Damien F. Mackey
King Suleiman I as “a second Solomon”, and “a new Solomon”.
Suleiman the Magnificent,
King of the Ottoman Turks
“Suleiman … is therefore called the second Solomon by many Islamic scholars …”.
King Suleiman ‘the Magnificent’, C16th AD Ottoman emperor, was, according to this source
http://everything2.com/title/Suleiman+the+Magnificent “a new Solomon”.
And, similarly, Suleiman was “the second Solomon”.
A new Solomon is risen
Süleyman I was everything a magnificent ruler should be. He was just, making the right decisions in cases set before him. [Cf. I Kings 3:16-28] He was brave, leading his armies in battle until he had greatly expanded his sultanate. He was wealthy, living in luxury and turning his capital Istanbul into a splendid city. And he was cultured, his court teeming with philosophers and artists, and the Sultan himself mastering several arts, especially that of poetry.
…. Süleyman ascended to the throne in 1520 and stayed there for all of 46 years. During his reign he furthered the work of his forefathers until he had made the empire of the Ottomans into one of the world’s greatest.
The Sultan was named after Solomon, who was described as the perfect ruler in the Quran. Like the legendary king of the Jews, Süleyman was seen as just and wise, and a worthy follower of his namesake. He is therefore called the second Solomon by many Islamic scholars, although he was the first of that name among the Ottomans. Like the Solomon of old, this ruler was surrounded by splendour and mystery, and his time is remembered as the zenith of his people.
[End of quote]
The Problem with Islamic History
In some cases, Islam and its scholars have shown a complete disregard for historical perspective. I had cause to discuss this in my review of Islamic scholar Ahmed Osman’s book, Out of Egypt. The Roots of Christianity Revealed, in:
Osman’s ‘Osmosis’ of Moses
this book being a diabolical historical mish-mash in which the author, Osman, sadly attempts to herd a millennium or more of history into the single 18th Dynasty of ancient Egypt.
But getting right to the heart of the situation, the historical problems pertaining to the Prophet Mohammed himself are legendary. My own contributions, amongst many, to this subject, are, for example:
Scholars have long pointed out the historical problems associated with the life of the Prophet Mohammed and the history of Islam, with some going even so far as to cast doubt upon Mohammed’s actual existence. Biblico-historical events, normally separated the one from the other by many centuries, are re-cast as contemporaneous in the Islamic texts. Muslim author, Ahmed Osman, has waxed so bold as to squeeze, into the one Egyptian dynasty, the Eighteenth, persons supposed to span more than one and a half millennia. Now, as I intend to demonstrate in this article, biblico-historical events that occurred during the neo-Assyrian era of the C8th BC, and then later on, in the Persian era, have found their way into the biography of Mohammed supposedly of the C7th AD.
Added to all this is the highly suspicious factor of a ‘second’ Nehemiah, sacrificing at the site of the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem during a ‘second’ Persian period, all contemporaneous with the Prophet of Islam himself. The whole scenario is most reminiscent of the time of the original (and, I believe, of the only) Nehemiah of Israel.
And so I wrote in an article, now up-dated as:
This … later Nehemiah “offers a sacrifice on the site of the Temple”, according to Étienne Couvert (La Vérité sur les Manuscripts de la Mer Morte, 2nd ed, Éditions de Chiré, p. 98. My translation). “He even seems to have attempted to restore the Jewish cult of sacrifice”, says Maxine Lenôtre (Mahomet Fondateur de L’Islam, Publications MC, p.111, quoting from S.W. Baron’s, Histoire d’Israël, T. III, p. 187. My translation), who then adds (quoting from the same source): “Without any doubt, a number of Jews saw in these events a repetition of the re-establishment of the Jewish State by Cyrus and Darius [C6th BC kings of ancient Persia] and behaved as the rulers of the city and of the country”.
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So, conceivably, the whole concept of a Persian (or Sassanian) empire at this time, with rulers named Chosroes, again reminiscent of the ancient Cyrus ‘the Great’, may need to be seriously questioned.
Coins and Archaeology
And how to “explain inscriptions on early Islamic coins – the ones that showed Muhammed meeting with a Persian emperor [Chosroes II] who supposedly died a century before”? http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/place-london/plain/A85654957
Emmet Scott, who asks “Were the Arab Conquests a Myth?”, also points out major anomalies relating to the coinage of this period, and regarding the archaeology of Islam in general, though Scott does not go so far as to suggest that the Sassanian era duplicated the ancient Persian one (http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/160197/sec_id/160197):
Note the remark [in Encyclopdaedia Iranica]: “The Arab-Sasanian coinages are not imitations,” but were “designed and manufactured by the same people as the late Sasanian issues.” We note also that the date provided on these artefacts is written in Persian script, and it would appear that those who minted the coins, native Persians, did not understand Arabic. We hear that under the Arabs the mints were “evidently allowed to go on as before,” and that there are “a small number of coins indistinguishable from the drahms of the last emperor, Yazdegerd III, dated during his reign but after the Arab capture of the cities of issue. It was only when Yazdegerd died (A.D. 651) [in the time of the Ummayad Caliph Mu’awiya] that some mark of Arab authority was added to the coinage.” (Ibid.) Even more puzzling is the fact that the most common coins during the first decades of Islamic rule were those of Yazdegerd’s predecessor Chosroes II, and many of these too bear the Arabic inscription (written however, as we saw, in the Syriac script) besm Allah. Now, it is just conceivable that invading Arabs might have issued slightly amended coins of the last Sassanian monarch, Yazdegerd III, but why continue to issue money in the name of a previous Sassanian king (Chosroes II), one who, supposedly, had died ten years earlier? This surely stretches credulity.
The Persian-looking Islamic coins are of course believed to date from the time of Umar (d. 664), one of the “Rightly-guided Caliphs” who succeeded Muhammad and supposedly conquered what became the Islamic Empire. Yet it has to be stated that there is no direct archaeological evidence for the existence either of Umar or any of the other “Rightly-guided” Caliphs Abu Bakr, Uthman or Ali. Not a brick, coin, or artifact of any kind bears the name of these men. Archaeologically, their existence is as unattested as Muhammad himself. ….
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But surely what Scott alleges about these early Caliphs, that: “Not a brick, coin, or artifact of any kind bears the name of these men”, cannot be applied to Suleiman the Magnificent himself, evidence of whose building works in, say Jerusalem, are considered to abound and to be easily identifiable. A typical comment would be this: “Jerusalem’s current walls were built under the orders of Suleiman the Magnificent between the years 1537 and 1541. Some portions were built over the ancient walls from 2,000 years ago. The walls were built to prevent invasions from local tribes and to discourage another crusade by Christians from Europe” (http://www.generationword.com/jerusalem101/4-walls-today.html).
Previously, I have discussed Greek appropriations of earlier ancient Near Eastern culture and civilization. But might Arabic Islam have, in turn, appropriated the earlier Byzantine Greek architecture, and perhaps some of its archaeology? There appears to be plenty written on this subject, e.g.: “The appropriation of Byzantine elements into Islamic architecture”, by Patricia Blessing, “art and architecture of the Muslim World, focusing on trans-cultural interactions in the Middle Ages, the appropriation of Byzantine elements into Islamic architecture, the transfer and authentication of relics in East and West, historical photographs of architecture and urban spaces” (http://cmems.stanford.edu/tags/appropriation-byzantine-elements-islamic-architecture). And, again (http://www.daimonas.com/pages/byzantine-basis-persian.html): “This page is related to the Byzantine origins of what are claimed to be “Islamic” ideas. This page is limited to showing the Byzantine/Greek basis of Sassanian ideas which were absorbed by the even less original Arabs who replaced the faith of Zoroaster with one more brutal; that of Mohammed”. A rock relief of Chosroes II at Taq-I Bustan “clearly shows the symbol which was to be appropriated by Islam, the crescent moon …”.
As for the archaeology of the walls of the city of Jerusalem itself, relevant to Sultan Suleiman the supposed wall builder there, the exact identification of these various wall levels is highly problematical, as attested by Hershel Shanks, “The Jerusalem Wall That Shouldn’t Be There. Three major excavations fail to explain controversial remains” (http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=13&Issue=3&ArticleID=5).
So perhaps art and architecture attributed to the direction of Suleiman the Magnificent might need to be seriously re-assessed for the purposes of authentication.
Words are put into the mouth of a supposed Venetian visitor to the glorious kingdom of Suleiman the Magnificent that immediately remind me of the remarks made by the biblical Queen of Sheba upon her visit to the court of the truly magnificent King Solomon.
“I know no State which is happier than this one. It is furnished with all God’s gifts. It controls war and peace; it is rich in gold, in people, in ships, and in obedience; no State can be compared with it. May God long preserve the most just of all Emperors.” The Venetian ambassador reports from Istanbul in 1525
with (I Kings 10:6-9):
Then [Sheba] said to the king [Solomon]: “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard. Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.”
And in the article, “How Sultan Süleyman became ‘Kanuni [Lawgiver]’”, we find Suleiman likened to, not only King Solomon, again, but also to King Solomon’s law-giving alter ego, Solon, and to Solomon’s contemporary (revised) Hammurabi:
The first written, complete code of laws is nearly 4,000 years old, from the time of Hammurabi, the king of Babylon (r. 1792 B.C. to 1750 B.C.), although fragments of legal codes from other cities in the Mesopotamian area have been discovered. Hammurabi is still honored today as a lawgiver. In the Bible, it was Moses whom the Jews singled out as a lawgiver and among the ancient Greeks, Draco and Solon. ….
Süleyman oversaw the codification of a new general code of laws. Not only were previous codes of law taken into account, new cases and analogies were added. Fines and punishments were regularized and some of the more severe punishments were mitigated.
The kanunnames are collections of kanuns or statutes that are basically short summaries of decrees issued by the sultan. The decrees in turn were made on the basis of a particular individual, place or event but when issued, these particular details were not included. The publication of such a general kanunname throughout the empire was the responsibility of the nişancı, an official whose duty it was to attach the sultan’s imperial signature on the decrees issued in his name.
The sultan held the judicial power and judges had to follow what he decreed.
What Kanuni Sultan Süleyman did to earn his sobriquet as ‘lawgiver’ has often been compared to the just ruler King Solomon, from the Old Testament.
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For King Solomon as Solon, and as at least a contemporary of Hammurabi, see my: