Al-Jannah, a barren paradise [Archives:2007/1106/Culture]

November 26 2007

Saddam Al-Ashmori
For Yemen Times

Al-Jannah, which means paradise, is a vast land, but it is also a burned area as far as the eye can see. Devoid of trees, it contains old craters and volcanic dunes instead, making it an area to contemplate, especially as its perimeter is covered with trees. In viewing the land itself, one believes it has been burned because it has that look.

Al-Jannah is located 30 kilometers north of Sana'a near Amran. Previously called Suran, it's now called Dhuran and part of Hamdan. Although Al-Jannah is a large area, few people live there.

When asked about its barrenness and emptiness, Mu'ammar Al-Thaifani replies, “The reason is that the land was burned and people believe that cursed land has no blessing anymore. Those who do want to live in the area must bring stones to build their houses, as the area's stones aren't useful for construction because they are burned and fragile.

“Likewise, the soil also must be removed and replaced with other soil brought from other locations,” he adds.

He continues, “Instead, people dwelled in the area's suburbs, which became famous for their qat trees, such as in Hamdan. Thus, people started living in the area, choosing those areas near the public road or its edges.”

Agriculture in Al-Jannah

Upon entering Thaifan area in Al-Jannah, one sees no trees and only a few cultivated areas. Rajab Al-Thaifani explains this, saying, “The land was burned after a volcano erupted, so it's now unarable, especially the topsoil, which isn't fertilized.

“Some qat trees recently were planted when the topsoil was removed and replaced with other soil. In this replaced soil, we grow wheat, barley and corn; however, most people here mainly depend on qat trees because areas such as Hamdan and Eyal Suraih are famed for their qat trees.”

Al-Jannah's destruction

The story of Al-Jannah is written in the Qur'an in Surat Al-Qalam (The Pen). Yemeni scholar Mohammed Ibn Ali Al-Shawkani interpreted the passage as indicating that Al-Jannah was located in Yemen two leagues (10 kilometers) from Sana'a.

The land was owned by a kind old man who used to help the poor and needy. When he died, his sons inherited the land, where palm farms were grown. Claiming they were too many and no longer could help the needy, the sons deprived them of what their father used to give them and quit giving to the poor. Instead, they planned to harvest in the early morning without the needy people's knowledge.

Thus, for this reason, Allah ordered Al-Jannah completely burned. When the sons went together to harvest their land as agreed, they found it completely burned, at which they exclaimed, “We are misled! This is not our farm!” However, after some contemplation, they discovered that it indeed was theirs, at which they cried, “Allah has punished us because we are sinful and we deprived the needy of what our father used to give them.”

One of the sons, the best one, instructed his brothers to pray to Allah, but they disobeyed him, instead blaming each other for what happened to their land. However, they soon regretted that and repented to Allah, requesting He compensate them and promising to continue what their father had done. Thus, they prayed to Allah, who responded to their prayers and compensated them.

However, since this time, the land of Al-Jannah has remained barren.