Every Monday in Ramadan 2021, we'll be sharing a Story of Hope from the Qur'an and Sunnah with you. Follow us on social media or subscribe to our email newsletter (enter your email on the left) to receive these inspirational stories straight to your inbox!
Our first Story of Hope is about Prophet Sulaiman (as), who rebuilt the Blessed Masjid Al-Aqsa and made a special du'a as he was doing so.
But before we talk about that particular story, we need to go further back. Who was Sulaiman (as) and how did he end up rebuilding Masjid Al-Aqsa?
1. Sulaiman's background
Sulaiman (as) was the son of Prophet Dawud (as), who was from Bani Israil. In the Abrahamic religions, Dawud (as) is most well-known for defeating Jalut (Goliath), a giant man who was seemingly unbeatable.
The Israelite king at the time, Talut, promised that whoever defeated Jalut could marry his daughter and become king. According to their accounts, Dawud (as) defeated the giant with only a slingshot. To this day, this story serves as a reminder that anything is possible with the help of Allah (swt), and His help is sufficient for the believers.
'So they defeated them by permission of Allah, and David killed Goliath, and Allah gave him kingship and prophethood and taught him from that which He willed. And if it were not for Allah checking [some] people by means of others, the earth would have been corrupted, but Allah is full of bounty to the worlds'. [The Noble Qur'an, 2:251]
The Qur'an tells us that Dawud (as) was truly blessed by Allah:
- He was a wise king to his people, and Allah gave him good judgement and knowledge to judge between them.
- He was also given the holy scripture of the Zabur (Psalms), and Allah made the recitation of it easy for him.
- When he praised Allah, the birds and mountains would praise their Lord as well.
- Allah made iron pliable for him, so he became a great craftsman.
'And We certainly gave Dawud bounty from Us. [We said], "O mountains, repeat [Our] praises with him, and the birds [as well]". And We made pliable for him iron, [commanding], "Make full coats of chain mail, and calculate the links, and work righteousness. Indeed, I am All-Seeing of what you do"'. [The Noble Qur'an, 34:10-11]
Dawud (as) is also an example to all of humankind to this day:
To this pious man, Allah gave a pious son: Sulaiman (as).
2. Sulaiman's gifts
We have mentioned above the gifts which Allah bestowed upon Dawud (as). Sulaiman (as) not only inherited many great things from his father; Allah gave him even more blessings!
For example, he was granted the ability to communicate with jinn, animals and birds, as well as the ability to control the wind. The Qur'an is filled with stories of these miraculous gifts - far too many stories to mention here.
Allah also calls Sulaiman (as) 'Awwab', which literally means one who repeatedly turns back. This refers to those who constantly repent to Allah, and is one of the most beloved qualities to Him, which he rewards highly:
'And to Dawud We gave Sulaiman. How excellent a servant! Indeed, he was ever turning back [to Allah, in repentance]. [Mention] when, in the afternoon, poised horses were displayed before him. And he (Sulaiman) said, "Indeed, I gave preference to the love of good things (i.e. looking at horses) instead of the remembrance of my Lord, until (the sun) disappeared into the veil (of night). Bring them (the horses) back to me". Then he began to pass his hand over their legs and their necks. […] He (Sulaiman) said, "My Lord, forgive me and grant me a kingdom such as will not belong to anyone after me. Indeed, you are the Bestower"'. [The Noble Qur'an, 38: 31-35]
According to Tafsir ibn Kathir, Sulaiman (as) was watching well-trained horses of an excellent breed one afternoon and, caught up in admiring them, he missed the time for praying 'Asr. He felt remorse for admiring the good things of this dunya to the point where he forgot to pray and missed out on remembering Allah.
So Sulaiman (as) ordered the horses to be brought back to him and, according to Ibn Abbas (ra), he began patting the horses heads and legs, before giving them up for the sake of Allah [Tafsir ibn Kathir]. He then asked Allah for forgiveness and also asked for Allah's favour.
The above story gives us hope for two reasons:
Firstly, even Sulaiman (as), a wise king and a prophet who was repeatedly blessed by Allah, asked for Allah's forgiveness and constantly repented to Allah. Seeking mercy and forgiveness is an act of worship which is beloved to Allah.
In fact, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, 'By the One in whose hand is my soul, if you did not sin, Allah would replace you with people who would sin, and they would seek forgiveness from Allah and He would forgive them' [Muslim]. Even if we are not confident in other good deeds - for example, praying at night or giving charity - we should at least strive to ask for mercy and forgiveness, especially in Ramadan!
Secondly, after asking for mercy, Sulaiman (as) asked for Allah's blessings and favour. We will discuss Sulaiman's du'a in more detail below, but here we would just like to point out that, just as Allah is the Forgiver, He is also the Bestower and the Provider, and He loves for us to ask Him for what we want. Sulaiman (as) asked Allah for something truly great - a kingdom incomparable to any other worldly kingdom - and Allah granted this to him!
This Ramadan, let's not hold back in asking Allah to give to us, for we can always trust Him and have hope in His generosity.
3. Sulaiman (as) rebuilds Masjid Al-Aqsa
We will now discuss the main part of this story: how Sulaiman (as) rebuilt Al-Aqsa, and the special du'a he made during this time.
Dawud (as) and Sulaiman (as) lived in the sacred city of Jerusalem, which is home to the Blessed Masjid Al-Aqsa, the second-oldest masjid on earth:
On the authority of Abu Dharr (ra) who said, 'I said, "O Messenger of Allah, which masjid was built first?"
He said, "The Sacred Masjid (al-Masjid al-Haram in Makkah)".
I said, "And then which one?"
He said, "And then the Furthest Masjid (al-Masjid al-Aqsa in al-Quds)".
I said, "What was the period between them?"
He said, "Forty (years)". He then said, "Wherever the time for the prayer comes upon you, then pray, for the earth is a place of prostration (masjid) for you"'. [Bukhari]
According to Imam al-Baghawi, the Ka’bah was first built by angels, around 2,000 years before Adam (as) was sent to earth. Later, Adam (as) was ordered to lay the foundations of the Ka’bah once more. Since Masjid Al-Aqsa was built only 40 years after the Ka’bah, it is safe to assume that it has existed since the earliest years of humankind.
However, at the time of Dawud (as) and Sulaiman (as), Masjid Al-Aqsa had fallen into ruin. Just as Ibrahim (as) had been commanded to rebuild the Ka'bah, Dawud (as) was given the noble task of rebuilding Masjid Al-Aqsa. Sadly, he passed away before he could finish it, and Sulaiman (as) inherited this duty.
As mentioned before, Sulaiman (as) ruled over people, jinn and animals - so he had a great deal of support in rebuilding Masjid Al-Aqsa! However, he worried that his time in this world was coming to an end. As they worked, he made a special du'a to Allah:
SubhanAllah, although Sulaiman (as) passed away while rebuilding the Masjid, Allah still answered his du'a, by ensuring the rebuilding work didn't stop!
Sulaiman (as) passed away as he was leaning on his walking stick, watching his workers. Miraculously, he continued to stand even after his soul left his body - believing that their king was watching them, the workers continued their task, until Masjid Al-Aqsa had been rebuilt. At this point, he fell to the ground - a group of ants had eaten through his walking stick, and it no longer supported him.
Because of this miracle, thousands of people from around the world can visit Masjid Al-Aqsa every year. They can see its beautiful olive trees, pray in its blessed rooms and visit its historic graveyard. And every time someone travels to Masjid Al-Aqsa to pray there, Allah answers the du'a of Prophet Sulaiman (as), forgiving all of their sins.
4. Lessons from this Story of Hope
As mentioned before, the main lesson we can gather from this story of hope is the beauty and power of du'a.
Sulaiman (as) asked Allah for three things, none of which were small. Allah granted all him all three.
- To this day, all Abrahamic faiths know Sulaiman (Solomon) to be a wise judge of the people he ruled over. He truly did have judgement in line with the Divine Judgement.
- To this day, no one has ever had a worldly kingdom comparable to his, for he even commanded the wind and the animals!
- And to this day, anyone who visits Al-Aqsa is, in sha Allah, granted complete forgiveness, to the point where they are as pure as the day they were born - a status mostly associated with people who perform Hajj to the Ka'bah.
Making du'a is one of easiest and most powerful ways to demonstrate our trust and hope in Allah:
Firstly, making du'a instantly shows that we know Allah is the One who ultimately removes our problems and gives us good things. As we make du'a, we acknowledge our dependence on Allah for everything.
Secondly, du'a increases our own mental capacity for hope. In these difficult times, it's easy to slip into resignation or despair - our health, our loved ones, our livelihoods, our lifestyles and our personal freedoms are all at risk. But every time we make du'a, we realise that all of these obstacles pale in comparison to Allah's power. This gives us hope that things can change for the better.
Thirdly, du'a reminds us of Allah's favour towards us, which increases our trust towards Him. As mentioned before, even if we are not confident in other good deeds, like night prayers or giving charity, making du'a is a simple action which Allah loves. It helps us to be from those who repeatedly turn back to Allah in repentance, who rely only on Allah to fulfil our needs, and who feel Allah's closeness to us at all times. When we make du'a, we are reminded of Allah's favour to us: He is the One Who guides us to returning to Him, again and again, in our du'as.
Du'a is thus an extremely powerful worship which we should not miss out on this Ramadan - and we should definitely not limit our du'a and hold back on what we ask for! As the Prophet (saw) said, 'There is no Muslim who calls upon Allah, without sin or cutting family ties, but that Allah will give him one of three answers: He will quickly fulfil his supplication, He will store it for him in the Hereafter, or He will divert an evil from him similar to it'. They said, 'In that case we will ask for more'. The Prophet said, 'Allah has even more'. [Ahmad]
5. Will you benefit from Sulaiman's du'a?
Alhamdulillah, during the unprecedented difficulties of this time, Allah has granted us an amazing opportunity to benefit from Sulaiman's du'a and get our sins forgiven!
Although we cannot visit Masjid Al-Aqsa and pray there, we can earn the reward of praying there!
We are installing a state-of-the-art lighting system in the Dome of the Rock Masjid, the majestic golden-domed structure which sits at the centre of the Blessed Masjid Al-Aqsa complex. This is believed to be the exact place where the Prophet (saw) ascended through the skies on Al-Isra wal-Mi'raj and it is an incredibly special place.
By illuminating the Dome of the Rock, we are not only carrying on the legacy of renovating Masjid Al-Aqsa. We are also earning the reward of praying in Masjid Al-Aqsa itself! This is a beautiful Sadaqah Jariyah, an unmissable opportunity to invest in our akhirah and a gift of hope from Allah to us.
Moreover, for every £250 you give towards this lighting project, we have a special gift for you! We will send you a bottle of olive oil from the blessed trees of Masjid Al-Aqsa itself!
Because Allah swears by these olives [The Noble Qur'an 95:1], this olive oil is considered priceless and is never sold. It is always gifted, mostly to the poor families who live in sacred Jerusalem. Alhamdulillah, we have been given the opportunity to gift this oil to our generous donors - but we only have a limited supply!
Don't miss out on this amazing opportunity! Give now to illuminate the Dome of the Rock Masjid and gain the reward of praying in Al-Aqsa, forgiveness for all of your sins, incredible Sadaqah Jariyah rewards and a bottle of blessed olive oil!
Muslim Hands is an award-winning charity, established in 1993 to help those needing emergency relief and tackling the root causes of poverty. If you enjoyed this article, check out our Stories of Hope Gift Pack - it's the perfect gift to inspire your child this Ramadan! And visit our Masjid Al-Aqsa page for more ways to serve the Blessed Masjid and her caretakers.