Quran Chapter 27 [part 1] - The Ants - Joy or Retribution, Solomon and the Queen of Sheba
A Meccan sura which takes its title from the ants mentioned in the Solomon story (verses 18–19). It both opens and closes by describing the Quran as joyful news for the believers and a warning for others. It gives stories of past prophets and the destruction of communities that disbelieved in them. Illustrations are given of the nature of God’s power, contrasted with the total lack of power of the ‘partners’ they worship beside Him.
In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
Joy or Retribution
1 Ta Sin
These are the verses of the Quran––a scripture that makes things clear; 2 a guide and joyful news for the believers 3 who keep up the prayer, pay the prescribed alms, and believe firmly in the life to come. 4 As for those who do not believe in the life to come, We have made their deeds seem alluring to them, so they wander blindly: 5 it is they who will have the worst suffering, and will be the ones to lose most in the life to come. 6 You [Prophet] receive the Quran from One who is all wise, all knowing.
Moses and Pharaoh
7 Moses said to his family, ‘I have seen a fire. I will bring you news from there, or a burning stick for you to warm yourselves.’ 8 When he reached the fire, a voice called: ‘Blessed is the person near this fire [a] and those around it; [b] may God be exalted, the Lord of the Worlds. 9 Moses, I am God, the Mighty, the Wise. 10 Throw down your staff,’ but when he saw it moving like a snake, he turned and fled. ‘Moses, do not be afraid! The messengers need have no fear in My presence, 11 I am truly most forgiving and merciful to those who do wrong, [c] and then replace their evil with good. 12 Put your hand inside your cloak and it will come out white, but unharmed. These are among the nine signs that you will show Pharaoh and his people; they have really gone too far.’
13 But when Our enlightening signs came to them, they said, ‘This is clearly [just] sorcery!’ 14 They denied them, in their wickedness and their pride, even though their souls acknowledged them as true. See how those who spread corruption met their end!
Solomon and the Queen of Sheba
15 We gave knowledge to David and Solomon, and they both said, ‘Praise be to God, who has favored us over many of His believing servants.’ 16 Solomon succeeded David. He said, ‘People, we have been taught the speech of birds, and we have been given a share of everything: this is a clearly a great favor.’ 17 Solomon’s hosts of jinn, men, and birds were marshalled in ordered ranks before him, 18 and when they came to the Valley of the Ants, one ant said, ‘Ants! Go into your homes, in case Solomon and his hosts unwittingly crush you.’ 19 Solomon smiled broadly at her words and said, ‘Lord, inspire me to be thankful for the blessings You have granted me and my parents, and to do good deeds that please You; admit me by Your grace into the ranks of Your righteous servants.’
20 Solomon inspected the birds and said, ‘Why do I not see the hoopoe? Is he absent? 21 I will punish him severely, or kill him, unless he brings me a convincing excuse for his absence.’ 22 But the hoopoe did not stay away long: he came and said, ‘I have learned something you did not know: I come to you from Sheba with firm news. 23 I found a woman ruling over the people, who has been given a share of everything– she has a magnificent throne– 24 [but] I found that she and her people worshipped the sun instead of God. Satan has made their deeds seem alluring to them, and diverted them from the right path: they cannot find the right path. 25 Should they not worship God, who brings forth what is hidden in the heavens and earth and knows both what you people conceal and what you declare? 26 He is God, there is no god but Him, the Lord of the mighty throne.’ 27 Solomon said, ‘We shall see whether you are telling the truth or lying. 28 Take this letter of mine and deliver it to them, then withdraw and see what answer they send back.’
29 The Queen of Sheba said, ‘Counsellors, a gracious letter has been delivered to me. 30 It is from Solomon, and it says, “In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy, 31 do not put yourselves above me, and come to me in submission to God.”’ 32 She said, ‘Counsellors, give me your counsel in the matter I now face: I only ever decide on matters in your presence.’ 33 They replied, ‘We possess great force and power in war, but you are in command, so consider what orders to give us.’ 34 She said, ‘Whenever kings go into a city, they ruin it and humiliate its leaders– that is what they do– 35 but I am going to send them a gift, then see what answer my envoys bring back.’
36 When her envoy came to Solomon, Solomon said, ‘What! Are you offering me wealth? What God has given me is better than what He has given you, though you rejoice in this gift of yours. 37 Go back to your people: we shall certainly come upon them with irresistible forces, and drive them, disgraced and humbled, from their land.’ 38 Then he said, ‘Counsellors, which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?’ 39 A powerful and crafty jinn replied, ‘I will bring it to you before you can even rise from your place. I am strong and trustworthy enough,’ 40 but one of them who had some knowledge of the Scripture said, ‘I will bring it to you in the twinkling of an eye.’
When Solomon saw it set before him, he said, ‘This is a favor from my Lord, to test whether I am grateful or not: if anyone is grateful, it is for his own good, if anyone is ungrateful, then my Lord is self-sufficient and most generous.’ 41 Then he said, ‘Disguise her throne, and we shall see whether or not she recognizes it.’ 42 When she arrived, she was asked, ‘Is this your throne?’ She replied, ‘It looks like it.’ [Solomon said], ‘We were given knowledge before her, and we devoted ourselves to God; 43 she was prevented by what she worshipped instead of God, for she came from a disbelieving people.’ 44 Then it was said to her, ‘Enter the hall,’ but when she saw it, she thought it was a deep pool of water, and bared her legs. Solomon explained, ‘It is just a hall paved with glass,’ and she said, ‘My Lord, I have wronged myself: I devote myself, with Solomon, to God, the Lord of the Worlds.’
a. Moses or God. Literally ‘in this fire’ (fi al-nari). Zamakhshari interprets fi as ‘near’, while Qatada and Zajjaj understand nar ‘fire’ to mean nur ‘light’ (Razi).
b. The angels.
c. Cf. 28: 15. This is an allusion to a man Moses killed in Egypt.
The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)
The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.