Prophets Hud & Salih (A.S.)
Description of the People of Ad
The people of ‘Ad lived many years in the windswept hills of an area between Yemen and Oman. They were physically well built and renowned for their craftsmanship especially in the construction of tall buildings with lofty towers. They were outstanding among all the nations in power and wealth, which, unfortunately, made them arrogant and boastful. Their political power was held in the hand of unjust rulers, against whom no one dared to raise a voice.
They were not ignorant of the existence of Allah, nor did they refuse to worship Him. What they did refuse was to worship Allah alone. They worshipped other gods, also, including idols. This is one sin Allah does not forgive.
Allah wanted to guide and discipline these people so He sent a prophet from among them. This prophet was Hud (PBUH), a noble man who handled this task with great resoluteness and tolerance.
Hud’s Appeal to His People
Allah the Almighty states: “And to Ad people We sent their brother Hud. He said: “O my people! Worship Allah! You have no other Ilah (god) but Him; Certainly, you do nothing but invent (lies)! O my people I ask of you no reward for it (the Message). My reward is only from Him Who created me. Will you not then understand? And O my people! Ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him, He will send you (from the sky) abundant rain, and add strength to your strength, so do not turn away as Mujrimeen (criminals, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah).”
They said: “O Hud! No evidence have you brought us and we shall not leave our gods for your mere saying! We are not believers in you. All that we say is that some of our gods (false deities) have seized you with evil (madness).”
HE said: “I call Allah to witness and bear you witness that I am free from that which you ascribe as partners in worship, and with Him (Allah). SO plot against me, all of you, and give me no respite. I put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving (living) creature but HE has grasp of its forelock. Verily, my Lord is on the Straight Path (the truth). SO if you turn away, still I have conveyed the Message with which I was sent to you. My Lord will make another people succeed you, and you will not harm Him in the least. Surely, my Lord is Guardian over all things.”(Ch 11:50-57 Quran)
The Disbeliever’s Attitude
Allah recounts Hud’s people’s attitude towards the Day of Judgment:
“The chiefs of his people, whom disbelieved and denied the meeting in the Hereafter, and to who We had given the luxuries and comforts of this life, said: “He is no more than a human being like you, he eats of that which you eat, and drinks of what you drink. If you were to obey a human being like yourselves then verily! You indeed would be losers. Does he promise you that when you have died and have become dust and bones, you shall come out alive (resurrected)?
Far, very far, is that which you are promised. There is nothing but our life of this world! We die and we live! We are not going to be resurrected! He is only a man who has invented a lie against Allah, but we are not going to believe in him.” (Ch 23:33-38 Quran)
The Disbelievers Question Hud
The chiefs of Hud’s people asked: “Is it not strange that Allah’s chooses one of us to reveal His message to?”
Hud replied: “What is strange in that? Allah wants to guide you to the right way of life, so HE sent me to warn you. Noah’s flood and his story are not far away from you, so do not forget what happened. All the disbelievers were destroyed, no matter how strong they were.”
“Who is going to destroy us Hud?” the chiefs asked.
“Allah.” replied Hud.
The disbelievers among his people answered: “We will be saved by our gods.”
Hud clarified to them that the gods they worshipped would be the reason for their destruction, that it is Allah alone Who saves people, and that no other power on earth can benefit or harm anyone. The conflict between Hud and his people continued. The years passed, and they became prouder and more obstinate, and more tyrannical and more defiant of their prophet’s message.
Hud Warns his People
Furthermore, they started to accuse Hud (PBUH) of being a crazy lunatic. One day they told him: “We now understand the secret of your madness you insulted our gods and they harmed you; that is why you have become insane.”
Almighty Allah repeated their words in the Quran: “O my Hud! No evidence have you brought us, and we shall not leave our gods for your mere saying! And we are not believers in you. All that we say is that some of our gods (false deities) have seized you with evil (madness).” (11:53-54)
Hud had to return their challenge. He had no other way but to turn to Allah alone, no other alternative but to give them a threatening ultimatum. He declared to them: “I call Allah to witness and bear you witness that I am free from that which you ascribe as pin worship with Him (Allah). SO plot against me, all of you and give me no respite. I put my trust in Allah, my Lord your Lord! There is not a moving (living) creature but He has grasp of its forelock. Verily, my Lord is on the Straight Path (the truth). So if you turn away, still I have conveyed the message with which it was sent to you. My Lord will make another people succeed you, and you will not harm Him.” (11:54-57)
Hud and his people waited for Allah’s promise. A drought spread throughout the land, for the sky no longer sent its rain. the sun scorched the desert sands, looking like a disk of fire which settled on people’s heads.
Hud’s people hastened to him asking: “What is that drought Hud?”
Hud answered: “Allah is angry with you. If you believe in Him, He will accept you and the rain will fall and you will become stronger than you are.”
They mocked him and became more obstinate, sarcastic and preserve in their unbelief. The drought increased, the trees turned yellow, and plants died. A day came when they found the sky full of clouds. Hud’s people were glad as they came out of their tents crying: “A cloud, which will give us rain!” The weather changed suddenly from burning dry and hot to stinging cold with wind that shook everything; trees, plants, tents, men and women. The wind increased day after day and night after night. Hud’s people started to flee. They ran to their tents to hide but the gale became stronger, ripping their tents from their stakes. They hid under cloth covers but the gale became stronger and still and tore away the covers. It slashed clothing and skin. It penetrated the apertures of the body and destroyed it. It hardly touched anything before it was destroyed or killed, its core sucked out to decompose and rot. The storm raged for 8 days and 7 nights.
Almighty Allah recounts: “Then when they saw it as a dense cloud coming towards their valleys, they said: “This is a cloud bringing us rain!” Nay but it is that torment which you were asking to be hastened! a wind wherein is a painful torment! Destroying everything by the command of its Lord! (46:24-25)
Allah the Exalted described it thus: “And as for Ad, they were destroyed for a firious violent wind which Allah imposed on them for seven nights and eight days in succession, so that you could see men lying overthrown (destroyed) as if they were hollow trunks of palm trees! (69:6-7)
The Believers are Saved
That violent gale did not stop until the entire region was reduced to ruins and its wicked people destroyed, swallowed by the sands of the desert. Only Hud and his followers remained unharmed. They migrated to Hadramaut and lived there in peace, worshipping Allah, their true Lord.
Description of the People of Thamud
After the destruction of the Ad, the tribe of Thamud succeeded them in power and glory. They also fell to idol-worshipping. As their material wealth increased so, too, did their evil ways while their virtue decreased. Like the people of Ad, they erected huge buildings on the plains and hewed beautiful homes out of the hills. Tyranny and oppression became prevalent as evil men ruled the land.
So Allah sent unto them His Prophet Salih (PBUH), a man from among them. 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.” (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.” (11:62).
Salih’s 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 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. (17:59) and also: “Verily the dwellers of Al Hijr (the rocky tract) denied the Messengers. We gave them Our Signs, but they were averse to them. (15:80-81)
At first, the people of Thamud were greatly surprised when the she camel issued from the mountain rocks. It was a blessed camel, and its milk sufficient for thousands of men, women and children. If it slept in a place that place was abandoned by other animals. Thus it was obvious that is was not an ordinary camel, but one of Allah’s signs. It lived among Salih’s people, some of whom believed in Allah while the majority continued in their obstinacy and disbelief. Their hatred of Salih turned towards the blessed she camel and became centered on it. A conspiracy started to be hatched against the camel by the disbeliveers, and they secretly plotted against it. Salih feared that they might kill the camel, so he warned them: “O my people! This she camel of Allah is a sign to you, leave her to feed on Allah’s earth, and touch her not with evil lest a near torment will seize you.” (11:64)
For a while, Salih’s people let the camel graze and drink freely, but in their hearts they hated it. However, the miraculous appearance of the unique camel caused many to become Salih’s followers, and they clung to their belief in Allah.
Stories About the She-camel
The disbelievers now began complaining that this huge she camel with its unusual qualities drank most of the water and frightened their cattle.
They laid a plot to kill the camel, and sought the help of their women folk to tempt the men to carry out their commands. Naturally these young men were tempted and set about finding seven others to assist them.
They watched the camel closely, observing all its movements. As the she camel came to drink at the well, they killed her. The killers were given a hero’s welcome, cheered with songs and poetry composed in their praise. In their arrogance they mocked Salih, but he warned them: “Enjoy life for 3 more days then the punishment will descend upon you.” Salih was hoping that they would see the folly of their ways and change their attitude before the three days went out. “Why three days?” they asked. “Let the punishment come as quickly as possible.” He pleaded with them: “My people, why do you hasten to evil rather than good? Why do not you ask pardon of Allah so that you may receive mercy?”
They replied: “We see your presence and that of your followers as bringing evil on us.” Almighty Allah related their story: “And indeed We sent to Thamud their brother Salih, saying “Worship Allah Alone and none else.” Then look! They became two parties (believers and disbeliveers) quarreling with each other. He said: “O my people! Why do you seek to hasten the evil (torment) before the good (Allah’s Mercy)? Why seek you not the Forgiveness of Allah, that you may receive mercy?” They said: We augur till omen from you and those with you.” he said: “Your ill omen is with Allah; nay, but you are a people that are being tested.” And there were in the city nine men (from the sons of their chiefs), who made mischief in the land, and would not reform. They said: “Swear to another by Allah that we shall make a secret night attack on him and his household, and afterwards we will surely say to his near relatives: “We witnessed not the destruction of his household, and verily! We are telling the truth.”” So they plotted a plot, and We planned a plan, while they perceived not. Then see how was the end of their plot! Verily! We destroyed them and their nation, all together. These are their houses in utter ruin, for they did wrong. Verily, in this is indeed an Ayah (a lesson or a sign) for people who know. We saved those who believed, and used to fear and obey Allah. (27:45-53)
They also plotted to kill Salih and his household as Almighty Allah stated: “So they plot, and We planned a plan, while they perceived not.” (27:50) Allah saved Salih and his followers from their wicked plans. Heavy hearted, they left the evil doers and moved to another place. Three days after Salih’s warning, thunderbolts filled the air, followed by severe earthquakes which destroyed the entire tribe and its homeland. The land was violently shaken, destroying all living creatures in it. There was one terrific cry which had hardly ended when the disbelievers of Salih’s people were struck dead, one and all, at the same time. Neither their strong buildings nor their rock hewn homes could protect them.
All were destroyed before they realized what was happening. As for the people who believed in the message of Salih (PBUH), they were saved because they had left the place.
Ibn Umar narrated that while the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was passing by Thamud’s houses on his way to the battle of Tabuk, he stopped together with the people there. The people fetched water from the wells from which the people of Thamud used to drink. They prepared their dough (for baking) and filled their water skins from it (the water from the wells). The Prophet of Allah (PBUH) ordered them to empty the water skins and give the prepared dough to the camels. Then he went away with them until they stopped at the well from which the she camel (of Salih) used to drink. He warned them against entering upon the people that had been punished, saying “I fear that you may be affected by what afflicted them; so do no enter upon them.”