The Surah takes its name from verse 15 in which the word Saba
has occurred, which implies that it is the Surah in which mention
has been made of Saba (i. e. the Sabaeans).
Period of Revelation
The exact period of its revelation is not known from any reliable
tradition. However, the style shows that it is either the middle
or the early Makkan period. If it is the middle period, it
was probably its initial stage when the persecution had not
yet become tyrannical and the Islamic movement was being suppressed
only by resort to derision and ridicule, rumor mongering, false
allegations and casting of evil suggestions in the people's
Theme and Subject Matter
The Surah deals with those objections of the disbelievers,
which they were raising against the Holy Prophet's message
of Tauhidand the Hereafter, and about his Prophethood itself,
mostly in the form of absurd allegations and taunts and mockery.
These objections have been answered, sometimes by citing them
and sometimes without citing them, and the discourse itself
shows which objection is being answered at a particular place.
The answers mostly take the form of instruction and admonition
and argument, but at some places the disbelievers have been
warned also of the evil consequences, of their stubbornness.
In this connection, the stories of the Sabaeans and the Prophets
David and Solomon have been related to impress this lesson: "You
have both these historical precedents before you.
On the one hand, there were the Prophets David and Solomon,
who had been blessed by Allah with great powers and such grandeur
and glory as had been granted to hardly any people before them.
In spite of this, they were not proud and arrogant, but remained
grateful servants of their Lord. They were never rebellious.
On the other hand, there were the people of Saba, who, when
blessed by Allah, became proud, and were consequently so thoroughly
destroyed and dispersed as to be remembered only in myths and
legends. With these precedents in view, you may see and judge
for yourselves as to which bind of the life is better: that
which is built on belief in Tauhid and the Hereafter and the
attitude of gratefulness to Allah, or that which is based on
disbelief and shirkand denial of the Hereafter and the worship
of the world."