Surah Saba Ayat 13 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 13
They made for him what he willed of elevated chambers, statues, bowls like reservoirs, and stationary kettles. [We said], “Work, O family of David, in gratitude.” And few of My servants are grateful.
They worked for him as he desired, (making) arches, images, basons as large as reservoirs, and (cooking) cauldrons fixed (in their places): “Work ye, sons of David, with thanks! but few of My servants are grateful!”
They made for him whatever he would desire: stately buildings, images, basins like water-troughs and huge, built-in-cauldrons: “Work, O house of David, in thankfulness (to your Lord). Few of My servants are truly thankful.”
They worked for him what he desired, (making) high rooms, images, basins as large as reservoirs, and (cooking) cauldrons fixed (in their places). “Work you, O family of Dawud (David), with thanks!” But few of My slaves are grateful.
They made for him what he willed: synagogues and statues, basins like wells and boilers built into the ground. Give thanks, O House of David! Few of My bondmen are thankful.
Making (Literally: between) for him whatever he decided: chambers and statues, and bowls like water-troughs, and anchored cauldrons. “Do (righteousness), House of Dawûd, in thankfulness; and few of My bondmen are constantly thankful.”
They made him whatever he wanted- palaces, statues, basins as large as water troughs, fixed cauldrons. We said, ‘Work thankfully, family of David, for few of my servants are truly thankful.’
Quran 34 Verse 13 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Saba ayat 13, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(34:13) They made for him whatever he would desire: stately buildings, images, basins like water-troughs and huge, built-in-cauldrons: “Work, O house of David, in thankfulness (to your Lord). Few of My servants are truly thankful.”
20. The word tamatheel in the text is the plural of timthal, which in Arabic is used for every such thing as is made to resemble a natural thing, whether it is a human being, an animal, a tree, a flower, a river, or some inanimate object. Timthal is the name of every artificial thing which may have been made to resemble something made by God. (Lisan al-Arab). Timthal is every such picture which may have been made to resemble the likeness of something else, whether living or dead.” (The commentary, Al-Kashshaf). On this basis the statement of the Quran does not necessarily imply that the images made for the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) were the pictures or images of human beings and animals. They might have been floral designs or natural landscape or different kinds of decorations with which the Prophet Solomon might have decorated his buildings and works.
The misunderstanding has been created by some commentators who have stated that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) had gotten the pictures of the Prophets and the angels made for himself. They took such things from the Israelite traditions and then explained them saying that in the former Shariahs it was not forbidden to make the pictures. But while accepting and citing these traditions without question, these scholars did not keep in mind the fact that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) was a follower of the Mosaic law and in that law making of the pictures and images of human beings and animals was also forbidden as it is in the Shariah of Muhammad (peace be upon him). And they also did not remember that because of the enmity which a section of the Israelites bore against the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him), they have accused him of crimes like polytheism, idolatry, sorcery and adultery. Therefore. one should not place reliance on the Israelite traditions and accept anything about this great Prophet, which might contradict any Shariah enjoined by God. Everyone knows that all the Prophets who came after the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) till the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) among the Israelites were the followers of the Torah, and none of them had brought forth a new law, which might have abrogated the law of the Torah. Now the Torah clearly enjoins repeatedly that making of the pictures and images of human beings and animals is absolutely forbidden.
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” (Exod. 20: 4) “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, nor rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it.” (Levit. 26: 1).
“Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female. The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air. The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth.” (Deut. 4: 16-18).
“Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place.” (Deut. 27: 15).
In the face of these clear and express injunctions how can it be accepted that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) might have employed the jinns to make pictures and images of the Prophets and the angels for him? And how can this thing be admitted on the authority of the statements of the Jews who accuse the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) of idolatry due to his love for polytheistic wives? (Kings, oh. 11).
However, the Muslim commentators, while citing the Israelite traditions, had made it clear that in the Shariah of Muhammad (peace be upon him) this thing is forbidden; therefore, it is no more lawful for anybody to make pictures and images in imitation of the Prophet Solomon. But some people of the modern time, who want to make photography and carving of idols lawful in imitation of the West, took this verse of the Quran as an argument for themselves. They argue like this: “When a Prophet of Allah has done this and Allah Himself has mentioned this act of the Prophet in His Book, and has expressed no disapproval of it either, it must be lawful.”
This argument of these followers of the West is wrong for two reasons. First, the word tamatheel that has been used in the Quran does not explicitly give the meaning of the human and animal pictures, but it applies to the pictures of lifeless things as well. Therefore, only on the basis of this word, it cannot be concluded that it is lawful to make the human and animal pictures according to the Quran. Secondly, it is established by a large number of the Ahadith, which have been reported through authentic chains of transmitters, and commonly reported by many authorities, that the Prophet (peace be upon him) absolutely forbade the making and keeping of the pictures of the living things. In this connection, we reproduce below the authentic traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the verdicts given by the eminent companions:
(1) Mother of the faithful, Aishah has reported that Umm Habibah and Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with them all) had seen a church in Habash, which had pictures in it. When they mentioned this before the Prophet (peace be upon him), he said: “The custom among those people was that when a pious man from among them died, they would build a house of worship at his grave and would make his pictures in it. On the Day of Resurrection, these people will be among the most wretched creatures in the sight of Allah.” (Bukhari: Kitab as-Salat, Muslim: Kitab al- Masajid; Nasai: Kitab al-Masajid).
(2) Abu Huzaifah has reported that the messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah has cursed the maker of pictures. (Bukhari: Kitab al-Buyu, Kitab at-Talaq, Kitab al-Libas).
(3) Abu Zurah says, “Once when I entered a house along with Abu Hurairah, I saw that a painter was making pictures at the top. Thereupon, Abu Hurairah said, “I have heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say: Allah says who could be more wicked than the one who tries to create a thing like My creation? Let them, if they can, create a seed or an ant.” (Bukhari: Kitab al-Libas; Musnad Ahmad. According to the tradition in Muslim, this was the house of Marwan).
(4) Abu Muhammad Hudhali has reported on the authority of Ali (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (peace be upon him) was present at a funeral prayer when he said: “Who from among you would go to Al-Madinah and demolish every idol that he sees, and level down every grave that he sees, and blot out every picture that he sees.” A man said that he would go. So he went but came back without carrying out the task due to fear of the people of Al-Madinah. Then Ali submitted that he would go, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) allowed him to go. Ali went, then came back and said: I have demolished every idol and leveled down every grave and blotted out every picture. Thereupon the Prophet said: “Now if any one made any of these things, he would be denying the teaching sent down on Muhammad (peace be upon him).” (Musnad Ahmad; Muslim: Kitab al-Janaiz; Nasai: Kitab al-Janiz also contain a tradition on the same subject).
(5) Ibn Abbas has reported: “And he who made a picture would be chastised and compelled to breathe the soul into it, which he will not be able to do.” (Bukhari: Kitab al-Ta bir, Tirmidhi: Abwab al-Libas; Nasai: Kitab az-Zinah; Musnad Ahmad).
(6) Saeed bin al-Hasan says: “I was sitting with Ibn Abbas when a man came and said: O Ibn Abbas, I am a man who earns his living with his hand, and my profession is to make these pictures. Ibn Abbas replied: I shall say to you the same that I have heard from the Prophet (peace be upon him). I have heard this from him that Allah will chastise the one who makes pictures, and will not leave him till he breathes the soul into it, and he will never be able to breathe the soul i
The tafsir of Surah Saba verse 13 by Ibn Kathir is unavailable here.
Please refer to Surah Saba ayat 12 which provides the complete commentary from verse 12 through 13.
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