, provided that they are used in the hope of gaining His good pleasure and proclaim His eternal power.
He [Solomon] said: "My Lord, forgive me and give me a kingdom the like of which will never be granted to anyone after me. Truly, You are the Ever-Giving."(Qur'an, 38:35)
Prophet Solomon (pbuh) loved wealth, which he used to seek God's good pleasure, and wanted even more so that he could offer even more service to God. Muslims should follow this example if they find themselves in a similar situation.
Muslims can have great wealth, magnificent possessions, and wonderful works of art. Indeed, throughout history Muslim empires were characterized by such traits. The most obvious example is the Ottoman Empire, which was Islam's standard bearer for several centuries and left its architectural and other artistic works throughout its vast realm.
One reason for the believers' wealth is that wealth plays a major role in turning people's hearts to Islam. The believers' splendid possessions attract those who are far removed from religious morality and give too much value to material things. After meeting individual believers, their interest in religion is awakened. As we shall see in this book, this was one of the methods used by Prophet Solomon (pbuh) to get the Queen of Saba to accept Islam.
Prophet Solomon's (pbuh) Special Knowledge
We gave knowledge to David and Solomon, [both of whom] said: "Praise be to God, Who has favored us over many of His servants who are believers." This is indeed a clear favor. (Qur'an, 27:15)
This test may be a miracle connected to Prophet Solomon's (pbuh) special knowledge. In a metaphysical way, God may have taken him from the material world to the spiritual world. Perhaps there is no matter in the spiritual world, which could have led Prophet Solomon (pbuh) to understand that his throne and the corpse were not material things, but rather objects of the imagination. After returning to the material realm, he may have reclaimed his body and returned to his former state.
We tested Sulayman and placed a lifeless body on his throne. Then he made repent. (Qur'an, 38:34)
During this journey, he may have left his body and seen it as a corpse. As a result, he may have become aware of the true value of life in this world and of how helpless human beings are. He may have understood that the world would end one day and that all of the things that people value (e.g., money, wealth, property, possessions, and beautiful things) are only illusions.
Prophet Solomon (pbuh) understood that this life had no value and that he was to use possessions in God's service. Immediately after this event, he prayed for great wealth.