Flood of Arim
The Flood of 'Arim (Arabic: سَیْل العَرِم) was a huge flood sent down on the People of Sheba (Saba' سَبَأ) as a divine punishment. There is a reference to the story in Qur'an 34:16. Some scholars believe that People of Sheba had constructed a great dam called "'Arim" to supply water for their farms and gardens, and as a result, their town remarkably flourished. According to exegetes of the Qur'an, when people denied God and prophets (a), the 'Arim Dam was destroyed, leading to a huge flood and the destruction of the town. According to some scholars, historical relics of the event of the 'Arim Flood were discovered and confirmed by archeologists.
The Flood of 'Arim was a huge flood that took place in Ma'rib (Yemen) as a result of the destruction of a dam, leading to the destruction of the town, gardens, and farms. Some people believe that People of Sheba lived in Ma'rib. According to al-Mas'udi, the land of Sheba had gorgeous gardens and a plenty of fruits and trees, thanks to the water stored in the dam. People of the town had constructed the monumental dam which was approximately twenty-two km by twenty-two km. The dam was known as Ma'rib or 'Arim. Some people believe that the dam was constructed by Luqman b. 'Ad b. 'Ad, or Bilqis the Queen of Sheba, or a father and a son who were kings of Sheba. On some accounts, the Flood of 'Arim occurred between 447 and 450, or four hundred years before the emergence of Islam, or in the sixth century. Also, it is believed by some that, before the flood, people of the town were dispersed everywhere—in Iraq, Syria, and Yathrib.
There are different views about the meaning and instances of "'Arim":
- "'Arim" refers to the flood that destroyed the town,
- It refers to the huge rainfalls that led to the flood,
- It refers to the dam that had been constructed by People of Sheba,
- It refers to a rat that caused the destruction of the dam of Ma'rib,
- It refers to a desert,
- It refers to red water that was sent down on People of Sheba as a divine punishment.
In the Qur'an
Qur'anic exegetes have elaborated the story of the Flood of 'Arim under this verse. According to some exegetes, God sent thirteen prophets to guide People of Sheba to the right path, but people denied the prophets and God, claiming that the blessings of their town were because of their own superiority. Given the verse, exegetes believe that the Flood of 'Arim was caused by people's ungratefulness towards God. Others believe that God sent a rat to destroy the 'Arim Dam, leading to the flood. The flood turned two gardens on the two sides of the town into deserts. The story of the Flood of 'Arim as a divine punishment and its details can be found in books of hadiths such as al-Kafi and Mir'at al-'uqul.
According to some people, in the nineteenth century, a number of orientalists such as Edward Clauser, together with a number of archeologists visited the 'Arim Dam in northeastern Sana'a, which is the same as Ma'rib, and confirmed the Flood of 'Arim. They suggested that the dam was constructed 1160 meters above the sea level in accordance with the best techniques available at the time. According to archeological research, the 'Arim Dam was stricken with floods from 447 to 450 and was constantly repaired by people. However, it was finally broken in 532. Also, archeologists discovered many inscriptions and paintings concerning the history of the People of Sheba and the Flood of 'Arim. The journey of orientalists and archeologists and their names are mentioned in the book, Qisas-i Qur'an, written by Sadr al-Din Balaghi.
- But they disregarded [the path of Allah], so We unleashed upon them a violent flood and replaced their two gardens with two gardens bearing bitter fruit, tamarisk, and sparse lote trees. (Quran 34:16)
- The material for this article is mainly taken from سیل عرم in Farsi WikiShia.