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Sura 34
Aya 19
فَقالوا رَبَّنا باعِد بَينَ أَسفارِنا وَظَلَموا أَنفُسَهُم فَجَعَلناهُم أَحاديثَ وَمَزَّقناهُم كُلَّ مُمَزَّقٍ ۚ إِنَّ في ذٰلِكَ لَآياتٍ لِكُلِّ صَبّارٍ شَكورٍ

Muhammad Asad

But now they would say, "Long has our Sustainer made the distance between our journey-stages !"1 for they had sinned against themselves. And in the end We caused them to become [one of those] tales [of things long past], and scattered them in countless fragments.2 Herein, behold, there are messages indeed for all who are wholly patient in adversity and deeply grateful [to God].
  • In its generally-accepted spelling - based on the reading adopted by most of the early scholars of Medina and Kufah - the above phrase reads in the vocative rabbana and the imperative ba'id ("Our Sustainer! Make long the distances ...", etc.), which, however, cannot be convincingly explained. On the other hand, Tabari, Baghawi and Zamakhshari mention, on the authority of some of the earliest Qur'an-commentators, another legitimate reading of the relevant words, namely, rabbuna (in the nominative) and ba'ada (in the indicative), which gives the meaning adopted by me: "Long has our Sustainer made the distances ...", etc. To my mind, this reading is much more appropriate since (as pointed out by Zamakhshari) it expresses the belated regrets and the sorrow of the people of Sheba at the devastation of their country, the exodus of large groups of the population, and the resultant abandonment of many towns and villages on the great caravan routes.
  • An allusion to the mass-migration of South-Arabian tribes in all directions - particularly towards central and northern Arabia - subsequent to the destruction of the Dam of Ma'rib.