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السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ

In Surah Saad there is a verse that goes:

And indeed, We tested Solomon, placing a ˹deformed˺ body on his throne,1 then he turned ˹to Allah in repentance˺. Qur'an 38:34

After this, he (Sulayman (AS) / King Solomon) prayed to Allah to forgive him and to grant him a unique and exclusive kingdom:

He prayed, “My Lord! Forgive me, and grant me an authority that will never be matched by anyone after me. You are indeed the Giver ˹of all bounties˺.” Qur'an 38:35

What exactly does placing a body on his throne mean? Is there an incident behind this verse? Can someone provide me with an explanation for it, preferably with a reference from the books of Tafasir?

If there's a difference of opinion in this between Shias and Sunnis, a Sunni answer is requested.

2 Answers 2

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Almost all the early mufassiroon said this verse refers to an incident when a Jinn was able to take the power of Sulaiman (AS) and sit on his throne appearing like him, and Sulaiman (AS) lost his power and kingdom. Then, Allah returned it to him.

So, the verse is:

And indeed, We tested Solomon, placing a body [i.e. a Jinn with a body like his] on his throne,

And the "returning" could either refer to him returning to his kingdom or returning to Allah in repentance for some sin he committed for which he was tested with this test.

then he returned [and took back his kingdom].

That this body refers to a Jinn is reported by most of the mufassiroon (see Tafsir Tabari) and it is mentioned by Bukhari in his chapter on tafsir.

A lot of people quoted long traditions detailing why this incident happened and how it happened, but those details are unlikely to be very authentic and probably originate with the Jews.

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  • Thank you for the answer. Can you give references to content from the book of these early Muafssiroon?
    – user51831
    Nov 18, 2022 at 4:05
  • Okay, nevermind, for some reason my monitor has been glitching and white blocks appear, and due to my zoom I thought your answer didn't have the references part.
    – user51831
    Nov 18, 2022 at 4:06
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There are various reports in Tafsirs on what this "body" means. Among them are:

  • It means a devil who took on the appearance of Solomon and ruled as an impostor in his place.

    This is a famous story linked of the verse. However some scholars have made objections to it because rationally it should not be possible for a jinn to be allowed to assume the form of a Prophet, because this is contrary to the protections that are granted by Allah to the prophets (e.g. for the protection of their teachings). Also some variants of this story have other objectionable content such as the devil visiting the wives of Solomon after taking his form. Also this story is likely taken from the Israelite legends about the demon Ashmedai (see here).

  • It means a stillborn or deformed child who was placed on the Kursi. This is the same one mentioned in the Sahih Hadith:

    سليمان بن داود ـ عليهما السلام ـ لأطوفن الليلة بمائة امرأة، تلد كل امرأة غلاما، يقاتل في سبيل الله، فقال له الملك قل إن شاء الله‏.‏ فلم يقل ونسي، فأطاف بهن، ولم تلد منهن إلا امرأة نصف إنسان

    Solomon son of David said, "Tonight I will go round (i.e. have sexual relations with) one hundred women (my wives) everyone of whom will deliver a male child who will fight in Allah's Cause."

    On that an Angel said to him, "Say: 'If Allah will.' " But Solomon did not say it and forgot to say it.

    Then he had sexual relations with them but none of them delivered any child except one who delivered a half person.

    Bukhari

  • One of the wives of Solomon secretly worshiped an idol without his knowledge. And the body means means this idol. Similar to the first one this is likely taken from Israelite legends.

  • It means Solomon himself as he was tested with an illness. A living person who becomes very weak and ill is metaphorically called a body.

Ref: Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Tafsir al-Baghawy, Tafseer al-Razi

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  • This is a great answer as well. Jazak Allah khair!
    – user51831
    Nov 20, 2022 at 10:50
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    It might be interesting to note that although Bukhari narrates the hadith of the stillborn child, he doesn't believe it has anything to do with the verse and holds the first opinion about the verse.
    – The Z
    Dec 16, 2022 at 19:13

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