Prophet Shuayb [Jethro] (Peace be upon him)

To the Madyan people (We sent) Shuayb, one of their own brethren: he said: "O my people! Worship Allah: ye have no other god but Him. And give not short measure or weight: I see you in prosperity, but I fear for you the Penalty of a Day that will compass (you) all round.” (Hud, 84)

 

                                                                                      MADYAN AND AYKA

Hz. Shuayb (Jethro) was sent as a prophet to the region of Madyan and Ayka.1

Madyan was the name of one of the sons of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). Hz. Ibrahim’s sons settled in various regions; Madyan settled in a place called Maan between Hejaz and Palestine on the coast of the Red Sea. It was suitable for living. The people coming from his progeny were called the People of Madyan and the place they settled in was called Madyan.2

Shuayb was the son of Makil, one of the notables of this tribe. Makil's father was Yashjur and his father was Madyan.3, Hz. Shuayb’s grandmother was the daughter of the Prophet Lut (Lot).

Ayka means a swamp where soft trees grow. It is a place on the coats of Madyan covered with oak trees. The people living there were called the People of Ayka.4

 

THE PROPHETHOOD OF HZ. SHUAYB

In early ages, there were big social, economic and political differences among nations; and each nation had its own properties and values; therefore, different prophets were sent to each nation. There were times when more than one prophet was sent to different nations in the same age. Hz. Shuayb is the first exception to this rule. He was sent as a prophet to two different nations. One of them was Madyan, his own nation and the other was the nation of Ayka, their neighbor.5 The lifestyles of these nations were similar to each other.

Madyan was on the route of caravans; therefore, the majority of the people were merchants. However, the people of Madyan would deceive people in trade. When they sold something, they weighed it less than due and when they bought something, they weighed it more than due.6

In addition, they ambushed and robbed caravans; they grabbed people's possessions. They also tortured people.7

The people of Madyan, who lost the feeling of conscience and justice, and who regarded oppression as their motto, did not believe in Allah. They worshipped the idols that they had made by their hands. 

Finally, Allah sent them Hz. Shuayb as a prophet so that they would find the right path and avoid fraud and oppression.

The Prophet Shuayb spoke well and smoothly. Therefore, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) called him "the orator of the prophets".8

Hz. Shuayb called the people of Madyan to the true religion smoothly and softly. He gathered them and addressed them as follows: 

"O my nation! Obey Allah; there is no god but Him. Do not violate people's rights by giving short measure or weight. Otherwise, you will lose your wealth. I fear for you the Penalty of a Day that will compass you all round. Listen to my words carefully and obey me."9

The people of Madyan looked at one another in surprise when they heard what Shuayb said. Oppression and undeserved gain was their lifestyle. Hz. Shuayb wanted them to change their lifestyle. One of them asked,  

"O Shuayb! Do you want us to leave off the worship which our fathers practiced and to leave off doing what we like with our property?  Does your prayer order you this? You were a wise person in the past.”10

Hz, Shuayb answered their mockery cold-bloodedly:  

"O my people! I am telling you what my Lord reveals to me. I do not want to argue with you and cause trouble. Allah forbids you from fraud in trade and waylaying. I am only a messenger of Allah. I am conveying His orders to you as much as I can. My success in my task can only come from Allah: in Him I trust and unto Him I look. I do not ask any material things from you in return for my duty".11

After this explanation, Hz. Shuayb wanted to warn his nation and to make them avoid committing bad deeds. He said,

"O my people! Let not my dissent from you cause you to sin, lest you suffer a fate similar to that of the people of Noah or of Hud or of Salih. Ask forgiveness of you Lord and turn unto Him in repentance: for my Lord is indeed full of mercy and loving-kindness.12

These warnings did not have any effects on the people of Madyan. Their hearts were hard and their consciences were blind. They said,

"O Shuayb! We do not understand what you say! In fact, you are a weak person among us. Were it not for your family, we would certainly have killed you."13

Hz. Shuayb did not heed their threat. He said,  

"I trust in Allah only; I expect success and help from Him. Your kinship will not be of any benefit or harm to me. Do not forget that Allah knows what you do and what you will do. Nothing can be concealed from him. If He wishes, He will eliminate you at once."14

The people of Madyan got very angry. They said,

"Go and tell your Allah to send us the wrath that you claim to destroy us. Do not disturb us with the words that we do not understand.

 

Hz. SHUAYB WITH THE PEOPLE OF AYKA

When Hz. Shuayb saw that the people of Madyan did not seem to change their negative attitudes, he went to the region of Ayka, which was near Madyan. Madyan and Ayka were similar places in terms of geography and the lifestyle of people. The people of Ayka also would deceive people in trade. When they sold something, they weighed it less than due and when they bought something, they weighed it more than due. They also ambushed and grabbed people's goods.    

Hz. Shuayb told the people of Ayka the same things that he told the people of Madyan:

"I am a reliable messenger sent to you by Allah. No reward do I ask of you for it; my reward is only from the Lord of the Worlds.

Do not deceive people in trade; do not wrong people. Do not ambush and do not grab people's goods.

Fear Allah, who created you and your ancestors. Avoid opposing my orders."15

Just like the people of Madyan, the people of Ayka, who liked oppression and fraud, looked at Hz. Shuayb in surprise when they heard what he said. They said,

"O Shuayb! Who fascinated you? You are a liar. How can you be a prophet? If you are telling the truth, send a piece from the sky and destroy us."16

Hz. Shuayb felt sad when the people of Ayka denied him like the people of Madyan. However, some people among them did not oppose him; they lowered their heads and listened to him by thinking.  Then, they went to Shuayb. They said they believed in his prophethood because they never heard him telling lies and doing wrong. They said that they would give up worshipping idols and that they would worship Allah. 

They were modest, poor and clean people.

Hz. Shuayb took those people, who believed in him, to Madyan with him. He asked Allah to do whatever He wished to the deniers.17

 

HARD DAYS

Hz. Shuayb tried to show the right path to his nation with might and main. He told them to stop oppression and fraud and called them to the right path. He warned them that a big wrath would hit them.  

His efforts increased the hatred of the deniers. They started to waylay and rob the people who visited Hz. Shuayb. They thought they would prevent the number of the believers from increasing and the believers from strengthening.

To end this big oppression, Hz. Shuayb warned his nation as follows:  

"O my people! You do not believe in me but why do disturb those who believe in me? Stop this terrible oppression. Think of the wrath inflicted upon the nations of Salih, Hud and Nuh before you. Come to your senses. See the truth. The deniers were severely disturbed by the warnings of Hz. Shuayb. They said,

"No! O Shuayb! Either you will abandon your religion and return to our religion or we will expel you and those who believe in you from this city. We will also confiscate all of your property.

After these words, they increased the torture they inflicted on the believers. They said to the believers, “We are strong and rich. Abandon Shuayb.” Despite all of their tortures, the believers said,

"No. We will never return to unbelief after Allah guided us."

Days passed with hardships. The believers were frustrated by the tortures they were inflicted upon. They looked at Hz. Shuayb with appealing eyes to save them from the terrible situation.

It became obvious that the majority of the people of Madyan and Ayka were insistent and stubborn; they were not going to believe. The warnings and advice given to them increased their oppression, cruelty and mischief instead of improving them.  

Thereupon, Hz. Shuayb asked Allah to give His decree between him and this denying nation by rewarding the believers and punishing the unbelievers.

 

THE PEOPLE OF MADYAN ARE DESTROYED BY AN EARTHQUAKE

Upon the curse by Hz. Shuayb, a wrath was bound to hit the denying people of Madyan and Ayka.

The people of Madyan heard a very loud sound one night. Then, a severe earthquake hit them.18 The ground was shaking very hard; the buildings were collapsing, killing the people under them.

The earthquake hit so suddenly and severely that no denier managed to escape; all of them were buried under the collapsing buildings. When the earthquake ended, Madyan became a heap of stones and soil.19

The earth took action and destroyed the people of Madyan due to their denial.

When the time of wrath came and the people of Madyan started to be destroyed, 20 Hz. Shuayb moved his face away from them and said, “O my nation! By Allah, I conveyed the decrees of my Lord to you. I wanted your goodness. How can I feel sorry for the unbelievers now?”21

According to what is stated in Tafsir al-Hazin, the following is reported from Ibn Abbas: Two nations were destroyed by sayha (sound): The first one is the nation of Salih; the second one is the nation of Shuayb. However, the sound came from above to nation of Salih and from underground to the nation of Shuayb.

 

THE CLOUD THAT SENT DOWN FIRE AND DESTROYED THE PEOPLE OF AYKA

The destruction of the people of Ayka was different. When it was time for the wrath, the temperature started to increase. The heat became extremely scorching. The people did not know what to do.22 They could not breathe easily. The sweat coming out of their bodies almost drowned them. They could not find any water to quench their thirst. All of the water they found was very hot.23 They sat under the trees and entered caves to feel cool but they were not cool enough.24

This situation lasted for 7 days and 7 nights.

The people ran from one shade to the other in order to survive. They kneeled down before the idols and begged them by screaming. They expected help from their idols even in that situation. They could not understand that the wrath hit them due to worshipping idols.

On the eighth day, there was a change. A dark cloud appeared and stood before the sun; thus, the weather got a bit cool. The deniers shouted joyfully:

"We were saved. The idols accepted our prayers."

They gathered under the black cloud in order to cool. However, this joy did not last long. Suddenly long and scorching lighting strikes started to come down, turning every place and everybody they hit to black. All of the deniers were killed by this fire coming from the sky. They were destroyed.25 While the element of soil destroyed the people of Madyan, the people of Ayka were destroyed by the air due to their denial.

Neither the people of Madyan nor the people of Ayka survived this wrath. Only Hz. Shuayb and those who believed in him were saved.

 

HZ. SHUAYB AND HZ. MUSA

Hz, Shuayb lived for a long time after the destruction of Madyan and Ayka. He had thousands of sheep. He became rich. Allah Almighty did not give any sons to Hz. Shuayb. He had two modest and chaste daughters. When Hz. Shuayb got too old to herd his sheep, his daughters started to herd them.  

Meanwhile, Hz. Musa (Moses) was born in Egypt and became a young man. When he caused the death of an Egyptian person by mistake, he escaped to Madyan fearing that the Pharaoh would kill him.  

When Hz. Musa saw the daughters of Hz. Shuayb waiting in line to give water to their sheep, he pitied them and helped them.

When Hz. Shuayb heard about it, he sent one of his daughters to call Hz. Musa. He entertained Musa in his house. Then, he made an offer to Musa. If Musa herded his sheep for eight or ten years, he would allow Musa to marry one of his daughters and to stay in his house. Hz. Musa accepted this offer gladly. He stayed in Hz. Shuayb’s house for ten years and helped him. He herded his sheep, milked them and gave them water.

At the end of tenth year, he returned to Egypt with his wife by getting permission from Hz. Shuayb.

Hz. Shuayb went to Makkah afterwards with the believers who followed him.26 He spent the last days of his life in the holy land. When he died, he was reported to have been buried between Maqam Ibrahim (the Station of Ibrahim) and the corner of the Kaaba.27

 

FOOTNOTES

1 al-Araf, 85; ash-Shu­ara, 176-177.

2 Taj­rid Trnsl., IX/153; Bil­men, II/1053.

3 Mu­ham­med Ham­di Ya­zır, IV/2805.

4 Taj­rid Trnsl., IX/154; Mu­ham­med Ham­di Ya­zır, V/3640.

5 M. Veh­bi, ibid.

6 Taj­rid Trnsl., IX, 153.

7 M. Veh­bi, ibid, IV,1685.

8 M. Ham­di Ya­zır, ibid, IV, 2805-2809.

9 Bk: Hud, 84; el-A’raf, 85-86.

10 Hud, 87.

11 Hud, 88.

12 Hud, 89-90.

13 Hud, 91.

14 Hud, 92.

15 ash-Shu­ara, 179-182.

16 ash-Shu­ara, 186-187.

17 ash-Shu­ara, 188.

18 Hud, 94; al-A’raf, 91.

19 al-A’raf, 92; Hud, 95; al-An­ke­but, 37.

20 M.Veh­bi, ibid, V., 1704.

21 al-A’raf 93.

22 M. H. Ya­zır, ibid, V, 3640.

23 M. Veh­bi, X, 3949.

24 Çan­tay, II, 670.

25 ash-Shu­ara, 189; Taj­rid Trnsl., IX, 155.

26 A.C. Pa­şa, Kı­sas-ı En­bi­ya, I, 27.

27 Bil­men, II, 1059.

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