Sulayman and Sheba’s Queen

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The following verse of the Qur’an has inspired Islamic architecture and literature, illustrating the prominent symbols of the mirror and the perspective shift.

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surah 27-44

Qur’an 27:44 Pickthall translation:

It was said unto her : Enter the hall. And when she saw it she deemed it a pool and bared her legs. (Solomon) said: Lo! it is a hall, made smooth, of glass. She said: My Lord! Lo! I have wronged myself, and I surrender with Solomon unto Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

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And since she, or Bilqîs, said in answer to the question concerning her throne, which was, “Is thy throne like this? (Quran XXVII, 42), “It seems the same” (XXVII, 42), one can detect her knowledge of the renewal of creation at each instant, for she said, “It seems”. And he showed her the pavillion of crystal, so she supposed it was like a spreading water “and she bared her legs” (Quran XXVII, 44) so the water would not touch her clothing. But it was not a spreading water in reality, just as the visible throne brought into existence before Solomon was not the same throne which she left in Sheba in respect of its form, for it had discarded the first form and assumed another, while the substance, upon which the two thrones imposed successively their forms, was one. So he showed her by that that the state of her throne was like that of the pavillion: as for the throne, because it was deprived of existence, and what the Creator created was similar to that which had vanished; and as for the pavillion, because in its extreme delicacy and limpidity it became similar to clear water, while (in reality) it was different. So he showed her with his actions that she was right in her words, “It seems the same.”

-Ibn ‘Arabi Naqsh al-Fusūs trans. by William Chittick


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Original

Solomon’s Pool

 

When you looked at  my polished heart’s shine
    you just saw your own  reflected in mine
And baring your legs,   you hiked up your soul
   to wade in my water, so clear and so cold
But I’m too jealous to let you baptize
    your body in anything else but my eyes
So you’ll walk on water, just like the Messiah
    and dance across skies, like sunset’s smooth fires
You sounded the depths, and to your surprise
    found it but a trick to uncover your thighs
The clothes that you bought, all the things that you thought
   in my mirror’s undertow, are all swept aside
And so now you walk with my heart underfoot
    we’re all alone, lift your head up love and look
Let me lift off that veil, since it’s just you and I
    it’s cold out there darling, come into my eyes…

 

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