The legendary Queen of Sheba is one of the most fascinating figures in Islam. The wife of King Solomon and a queen in her own right, her story is full of mystery and jinn.

a thread-
The core narrative of the Queen of Sheba and her encounter with Solomon is found in the Quran (27:20-44)

A hoopoe brings word of a mighty queen whose people worship the sun. Solomon sends word to the queen to come before him and receive the word of God.
The queen, showing wisdom comes to Solomon.
The prophet deciding to demonstrate his power commands his servants to bring her magnificent throne to him

One of the jinn steps forward promising to bring it swiftly, but another servant, wise and learned, says he can bring the throne before Solomon in the blink of an eye
The throne is brought before Solomon and placed before a great glass or mirrored floor.

When the queen arrives, she marvels at the sight of her throne and what she thinks is a pool of water. She lifts her skirt to wade into the pool, but Solomon shows her it is wondrous glass.
Impressed, the queen converts and marries Solomon.
The sketch of the narrative is then drawn out even further in commentaries.

Jamal Elias remarks that the details of the story are found in the account of Wahb ibn Munabbih and Tha’labi’s Qisas al Anbiya both drawing on the narrations of Ibn Abbas.
The extra-Quranic accounts go even further and truly capture the imagination.
The Queen of Sheba is known as Bilqis, she is the daughter of a Yemeni King, Al Hadhad.

When the king was young, he was out hunting when he came upon a family of deer. He stayed his hunting bow and for his mercy was rewarded by the king of the jinn Sakan with a jinn wife.
He married the jinn princess known as Baltaqa or Ruwaha.

Their daughter is Bilqis, making her part jinn.
She had many brothers and sisters, but upon her siblings’ birth, jinn in the form of dogs came and carried them off to the hidden realms.

Upon her father’s death, Bilqis became queen and ruled wisely.
In an explanation for her encounter with Solomon, one commentator noted the jinn feared the union between the two and so spread rumors that Bilqis had donkey’s feet or hairy legs.
So King Solomon had a mighty mirror polished to look like water so when she would lift her skirt he would know the truth.
While some have interpreted the story of Bilqis as that of a wise woman submitting to the greater wisdom of King Solomon, most of the medieval Muslim writers treat Bilqis as uniquely wise in her own right.

Her’s is not a story of submission, but of equals in union.
Upon receiving Solomon’s summons she recognizes he may be a true prophet and so it is *she* who tests him.

According to ibn Munabbih, Solomon’s actions with the throne and the glass were all demonstrations to her test.
For example, Solomon’s vizier was able to make her throne sink into the ground and reappear before Solomon through knowledge of the Secret Name of God, thus demonstrating the true wisdom of Solomon to Bilqis.
Even before Solomon, Tabari mentions that under her rule her kingdom flourished, that she was intelligent, virtuous, wise, and powerful.
In the kitab al tijan, likely recounting one of the older legends, she did not succeed her father, but rather the throne went to a tyrant who abused his subjects.
Making overtures to the tyrant she promised to marry him, but upon his wedding night she beheads him and mounts his vile head on the gates.

When the kingdom sees that she liberated them from the tyrant, they all vow allegiance to her.
After marriage to Solomon, she rules as his equal. Like him, she goes on to command the jinn.

At her direction the jinn Zawbah built the mighty palace of Aden and the fortresses at Sirwah and Marah.
In another instance, in a demonstration of her equal status, Solomon sent his powerful ring to her.

He directed a bird-like jinn to carry it to her, but the confused creature got lost and accidently dropped the ring into the sea where it became Cumoro Island.
The Queen of Sheba is one of those fascinating figures who is referenced allusively in the Qur’an but whose story is expanded in the commentaries and reflect how older narratives were drawn into an Islamic fold.
Much of her story is drawn from Jewish sources and Yemeni legends.

They are drawn together into an Islamic narrative which recognizes and honors the older source material while providing new thematic elements.
The Queen of Sheba also plays an important role geographically.

She is a legendary Queen of Yemen and East Africa who becomes part of the Islamic world.

She also can help us see the spread of Islam.
The Javanese Nyai Roro Kidul, originally a sea goddess, is reimagined as the daughter of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba with the coming of Islam.

This speaks to the way local beliefs were Islamized over time.
If you are interested in more Islamic cosmology and history, I just released a new podcast on the Dajjal or the antichrist in Islamic apocalypticism on patreon:
I’ll cover more on Islamic cosmology in future threads

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More from @aaolomi

31 Mar
King Solomon was granted dominion over the birds, humans, and the jinn. He ruled through the power of a mighty ring.

But not all the jinn were obedient to Solomon the Wise. There was one who plotted against him in secret.

A thread on the jinn usurper-
Solomon was granted mastery over the jinn.

It is said the angel Jibrail drove hosts of jinn from their caves and mountains and lined them before the prophet.

They came in tribes and nations to swear fealty
His dominion was completed through a ring, a seal he wore upon his finger.

Through this divinely-granted ring he could command the hordes of jinn; those that flew, those that crawled, and those that stalked.
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24 Mar
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The night is described as a time of great activity among the angels and features in cosmological accounts.
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21 Mar
the majority of astrologers of the premodern world knew about precession and wrote about it extensively.

Al Biruni would advise you to pick up a book before you tweet 😉
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The famous 17th century astronomer, Johannes Kepler, also cast horoscopes.

Here's his horoscope for an Austrian nobleman
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20 Mar
Happy Nowruz and Aries season!

Like the kings of old let’s look to the stars and to verse for wisdom.

Here is the chart of Aries Ingress/Astrological New Year

The lords of the year are Jupiter and Saturn by tahawil and intiha' Image
Which meant:

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17 Mar
For many cultures, New Year isn’t January 1st, but the dawning of Spring.

It's also the astrological new year.

Medieval Muslims who followed a lunar calendar with its own new year took note of the Sun’s entry into Aries as the key to predicting the year to come

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The astrological new year with the Sun’s ingress into Aries predates Islam, but quickly became an important date.

The ability to cast and interpret this chart would be one of the most important jobs of the medieval astrologer.

These charts were called revolution charts.
Astrologers would cast a horoscope for the moment of the astrological new year and use it to predict the fate of the kingdom.
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16 Mar
the cullinan diamond in her scepter was taken from South Africa and the koh-i-noor diamond in her crown was stolen from India
personal investment must be a new way of saying colonial legacy
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