The People of Saba and the Arim Flood (2/2) [Archives:2005/859/Culture]

July 14 2005

Taken From “Perished Nations”
By Harun Yahya,
Ta-Ha Publishers, United Kingdom, 1999

There was, for Saba, aforetime, a Sign in their home-land – two

Gardens to the right and to the left. “Eat of the Sustenance (provided) by your Lord, and be grateful to Him: a territory fair and happy, and a Lord Oft-Forgiving!” But they turned away (from Allah), and We sent against them the Flood (released) from the dams, and We converted their two garden(rows) into “gardens” producing bitter fruit, and tamarisks, and some few (stunted) Lote-trees.

That was the Requital We gave them because they ungratefully rejected Faith: and never do We give (such) requital except to such as are ungrateful rejecters. (Surah Saba: 15-17)

As emphasised in the above verses, the Sabaean people were

living in a region noted for its outstanding aesthetic, fruitful ineyards and gardens.

Situated on the trade routes, the country of Saba had quite a high

standard of living and was one of the most favoured cities of the time.

In such a country, where standards of living and circumstances were so positive, what the Sabaean people should have done was to “Eat of the Sustenance (provided) by their Lord, and be grateful to Him” as is said in the verse. Yet, they did not do so. They chose to lay claim to the prosperity they had. They thought that this country belonged to themselves, that it was they who made all these extraordinary circumstances possible. They chose to be arrogant instead of being grateful, and, in the expression of the verse, they “turned away from Allah”.

Because they laid claim to all the prosperity they had, they

lost it all. As related in the verse, the flood of Arim destroyed everything they had.

In the Qur'an, the punishment sent to the Sabaean people is

named as “Sayl al-Arim” which means the “flood of Arim”. This expression used in the Qur'an also tells us the way this disaster occurred. The word “Arim” means dam or barrier. The expression of “Sayl al-Arim” describes a flood that came about with the collapse of this barrier. Islamic commentators have resolved the issue of time and place being guided by the terms used in the Qur'an about the flood of Arim.

Mawdudi writes in his commentary: As also used in the expression, Sayl al-Arim, the word “arim” is derived from the word “arimen” used in the Southern Arabic dialect, which means “dam, barrier”. In the ruins unearthed in the excavations made in Yemen, this word was seen to be frequently used in this meaning. For example, in the inscriptions which was ordered by Yemen's Habesh monarch, Ebrehe (Abraha), after the restoration of the big Ma'rib wall in 542 and 543 AD, this word was used to mean dam (barrier) time and again. So, the expression of Sayl al- Arim means “a flood disaster which occurs after the destruction of a dam.”

“We converted their two garden (rows) into gardens producing

bitter fruit, and tamarisks, and some few (stunted) Lote-trees” (Surah Saba: 16).

That is, after the collapse of the dam-wall, all the country was

inundated by the flood. The canals that had been dug by the Sabaean people, and the wall that had been constructed by building barriers between the mountains, were destroyed and the irrigation system fell apart. As a result, the territory, which was like a garden before, turned into a jungle. There was no fruit left but the cherry-like fruit of little stumpy trees. (4)

The Christian archaeologist Werner Keller, writer of “The Holy

Book Was Right” (Und Die Bible Hat Doch Recht), accepted that the flood of Arim occurred according to the description of the Qur'an and wrote that the existence of such a dam and the destruction of the whole country by its collapse proves that the example given in the Qur'an about the people of the garden was indeed realized. (5)

After the disaster of the Arim flood, the region started to

turn into a desert and the Sabaean people lost their most important source of income with the disappearance of their agricultural lands. The people, who had not heeded the call of Allah to believe in Him and to be grateful to Him, were in the end punished with such a disaster as this. After the great destruction caused by the flood, the people started to disintegrate. The Sabaean people started to desert their houses and emigrate to Northern Arabia, Makkah and Syria. (6)

Since the flood took place after the revelation of the Tawrah

and the Bible, this event is described only in the Qur'an.

The Qur'an tells us that the Queen of Saba and her people were “worshipping the sun besides Allah” before she followed Sulayman. The information on the inscriptions verify this fact and indicate that they were worshipping the sun and the moon in their temples, one of which is seen above.

On the pillars, there are inscriptions written in the Sabaean language. The city of Ma'rib, which was once a residence for the Sabaean people, but is now only a desolate ruin, undoubtedly is a warning to those who repeat the same mistake as the Sabaean people. The Sabaean people were not the only people that were destroyed by a flood. In Surat al-Kahf of the Qur'an, the story of two garden owners is told. One of these men possesses a very imposing and productive garden like those of the Sabaean people. However, he makes the same mistake as them: turning away from Allah. He thinks that the favour bestowed on him “belongs” to him himself, i.e. he is the cause of it:

Set forth to them the parable of two men: for one of them We

provided two gardens of grape-vines and surrounded them with date palms; in between the two We placed corn-fields. Each of those gardens brought forth its produce, and failed not in the least therein: in the midst of them We caused a river to flow.

(Abundant) was the produce this man had. He said to his companion, in the course of a mutual argument: “more wealth have I than you, and more honour and power in (my following of) men.” He went into his garden in a state (of mind) unjust to his soul: He said, “I deem not that this will ever perish, Nor do I deem that the Hour (of Judgment) will (ever) come: Even if I am brought back to my Lord, I shall surely find (there) something better in exchange.”

His companion said to him, in the course of the argument with

him: “Dost thou deny Him Who created thee out of dust, then out of a sperm-drop, then fashioned thee into a man? But (I think) for my part that He is Allah, My Lord, and none shall I associate with my Lord. Why didst thou not, as thou wentest into thy garden, say: 'Allah's will (be done)! There is no power but with Allah!' If thou dost see me less than thee in wealth and sons, It may be that my Lord will give me something better than thy garden, and that He will send on thy garden thunderbolts (by way of reckoning) from heaven, making it

(but) slippery sand!- Or the water of the garden will run off underground so that thou wilt never be able to find it.” So his fruits (and enjoyment) were encompassed (with ruin), and

he remained twisting and turning his hands over what he had spent on his property, which had (now) tumbled to pieces to its very foundations, and he could only say, “Woe is me! Would I had never ascribed partners to my Lord and Cherisher!” Nor had he numbers to help him against Allah, nor was he able to deliver himself. There, the (only) protection comes from Allah, the True One. He is the Best to reward, and the Best to give success. (Surat al-Kahf: 32-44)

As understood from the verses, the mistake of this garden owner

was not to deny the existence of Allah. He does not deny the existence of Allah, on the contrary he supposed that “even if he is brought back to his Lord” he would certainly find something better in exchange. He held that the state he is in, was due to his own successful efforts.

Actually, this is exactly what associating partners to Allah

means: attempting to lay claim to everything that belongs to Allah and losing one's fear of Allah thinking that one has some particular grace of his own, and

Allah will somehow “show favour” to one.

This is what the Sabaean people also did. Their punishment was

the same – all of their territory was destroyed – so that they could

understand that they were not the ones who were the “owners” of power but that it was only “bestowed” on them.