Fables and Legends of the Quran

Solomon’s Flying Carpet

Sam Shamoun

The Quran unapologetically states that Allah gave Solomon command over the winds by which he was able to travel a two-month journey in less than a day:

And WE subjected to Solomon the violent wind. It blew, at his bidding, toward the land which WE had blessed. And WE have knowledge of all things. S. 21:81 Sher Ali

And to Solomon WE subjected the wind; its morning course was a month's journey and its evening course was a month's journey too. And WE caused a fount of molten copper to flow for him. And of the jinn were some who worked under him by the command of his Lord. And WE said that whoever of them turned away from Our command, WE would make him taste the punishment of the burning fire. S. 34:12 Sher Ali

And (We made) the wind (subservient) to Sulaiman, which made a month's journey in the morning and a month's journey in the evening, … Shakir

The Muslim tradition says that Solomon use to travel on a carpet which was carried off by the winds! Renowned Sunni Commentator Ibn Kathir said regarding Sura 21:81:

He had a mat made of wood on which he would place all the equipment of his kingship; horses, camels, tents and troops, then he would command the wind to carry it, and he would go underneath it and it would carry him aloft, shading him and protecting him from the heat, until it reached wherever he wanted to go in the land. Then it would come down and deposit his equipment and entourage… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) (Surat Al-Isra’, Verse 39 To the end of Surat Al-Mu’minun), by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore; First Edition: July 2000], Volume 6, pp. 476-477)

And about Sura 34:12 he wrote:

Having mentioned the blessings with which He favored Dawud, Allah follows this by mentioning what He gave to Dawud’s son Sulayman (Solomon), may peace be upon them both. He subjugated the wind o him, so that it could carry HIS CARPET one way for a month, then back again the next month. Al-Hasan al-Basri said, "He set out from Damascus in the morning, landed in Istakhar where he ate a meal, then flew on from Istakhar and spent the night in Kabil." Between Damascus and Istakhar is an entire month’s travel for a swift rider, and between Istakhar and Kabul is an entire month’s travel for a swift rider. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) (Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 51 to the end of Surat Ad-Dukhan), Shaykh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore; First Edition: September 2000], Volume 8, p. 70; capital emphasis ours)

The late Muslim scholar Muhammad Asad wrote in reference to 34:12:

Cf. 21: 81 and the corresponding note. For a more general explanation of THE LEGENDS connected with the person of Solomon, see note on 21: 82. (Source; capital emphasis ours)

Does the reader find it at all surprising that Asad would classify such fantastic and mythical stories regarding Solomon traveling on the wind as legends?

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