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Sura 34
Aya 15
لَقَد كانَ لِسَبَإٍ في مَسكَنِهِم آيَةٌ ۖ جَنَّتانِ عَن يَمينٍ وَشِمالٍ ۖ كُلوا مِن رِزقِ رَبِّكُم وَاشكُروا لَهُ ۚ بَلدَةٌ طَيِّبَةٌ وَرَبٌّ غَفورٌ

Muhammad Asad

INDEED, in [the luxuriant beauty of] their homeland, the people of Sheba had an evidence [of God's grace]1 - two [vast expanses of] gardens, to the right and to the left, [calling out to them, as it were:] "Eat of what your Sustainer has provided for you, and render thanks unto Him: a land most goodly, and a Sustainer much-forgiving!"
  • This connects with the call to gratitude towards God in the preceding passage, and the mention, at the end of verse 13, that "few are the truly grateful" even among those who think of themselves as "God's servants" (see note 19 above). The kingdom of Sheba (Saba in Arabic) was situated in south-western Arabia, and at the time of its greatest prosperity (i.e., in the first millenium B.C.) comprised not only the Yemen but also a large part of Hadramawt and the Mahrah country, and probably also much of present-day Abyssinia. In the vicinity of its capital Ma'rih sometimes also spelled Marib - the Sabaeans had built in the course of centuries an extraordinary system of dams, dykes and sluices, which became famous in history, with astonishing remnants extant to this day. It was to this great dam that the whole country of Sheba owed its outstanding prosperity, which became proverbial throughout Arabia. (According to the geographer Al-Hamdani, who died in 334 H., the area irrigated by this system of dams stretched eastward to the desert of Sayhad on the confines of the Rub' al-Khali.) The flourishing state of the country was reflected in its people's intense trading activities and their control of the "spice road" which led from Ma'rib northwards to Mecca, Yathrib and Syria, and eastwards to Dufar on the shores of the Arabian Sea, thus connecting with the maritime routes from India and China. - The period to which the above Qur'anic passage refers is evidently much later than that spoken of in 27:22-44.