The People of the Garden (True Story)



قال الله تعالى: { إِنَّا بَلَوْنَاهُمْ كَمَا بَلَوْنَا أَصْحَابَ الْجَنَّةِ إِذْ أَقْسَمُوا لَيَصْرِمُنَّهَا مُصْبِحِينَ (17) وَلَا يَسْتَثْنُونَ (18) فَطَافَ عَلَيْهَا طَائِفٌ مِنْ رَبِّكَ وَهُمْ نَائِمُونَ (19) فَأَصْبَحَتْ كَالصَّرِيمِ (20) فَتَنَادَوْا مُصْبِحِينَ (21) أَنِ اغْدُوا عَلَى حَرْثِكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَارِمِينَ (22) فَانْطَلَقُوا وَهُمْ يَتَخَافَتُونَ (23) أَنْ لَا يَدْخُلَنَّهَا الْيَوْمَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِسْكِينٌ (24) وَغَدَوْا عَلَى حَرْدٍ قَادِرِينَ (25) فَلَمَّا رَأَوْهَا قَالُوا إِنَّا لَضَالُّونَ (26) بَلْ نَحْنُ مَحْرُومُونَ (27) قَالَ أَوْسَطُهُمْ أَلَمْ أَقُلْ لَكُمْ لَوْلَا تُسَبِّحُونَ (28) قَالُوا سُبْحَانَ رَبِّنَا إِنَّا كُنَّا ظَالِمِينَ (29) فَأَقْبَلَ بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ يَتَلَاوَمُونَ (30) قَالُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا إِنَّا كُنَّا طَاغِينَ (31) عَسَى رَبُّنَا أَنْ يُبْدِلَنَا خَيْرًا مِنْهَا إِنَّا إِلَى رَبِّنَا رَاغِبُونَ (32) كَذَلِكَ الْعَذَابُ وَلَعَذَابُ الْآَخِرَةِ أَكْبَرُ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ } سورة القلم 17-33.


God the Almighty said in Qur’an: {

  1. Verily, We have tried them as We tried the People of the Garden, when they swore to cut the fruits of the garden [harvest] in the morning,
  2. Without saying: Insha Allah (If God will).
  3. So there came upon the garden an affliction [fire] from your Lord while they were asleep.
  4. So the garden became black by the morning, like a pitch dark night (in complete ruins).
  5. As soon the morning broke, they called out one to another,
  6. Saying: “Go early to your crop if you would cut the fruits.”
  7. So they departed, conversing in secret low tones (saying),
  8. “No poor man shall enter your garden today.”
  9. And they went in the morning with determination, thinking that they were capable and had power.
  10. But when they saw the garden, they said: “Verily, we have lost (our way),”
  11. (Then they said): “Nay! Indeed we have been deprived of (the fruits)!”
  12. The best among them said: “Did I not tell you: why do you not glorify God.”
  13. They said: “Glory to Our Lord! Verily, we have done wrong.”
  14. Then they turned, one against another, blaming each other.
  15. They said: “Woe to us! Verily, we have transgressed.
  16. We hope that our Lord will give us in exchange a better (garden) than this. Truly, we turn to our Lord (wishing for good that He may forgive our sins, and reward us in the Hereafter).”
  17. Such is the punishment (in this life), but truly, the punishment of the Hereafter is greater, if they but knew} (Surah 68, verses 17-33).



The Great Scholar Ibn Katheer said in his Exegesis: “                                         

This is a parable that God made for the disbelievers of the tribe of Qureish, who met the great favor and blessing of God upon them of sending Prophet Muhammad to them with denial, rejection and opposition. Therefore God said:

(Verily, We have tried them): Meaning, tested them.

(As We tried the People of the Garden): This refers to a garden containing different types of fruits and vegetation.

(When they swore to cut the fruits of the garden in the morning):

Meaning, they vowed between themselves during the night that they would harvest the fruit of the garden in the early morning so that the poor and the beggars would not know what they were doing. In this way they would be able to keep its fruit for themselves and not give any of it in charity.

(Without (saying: “If God wills.”): Meaning in the vow they made. Therefore, God broke their vow. He then said,

(Then there passed over it an affliction from your Lord while they were asleep): Meaning, it was afflicted with some heavenly destruction.

(So by the morning it became black):  Ibn Abbas said, “Like the dark night.” Al-Thawri and As-Suddi both said, “Like the crop when it is harvested withered and dry.”

(As the morning broke, they called out one to another): Meaning, when it was early morning time they called each other so that they could go together to pick the harvest or cut it its fruits.

(Saying) “Go to your crop in the morning, if you would cut the fruits.”):  Meaning, if you want to cut your harvest fruit.’

(So they departed, and they were whispering): Meaning, they spoke privately about what they were doing so that no one could hear what they were saying. Then God, the All-Knower of secrets and private discussions, explained what they were saying in private. He said,

(So they departed, and they were whispering: “No poor person shall enter your garden”): Meaning, some of them said to others, “Do not allow any poor person to enter the garden today.”  God says:

(And they went in the morning with determination): Meaning, with strength and power, thinking they had power to do what they claimed and what they were desiring.

(But when they saw the garden, they said: “Verily, we have lost (our way).”): Meaning, when they arrived at it and came upon it, and it was in the condition which God changed from that luster, brilliance and abundance of fruit, to being black, gloomy and void of any benefit. They believed that they had taken a wrong way and this was not their garden. This was said by Ibn `Abbas and others.

Then they reconsidered and realized with certainty that it was actually the correct path. They said,

(Nay! Indeed we have been deprived (of the fruits)!): Meaning, `nay, this is it, but we have no portion and no share (of harvest).’

(The best among them said):  Ibn Abbas and others said, “This means the most just of them and the best of them.”

(Did I not tell you, `Why do you not glorify God’): Mujahid, As-Suddi and Ibn Jurayj all said that, this means “why do you not say, `If God wills”.

It has also been said that it means that the best of them said to them, “Did I not tell you, why don’t you glorify God and thank Him for what He has given you and favored you with”

(They said: “Glory to Our Lord! Verily, we have been wrongdoers.”) They became obedient when it was of no benefit to them, and they were remorseful and confessed when it was not of any use.

Then they said:

(“Verily, we have been wrongdoers.” So they turned to one another, blaming each other): Meaning, they started blaming each other for what they had resolved to do, preventing the poor people from receiving their right of the harvested fruit. Thus, their response to each other was only to confess their error and sin.

(They said: “Woe to us! Verily, we have transgressed”): Meaning, `we have transgressed, trespassed, violated and exceeded the bounds until what this happened to us.’

(We hope that our Lord will give us in exchange better than it. Truly, we hope in our Lord.): It has been said, “They were hoping for something better in exchange in this life.” It has also been said, “They were hoping for its reward in the abode of the Hereafter.” And God knows best.

Some of the Scholars mentioned that these people were from Yemen. Sa’eed Ibn Jubair said, “They were from a village that was called Darawan which was six miles from Sana’ (in Yemen). ”

It has also been said: “They were from the people of Ethiopia whose father had left them this garden, and they were from the People of the Book. Their father used to manage the garden in a good way. Whatever he reaped from it he would put it back into the garden as it needed, he would save some of it as food for his dependents for the year, and he would give away the excess in charity.  Then, when he died, and his children inherited the garden they said, `Verily, our father was foolish for giving some of this garden’s harvest to the poor. If we prevent them from it, then we will have more.’ So when they made up their minds to do this they were punished with what was contrary to their plan. God took away all of what they possessed of wealth, gain and charity. Nothing remained for them.” God then says:

(Such is the punishment):Meaning, such is the punishment of whoever opposes the command of God, is stingy with what God has given him and favored him with, withholds the right of the poor and needy, and responds to God’s blessings upon him with ungratefulness (or disbelief).

(But truly, the punishment of the Hereafter is greater if they but knew): Meaning, this is the punishment in this life, as you have heard, and the punishment of the Hereafter is even harder.