Excerpted from the Tafsir by Dr Farhat Hashmi at

Sometimes you hear a story and move on, not so when you read about the land of Saba…………

Hidden in the sands of northern Yemen is a large nation, who at one time was more advanced, had taller buildings, more well designed roads and advanced financial methods of trade than the United States and all the western nations put together.

It was a place of utopia, where everyone was rich, and financially content. Their trade in exotic spices and Frankincense was considered exquisitely unique. Trade caravans passed through its land and needed the good will and permission of the Rulers of Saba and perhaps some taxation thus further filling the coffers of the State.

The rest reads like a Walt Disney story………….. Except with a moral in the end to learn from.

The Bible too has stories as perhaps the Torah too of what remains after the Babylonian destruction of the scrolls.

The stories in the Quran however are not meant for titillation of the imagination or for archaeological review. They are stern warnings and one would be intellectually challenged to think of them as “just stories” for entertainment of children or interesting travelogues or for archaeological research.

Saba…….for that is the name of the nation that engulfed geographically the southern part of what is now Saudi Arabia and the northern part of Yemen.

Allah Subhanawataala describes that there were gardens to the right and gardens to the left……… looks at that part of the world reveals that not a twig grows there, and the winds cover any semblance of buildings, and a dam unearthed by archeologists, with an alacrity that befuddles the brain.

Listening to the tafsir of surah Saba…… me goose bumps of fear, and consternation, the same that I felt standing at the shores of the dead sea with an eerie feeling that in the depths of those waters lie the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah upside down. It gives me the same sick feeling emotionally that I experienced physically walking through the ravines and cave mausoleums of Petra or the Land of Ad or Thamud.

Allah Subhanawataala describes the cities of Saba with having such affluence of blessings from Allah of food, lush gardens, exponentially explosive growth in trade and its benefits until the suburbs of one city almost abutted the suburbs of another town, without much abandoned land in between and extreme safety of travel from one to the next

…… that a good thing or a bad thing?

Apparently the people of Saba, highly intelligent, smart, great businessmen and women got bored.

Bored! With the affluence, lack of excitement, absence of crisis and a humdrum financially stable life………..and wanted something else…………. Just like the teenagers of today get bored with movies about normal human beings and want to watch vampires (Twilight) and their supernormal love life.

Sometimes adults get tired of a normal mundane man -wife relationship and want something unnatural or illegal to bring in some excitement, never realizing or accepting what an amazing naimah it is from Allah to have a natural normal human relationship.

The people of Saba were bored to tears with their affluence and wanted something else……….

And……………….. Allah Subhanawataala gave it to them! One has to Google map the area and you will see what happened and what remains. The dam broke, the water submerged everything, the gardens turned to bearing sour fruit and eventually everything turned to dust…….and neglect.

What was their crime you would ask?

Allah Subhanawataala answers that question not only for them but also for the Meccans at the time of Prophet Muhammad pbuh and for us in the present:

They were ungrateful and arrogant!

They forgot where and from whom the Blessings came and took it for granted that they came from their own intellect and hard work and would remain for ever…….

The nature of the wake up call began with the breaking of the dam and a flood that decimated their gardens, their fruit and eventually their trade.  Their land was laid waste such that nothing would grown on it and if it did, it was poisonous and bitter..

The sand of the desert has claimed their land,covering for ever the splendor of Saba. The people of Saba have dispersed into the world with no identity as Sabaens, absorbed into other nations with nothing to show or remember, of their pomp and splendor.

Men and women without a nation, without a past they can share and no future as a nation again.

LESSONS FROM THIS SURAH (section on Saba):

  1. All Naimah (blessings) are from Allah
  2. All blessings must be recognized with gratitude and actively thanked for
  3. Gratitude is not only verbal it must be translated into actions of obedience to Allah and per His orders obedience to His Rasool Pbuh.
  4. Nothing comes from the sweat of our brow alone, without the permission of Allah
  5. Nothing comes immediately even after fervent dua and one must have SABR
  6. Being an ingrate confirms the prediction of Shaytaan regarding Adam (AS) and the children of Adam
  7. Being an ingrate takes us out of the “Momineen “ and the” favored” people of Allah as described by Him in Surah Baqarah.
  8. When the naimah of Allah are received with ungratefulness in the form of complaints, criticism, boredom, and hedonism (or misuse of them) there is a severe and terrible punishment waiting in the wings. This is not only for the individual but it may hit the whole nation and reduce it to dust……….or particles of sand as is witnessed by the place where Saba once stood.
  9. Ungratefulness after bringing destruction of the nation may scatter its people all over the world like torn, shreds of paper, men and women without a country.

       10. Shukr and Sabr are the keys to opening and keeping open the door of Allah’s                   blessings


 O Allah help me to remember You, to thank You and to worship You properly.” The Arabic version of this Hadith is the following. Let’s ensure that we memorize it and recite it after every prayer.


Allahumma A’inni Ala dhikrika wa shukrika wa husni ibadatika


All photos are from view zone.

3 thoughts on “THE STORY OF SABA: SABR AND SHUKR: 34: 14-21

  1. Shukran! I learnt of this for the first time today! May Allah swt help to keep us on the straight path – may we never be ungrateful, or forget to make shukr! May we follow the teachings of the Quran and follow the Sunnah of our Beloved Prophet, Muhammad saw ! ! ! Aameen!


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