This article is an study of the Quranic texts regarding the career and wisdom of king Solomon from a hermetic perspective. It interprets the philosophy and spiritual teachings of Quran for the human empowerment and freedom.
The anecdotes of the magical kingdom of Solomon in the Quran are not only enchanting but also of deep philosophical and spiritual significance. The symbolic, and yet highly mysterious reign of Solomon included all the creatures that resided on earth as its subjects. Among them were men, jinn, animals, birds, insects, and every other life forms. The king Solomon could also directly communicate with those creatures, and command his rule on them. Here, the characteristics and events of the era of Solomon as described in Quran are interpreted from an astrotheological perspective, with an objective to comprehend the best principles of authority in a system of hierarchy and diversity for the benefits of individual participants, and to contribute towards the beauty of gestalt structures.
The Territory and the Turf
The inhabitants of earth usually acclimatize themselves to the conditions of their terrain in a way to maximize the usefulness of their individual talents. Some live in extreme conditions of hot or cold climates, whilst others like more moderate areas for their lifestyles. For instance, the indigenous territories of certain animals not only define them, but also assist them in their existence. As the generations progress, the animals get themselves used to the patterns of lands and seasons that they find ideal by physically and psychologically adjusting to those areas. They develop faculties to help them in the struggle for existence, and thereby tend to make a strong bond with their motherlands. There they are born, there they find sustenance, and there they reproduce. Reproduction by animals is also carried out in a way so as to preserve the best essence of their species, and to maximize the probability of their survival. In brief, animals relish the territories where they find continuation for their posterity.
In the tradition of Quran, ‘humankind’ is considered the vicegerents of God on earth because humans contain the Divine spirit in them. There is also a promise for every individual human soul of the resurrection, and an immortal life of pleasure or pain depending upon their actions in the world. Not only the Quran, but also many other cultures and traditions speak of some form of reincarnation or resurrection of life. The point here is that a human soul is essentially considered immortal, and therefore should not be liable to the territorial adherence similar to that of animals. In other words, humans are required to live on the turf and not the territory for their best interests, because unlike animals they are immortals.
From a psychological perspective, this teaching of human immortality tends to eradicate class differences that arise due to the unequal distribution of power or wealth. In a culture where humans are not valued beyond their utility at the animal level, the poor might easily get mocked in a society of rich; or otherwise the affluent few might easily be threatened by the community of poor. Territorial disputes over fertile lands and other similar objectives would form the norm of human activities, and thus resulting in a calamitous chaos on earth. Therefore, being a human requires the level of consciousness whereby a person may get disenchanted from territorial dependencies, and an understanding of earth as a level playing turf for the good of all.
The Way of the True King
The astrological sign of a king is ‘Leo’. Therefore, the king Solomon in Quran is a metaphorical depiction of a human king corresponding to the sign of Leo. Leo being a ‘fixed sign’ of the zodiac, is an essential component of the ‘fixed cross’ which also includes the signs of Taurus, Scorpio, and Aquarius. The fixed cross is described in Quran with reference to Solomon in the following fashion.
And unto Solomon (We gave) the wind, whereof the morning course was a month’s journey and the evening course a month’s journey, and We caused the fount of copper to gush forth for him, and (We gave him) certain of the jinn who worked before him by permission of his Lord. And such of them as deviated from Our command, them We caused to taste the punishment of flaming fire. (34, 12)
In verse (34, 12), the person of Solomon himself is allegorical to the sign of Leo; the ‘wind’ is formed from the element ‘air’ of the sign of Aquarius; the ‘fount of copper’ is referred on account of copper being the metal of Taurus; and ‘jinn’ represent the sign of Scorpio. Also ‘flaming fire’ at the end of verse (34, 12) is a reference to the element ‘fire’ of Leo. This allegory of the fixed cross is indicative of the royal authority that encompasses every facet of existence as a unifying power. The actions of king Solomon in Quran emphasizes the responsibility that comes with regality, and the loyal subjects that support the realm as much as the people of king’s palace.
Solomon and the Queen of Sheba
The anecdote of king Solomon and the queen of Sheba is mentioned in the 27th Chapter of Quran. Here, the difference between the true kingdom of Solomon and the false kingdom of Sheba is explained by subjecting the queen of Sheba to the three trials of Solomon. Each of these three trials include the other three fixed signs of Taurus, Scorpio, and Aquarius respectively. The queen of Sheba got introduced to Solomon in the following manner.
And he (Solomon) sought among the birds and said: How is it that I see not the hoopoe, or is he among the absent? (27, 20)
I verily will punish him with hard punishment or I verily will slay him, or he verily shall bring me a plain excuse. (27, 21)
But he was not long in coming, and he said: I have found out (a thing) that thou apprehendest not, and I come unto thee from Sheba with sure tidings. (27, 22)
Lo! I found a woman ruling over them, and she hath been given (abundance) of all things, and hers is a mighty throne. (27, 23)
I found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allah; and Satan maketh their works fair seeming unto them, and debarreth them from the way (of Truth), so that they go not aright: (27, 24)
In verse 20, Solomon was interested in the presence of the hoopoe bird because this bird possessed a crest of feathers on its head, which made it a royal bird. The bird had digressed from its way to locate a false kingdom of Sun worshippers (Leo) at Sheba, and had informed Solomon of the discovery. Therefore, Solomon decided to test this false kingdom by subjecting them to the following trials.
The Taurus Trial
But lo! I am going to send a present unto them, and to see with what (answer) the messengers return. (27, 35)
So when (the envoy) came unto Solomon, (the King) said: What! Would ye help me with wealth? But that which Allah hath given me is better than that which He hath given you. Nay it is ye (and not I) who exult in your gift. (27, 36)
Taurus is the sign of material wealth. The queen offered Solomon a pricey gift in order to justify her kingdom, but Solomon rejected the offer by explaining that the true wealth is actually the love and proximity of God.
The Scorpio Trial
He said: O chiefs! Which of you will bring me her throne before they come unto me, surrendering? (27, 38)
A stalwart of the Jinn said: I will bring it thee before thou canst rise from thy place. Lo! I verily am strong and trusty for such work. (27, 39)
One with whom was knowledge of the Scripture said: I will bring it thee before thy gaze returneth unto thee. And when he saw it set in his presence, Solomon said: This is of the bounty of my Lord, that He may try me whether I give thanks or am ungrateful. Whosoever giveth thanks he only giveth thanks for (the good of) his own soul: and whosoever is ungrateful (is ungrateful only to his own soul’s hurt). For lo! my Lord is Absolute in independence, Bountiful. (27, 40)
He said: Disguise her throne for her that we may see whether she will go aright or be of those not rightly guided. (27, 41)
So, when she came, it was said (unto her): Is thy throne like this? She said: (It is) as though it were the very one. And (Solomon said): We were given the knowledge before her and we had surrendered (to Allah). (27, 42)
And (all) that she was wont to worship instead of Allah hindered her, for she came of disbelieving folk. (27, 43)
Jinn is the metaphor for the sign of Scorpio. In verse 39, the stalwart Jinn said that he could bring the throne of Sheba to Solomon because that Jinn had the experience of the fixed signs; but the Jinn in verse 40 had the ‘knowledge of the Scripture’, which basically means that he had the knowledge of the whole zodiac, and therefore could immediately fetch the throne of Sheba for Solomon. In verse 41, Solomon changed the throne of Sheba to test the queen whether or not she would recognize those changes, but the queen in verse 42, failed to notice the change. The parable of this story suggests that due to decadence in lifestyles, the monarchs tend to lose touch with reality, and though their kingdom still exist in name, but in actuality it is all lost.
The Aquarius Trial
It was said unto her: Enter the hall. And when she saw it she deemed it a pool and bared her legs. (Solomon) said: Lo! it is a hall, made smooth, of glass. She said: My Lord! Lo! I have wronged myself, and I surrender with Solomon unto Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. (27, 44)
The verse 44 describes the trial of Queen with the phenomenon of mirage. The mirage is an optical illusion which occurs due to the temperature difference in the layers of air. ‘Air’ being the element of Aquarius, the sign whose symbol is the ‘water carrying man’, and thus quite befits the test of mirage for the queen. The queen got trapped by the illusion of water, and failed the test of Aquarius. Therefore, the queen of Sheba had to surrender her kingdom to the true king Solomon because the kingdom could not have been secured on false premises.
The End Note
The message of Quran is for the spiritual well being of humans, and that cannot be possible without human empowerment. Therefore, lessons of Quran map out the path for realization of human sovereignty and freedom, so as to help them reach the pinnacle of their potentials. I should conclude this article by quoting a verse from the Quran.
Say: O Allah! Owner of Sovereignty! Thou givest sovereignty unto whom Thou wilt, and Thou withdrawest sovereignty from whom Thou wilt. Thou exaltest whom Thou wilt and Thou abasest whom Thou wilt. In Thy hand is the good. Lo! Thou art Able to do all things. (3, 26)