Animals In The Glorious Quran


  • bookcover

  • Animals In The Glorious Quran


  • Sulayman's Hoopoe

    {Sulayman (Solomon) inspected the birds, and said, 'What is the matter that I see not the hoopoe? Or is he among the absentees? I will surely punish him with a severe torment, or slaughter him, unless he brings me a clear reason.’}                                   (An-Naml: 20-21)

    My name is Marhala. It is a nice name chosen by Hidan.

    I am one of the masters of the wind, the clouds and the water. I fly throughout days and nights without being exhausted.

    I only see the land from my towering throne in the sky. The more I fly far away and rise, the more beauty I see.

    My nice name is not less than my great ability to fly, and my supremacy to fly is not less than my ability to view. From my towering throne in the sky, I can determine the place of water. The army may pass by an extensive desert and the water may run out. Who will bring water to the soldiers, birds and beasts of brey? I am responsible for quenching their thirst.

    I soar vertically until I rise above the clouds. Then I stop to contemplate and look sharply at the land. My eyes go beyond the sandy soil and penetrate the limestone. In a word, my eyes delve into the land. I usually use a cosmic ray to find water. If I find water, I descend vertically until I touch down and observe the entire place. Then I point, using my beak, at the place that should be dug. At that time digging commences.

    After digging the well, I get down into it to drink and to have a bath. I come out of the well and my plumage is wet. The entire army drinks after me.

    I have no need to introduce myself to the reader! Of course, you have guessed that I am Sulayman's hoopoe. I know that I am more famous than the stars of the sky.

    Almighty Allah has granted me colored plumage that is not possessed by other birds. The most beautiful peacock does not have my elegant plumage, or is able to fulfill a small part of my serious tasks. He is an inane creature. He is always proud of himself without justification.

    But me, I am modest in spite of my great importance. Let me tell you a secret, sometimes I feel that I am more important than the commander in chief. This feeling has crossed my mind two or three times but I put it aside to avoid troubles and to opt for peace.

    I admit that Sulayman is a king of high prestige. I do him a lot of favors. However, I confess that I really fear him. I have not talked about my risky tasks in his favor. I prefer to keep my most important achievements as a secret till the end. This is our traditional way as officials of the intelligence agency. We keep the most important piece of information until the end of OUI' tale.

    Yes! I am Marhala. Sulayman's hoopoe and the chief of the intelligence agency of his army. Actually, it is a heavy burden. I was chosen from among ten thousand hoopoes. Sulayman put all of us to the test and found me the most intelligent one among them all because of my ability to keep information for a long period of time.

    Anyway, I was chosen that day. It was an unforgettable day. I could not deny that I was full of pride. And, I could not deny that I felt the seriousness of this responsibility, as the safety of the entire army is a trust upon my neck that is crowned by a lovely crest with a distinctive, patterned, plumage bestowed by Allah, the Creator of all.

    Troops do not move unless I give them the green light. I get the information that leads the army to victory. Without information, the mightiest army is like a blind giant that any baby can easily humiliate and defeat. Information equals the life of the entire army. It is the hidden hand behind victory as it constitutes an eye on the enemy and he who knows most about his enemy can easily triumph.

    My task is to know... and I always know. It is true that I work hard but I also play with renewed vigor. There is a difference between the time of work and that of leisure. I do my best in the time of work, which is dedicated only to Sulayman and his army. Afterwards, I have the right to have fun. Indeed, this is my legitimate right.

    Nobody has the right to ask me where I was. I finished my work and I was playing. It is none of your business to know my place even if I was flirting with a pretty she-hoopoe or was sleeping on a tree or was drinking or eating! What do you want me to do as long as I completed my work perfectly? I am not as pretentious and affected as the lion. For what I detest the most is the person who finishes his work and goes home preoccupied with his sense of importance and deals with his wife as he deals with his employees, with pride and arrogance. I regard this behavior as a sign of insanity and ignorance.

    Work is work and play is play. You do not find a person who surely knows the importance of play, unless he comprehends the importance of work. The one who fails, undoubtedly suffers failure in all fields ...He suffers failure in both work and play. This is my firm belief that caused me many troubles and gathered many enemies against me.

    I cannot deny that I have strong enemies. For example, the lion is one of my oldest enemies. He works as a commander of attack in Sulayman's army and under his authority there are many lions and tigers.

    O Mr. lion, I know that you are a lion. You are strong. You are the king of all animals but whatever your status, you cannot soar far away as I do. I am a soaring bird, who guides you to the right direction; regulates your speed and determines your target. This disgusting animal named the lion enrages me whenever I remember him.

    It became his habit to ask a malicious question whenever I was absent, "Where did the hoopoe go?"

    Sometimes Sulayman heard the lion's words. This repulsive animal got used to roaring as if he talks to deaf persons. What a vulgar creature!

    I know that he tries to embarrass me by all means. His hostility is not confined to telling Sulayman, the king, about my absence but he also intrudes on my privacy.

    Once he asked me, "Why have you not married yet?"

    I replied, "Mind your own business, please."

    "It is just a question. Why are you angry?” he asked.

    I said, "I am angry because it is a private matter. Would you like me to ask you why you have married?" He laughed in an ugly way that shook the tent we live in.

    Thus, my disgust with him increased deeply. Why does he not take care of his own affairs and bathe? His repulsive smell causes rhinitis. Whenever I talk to him I turn my beak away of him.

    One day Sulayman, the king, summoned me. I looked at the sun and I saw it had begun its journey to set. "The time of Sulayman's prayer approaches, so why does he summon me now? It should be that my work ends after awhile," I thought.

    I went to him anxiously. I feared that unexpected summoning. I had no knowledge of the reason behind it, so I was trembling with fear. Here appears the valuable role of information and intelligence. I flew towards his palace. I knocked the crystal of the window. All Sulayman's windows are made of colored crystal and their frames are made of polished copper with silver inscriptions. Jinn dive into the depths of the seas to get the soft sand. Then they set fire to melt it in order to make from it different kinds of glass. Sulayman appeals to me. He is an honest Prophet and a venerable king. He knows how to choose his words and his clothes.

    In my point of view, he has no defect but his sharp intelligence. Sometimes you talk to him and it seems that he reads your mind or reads between the lines. During such a dialogue between two unmatched and unequal persons, you have to be defeated. I do not like to be defeated as I was created only to win.

    Sulayman allowed me to enter. One of his wives was sitting near his feet. I bowed my head and said, "Peace be upon Sulayman; the Prophet, the king and the wise." I know that Sulayman likes these titles.

    Sulayman said ironically, "Peace be upon the hoopoe who adores play more than his work. II

    Such ironic words embarrassed me before his wife. I bowed my head and spread my colored plumage in a fanlike form so the sunray was reflected upon the crown that Allah granted me, which is more beautiful than that of Sulayman made by the jinn. He understood the significance behind this action and smiled.

    He said seriously, "You have not brought your weekly report for three weeks!”

    "My great leader!” I said, "nothing new at all. The Jinn work hard and the soldiers work to the best of their ability. Everything in the' kingdom is running smoothly, and I understood from your previous talk that there is no need to give you a report if everything is in order."

          He frowned and said, "You did not understand my words.

    Why do you imagine that your work is confined to offering reports! It is a traditional method used by intelligence agencies. You have to give me the sense that you are active and aware of what is going on."

          "Your Majesty," I said, "you told me previously that you are satisfied with my work."

    "Marhala, you know that I have a soft spot for you and you know how much I love you! I am satisfied with your intelligence but not with your work. You have not provided me with an example of your intelligence for some time. Your work is simply ordinary. "

      I started to sweat and felt rather embarrassed. At that time I started to think of my love, Hidan.

      It seemed as if Sulayman could read my mind as he said, "Do you know a she-hoopoe named Hidan?"

    "Yes," I replied shyly.

    "I heard that you intend to marry her," he observed.

    I felt that Sulayman wanted to catch me, so I remained silent.

    I was sure that he knew my stance towards marriage.

    He continued, "If you give your work half the effort you exert in play, you will achieve greatness." Then he winked at me indicating that I could go. I left anxiously. For a long time, I was deeply distracted between Sulayman and Hidan. She said to me, "You are always busy!" While Sulayman said, "You are always playing." It was impossible for me to know how to satisfy them both. Such a situation is the worst nightmare for a genius like me! I went to her.

    She was coming out of the river after having a bath. As soon as she noticed me, she stretched out her left wing. I embraced her and put my head upon her chest and sighed with pleasure. Her beautiful plumage flew around her graceful neck.

    She asked me with sleepy eyes, "I heard that Sulayman summoned you."

    "I have just come," I admitted.

    She said furiously, "If you give me half of the time you offer to your work, I will be the happiest she-hoopoe in all the world."

    I said angrily, "Sulayman said the opposite of what you just said! He told me that love is an obstacle in the way of success."

    She said kindly, "Sulayman lays the guilt and blame unjustly on you."

    "No! Only you are unjust towards me," I said decisively.

    She was near to tears and said, "You are always busy. You are always traveling or holding meetings with your subjects. You are either going to Sulayman or coming back from his palace. Where is my share? What is the destiny of our love?"

    "O Hidan listen!" I said anxiously. "You are the most beautiful she-hoopoe in all the world and till the end of my life I will dream only of your beak. Your words have inspired me with a great idea. You said that I always travel. Well I have not traveled for a long time and this is the reason for my laziness. I will fly today towards the hills of Yemen. My heart says that I will find something new."

    I soared into the air and flew away. I was astonished at the nature of women. Every she-hoopoe I had previously met was able to utter the same words spoken by Hidan. However, I was attracted to Hidan. "If she is less jealous," I thought, "I will marry her. I am afraid that jealousy corrupts my life."

    How beautiful is the land below when I see it from my towering throne! The desert appears like a carpet of gold. The sea looks like a flowing dress of blue turquoise. The fields look like green mansions. I feel Allah's Omnipotence when He, the Almighty, drives clouds to the colored mountaintops from where snow pours down like white kisses.

    My heart surrendered to Almighty Allah and I praised Him during my flight. I went higher and higher without any feeling of tiredness.

    After I had finished praising Allah, my eyes searched the land for water. Fortunately I found three virgin wells in a barren desert. I determined their places and increased my speed. It is surprising to fly without knowing the secrets of flying!

    Finally, Sheba appeared with its white walls, wide roads, green fields and many palaces. There were many guards everywhere and a tremendous temple with no roof, having its court filled with sun's rays came to my view. After seeing the greatness of their kingdom, I concluded that they were rich and strong. Their roads were well paved and their housetops were clean and full of gorgeous flowers.

    I chose a high tree in the greatest palace on which to rest. I saw a nice she-hoopoe. I greeted her with a slight bow and turned my face away. I started thinking of a way to make her reveal to me the secrets of this kingdom. It did not take me long to think of something, as my favorite hobby is talking and getting others to talk.

    While I was grooming my beautiful plumage, I said to her,      "Are there any rivers near this "place ?"

    "Are you a stranger?" she asked curiously.

    "I am a traveler on Allah's earth. The entire earth belongs to Almighty Allah, doesn't it?"

    She was steadily approaching my branch and she said, "In our kingdom the earth is owned by the sun."

    Using my good sense as an official of the intelligence agency, I concluded that there was a mysterious puzzle behind her saying this. So I approached her and said in a friendly way, "O gentle she-hoopoe, how can the sun own the earth?"

    She was rather shocked at my question and answered frankly, "Here, people prostrate themselves before the sun."

    I was surprised at her words. Sulayman's image crossed my mind. Finally I found a serious case that I had never even dreamed of before. "Here people prostrate themselves before the sun!" "Is it not the highest treason against the One true Creator of all! Is Sulayman not Allah's Prophet and His sword on the earth! This case is certainly under his jurisdiction," I thought.

    I felt that I had encountered the happiest day of my life. A sense of overwhelming pleasure fell over me. I wanted to fly and cry for joy, stretch out and fold in my crown of plumage. But I controlled my emotions in my capacity as a veteran official of the intelligence agency.

    I turned to her and murmured calmly with a sense of indifference, "Very nice ...Very nice."

    The foolish she-hoopoe asked me, "What is it that you find nice about me?"

    I complimented her saying, "Your way of speaking. I have traveled far and wide, and I have seen and known a lot, but I have never seen a she-hoopoe uttering words in such a gentle manner.

    My dart hit its target. The branch on which she stood started to tremble. I saw her trying to stretch her wings out in a spontaneous manner as if she wanted to dust off her plumage. She wanted to show me her agility. "It is all right, she is good," I thought. Anyway, I was not in the proper mood to think of love.

    "What is the next step?" I thought. I wanted to know a huge amount of information about the case, but I could not interrogate her directly or else her suspicions would arise. Our chat should seem normal and remain spontaneous, discussing the weather, trees, food or rivers.

    I spread my colored plumage like a fan and flapped my wings to show her how charming and attractive I am.

    She approached the branch on which I stood, coming closer and closer and said, "Why have you not told me about yourself? From where do you come? Where are you going? Do you have kids? What is your favorite food? What is your name? What is your birth date?"

    She started to interrogate me! I decided to counterattack. I stretched out my right wing and struck the branch on which she was standing in a surprising and vigorous manner. She was about to lose her balance and fall but I caught her with my left wing. She was surprised to find herself standing beside me and her beak came near to mine.

    If Sulayman had seen me, he would imagine that I was flirting. If Hidan had seen me, she would imagine that I was betraying her and she would cry her heart out. "No! This is not right," I thought. What I did was a part of our work and it became very easy to get information.

    She told me about the population of that place, and the amount of soldiers and officers. She accompanied me to the armory of which I took a photograph with my eyes and kept it in my mind. She showed me the entrances and exits of the kingdom and the rivers from which she drinks. I saw the fields, industrial units and houses of the peasants. She took me to the temple of the sun in which the people of this kingdom prostrate themselves before the sun.

    I saw a great disk of gold that was decorated with precious gems. The sunray was reflected upon that disk and its vivid flash nearly blinded one's eyes.

    I do not deny that an unintentional laugh escaped from me while we were observing that temple. She looked at me surprisingly.

    She also accompanied me to the queen's palace. The queen was so pretty. I have never seen such beauty at the palace of Sulayman. I observed that her clothes, which were draped behind her, covered her feet. I imagined that she was modest and decent but the she-hoopoe told me that there was a defect in one of her feet and that was why the queen concealed them.

    She was unmarried. She had a strong character like that of men. I saw how she dealt with her leaders, ministers and consultants in a decisive manner.

    Her only defect was her prostration before the sun. I saw her and her people prostrating themselves before it and I felt truly amazed as to how they could prostrate before something that was itself created by Allah.

    Her throne was an example of great art. I recorded its full description in my mind.

    I managed to get a sufficient amount of information throughout my five-day visit to the capital of the kingdom and its distant villages. I knew all about the length and width of its roads and their capacity to hold Sulayman's army, for I imagined that he might attack this kingdom.

    Also I managed to recruit that nice she-hoopoe whom I met in Sheba without revealing my true character. She aroused some troubles at the very beginning when she noticed that my interest in Sheba was more than my interest in her but then I said to her, "I am a curious hoopoe; my favorite hobby is to ask questions."

    Through my talk with her I concluded that none of the people in Sheba could understand the language of birds, beasts and animals like Sulayman. However, I did not reveal my true character or the nature of my mission. Who knows? It is better to take precautions.

    After I had completed my mission in Sheba, I thought of having some fun. It was my right, wasn't it? There was no harm to have some fun especially after finishing my work. I told my companion and student, the she-hoopoe, "We want a place in the countryside with delicious worms and flowing rivers." She accompanied me to the banks of a beautiful, flowing river in the countryside.

    I spent three days as if I was in a dream. I enjoyed absolute serenity, the magnificent country-side, general welfare and soothing tranquility. On the first day, I arranged the information that I had collected, in my mind and I spent another two days with the she-hoopoe.

    Nothing rests the mind of a tired hoopoe like a nonsensical chat with a she-hoopoe.

    She asked me, "Why do we not travel to Egypt? It is said that Egypt has beautiful countryside that is full of delicious worms and has many barns that are full of food."

    "Egypt is so crowded," I answered, "hoopoes suffer from this population explosion, and I do not like crowds and noise."

    I said that in order to dissuade her from going to Egypt.

    One day she asked me, "Do you not think of marriage and having a stable family? What is there to dream of better than that?"

    I did not tell her how busy I am. I did not tell her about my serious missions for Sulayman's army.

    At the third day I remembered Sulayman and I said to myself, "What will happen if a jinni from Sulayman's army strolls by us and sees how I am playing and enjoying this rural summer resort? If he tells Sulayman, I will be slaughtered!"

    Suddenly, I said to the she-hoopoe, "I will leave tomorrow."

    "Take me with you," she asked.

    "I wish I could," was my reply.

    "Why?" she asked.

    "I will come back again," I said, trying to comfort her. She put her head on my chest and started to weep.

    I said, "Your tears tear up my heart, but I have to leave and one day you will realize the reason. I have fallen in love with you but I have to leave."

    She was desperate and violent and spoke as if she was threatening me, "If you are going to leave tomorrow, I will abstain from food and drink!"

    "But if I do not leave tomorrow, Sulayman will kill me. You do not know him," I said, trying to persuade her.

    "Who is Sulayman?" she asked.

    I said, "He is my elder brother and my master. There is also a family problem that necessitates my travel. I want to leave while my mind is full of your smiling face. O my sweetheart, please smile!"

    I could not sleep that night. At midnight, I left our warm bed amongst the branches and flew silently away.

    "More height! More speed!" I commanded my wings.

    Then I slept and flew in my sleep. Finally, I reached the tent of birds in Sulayman's army. All the animals were searching everywhere for me. No sooner had I entered the tent than dozens of birds approached me in a frightening manner and asked me, "Where were you? Where were you?"

    I was worried when I saw the way they received me. I tried to claim some self-possession and said, "What happened? Why do you scream like this?”

    "Sulayman inspected the army," they explained, "and after inspecting the Jinn and beasts, he came to our tent ..."

    I called the sparrow, who was my secretary, and asked him, "What happened?"

    He said, "Exactly, what they told you. Sulayman came to our tent and said, 'What is the matter that I see not the hoopoe? Or is he among the absentees? I will surely punish him with a severe torment, or slaughter him, unless he brings me a clear reason.’”

    My body shook but I pretended stability and asked, “Did Sulayman state all these threats?”

    “Exactly as we told you," explained the sparrow.

    "What was your answer?' I asked him.

    He said, '"I wanted to say that you were on a mission but my beak was trembling out of fear so that I could not utter a word.” “Do not be afraid! "' I said to my secretary, "'we are true. I was on a mission. What did my enemies say about me? How did they trade on the situation? "

    “They spoke ill, trying to slander you,” he said, “their words were like the poison of a snake. They said that you are kind and gentle but, after this word ‘But’ they attributed to you all the defects in the world. They accused you of slackness and negligence. O master, we are in a serious dilemma."

    “Pay no heed ...I will handle it,” I assured him.

    I pretended to be very calm and confident and went for a stroll but soon I was about to swoon. I started trembling. I did not know how Sulayman would receive my story about Sheba. He might believe he or me might think that I had fabricated a tale to justify my absence.

    Hidan carne tearfully and her plumage was torn off. She threw herself at me and shouted, “Where were you? Sulayman threatens to slaughter you and he is very angry.”

    The situation was critical. My sweetheart was so frightened. I shouted at her to stop crying and she did.

    I spoke to her arrogantly and said, “What does Sulayman think of me? This great king misunderstands me and imagines that I am having fun! I have an account to settle with him."

    I proudly spread my colored plumage but in fact my heart was trembling within my chest.

    Hidan felt tranquil when she saw my confidence.

    I headed straight for Sulayman's palace in spite of my tiredness after the long journey. On my way towards his palace, conflicting feelings worried me. I was frightened, furious, desperate, hopeful, scared and brave all at the same time.

      I was informed that Sulayman was eating and he gave an order not to be disturbed.

    “Step aside!" I ordered, “I have not come to play or to have fun. I have urgent news for the king."

    The guard did not understand my words, as nobody could understand our language except Sulayman. The honorable Prophet heard my angry words while he was eating. He ordered them to let me enter. I entered the dining room and stood far from his hand at the other part of the table.

    I said to Sulayman while he had not yet left his fork, "I have grasped (the knowledge of a thing) which you have not grasped and I have come to you from Sheba with true news."

    No sooner had I said these words to Sulayman than I felt that I went down in history. Who would dare to say to Sulayman "I have grasped the knowledge of something, which you have not grasped.” Nobody would dare!

    It is me who said these to Sulayman in a violent tone. This boldness was a result of my extreme despair and fear. The best way to defend is to attack. Allah, the Creator knows that I was trembling when I said these words to him.

    Sulayman put his fork into the golden dish and bent down at the table. He looked at me with a surprised expression on his face.

    While he was still in this state of amazement, I continued my speech, "/ found a woman ruling over them, and she has been given all things that could be possessed by any ruler of the earth, and she has a great throne. found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allah, and Shay tan (Satan) has made their deeds fair-seeming to them, and has barred them from (Allah's) 1Vay, so they have no guidance."

    At first, Sulayman was following my words in amazement, then in rage. But as he was so interested in my words, I realized that he was listening intently. I told myself that I should make use of this, so I proceeded to say, "They have to worship (prostrate before) Allah, Who brings to light what is hidden in the heavens and the earth, and knows what you conceal and what you reveal. None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Lord of the Supreme Throne!"

    This final statement had originally been used by Sulayman to call people to Almighty Allah. This was surely the proper context to quote this statement in my talking about Sheba.

    I finished my talk and waited awhile.

    Sulayman bowed his head, knitted his brows and started to think.

    Silence spread over the whole place. My heartbeats increased to the extent that I imagined their sound would spread allover the huge hall. I imagined that they would move the walls from their places.

    Finally, Sulayman raised his head and said, "We shall see whether you speak the truth or you are (one) of the liars."

    I felt that my blood pressure had returned to its normal rate. I had temporarily escaped from danger. I proceeded to speak about my case. I reported to Sulayman all the information that I had received about the queen of Sheba. I told him about her great throne which was regarded as a golden masterpiece and about the temple of the sun in which they exercised their religious rituals. Also, I told him about the number of soldiers and their military preparations. In a word, I informed him of everything.

    Sulayman ordered one of his servants to bring a sheet of paper and a pen. He wrote something then he placed it in an envelope and gave it to me. He said, "Go you with this letter of mine, and deliver if to them, then draw back from them, and see what (answer) they return."

           I took the letter in my beak and prepared to leave. I ran my beak over the letter and said to Sulayman, "O master, the journey is too long and the currents of air may tear up the letter. I suppose it is better to put it inside a golden envelope.”

    Sulayman ordered the servant to make a golden envelope and ordered me to come and take it in the morning and then to fulfill my mission.

          I had many hours to wait until the morning. I came proudly out of Sulayman's palace feeling that I had escaped from danger.

    The sparrow, my secretary, asked me, "O master, what happened? I think that you have been saved from danger!"

    My success had made me arrogant and I told him, "Stupid! Did you think that I was threatened? Go and mind your own business."

    Hidan asked me with a look of yearning on her tired face, "What did Sulayman say to you and what did you say to him?"

    I said calmly, "It was a top secret meeting that has nothing to do with you, so go and take care of your torn plumage."

    I passed by all my enemies. I passed by all those who were filled with glee at my misfortune!

    The lion, as usual, spoke ill of me trying to slander me when Sulayman desired to punish me with slaughter. When Sulayman left the bird's tent he had said, "It is quite true. This treacherous hoopoe deserves to be slaughtered."

    My chance had come to return his evil!

    He asked me in his vulgar and loud voice, "Marhala, where were you?"

    "Since when do the leaders of the intelligence agency talk to their soldiers about their missions?" I told him haughtily. "You are a mean soldier. You are a puppet guided by another mind. Mind your own business and you will know where Marhala was when orders come to you."

    I was swaggering proudly. I shut my mouth. Nobody knew what had happened between Sulayman and I. I let them exhaust their minds. I went about silently, surrounded by obscurity and danger. Remember I told you before that our job is tiresome.

    The envelope was made and I took it and began my journey to Sheba.

    I entered the queen's bedroom and stood on one of the ceiling's protruding inscriptions. Then I let the envelope fall onto her head.

    Balqis, the queen of Sheba, woke up. Really, her eyes were so beautiful. Unfortunately she worshiped the sun. She read the letter and I could see how her heartbeats increased. Up till now, I did not know what Sulayman had written to her. She sounded a bell beside her bed and three servants carne. She ordered an urgent meeting with the ministers and the members of parliament.

    She was turning around searching for the one, who brought this letter. I hid near the ceiling so they would not notice me.

    My friend the she-hoopoe entered the bedroom and she flew towards me and said sadly with tears in her eyes, "Marhala, where were you? I searched for you everywhere! What are you doing here in .the queen's bedroom? Are you searching for me? Why did you come quickly? Did you solve your family problems?"

    "Shut up! I have an urgent mission," I told her decisively.

    She threw herself at me and kissed me. The queen watched us for a while and then she left to have her morning shower. It was clear that she was thinking deeply about Sulayman's letter.

    I spent a couple of days in Sheba. Then I returned quickly and I found Sulayman inspecting his army.

    "My great king," I said boldly, "could you stretch out your arm to me as I am extremely exhausted from the long journey?"

    He stretched out his arm and asked me about the letter.

    I told him that I had thrown it to the queen. I continued to tell him how she had summoned her ministers, the members of parliament and told them, "0 chiefs! Verily! Here is delivered to me a noble letter. Verily! It is from Sulayman (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)' chiefs! Advise me in (this) case of mine. I decide no case till you are present with me. They said, 'We have great strength, and great ability for war, but it is for you to command,' so think over what you will command She said, 'Verily! Kings, when they enter a town (country), they despoil it, and make the most honorable amongst its people low. And thus they do. But verily! I am going to send him a present, and see with what (answer) the messengers realm.’”

    Sulayman asked me, "What are your observations concerning what happened?"

    "I think that their consultation is a political ploy," I told him, "when she asked them about their opinion, they talked about their ability at war, then they finally authorized her to decide. They have neither opinion nor power. Furthermore, they imagined that they could bribe you!"

    Sulayman laughed heartily and so I felt quite relieved.

    The messengers of Balqis, the queen of Sheba, came with a precious present. I was the first one to know about their coming as the reconnaissance squads of hoopoes inform me of everything. These squads fly by day and night under my command. I divided the work among them to inform me about the strangers in our honorable kingdom. They described the present and I told Sulayman while I was trying to resist my desire to laugh.

    The messengers were proud of their present, thinking that it was priceless. However, that present meant nothing to us, and absolutely nothing to Sulayman. During these days I put myself on equal terms with Sulayman and I confess that this was a terrible matter.

    Sulayman met Balqis' messengers while he was sitting on his throne surrounded by real lions as well as golden ones. One of the real lions yawned and Sulayman, using the lion's language, ordered him to stop. That lion was the ugly and disgusting one who loved to slander and bother me.

    Sulayman asked him, "Where were you last night?"

    I told Sulayman, "The lion was flirting with a new lioness that has recently joined the army."

          The lion drew himself up, spread his chest and in a language of arrogance he roared.

    The chief of the messengers of Balqis fainted from the sound of the lion's roar. That chief was an old man and he had never before seen a real lion.

    Sulayman refused their present and told them that they would be mistaken if they tried to bribe him with gold. He pointed at the walls, the floor and the statues that were made of gold and said, "I want nothing but your surrender to Allah."

    Sulayman threatened to conquer them. He always appealed to me because of the manner in which he utilized his power. He never exaggerated nor misused weak persons.

    Let me mention Sulayman's statement to the chief of the messengers when he came to his senses, "Will you help me in wealth? What Allah has given me is better then that which He has given you! Nay, you rejoice in your gift! 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. "

    The queen's messengers left the palace while they were sweating from fear. And, Sulayman remained peacefully and confidently in his place.

    Days passed. My life returned to normal, and my neck was saved and my words were proven true. The most complicated problem for the important hoopoes like me is that they are threatened with slaughter at anytime. It is usually the case that we either receive honor or Sulayman's sword, as there is no middle course. The most distinctive feature of those who are great is to live amidst danger at all times.

    I know an ordinary hoopoe, who lives in absolute safety but no one even knows his name. But I am a famous hoopoe. I do not like to be proud of myself as Sulayman teaches us modesty. He usually says, "For sure, real greatness lurks in modesty. Glory belongs only to Almighty Allah, as He is the Most Omnipotent. As for perishing human beings, hoopoes, kings and dynasties -it is only Allah Who grants them status. If He withholds His provision, they will be lost forever. How can creatures be proud of their intelligence, wealth, power and rank! None of these things belong to anyone. They are restorable loans."

    I must not be conceited, proud or arrogant.

    Here I am, bowing my head, stretching out my wings and performing prayers. "Praise be to Allah for creating me as an intelligent hoopoe and surely He was able to create me as a stupid one.

    Praise be to Allah for creating me as an important hoopoe and He was surely able to create me as a vile one.

    Praise be to Allah for creating me and surely He could have decided not to create me.

    Praise be to Allah ...Glory be to Allah ...To Him belongs the dominion ...To Him belongs the judgment.

    O my Lord, the entire case is about to reach its end so help and support me. I want to be a reason of making those people believe in You."

    Sulayman was sitting on his throne surrounded by his ministers and the leaders of humans and jinn, birds and beasts.

    He turned to me and suddenly asked me, "What draws your attention in Sheba?"

    "The queen's throne and the people's feelings that they are developed and skillful at the arts of architecture, construction, industry and sculpture," I replied.

    Sulayman paid no heed to me and went on observing his ministers, leaders and officers. Sometimes I cannot understand him. Sometimes his questions seem strange but only time reveals the great wisdom behind them.

    He suddenly said, "0 chiefs! Which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me surrendering themselves in obedience? An 'Ifrit (strong) from the jinn 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.' One with whom was knowledge of the Scripture said, 'I will bring it to you within the twinkling of an eye!' Then when [Sulayman (Solomon)) saw it 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 own self and whoever is ungrateful, (he is ungrateful only for the loss of his own self). Certainly! My Lord is Rich (Free of all wants), Bountiful.’”

    I saw what happened myself and I confess that I was truly amazed.

    The throne of Balqis had a base of silver inlaid with gold! A chair of gold inlaid with silver! A wall of pure gold and silver on which the sun disk was depicted! All the gold and silver of Sheba was placed inside the throne. The throne was very heavy. It weighed the equivalent of about ten heavy trees. Its distance was as far as a fast hoopoe like me might take a day to reach.

    In spite of all these facts, the throne was brought. Sulayman asked his leaders to bring the queen's throne.

    An 'Ifrit from the jinn said that he would bring it before Sulayman leaves his council, which was about two hours.

    One who had knowledge of the Scripture said that he would bring it within the twinkling of an eye! Within the twinkling of Sulayman's eye, the throne was brought!

    I know that people will ask, "Who had knowledge of the Scripture? What was his name? How did he bring it? What kind of knowledge can offer such tremendous power?"

    I think that these matters belong to Sulayman alone. The important point of this Story is that there was a creature at Sulayman's council who had such power. A creature that was neither a Prophet nor an angel. He was the one who had knowledge of the Scripture. He was not a jinni as the jinni said that he was able to bring it within two hours.

    I will not say the name of the person who brought the throne.

    I will not talk about the Scripture he referred to. The one who realizes Allah's Power in what happened and continues arguing and asks curious questions, does not deserve to be answered. Furthermore, my duty, as the chief of the intelligence agency, is to keep secrets.

    Of course, I know who brought the throne. I know how he brought it.

    In vain you wait for me to reveal the secret. I will never reveal it. Who knows! These papers may run into enemy hands. If Sulayman wants to tell the secret, it is up to him. But I will keep my beak shut.

    Sulayman ordered his servants to disguise the throne and change it beyond recognition. He ordered precious stones, gems and pearls to be put in places around the disk of the sun. Moreover, he ordered his servants to build a palace. Half of this palace was extended over the water of the sea. Also he ordered them to make its floor of transparent crystal so the visitor could watch the seabed with its colored fish and aquatic animals. He ordered them to make the walls with perfumed sandalwood and the roof with colored glass so that when the sunrays fall upon the roof, its colors come in their seven original ones and color the entire palace. In this way, the sun is used as a servant to man as Almighty Allah created it to be.

    Sulayman ordered them to build it before the arrival of  Balqis, the queen of Sheba.

    They finished it,

    At first, I did not understand the reason behind what Sulayman was doing. Sometimes I do not understand him.

    Sulayman ordered to disguise the queen's throne and to put it at the reception. Also he ordered all the walls before the throne to be opened.

    At that time, I began to understand Sulayman. He did not want to argue with her much. -When she viewed his dominion, glory and magnificence and compared them to hers, he wanted her to realize that worshiping the sun or any other creature could not lead to success or progress even if some mistakenly thought so.

    Success and progress could be achieved only by submitting to Almighty Allah and then by gaining knowledge.

    I realized that and as the days passed my opinion was proven correct. She submitted, together with Sulayman, to Almighty Allah. "He said, 'Disguise her throne for her that we may see whether she will be guided (to recognize her throne), or she will be one of those not guided.' So when she came, it was said (to her), 'Is your throne like this!’ She said, '(It is) as though it were the very same.' And [Sulayman (Solomon) said], 'Knowledge was bestowed on us before her, and we were submitted to Allah (in Islam as Muslims before her),' And that which she used to worship besides Allah has prevented her (from Islam), for she was of a disbelieving people. It was said to her, 'Enter As-Sarh' [(a glass surface with water underneath it) or a palace], but when she saw it, she thought it was a pool, and she (tucked up her clothes) uncovering her legs, Sulayman (Solomon) said, 'Verily, it is Sarh [(a glass surface with water underneath it) or a palace] paved smooth with slab of glass. She said, 'My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself; and I submit (in Islam, together with Sulayman (Solomon), to Allah, the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)?”’

    No sooner had she said these words than I stood in front of Sulayman and flapped my wings.

          "My wise master," I cried, "I have won the case for you and saved the queen and her people from perdition."

          "Marhala, what do you want? I am satisfied with your work." Sulayman replied.

          "Where is my reward?" I asked.

          He said, "Choose one of the two: either to increase your salary or to grant you the Hoopoes' Legion of Honor of the first class."

          I said, "These two rewards together are not enough for me ... I want to live in history."

    "I will attribute you to me," he stated, "I will call you Sulayman's hoopoe."

          "Am I not your hoopoe!" I said.

    "Really, you are Sulayman's hoopoe ...But I will announce it allover the world."

          "The whole world does not suffice me," I said, "I want more."

          Sulayman looked amazed and said, "What do you want Marhala?"

    I said, "I want to go down in history! I want millions of people to be acquainted with this case. I want all creatures to remember me even after my death. I want them to know me from now to the Day of Judgment."

    Sulayman amiably said, "Marhala, I have nothing to do'"

    Only Allah, the One, has the decision over all affairs."

    I said, "O great Prophet, I know that for sure, but you can invoke Allah to make my name live in history.

    Sulayman raised his head and suddenly asked me, "Marhala!

    Are you affected by pride? Do you overestimate yourself?"

    I said boldly, "O Prophet! Pride is not my target. I want people to know that a humble and simple hoopoe was the means of guiding an entire nation to Allah through His Infinite Mercy. This is my legitimate right. My right and glory at the same time."

    Sulayman smiled and patted me on the head and invoked Allah to make my remembrance live in history till the Day of Judgment.

    Sulayman finished his supplication ...

    I bowed and kissed his hand that was patting my head.

    He signaled me to leave. While I was preparing myself to leave, I said, "O great Prophet! I know that Almighty Allah will answer your supplication but I do not know how Allah will make me live in history till the Day of Judgment. Which Book will remain until that Day?"

    Sulayman said, "I am like you. I do not know Ghayb (The unseen matters). You asked me to invoke Allah for you, so I did.

    Believe me I do not know how Allah will answer me. Really, I do not know the Book that will remain until the Day of Judgment! Furthermore, I do not know to whom this Book will be revealed.

    I do not know...

    I do not know the Ghayb ..."

     

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