Who the Queen of Sheba (Saba’)?

According to Islamic sources, the Queen of Sheba was called ‘Bilqis’. She ruled over a kingdom on the southern Arabian Peninsula in what is now Yemen. Balqis was a rich and powerful Queen. She and her people worshipped the sun and other idols instead of Allah.

Bilqis’ encounter with Prophet Sulayman

Prophet Sulayman was very powerful and the Quran mentions many miracles and blessings Allah has bestowed upon him. He could understand the speech of animals, had the power of the wind and despite his worldly powers, he never forgot Allah was always grateful to Him. Sulayman’s had an army of birds, jinn, and humans. Amongst his army was a Hoopoe bird (Hudhud), which one day was absent without his consent, which made Prophet Sulayman unhappy. The hoopoe however soon appeared to explain his absence. He had been scouting in areas where Sulayman’s army had not yet reached. He brought with him an account of the Kingdom of Saba (Sheba). The hoopoe reported that the kingdom of Saba was ruled by a Queen and that the people of that kingdom worshipped the sun and other idols. Therefore, Prophet Sulayman sent a letter to the Queen, greeting her and requesting her to submit to Allah. Upon receiving the letter, the Queen, who according to historians was called Bilqis, consulted with her chieftains, who advised her to fight Sulayman and his army, for their country had the strength to wage a war. Bilqis, however, chose a more diplomatic approach where she decided to send expensive gifts to Sulayman. Prophet Sulayman, nonetheless, rejected her gifts and said that the gifts which he had received from Allah were infinitely better than those which she had sent. He sent the messengers back with the gifts and a had them deliver a message to the Queen that either she submits to Allah or he would send armies which would destroy the whole of Sheba and its people. The Queen then went to visit Sulayman’s palace, and the Prophet wanted to teach her a lesson so he wanted her throne to be at his palace upon her arrival. So he asked his army who amongst you can bring me her throne and a jinn offered to bring it before Prophet Sulayman leaves his seat. However, a man who had knowledge of the Book said he could bring the Queen’s throne in a blink of an eye. When the throne had been placed before him, Sulayman praised and thanked Allah. Sulayman then had the Queen’s throne disguised so Bilqis wouldn’t recognise it straight away. When she arrived, she was asked whether it was her own throne and she said it looks exactly like her throne. Then as the Queen was asked to enter the palace, she noticed that the floor had water and fish so she lifted up her skirts, thinking there was a pool of water. Prophet Sulayman then informed her that the floor was made of glass. The Queen then submitted to Islam, with Sulayman, to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. You can read about this story of Sulayman in the Quran 27: 15-44.