REFLECTING ON THE STORY OF PROPHET DAWOOD (A.S) IN SURAH SAAD
Jumuah lecture on Friday 22 February 2019 (16 Jamadi-ul-Thani 1440)
by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Almighty Allah (SWT) speaks about Prophet Dawood (a.s) in verses 21 onwards of Surah Saad (chapter 38 of the Holy Quran):
وَهَلْ أَتَاكَ نَبَأُ الْخَصْمِ إِذْ تَسَوَّرُوا الْمِحْرَابَ
“And has there come to you the story of the litigants, when they made an entry into the private chamber by ascending over the walls?”
This verse asks our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) whether the news came to him of the adversaries who climbed over the wall of Prophet Dawood’s prayer chamber.
Many different stories are given in explaining the background of these verses about Prophet Dawood (a.s). Many of these stories originate from the Old Testament and Jewish infiltration in Islamic narrations and resources.
Now, we do not believe those stories which sketch the background to these verses, since they are in complete contradiction with the principles of the Islamic faith, which believes in the infallibility of Prophets (a.s) and at the bare minimum, their supreme level of Taqwa and piety (if you do not believe in the infallibility of Prophets (a.s)).
Therefore, I will only narrate for you, that which is researched and coming from the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s), which does not affect the position of Nabi Dawood (a.s) as the Prophet of Almighty Allah (SWT).
PROPHET DAWOOD (A.S) IS IMPEDED WHILE ON A SPIRITUAL RETREAT
As we know, Nabi Dawood (a.s) held numerous positions. He was of course a Prophet, and thereby a messenger of Almighty Allah (SWT). Beyond being a Prophet, Nabi Dawood (a.s) was also granted power by Almighty Allah (SWT). Therefore, we refer to him as King David! Yes, he was a ruler, and Almighty Allah (SWT) says in verse 20 of Surah Saad (chapter 38 the Holy Quran) that He strengthened Nabi Dawood’s kingdom, and gave him wisdom, and also power to make decisions:
وَشَدَدْنَا مُلْكَهُ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْحِكْمَةَ وَفَصْلَ الْخِطَابِ
“And We strengthened his kingdom and We gave him wisdom and a clear judgment.”
So, Prophet Dawood (a.s) was a Prophet, a ruler, a wise man, and was also a judge in matters of dispute amongst the people, etc. So, this is one aspect of Prophet Dawood (a.s) that we should remember.
One day, Prophet Dawood (a.s) asked his support staff to relieve him as he wanted to sit isolated and supplicate and communicate with his Lord (SWT). So he asked his guards not to let anybody enter. This is what verse 21 of Surah Saad, cited earlier, refers to, that people who had disagreements (adversaries) did not enter through the normal channels which were blocked off, and then resorted to climb over the wall of the prayer chamber of Nabi Dawood (a.s) to get to him.
Naturally, this created some sort of concern for Nabi Dawood (a.s). Verse 22 of Surah Saad explains this scenario:
إِذْ دَخَلُوا عَلَىٰ دَاوُودَ فَفَزِعَ مِنْهُمْ ۖ قَالُوا لَا تَخَفْ ۖ خَصْمَانِ بَغَىٰ بَعْضُنَا عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ فَاحْكُمْ بَيْنَنَا بِالْحَقِّ وَلَا تُشْطِطْ وَاهْدِنَا إِلَىٰ سَوَاءِ الصِّرَاطِ
“When they entered in upon Dawood and he was frightened at them, they said: Fear not; two litigants, of whom one has acted wrongfully towards the other, therefore decide between us with justice, and do not act unjustly, and guide us to the right way.”
PROPHET DAWOOD (A.S) HAS TO ADJUDICATE IN A DISPUTE
This verse explains that Nabi Dawood (a.s) was alarmed by those people who entered illegally. However, those same people told Nabi Dawood (a.s) on this point, to not be afraid. They identified themselves as 2 adversaries with a dispute between them, where one has wronged the other, and they want Nabi Dawood (a.s) to judge between them with the Truth and guide them onto the right path.
Nabi Dawood (a.s) then asks them to present their matter of dispute for him to adjudicate. Verse 23 of Surah Saad then says that the one presents the case, saying that his adversary has 99 female sheep while he has only 1, and expects him to hand over the 1 as well, and has overpowered him in speech!
إِنَّ هَٰذَا أَخِي لَهُ تِسْعٌ وَتِسْعُونَ نَعْجَةً وَلِيَ نَعْجَةٌ وَاحِدَةٌ فَقَالَ أَكْفِلْنِيهَا وَعَزَّنِي فِي الْخِطَابِ
“This man is my brother: He has nine and ninety ewes, and I have (but) one: Yet he says, ‘commit her to my care,’ and is (moreover) harsh to me in speech.”
Verse 24 of Surah Saad explains the verdict which Nabi Dawood (a.s) hands down on the matter, where his analysis of the situation and conclusion was in favour of the person who only had 1 ewe:
قَالَ لَقَدْ ظَلَمَكَ بِسُؤَالِ نَعْجَتِكَ إِلَىٰ نِعَاجِهِ ۖ وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِنَ الْخُلَطَاءِ لَيَبْغِي بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَقَلِيلٌ مَا هُمْ ۗ
“He said: Surely he has been unjust to you in demanding your ewe (to add) to his own ewes; and most surely most of the partners act wrongfully towards one another, save those who believe and do good, and very few are they.”
The Holy Quran does not elaborate, but apparently, these 2 left thereafter. This is when Nabi Dawood (a.s) went back into the state of worship (Ibaadah) in his prayer chamber and calmed down.
PROPHET DAWOOD (A.S) REFLECTS ON THIS TEST FROM HIS LORD (SWT)
The last part of verse 24 of Surah Saad explains Nabi Dawood (a.s) reflecting on this situation being a test for him from Almighty Allah (SWT) as it is inconceivable how these 2 guys were able to gain access to him despite all the security he has in his big Kingdom:
وَظَنَّ دَاوُودُ أَنَّمَا فَتَنَّاهُ فَاسْتَغْفَرَ رَبَّهُ وَخَرَّ رَاكِعًا وَأَنَابَ
“and Dawood was sure that We had tried him, so he sought the protection of his Lord and he fell down bowing and turned time after time (to Him).”
So, this verse explains that Nabi Dawood (a.s) acknowledges this being a test from his Lord (SWT) on how he will react to this situation, and then he asked forgiveness from his Lord (SWT) by bowing down in prostration.
Verse 25 of Surah Saad explains Nabi Dawood’s status before Almighty Allah (SWT):
فَغَفَرْنَا لَهُ ذَٰلِكَ ۖ وَإِنَّ لَهُ عِنْدَنَا لَزُلْفَىٰ وَحُسْنَ مَآبٍ
“Therefore We rectified for him this, and most surely he had a nearness to Us and an excellent resort.”
Now, despite the high status of Nabi Dawood (a.s) articulated in verse 25, the question is, what mistake did Nabi Dawood (a.s) make, where he is begging for pardon from Almighty Allah (SWT) at the end of verse 24? Furthermore, it explains that Nabi Dawood (a.s) needs to be given guidelines, despite his lofty status before Almighty Allah (SWT).
In verse 26 of Surah Saad, Almighty Allah (SWT) reminds Nabi Dawood (a.s) of his responsibilities, after forgiving him:
يَا دَاوُودُ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَاكَ خَلِيفَةً فِي الْأَرْضِ فَاحْكُمْ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ بِالْحَقِّ وَلَا تَتَّبِعِ الْهَوَىٰ فَيُضِلَّكَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَضِلُّونَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ بِمَا نَسُوا يَوْمَ الْحِسَابِ
“O Dawood! Surely We have made you a ruler in the land; so judge between men with justice and do not follow desire, lest it should lead you astray from the path of Allah; (as for) those who go astray from the path of Allah, they shall surely have a severe punishment because they forgot the day of reckoning.”
WHAT WAS THE MISTAKE OF PROPHET DAWOOD (A.S)?
Coming back to the question – what was the mistake of Nabi Dawood (a.s)? Please note, the question is not about a sin of Nabi Dawood (a.s)…there is no Haraam which he committed. The mistake of Nabi Dawood (a.s) was that he rushed into judgement on the matter brought before him.
The responsibility of a judge is to review the case presented by both parties before providing a judgement on the matter at hand. Over here, Nabi Dawood (a.s) only listened to one side of the story ie. the case of the person who only had 1 ewe. He did not delve into understanding the case of the other party to this matter, who had 99 ewes. Nabi Dawood (a.s) therefore concluded on the matter prematurely, probably taking his personal gut feel to inform his judgement.
The Holy Quran is emphasizing here, that we should not bring our personal feelings and inclinations into the equation when adjudicating in a matter of dispute. We should also not judge people so easily!
You will recall that in verse 23 of Surah Saad, cited earlier, the person with 1 ewe who presented his case, claimed that his adversary was overpowering him in speech. However, this other person with 99 ewes never spoke, while the person with 1 ewe claims that he is talking too loud!!!
The very important point to remember here is that we should not get impressed by the manner in which people make statements or there oratory powers of persuasion. We need to remain calm, level-headed, and listen to all sides of the matter, considering only and only the pleasure of Almighty Allah (SWT) in making an informed judgement.
Hasty judgements destroy communities and societies!
Nabi Dawood (a.s) very appropriately reflects in verse 24 of Surah Saad, that many times you find associates wronging each other. However, one should not rush towards a judgement in addressing this wrongful behavior, based upon one particular statement or accusation. We should remain conscious of Almighty Allah (SWT) before reaching our conclusion, ensuring that it attains His pleasure. This is re-emphasized in verse 26 of Surah Saad, noted above.
So, these verses explain the responsibilities of the judiciary. However, the Quranic principle established here is not confined to the judiciary, as it is equally applicable to our day to day matters in society, where people have disputes with each other, and have claims against each other. The point is that you will never be able to achieve the correct conclusion, without having Taqwa (God consciousness).
There are a number of issues to address from the past week but I will elaborate on a couple of issues only, due to time constraints.
US-LED MIDDLE EAST CONFERENCE IN WARSAW
The first issue to discuss is the conference in Warsaw, Poland, where the leadership of the Muslim world gathered with the Zionist regime, under the auspices of the foreign secretary of USA. There are many angles from which to analyze this.
Firstly, they wanted to establish an alliance against the Islamic Republic of Iran. This was of course the central theme of the conference. However, if you look deeply, you will realize that it is not only about the issue of Iran. A deep reflection makes one realize that another very important strategic goal they want to achieve is to present Iran as a bogeyman. They want to present Iran as a monster that will take away your peaceful sleep at night!
They want to take away that sensitivity from the ordinary masses, about the relationship between Arab nations and Israel. They were successful in bringing together so many Arab leaders to sit at the same table as the murderer Benjamin Netanyahu, and enjoying jovial relations with him, under the banner of wanting to fight the regional threat of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The whole Ummah watched this with impotence, seeing these people trying to achieve the normalization of the relationship with Israel. It is not a taboo any longer! In addition, they have also given a clear message of sectarianism on the sidelines, stating that they want to establish a Sunni front against Shia Iran, because Shia representation was absent from this façade in Poland. Iran, Iraq and Lebanon were not there, but everyone else was there!
Now, the big joke that we see before us is that Zoroastrians (fire worshippers) of Iran are standing together with Sunni Palestinians, while the Muslim leadership, and so-called followers of true Tauheed (according to them), are sitting at the same table with Zionist Israel! This is something far more deep-rooted, which is the prelude to what they are referring to as the century’s pact, which is about taking over the Palestinian people and their rights.
They do not feel any shame that even the Europeans abstained from this gathering in Poland, but they felt very proud to be part of this conference. They did not feel any shame in stating that Iran is a much bigger danger than Israel!
PAKISTAN OVERWHELMED BY SAUDI PETRODOLLARS!
This strategy has an expansion, which we saw over the past week with the Saudi Crown Prince visiting Pakistan and throwing money at this begging country, pretty much buying their faith and everything.
Pakistan is a country which normally boils with emotion if something happens in Europe which castigates the image of Islam, and the whole of Pakistan will boil over with their emotional outburst, burning down embassies and doing all kinds of terrible things in response…
However, with the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince, we see that these same people were showering him with flowers! It is becoming crystal clear how successful they are in manipulating the minds of the masses and directing them!
According to them, the Saudi Crown Prince represents the Sunni world! His countless merciless crimes do not matter to them, whether it is the killing of Jamal Khashoggi or the destruction of children in Yemen. It also does not matter to them if he has backdoor deals with Israel. It is all fine for them because he is resisting Shia influence. Hence, everything is justified! This is how their minds have been successfully manipulated!
Pakistan is a unique example. If anything happens anywhere in the world which insults Islam, we see this nation being the first to come into the streets and voice their condemnation quite vociferously. There was none of this over during the visit to Pakistan by the Saudi Crown Prince, where in fact, he received a very warm welcome instead!
This is the bigger plan at play, where they want to keep us divided.
SUCCESSFUL NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF SHIA TO FOSTER CONTINUED UNITY
The second matter to discuss is on the domestic front, where there was a national conference of the followers of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) in Gauteng last weekend, which started with a united Jumuah with all Shia communities at the Islamic Centre for Africa in Johannesburg.
The purpose of this conference was to establish a united front of Shia in South Africa, to represent them and convey their voice at various strategic forums in the country. It was a great conference with tangible progress, despite the challenges ahead of us. There will be further positive updates to share in the coming months.
Indeed, this united front of Shia in South Africa does not mean that unity with our Sunni brethren is negated. Far from it! In fact, it is a step towards this ultimate objective of uniting all Muslims, by starting firstly by uniting everyone in the one house (ie. Shia Muslims) which will be the foundation for us to unite with our Muslim brethren in the broader house and family.
Therefore, the unity of the Muslim Ummah, and keeping us away from sectarianism, was emphasized and retained as a guideline in all the discussions and resolutions which were passed.
In conclusion, one of the major goals of this new consultative council is to have the best of relations and unity with our brethren belonging to different schools of thought in the country.