Sura XXXIV — Saba[726]

by Rev. G. Margoliouth, M.A.

Mecca — 54 Verses

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

PRAISE be to God! to whom belongeth all that is in the Heavens and all that is on the Earth; and to Him be praise in the next world: for he is the All-wise, the All-informed!

He knoweth what entereth into the earth, and what proceedeth from it; and what cometh down from heaven, and what goeth up into it: and He is the Merciful, the Forgiving!

"Never," say the unbelievers, "will the Hour come upon us!" SAY: Yea, by my Lord who knoweth the unseen, it will surely come upon you! not the weight of a mote either in the Heavens or in the Earth escapeth him; nor is there aught less than this or aught greater, which is not in the clear Book;—

To the intent that God may reward those who have believed and done the things that are right: Pardon and a noble provision shall they receive:

But as for those who aim to invalidate our signs,—a chastisement of painful torment awaiteth them!

And they to whom knowledge hath been given see that what hath been sent down to thee from thy Lord is the truth, and that it guideth into the way of the Glorious one, the Praiseworthy.

But the unbelievers say to those whom they fall in with, "Shall we shew you a man who will foretell you that when ye shall have been utterly torn and rent to pieces, ye shall be restored in a new form?

He deviseth a lie about God, or there is a djinn in him," but they who believe not in the next life, shall incur the chastisement, and be lost in the mazes of estrangement from God.

What! have they never contemplated that which is before them and behind them, the Heaven and the Earth? If such were our pleasure, we could sink them into that Earth, or cause a portion of that Heaven to fall upon them! herein truly is a sign for our every returning servant.

Of old bestowed we on David a gift, our special boon:—"Ye mountains and ye birds answer his songs of praise." And we made the iron soft for him:—"Make coats of mail, and arrange its plates; and work ye righteousness; for I behold your actions."

And unto Solomon did we subject the wind, which travelled in the morning a month's journey, and a month's journey in the evening. And we made a fountain of molten brass to flow for him. And of the Djinn were some who worked in his presence, by the will of his Lord; and such of them as swerved from our bidding will we cause to taste the torment of the flame.

They made for him whatever he pleased, of lofty halls, and images, and dishes large as tanks for watering camels, and cooking pots that stood firmly. "Work," said we, "O family of David with thanksgiving:" But few of my servants are the thankful!

And when we decreed the death of Solomon, nothing shewed them that he was dead but a reptile of the earth that gnawed the staff which supported his corpse.[727] And when it fell, the Djinn perceived that if they had known the things unseen, they had not continued in this shameful affliction.[728]

A sign there was to SABA, in their dwelling places:—two gardens, the one on the right hand and the other on the left:—"Eat ye of your Lord's supplies, and give thanks to him: Goodly is the country, and gracious is the Lord!"

But they turned aside: so we sent upon them the flood of Irem;[729] and we changed them their gardens into two gardens of bitter fruit and tamarisk and some few jujube trees.

Such was our retribution on them for their ingratitude: but do we thus recompense any except the ungrateful?

And we placed between them and the cities which we have blessed, conspicuous cities, and we fixed easy stages: "Travel ye through them by night and day, secure."

But they said, "O Lord! make the distance between our journeys longer,"[730] —and against themselves did they act unjustly: so we made them a tale, and scattered them with an utter scattering. Truly herein are signs to everyone that is patient, grateful.

And Eblis found that he had judged truly of them: and they all except a remnant of the faithful, followed him:

Yet no power had he over them. Only we would discern him who believed in the life to come, from him who doubted of it; for thy Lord watcheth all things.

SAY: Call ye upon those whom ye deem gods, beside God: their power in the Heavens and in the Earth is not the weight of an atom—neither have they any share in either; nor hath He a helper from among them.

No intercession shall avail with Him but that which He shall Himself allow. Until when at last their hearts shall be relieved from terror, they shall say, "What saith your Lord?" they shall say, "The Truth; and He is the High, the Great."

SAY: Who supplieth you out of the Heavens and the Earth? SAY: God. And either we or ye have guidance, or are in palpable error!

SAY: Not as to our faults shall ye be questioned; neither shall we be questioned as to your actions.

SAY: Our Lord will gather us together: then will He judge between us in justice; for He is the Judge, the Knowing!

SAY: Shew me those whom ye have united with Him as associates: Nay, rather, He is God, the Mighty, the Wise!

And we have sent thee to mankind at large, to announce and to threaten. But most men understand not.

And they say, "When will this threat come to pass? Tell us, if ye be men of truth."

SAY: Ye are menaced with a day, which not for an hour shall ye retard or hasten on.

The unbelievers say, "We will not believe in this Koran, nor in the Books which preceded it." But couldst thou see when the wicked shall be set before their Lord! With reproaches will they answer one another. The weak shall say to the mighty ones, "But for you we had been believers:"

Then shall the mighty ones say to the weak, "What! was it we who turned you aside from the guidance which had reached you? Nay, but ye acted wickedly yourselves."

And the weak shall say to the mighty ones, "Nay, but there was a plot by night and by day, when ye bad us believe not in God, and gave him peers." And they shall proclaim their repentance after they have seen the punishment! And yokes will we place on the necks of those who have not believed! Shall they be rewarded but as they have wrought?

And never have we sent a warner to any city whose opulent men did not say, "In sooth we disbelieve your message."

And they said, "We are the more abundant in riches and in children, nor shall we be among the punished."

SAY: Of a truth my Lord will be liberal or sparing in his supplies to whom he pleaseth: but the greater part of men acknowledge it not.

Neither by your riches nor by your children shall you bring yourselves into nearness with Us; but they who believe and do the thing that is right shall have a double reward for what they shall have done: and in the pavilions of Paradise shall they dwell secure!

But they who shall aim to invalidate our signs, shall be consigned to punishment.

SAY: Of a truth my Lord will be liberal in supplies to whom he pleaseth of his servants, or will be sparing to him: and whatever ye shall give in alms he will return; and He is the best dispenser of gifts.

One day he will gather them all together: then shall he say to the angels, "Did these worship you?"

They shall say, "Glory be to thee! Thou art our master, not these! But they worshipped the Djinn: it was in them that most of them believed.

On this day the one of you shall have no power over others for help or hurt. And we will say to the evil doers, "Taste ye the torment of the fire, which ye treated as a delusion."

For when our distinct signs are recited to them, they say, "This is merely a man who would fain pervert you from your father's Worship." And they say, "This (Koran) is no other than a forged falsehood." And the unbelievers say to the truth when it is presented to them, "Tis nothing but palpable sorcery."

Yet have we given them no books in which to study deeply, nor have we sent any one to them before thee, charged with warnings.

They also flourished before them, treated our apostles as impostors in like sort: but not to the tenth part of what we bestowed on them,[731] have these attained. And yet when they charged my apostles with deceit, how terrible was my vengeance:

SAY: One thing in sooth do I advise you:—that ye stand up before God two and two, or singly,[732] and then reflect that in your fellow citizen is no djinn:[733] he is no other than your warner before a severe punishment.

SAY: I ask not any wage from you: keep it for yourselves: my wage is from God alone. And He is witness over all things!

SAY: Truly my Lord sendeth forth the Truth:—Knower of things unseen!

SAY: Truth is come, and falsehood shall vanish and return no more.

SAY: If I err, verily to my own cost only shall I err: but if I have guidance, it will be of my Lord's revealing, for He is the Hearer, the near at hand.

Couldst thou see how they shall tremble and find no escape, and be taken forth from the place that is so near;[734]

And shall say, "We believe in Him!" But how, in their present distance, shall they receive the faith,

When they had before denied it, and aimed their shafts at the mysteries from afar?[735]

And a gulf shall be between them and that which they shall desire—

As was done unto their likes of old, who were lost in the questionings of doubt.



[726] In Arabia Felix, three days' journey from Sanaa.

[727] The Talmud mentions the worm Shameer, used by Solomon to cut the stones for building the temple. Pirke Aboth. v. See Buxt. Lex. Talmud, p. 2456. Tr. Gittin, fol. 68; and Midr. Jalkut on 1 Kings, vi. 7. This passage of Scripture may have suggested the idea that Solomon built, etc., by the aid of Spirits.

[728] That is, in their difficult toils.

[729] See M. Caussin de Perceval Hist. des Arabes, vol. iii., who, as well as M. de Sacy, fix this event in the second century of our era.

[730] The Saba, of verse 14 formed an important branch of the trading population of Yemen. This whole passage, 14-18, alludes to the cessation of traffic between them and Syria, which led to the desire to lengthen the stages and diminish the expense of the journey. See Muir's Life of Muhammad, i. p. cxxxix. Muhammad attributes this desire to covetousness.

[731] That is, of strength and material prosperity.

[732] That is, so as to form a judgment free from the influence of others.

[733] It is very remarkable, that when the power of Muhammad became firmly established, he never reverts to the insinuations against the soundness of his mind which in the earlier Suras he so often rebuts.

[734] That is, their graves. Mar. So called because there is but a step into it from the surface of the earth. Ullm.

[735] That is, when in this life.