In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
Allaah [The Most High] said:
لَقَدۡ كَانَ لِسَبَإٍ۬ فِى مَسۡكَنِهِمۡ ءَايَةٌ۬ ۖ جَنَّتَانِ عَن يَمِينٍ۬ وَشِمَالٍ۬ۖ كُلُواْ مِن رِّزۡقِ رَبِّكُمۡ وَٱشۡكُرُواْ لَهُۚ ۥ بَلۡدَةٌ۬ طَيِّبَةٌ۬ وَرَبٌّ غَفُورٌ۬
Indeed there was for Saba’ a sign in their dwelling place, – two gardens on the right hand and on the left (and it was said to them) “Eat of the provision of your Lord, and be grateful to Him, a fair land and an Oft-Forgiving Lord. [Surah Saba. Aayah 15]
It [i.e. Saba] was an Arab tribe named after a grandfather of theirs – a man with many children. It has been reported in a hadeeth that his children were ten in number- six stayed in Yemen and four in Shaam [Syria]. Then they spread in the earth and became numerous.
[لَقَدۡ كَانَ لِسَبَإٍ۬ فِى مَسۡكَنِهِمۡ ءَايَةٌ۬ – Indeed there was for Saba’ a sign in their dwelling place]: [مَسۡكَنِ – Maskan– is that which a person lives in and lives there with tranquillity, such as houses, groves, orchards etc]. [ءَايَةٌ۬ – Aayah]– is a sign that shows something. The sign [i.e. the one mentioned in this Aayah] shows Allaah’s All-Encompassing Power, His blessings and [Perfect] Wisdom. [جَنَّتَانِ عَن يَمِينٍ۬ وَشِمَالٍ۬ – two gardens on the right hand and on the left]- Meaning: Gardens filled with trees. And if situated on the right and the left, it will possess a marvellous and attractive sight. They were a chain of gardens on the right and left. [كُلُواْ مِن رِّزۡقِ رَبِّكُمۡ وَٱشۡكُرُواْ لَهُۚ – (and it was said to them) “Eat of the provision of your Lord, and be grateful to Him]- Meaning: That which Allah has provided for you in the land of Saba. Allaah placed numerous good in these two gardens and benefiting from them was very easy. [وَٱشۡكُرُواْ لَهُۚ-And thank Him (i.e. Allaah)]- Meaning: This is what was sought from them [i.e. to be thankful], and thankfulness is connected to the heart, the tongue and the limbs- to acknowledge that those blessings are from Allaah, praise Allaah for them and perform acts of obedience with your limbs, until you fulfil the obligation of thankfulness in the manner sought from you. Thank Allaah for the blessings He has bestowed on you in the land of Saba. [بَلۡدَةٌ۬ طَيِّبَةٌ۬ – a fair land (i.e.Saba)]. This land had no predators, mosquitoes, flies, fleas, scorpions and snakes. A stranger would go pass the land and the lice on his clothes will die due to the good air [or weather condition]. [وَرَبٌّ غَفُورٌ۬ – an Oft-Forgiving Lord]- Meaning: Allaah is the Forgiving Lord – the forgiver of sins. Allaah granted them these two blessings: the blessing of a good dwelling place, and the blessing of forgiveness, safety from sins and its punishment in the afterlife; and the good land is a means of safety against evils in the worldly life.
Some Beneficial Points Derived From This Aayah:
- This great Aayah shows Allaah’s All-Encompassing Power and His Perfect Wisdom in relation to the story of Saba in general, that they were blessed in their dwelling places, orchards, castles and other than that. But when they turned away, the situation changed. In this is a lesson and a sign from many different angles – a sign that shows Allaah’s All-Encompassing Power to the one who disobeys Allaah, a lesson for one who obeys Allaah and a sign that shows Allaah’s [Perfect] Wisdom.
- Contemplate on this Aayah and you’ll find the different and various signs in it! It is a sign that shows Allaah’s All-Encompassing Power because He created for them those mighty orchards, and then substituted it with something else that was not equal to them in anything. This shows the [Perfect] Wisdom of Allaah when He bestowed that good upon them- when they were [obedient, submissive etc] to Him, and then took it away from them when they turned away – turned away from worshipping Him due to pride. This is a sign to take a lesson from by the people who disobey Allaah, because in it is a warning that the cessation of Allaah’s blessings is due to their sins. It is a sign for those who obey Allaah when they take a lesson from it, that as long as they obey Allaah, then Allah’s blessings will be sent to them.
- Those gardens brought forth its food in abundance and many other ways, because Allaah said to them [i.e. the people of Saba]: [كُلُواْ مِن رِّزۡقِ رَبِّكُمۡ – Eat of the provision of your Lord].
- It is obligatory to be grateful to Allaah because Allaah said [وَٱشۡكُرُواْ لَهُۚ – and be grateful to Him]. Sound intellect obligates gratitude just as it is obligated by the divine revelation. As for its obligation in the Sharee’ah, then the Aayaat of the Qur’aan commanding it are numerous. As for its obligation as [dictated or recognised] by sound intellect, then that is because sound intellect necessitates that whoever does good for you, then you should thank him. The one who is not thankful to Allaah will not be thankful to the people – Meaning: Everyone sees that it is wrong when a person does good to you, but you shun him and you do not thank him. All of us know that this is wrong and it is obligatory that you are thankful.
- Also this shows that the lands are divided into two- good and bad, because Allaah said: [بَلۡدَةٌ۬ طَيِّبَةٌ۬ – a fair land]. And what type of good is in this land – is it the terrain [i.e. physical features], its air [or weather, climate] or its fruits? Answer: It includes all these three affairs. Allaah said:[وَٱلۡبَلَدُ ٱلطَّيِّبُ يَخۡرُجُ نَبَاتُهُ ۥ بِإِذۡنِ رَبِّهِۦۖ وَٱلَّذِى خَبُثَ لَا يَخۡرُجُ إِلَّا نَكِدً۬اۚ ڪَذَٲلِكَ نُصَرِّفُ ٱلۡأَيَـٰتِ لِقَوۡمٍ۬ يَشۡكُرُونَ- The vegetation of a good land comes forth (easily) by the Permission of its Lord, and that which is bad, brings forth nothing but a little with difficulty. Thus do We explain variously the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) for a people who give thanks]. [Surah Al-A’raaf. Aayah 58]
- Affirmation of Allah’s Lordship and His forgiveness, which is found in the statement: [وَرَبٌّ غَفُورٌ۬ – an Oft-Forgiving Lord].
An Excerpt from Tafseer Surah Saba’ By Imaam Muhammad Bin Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah). Pages 126-132. slightly paraphrased