Then, when We executed Our decree for his death, nothing showed them that he (Solomon) was dead... (As-Saba’ 34:14)

فَلَمَّا قَضَيْنَا عَلَيْهِ الْمَوْتَ مَا دَلَّهُمْ عَلَىٰ مَوْتِهِ إِلَّا دَابَّةُ الْأَرْضِ تَأْكُلُ مِنسَأَتَهُ ۖ فَلَمَّا خَرَّ تَبَيَّنَتِ الْجِنُّ أَن لَّوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ الْغَيْبَ مَا لَبِثُوا فِي الْعَذَابِ الْمُهِينِ
Then, when We executed Our decree for his death, nothing showed them that he (Solomon) was dead, except that a termite had been gnawing away his staff (until it broke). Then when he fell to the ground, it became clear to the jinn that if they had known the Unseen, they would not have continued in the tormenting toil that humiliated them. (As-Saba’ 34:14)

First of all, what the Qur’ān wills to teach in this verse is the fact that the jinn do not know the Unseen. Since the jinn do not know the Unseen, those who claim to get information about the Unseen from the jinn do not and will never know the Unseen. Therefore, it has been judged that those who accept what soothsayers tell about the future leave the sphere of the Religion—may God save us from such misguidance.[1]

Secondly, some modern interpreters assert that the Qur’anic descriptions concerning the issue that jinn worked under the command of Prophet Solomon are figurative. However, there is no ground for such an assertion. These and other similar descriptions of the Qur’ān are about realities. What falls to us is to try to understand the lessons intended by them. For instance, let us try to see what the Qur’ān means by the verse above:

The universe is a collection of systems, one within the other, that was built and continues to exist by the Divine Knowledge, Will, and Power. There is no room for chance in any system and any movement within the universe. Thus, the fact that Solomon’s staff’s was gnawed away by a termite (or termites) is not something that occurred by chance. What this incident might have meant is that Solomon’s kingdom would one day disintegrate and collapse. As a matter of fact, the chaotic atmosphere that had dominated before his father Prophet David returned in the years following the death of Prophet Solomon, peace be upon him, and clashes and divisions appeared once again in his kingdom.

Indeed, even the most powerful states and empires unexpectedly collapse and become things of the past. And those who held fast to them find themselves in a new process.

[1] See Tirmidhī, Tahārah, 102; Ibn Mājah, Tahārah, 122; Abū Dāwūd, Tibb, 1.

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