Allah the Almighty says:
Indeed there was for Saba (Sheba) a sign in their dwelling-place two gardens on the right hand and on the left,; (and it was said to them:) “Eat of the provision of your Lord, and be grateful to Him.” A fair land and an Oft-Forgiving Lord! But they turned away (from the obedience of Allah), so We sent against them Sail AI-Arim (flood released from the dam), and We converted their two gardens into gardens producing bitter bad fruit, and tamarisks, and some few lote-trees. Like this We requited them because they were ungrateful disbelievers. And never do We requite in such a way except those who are ungrateful (disbelievers). And We placed, between them and the towns which We had blessed, towns easy to be seen, and We made the stages (of journey) between them easy (saying): “Travel in them safely both by night and day.” But they said: “Our Lord! Make the stages between our journey longer,” and they wronged themselves; so We made them as tales (in the land), and We dispersed them all totally. Verily, in this are indeed signs for every steadfast, grateful (person). (Saba, 15-19)
Scholars of genealogy among them was Muhammad Ibn Ishaq said: the name of Saba is Abd Shams Ibn Yashjub Ibn Yarub Ibn Qahtan. He was the first to take captives and he was very generous to the people. As Suhaili said: it is said that he was the first person to be crowned, and some scholars said he was Muslim and that he composed poetry in which he brought good news to the advent of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). This last saying was attributed to Ibn Didya in his book titled: (At-Tanwir fi Maulid Al-Bashir An-Nadhir)
Imam Ahmed said: I have been told by Abu Abdur Rahman, after Abdullah Ibn Luhaiah, after Abdullah Ibn Dalah saying: I heard Abdullah Ibn Al-Abbas as saying: A man asked Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) about Saba, whether it was a man, a woman, or a name of a land? He (Peace be upon him) said: Verily, he was a man to whom ten sons were born. Six thereof inhabited the Yemen and four Sham (Syria). Those in Yemen were: Madhhaj, Kindah, Al-Azd, Al-Ash Ariyun, Anmar and Himyar. And those who inhabited Syria were: Laghm, Judham, Amilah and Ghassan.” The Questioner was Farwah Ibn Musaik Al-Ghatifi.
This means that the term Saba covers all these tribes; among them also were At-Tababiah (Sing. Tubba) in the Yemen. Their kings used to put crowns on as were done by kings of Persia. The Arabs used to call whomsoever rules over the Yemen and Hadramaut “Tubba”, as they used to call kings of Sham (Syria) and the Arab Peninsula “Caesar”, and the ruler of Persia “Khusrau”, the ruler of Egypt Firaun (Pharaoh), the ruler of Abyssinia “Negus”, and the ruler of India “Ptolemes”, and Bilqis was from among the Himyar kings who ruled the Yemen. They lived in happiness and easiness, with abundance of sustenance: fruits, plants, etc. and they were righteous people who followed the Straight Path, but when they altered the Grace of Allah and denied it, they inevitably incurred to themselves and their peoples destruction and devastation.
Muhammad Ibn Ishaq narrating from Wahb Ibn Munabah said: Allah the Almighty sent them thirteen Prophets. And, As-Sadi claimed that Allah the Almighty sent them twelve thousand Prophets. Allah knows best!
The point is, when they replaced guidance with misguidance and prostrated themselves before the sun instead of Allah the Almighty, the matter which took place during the era of Bilqis and her ancestors and that which continued till Allah sent over them a flood released from the dam.
Allah the Almighty explained: (But they turned away (from the obedience of Allah), so We sent against them Sail Al-Arim (flood released from the dam), and We converted their two gardens into gardens producing bitter bad fruit, and tamarisks, and some few lote trees. Like this We requited them because they were ungrateful disbelievers. And never do We requite in such a way except those who are ungrateful (disbelievers)).
Many scholars mentioned that the Dam of Marab was built to keep water behind two great mountains, and when the water raised, the people began to implant orchards and fruitful trees and many kinds of vegetables. It is said that the originator of the darn was Saba Ibn Yarub who changed the course of seventy valleys forcing them to pour out water therein. In addition, he forced the water to get out from thirty springs or holes, but he died before completing it. So, the tribe of Himyar perfected it and it was of the space of one square league. Thereupon, they were living in happiness and abundance. Qatada and others said: the woman (from among them) would go putting a basket on her head, and it would be filled with fresh, ripe fruits, and they said that the air they breathed was so clean and pure that neither flies, nor harmful germs were found in their land.
Allah the Almighty says: (Indeed there was for Saba (Sheba) a sign in their dwelling-place two gardens on the right hand and on the left; (and it was said to them:) Eat of the provision of your Lord, and be grateful to Him. A fair land and an Oft-Forgiving Lord!) (Saba, 15) and, (And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings); but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily My punishment is indeed severe). (Ibrahim, 7)
But, when they adorned other than Allah the Almighty and arrogantly dealt with His Grace the stages (of journey) between them were easy in which they used to travel safely both by night and day and asked Him to make the stages between their journeys longer and severer. Thus, they asked to turn the good into what is bad like the Children of Israel who asked Allah the Almighty to turn Manna and quails into herbs, cucumbers, Fum (wheat or garlic), lentils and onions. Thereupon, they were deprived that great blessing and comprehensive grace; their land was destroyed and they themselves were scattered all over the globe.
Allah the Almighty says: (But they turned away (from the obedience of Allah), so We sent against them Sail Al-Arim (flood released from the dam)).
Many scholars said: Allah the Almighty sent mice or rats on the bases of the darn, and when they discovered this they brought cats to eat them up, but all was in vain. The bases became very weak and finally the darn collapsed and the water drowned everything. Their good fruitful trees turned into as explained by Allah the Almighty ‘bad ones’: (And We converted their two gardens into gardens producing bitter bad fruit, and tamarisks). And (and some few lote-trees) for they produce Nabk which is very few among the countless thorns they have. Allah the Almighty says: (Like this We requited them because they were ungrateful disbelievers. And never do We requite in such a way except those who are ungrateful (disbelievers)) i.e. Allah only punishes with this severe punishment, those who disbelieved in Him, belied His Messengers, disobeyed His orders, and violated His boundaries.
Allah the Almighty says: (So We made them as tales (in the land), and We dispersed them all totally) i.e. after the destruction of their gardens, properties and land, they needed to travel and move away. Thus, they scattered in different parts of the land as some of them moved to the Hejaz, and Khuzaah moved to Mecca. Some of them also moved to Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, they were the first to inhabit it. Then, they were followed by three tribes from the Jews: the Banu Qainuqa, Banu Quraizah, and Banu An-Nadir. The Jews made coalitions with the Aus and Khazraj and lived there (till the time of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)). Some of them, moved to Sham (Syria) and afterwards they converted to Christianity: Ghassan, Amilah, Bahra, Lukham, Judham, Tanukh, Taghlub, and others.
Muhammad Ibn Ishaq, in his The Prophet’s Biography (Kitab As-Sirah), said that the first to quit the Yemen before the Sail Al-Arim (the flood released from the dam) was Amr Ibn Amir Al-Lukhami. Lukham was the son of Adyi Ibn Al-Harith Ibn Murrah Ibn Azd Ibn Zaid Ibn Muha Ibn Amr Ibn Uraib Ibn Yashjub Ibn Zaid Ibn Kahlan Ibn Saba. It is said also by Ibn Hisham: Lukham Ibn Adyi Ibn Amr Ibn Gharib Ibn Saba. Ibn Ishaq said: the reason behind his moving from Yemen as I was told by Abu Zaid Al-Ansari that he saw a mouse or rat digging beneath the dam of Marab which was used to keep the water behind, so he realized that the dam would not stand so long, so he intended to move from the Yemen. However, he tricked his people by ordering his youngest son to slap him on the face before the people. The son did what he was ordered to and Amr said: I would never live in a place where my youngest son slapped me on the face. And he offered his property to be sold. The noblemen of the Yemen said: seize the opportunity of Amr’s rage and buy all his property. Hence, he moved along with his children and their offspring. The Azd said: we never leave Amr Ibn Amir, so they sold their properties and accompanied him in his fleeing (without knowing his real intentions). They arrived at the land of Ak who fought against them and their war had its ups and downs.
Finally, they departed from the land of Ak and dispersed in the lands. Ibn Jafnah Ibn Amr Ibn Amir went to Sham (Syria), Al-Aus and Al-Khazraj went to Yathrib (Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah), Khuzaah went to Marran, Azd As-Sarah went to As-Sarah, and Azd Amman went to Amman, then Allah the Almighty sent the flood against the dam and it was totally collapsed. The Glorious Quran bears witness to this incident.
As-Sadi narrated the like and Muhammad Ibn Ishaq said that Amr Ibn Amir was a priest. Others said that his wife was Tarifah Bint Al-Khair Al-Himyariyah and that she was a priestess. She foretold the destruction of their country as if they saw an indication in that rat or mouse, so they did what they did, and Allah knows best! His whole story was mentioned in the Exegesis on the authority of Ikriamh after Ibn Abu Hatim.
However, not all the people of Saba moved from the Yemen after the collapsing of the dam, but the majority thereof stayed there. Only the people of the Dam (Marab) went away and dispersed in the land. This is expressed in the Hadith mentioned earlier that was narrated by Abdullah Ibn Abbas, that the majority of the Yemenites did not move from the Yemen. Only four tribes quitted and six tribes stayed. They continued to live there and the ruling was kept by them and the Tababiah till they were deprived of their own self-ruling, for about seventy years by the army sent by the Negus under the command of Abraha and Aryat. Then, it was regained by Saif Ibn Dhi Yazan AI-Himyari shortly before Prophet Muhammad’s birth. Then, Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon him) sent to the Yemen Ali Ibn Abu Talib and Khalid Ibn Al-Walid, then Abu Musa Al-Ashari and Muadh Ibn Jabal to invite the people to embrace Islam. Then, Al-Aswad Al-Ansi seized the Yemen and drove out the deputies of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him). During the era of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, Al-Aswad Al-Ansi was killed and the Muslims had the upper hand in the Yemen.
Allah the Almighty says: