HOOPOE (هدهد)

The hoopoe and Sulaimaan Alaihis Salaam

Allah Ta’laa says: When he(Sulaymaan Alaihis-Salaam) inspected the birds, he said, “Why do I not see the hoopoe? Is he among the absentees? I shall surely punish him severely or slaughter him unless he comes to me with a proper explanation. ” The hoopoe arrived soon thereafter and said, ” I know something which you do not know. I have just returned from Saba with confirmed news. I have discovered a woman ruling over them. I found her and her people prostrating to the sun instead of Allah. Shaitaan has beautified their actions for them and prevented them from the right path because of which they are not rightly guided. They do not prostrate before Allah, Who can expose the hidden things in the heaven and the earth, and Who knows what you hide and what you disclose. Allah is the one besides Whom there is no deity. He is the Sustainer of the glorious throne.” Sulaiman Alaihis-Salaam said, ” We shall soon see whether you have spoken the truth or whether you are from the liars.” (Surah Naml, verse 20-27)

Allah Ta’laa granted Sulaimaan Alaihis Salaam dominion over men, jinn, animals and birds. From time to time, he used to enquire about his subjects just as a good leader ought to. Scholars state that Sulaimaan Alaihis Salaam perhaps paid greater attention to the hoopoe because it was a rare and wicked bird.

Footnote: A leader must after all show greater concern for his weaker subjects. Nabi Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam would also enquire about the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum). He would visit those who were absent from the Masjid due to sickness or other difficulties. He would then assist them with duas, advice, etc. Umar Radhiyallahu Anhu during his khilafah, also followed this sunnah of the Messengers Alaihimus Salaam. He used to patrol the streets of Madinah Munawwarah to assist his subjects.

Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Abaas Radhiyallahu Anhuma was asked why Sulaimaan Alaihis Salaam specifically enquired about a hoopoe instead of any other bird. He (Radhiyallahu Anhuma) said, ” Sulaimaan (Alaihis Salaam) had reached an area where there was no water and the hoopoe had the ability to scan the surface of the earth and beneath.

He would inform Sulaimaan Alaihis Salaam where there was flowing water, and the jinn would then dig up the area very quickly. ” (Tafseer Qurtubi)

Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Abaas Radhiyallahu Anhuma was asked, ” How is it that hoopoe could see into the depths of the earth, but it cannot see a net which traps it?” He Radhiyallahu Anhuma replied, ” In the face of taqdeer, even the sight is blinded” (Tafseer Qurtubi).

In other words, when Allah Ta’laa decides some good or evil to befall a person, he cannot escape it by use of his intelligence, foresight or strength.

Interesting facts

The hoopoe is a medium sized bird, 25-32 cm long, with a 44-48 cm wingspan.

Hoopoes are very colourful. They are distinct from other birds due to their conspicuous spiky crown of feathers at the top of their heads. They also have a very long thin beak.

The hoopoe’s main diet is of insects, grub, small reptiles, frogs and plant matter.

A hoopoe digs for insects by pushing its bill into the ground in search of larvae and worms.

It builds nests in tree holes, under the eaves of buildings and in holes in the ground.

Did you know?

A hoopoe’s 2-3 syllable call “oop” gives rise to its English name. In Arabic it is called “Hud Hud”

Exploring the Animals of the Qur’aan

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