DĀWŪD, DĀʾŪD, the biblical David (for linguistic discussion of the name, see Jeffery, pp. 127-28), mentioned in a number of passages in the Koran as the hero who fought with and killed Jālūt (Goliath; 2:251), the prophet who received the Book of Psalms (Zabūr) from God (4:163, 17:55), and the king who was given the power to rule, enforce justice, and distinguish between truth and falsehood (faṣl al-ḵeṭāb, 38:20, 2:251). Dāwūd is said to have been God’s vicegerent (ḵalīfa) on earth (38:26) and, with his son and successor, Solaymān (Solomon), represented as a man endowed with knowledge (27:15) whose judgment was sought in matters of dispute (21:78, 38:20-25). The birds and the mountains joined with Dāwūd in praise of God (21:79, 34:10, 38:18-19; cf. Psalms 98:8, 148:9-11), and God gave him the ability to soften iron (34:10) and taught him to make coats of mail (21:81).

These brief and fragmentary references were expanded in postkoranic literature, and much relevant information, mainly derived from Jewish sources, was added to them. In the Hadith literature the foci are Dāwūd’s willingness to do penance, his pious acts, and his performance of religious duties, but other events and circumstances of his life are mentioned as well. His adventures with Ṭālūt (Saul), his fight with Jālūt and the miraculous nature of his slingstones, his infatuation with Bathsheba, Satan’s plot against him, the episode of Uriah the Hittite (cf. 2 Samuel 11-12), the revolt of his son Absalom and the latter’s death, the numbering of Banū Esrāʾīl, and their unhappy fate are fully developed in histories, commentaries on the Koran, and biographies of the prophets.

Among Persian Sufis Dāwūd has figured as a supreme example of devotion. Shaikh Farīd-al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār (d. 618/1221), relating Dāwūd’s name to the Arabic root w-d-d (to love), attributed all Dāwūd’s achievements to his love for God and described Psalms as zabūr-e ʿešq (psalms of love; 1356 Š./1977, pp. 294-96; 1342 Š./1963, pp. 2, 42; 1338 Š./1959, pp. 17, 34). Dāwūd’s divine gifts, particularly the charm of his voice and its supernatural effect on men, birds, wild beasts, and even inanimate objects; the ecstatic participation of mountains in his songs of praise to God; and the waxy ductility of iron in his hands have been favorite themes of Sufi poetry and have been treated and interpreted variously in Persian mystical writings. Among sayings attributed to the Prophet Moḥammad that are frequently quoted and elaborated in Sufi literature are God’s words addressed to Dāwūd (e.g., Meybodī, VI, p. 477; ʿAṭṭār, 1338 Š./1959, p. 100; Rūmī, bk. 1, p. 177; see Forūzanfar, pp. 28-29).



Abū Esḥāq Ebrāhīm b. Manṣūr b. Ḵalaf Nīsābūrī, Qeṣaṣ al-anbīāʾ, ed. Ḥ. Yāḡmāʾī, Tehran, 1340 Š./1961, pp. 264-81.

Shaikh Farīd-al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār, Asrār-nāma, ed. S.-Ṣ. Gowharīn, Tehran, 1338 Š./1959.

Idem, Manṭeq al-ṭayr, ed. S.-Ṣ. Gowharīn, Tehran, 1342 Š./1963.

Idem, Moṣībat-nāma, ed. ʿA. Nūrānī WesÂāl, 1356 Š./1977.

Balʿamī, ed. Bahār, pp. 539-60.

B. Forūzanfar, Aḥādīṯ-e maṯnawī, Tehran, 1334 Š./1955.

Abu’l-Ḥasan ʿAlī b. ʿOṯmān Hojvīrī, Kašf al-maḥjūb, ed. V. Zhukovskiĭ, Leningrad, 1926; repr. Tehran, 1358 Š./1979, pp. 413, 524-25.

A. Jeffery, The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qurʾān, Baroda, 1938; repr. Lahore, 1977.

Masʿūdī, Morūj, ed. Pellat, I, pp. 60-64.

Abu’l-Fażl Rašīd-al-Dīn Meybodī, Kašf al-asrār wa ʿoddat al-abrār, ed. ʿA.-A. Ḥekmat, 10 vols., Tehran, 1338-39 S./1959-60.

Jalāl-al-Dīn Moḥammad Balḵī Rūmī, Maṯnawī, ed. R. A. Nicholson, Leiden, 1925.

Moḥammad b. Jarīr Ṭabarī, Jāmʿ al-bayān fī tafsīr al-Qorʾān II, Cairo, 1321/1903, pp. 375-81.

Abū Esḥāq Aḥmad b. Moḥammad Ṯaʿlebī Nīšābūrī, Ketāb ʿarāʾes al-majāles fī qeṣaṣ al-anbīāʾ, ed. Beirut, 1981, pp. 270-92.

(Fatḥ-Allāh Mojtabāʾī)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 18, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 2, pp. 161-162