All perfect praise is due to Allah, the Almighty; I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His Slave and Messenger; may Allah exalt his mention, as well as his family and all his companions.
Allah Says (what means): “There was for [the tribe of] Saba’ in their dwelling place a sign: two [fields of] gardens on the right and on the left. [They were told]: ‘Eat from the provisions of your Lord and be grateful to Him. A good land [you have], and a forgiving Lord.’ But they turned away [refusing], so We sent upon them the flood of the dam [i.e. the overwhelming flood that caused a break in their dam], and We replaced their two [fields of] gardens with gardens of bitter fruit, tamarisks and something of sparse lote trees. [By] that We repaid them because they disbelieved. And do We [thus] repay except the ungrateful?And We placed between them and the cities which We had blessed [In the lands of what is now southern Syria and Palestine] [many] visible cities. And We determined between them the [distances of] journey [i.e., We placed the intermediate settlements at calculated distances for the convenience of travelers.], [saying]: ‘Travel between them by night or by day in safety.’ But [insolently] they said: ‘Our Lord! Lengthen the distance between our journeys,’ and wronged themselves, so We made them narrations [i.e., their story became a tale related amongst people to take an example from] and dispersed them in total dispersion. Indeed in that are signs for everyone patient and grateful. And Satan had already confirmed through them [i.e. the people of Saba’] his assumption [i.e., that mankind could readily be misled by him.], so they followed him, except for a party of believers. And he had over them no authority except [it was decreed] that We might make evident who believes in the Hereafter from who is thereof in doubt. And your Lord, over all things, is Guardian.” [Quran 34: 15-21]
The people of Saba’ were the kings of Yemen and Balqees, the wife of Sulaymaan, may Allah exalt his mention, was from them. The people of Saba’ lived happy and joyful lives that were full of blessings; their sustenance was abundant and their trees and plants very fruitful. Allah sent messengers to them, instructing them to eat from what He had provided for them and show gratitude towards Him, as well as to worship Him alone and believe in His oneness. They adhered to these instructions for a while, but then shunned His commandments, and were thus punished by a flood on their land.
Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that a man came to the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) and asked him whether Saba’ was a name of a man, a woman or a land; the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) answered by saying: “It is the name of a man who had ten children from his progeny, all of whom were Arab; six of them later lived in Yemen and four in Shaam (i.e., ancient Syria). The ones in Yemen were later known as the tribes of Mathhij, Kindah, Al-Azd, Al-Ashaa’iriyyoon, Anmaar and Himyar. As for the ones who lived in Shaam, they were to be the known tribes of Lakhm, Juthaam, ‘Aamilah and Ghassaan.”[Ahmad]
Imaam Ibn Katheer, said: “The meaning of the saying of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.): “…who had ten children from his progeny, all of whom were Arab”is that these ten descended from his offspring, to whom all the Arab tribes originate. It does not mean that they were his direct children, because between him and some of them were two or three generations, and more in some cases. After the flood of the dam hit their area, some remained in their land, while others left to other locations.” End of quote.
The sign that Allah gave to them refers to their land, which was blessed with fields of gardens, as well as being protected from afflictions, all of which necessitated gratitude. These gardens yielded enough fruits to suffice them, so they were overwhelmed by the happiness of being free from need. Allah commanded them to express gratitude for these favours, namely:
1): The abundant provision He provided for them from these two gardens.
2): Good land, a beautiful climate and few cases of sickness (i.e., they rarely became sick due to the nice weather Allah blessed them with).
3): The forgiveness they were promised in return for expressing gratitude towards Allah.
Instead of continuing to be thankful, they turned away and shunned the commandments of Allah; they shunned monotheism and His worship, and refused to be thankful; they began worshiping the sun instead of Allah, as the hoopoe bird informed Sulaymaan, may Allah exalt his mention, saying, as Allah informs us what means: “… ‘I have come to you from Saba’ with certain news. Indeed, I found there a woman ruling them, and she has been given of all things, and she has a great throne. I found her and her people prostrating to the sun instead of Allah, and Satan has made their deeds pleasing to them and averted them from [His] way, so they are not guided.” [Quran27: 22-24]
The flood that Allah sent upon them comprised of a huge amount of water, which resulted in the total destruction of their gardens; their fruitful trees were rendered into others that were useless, bearing bitter fruits.
Look what happened to them! Look how their gardens, with their fruitful trees, pleasant shade and fine natural views, were rendered into thorns and trees with bitter fruits, all of which resulted from their ungratefulness, their refusal of the truth and their association with Allah. What was the result? “…That We repaid them” meaning that they were punished.
Allah knew that these people needed to travel in order to conduct trade with people of other villages, so He facilitated for them the means to reach these places for trade in a very easy manner, without them having to encounter any difficulties or feeling fearful in the least whilst on their journeys. This was another of the favours that Allah had bestowed upon them. There were villages along their way which were close in distance, so that they would not have to carry much provision and water for their trips; also, the way to their destination was simple and well-known so that they would not get lost. Their travel was safe, regardless of whether they traveled during the day or by night, as an additional bounty.
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