Shaykh Ahmad El Azhary explores the Lessons from the Live of the Prophets in the Quran. He unlocks their aim, which is to direct us towards Allah Almighty and the Day of Judgement. This is the fifth article in the series.
In Sura al-An‘am, Allah mentions Dawud and Sulaiman (upon them be peace) by saying:
وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُۥٓ إِسْحَـٰقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ ۚ كُلًّا هَدَيْنَا ۚ وَنُوحًا هَدَيْنَا مِن قَبْلُ ۖ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِهِۦ دَاوُۥدَ وَسُلَيْمَـٰنَ وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُوسُفَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَهَـٰرُونَ ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِى ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ
“And We bestowed on him Isaac, and Jacob: Both We guided to Oneness, and Noah had We guided, well before. And of Abraham’s seed We guided David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron: And just as We required Abraham, do We repay those who excel in good.” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 6:84]
Al-Farra’, one of the scholars of grammar, remarks that وَمِن ذُرِّیَّتِهِۦ refers to Nuh (peace be upon him). Dawud and Sulaiman are from the progeny of Nuh (upon them be peace). While Ataa ibn Abi Rabah, a student of the Sahaba, did not agree: the reference in the pronoun, ذُرِّیَّتِهِ, refers to Ibrahim (upon him be peace).
Dawud and Sulaiman link to Ibrahim and Nuh equally because they are from the same progeny: the lineage of Prophethood (upon them be peace).
Why the link to Nuh (upon him be peace)? Nuh (peace be upon him) saved people. He also put a new system in the land after the flood. As for Ibrahim (upon him be peace), he built the house, restructured everything, and he was a focal point in the history of Prophethood.
Knowledge, Worship and Kingship
The life of Dawud (upon him be peace) being a king was full of knowledge and worship. Allah says about him:
وَءَاتَیۡنَا دَاوُۥدَ زَبُورا
“And just as We bestowed David the Psalms” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 4:163]
The Psalms were supplications, prayers and songs that Dawud used to sing. He was in such a state of continuous worship. Allah endowed him with patience. Allah says to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) when he faced the difficulty and the accusations of Quraysh:
ٱصۡبِرۡ عَلَىٰ مَا یَقُولُونَ وَٱذۡكُرۡ عَبۡدَنَا دَاوُۥدَ ذَا ٱلۡأَیۡدِۖ إِنَّهُۥۤ أَوَّابٌ
“Be patient with whatever they say, and so recall Our worshipful servant David, mighty in religion: Truly he ever returned to Us in love and repentance” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 38:17]
Awbah is continuous return to Allah. Non-stop and continuous worship which was manifesting in remembrance.
Prophet Dawud (upon him be peace) was also called:
“mighty in religion” [Keller, The Quran Beheld, 38:17]
The word yad in Arabic means hand and aydi means power. Prophet Dawud was a man of power. His power did not stop him from remembering Allah in the morning and the evening. The Quran says:
إِنَّا سَخَّرۡنَا ٱلۡجِبَالَ مَعَهُۥ یُسَبِّحۡنَ بِٱلۡعَشِیِّ وَٱلۡإِشۡرَاقِ
“Verily we subjected the very mountains with him, magnifying after him the incomparable glory of the Divine, at the wane of the day and first blaze of the sun” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 38:18]
Dawud’s remembrance was so moving that the mountains would move and remember Allah with him (upon him be peace).
Allah also says:
وَٱلطَّيْرَ مَحْشُورَةًۭ ۖ كُلٌّۭ لَّهُۥٓ أَوَّابٌۭ
“And the birds as well, massed all in flock together: Each of the both re-chorusing to him his own magnifications again and again.” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 38:19]
Reportedly, Ali ibn Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with him) said, “When the son of Adam dies, two things will cry for him. His place of prostration and the path that links him to heaven through which his deeds are taken up.” He advised: “If you are able to make as many prostrations in as many places as you can, do it so that all of these spots of the land will cry for you.”
Allah said about Pharaoh and his people:
فَمَا بَكَتۡ عَلَیۡهِمُ ٱلسَّمَاۤءُ وَٱلۡأَرۡضُ وَمَا كَانُوا۟ مُنظَرِینَ
“So neither sky nor earth wept over them: Nor found they any respite.” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 44:29]
The heavens and the earth did not cry for them because they didn’t do anything good. We understand that when a believer dies, the heavens and the earth will cry for him.
Imam Ghazali says: “The goodness that expands to others is better than the individual goodness.”
Dawud (upon him be peace) immersed himself in worship. Everyone knew that when Dawud (upon him be peace) is in his mihrab, no one can touch him, no one can jump in, and no one can even think of interrupting his seclusion.
Allah tested him with two brothers. As the Quran says:
وَهَلۡ أَتَىٰكَ نَبَؤُا۟ ٱلۡخَصۡمِ إِذۡ تَسَوَّرُوا۟ ٱلۡمِحۡرَابَ
“And has the tiding come to you of the disputants, when they scaled the outer walls to the temple’s upper sanctum?” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 38:21]
In Arabic, when you speak of two individuals or things there is a specific grammatical form. However, The Quran here says تَسَوَّرُوا۟ using the plural. This indicates that their coming was massive.
They came with a very simple question. One of them had ninety-nine sheep and the other had. The one who had ninety-nine asked his brother to give him the other one.
قَالَ لَقَدْ ظَلَمَكَ بِسُؤَالِ نَعْجَتِكَ إِلَىٰ نِعَاجِهِۦ ۖ وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًۭا مِّنَ ٱلْخُلَطَآءِ لَيَبْغِى بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ إِلَّا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَعَمِلُوا۟ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ وَقَلِيلٌۭ مَّا هُمْ ۗ وَظَنَّ دَاوُۥدُ أَنَّمَا فَتَنَّـٰهُ فَٱسْتَغْفَرَ رَبَّهُۥ وَخَرَّ رَاكِعًۭا وَأَنَابَ
“Asking no further, David said: ‘Verily he has wronged you by demanding your sheep to his own; And verily a great many partners take advantage of the other, save those who believe, and work righteous deeds, and how sadly few they are!’ – And David realized We had but made trial of him, so he asked his Lord’s forgiveness for not hearing both sides, and bowed straight down and repented in devotion and love.” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 38:24]
There are a lot of Judeo-Christian narratives on that. That Dawud (upon him be peace) desired this or he liked that or he did that or he did this. All of this is a fabrication of Bani Israel to attack Isa (upon him be peace) because Isa (upon him be peace) is a descendant of Dawud.
Dawud (upon him be peace) when he realized that his contribution to judging between people is as important as his personal ibada, he sought the forgiveness of Allah.
The other interpretation is that Dawud did not listen to the one who had the ninety-nine sheep and he thought it is not correct to listen to one opponent and forget the other.
وَأَلَنَّا لَهُ ٱلۡحَدِیدَ
“And We made iron miraculously soft in his hands” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 34:10]
Dawud (upon him be peace) fashioned armor from it. Every time you see a ring or any metal remember that this blessing came to you because of Prophet Dawud (upon him be peace).
ٱعۡمَلُوۤا۟ ءَالَ دَاوُۥدَ شُكۡراۚ
“‘Work, O folk of David, out of gratitude” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 34:13]
Dawud (upon him be peace) was a prophet of thankfulness and gratefulness. He served people. If you want to benefit from him then serve the people.