The Story of Taloot, Jaloot and Dawood.

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باسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

. أَلَمۡ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلۡمَلَإِ مِنۢ بَنِيٓ إِسۡرَٰٓءِيلَ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ مُوسَىٰٓ إِذۡ قَالُواْ لِنَبِيّٖ لَّهُمُ ٱبۡعَثۡ لَنَا مَلِكٗا نُّقَٰتِلۡ فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِۖ قَالَ هَلۡ عَسَيۡتُمۡ إِن كُتِبَ عَلَيۡكُمُ ٱلۡقِتَالُ أَلَّا تُقَٰتِلُواْۖ قَالُواْ وَمَا لَنَآ أَلَّا نُقَٰتِلَ فِي سبيل ٱللَّهِ وَقَدۡ أُخۡرِجۡنَا مِن دِيَٰرِنَا وَأَبۡنَآئِنَاۖ فَلَمَّا كُتِبَ عَلَيۡهِمُ ٱلۡقِتَالُ تَوَلَّوۡاْ إِلَّا قَلِيلٗا مِّنۡهُمۡۚ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمُۢ بِٱلظَّٰلِمِينَ ٢٤٦. وَقَالَ لَهُمۡ نَبِيُّهُمۡ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ قَدۡ بَعَثَ لَكُمۡ طَالُوتَ مَلِكٗاۚ قَالُوٓاْ أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لَهُ ٱلۡمُلۡكُ عَلَيۡنَا وَنَحۡنُ أَحَقُّ بِٱلۡمُلۡكِ مِنۡهُ وَلَمۡ يُؤۡتَ سَعَةٗ مِّنَ ٱلۡمَالِۚ قَالَ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ٱصۡطَفَىٰهُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ وَزَادَهُۥ بَسۡطَةٗ فِي ٱلۡعِلۡمِ وَٱلۡجِسۡمِۖ وَٱللَّهُ يُؤۡتِي مُلۡكَهُۥ مَن يَشَآءُۚ وَٱللَّهُ وَٰسِعٌ عَلِيمٞ. ٢٤٧. وَقَالَ لَهُمۡ نَبِيُّهُمۡ إِنَّ ءَايَةَ مُلۡكِهِۦٓ أَن يَأۡتِيَكُمُ ٱلتَّابُوتُ فِيهِ سَكِينَةٞ مِّن رَّبِّكُمۡ وَبَقِيَّةٞ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ ءَالُ مُوسَىٰ وَءَالُ هَٰرُونَ تَحۡمِلُهُ ٱلۡمَلَٰٓئِكَةُۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَأٓيَةٗ لَّكُمۡ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤۡمِنِينَ ٢٤٨. فَلَمَّا فَصَلَ طَالُوتُ بِٱلۡجُنُودِ قَالَ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ مُبۡتَلِيكُم بِنَهَرٖ فَمَن شَرِبَ مِنۡهُ فَلَيۡسَ مِنِّي وَمَن لَّمۡ يَطۡعَمۡهُ فَإِنَّهُۥ مِنِّيٓ إِلَّا مَنِ ٱغۡتَرَفَ غُرۡفَةَۢ بِيَدِهِۦۚ فَشَرِبُواْ مِنۡهُ إِلَّا قَلِيلٗا مِّنۡهُمۡۚ فَلَمَّا جَاوَزَهُۥ هُوَ وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ مَعَهُۥ قَالُواْ لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا ٱلۡيَوۡمَ بِجَالُوتَ وَجُنُودِهِۦۚ قَالَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَظُنُّونَ أَنَّهُم مُّلَٰقُواْ ٱللَّهِ كَم مِّن فِئَةٖ قَلِيلَةٍ غَلَبَتۡ فِئَةٗ كَثِيرَةَۢ بِإِذۡنِ ٱللَّهِۗ وَٱللَّهُ مَعَ ٱلصَّٰبِرِينَ ٢٤٩. وَلَمَّا بَرَزُواْ لِجَالُوتَ وَجُنُودِهِۦ قَالُواْ رَبَّنَآ أَفۡرِغۡ عَلَيۡنَا صَبۡرٗا وَثَبِّتۡ أَقۡدَامَنَا وَٱنصُرۡنَا عَلَى ٱلۡقَوۡمِ ٱلۡكَٰفِرِينَ ٢٥٠. فَهَزَمُوهُم بِإِذۡنِ ٱللَّهِ وَقَتَلَ دَاوُۥدُ جَالُوتَ وَءَاتَىٰهُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡمُلۡكَ وَٱلۡحِكۡمَةَ وَعَلَّمَهُۥ مِمَّا يَشَآءُۗ وَلَوۡلَا دَفۡعُ ٱللَّهِ ٱلنَّاسَ بَعۡضَهُم بِبَعۡضٖ لَّفَسَدَتِ ٱلۡأَرۡضُ وَلَٰكِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ذُو فَضۡلٍ عَلَى ٱلۡعَٰلَمِينَ ٢٥١. تِلۡكَ ءَايَٰتُ ٱللَّهِ نَتۡلُوهَا عَلَيۡكَ بِٱلۡحَقِّۚ وَإِنَّكَ لَمِنَ ٱلۡمُرۡسَلِينَ ٢٥٢. سوره البقره. (٢).

Translation: “Have you also reflected upon the matter concerning the chiefs of the Israelites after (the death of) Moses? They said to their Prophet, “Appoint a king for us so that we may fight in the way of Allah.” The Prophet asked them, “Might it be that you will not fight, if fighting is prescribed for you?” They replied, “How can it be that we would refuse to fight in the way of Allah when we have been turned out of our homes and separated from our children?” But (in spite of this assurance) when they were enjoined to fight, they all, except a few of them, turned their backs. And Allah knows each and everyone of these transgressors.” 246. “Their Prophet said to them, “Allah has appointed Taloot (Saul) to be king over you.” Hearing this, they replied, “How has he been entitled to become king over us? We have a better right to kingship than he, for he does not even possess enough riches.” The Prophet replied, “Allah has preferred him to you and blessed him with abundant powers of mind and body. And Allah has the power to give His kingdom to whomever He wills: Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.”247. “Their Prophet further informed them, “The sign of his appointment as king from Allah is that during his reign you will get back the Ark, wherein are the means of your peace of mind from your Lord, and which contains the sacred relics of the family of Moses and Aaron, and which is being borne at this time by the angels. Herein is a great Sign for you, if you are true believers.” 248. “And when Taloot (Saul) marched out with his army, he warned: “Allah is going to put you to a test by the side of a river: whoso drinks of its water shall cease to be my companion. Only he shall be my companion who does not quench his thirst with its water. You may, however, take a sip or two. Except a few, most drank their fill of it. Afterwards, when Taloot (Saul) and those who had accompanied him crossed the river and advanced forward, the former who had drank water from the river said to Taloot, “We have no power left this day to fight against Jaloot and his army.” But those in Taloot’s army who believed that one Day they shall meet Allah declared, “lt has often been that a small host has, by Allah’s grace, overcome a big host: for Allah is with those who show fortitude.” 249. “Accordingly, when they marched forward to fight with Jaloot and his forces, they prayed, “Our Lord, bless us with fortitude, make firm our foothold and give us victory over the unbelieving host.” 250. “Consequently, by Allah’s grace, they routed the unbelievers, and Dawood killed Jaloot; and Allah gave him kingship and wisdom and taught him whatever other things He willed. And if Allah had not been repelling one set of people by means of another, the earth would have been filled with chaos. But Allah is bountiful to the world (and so repels chaos in this way).” 251. “These are Allah’s revelations, which We are conveying to you accurately. And O Muhammad, most surely you are one of those who have been sent as Messengers.” 251. (Surah Al Baqarah. The Cow. Verses

Commentary:
In this story which also appears in other Biblical texts seven key lessons are drawn.

Lesson 1) People assert their right to leadership on the basis of kinship or riches (as Israelites protested to their Prophet when they heard that Taloot was going to be appointed their king but he was neither from their tribe nor he was rich to qualify for this position). But Allah alone has the power to give honour and authority to whomsoever He wishes. For Allah, the standards are different. Taloot was high in piety (Taqwa) and Allah had given him both knowledge and strength (علم و الجسم). He would bring the Israelites victory over Jaloot and would bring back the heirlooms of Moses and Aron to them.

Lesson 2). The king is expected to obey the laws of Allah and people are expected to follow his orders, but he is not the religious authority. Often the king is misguided because he relies on the counsel of his advisers. They are not impartial because they have a conflict of interest between keeping their positions and the greater good of the people and the universal truth. The religious authority rests with the Prophet. The Prophet may not always say things which people want to hear because he is guided by Allah, not by people.

Lesson 3). The claim that knowledge or power qualifies one to claim the political throne is challenged in this story because Allah alone has the power to bestow honour or dishonour on anyone He pleases. Even knowledge and strength are attributes of Allah. It is He who gives knowledge and strength. Man is but a mortal being who is born weak and dies weak. Allah gave Dawood knowledge and all he needed to know to be a king; otherwise he was but an ordinary soldier in Taloot’s army.

Lesson 4). In Allah’s scheme there is greater wisdom and benefit far more than what men can decide for themselves. The Israelites could not win over Jaloot’s forces and expand their reach in the land if they had a king other than Taloot at the time of their humiliation and disorganised nationhood.

Lesson 5). In the battlefield victory comes only from Allah, not from arms or large armies. The story shows that a small number of faithful soldiers easily defeated the powerful army of Jaloot. Some historians estimate that those who heeded Taloot’s warning not to drink the water to the fill were only 340 out of an army of 70,000 men who initially made up Taloot’s army to fight Jaloot. This was a test of their faith. Those who passed the test placed their trust in Allah. They knew their circumstantial vulnerability but they asked for victory from Allah. It reminds one of the small number of Muslim soldiers in the battles of Badr, Al-Ahzab, Tabook and Khyber in which they achieved victory over their enemy whose soldiers were many times over in numbers and arms.

Lesson 6). People make tall claims of bravery which they conveniently forgets when faced with adversity. The way of Islam is peace. Muslims are advised to use kind words with their adversaries when arguing over a point, avoid reaching a stage where fighting is the only option left and be magnanimous in forgiving others. The Israelites were not given the commandment to fight until they insisted they wanted to fight and put forward arguments in favour of it. But when the commandment to fight came from Allah, the same people turned back on their demand and started to look for excuses to avoid it. Allah does not put His servants in hardship but whey they choose it themselves, they ungratefully complain about it. Such people are called by Allah the transgressors.

Lesson 7). Allah repels one group of people by another to maintain peace and tranquility on earth. This is because by nature man causes chaos by his insatiable desire to conquer the universe. While man thinks he is doing good, in fact his greed and excesses cause destruction and war. Allah’s Sunnah or method to restore order in the world is to repel one group of people when they become transgressors and troublesome by another group of people who are peaceful and respectful of the laws of nature and God.

Biblical reference.
In the Judaic and Christian texts Dawood is mentioned as David, Taloot as Saul and Jaloot as Goliath. Soon after this battle, David succeeded Saul, the first king of Israelites after Moses. David was a soldier in Saul’s army and was a strong and wise man. He killed Goliath by using a sling. The stone hit the head of Goliath and caused his death. It is also mentioned in their texts that the Prophet who predicted David becoming king was Samuel.

Non-Muslim historians have considered Taloot as one who disobeyed God and caused hardship for the Israelites. They also maintain that he had known about Dawood and had recruited him in the army to have him killed. Even after the killing of Jaloot he had become an enemy of Dawood and also had intended to kill him through some deceit but he ironically got himself killed. The Islamic tradition does not support these accounts. The object of the story narrated in the Quran is to draw the lessons for the Muslims and not to correct or comment on the historical accounts.