Prophet Salih (Peace be upon him)

But they did hamstring her. So he said: "Enjoy yourselves in your homes for three days: (then will be your ruin):(behold) there is a promise not to be belied!"When Our Decree issued, We saved Saleh and those who believed with him by (special) Grace from Ourselves― and from the Ignominy of that Day. For thy Lord― He is the Strong One, and Able to enforce His Will. (Hud, 65, 66)

 

THE NATION OF THAMUD

After the destruction of the nation of Ad, the people who were subject to Hud (pbuh) moved to various regions of Arabia to look for new places to settle. One of those people was Thamud, who was a descendant of Shem, son of Nuh. Thamud settled in the place called  "Hijr" in the region known as Wadiul-Qura, in the northwest of the Arabian Peninsula between Madinah and Damascus. [1] The grandchildren of Thamud reproduced and formed a tribe first; then they formed a nation.

God Almighty gave them a lot of bounties just like the nation of Ad. Instead of thanking God when their wealth increased, they started to go astray and cause mischief among people. 

The nation of Thamud consisted of nine tribes. The chiefs of the tribes agreed and formed a unity. [2]

They also recruited some other people and started to cause tumults among tribes. [3]

The nation of Thamud started to move away from the true religion; the custom of worshipping idols made of wood and stone emerged. [4] They started to worship idols called Wadd, Jadd, Hadd, Shams, Manat and Lat. This nation, which denied Allah and the hereafter, acted irresponsibly as if they would live in the world eternally. They were spoilt by the comfort. In summer, they were indulged in pleasure and entertainment in the magnificent mansions that they built in open plains; in winter, they lived in the homes that they carved out of hard rock in the mountains. [5]

This nation was called the nation of Thamud due to their grandparent Thamud. It is also narrated that it was called Thamud due to the word "thamad", which meant little water. [6]

The nation of Thamud is also called the Second Ad because it was the continuation of the nation of Ad, to which, Hz. Hud belonged, and because they replaced Ad. [7] Their most distinctive property was that they built houses by carving mountains; therefore, they were called "Companions of the Rocky Tract" in the Quran. [8]

As the nation of Thamud continued worshipping idols, Ubayd, a respectable person among the notables of the nation of Thamud, had a child; he named the child Salih (Saleh).  As he grew up, he attracted the love of his nation. He did not worship idols even once.  The idolatrous nation saw a great virtue and maturity in him; they thought, "This boy has great abilities; we will benefit from him a lot in the future." They knew that he did not worship idols but they tolerated him. They did not disturb him and did not let anyone disturb him.

As Salih grew older, his acts and attitudes got more serious and mature. He was a person true to his name. (Salih means righteous.) All of his deeds and attitudes were righteous. He got on well with everyone, helped the poor and protected the weak. He would visit ill people as soon as he was informed. [9]

When Hz. Salih, who was a descendant of Thamud, reached the age of maturity, his nation had completely gone astray and caused mischief everywhere. [10]

The prediction of the nation of Thamud about Hz. Salih was not wrong. They were going to benefit from him a lot. However, this benefitting was not going to be a material one as they expected. They were probably going to be able to  attain eternal bliss thanks to him. 

After a while, the nation of Thamud found Salih opposing them. He was chosen as a prophet by Allah. He was assigned the duty of putting the life of his nation, who had gone astray, in order, to make them worship Allah instead of idols, to replace the wrong beliefs with the true religion, to make them believe in Allah, who is one, and not to give any importance to any obstacles he encounters.

 

Hz. SALIH’S STRUGGLE WITH HIS NATION

 

Hz. Salih declared his prophethood to his nation upon the order he received from God Almighty. He tried to dissuade them from worshipping idols. He addressed them as follows:

"O my people! What is this state of yours? Worship Allah. You have no other God but Him. Why do you worship those pieces of stone and wood then?" [11]

Hz. Salih did not put forward his cause of oneness (belief in the oneness of Allah) only as a claim; he also presented rational and logical evidences. First, he told them the subtleties of the creation of man in a way that everybody can understand; he stated that this creation necessitated knowledge, will, power and universal consciousness; thus, he showed them that the idols they worshipped did not have those attributes, proving that they cannot be real deities. [12]

It is natural for a person to hesitate what to do and how to act after he understands his mistake and if he is not shown a way out. It is necessary for a good guide to take this point into consideration. Prophets never ignored this issue. Therefore, after refuting the possibility of the idols to be deities through rational and logical evidences, Hz. Salih asked his nation to repent to the Creator of the universe and to take refuge in Him by confessing their mistakes. He completed his guidance by telling them they would be desirable people by doing so.  

* * *

While some people accepted Hz. Salih’s call to the true religion, the majority of his nation started to speak as follows: in surprise and astonishment:

 “O Salih! In the past, you were a source of hope and a respectable person for us. We expected many things from you. Contrary to expectations, you left the religion of your ancestors. You call us to do the same thing. You cause unrest among us by doing so. It does not fit you. Give up these things and let us live in peace as it was in the past.” [13]

The nation of Thamud was astonished when Hz. Salih turned out to be opposite of what they had expected. They could not understand the secret of his emergence with such a claim by any means. He did not seem to give up his cause easily. However, it was necessary to try all methods. They planned to use force if it was necessary. It would be the last method because Salih belonged to a notable family. His relatives might support him if they used force even if they did not believe in his cause. 

 

ACUSATIONS

 

The nation of Thamud, who did not understand and did not want to understand the real reason why Hz. Salih emerged with the belief of oneness, tried to put forward some reasons why he did so.

Some of them said, “Salih’s aim is to cheat us and to grab our property.”

Others said, “No. Salih does not need our property. He has more property than us. He probably wants to our leader.”

Yet another group said, “He does not want to be our leader; he probably went out of his mind and speaks nonsense.”

Those who did not want to accept the truth always accused those who conveyed them the true message. These accusations came to Hz. Salih’s ears and he felt sorry because he was misunderstood. He wanted to do something but his nation thought he wanted to do some other things. Despite what they said, he did not lose his hope thanks to the revelations, support and consolations by God Almighty; he never stopped conveying the message of Allah. [14]

* * *

As the nation of Thamud got richer and richer, their oppression and mischief increased. Hz. Salih’s advice and preaching depressed them a lot. However, they could not oppose him directly. They opposed him behind his back. While Hz. Salih worked very hard to guide his nation, they did their best to spoil his positive deeds.

Their negative attitudes did not intimidate Hz. Salih. He explained his cause to the people on every occasion and tried to fulfill his duty of conveying the message. He addressed them as follows:

"O nation of Thamud! Do you think you will dwell in the world forever with these vineyards and orchards, green crops and golden ears of grain, beautiful dates and waterfalls? Can you see anyone who lived like you and stayed in the world eternally? Do you not ever think who built these houses and who are living in them now? Who were the first owners of these vineyards and orchards and who are using them now? Maybe they also thought they would live forever bu unfortunately all of them passed away.   

You will also die like them. Others will replace you. In the hereafter, you will be accounted for what you did in the world. obey and follow me since you still have time. 

Know it very well that those who cheat you today and make you disobey Allah will not be able to save you and themselves from the torture there. For, they are weak people like you.” [15]

 

THE NATION OF THAMUD ASKING FOR A MIRACLE

 

God Almighty cut off all of the water of the nation of Thamud except one well in order to warn the nation of Thamud, who were at the top of wealth and disobedience, who did not obeu the prophet sent to them and who took pleasure in torturing the believers. The water of this well was abundant and sufficient for the needs of the nation of Thamud but it was very difficult to carry it to the vineyards and orchards. The nation of Thamud did not like this situation and they felt uneasy. Meanwhile, the followers of Hz. Salih increased day by day.  

The notables of the polytheists, who could not bear it, thought of a plan to discredit Hz. Salih.

It was a day of festival. The people gathered in the square in the center of the city. [16] Hz. Salih took advantage of this situation and started to ask the people to believe in Allah. It was impossible for the notables of the polytheists to find a more favorable opportunity than this one to discredit Hz. Salih. They started to put the plan they devised into practice and said to Hz. Salih,

"O Salih! We know you very well. You were brought up among us. The Salih we know and we expect useful things from will not try to dissuade us from worshipping our idols buy uttering complicated words. You were probably bewitched. Therefore, you do not know what you say. How can a mortal being like us become a prophet? If you are telling the truth, extract a ten months pregnant female camel with red hair from the steep rock on that mountain. Only then shall we believe you.” [17]

Hz. Salih did not panic at all when he heard this request from the polytheists, who wanted to embarrass him by refuting him in front of the people who gathered there. For, his Lord always helped him when he was in trouble. Therefore, he accepted their request.   

Hz. Salih asked them what they would do if he did what they requested. They all said they would believe in him. [18]

Hz. Salih was informed through revelation that the camel that was going to be sent was going to drink all of the water of the well alone and that the milk in the breast of the camel would never run out. Therefore, Hz. Salih was worried that his nation would kill the camel. He told his nation about his worry. They promised that they would not kill the camel.

In fact, they did not think Hz. Salih would be able to extract such a camel.

 

THE CAMEL MIRACLE

 

After Hz. Salih obtained a promise from his nation, he asked his Lord not embarrass him by performing a prayer and begging him. Then, a rock cracked extraordinarily and a ten months pregnant female camel with red hair came out with the permission of Allah. She gave birth to a camel as big as her immediately. She went to the only well of the nation of Thamud and drank the water in it. The people came and milked her. They filled all of their buckets but her milk did not run out.  

The notables of the polytheists were shocked when they saw what happened; they went crazy. They did not attribute this miracle to Allah. They said, "Salih was an extraordinary magician". Thus, they accused him of magic. However, some polytheists believed in Hz.Salih when they saw this miracle, and the belief of those who had believed in him earlier increased and became stronger.

The polytheists who had gathered there for the festival became humiliated; they felt very depressed and did not know what to do. It turned out to be a festival day for the believers.

Hz. Salih warned his nation again not to harm the camel. [19]

Here is a she-camel: she has a right of watering, and ye have a right of watering, (severally) on a day appointed They arranged the use of the water well. The camel was going to drink the water one day and the people were going to drink and use it the next day. [20]

* * *

The pride of the polytheists were harmed terribly due to the Hz. Salih’s camel miracle. They avoided meeting the believers because they did not keep their promise that they would believe in Allah. Their houses, wives and children disturbed them; they started to think about how to take revenge. Some of the nation of Thamud gathered around Hz. Salih and believed in him. The others supported the polytheistic administrators. Thus, the nation of Thamud was divided into two as those who believed in the true religion and those who did not. [21]

The extraordinary camel walked around and grazed; she did not come to the town on the days when it was the people's turn to use the water well. When it was her turn, she would drink the whole water [22] and wait next to the well. The believers would come and milk her. the milk they milked was enough for the whole tribe.

They drank her milk and made various dairy products from it. [23]

When the believers saw the camel, their belief increased; they loved and caressed the camel a lot. When the unbelievers saw her, their hatred and grudge increased; and they became furious.

The other animals did not like the camel and her young camel; they would go away when they saw the camels. [24] The nation of Thamud knew that they would not be able to obtain even one single drop of water when it was the camel's turn; so they stored enough water for the next day. They could not put up with this situation and wanted to kill the camel several times but they were warned by Hz. Salih. Besides most of them avoided attempting something like that because they feared that something bad would happen to them if the camel died. Thus, the came grazed easily.

 

THE CAMEL IS KILLED

 

The leader of the polytheists always tried to persuade the people that it was necessary to kill the camel. They said,

“What will happen to us? This camel made us restless. Do we have to spend our lives in trouble and pain? Wecannot accept it. We have to deal with this issue at once.”

They repeated the same statements and eventually managed to persuade the people.

According to them, the camel appeared and turned out to be a trouble for them in front of all of the people of Thamud, hence they were going to get rid of the camel in front of everybody. However, nobody among the nation of Thamud dared to kill the camel. Eventually, a group of vaganbonds consisting of eight people under the command of Qidar (Qaddar) [25] undertook the task of killing the camel. They decided to do it without hesitation when its time was due. Thus, they were going to settle the issue of the camel.

* * *

When Hz. Salih was calling people to believe in Allah on a crowded day, the notables of the polytheists started to mock him as they always did.

They showed each other the camel that was drinking water and said, "Dou believe that we will be destroyed if we kill this camel? Let us kill her. They beckoned the man that they had appointed to kill the camel and Qidar, their leader, jumped on the camel and slaughtered her in front of everybody. [26] Then, they cut and dissected the meat. After that, they turned to Salih and said,

“O Salih! We have killed the camel. If you are a prophet as you claim, bring us the wrath that you have been warning us about.” [27]

Hz. Salih answered them as follows:

"O my people! What have you done? Why did you slaughter the camel that was a means of testing for you? You increased your sins, which were as big as mountains. However, the door of repentance is still open. Why do you ask for the wrath before you repent?” [28]

Hz. Salih used all occasions to get them to believe in Allah and did his best.

The polytheists answered the compassionate and merciful advice of Hz. Salih’s as follows:

 "You brought us ill omen. We have been suffering ever since you came up with this religion. We have not been able to get rid of misfortunes. You are the cause of all of these things. None of these misfortunes hit us before you.” [29]

Hz. Salih definitely understood that his nation would not accept the true religion. He addressed them as follows for the last time:  

"O my people! Your ill omen is known by Allah. Allah sent you several misfortunes. You were tested by Him in good and bad things, loftiness and humiliation, ease and trouble. However, you could not understand it. [30] You do not thank Allah for the bounties he has bestowed upon you. You cannot show patience when you you are hit by misfortunes. Therefore, you are tested by troubles and misfortunes. You had only one door left: the door of repentance. However, you yourselves closed it. 

O my people! It is all over. Enjoy yourselves in your homes for three days. [31] On the first day, your faces will turn pale, on the second day red and on the third day black. On the fourth day, you will be destroyed by divine wrath.” [32]

* * *

The nation of Thamud thought they would get rid of all agonies and troubles when they killed the camel. However, now they have into agony of waiting in fear for four days.

As they had planned before, the notables of the nation of Thamud said after the slaughtering of the camel, it was Hz. Salih’s and his family's turn to be killed; after that, they were going to kill all of the other believers. They came together and vowed that they would kill Hz. Salih and all members of his family. [33] However, the tribe of Hz. Salih may have not accepted it and asked for blood money. It was known that they were not in good terms with Salih. If Hz. Salih and his family were killed while they were in the city, they would be held responsible for the massacre. Therefore, they said they were going to leave the town and travel somewhere. In accordance with their plan, they were going to leave the town but hide somewhere near the city and spend the night there. They were going to kill Hz. Salih and his family by attacking at night and run away; they were going to live in a distnat place until things cooled down. [34]

 

THE DESTRUCTION OF THE NATION OF THAMUD

 

According to a narration, the nation of Thamud slaughtered the camel on Wednesday. As an indication of the wrath to come, their faces turned yellow on the first day. They were depressed more by waiting for the wrath than the wrath itself. Every hour that passed was a disaster for them; they felt as if they were approaching to execution step by step. On the second day, their faces turned red. On the third day, their faces turned as black as pitch. Some of them fainted, went crazy and died.

* * *

The massacre of Hz. Salih and the believers planned by the nine people was going to take place on the night of the day when the faces were to turn black. These nine people left the city during the day and hid outside the city. They surrounded Hz. Salih’s house after midnight. However, when they enetered the house, they were surprised because there was nobody at home.

While they were making their plan, God Almighty informed Hz. Salih about it through Jibril and ordered him to leave the town with the believers. Thereupon, Hz. Salih left the town immediately with about four thousand believers. When a cloud of dust rose from the city of Hijr after midnight, Hz. Salih understood that the nation of Thamud had been destroyed and informed the believers about it.   

A horrible loud sound (sayha) came from the sky [35] and destroyed the nation of Thamud. [36] The city was turned upside down.

After the destruction, Hz. Salih went to the city of Hijr that lay in ruins with the believers and saw that horrible scene [37]; he addressed them as follows:

"O my people! I did indeed convey to you the message for which I was sent by my Lord without asking any money from you. I gave you good counsel lest you should be destroyed but you did not listen to me. Then, you were destroyed like that.” [38]

After that, Hz. Salih went to the town of Ramla near Damascus, or according to another narration to Hadramut, and settled there with about four thousand believers. [39]

According to what is stated in the chapter of al-Anbiya, no prophet continued living in the town of the nation that was destroyed after the disaster.

According to Ibn Qutayba, after the destruction of the nation of Thamud, Hz. Salih lived about twenty years with the believers; he died at the age of a hundred and fifty-eight. [40]

 

HADITHS ABOUT THE NATION OF THAMUD

 

1. The following is stated in a hadith reported from Abu Hurayra:

When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) arrived at the valley of the nation of Thamud, he said, 

“Do not enter the houses of those who wronged their own souls lest the wrath that hit them should hit you. However, if you enter them by crying, it is not harmful.” Then, he wrapped his cardigan around his head and moved away from that place quickly. .

2. According to what is reported from Abdullah Ibn Umar, when the Messenger of Allah stopped at the land of Thamud  during the Expedition of Tabuk, he ordered his Companions not to drink water from the well there and not to take any water from it. The Companions said,  

“O Messenger of Allah! We took water from the well and kneaded dough; we also filled our containers with water. Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,    

“Throw the dough away and pour the water.” [41]

3. Jabir b. Abdullah narrates: While passing by the place called Hijr, Hz. Prophet said, “Do not ask for a miracle. The nation of Salih asked for a miracle. The female camel sent as a miracle used to go in through this passage and come out from that one. They slaughtered the camel by disobeying the order of their Lord. The camel drank the water of the well and they drank it the next day. When they slaughtered the camel ungratefully, a terrible sayha hit them. It destroyed all of them except one man. The Companions asked, "O Messenger of Allah Who was that man?"  He said, “A man called Abu Righal. When he came out of Haram, the wrath hit him, too.” [42]

4. While the Prophet was delivering a sermon, he mentioned the female camel sent to the nation of Thamud and the man who slaughtered her. Then he read the verse  'When, the most wicked man among them went forth (to hamstring the she-camel).' (91.12) Then, he said, "A tough man whose equal was rare and who enjoyed the protection of his people, like Abu Zam'a (the uncle of Zubayr Ibn Awwam) went forth to hamstring it.” [43]

 

FOOTNOTES

1 Ö. N. Bil­men, Kur’ân-ı Ke­rîm’in Türk­çe Me­âl-i Âli­si ve Tef­si­ri, H/ 1048; Tajrid Sa­rih Translation, IX/135,

2 an-Naml, 48.

3 ash-Shuara, 151-152;  Mu­ham­med Ham­di Ya­zır, Hak Di­ni Kur’an  Di­li.

4 Ö. N. Bil­men, ibid, 11/1048.

5 al-A’raf, 74: al-Hijr, 82; M. Veh­bi, ibid, IV/1672.

6 Mu­ham­med Ha­m­di Ya­zır, ibid, IV/2796.

7 M. Veh­bi, ibid, XIV/5657.

8 al-Hijr, 80.

9 Ö. N. Bil­men,  ibid, III/1490, V/3685; M. Veh­bi, Hü­lâ­sa­tü’l-Be­yan, X/4023,

10 Mu­ham­med Ham­di Ya­zır, ibid, IV/2797.

11 Hud, 61.

12 Hud, 81.

13 Hud, 62.

14 see ash-Shuara, 141-146.

15 ash-Shuara,  146.

16 M. Veh­bi, ibid, IV/1670.

17 ash-Shuara, 152-154;  Ö.  N. Bil­men, ibid, 11/1049.

18 M. Veh­bi, ibid, IV/1671.

19 Hud, 64;  al-A’raf, 73.

20 ash-Shuara, 155.

21 an-Naml, 45.

22 Tajrid Translation, IX/139.

23 M. Veh­bi, ibid, IV/1676; VI/2378.

24 ibid,VI/2376.

25 H. B. Çan­tay, ibid, III/983 - Not: 51; Tajrid Translation, IX/139.

26 al-Qa­mar, 29; M. Veh­bi, ibid, IV/1676. Although one person slaughtered the camel, Al­lah attributed it to all of the unbelievers and the protagonists in another verse. Thus, they became accomplices since they gave consent to it and accepted it. It is understood that the whole nation has a share of the responsibility of the deeds whether good or bad done openly in the community. If they keep silent and do not oppose though they have the power to oppose, Al­lah will punisj the whole nation due to keeping silent. The following warning exists in the Quran: “And fear tumult or oppression which affecteth not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong.” (al-An­fal, 25)

27 al-A’raf, 77.

28 an-Neml, 46.

29 an-Ne­ml, 47.

30 an-Neml, 47.

31 Hud, 65.

32 M. Veh­bi, ibid, IV/1676.

33 an-Naml, 48-50; M. Veh­bi,  ibid, X/4023.

34 M. Veh­bi, ibid,  X/4023-4024.

35 Hud, 68;  al-Qa­maer, 31.

36 Hud, 67.

37 M. Vehbi, ibid, IV/1676.

38 al-A’raf.  79.

39 Tajrid Translation, IX/138.

40 Tajrid Translation, IX/139; Ö. N. Bil­men, ibid, II/1049.

41 Tajrid Translation, IX, 135.

42 Ibn Kathsir, III, 190

43 Bu­kha­ri, Q. Taf­sir, VI, 83-84.

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