Rastafari: The Abrahamic faith that use Marijuana

Rastafari or Rastafarianism is an Abrahamic religion that has its roots in the Hebrew Holy Scriptures. They worship the One GOD, GOD of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and recognize, according to their reference standard, the Bible, identifying primarily with the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church.

The Lion of Judah and the Marijuana leaf on the colors of the Ethiopian Flag

Rastas refer to their beliefs, which are based on a specific interpretation of the Bible. Central is a monotheistic belief in a single GOD, referred as YAH (or JYAH) who partially resides within each individual. Rastafari is Afrocentric and focuses its attention on the African diaspora, which it believes is oppressed within Western (colonialism) society, or “Babylon”. Many Rastas call for the resettlement of the African diaspora in either Ethiopia or Africa more widely, referring to this continent as the Promised Land of “Zion”. Other interpretations shift focus on to the adoption of an Afrocentric attitude while living outside of Africa. Rastas refer to their practices as “livity“.

  • 1 History
  • 2 Belief
  • 3 JYAH rastafari and Jesus the Nazarene
  • Haile Selassie
  • 5 Dreadlocks, the vow of Nazirite and the idealization of Samson
  • 6 Rastafarians and the use of marijuana
  • 7 The queen of Sheba and the meeting with King Salomon


Although this faith was born in Ethiopia, its development and popularization took place primarily thanks to Caribbean (mostly Jamaica) cultures and African-American ethnic groups, and following the coronation of Hailé Selassié I, which took place in 1930.

Rastafari originated among impoverished and socially disenfranchised Afro-Jamaican communities in 1930s Jamaica. Its Afrocentric ideology was largely a reaction against Jamaica’s then-dominant British colonial culture. It was influenced by both Ethiopianism and the Back-to-Africa movement promoted by black nationalist figures like Marcus Garvey. The movement developed after several Christian clergymen, most notably Leonard Howell, proclaimed that the crowning of Haile Selassie as Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930 fulfilled a Biblical prophecy. By the 1950s, Rastafari’s counter-cultural stance had brought the movement into conflict with wider Jamaican society, including violent clashes with law enforcement. In the 1960s and 1970s it gained increased respectability within Jamaica and greater visibility abroad through the popularity of Rasta-inspired reggae musicians like Bob Marley.


Rastas refer to the totality of their religion’s ideas and beliefs as “Rastalogy”. The scholar of religion Ennis B. Edmonds described Rastafari as having “a fairly cohesive worldview”; however, Cashmore thought that its beliefs were “fluid and open to interpretation”. Because it has no systematic theology or highly developed institutions, the sociologist of religion Peter B. Clarke stated that it was “extremely difficult to generalise” about Rastas and their beliefs. Based on his research in Ghana, the scholar of religion Darren J. N. Middleton suggested that it was appropriate to speak of “a plethora of Rasta spiritualities” displaying a “shifting eclecticism”.

Emphasis is placed on the idea that personal experience and intuitive understanding should be used to determine the truth or validity of a particular belief or practice. No Rasta, therefore, has the authority to declare what beliefs and practices are orthodox and which are heterodox. The conviction that Rastafari has no dogma “is so strong that it has itself become something of a dogma”, according to Clarke.

Rastafari belief is deeply influenced by Judeo-Christian religion. It accords the Bible a central place in its belief system, regarding it as a holy book, and adopts a literalist interpretation of its contents. Rastas regard the Bible as an authentic account of early black history and their place as God’s favoured people. They believe that the Bible was originally written on stone in the Ethiopian language of Amharic. For Rastas, the Bible is therefore viewed as the key to understanding the past and the present and for predicting the future. It is also regarded as a source book from which they can form their religious practices. The Bible’s final chapter, the Book of Revelation, is widely regarded as the most important part for Rastas, having a particular significance for their situation.

However, Rastas also believe that the true meaning of the Bible has been warped, both through mistranslation into other languages and by deliberate manipulation by those who wanted to deny black Africans their history. They also regard it as cryptographic, meaning that it has many hidden meanings. They believe that its true teachings can be revealed through intuition and meditation with the “book within”. As a result of what they regard as the corruption of the Bible, Rastas also turn to other sources that they believe shed light on black African history.

The Messiah, painting by Rembrandt Harmensz. Some scholars believes that Jesus was also a temporary Nazir

JYAH rastafari and Jesus the Nazarene

Rastafari worship the Only GOD whom they call YAH (or JYAH) in the form of the Holy Trinity. This term is a shortened version of “JEHOVAH”, the Name of GOD in English translations of the Old Testament.

As well as regarding JAH as a deity, Rastas also believe that is inherent within each human individual. This belief is reflected in the aphorism, often cited by Rastas, that “GOD is man and man is GOD”. Due to the view that GOD exists within everyone, Rastas believe that all members of the religion are intrinsically connected, and thereby regard statements like “you and I” as being insignificant. As a result, Rastas speak of “knowing” JAH, rather than simply “believing” in Him. In seeking to narrow the distance between humanity and divinity, Rastafari embraces mysticism. In believing that human beings have an inner divinity within themselves (as Jesus refere (Jhon 10, 34-38) to Psalm 82, 7 “We are all sons of the Most High, but we will die like mere mortals, we will fall like any othe ruler”) , Rastas help to cultivate a bastion against the uncertainty and insecurity that exists within society and societal institutions.

Jesus the Nazarene is an important figure in Rastafari. However, practitioners reject the traditional depiction of Jesus present in Christianity, particularly the depiction of him as a white European, believing that this is a perversion of the truth. Christianity is treated with suspicion out of the view that the oppressors and the oppressed cannot share the same GOD.
Jesus is given particular prominence among a Rastafari denomination known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Rastas belonging to this group refer to Jesus as Yahshua and Yesus Kritos (the Messiah), and believe that his second coming is imminent.

Haile Selassie

From Rastafari’s origins, the religion was intrinsically linked with Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, who ruled as Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. He remains the central symbolic figure in Rastafari ideology, and although all Rastas hold him in esteem, precise interpretations of his identity differ. For Rastas, Haile Selassie is believed to be the Messiah. The Makonnen dynasty claimed descent from the Biblical figures Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Rastas also cite their interpretation of chapter 19 in the Book of Revelation. For many of these Rastas, Haile Selassie is believed to be the manifestation of GOD in human form, or a Messenger (Prophet) or emissary of GOD (JAH).

Africa: “Mother Earth”

Africa: Mother Earth

Africa is generally considered the cradle of humanity, Mother Earth; the most ancient human findings were in fact found in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Sahara has been a very important element in the historical evolution of the continent. The history of the peoples of North Africa is intertwined with that of the inhabitants of Europe and the Middle East. The Arab influence also played an extremely important role in the social-demographic development of several isolated areas both on the underside of the Sarah desert and on the eastern coasts of Zanzibar and Madagascar.

According to Clarke, Rastafari is “concerned above all else with black consciousness, with rediscovering the identity, personal and racial, of black people”. The Rastafari movement began among Afro-Jamaicans who wanted to reject the British imperial culture that dominated Jamaica, while at the same time making a determined effort to create an identity based on a re-appropriation of their African heritage. Practitioners of Rastafari identify themselves with the ancient Israelites—GOD’s chosen people in the Old Testament—and believe that black Africans or Rastas are either the descendants or reincarnations of this ancient people.

Rastafari teaches that the black African diaspora are exiles living in “Babylon”, a term applied to Western society. For Rastas, European colonialism and global capitalism are regarded as manifestations of Babylon, while police and soldiers are viewed as its agents. The term “Babylon” is adopted because of its Biblical associations. In the Old Testament, Babylon is the Mesopotamian city which conquered and deported the Israelites from their homeland between 597 and 586 BCE. In the New Testament, “Babylon” is used as a euphemism for the Roman Empire, which was regarded as acting in a destructive manner akin to the ancient Babylonians. Rastas view Babylon as being responsible for both the Atlantic slave trade which removed enslaved Africans from their continent and for the ongoing poverty facing the African diaspora.

For Rastas, Babylon is regarded as the ultimate evil. Rastas regard the exile of the black African diaspora in Babylon as an experience of great suffering, with the term “suffering” having a significant place in Rasta discourse. Rastas seek to delegitimise and destroy Babylon, something often conveyed in the Rasta aphorism “Chant down Babylon”.

Rastas view “Zion” as an ideal to which they aspire. As with “Babylon”, this is again a term derived from the Bible, where it referred to an idealised Jerusalem, regarded as the City of GOD.

By the movement’s fourth decade, the desire for physical repatriation to Africa had declined among Rastas. This change in view was influenced by observation of the 1983-1985 famine in Ethiopia. Rather, many Rastas saw the idea of returning to Africa in a metaphorical sense, entailing restoring their pride and self-confidence as people of black African descent. The term “liberation before repatriation” began to be used within the movement. Some Rastas seek to transform Western society so that they may more comfortably live within it rather than seeking to move to Africa.

Salvation and paradise

Rastafari has been characterised as a millenarianist movement, for it espouses the idea that the present age will come to an apocalyptic end. With Babylon destroyed, Rastas believe that humanity will be ushered into a “new age”. In this Day of Judgement, Babylon will be overthrown, and Rastas would be the chosen few who survive. A common view in the Rasta community was that the world’s colonialism would wipe itselves out through some catastrophic event (like nuclear war), with true believers ruling the world, something that they argue is prophesied in Daniel 2: 31–32. In Rasta belief, the end of this present age would be followed by a millennium of peace (Messianic Age), justice, and happiness in Ethiopia and the whole World. The righteous will live in paradise in Africa. Those who had supported Babylon will be denied access to paradise. The Rasta conception of salvation has similarities with that promoted in Judaism.

Samson the Israelite, Nazir and Judge of Israel, just betrayed in the arms of Dalila

Dreadlocks, the Nazirite vow and Samson

Through their use of language, dress, dreaded hair, and lifestyle Rastas seek to draw a clear boundary between themselves and non-Rastas. One of the “distinguishing mark[s] of the movement” is the formation of hair into dreadlocks. The formation of dreadlocks is Biblically inspired by the oldest vow reported in the Bible, the Nazir Vow (or Nazirite) legitimised by reference to the Book of Numbers (Chapter 6, 5–6). They are regarded as marking a covenant that the believer have made with GOD, and are also regarded as a symbol of strength linked to the hair of the Biblical figure of Samson. Sometimes this dreadlocked hair is then shaped and styled, often inspired by a lion’s mane symbolising regarded as “the Conquering Lion of Judah“. For Rastas, the wearing of dreads is a symbolic rejection of Babylon and a refusal to conform to its norms and standards regarding grooming aesthetics.

There are Rastas who do not wear their hair in dreadlocks; within the religion they are often termed “cleanface” Rastas. Some Rastas have also joined the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Christian organisation to which Haile Selassie belonged, and these individuals are required to not wear their hair in locks by the Church. Many Rastas also grow their beards long. In reference to Rasta hairstyles, Rastas often refer to non-Rastas as “baldheads”, while those who are new to Rastafari and who have only just started to grow their hair into dreads are known as “nubbies”.

From the beginning of the Rastafari movement in the 1930s, adherents typically grew beards and tall hair, perhaps in imitation of Haile Selassie. The wearing of hair as dreadlocks then emerged as a Rasta practice in the 1940s. Within the oral culture of the movement, there are various different claims as to how this practice was adopted.


Rastafari music developed at reasoning sessions, where drumming, chanting, and dancing are all present. Rasta music is performed to praise and commune with JAH. In performing it, Rastas also reaffirm their rejection of Babylon. Rastas believe that their music has healing properties, with the ability to cure colds, fevers, and headaches. Many of these songs are sung to the tune of older Christian hymns, but others are original Rasta creations.

As Rastafari developed, popular music became its chief communicative medium. During the 1950s, ska was a popular musical style in Jamaica, and although its protests against social and political conditions were mild, it gave early expression to the Rastafarians’ social and political ideology. Particularly prominent in the connection between Rastafari and ska were the musicians Count Ossie and Don Drummond. Ossie was a drummer who believed that black people needed to develop their own style of music; he was heavily influenced by Kumina and Burru, two drumming styles developed by African-Jamaicans. Ossie subsequently popularised this new Rastafari ritual music by playing at various groundings and groundations around Jamaica, with songs like “Another Moses” and “Babylon Gone” reflecting this Rasta influence. Rasta themes also appeared in Drummond’s work, with songs such as “Reincarnation” and “Tribute to Marcus Garvey”. Rasta ideas began to feature in the lyrics of mento songs, such as Lord Lebby’s “Ethiopia”.

1968 saw the development of reggae in Jamaica, a musical style typified by slower, heavier rhythms than ska and the increased use of patois. Although like calypso, reggae was a medium for social commentary, it demonstrated a wider use of radical political and Rasta themes than had previously been present in Jamaican popular music. Reggae artists incorporated Rasta ritual rhythms, and also adopted Rasta chants, language, motifs, and social critiques. Songs like The Wailers’ “African Herbsman” and “Kaya”, and Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It” referenced marijuana use, while tracks like The Melodians’ “Rivers of Babylon” and Junior Byles’ “Beat Down Babylon” referenced the Rastafarian belief in Babylon. Reggae gained widespread international popularity during the mid-1970s, coming to be viewed as music of the oppressed by black people in many different countries. Its popularity led to the emergence of “pseudo-Rastafarians”, individuals who adopted the cultural trappings of Rastafari—such as dreadlocks and marijuana use—without sharing the religion’s beliefs.


Marijuana according to the Rastafari tradition is the plant grown on the tomb of King Solomon the son of David.
The use of this plant would allow a better “connection” with GOD and would guarantee Sapienza (virtue par excellence attributed to King Solomon)

Rastafarians and the use of marijuana

The Rastafarians use marijuana and some even its extracts like Hashish for meditative purposes. This plant is used as a medicine, but also as a meditative herb, a bearer of wisdom and an aid to prayer. It is claimed that this plant has grown on the tomb of King Solomon, the Wise King, and from it derives wisdom and strength, this herb is called in Ethiopian “Edse Negus”, or “Tree of the King”.
Marijuana is also associated with the tree of life and wisdom that was present in Eden alongside the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
The Rastafarians, however, preach the moral discipline and self-control, and are averse to any form of complete senselessness of the senses.

Clarke stated that the “principle ritual” of Rastafari was the smoking of ganja, or cannabis. Among the names that Rastas give to the plant are callie, Iley, “the herb”, “the grass”, and “the weed”. When smoked in ritual contexts, Rastas often refer to it as “the holy herb”. In addition to smoking it, Rastas also ingest cannabis in a tea, as a spice in cooking, and as an ingredient in medicine. Cannabis is usually smoked during groundings, although some Rastas smoke it almost all of the time.

Rastas argue that the use of ganja is promoted in the Bible, specifically in Genesis 1: 29, Psalms 18:8, and Revelation 22:2. Rastas portray cannabis as the supreme herb, and regard it as having healing properties. They also eulogise it for inducing feelings of “peace and love” in those taking it, and claim that it cultivates a form of personal introspection that allows the smoker to discover their inner divinity, or “InI consciousness”. Some Rastas express the view that cannabis smoke serves as an incense that counteracts perceived immoral practices, such as same-sex sexual relations, in society.

By the 8th century, cannabis had been introduced by Arab traders to Central and Southern Africa, where it is known as “dagga” and many Rastas say it is a part of their African culture that they are reclaiming. It is sometimes also referred to as “the healing of the nation”, a phrase adapted from Revelation 22:2. There are various methods of transmission that might explain how cannabis smoking came to be part of Rastafari. One possible source was the African diasporic religion of Kumina, based on the practices of Bakongo enslaved people and indentured labourers who were brought to Jamaica in the mid-nineteenth century. In Kumina, cannabis was smoked during religious ceremonies in the belief that it facilitated possession by ancestral spirits. The religion was largely practiced in south-east Jamaica’s Saint Thomas Parish, where a prominent early Rasta, Leonard Howell, lived during the period he was developing many of Rastafari’s beliefs and practices.

A second possible source was the use of cannabis in various Hindu rituals. Hindu migrants arrived in Jamaica as indentured servants from British India between 1834 and 1917, and brought the use of cannabis with them. One Jamaican Hindu priest, Laloo, was one of Howell’s spiritual advisors, and may have influenced his adoption of ganja. It is also possible that its adoption was also influenced by the widespread medicinal and recreational use of cannabis among Afro-Jamaicans in the early twentieth century. Early Rastafarians may have taken an element of Jamaican culture which they associated with their peasant past and the rejection of capitalism and sanctified it by according it Biblical correlates.

The queen of Sheba and the meeting with King Salomon

The queen of Sheba (Hebrew: מַלְכַּת־שְׁבָא‬, malkat-šəḇā in the Bible) came to Jerusalem “with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very much gold, and precious stones” (I Kings 10:2). “Never again came such an abundance of spices” (10:10; II Chron. 9:1–9) as those she gave to Solomon. She came “to prove him with hard questions,” which Solomon answered to her satisfaction. They exchanged gifts, and after which she returned to her land.

The use of the term ḥiddot or ‘riddles’ (I Kings 10:1), an Aramaic loanword whose shape points to a sound shift no earlier than the sixth century B.C., indicates a late origin for the text. Since there is no mention of the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, Martin Noth has held that the Book of Kings received a definitive redaction around 550 BC

Virtually all modern scholars agree that Sheba was the South Arabian kingdom of Saba, centered around the oasis of Marib, in present-day Yemen. Sheba was quite well known in the classical world, and its country was called Arabia Felix. Around the middle of the first millennium B.C., there were Sabaeans also in the Horn of Africa, in the area that later became the realm of Aksum. There are five places in the Bible where the writer distinguishes Sheba (שׁבא‎), i. e. the Yemenite Sabaeans, from Seba (סבא‎), i. e. the African Sabaeans. In the Book of Psalm (Ps. 72:10) they are mentioned together: “the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts”. This spelling differentiation, however, may be purely factitious; the indigenous inscriptions make no such difference, and both Yemenite and African Sabaeans are there spelt in exactly the same way.

The alphabetic inscriptions from South Arabia furnish no evidence for women rulers, but Assyrian inscriptions repeatedly mention Arab queens in the north. Queens are well attested in Arabia, though according to Kitchen, not after 690 B.C. Furthermore, Sabaean tribes knew the title of mqtwyt (high official). Makada or Makueda, the personal name of the queen in Ethiopian legend, might be interpreted as a popular rendering of the title of mqtwyt. This title may be derived from Ancient Egyptian m’kit (𓅖𓎡𓇌𓏏𓏛 ) “protectress, housewife”.

The queen’s visit could have been a trade mission. Early South Arabian trade with Mesopotamia involving wood and spices transported by camels is attested in the early ninth century B.C. and may have begun as early as the tenth.

The ancient Sabaic Awwām Temple, known in folklore as Maḥram (the Sanctuary of) Bilqīs, was recently excavated by archaeologists, but no trace of the Queen of Sheba has been discovered so far in the many inscriptions found there.

Bible stories of the Queen of Sheba and the ships of Ophir served as a basis for legends about the Israelites traveling in the Queen of Sheba’s entourage when she returned to her country to bring up her child by Solomon.


Christian scriptures mention a “queen of the South” (Greek: βασίλισσα νότου, Latin: Regina austri), who “came from the uttermost parts of the earth”, i.e. from the extremities of the then known (Christian) world, to hear the wisdom of Solomon (Mt. 12:42; Lk. 11:31).

The mystical interpretation of theSong of Songs  Canticles, which was felt of supplying a literal basis for the speculations of the allegorists, makes its first appearance in Origen, who wrote a voluminous commentary on the Canticles. In his commentary, Origen identified the bride of the Canticles with the “queen of the South” of the Gospels, i. e. the Queen of Sheba, who is assumed to have been Ethiopian. Others have proposed either the marriage of Solomon with Pharaoh‘s daughter, or his marriage with an Israelitish woman, the Shulamite. The former was the favorite opinion of the mystical interpreters to the end of the 18th century; the latter has obtained since its introduction by Good (1803).


The queen of Sheba and the meeting with King Salomon

The bride of the Canticles is assumed to have been black due to a passage in Cant. 1:5, which the Revised Standard Version (1952) translates as “I am very dark, but comely”, as does Jerome (Latin: Nigra sum, sed formosa), while the New Revised Standard Version (1989) has “I am black and beautiful”, as the Septuagint (Greek: μέλαινα ἐιμί καί καλή).

One legend has it that the Queen of Sheba brought Solomon the same gifts that the Magi later gave to Jesus.

During the Middle Ages, Christians sometimes identified the queen of Sheba with the sibyl Sabba.


According to Josephus (Ant. 8:165–73), the queen of Sheba was the queen of Egypt and Ethiopia, and brought to Israel the first specimens of the balsam, which grew in the Holy Land in the historian’s time. Josephus (Antiquities 2.5-2.10) represents Cambyses as conquering the capital of Aethiopia, and changing its name from Seba to Meroe. Josephus affirms that the Queen of Sheba or Saba came from this region, and that it bore the name of Saba before it was known by that of Meroe. There seems also some affinity between the word Saba and the name or title of the kings of the Aethiopians, Sabaco.

The Talmud (Bava Batra 15b) insists that it was not a woman but a kingdom of Sheba (based on varying interpretations of Hebrew mlkt) that came to Jerusalem, obviously intended to discredit existing stories about the relations between Solomon and the Queen. Baba Bathra 15b: “Whoever says malkath Sheba (I Kings X, 1) means a woman is mistaken; … it means the kingdom (מַלְכֻת) of Sheba”.

The most elaborate account of the queen’s visit to Solomon is given in the 8th century (?) Targum Sheni to Esther ( Colloquy of the Queen of Sheba). A hoopoe informed Solomon that the kingdom of Sheba was the only kingdom on earth not subject to him and that its queen was a sun worshiper. He thereupon sent it to Kitor in the land of Sheba with a letter attached to its wing commanding its queen to come to him as a subject. She thereupon sent him all the ships of the sea loaded with precious gifts and 6,000 youths of equal size, all born at the same hour and clothed in purple garments. They carried a letter declaring that she could arrive in Jerusalem within three years although the journey normally took seven years. When the queen arrived and came to Solomon’s palace, thinking that the glass floor was a pool of water, she lifted the hem of her dress, uncovering her legs. Solomon informed her of her mistake and reprimanded her for her hairy legs. She asked him three (Targ. Sheni to Esther 1:3) or, according to the Midrash (Prov. ii. 6; Yalḳ. ii., § 1085, Midrash ha-Hefez), more riddles to test his wisdom.

A Yemenite manuscript entitled “Midrash ha-Hefez” (published by S. Schechter in Folk-Lore, 1890, pp. 353 et seq.) gives nineteen riddles, most of which are found scattered through the Talmud and the Midrash, which the author of the “Midrash ha-Hefez” attributes to the Queen of Sheba. Most of these riddles are simply Bible questions, some not of a very edifying character. The two that are genuine riddles are: “Without movement while living, it moves when its head is cut off,” and “Produced from the ground, man produces it, while its food is the fruit of the ground.” The answer to the former is, “a tree, which, when its top is removed, can be made into a moving ship”; the answer to the latter is, “a wick.”

The rabbis who denounce Solomon interpret I Kings 10:13 as meaning that Solomon had criminal intercourse with the Queen of Sheba, the offspring of which was Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed the Temple (comp. Rashi ad loc.). According to others, the sin ascribed to Solomon in I Kings 11:7 et seq. is only figurative: it is not meant that Solomon fell into idolatry, but that he was guilty of failing to restrain his wives from idolatrous practises (Shab. 56b).

The Alphabet of Sirach avers that Nebuchadnezzar was the fruit of the union between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

In the Kabbalah, the Queen of Sheba was considered one of the queens of the demons and is sometimes identified with Lilith, first in the Targum of Job (1:15), and later in the Zohar and the subsequent literature. A Jewish and Arab myth maintains that the Queen was actually a jinn, half human and half demon.

In Ashkenazi folklore, the figure merged with the popular image of Helen of Troy or the Frau Venus of German mythology. Ashkenazi incantations commonly depict the Queen of Sheba as a seductive dancer. Until recent generations she was popularly pictured as a snatcher of children and a demonic witch.


The story of the Queen of Sheba in the Quran shares similarities with the Bible and other Jewish sources. In a letter, Solomon invited the Queen of Sheba, who like her followers had worshipped the sun, to submit to worship Allah. She calls the letter noble. In an act suggesting the diplomatic qualities of her leadership, she responded not by brute force against his people, but by sending a gift to Solomon. He returned the gift. She then visits him at his palace. Before she arrived, Solomon had her throne moved to his palace with the help of a wise man, who was able to move the throne faster than a Jinn. Although Solomon had her throne disguised, she recognized it. She entered the palace and submitted to Allah (27:22–44).

Muslim commentators such as al-Tabari, al-Zamakhshari, al-Baydawi supplement the story. The Queen’s name is given as Bilqīs (Arabic: بلقيس‎), probably derived from Greek παλλακίς (pallakis) or the Hebraised pilegesh, “concubine”. According to some, he then married the Queen, while other traditions say that he gave her in marriage to a tubba of Hamdan. According to the scholar al-Hamdani, the Queen of Sheba was the daughter of Ilsharah Yahdib, the Himyarite king of Najran.

The Quran and its commentators have preserved the earliest literary reflection of her complete legend, which among scholars complements the narrative that is derived from a Jewish Midrash.


The story of Solomon and the queen was popular among Copts, as shown by fragments of a Coptic legend preserved in a Berlin papyrus. The queen, having been subdued by deceit, gives Solomon a pillar on which all earthly science is inscribed. Solomon sends one of his demons to fetch the pillar from Ethiopia, whence it instantly arrives. In a Coptic poem, queen Yesaba of Cush asks riddles of Solomon.




Banton, Michael (1989). “Are Rastafarians an Ethnic Group?”. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 16 (1): 153–157. doi:10.1080/1369183X.1989.9976167.
Barrett, Leonard E. (1997) [1988]. The Rastafarians. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 9780807010396.
Benard, Akeia A. (2007). “The Material Roots of Rastafarian Marijuana Symbolism”. History and Anthropology. 18 (1): 89–99. doi:10.1080/02757200701234764.
Cashmore, E. Ellis (1981). “After the Rastas”. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 9 (2). pp. 173–181. doi:10.1080/1369183X.1981.9975679.
Cashmore, E. Ellis (1983). Rastaman: The Rastafarian Movement in England (second ed.). London: Counterpoint. ISBN 0-04-301164-0.
Cashmore, E. Ellis (1984). “The Decline of the Rastas?”. Religion Today. 1 (1). pp. 3–4. doi:10.1080/13537908408580533.
Cashmore, E. Ellis (1989). “The Dawkins Case: Official Ethnic Status for Rastas”. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 16 (1). pp. 158–160. doi:10.1080/1369183X.1989.9976168.
Chevannes, Barry (1994). Rastafari: Roots and Ideology. Utopianism and Communitarianism Series. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0815602965.
Clarke, Peter B. (1986). Black Paradise: The Rastafarian Movement. New Religious Movements Series. Wellingborough: The Aquarian Press. ISBN 0-85030-428-8.
Edmonds, Ennis B. (2012). Rastafari: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199584529.
Francis, Wigmoore (2013). “Towards a Pre-History of Rastafari”. Caribbean Quarterly: A Journal of Caribbean Culture. 59 (2). pp. 51–72. doi:10.1080/00086495.2013.11672483.
King, Stephen A. (2002). Reggae, Rastafari, and the Rhetoric of Social Control. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1604730036.
Kitzinger, Sheila (1966). “The Rastafarian Brethren of Jamaica”. Comparative Studies in Society and History. 9 (1). pp. 33–39. JSTOR 177835.
Middleton, Darren J. N. (2006). “As it is in Zion: Seeking the Rastafari in Ghana, West Africa”. Black Theology: An International Journal. 4 (2). pp. 151–172. doi:10.1558/blth.2006.4.2.151.
Partridge, Christopher (2004). The Re-Enchantment of the West Volume. 1: Alternative Spiritualities, Sacralization, Popular Culture, and Occulture. London: T&T Clark International. ISBN 978-0567084088.
Sibanda, Fortune (2016). “One Love, or Chanting Down Same-Sex Relations? Queering Rastafari Perspectives on Homosexuality”. In Adriaan van Klinken and Ezra Chitando (eds.). Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa. Abingdon and New York: Routledge. pp. 180–196. ISBN 978-1317073420.
Soumahoro, Maboula (2007). “Christianity on Trial: The Nation of Islam and the Rastafari, 1930–1950”. In Theodore Louis Trost (ed.). The African Diaspora and the Study of Religion. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 35–48. ISBN 978-1403977861.
Turner, Terisa E. (1991). “Women, Rastafari and the New Society: Caribbean and East African Roots of a Popular Movement against Structural Adjustment”. Labour, Capital and Society/Travail, capital et société. 24 (1). pp. 66–89. JSTOR 43157919.
White, Carmen M. (2010). “Rastafarian Repatriates and the Negotiation of Place in Ghana”. Ethnology. 49 (4). pp. 303–320. JSTOR 41756635.
Other languages
Main Topics
ASH’s Newsletter

Quick Random Curiosity