Stories of the Prophets

Prophet Daud (AS) – Part II


Apart from kingship, Daud AS was a judge amongst his people, and discharged his duties with utmost justice.

Allah says:

[We said], “O Daud, indeed We have made you a successor upon the earth, so judge between the people in truth and do not follow [your own] desire, as it will lead you astray from the way of Allah.” Indeed, those who go astray from the way of Allah will have a severe punishment for having forgotten the Day of Account. (Al Qur’an 38:26).

Daud AS used to have a special and private sanctuary (mihrab) where he could be alone to perform his worship. This area was off limits to the public. One night, a strange incident happened. Two people entered the mihrab by climbing over the walls. Daud AS was understandably alarmed when he saw them. The two men told him not to fear. They were claimants, and apparently one had wronged the other, so they wanted to seek Daud’s AS judgment on the matter.

They said, “Fear not. [We are] two adversaries, one of whom has wronged the other, so judge between us with truth and do not exceed [it] and guide us to the sound path.

Indeed this, my brother, has ninety-nine ewes, and I have one ewe; so he said, ‘Entrust her to me,’ and he overpowered me in speech.” 

[Daud] said, “He has certainly wronged you in demanding your ewe [in addition] to his ewes. And indeed, many associates oppress one another, except for those who believe and do righteous deeds – and few are they.” (Al Qur’an 38:24).

Something was disturbing about the situation – the bizarre materialisation of these two men, and the strange nature of their dispute. It is reported that the two men then vanished into thin air. Daud AS realized that the two men were in fact angels disguised as men, and that he had been tried. He was so afraid that he immediately repented and sought Allah’s forgiveness, falling down in prostration to his Lord.

We do not have any authentic reports on what his wrong was. According to some, Daud AS had erred in giving judgment by listening to only one side of the story. According to Israelite narratives, Daud AS had 99 wives and wanted one more – however, there is no confirmation of this under Islamic traditions. If Allah SWT had wanted the nature of his wrongdoing to be known to us, He would have disclosed it, but in keeping such details concealed, it is clear that the details of his mistake are irrelevant to us. What is relevant is that he prostrated to Allah in repentance for his error, and that Allah forgave him for it. When the following verse was revealed, Muhammad (SAW) also prostrated:

And Daud became certain that We had tried him, and he asked forgiveness of his Lord and fell down bowing [in prostration] and turned in repentance [to Allah]. So We forgave him that; and indeed, for him is nearness to Us and a good place of return. (Al Qur’an 38:21-38:25).

Daud AS was granted a son, Sulaiman AS. Sulaiman AS was, like his father, endowed with extreme intelligence and justice. He used to observe the way his father rendered judgments, and over time, Allah SWT endowed Sulaiman AS with wisdom that was deeper and greater than his father’s.

In one incident, two people presented their dispute. The claimant asserted that his neighbour’s flock of sheep had entered his farmland and grazed all the crops, destroying that season’s harvest. This fact was confirmed by the owner of the sheep. Daud AS ruled that the owner of the sheep was to hand over all his sheep to the owner of the land as compensation for the lost harvest. However, Sulaiman AS had a better idea. Instead of depriving the owner of the sheep entirely, he suggested that the two claimants swapped their assets. The owner of the land was to take all the sheep, and benefit from its produce, including wool, milk and ewes. During this period, the owner of the sheep was to take care of the first claimant’s farmland, until the crops were rehabilitated and the farmland was restored back to its original condition. When the farmland was restored, then the two parties could take back his own assets. Such was the resoundingly sound judgment of Sulaiman AS, which his father agreed to.

In another incident, there were two women – one older and one younger, both of whom had infants. A wolf or a fox kidnapped one of the babies and carried it off, never to be seen again. Now the two women claimed that the remaining infant was hers. Daud AS judged in favour of the older woman. Sulaiman AS was not completely convinced, so he suggested to both women to saw the baby in half, and give each woman half of the infant. The younger woman was horrified to hear this, and she screamed that she would rather give up her claim to the baby instead of seeing it hurt. The older woman was silent. It was clear that the one who jumped at the defence of the baby, and displayed her maternal protective instinct was the real mother of the infant, and thus Daud’s AS original ruling was rescinded and the baby was reunited with its real mother, the younger woman.

Sulaiman AS may have been the younger one, but Allah bestowed upon him a deeper understanding of the circumstances, and therefore a higher level of wisdom than his father. Here, we understand that people can be presented with the same facts, same education and even the same circumstances, but the individual comprehension and understanding of a matter still varies according to the knowledge that Allah SWT chooses to grant a person.


Daud AS was a possessive man and took great care of his family. When he went out he would lock the door and no man could enter the house until he returned. One day, he went out and locked the door as usual. Suddenly his wife came to see a man in the middle of the house and worried about Daud’s AS reaction when he came back to find the stranger there.

When Daud AS came home and saw the man standing in his house, he asked the man who he was. He replied: “I am the one who does not fear any king, neither could be barred by any hurdle.” Daud AS realised that he could only be the angel of death who had come to claim his soul.

Even though Daud AS was in possession of so much riches of the world, he did not cling on to this dunia the way rich people who normally do. He did not resist as the angel plucked to soul from his body, and thus he passed away.

Daud AS was so loved by the people that thousands flocked to pay their last respects to him. It was a hot day, so Sulaiman AS instructed the birds to provide shade. The birds formed a canopy with their wings to block the strong sun. Consistent with the ungrateful nature of Bani Israel, they then complained it was too hot, so Sulaiman (AS) commanded the birds to contract one wing, to allow some breeze through.

Usually Prophets and Messengers do not leave behind any wealth to be inherited by their children, but in the case of Daud AS, his son Sulaiman AS(who by the time of his father’s death, already demonstrated signs of prophethood) inherited both his kingdom and his prophethood.


Giving fair judgments

Allah SWT has commanded us to judge between the people in truth (i.e. based on the facts and circumstances of the matter, which should be assessed objectively, without fear or favour) rather than through our own desire. Islam is so beautiful – we are warned that when a judge passes a sentence based on his own desire (including judging others while under the influence of anger, fatigue, hunger, irritation or when immersed in personal problems), such unfair judgments would lead one astray from the way of Allah. This is why under Shariah, judges are subject to strict rules and not allowed to issue any judgment when they are in this state.

If we follow the majority of how people judge each other, it will definitely lead us to destruction. Look at the corruption amongst judges today, where the innocent are sentenced to jail or even to the gallows, and the oppressors are allowed to walk free. If only everyone realised that we will be judged of what we do, and the heavy penalties for issuing judgments based on our desires instead of the facts, we will refrain from 99% of what we do.

A Rightful Successor

Sulaiman (AS) constantly observed his father’s wisdom, and Daud AS trained him from a young age to observe when disputes were presented before him. This is the ideal quality of a parent, who leads by example rather than just words.

Most of us dream of leaving our legacy on earth, and for our children to inherit what we had accumulated. However, inheritance is usually in the form of wealth alone, and not in the form of goodness or wisdom. The story of Daud AS shows the importance of passing on the mission to propagate the message of Allah to the next generation, as well as to spread justice throughout the people. With Allah’s will, Sulaiman AS eventually exceeded his father both in kingdom and ability, but more importantly, in justice and wisdom.

Love of the Hereafter

Majority of the rich people, at the time of death, do not want to let go of this world and their possessions. Their spiritually hearts are too attached to their wealth to let go, even when the Angel of Death has arrived. Daud AS was different, despite his wealth, he calmly let the Angel of Death take his soul, because he was prepared for a better and more enduring hereafter.


Original Source: Muslim Footsteps

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