Today we begin a new Meccan surah named “The Ants” because of an esoteric mention of the animals made by King Solomon in ayah 18.  The main point of this section is the same it has been in many of the surahs we have reads thus far: don’t judge the goodness of the Qur’an or the effectiveness of the prophet based on the reception of the people; a long line of prophets have been rejected just as is happening to Muhammad. Breaking through the monotony of repetition, are some interesting stories about two biblical characters not told in the Bible.

Moses is reported as saying he will go over to the Burning Bush to find fire that he can bring back to his family so that they can warm themselves (27:7).  Interesting new idea not borrowed from the Bible.

King Solomon is reported as knowing the language of birds (27:16).  He could also marshal ranks of jinn and birds along with people, possible for battle (27:17).  Solomon’s power was so great that even the armies of ants feared him and ran to their homes (27:18).  The strangest stories of all is that of a hoopoe, a beautiful, regal bird, who had scouted out the southern kingdom of Sheba in fine military fashion (27:20-44).  This story appears to be the back-story of the Queen of Sheba that many of us would know from the Bible.  This pagan queen and her powerful armies are humbled by the wisdom of Solomon and the Queen devotes herself to Solomon’s God.  Interesting!

King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba

One ayah early in today’s reading gave me pause:

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: it is they who will have the worst suffering, and will be the ones to lose most in the life to come. (27:4-5)

It would appear from this passage that these people were given the freedom to believe the prophet’s message of a second life, but with their freedom they rejected.  Then Allah overwhelms their freedom and sends them into a degradation that is made to seem alluring and that causes them to walk further and further from Him.  My question from this is how much of a chance are people given before their chances are over and they are sealed for destruction?  Is this a one-shot thing?  How patient is this God?