Who is the prophet david? What is the story of prophet david?
The Prophet whose Hymns Sent Mountains, Birds and Wild Animals into Rapture David -peace be upon him-
David (as) was born in Jerusalem and died at around the age of 100. He is a descendant of Jacob’s (as) son Judah. David (as) was both a prophet and king, and according to historians, he reigned from 1015 to 975 BCE.
The Qur’an mentions David’s (as) name 16 times. David (as) received the divine book the Psalms, or Zabur, in Hebrew.
Saul, Goliath and the Ark of the Covenant
The prophets after Moses (as) regulated the lives of the Israelites according to the Torah. However, given half a chance, especially during times when there was no prophet, the Israelites would distort the Torah’s message according to their own whims and fancy. This, as a result, corrupted both their beliefs and morals until another prophet came and set them straight. Afterwards, however, they would once again resort to mischief.
At the time, the Amalekites, headed by the powerful king Goliath (Jalut) ruled the area between Egypt and Syria. The Almighty had sent Goliath to the Israelites as an affliction. His army had heavily defeated Israel, and snatched away many of its children and women as slaves.
Goliath had also managed to take the Ark of the Covenant, a chest that contained many holy relics since the time of Moses (as). For further insult, he threw the Ark into a pile of filth. The Qur’an refers to the Ark as Tabut.
The Israelites had lost their homes and wealth; and had been driven out of the their land. They were restless and especially saddened by the loss of the Ark. The only thing they could think of was to get it back.
Reports suggest that at the time, they had a prophet by the name of Samuel (as). They asked him for a king who could save them. So, Samuel (as) began to pray; and soon, Allah (jj) ordered him to declare a man called Saul (Talut) as king. But a certain group of Jews objected.
“Saul is not from the line of kings”, they said.
Until then, the prophets of Israel came from the lineage of Jacob’s (as) son Levi, while kings hailed from the line of his other son, Judah. Saul was from neither.
The Qur’an recounts:
“Have you not considered when the Children of Israel gathered after Moses and said to a prophet of theirs, ‘Send to us a king, and we will fight in the way of Allah!’ He said, ‘What if you were ordered to fight but then refrained?’ They said, ‘Why should we not fight in the cause of Allah when we have been driven from our homes and away our children?’ But when they were commanded to fight, they turned away, except for a few. And Allah well knows the wrongdoers!” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 246)
“And their prophet said to them, ‘Allah has truly sent to you Saul as king.’ They said, ‘How can be king over us while we are worthier of it than him and he has not been given any wealth?’ He said, ‘Allah has indeed chosen him over you and profusely increased him in knowledge and stature. Allah gives His sovereignty to whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 247)
The Israelite leaders assumed that kingship belonged to people of great wealth. This idea, however, is against common good and the principle of justice. The able, not the wealthy, deserve to rule. This ability depends on one’s spiritual power, knowledge and experience, as well as strength and courage.
Fakhruddin Razi notes that Samuel (as) rejected the complaints of the Israelites on four grounds:
It was the Almighty who chose Saul as king.
A king must be qualified with two things:
- He must know the art of politics and governance.
- He must be strong, both physically and spiritually.
Power is with Allah (jj) alone; and He gives it to whoever He wills.
Through grace, Allah (jj) makes a poor man rich; and only He knows who deserves to be king. (Fakhruddin Razi, Tafsir, VI, 147)
But the Israelites, who disapproved of Saul as king, then said:
“If he is truly king, then he should bring us a sign!”
“Their prophet said to them, ‘A sign of his kingship is that the Ark, which contains an assurance from your Lord and a remnant left by the family of Moses and Aaron, will come to you carried by the angels. That is indeed a sign, if you are true believers.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 248)
There are a number of reports about the Ark of the Covenant. It is narrated that the Ark was first sent down to Adam (as), who gave it to Seth (as); and it was later passed on to Abraham (as), Jacob (as) and ultimately Moses (as), who kept the tablets of the Torah and other important relics inside it. During battles, the Ark was placed in front of the army to boost the soldiers’ morale and strengthen their belief.
The Almighty had angels collect the Ark and place it in front of Saul’s house. For now, the Israelites were silenced. They had seen proof of the legitimacy of Saul’s rule. But they were about to face another test.
After becoming king, Saul mobilized an army and set out on a campaign against Goliath.
It was the middle of summer, and the soldiers needed water more than any other time. However, Samuel (as) had received an instruction from the Almighty. He informed Saul, who then turned to the soldiers and said:
“Allah is about to test you with a stream of water. Whoever drinks from it to his heart’s content, will be expelled from the army!”
The soldiers kept marching and ultimately reached the banks of a river. They were only allowed to drink a handful of it.
According to Ibn Abbas (ra), this was the Jordan River. (Ibn Kathir, Qisasu’l Anbiya, p. 511)
When Saul got to the river, he had an army of 80,000 men. Only 4,000 of them obeyed the order. However, seeing 76,000 soldiers discharged, most of the others also fled. Only 313 soldiers were left. This is the same number of companions who fought the Battle of Badr. (Bukhari, Maghazi, 6)
Baraa (ra) narrates:
“As companions of Prophet Muhammed (saw), we would say, ‘The number of those at Badr were the same as Talut’s soldiers who passed the river: 313.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 6)
Yet, even though most of the soldiers drank from the river like men possessed, it did not quench their thirst. They instead got thirstier. Their lips became parched and they collapsed in pain. As for those who obeyed the order, they found out that a handful of water was all they needed. Plus, the whole episode reinforced their faith and revitalized their strength.
The Qur’an says:
“When Saul went forth with the soldiers, he said, ‘Allah is about to test you with a river. Whoever drinks from it is not of me. Whoever does not, is indeed of me, excepting those who drink a bit of it from their hands.’ But they drank from it, except a few. When he crossed the river along with his fellow believers, they said, ‘We have no power today against Goliath and his army!’ But those certain of meeting Allah said, ‘How many a small group has overcome a large group with the permission of Allah! And Allah is with the patient.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 249)
Here, the Qur’an draws attention to the importance of military discipline. Victory on the battlefield solely depends on loyally carrying out the commander’s orders. It has nothing to do with having more soldiers; yet, everything to do with being on the right, having faith and spirituality. The crown of victory is placed not on the heads of armies with greater quantity, but on those with greater quality. The most lucid examples are the battles fought during the time of the Prophet (saw), and more recently, the War of Gallipoli.
David (as) and the Victory
Among those who passed the river was an eighteen-year-old young man. His name was David (as). According to Qadi Baydawi, he had enlisted in Saul’s army along with his father and thirteen brothers.
David (as) was a shepherd by trade. He was known for his courage and skill in using his slingshot. One day, he told his father:
“When I sing praises of the Lord, all the mountains and stones join me in chorus!”
“Good news to you!” said his father. “It is a sign of greater things to come!”
As David (as) had a strong and beautiful voice, he was introduced to Saul. The king made him his helper. Soon, David (as) also joined the army that was about to go into battle against the Amalekites.
There was, however, another reason why David (as) was taken along. The Almighty had informed Samuel (as) that David (as) would be the one to slay Goliath. The prophet had then relayed that message onto the king.
On the way, three stones called out to David (as), saying:
“Pick us up! It is with us that you will kill Goliath!” David (as) collected the three stones, which then transformed into one big stone.
In the meantime, Saul had announced that, “Whoever kills Goliath may take my daughter’s hand in marriage!”
At last, the enemy was within sight of Saul’s 313 men. The Qur’an states:
“And when they went forth to face Goliath and his soldiers. They said, ‘Our Lord, pour patience upon us, plant our feet firmly on the ground and give us victory over the disbelievers.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 250)
Here, the Qur’an indicates three things a person going into battle must have:
Patience in the face of hardships.
Courage and firmness.
Remain in a state of prayer in full confidence that divine help will come.
When the two armies met, Goliath called for an Israelite to take him on in a duel, one-on-one. David (as) stepped forward. Soldiers from both sides were stunned. Goliath was a giant of a man with enormous strength. He sized up David (as) from head to toe and jeered:
“You poor, little soul! What on earth are you thinking?”
“I am thinking of taking you on,” said David (as).
Goliath laughed it off and began mocking him. But it was all said and done, and he thought he may as well go ahead and kill the young Israelite.
Yet, the next thing he knew, he had fallen off his horse lying motionless on his back. David (as) had shot him down with his sling. A single stone had struck Goliath right on the forehead. He was dead.
Despite his physical advantage, the burly Goliath who assumed his strength made him invincible, was defeated in a flash. By this, the Almighty had shown that things happen ultimately through His will and not external reasons. The incident had sent the message that those who appear strong in the eyes of people, may in fact be weak, while those who people think are weak, may in fact be strong with the help of Allah (jj). However strong the deniers of the Lord may appear, once the Lord’s will decides to take its course, they become weaker than even toddlers. Think of the example of Abrahah.
This incident also carries a more subtle wisdom. After Saul, the Almighty wanted David (as) to become king, and for his son Solomon (as) to be his heir. By making him kill Goliath, the Almighty had allowed David (as) to prove his worth, strength and courage to the entire Israelites, which would pave the way for him to become king.
The Almighty declares:
“So they defeated them by permission of Allah. David killed Goliath; and Allah gave him kingship and prophethood, and taught him what He willed. And if it were not for Allah vanquishing some people through others, the earth would have been corrupted, but Allah is full of bounty to the worlds.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 251)
Here, the Qur’an points to a divine law and order that is in force in this life on earth. If Allah (jj) did not make sultans and kings enforce justice, the powerful would undoubtedly always oppress the weak. This is why it has been narrated:
“A sultan is the shadow of Allah on earth.” (Haythami, Majmau’z Zawaid, V, 196; Daylami, Musnad, II, 343).
Uthman (ra) has said:
“Allah certainly uses a sultan to prevent an evil, which He does not prevent through the Qur’an.” (Ibn Kathir, Qisasu’l Anbiya, p. 516)
Moreover, God has pinned the establishment of social order between people to certain factors. Some people are rich, while others are poor. Some people are strong, while others are weak. Some are healthy, while others are ill. And there are some who believe in God, while there are others in denial. This is only so that the relations they institute among one another will allow them to live as a society. Just as positive and negative currents spark electricity, the conflict and battles between positive and negative people carry many wisdoms. The above verses of the Qur’an allude to some principles of divine order. And the verse that follows declares:
“These are the signs of Allah which We recite to you in truth. And you are certainly one of the messengers.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 252)
Saul had all the spoils of war burnt. Under the law of Moses (as), war spoils were regarded impure and had to be thrown into the flames.
Saul was greeted in Jerusalem by Samuel (as).
“God has given you the victory He had promised”, the prophet told him. “Now, it is time for you to fulfil your promise!”
Saul then wed her daughter to David (as).
Following the death of Saul, David (as) became king. A short while later, he was also appointed prophet. Thus, he became the first person to be made a king and a prophet at once. He was given supremacy in spiritual finesse and ability. As declared in the Qur’an, he was also given one of the four divine books, the Psalms (Zabur).
“And your Lord knows best whoever is in the heavens and the earth. We certainly gave some prophets an advantage over others, and We gave David the Psalms.” (Al-Isra, 17: 55)
For his entire life, David (as) ruled with justice. He would walk around the city in disguise, to inquire about what people thought of his policies and practices, and whether they were happy. Never did he come across a single person who spoke ill of or complained about his actions. (Qurtubi, Tafsir, XIV, 266). All the people had wholeheartedly obeyed him.
The Qur’an states:
“Be patient over what they say, and remember our servant David, the man of strength. He was repentant.” (Sad, 38: 17)
David (as) would also inquire about the best times to worship God. One day, he asked Jibril (as):
“What time has the most virtue?”
He replied, “All I know is that the Throne trembles near the break of dawn.” (Ahmed ibn Hanbal, Zuhd, p. 70; Ibn Abi Shaybah, Musannaf, XIII, 240)
David (as) would sleep for only a third of the night and spend the rest of the time worshipping the Lord.
Allah (jj) states:
“And we did make the mountains glorify Allah with him at evening and dawn. And the birds, flocked together, echoing him in chorus.” (Sad, 38: 18-19)
“And we made the mountains and birds glorify Us with David. And we have done such things.” (Al-Anbiya, 21: 79)
The Almighty had gifted David (as) with a beautiful and booming voice. When he recited the Psalms, wild animals would flock around him to listen. Allah (jj) had also taught David (as) the art of making armors and endowed him with exceptional skill to do so. The Qur’an states:
“And We certainly gave David a grace from Us bounty. ‘O mountains! Chime in with him, and the birds as well.’ And We made iron soft for him, commanding him, ‘Make full coats of armor, keep the measure in arranging the links, and work righteously. I see best what you do.” (Saba, 34: 10-11)
“And We taught him how to fashion coats of armor to protect from the enemy in battle. Will you then be grateful?” (Al-Anbiya, 21: 80)
By making armors, not only could David (as) protect his soldiers from an enemy onslaught, he could also make a living from his own labor. Despite being a king who ruled over a vast and wealthy dominion, David (as) preferred to live off his own work. The Prophet (saw) has in fact said:
“No one earns anything better than what he does through his own labor. Allah’s prophet, David also lived off his own work…” (Bukhari, Buyu, 15; Anbiya, 37)
David (as) was a majestic king reinforced with divine help, and given command over many guards and a massive army. He was also a prophet given accurate foresight, a divine book and law, as well as wisdom and eloquence. Allah (jj) declares:
“We strengthened his kingdom and gave him wisdom and discernment in speech.” (Sad, 38: 20)
According to scholar Suddi, the term faslu’l-khitab, ‘discernment in speech’, is the ability to grasp a situation and pass an accurate judgment. Mujahid suggests it is to be a realist in words and judgment, and to be a finisher when it comes to action.
The Almighty addressed David (as) in the following:
“David, We have indeed made you a successor upon the earth. So, judge between the people in truth and do not follow your desire, as it will lead you astray from the way of Allah. Those who go astray from the way of Allah will be severely punished for having forgotten the Day of Account.” (Sad, 38: 26)
The Prophet-King David (as) divided his day into four:
The first portion for worship.
The second to rule on legal matters.
The third to give sermons to the people.
And the fourth to sort out his personal affairs.
David’s (as) Trial
David (as) underwent a number of tests, which informed him about his human weaknesses and possible blunders. After each, he immediately repented; and as a result, he was forgiven and taught about the hazards on the road to eternity.
One day, David (as) was immersed in worship when two men suddenly appeared by his side. He (as) felt a little apprehensive because when he retreated to meditate and pray, no one was allowed to come near him. But it seemed these two men had come out of nowhere to enter a heavily guarded precinct with tightly locked doors. Nonetheless, David (as) tried telling them to come and see him later, as it was his time for worship. They remarked:
“All times are time for worship”, and added:
“Do not be afraid! We are simply to men with a dispute. We have come to you for a verdict. Be just in your ruling!”
“Then, go ahead”, said David (as). One of the men proceeded to explain.
“My brother here has 99 sheep, whereas I have just the one. Despite that, he has coveted my one sheep and has worn me down!”
David (as) saw a blatant injustice. He was worked up; and without even hearing the other man out, he said:
“If he really wants to take your one sheep, then your brother is a bully! Only those who do not believe in Allah (jj) commit such injustice. And good men are only a few!”
The two men laughed and went away.
David (as) was haste in passing judgment. He decided on the matter without hearing the other side of the story. The verdict may change, either partly or entirely, once the other person is allowed to voice his case. It may turn out that the person, who appeared right, is in fact wrong. Thus, as soon as the men left, David (as) became aware of his mistake; and realizing that this was a test from the Almighty, he fell prostrate and repented. As a result, he was forgiven.
These incidents take place to make prophets understand their helplessness before Allah (jj) and teach them a method and wisdom for their people to follow. They do not, in any way, sully the innocence of prophets. Scholars of the Qur’an hold that these tests are in the category of ‘a pious man’s virtue is a saint’s sin’. In other words, incidents where prophets appear to err, have taken place only to teach us how to act when we ourselves make an error of judgment.
The Qur’an recounts the incident in the following:
“Have you not received the news of the contenders, when they scaled the wall into the sanctuary? When they entered into the presence of David, he was alarmed by them. They said, ‘Do not be afraid. We are only two contenders. One of us has bullied the other. So judge justly between us, and do not violate. Show us the right path!’” (Sad, 38: 21-22)
“Indeed this brother of mine has ninety-nine ewes, while I have only a single ewe. Still, he says, ‘Leave it to my care,’ and he browbeats me in speech!” (Sad, 38: 23)
“He said, ‘He has certainly wronged you by asking your ewe in addition to his. Many partners indeed bully one another, except those who have faith and do righteous deeds. And few are they.’ Then David knew that We had indeed tested him, and pleaded with his Lord for forgiveness, and fell down prostrate and repented.” (Sad, 38: 24)
“So We forgave him. And he certainly is near to Us and has a good destination.” (Sad, 38: 25)
On the Day of Judgment, David (as) will be close to the Almighty. The Prophet (saw) has in fact said:
“On the Day of Judgment, those who rule with justice will be seated on pulpits of light to the right of the Merciful (Allah). For they have acted with justice towards their families and others under their responsibilities.” (Ibn Hanbal, II, 160)
He has also said:
“People closest and dearest to Allah on the Day of Judgment will be just administrators. And people most distant to and disliked by Allah will be unjust administrators.” (Tirmidhi, Ahkam, 4; Nasai, Zakat, 77).
Both the current Torah and Gospel include false statements and vile slanders against David (as), which are completely at odds with what the Qur’an has mentioned in the verses above.
On this subject, Ali (kw) has said:
“Whoever talks about the incident of David (as) as relayed by storytellers, I will cane him with 160 lashes!”
There is no doubt that David (as) has a place close to Allah (jj), a good destination and a beautiful rank in paradise.
The Saturday People
The Saturday People or Ashab’ul-Sabt as the Qur’an refers to them, lived in the city of Madyan between Medina and the Red Sea. They numbered around 70,000. All they did on Saturdays was to offer deeds of worship, as they were forbidden from doing anything else. They had also promised David (as) they would not go hunting for fish on Saturdays.
Later, however, the devil whispered to them, saying, “You are banned from eating on Saturday, not hunting!”
It just so happened that as part of divine wisdom, the fish would increase on Saturdays, while being sparse for the rest of the week. As a result, many people fell for the devil’s whisper. The people of Madyan found themselves divided into three camps:
One group violated the command. They went fishing, both eating and selling the catch. They would cast their nets on the Saturday, and drag it out on the Sunday.
Another group did not engage in the sin; but neither did they speak up against it. They kept silent and did not advise others against the violation.
A third group not only kept observing the divine ban, they also spoke out against those who violated it. They also told those who were silent that they needed to speak up. They fulfilled their duty of encouraging the good and advising against evil.
Yet, the silent ones told them, “Why do you keep on advising a group of people who are bound to be destroyed anyway? You are wasting your breath!”
They said, “We only do it, so that we are not held responsible before the Almighty!”
Soon, they built a wall between themselves and the transgressors, to avoid the wrath they sensed would fall. It was not long after that they stopped hearing voices from the other side of the wall. They discovered that overnight, every one of them had mutated into apes. For a short while, the ones punished for not obeying Allah’s (jj) command, roamed among their relatives, miserable and dejected. Three days later, they were all dead.
In his Ma’alimu’t Tanzil, Imam Baydawi notes:
“Those who did not go fishing but did not discourage others against it, also turned into apes!”
The Qur’an relays the incident as follows:
“Ask them about the town on the seaside, when they violated the Sabbath. Their fish would come to them on the Sabbath, visibly on the shore, but not on the days they did not observe Sabbath. So, We tested them because of the transgressions they used to commit.” (Al-Araf, 7: 163)
“When a group of them said, ‘Why do you advise a people who Allah will destroy or punish severely?
They said, ‘So we have an excuse before your Lord, and with the hope they may refrain.” (Al-Araf, 7: 164)
“So when they forgot what they had been reminded, We saved those who forbade evil and seized the wrongdoers with a terrible punishment for their transgressions. When they defied the ban they were forbidden from, We said to them, ‘Turn into spurned apes.” (Al-Araf, 7: 165-166)
The Almighty reminds later generations to take a lesson from the incident:
“And you certainly know those of you who violated the Sabbath, upon which We said to them, ‘Turn into spurned apes.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 65)
“So We made it an exemplary punishment for those present and the generations to come, and an advice for pious.” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 66)
Once the people of shore wronged themselves by violating the Almighty’s ban, David (as) cursed them, after which they turned into apes. (Elmalılı H. Yazır, Hak Dîni Kur’ân Dili, III, 1786)
The verse below indicates that the incident took place during the time of David (as):
“The faithless among the Children of Israel were cursed by the tongue of David and Jesus son of Mary. That, because they would disobey and transgress.” (Al-Maidah, 5: 78)
As the companions of the Prophet (saw) believed in all messengers including Jesus (as) without discriminating between any one of them, the Jews retorted:
“We do not know a religion worse than yours!”
It was then that the below verse was revealed:
“Say, ‘Shall I inform you of something worse than that as retaliation from Allah? Those who Allah has cursed and with whom He is wrathful, some of whom He has turned into apes and swine; and worshippers of the rebel! Such are in a worse situation, and further astray from the right way.” (Al-Maida, 5: 60) (Wahidi, Asbabu’n-Nuzul, p. 203)
As the Qur’an makes it clear, the Almighty first turned the miserable Israelites who persisted in wrongdoing, into apes and subsequently made them perish. This, however, has nothing to do with the claim than humans come from apes.
A Legacy of David (as): David’s Fast
Fasting on alternate days is known as sawm-i Dawud; and is a bequest by David (as) to all believers. The Prophet (saw) has said that of all forms of fasting, this is the most virtuous.
Amr ibn Al-As’ (ra) son, Abu Muhammed Abdullah (ra) narrates:
“I had once remarked, ‘I promise that for the rest of my life, I will fast during the day and worship during the night.’ Someone informed the Prophet (saw) about it, who asked me if I had said such a thing.
‘Yes, Messenger of Allah’, I replied.
He said, ‘You do not have the strength to do that. Instead, fast on certain days, and eat on others. Sleep at times, and wake up for prayer at others. Fast for three days a month. The reward is ten times the deed. It will be as if you have spent the entire year fasting.’
‘But I can do more than that’, I said.
‘In that case, fast every three days’, he said.
‘I can do even more than that’, I said.
‘Then, fast every two days’, he said. ‘This is the fast of David; and it is the best and most moderate of all fasts.’
Again, I told him that I could do more. But this time, the Prophet (saw) stated:
‘There cannot be any more than that!’” (Bukhari, Sawm, 55-57; Tahajjud, 7; Muslim, Siyam, 181-193)
David’s (as) Virtues
David (as) would turn to Allah (jj) in all his affairs.
The Almighty has praised him as ‘My servant’.
He was given one of the four holy books, the Psalms.
Mountains and birds would join him in dhikr.
He spoke the language of birds.
He had a beautiful voice. Mountains and birds would listen to him, when he recited the Psalms.
He could mold iron like wax. He made a living through his own manual labor. The Prophet (saw) has also praised him in that regard.
David (as) was given faslu’l-khitab, the ability to separate right from wrong, as well as wisdom.
His state was the most glorious and powerful of the time.
David (as) frequently thanked his Lord. He once prayed:
“My Lord! How am I supposed to fully thank You, when I can only thank You through what You have given Me?”
Through revelation, he was asked:
“Do you know that all your blessings are from Me?”
“Yes”, he said.
The Almighty then told him:
“Thinking like that is enough for Me to be pleased with you”. (Ibn Kathir, Qisasu’l-Anbiya, p. 524)
In all, David (as) was a superior prophet. The Qur’an states:
“Certainly We gave David a grace from Us: ‘O mountains and birds, chime in with him!’ And We made iron soft for him.” (Saba, 34: 10)
The Passing Away of David (as)
The Prophet (saw) has said:
“David (as) showed enormous zeal in matters of religion and was a man of great honor. When leaving home, he would lock the door tight and no one would be able to enter until he returned.
One day, he again left his house, locked the door. Yet, when he came back, he saw a man standing in the middle of the lounge.
‘Who are you?’ he asked.
‘I am a person who does not fear kings and who locks cannot keep out!’ he said.
‘Then you must be the angel of death,’ David (as) remarked. ‘Welcome!’
Moments later, his soul was taken.’” (Ahmed ibn Hanbal, Musnad, II, 419)
David’s (as) forty-year reign marks the most splendid period in Israelite history. He conquered Jerusalem and made the city his capital. He was both a king and a prophet. Both these qualities were given to him by the Almighty. He was succeeded by his son Solomon (as), also a prophet.
The Psalms and Its Content
The Qur’an mentions both the word Zabur, in reference to the Psalms, as well as its plural, zubur. Zabur means book, while zubur refers to books.
The word Zabur is mentioned three times in the Qur’an; and they all relate to David (as).
It is stated:
“We have indeed revealed to you as We revealed to Noah and the prophets after him, and as We revealed to Abraham and Ismael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, Jesus and Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon. And We gave David the Psalms.” (Al-Nisa, 4: 163)
On the other hand, the word zubur is cited in reference to the books given to other prophets, not just David (as).
The Qur’an, in fact, says:
“This is certainly foretold in the scriptures of the ancients.” (Al-Shuara, 26: 196)
The above verse also implies that all divine books prior to the Qur’an gave the news of the coming of the Prophet (saw).
As for the Zabur, or the Psalms, given to David (as), the Qur’an declares:
“Certainly We wrote in the Psalms, after the Torah: ‘Indeed My righteous servants shall inherit the earth.” (Al-Anbiya, 21: 105)
The Qur’an provides no other information about the Psalms. Islamic sources cite the Psalms as one of the superior qualities given to David (as).
Muslim scholars say the Psalms did not contain rulings on legal matters; and that it was rather a book of prayers and invocations of the Lord.
David (as) came after Moses (as) and adhered to the law of the Torah. The Psalms was a collection of hymns that enabled believers to perfect their prayers and love for the Lord.
The Psalms was revealed entirely in poetic verse form. In fact, the Old Testament contains a book of the same name comprised of hymns sung in the company of music. There are 150 verses in total. It is said that around 70 of them date back to David (as), while the rest was compiled by others.
Thus, the Psalms we have today is not the Psalms revealed to David (as). The Old Testament has not been preserved in its original form. Over the years, it has been subject to human intervention. This historical fact overrules any possibility that the book in circulation today, is the original Psalms.
The fact is that the current Psalms began to be written around 500 years after the death of David (as). On top of the references to the life and times of David (as), the Psalms also contains lines from what is believed to be around 100 poets, whose names are unknown.
Until today, researchers have been unable to verify exactly who wrote the Psalms and whether it is the work of revelation or inspiration. Orientalist Horn has remarked, “Those who claim the Psalms was authored by David have no basis. It is, in fact, easy to see that the claim is false.”
Like the Torah, the conception of God in the Psalms is anthropomorphic. It depicts God in physical form. And similar to other passages in the Old Testament, it ascribes God a son; and in doing so, falls at odds with monotheism. There is one passage, where David (as) supposedly says:
“I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, ‘You are my son; today, I have become your father.” (Psalms, 2/7)
Consequently, today’s Psalms is only a book of poetry. It contains nothing more than prayers attributed to David (as) and others. It is unknown how many of it, if any, are actually from the original Psalms.
. The original saying is, ‘hasanatu’l-abrar, sayyiatu’l-muqarrabin.’ It means that some deeds considered good for the righteous may in fact be errors for those closer to the Almighty.
. See, Bukhari, Buyu’, 15; Anbiya, 37.