by Safia Fatima
In the Qur’an there are examples of people whom Allah had given wealth and power but when clear messages dawned upon them, they declared open disobedience to Him. But today I want to take one example from the Qur’an of a person who had the world in his hand but did not let it rule his heart. I want to share the story of a Prophet whose father and he himself were blessed with the most powerful empire in the history of the world. And yet this Prophet was a humble and grateful servant of Allah. Therefore I’m inspired to enlighten you about the beautiful character of Suleiman (a.s).
Allah starts talking about him in the fifteenth ayah of Surah An-Naml which represents the 27th chapter in the Qur’an. Allah says that He gave knowledge to Suleiman (a.s). In turn, the attitude of this Prophet, towards the gifts of his Lord, is what amazes me. He said that all praises belong to Allah who favored him over all those who believed. In easy words, he was grateful because he knew that there were believing people who could have received the blessings of Allah he was granted; however, the Al-Hakeem chose him over them. The immense blessings of Allah didn’t for once make him arrogant but instead humbled him.
The ayah I told you about is very simple and we might just overlook it while reading the Qur’an but it contains some very powerful lessons for us to learn from. Today when we receive any kind of gift from Allah, we start thinking that we are blessed with it because we deserve it and are totally worth it. And no doubt shaitan bumps in and whispers into us this arrogance. Thus we start to take pride in ourselves. It’s of course unintentional but even when we are learning in our deen, the knowledge which is supposed to make us humble in character and manner, makes us the opposite. We start to think we are better than others. But guess what? We have got to fight our Nafs. All that community work we sign up for, or the weekly halaqas we attend or the volunteering at the Masjid we do is there to make us grateful towards Allah. There could have been someone else in our place doing all that reward earning work but He chose us. This is supposed to remind us how blessed we are. And when we realize the innumerable blessings of Allah, it is then that our hearts will truly praise and bow before the Lord of the worlds.
In the same surah, in ayah numbers seventeen and eighteen, the humbleness and gratefulness of Suleiman (a.s) is presented to us through another angle. Let me tell you how. So it started with a Queen ant, who was broadcasting a public message to her fellow ants. She told them that Suleiman (a.s) and his army were reaching the valley so they better hurry to their homes or else there was a possibility the army might crush them, since Suleiman (a.s) and his parade were unaware of the presence of the ants. Now Allah in His divine wisdom gave Suleiman (a.s) the ability to hear that speech. And do you know what happened next? Suleiman (a.s) smiled and then that smile transformed into a laugh. Why, you ask? Because he realized that the ants know he is not a tyrant, they know he stands for justice. They know that even if they do get crushed, it will be because the king and his army are unaware of what’s under their feet. In easy words, they wouldn’t ever step on the ants purposely.
In that position of great power, Suleiman (a.s) realized the danger of being in power. He could have become arrogant at that moment when he was leading an army, an exceptional army. He knew his subjects were running to their homes because he was coming. Any normal king would have gotten super arrogant at that news. Imagine Suleiman (a.s): he was leading an army of not just humans, but of Jinns and birds. He was a leader over them! But the moment he realized the blessings of Allah, he made du’a. He asked Allah to inspire him so that he may become grateful for the favors which were bestowed upon him.
How many times do we achieve something great in our life? And all we remember is how we made it through, how we worked so hard for it, how we totally deserve it. But do we remember to thank Allah before shouting, ‘I did it’? Know that, whatever ability and power you and I have was granted to us by Allah. He chose us, just like He chose Suleiman (a.s). And he (a.s) never forgot to thank his Master.