Prophet Sulayman Caresses Horses out of Love for Them

Allaah The Most High says:

وَوَهَبْنَا لِدَاوُودَ سُلَيْمَانَ ۚ نِعْمَ الْعَبْدُ ۖ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ –

And to Dawud (David) We gave Sulaiman (Solomon). How excellent (a) slave! Verily, he was ever oft-returning in repentance (to Us)!

إِذْ عُرِضَ عَلَيْهِ بِالْعَشِيِّ الصَّافِنَاتُ الْجِيَادُ –

When there were displayed before him, in the afternoon, well trained horses of the highest breed [for Jihad (holy fighting in Allah’s Cause)].

فَقَالَ إِنِّي أَحْبَبْتُ حُبَّ الْخَيْرِ عَن ذِكْرِ رَبِّي حَتَّىٰ تَوَارَتْ بِالْحِجَابِ –

And he said: “Alas! I did love the good (these horses) instead of remembering my Lord (in my ‘Asr prayer)” till the time was over, and (the sun) had hidden in the veil (of night).

رُدُّوهَا عَلَيَّ ۖ فَطَفِقَ مَسْحًا بِالسُّوقِ وَالْأَعْنَاقِ –

Then he said “Bring them (horses) back to me.” Then he began to pass his hand over their legs and their necks (till the end of the display).

– Saad: 30-33

Many of the exegetes have mentioned that Sulaymaan , peace be upon Him, was distracted from salaatul ‘Asr by horses until sunset, and so he ordered that they be hamstrung and slaughtered as worship to Allaah. There are various expressions of this explanation, all revolving around this same meaning, however there are points to note regarding this explanation:

First point

The interpretation of the statement (‘an dhikri Rabbee(from the rememberance of my Rabb)) to mean salatu l ‘Asr lacks evidence, because the word (‘an) can mean (min) as noted by Ash-Shaukaaniyy in his tafseer that Ibnu ‘Abbaas interpreted the statement of Allaah The most High :

“an dhikri Rabbee as min dhikri rabbee i.e from amongst the acts of rememberance of my Rabb

– (vol. 4 pg. 432).

Horses are indeed from the objects of remembrance of Allaah, due to their usefulness in Jihaad, and for that reason Allaah orders that they be prepped and cared for, Allaah the mighty says:

وَأَعِدُّوا لَهُم مَّا اسْتَطَعْتُم مِّن قُوَّةٍ وَمِن رِّبَاطِ الْخَيْلِ تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدُوَّ اللَّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ وَآخَرِينَ مِن دُونِهِمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَهُمُ اللَّهُ يَعْلَمُهُمْ ۚ وَمَا تُنفِقُوا مِن شَيْءٍ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تُظْلَمُونَ

And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery, etc.) to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allah does know. And whatever you shall spend in the Cause of Allah shall be repaid unto you, and you shall not be treated unjustly.


In place of those now are tanks, war planes, fighter jets, armored cars, missiles, and other inventions.

Prepping of horses for jihaad is a desired act of worship, infact from the most noble of deeds, and for this there are many narrations in which horses and their care is praised.

Second point

The explanation of the statement (hattaa tawaarat i.e until it/they went out of sight/became hidden) to refer to the sunset also lacks evidence because at no point in the verse was the sun mentioned, rather it was horses that were mentioned, making the more seeming meaning and explanation be; until the horses went out of Sulaymaan’s sight, “alayhi s salaam.

Third point

The most important of the noteworthy points is that there is no evidence for the breakdown of the statement (fa tafiqa mas-han bi s Sooqi wa l a”naaq i.e then he, Sulaymaan, began rubbing their limbs and necks) by the exegetes to mean that he began slaughtering and quartering them, thereby interpreting rubbing to mean cutting. This interpretation lacks all form of proof, moreso that act constitutes unwarranted/wanton punishment of animals and destruction of wealth.

The way to go in this case is to leave the direct and clear meaning of the verse, and indeed at tabariyy narrated that Ibnu “Abbaas said this statement means that : he, Sulaymaan, began lovingly rubbing the manes and hamstrings of the horses.

This statement of Ibnu “Abbaas’s is in keeping with the meaning of the verse because the Prophet of Allaah, sallalLaahu “alayhi wa sallam, was neither one to – Allaah willing – punish an animal by hamstringing (“arqabah) nor wantonly destroy His wealth. (See tafseeru t Tabariyy part 23 pg.156).

Fourth point

I say; this explanation of ibnu “Abbaas is the truth, we may say possibly Sulaymaan,”alayhis Salaam, used to have the fleet of horses paraded in a military fashion, and when they marched past Him, and went out of sight, he ordered their return and began wiping off the sand, dust and sweat that had clung to them, just like person who have horses now do.

Fifth point

Ibnu hazm said:

“Interpretation of the verse to mean killing the horses because they distracted him from salaah is a lazy, weak, fabricated and false superstition, which contains many untrue assertions from which are punishment of horses for no offence, mutilation, destruction of beneficial wealth for no just reason, ascription of neglect of salaah to a prophet and messenger, who then punishes horses for no sin of theirs but his!!!. The true meaning of the aayah is that Sulaymaan informs of his love of good things (from which are the horses) all for the sake of the remembrance of his Rabb, and he delighted in that until either the sun set or the fleet of horses got behind the stable door, then he recalled them and started rubbing their limbs and necks lovingly and out of awe for them, with his hands. This is the clear meaning of the aayah, it has no other possibilities, and there are no pointers to killing the horses or neglecting salaah in the aayah. Reliable muslim scholars have said all of this, however the only one in whose speech is binding proof is the messenger of Allaah, sallaLlaahu “alayhi wa sallam.”

Sixth point

Al fakhru r Raaziyy said about the aayah: “preparing and fastening horses was also recommended in their religion, just as it is in Al Islaam. Sulaymaan had need to do battle, so he sat and asked for the fleet of horses to be brought for parade, and to be raced, he then informed that his love of them was neither for worldly pleasure nor personal gains, but rather for Allaah’s sake and commandment, and as a means to strengthening Allaah’s religion. This is the intent of the statement: (from the remembrance of my Rabb), so he, “alayhi s Salaam, asked for them to be brought and paraded before him which was done until they went out of his sight into their stables, then he ordered the grooms to bring the horses back, and when they were brought, he began rubbing their limbs and necks.


1: Doing honour to the horses, and demonstrating their glory, prestige and might, being one of the greatest helps in repelling the enemy.

2: Display of leadership skills and control, and engagement in most affairs.

3: His being the most knowledgeable of condition of horses and horse breeding and grooming by running his hands over them to palpate for any physical signs of or pointers to ailment.

Culled from:

((توجيه و بيان لفهم بعض آي القرآن Taujeehun wa bayaanun lifahmi ma”aanee ba”dhi aayi l Qur’aan by As Shaykh Muhammad bnu Jameel zaynoo (Teacher at daaru l hadeeth Makkah)

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