Saba is the name of one of the kingdoms of Yemen. Allah had blessed this civilisation in the most incredible ways; food was abundant, safety was at its best and the environment was as pure as can be. Messengers sent to them by Allah reminded them to thank Him as they enjoyed these blessings, something that they did do for a while. With the passage of time, they changed and so did the blessings that they had access to change as well.
For them were enormous fields of dense trees; endless varieties of ripe fruits; rivers of pure water gushing through their meadows; gentle winds; abundant shade, and a disease-free environment. The fruits were so many and ripe that they could not wait to be picked. All that was required of the people of Saba was to enjoy these blessings whilst thanking Allah, as their messengers said to them.
The worship of Allah was abandoned and replaced with the worship of the sun. Their messengers warned them but they refused. Their gardens were flooded and their homes were flattened, their trees became few and thorny, and their sweet fruits turned bitter. God punished them by replacing their two gardens with gardens of bitter fruit, tamarisks, and lote trees here and there. “We repaid them with this because of their ingratitude, and do not repay except the ungrateful?”
After mentioning this, Allah then relays to us yet another blessing that He had given them prior to the punishment, saying: “And We placed between them and the cities which We had blessed many cities (i.e. al-Sham) that can easily be seen and We determined between them the distances of journey...” Like everyone else, they would also travel for the sake of business, but their travel was altogether different.
Their business routes from Yemen to al-Sham were marked with numerous cities along the way. They would thus find themselves during their journey leaving one city, resting within it, and then entering another repeatedly until they finally arrived at their destination. This meant that there was not even a need for them to pack luggage with them due to the sheer number of ‘service stations’ – “cities that can easily be seen”. Navigation was not a problem either, for Allah said, “We determined between them the distances of the journey”, thus they would never get lost as these cities along the way were of known distances from one another.
Their business routes were not lonely and they did not have to pass stretches of empty land, rather their routes were populated with people and very well served. However, they became bored of Allah’s favors, met blessings with disobedience, and made one of the strangest praying that a people could make against themselves, saying: “‘Our Lord, lengthen the distance between our journeys,’ and they wronged themselves” They wished to struggle as everyone else did. They wished to prepare luggage and experience the fatigue of life. Things were just too comfortable. Thus, Saba – that kingdom of heaven – was made into a mere tale of the past, which people relate to one another. That gathered civilisation of unity was shattered into a fragmented, scattered, and dispersed community of people.
Lesson from the Story
The lessons learnt from the Sura Sabah to the modern generation are the punishments to the disbelievers of Allah Almighty and how He would take every action of these people into account and hold them liable for their action. The Sura also sheds light on the challenges and warnings against the disbelievers as well as the promises related to the Day of Judgment.
More than the punishments and promises, the sura teaches on how to respect one’s mother the lesson is reiterated through a hadith. The Prophet was asked by Hurayra to whom should one be dutiful to which the prophet replied to his mother three times and finally to his dad.