This is the story of the people of Thamud, to whom the Prophet Salih (as) was sent to. They built for themselves huge buildings on the plains and out of the hills. But they ruled the land with tyranny and oppression.
They DEMANDED miracles be shown to them! Can you imagine the arrogance being displayed here? There are miracles around us at all times – the miracle of life, of creation, the perfect order of the universe – and yet they wanted more. They were tested with a she-camel, which the people of Thamud asked to appear from the mountains but the majority of them still refused to believe. It’s amazing how some hearts are sealed from such clear proofs. Furthermore, they challenged Prophet Salih (as) to bring upon them the Punishment of Allah. Today we face similar calls from people who refuse to believe and mock Islam and Muslims.
Allah Visited upon them a severe punishment which killed all the disbelieving people of Thamud, all at the same time.
The dwellings of Thamud have been left as a sign and a reminder of what has happened to civilisations of the past. That no matter how great you think you are, there is the Greatest, Allah, and we all return to Him. We should not look on these dwellings of Thamud as being impressive – rather we should be fearful of such an end and make dua that we do not suffer to such a degree ourselves by following in the footsteps of the people of Thamud.
The following are some snippets of the Stories of the Prophets as written by the renowned scholar (masha’Allah), Ibn Kathir and translated by Sheikh Muhammad Mustafa Geme’ah (Office of the Grand Imam, Sheikh Al-Azhar). I hope you will find them beneficial, insha’Allah.
DESCRIPTION OF SALIH (AS)
So Allah sent unto them His Prophet Salih (PBUH), a man from among them. His name was Salih Ibn Ubeid, Ibn Maseh, Ibn Ubeid, Ibn Hader, Ibn Thamud, Ibn Ather, Ibn Eram, Ibn Noah. He called his people to worship Allah alone, and to not associate partners with Him. While some of them believed him, the majority of them disbelieved and harmed him by both words and deeds. Salih directed them:
“O my people! Worship Allah, you have no other Ilah (god) but Him.” (Ch 11:61)
Salih was known for his wisdom, purity and goodness and had been greatly respected by his people before Allah’s revelation came to him. Salih’s people said to him:
“O Salih! You have been among us as a figure of good hope and we wished for you to be our chief, till this, new thing which you have brought that we leave our gods and worship your God (Allah) alone! Do you now forbid us the worship of what our fathers have worshipped? But we are really in grave doubt as to that which you invite us to monotheism.” (CH 11:62 Quran)
SALIH’S (AS) PEOPLE DEMAND A MIRACLE
They merely wanted to worship the same gods as their fathers had, with no reason, no proof, no thought. The proof of Salih’s (PBUH) message was evident, but despite this it was obvious that most of his people did not believe him. They doubted his words, thinking he was charmed, and they saw that he would not stop preaching. Fearing that his followers would increase, they tried to put him off by assigning him an important task; to prove that he was a messenger of Allah by performing a miracle. Let a unique she camel issue from the mountains. Allah granted Salih this miracle and a huge, unique, she camel appeared from the direction of the mountain.
The Quranic commentators said that the people of Thamud gathered on a certain day at their meeting place, and the Prophet Salih (PBUH) came and addressed them to believe in Allah, reminding them of the favors Allah had granted them. Then pointing at a rock, they demanded: “Ask your Lord to make a she camel, which must be 10 months pregnant, tall and attractive, issue from the rock for us.” Salih replied: “Look now! If Allah sends you what you have requested, just as you have described, will you believe in that which I have come to you with and have faith in the message I have been sent with?”
They answered: “Yes.”
So he took a vow from them on this, then prayed to Allah the Almighty to grant their request. Allah ordered the distant rock to split asunder, to bringing forth a great ten month pregnant she-camel. When their eyes set on it, they were amazed. They saw a great thing, a wonderful sight, a dazzling power and clear evidence!
A number of Salih’s people believed, yet most of them continued in their disbelief, stubbornness, and going astray. Allah the Almighty said:
“We sent the she camel to Thamud as a clear sign, but they did her wrong. (Ch 17:59)
“Verily the dwellers of Al Hijr (the rocky tract) denied the Messengers. We gave them Our Signs, but they were averse to them. (Ch 15:80-81 Quran)
There are a number of ancient accounts of this camel and its miraculous nature.