DAVID Arabic Dawud or Douud. A king of Israel and a Prophet to whom God revealed the Zabur, or Book of Psalms [ZABUR.] He has no special title or kalimah, as all Muslims are agreed that he was not a law-giver or the founder of a dispensation. The account of him in the Qur’an is exceedingly meagre. It is given as follows with the commentator’s remarks in italics by Mr. Lane:-
“And God gave him (David) the kingship over the children of Israel, and wisdom, after the death of Samuel and Sauld, and they [namely these two gifts] had not been given together to any one before him; and He taught his what He pleased, as the art of making coats of mail, and the language of birds. And were it not for God’s repelling men, one by another, surely the earth had become corrupt by the predominance of the polytheists and the slaughter of the Muslims and the ruin of places of worship; but God is beneficent to the people, and hath repelled some by others.” (Surah 11 227.)
Hath the story of the two opposing parties come unto thee, when they ascended over the walls of the oratory of David, having been presented going in unto him by the door, because of his being engaged in devotion? When they went in unto David, and he was frightened at them, they said, Fear not: we are two opposing parties. It is said that they were two parties of more than one each; and it is said that they were two individuals, angels, who came as two litigants, to admonish David, who had ninety-nine wives, and had desired the wife of a person who had none but her, and married her and taken her as his wife. [One of them said.] One of us hath wronged the other; therefore judge between us with truth and be not unjust, but direct us into the right way. Verily this my brother in religion had nine-and-ninety ewes, and I had one ewe; and he said, Make me her keeper. And he overcame me in the dispute. – And the other confessed him to have spoken truth. – [David.] said, Verily he hath wronged thee in demanding thy ewe to add her to his ewes; and verily many associates wrong one another except those who believe and do righteous deeds; and few indeed are they. – And the two angels said, ascending in their [proper or assumed] forms to heaven. The man hath passed sentence against himself. So David was admonished. And David perceived that We had tried him by his love of that woman; wherefore he asked pardon of his Lord, and fell down bowing himself (or prostrating himself), and repented. So We forgave him that; and verily for him [was ordained] a high rank with Us (that is an increase of good fortune in this world), and [there shall be for him] an excellent retreat in the world to come.” (Surah xxxviii 20-24.)
“We compelled the mountains to glorify Us, with David, and the birds also, on his commanding them to do so, when he experienced languor; and We did this. And We taught him the art of making coats of mail (for before his time plates of metal were used) for among mankind in general, that they might defend you form your suffering in warring with your enemies in general. – Will ye then, O people of Mecca, be thankful for My favors, believing the apostles? (Surah xxi, 79, 80)
Sale observes that Yahya the commentator most rationally understands hereby the divine revelations which David received from God, and not the art of making coats of mail. – The cause of his applying himself to this art is thus related in the Mirau ‘z-Zamin: – He used to go forth in disguise; and when he found any people who knew him not, he approached them and asked them respecting the conduct of David, and they praised him and prayed for him; but one day, as he was asking questions respecting himself as usual, God sent to him an angel in the form of a human being, who said, “An excellent man were David if he did not take from the public treasury.” Whereupon the heart of David was contracted, and he begged of God to render him independent; so He made iron soft to him and it became in his hands as thread; and he used to sell a coat of mail for four thousand [pieces of money – whether gold or silver is not said], and with part of this he obtained food for himself, and part of this he obtained food for himself, and part he gave in alms, and with part he fed his family. Hence an excellent coat of mail is often called by the Arabs “Dawudi,” i.e. “Davidean (See Lane’s translation of The Thousand and One Nights, chap viii, note 5.)
David, it is said, divided his time regularly, setting apart one day for the series of God, another day for rendering justice to his people, another day for his own affairs.
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam