“And We did raise among every people a Messenger”
Jalees Ahmad, Al Hakam
Prophet Davidas, known as Dawud [دَاوُد] in the Holy Quran, was a noble Prophet, possessor of dignity and power. He was the father of Prophet Solomonas [سُلَيْمَان], who was also a prophet.
During the reigns of these two Prophets – father and son – the Israelites had reached the peak of their power, wealth, and status. The Holy Quran describes Davidas, in one place, as ذَا الۡاَيۡدِ (Surah Sad, Ch.38: V.18), i.e., the possessor of dignity and power. He was one of the greatest, wisest in his judgement, and most commanding Prophet and Kings of the Bani Isra’il.
In Surah Sad, Davidas has been called a Khalifa. Allah the Almighty states:
“‘O David, We have made thee a vicegerent in the earth; so judge between men with justice, and follow not vain desire, lest it should lead thee astray from the way of Allah.’” (Surah Sad, Ch.38: V.27)
Davidas, living up to his title of ذَا الۡاَيۡدِ, and known for his military prowess and political acumen, established the Judean dynasty in Jerusalem and played a major role in unifying the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba into a powerful nation. Under his might and great leadership, the Hebrew kingdom flourished and expanded its territory from the Euphrates to the Nile. His son, Solomonas, inherited the kingdom and further strengthened it. With regard to his son, Solomonas, the Holy Quran states that he was a wise and benevolent ruler who focused on enhancing trade and commerce within his kingdom. He was also renowned as a master-builder and is best remembered for his construction of the famous Temple in Jerusalem, which became the qiblah for the Israelites. (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 2396)
Prophet Davidas is also especially known for his noble character and fasting. In a hadith, we read that the Holy Prophetsa said:
“The most beloved form of fasting to Allah is the fasting of Prophet Davidas, who used to fast on alternate days. And the most beloved prayer to Allah is the prayer of Prophet Davidas, who used to sleep for the first half of the night, then pray for 1/3 of it, and then sleep for a sixth of it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab ahadithi l-anbiya, Hadith 3420)
Further, we find a narration in which the Holy Prophetsa, alluding to Prophet Davidas, said, “He was the best in worship out of all men.” (Jami‘ at-Tirmidhi, Kitab al-da‘waat ‘an rasulillahsa, Hadith 3490)
Talut and Jalut
When mentioning Davidas, it is impossible to overlook the significance of Talut and Jalut. This particular story is not simply a passing reference in the Holy Quran; rather, each mention of the prophets in the Holy Quran offers valuable wisdom and lessons that we can learn from and benefit from.
The following story commences and has been mentioned in the Holy Quran in Surah al-Baqarah. In this story, the Holy Quran sheds light on how different tribes of Israel joined and became one great nation.
The Holy Quran states that the chiefs of the Bani Isra’il, after Mosesas, said to a Prophet of theirs to appoint a king so that they may fight in the cause of Allah. (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.247)
It will not be out of place to mention that at this point in history, Bani Isra’il was not in control. After Prophet Mosesas, for roughly 200 years, the Israelites had been thrown and driven away from their homes and divided into tribes bereft of any king or force, “In 1256 B.C., owing to their iniquity, God delivered them into the hands of the Midianites, who plundered and ravaged them for seven long years, and they were compelled to take refuge in caves.” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 391)
The Prophetas of that time replied, “‘Is it not likely that you will not fight, if fighting is prescribed for you?’” Upon this, they responded, “‘What reason have we to abstain from fighting in the cause of Allah when we have been driven forth from our homes and our sons?’” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.247)However, after saying this, when it was ordained for them to fight, all of them, except a few, turned their backs.
Their Prophetas, addressing the chiefs of Bani Isra’il, said that Allah appointed Talut as king. The chiefs questioned how a person who was not given abundance of wealth could be made to command them. The Prophetas responded by saying it was Allah who had chosen him and increased him in knowledge and body. (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.248)
It must be remembered that Talut is an attributive name. In light of this, it is mentioned in the Five Volume Commentary:
“طالوت (Talut) is the attributive name of an Israelite king who lived about two hundred years before Davidas and about the same number of years after Moses. Most commentators regard Talut to be a name of Hebrew origin and consider him to be synonymous with Saul (1 Sam. ch. 9). As Hebrew is only an offshoot of Arabic, the word Talut appears to be derived from the Arabic root طال i.e., he became tall or high—a description coinciding with the one given in the verse under comment viz. one increased abundantly in knowledge and body. It is, however, not right to identify Talut with Saul. The description of the Quran fits more with Gideon (Judg. chs. 6-8) than with Saul. Gideon lived in about 1250 B.C. and the Bible calls him a ‘mighty man of valour’ (Judg. 6:12) which is the same as Talut.” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 1, p.390)
When Talut set out, he said to his forces: “‘Surely, Allah will try you with a river. So he who drinks therefrom is not of me; and he who tastes it not is assuredly of me, except him who takes a handful of water with his hand.’” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.250)
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra explained that when Talut went out with his armed forces to fight against Jalut, also known as Goliath, Allah tested them with a river. The purpose was to separate those who had weak faith so that only those with complete faith, and who were supported by angels, would stand in front of the enemy. Huzoorra wrote that نـهر had been translated as “river”, but when نـهر was written with a fathah on the ه, the word could have two connotations; it could mean “river” and could also mean “vastness”. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra added that both of these meanings could be used in this verse. If the meaning of “vastness” was taken, then the meaning of the verse would be that Allah the Almighty would try them with wealth and vastness. If one was influenced by wealth, then success was not guaranteed. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra further said that as the army was met with a river, there was no issue taking the verse to mean a physical river. The message conveyed through Talut was that self-control was an essential factor for success. (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 2, p. 564)
The verse further states that, except for a few, some drank the water:
“And when they crossed it—he and those who believed along with him—they said: ‘We have no power today against Jalut and his forces.’ But those who knew for certain that they would one day meet Allah said: ‘How many a small party has triumphed over a large party by Allah’s command!” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.250)
Jalut is also an attributive name. “In the Bible the parallel name is Goliath […] The Bible uses the name about one individual, but really the word signifies a party of ruthless freebooters, though it may also be applied to certain individuals symbolising the characteristics of the party. The Quran appears to have used it in both these senses in the verses under comment.” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol, 1, p. 395) Further, the word “forces” (جنود), used in the verse, denotes the allies and supporters. “The Midianites are mentioned in the Bible as Jalut, who plundered and oppressed the Israelites and devastated their land for many years (Judg. 6:1-6). The Amalekites and other tribes from the east also joined forces with the Midianites in their attacks (Judg. 6:1), which are referred to in the verse.” (Ibid.)
By reading the following verses more closely, we learn:
“So they routed them by the command of Allah; and Davidas slew Jalut, and Allah gave him sovereignty and wisdom, and taught him of what He pleased. And had it not been for Allah’s repelling men, some of them by the others, the earth would have become filled with disorder. But Allah is Munificent to [all] peoples.” (Surah Baqarah, Ch.2: V.252)
Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra, in light of this incident, said that some Christian writers argued that the events described in the passage actually refer to two separate periods separated by 200 years. They consider this an example of historical anachronism in the Holy Quran. While it is true that the passage does describe two different periods, the Holy Quran is not confused about the dates and events in time. (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol.2, pp. 565-570)
In the Five Volume Commentary, it is stated:
“Talut or Gideon was able to defeat Jalut or the Midianites and curb their rising spirits, but their crushing defeat to which the verse refers as the killing of Jalut came in the time of Davidas about two hundred years afterwards. This is why, whereas the defeat of Jalut by Talut has been spoken of by the Quran as هزم i.e., routing, the complete crushing of their power has been referred to by the world قتل i.e., killing. The Bible speaks of the man defeated by Davidas as Goliath (1 Sam. 17:4), which is similar to Jalut. Probably the attributive name given by the Quran to the people was also borne by their leader in the time of Davidas.” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol.1, p. 396)
The purpose of the passage is to illustrate how the unification of the different tribes of Israel began in the time of Talut 200 years before Davidas and was ultimately completed during David’sas reign. Therefore, the Holy Quran refers to both periods to show the progression towards unification. (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol.2, pp. 565-570)
Mountains and the birds
The Holy Quran, with regard to Prophet Davidas, states: “We subjected the mountains and the birds to celebrate [God’s] praise with David” (Surah al-Anbiya’, Ch.21: V.80)
Over the years, numerous misunderstandings and misconceptions in this regard have permeated the minds of people.
In light of this verse, some have taken a particular statement literally, claiming that the mountains and birds were under the direct control of Prophet Davidas. According to this belief, when he praised Allah, the mountains and birds would literally join him in doing so.
If we study the Arabic lexicon, we can observe that the word “جِبَالَ” is derived from “جبل”. This word not only refers to mountains but also can be used to describe learned men, chiefs of people, or highly spiritual individuals. (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol.5, pp.538-539)
Furthermore, the word “الجبال” not only means mountains but also refers to the people living in mountainous territories (Haqaiq-ul-Furqan, Vol. 3, p. 132). This is because sometimes the name of a place is used to refer to its inhabitants (this point shall further be discussed in the article about Prophet Solomanas). Hence, when it is said that Prophet Davidas subjected “the mountains”, it could mean that he conquered and subjugated the wild tribes residing in the mountains. This is also mentioned in the Bible, where it is stated that King Hiram of Tyre sent carpenters, masons, and cedar trees to build a house for Davidas. Following this, the elders of Israel appointed Davidas as their king in Hebron (2 Samuel, 5). Thus, the phrase “We subjected the mountains and the birds to celebrate [God’s] praise with David” specifically refers to Davidas in this verse because he was an accomplished conqueror who subdued the tribes living in the mountains. (For further detail, see Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 2105)
Furthermore, in the Five Volume commentary, we read that “الطير” also denotes a very righteous man. Thus, with the meanings and descriptions of these words emphasised, an examination of the verse leads to no room for misunderstanding or deception. The verse simply implies that Prophet Davidas, alongside spiritual and noble men, praised and glorified God. (Ibid.)
Thus, through the research carried out and mentioned in the Five Volume Commentary, we read that “The word ‘birds’ used in the verse may also signify actual birds. In this sense, the reference would be that Davidas made free use of birds for carrying messages in times of war that had been especially trained for this purpose. Or it may signify flocks of birds that followed David’sas victorious armies and feasted on the dead bodies of his fallen foes.” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 2106)
The Book of David
In Islam, the holy scripture that is associated with the prophet Davidas is called the Zabur, which is also known as the Psalms of Davidas.
Zabur means, “a writing or a book: a book of wisdom and intellectual science, not containing legal statutes, ordinances or commandments. Based on its verbal senses, the word would also mean a book that protects and beautifies a source of knowledge just as a casing protects and beautifies a well; or a book that contains warnings. The word is particularly used about the Book of Davidas, containing the Psalms.” (Five Volume Commentary, Volume 2, p. 598)
In the Holy Quran, Allah the Almighty states:
وَّاٰتَيۡنَا دَاوٗدَ زَبُوۡرًا
“And to David We gave a Book.” (Surah Bani Isra’il, Ch.17: V.56)
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh said:
“Zabur, in fact, is not a book of law. Zabur is a book of hymns and praises of Allah and general admonitions, which can in fact be inferred from – and some prophecies – but it’s not a book of law. Davidas followed [the] Torah, the five books of Moses’ law and he did not bring a new book of law; nor did Jesus Christ, peace be upon him. So Zabur, after David, peace be upon him, was a book highly respected and – I should say – every Prophet that followed, not only respected that book [but had] no difference with that book. That was in accordance with his own views and his own teachings and one did not have to follow the book because every other Prophet [of Bani Isra’il] also followed [the] Torah.” (Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh, Question-and-Answer Session of 30 August 1985, www.alislam.org/askislam/question/609/)
Prophet Davidas developed various kinds of armours
With regards to Davidas, Allah states in the Holy Quran:
“And We taught him the making of coats of mail for you, that they might protect you from each other’s violence.” (Surah al-Anbiya’, Ch.21: V.81)
The intended meaning of this verse is not that Prophet Davidas was the inventor of coats of mail. Rather, Allah the Almighty is highlighting David’sas expertise in utilising the resources available to him in times of war and battle. In other words, the verse is emphasising David’sas skill in making the most of what was at his disposal and that, under his guidance and leadership, significant advancement and refinement of the craft of producing diverse types of armour was made.
In light of this, we read, “Davidas invented and developed various kinds of armours by means of which he made great conquests. During his reign, the Israelite kingdom reached the zenith of its power and dominion. David’sas time was the golden period in Israelite history. Never did the Israelites rise to such power again, nor did they enjoy such prestige, prosperity and influence as they did during David’sas rule.” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol.4, p. 2106)
Therefore, it is important to recognise that the verse is not giving credit to Davidas as the first person to manufacture coats of mail, but rather highlighting his skill and intelligence in using the available resources to his advantage during warfare.
Alluding to the same matter, we read in Surah Saba:
“And We made the iron soft for him, [And we said], ‘Make thou full-length coats of mail, and make the rings of a proper measure.” (34:11-12)
Once again, this illustrates how the production of iron weapons for war and battle had reached a new level of excellence under the reign of Davidas, thus further emphasising his prowess as a military leader.
Plot to murder Prophet Davidas
As with the case of all prophets of God, Prophet Davidas also faced opposition. Despite being described as a mighty man, he patiently endured the disbelievers and the mischievous among them.
Looking back at history, in light of the verse quoted below, it seems that during the kingdom of Prophet Davidas and Prophet Solomonas, when Israelite power was at its peak, troublemakers made attempts to incite conflict and rebellion. False accusations were frequently raised and spread against them, and there were even some wicked individuals who sought to assassinate Davidas.
In Surah Sad, with regard to Prophet Davidas, we read:
“And has the story of the disputants reached thee when they climbed over the wall of [his] chamber?” (Surah Sad, 38:22)
This verse refers to an incident when two of Prophet David’sas enemies attempted to assassinate him by climbing over the walls of his chamber. However, Davidas was alert and vigilant, and the attackers quickly realised that their surprise attack had failed miserably. In such a scenario, in an attempt to cover up their true intentions, they claimed to have come to resolve a dispute. Davidas, being a noble and sharp Prophet, saw through their deceit and instead helped them to settle their disagreement.
The Holy Quran records them saying:
“This is my brother; he has ninety-nine ewes, and I have one ewe. Yet he says, ‘Give it to me,’ and has been overbearing to me in his address.
“[David] said, ‘Surely, he has wronged thee in demanding thy ewe in addition to his own ewes. And certainly many partners transgress against one another, except those who believe in God and do good works; and these are but few.’” (Surah Saba, Ch.38: V.24-25)
After rendering his judgement, Prophet Davidas became aware of his vulnerability to enemies in and around his surrounding area of rule and their schemes, realising that his power was weakening. As any righteous person would, he turned to God and sought His protection. (Haqaiq-ul-Furqan , Vol. 3, pp. 484-85)
In light of this incident, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira provided an explanation in his tafsir regarding some commentators who have misunderstood various passages, traditions, and sayings. They claimed that the two men were angels and that Prophet Davidas, who supposedly had 99 wives, fell in love with the wife of a general. To be with her, he sent the general to a dangerous place, hoping for his demise. As a result, two angels appeared before Davidas. However, Huzoorra clarifies that this claim is entirely false. In reality, the two men were enemies who attempted to murder Prophet Davidas. As his reign became longer, his enemies began to fight, and they jumped into his house. (Haqaiq-ul-Furqan, Vol.3, p. 485)
Hence, upon realising that his enemies were plotting against him, he prayed and sought forgiveness. This is why the following verse serves to clarify the entire situation. (Haqaiq-ul-Furqan, Vol. 3, p. 485)
Further, Allah states: “So We forgave him that; and indeed, he had a position of nearness with Us and an excellent retreat.” (Surah Sad, 38:26)
“The expression غفرنا له may mean, ‘We gave him Our protection’ or ‘We set his affairs right.’ The words, ‘he had a position of nearness with Us and an excellent retreat,’ show that Davidas did not suffer from any moral defect and spiritual weakness; rather they most effectively negate and demolish the wicked charge of Davidas having committed adultery as imputed to him by the Bible (2 Samuel, 11:4-5).” (Five Volume Commentary, Vol.4, pp. 2721-22)
The supplication for forgiveness in this case was not a result of committing any sin.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira expressed his regret over the fact that some individuals had taken such a severe position against Prophet Davidas and had fabricated false stories about him. (Haqaiq-ul-Furqan, Vol.3, p. 486)
Davidas made a Khalifa
Following this episode, Allah said:
“‘O David, We have made thee a vicegerent in the earth; so judge between men with justice, and follow not vain desire, lest it should lead thee astray from the way of Allah.’” (Surah Sad, Ch.38: V.27)
This provided comfort to Prophet Davidas, as he was reassured by Allah Almighty that he would be safeguarded from the schemes of his enemies. After all, God had appointed him as a vicegerent on earth, and it would not be fitting for him to fall victim to his opponents.
Prayer of Prophet Davidas
In a hadith, we find that the Holy Prophet said that the Prophet Davidas would pray the following:
اللّٰهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ حُبَّكَ وَحُبَّ مَنْ يُحِبُّكَ وَالْعَمَلَ الَّذِي يُبَلِّغُنِي حُبَّكَ اللّٰهُمَّ اجْعَلْ حُبَّكَ أَحَبَّ إِلَىَّ مِنْ نَفْسِي وَأَهْلِي وَمِنَ الْمَاءِ الْبَارِدِ
“O Allah, I beg You for Your love and the love of one who loves You and such conduct as should lead me to Your love. O Allah, make Your love dearer to me than my soul and my family and my wealth and dearer than cold water.” (Jami’ at-Tirmidhi, Kitab al-da‘waat ‘an Rasulillahsa, Hadith 3490)