Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel
I teach Quran memorization to sixth-grade students. I was casually informing them of the death of Prophet Suleyman (peace be upon him). A young boy asked, “How could Prophet Suleyman (peace be upon him) have died and been abandoned for so long if he was the King of All? He’d been alone for so long that termites began to eat away at his stick, causing him to fall and die. Why hadn’t anyone come to see the king at that time?”
I don’t want to instill doubt in him at such a young age. How can I explain the lack of an answer to him if there is none? He is quite intelligent for his age and very curious.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.
I pray you are well. Thank you for your question.
We have to understand at the onset that in every matter that unfolded in the past and that will unfold in the future, our limited intellectual capacity may not understand or comprehend its apparent reason, maybe with time, we may do, and we are not obliged to do so, however on the Day of Judgment one will see the wisdom behind everything that unfolded.
State of Prophet Suleyman’s Death
“When We decreed Solomon’s death, nothing indicated to the (subjected) jinn that he was dead except the termites eating away his staff. So when he collapsed, the jinn realized that if they had (really) known the unseen, they would not have remained in (such) humiliating servitude.” [Quran, 34:14]
Reason for Unusual Death
The reason for this unusual event is that there is no escape from death for anyone; also, Allah Most High can, when He wishes to have someone do something, arrange to have it done the way He wills. This is exactly what happened during this event when Prophet Sulayman (peace be upon him) kept – despite his death – standing in his place, and the Jinns were made to complete the work assigned to them.
This event also shows that all causes and effects of the world keep fulfilling their function until Allah Most High lets them do so. When He would not let them do so, causes and effect fail, like the support of the staff here was ended through the termite.
Moreover, soon after the death of Prophet Sulayman (peace be upon him), there existed the danger that people who noticed the astonishing performance of the Jinns and came across their apparently unbelievable access to unseen things might take them as their objects of worship. This event of death also eliminated this danger. Everyone knew that the Jinns were unaware and helpless in this matter.
Adoption of this Approach at the Time of Death
From this submission, it becomes clear that Prophet Sulayman (peace be upon him) had adopted this particular approach at the time of his death for two reasons:
- That the remaining work on the construction of Bayt al-Maqdis gets to be completed;
- That people find out the truth about the Jinns, realize that they were really unaware and helpless, and thus there remains no danger of Jinns being taken by them as objects of veneration and worship. [Shafi, Mariful Quran; Qurtubi, Al Jami Li Ahkam al-Quran]
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I pray this helps with your question.
[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied in the UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. He started his early education in the UK. He went on to complete the hifz of the Quran in India, then enrolled in an Islamic seminary in the UK, where he studied the secular and ‘Aalimiyya sciences. He then traveled to Karachi, Pakistan. He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for several years. He has taught hifz of the Quran, Tajwid, Fiqh, and many other Islamic sciences to children and adults onsite and online extensively in the UK and Ireland. He taught at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK, where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences. He currently resides in the UK with his wife. His interest is a love of books and gardening.