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Saul in the Quran

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Saul in the Quran is a righteous and strong king of the Israelites. Their prophet Samuel made him king by the command of God. The story of Saul has been told in surah Baqarah. In this article, we will take a look at:

Saul in the Quran: The First King of the Israelites

Saul or Ṭālūt (طالوت) was the first king of the Children of Israel who was appointed as king by the then prophet, Prophet Samuel as per Allah’s order. According to the Quran, a group of the Israelites after Moses said:

أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الْمَلَإِ مِن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ مِن بَعْدِ مُوسَىٰ إِذْ قَالُوا لِنَبِيٍّ لَّهُمُ ابْعَثْ لَنَا مَلِكًا نُّقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ

Have you not regarded the elite of the Israelites after Moses, when they said to their prophet, ‘Appoint for us a king that we may fight in the way of Allah.’ 1

However, their prophet said perhaps you will not fight and do jihad in the way of God if He prescribes it for you. They said:

وَمَا لَنَا أَلَّا نُقَاتِلَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ وَقَدْ أُخْرِجْنَا مِن دِيَارِنَا وَأَبْنَائِنَا

‘Why should we not fight in the way of Allah, when we have been expelled from our homes and [separated from] our children?’ 2

Then, when fighting was made incumbent on them, they turned their backs and did not fight except a few of them. Prophet Samuel said to them:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ قَدْ بَعَثَ لَكُمْ طَالُوتَ مَلِكًا

‘Allah has appointed Saul as king for you.’ 3

Saul in the Quran: The Israelites Protest

The Israelites were astonished that their prophet made Saul their king when he was not very wealthy. They said, “We deserve to be kings as we are wealthier.” However, their prophet said:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ اصْطَفَاهُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَزَادَهُ بَسْطَةً فِي الْعِلْمِ وَالْجِسْمِ

‘Indeed Allah has chosen him over you, and enhanced him vastly in knowledge and physique.’ 4

Then their prophet said how God gives His kingdom to whomever He wishes.

Saul in the Quran: The Sign of Saul’s Kingship

The prophet of the Israelites informed them that Saul’s kingship has a clear sign. It is, the Ark of the Covenant which contained the relics left behind by the House of Moses and Aaron and it will be carried by the angels. In other words, the Ark would move without anyone seemingly touching it, but rather the invisible angels would move it.

Saul in the Quran: The Test

So the troops of Saul set out to fight the enemies. Saul said to his companions and comrades:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ مُبْتَلِيكُم بِنَهَرٍ فَمَن شَرِبَ مِنْهُ فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي وَمَن لَّمْ يَطْعَمْهُ فَإِنَّهُ مِنِّي إِلَّا مَنِ اغْتَرَفَ غُرْفَةً بِيَدِهِ

‘Allah will test you with a stream: anyone who drinks from it will not belong to me, but those who do not drink from it will belong to me, barring someone who draws a scoop with his hand.’ 5

However, all of his men drank from the stream save a few. Then they crossed the stream and said, “Today we have no strength against Goliath (جالوت) and his troops.” On the other hand, the righteous and the ones who knew they would meet with God said, “There have been many times when a small group of people have overcome a larger one by God’s leave. And, God is with the patient.”

Saul in the Quran: The Fight With Goliath

When the troops of Saul were about to fight with Goliath (جالوت), they said:

رَبَّنَا أَفْرِغْ عَلَيْنَا صَبْرًا وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وَانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ ﴿250﴾

‘Our Lord, pour patience upon us, make our feet steady, and assist us against the faithless lot.’ 6

By the will of God, they were able to defeat them. David who was a young man at that time killed Goliath, and God gave him kingdom and wisdom. God says in verse 251 of surah Baqarah that were it not for the repelling of one group of people by another, the earth would have certainly become corrupted. Therefore, it is necessary that the enemies of God are eliminated at the hands of God’s chosen servants.


We learn from the story of Saul in the Quran that a king does not need to be a wealthy individual. Rather, the prerequisites of becoming a leader is knowledge and for a military commander such as Saul, a strong body.


  1. Quran 2:246 (Qara’i).
  2. Ibid.
  3. Quran 2:247 (Qara’i).
  4. Ibid.
  5. Quran 2:249 (Qara’i).
  6. Quran 2:250 (Qara’i).
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