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The Ants and the Hoopoe Bird

Sulaiman NabiAS had an army that consisted of different battalions of men, jinn, birds, and animals. They served him earnestly and accomplished for him a variety of tasks.

One day while Sulaiman NabiAS and his army were passing through a valley, an ant saw them approaching and cried out, warning the other ants: “Run into your homes! Otherwise, Sulaiman and his army might crush you unperceivingly!” Upon hearing this, Sulaiman Nabi AS was amused. He smiled and thanked Allah for His innumerable bounties.

Allah Ta’ala thus mentions this incident in al Quran al Kareem:

And there were gathered before Sulaiman his hosts of jinn and men, and birds, and they all were set in battle order (marching forwards). Until, when they came to a valley of the ants, one of the ants said: “O ants! Enter your dwellings, lest Sulaiman and his hosts crush you, while they perceive not.”

So he (Sulaiman) smiled, amused at her speech and said: “My Lord! Inspire and bestow upon me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favours which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds that will please You, and admit me by Your Mercy among Your righteous followers.” (Ch 27:17-19 Quran).

It is said that it was Sulaiman NabiAS who built a beautiful place of worship, in Jerusalem, on a huge rock, what is known today as “The Dome of the Rock”. From there, a large number of followers joined him on pilgrimage to Baitullah al Haraam. After they had completed their pilgrimage, they traveled to Yemen and arrived in the city of Sana’a. Sulaiman NabiAS was impressed by their clever method of channelling water all over their cities. He was keen to build similar water systems in his own country but it did not have enough springs.

He summoned Hud-hud (hoopoe bird), which could detect water under the ground. He sent signals throughout his army to recall him, but it could not be found. Angrily, he declared that unless the bird had a good reason for its absence, it would be punished severely.

Hud-hud eventually came to Sulaiman NabiAS and gave the following explanation as the reason for his delay: “I have discovered something of which you are unaware. I have come from Sab’a (Sheba) with important news.” Sulaiman NabiAS listened intently and his anger subsided. The bird continued: “Sab’a is ruled by a queen named Bilqis. She has plenty of everything, including a splendid throne. But in spite of all this wealth, Satan has entered her heart and the hearts of her people. She rules their minds completely so that they worship the sun instead of Almighty Allah.”

To verify Hud-hud’s claim, Sulaiman Nabi (AS) sent a letter to the queen with the bird. He instructed Hud-hud to remain hidden and to observe everything.

Hud-hud dropped the letter in front of the queen and flew away to hide. She excitedly opened and read it: “Verily! It is from Sulaiman, and verily! It reads: ‘In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, and Most Merciful; be you not exalted against me, but come to me as Muslimeen.