Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thamud: Salih and the Story of the She-Camel

The Thamud were living very early even before Abraham. They are referred to as "Tamudaei" in the writings of Aristo of Chios, Ptolemy, and Pliny. The Qur'an mentions them in Surah al-A'raf in the context of several prophets who warned their people of coming judgement.

Historian and scholar, Ibn Khaldun also mentions the Thamud several times in his universal history al-Kitabu l-ʻibar ("Book of Evidence") written in the late 14th century, but only in passing, seldom giving much information.

This can be illustrated by what happened among the nations. When the royal authority of 'Ad was wiped out, their brethren, the Thamud, took over. They were succeeded, in turn, by their brethren, the Amalekites. The Amalekites were succeeded by their brethren, the Himyar. The Himyar were succeeded by their brethren, the Tubba's, who belonged to the Himyar. They, likewise, were succeeded, by the Adhwa'.130 Then, the Mudar came to power.—[Muqaddimah ("Introduction"), Chapter II]

The Yemen, al-Bahrayn, Oman, and the Jazirah have long been in Arab possession, but for thousands of years, the rule of these areas has belonged to different (Arab) nations in succession. They also founded cities and towns (there) and promoted the development of sedentary culture and luxury to the highest degree. Among such nations were the 'Ad and the Thamud, the Amalekites and the Himyar after them, the Tubbas, and the other South Arabian rulers (Adhwa). There was a long period of royal authority and sedentary culture. The coloring of (sedentary culture) established itself firmly. The crafts became abundant and firmly rooted. They were not wiped out simultaneously with (each ruling) dynasty, as we have stated. They have remained and have always renewed themselves down to this time, and they have become the specialty of that area. Such (special Yemenite) crafts are embroidered fabrics, striped cloth, and finely woven garments and silks.—[Muqaddimah Chapter V]

A script graphically similar to the Semitic alphabet (called Thamudic) has been found in southern Arabia and up throughout the Hejaz.The script was first identified in a region in north central Yemen that is known as Thamud, which is bound to the north by the Rub' al Khali, to the south by the Hadhramaut and to the west by Shabwah. The script was named after the place where it was first discovered, not for the people. Inscriptions in Thamudic come mostly from northern Saudi Arabia, but can be found throughout the Arabian peninsula.

Very little information is known about the identity or the nationality of Thamud, but they are referred to as Arabs ("Arabes") in the records of the Greek Historian Diodorus Siculus. The title and description given by Photius to Thamud indicates that they had a status similar to Qedarites who have been identified as Arabs.

After the disappearance of the original people of Thamud, Robert Hoyland suggested that their name was subsequently adopted by other new groups that inhabited the region of Mada'in Saleh.

This suggestion is supported by Abdullah ibn Umar and Ibn Kathir who report that people called the region of Thamud Al-Hijr, while they called the province of Mada'in Saleh Ardh Thamud "the land of Thamud" and Bayt Thamud "the house of Thamud".

According to Classical Arabic sources, it's agreed upon that the only remaining group of the native people of Thamud are the tribe of Banu Thaqif which inhabited the city of Taif south of Mecca.

As it was told in the Quran how the original people of Thamud were vanished, it's suggested that the story mentioned in Qur'an can be explained like "they may have been destroyed by one of the many volcanic outbreaks that have formed the far-reaching Arabian lava fields"

At times, the nation Thamud replaced to A'ad. Like bani A’ad, bani Thamud also originated from Kushait or Hamitic. Actually Hamitic divided into two branches- A’ad and Thamud. For this, sometimes Thamud called as 2nd A’ad. Thus in the Qur'an,ʿA'ad and Thamud are mentioned together as a matter of context and the verses indicates that God advised Thamud to take warning from the destruction of ʿA'ad.

At first Thamud settled at the border of Edom, then in the province Hijor, that situated to the east of Arab Petra and in between Hijaj and Syria. After the destruction of A'ad, they choose that region as their abode, for they feared to be destroyed as that of A'ad, and hoped to secure themselves against the wrath of Allah by building their houses in the rocks making caves. Actually they build their houses cutting the sides of the mountains. As a trade middler between Syria and Najod or Hijaj, once they became prosperous, wealthiest.

The Thamud were seventy thousand and their king was Djundu Eben Omer. The king built a palace for him, whose splendor had never been equaled on earth, and the high-priest Kanuch erected a similar one for himself. But their most costly and most perfect building was the temple. In it there stood an idol of the finest gold, and adorned with precious stones: it had a human face, a lion's figure, a bull's neck, and a horse's feet.

One day, when Kanuch, after his prayers, had fallen asleep in the temple, he heard a voice which said, "Truth shall appear, and delusion shall vanish." He sprang to his feet in terror, and rushed toward the idol, but lo! it was lying on the ground, and beside it lay the crown which had fallen from its head.

Kanuch cried for help; the king and his viziers hastened to the spot, restored the idol to its place, and replaced the crown on its head. But the occurrence made a deep impression on the high-priest's mind. His faith in the idol failed, and his zeal to serve it cooled.

The king soon discovered the change that had passed within him, and one day sent both his viziers to apprehend and to examine him. But scarcely had his messengers left the royal palace when they were struck blind, and were unable to find Kanuch's dwelling. Meanwhile, God sent two angels, who carried the high-priest to a distant valley unknown to his tribe, where a shady grotto, supplied with every convenience of life, was prepared for him. Here he lived peaceably in the service of the one God, and secure against the persecutions of Djundu, who in vain sent out messengers in every direction to discover him.

The king gave up, at length, all hope of his capture, and appointed his own cousin, Davud, as high-priest in Kanuch's stead. But on the third day after his inauguration, Davud came to the king in haste, and reported that the idol had again fallen from its place. The king once more restored it, and Iblis cried from the idol, "Be steadfast in my worship, and resist all the temptations into which some innovators would lead you,"

On the following feast-day, when Davud was about to offer two fat bulls to the idol, they said to him, with a human voice, "Why will you offer us, whom God has endued with life, as a sacrifice to a dead mass of gold, which your own hands have dug from the earth, though God has created it? Destroy, O God, so sinful a people!" At these words the bulls fled, nor were the swiftest riders of the king able to overtake them. Yet it pleased God, in his wisdom and long suffering, to spare the Thamudites still longer, and to send to them a prophet who should labor by many wonders to convince them of the truth.

Ragwha, the wife of Kanuch, had not ceased to mourn since the flight of her husband; yet in the third year, God sent to her a bird, to conduct her to his grotto.This bird was a raven, but its head was as white snow, its back was of emerald, its feet were of crimson, its beak was like the clearest sunbeam, and its eyes shone like diamonds, only its breast was black, for the curse of Noah, which made all ravens entirely black, had not fallen on this sacred bird.

It was the hour of midnight when the bird stepped into Ragwha's dark chamber, where she lay weeping on a carpet, but the glance of its eyes lit up the chamber as if the sun had suddenly risen therein. She rose from her couch, and gazed with wonder on the beautiful bird, which opened its mouth and said, "Rise and follow me, for God has pitied thy tears, and will unite thee to thy husband."

She rose and followed the raven, which flew before her, changing the night into day by the light of its eyes, and the morning star had not yet risen when she arrived at the grotto. The raven now cried, "Kanuch, arise, and admit thy wife," and then vanished.

Within a year after their reunion she gave birth to a son, who was the very image of Seth, and the light of prophecy shone on his brow. His father called him Salih (the pious), for he trusted to bring him up in the faith of the one only God, and in piety of life; but soon after Salih's birth Kanuch died, and the raven came again to grotto to take back Ragwha and her son to the city of Djundu, where Salih grew up, to the admiration of his mother, and of all who came to visit them; and at the age of eighteen he was the most powerful and handsome, as well as the most gifted youth of his time.

It then came to pass that the descendants of Ham undertook an expedition against the Thamudites, and were to all appearance on the point of destroying them.Their best warriors had already fallen, and the rest were preparing for flight, when Salih suddenly appeared on the battle-field at the head of a few of his friends, and by his personal valor and excellent manœuvres wrested the victory from the enemy, and routed them completely. This achievement secured to him the love and gratitude of the more virtuous part of his tribe, but the king envied him from this day, and sought after his life. Yet as often as the assassins came to Salih's dwelling to slay him by the king's command, their hands were paralyzed. This made some people that he is a man from God. And at times God awarded him prophethood and some people began to follow him.

And Salih began to address his people as Qur’an says- And to Thamud (We sent) their brother Saleh. He said, "O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. He has produced you from the earth and settled you in it, so ask forgiveness of Him and then repent to Him. Indeed, my Lord is near and responsive."

They said, "O Saleh, you were among us a man of promise before this. Do you forbid us to worship what our fathers worshipped? And indeed we are, about that to which you invite us, in disquieting doubt."

He said, "O my people, have you considered: if I should be upon clear evidence from my Lord and He has given me mercy from Himself, who would protect me from Allah if I disobeyed Him? So you would not increase me except in loss. 
"O my people, why are you impatient for evil instead of good? Why do you not seek forgiveness of Allah that you may receive mercy?" 
They said, "We consider you a bad omen, you and those with you." 
He said, "Your omen is with Allah. Rather, you are a people being tested."-(27:46-47) “And remember when He made you successors after the 'A'ad and settled you in the land, (and) you take for yourselves palaces from its plains and carve from the mountains, homes. Then remember the favors of Allah and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption."-(7:74)

[This verse suggests a kind of relationship between A'ad and Thamud, and A'ad may even have been a part of Thamud's history and culture. Just as Noah's people were seen as the ancestors of A'ad, it seems A'ad were seen in a similar relation to Thamud.

The A'ad were a people living in southern Arabia. Some remains of Thamud were found in the region where A'ad had lived, especially around the region where capital city of the Hadramites, the descendants of A'ad, stood]. 
Foot Print of the She-Camel.
They said to each other-"How can we follow a person, who is one of us? And if we do that, then certainly we will be among the mad and misguided. Among us only he got the prophet hood?" So those eminent ones who were arrogant among his people said to those who were oppressed and who believed among them, "Do you (actually) know that Salih is sent from his Lord?"-(7:75)

On hearing this, they told silently- ‘Now you are engaged yourselves with a discussion that, he is prophet or not! Actually, it is not the subject of discussion, but the flashing truth and surety. If there anything to be questioned that is only who are believers and who not? So, they said, "Indeed we, in that with which he was sent, are believers."

Those who were arrogant said, "Indeed we, in that which you have believed, are disbelievers."
-(7:76) God informed salih, ‘In future, they know actually who is the liar and arrogant.’-

The people rejected Salih. So he build a mosque and started to pray there with his followers. One day the king surrounded the mosque with his soldiers, and threatened Salih and his adherents with death unless God should save them by a special miracle.

Salih prayed, and the leaves of the date-tree that grew before the mosque were instantly changed to scorpions and adders, which fell upon the king and his men, while two doves which dwelt on the roof of the mosque exclaimed, "Believe in Salih, for he is the prophet and messenger of God." To this twofold wonder a second and third one were added, for at Salih's prayer the tree resumed its former shape, and some of the Thamudites who had been killed by the serpents returned to life again.

But the king continued in unbelief, for Iblis spoke from the mouth of the idol, calling Salih a magician and a demon. The tribe was then visited by famine, but this also failed to convert them. When Salih beheld the stubbornness of the Thamudites, he prayed to God to destroy so sinful a people.But he too, like his father, was carried by an angel to a subterraneous cave in sleep, and slept there twenty years.

On waking, he was about to go into the mosque to perform his morning devotions, for he imagined that he had slept only one night; but the mosque lay in ruins; he then went to see his friends and followers, but some of them were dead; others, in the idea that he had abandoned them or been secretly slain, had gone to other countries, or returned to idolatry. Salih knew not what to do.

Then appeared to him the angel Gabriel, and said, "Because thou hast hastily condemned thy people, Allah has taken from thee twenty years of thy life; and thou hast passed them sleeping in the cave. But rise and preach again. Allah sends thee here Adam's shirt, Abel's sandals, the tunic of Sheth, the seal of Idris, the sword of Noah, and the staff of Hud, with all of which thou shalt perform many wonders to confirm thy words."

On the following day, the king, and priests, and heads of the people, attended by many citizens, went in procession to a neighboring chapel, in which an idol, similar to that of the temple, was worshiped. Salih stepped between the king and the door of the chapel; and when the king asked him who he was, for Salih's appearance had so changed during the twenty years which he had spent in the cavern that the king did not recognize him, he answered, "I am Salih, the messenger of the one only God, who, twenty years ago, preached to thee, and showed thee many clear proofs of the truth of my mission. But since thou, as I perceive, still persistest in idolatry, I once more appear before thee in the name of the Lord, and by his permission offer to perform before thine eyes any miracle thou mayest desire in testimony of my prophetic calling."

The king took counsel with Shihab his brother, and Davud his high-priest, who stood near him. Then said the latter, "This Salih will not let us live in peace till the last moment of his death. So let us go and demand to him such a thing that he could not able to fulfill. Thus we will get relief from his torture.

Therefore, a group of people came to Salih and said, ‘O, Salih, if you really be a prophet of God, then bring for us a pregnant She-Camel from the stone above the Kateba Mountain. And that She-Camel will issue a baby after she came to us.’

Salih said, ‘If such a sign will give to you and you will not bring your faith on me, then you will be taken by an impending punishment.’ 
They said, ‘In that case, certainly we will believe you and bring our faith on God.’ 
Salih said, "If that is all you want, I will pray to God." 
They said, "but the camel should be one hundred cubits high, with all imaginable colors united on its back, with eyes flaming like lightning, with a voice like thunder, and with feet swifter than the wind."

Salih it too, but then Davud added, "Its fore legs must be of gold, and its hind legs of silver, its head of emerald, and its ears of rubies, and its back must bear a silken tent, supported on four diamond pillars inlaid with gold." Salih was not deterred by all these additional requirements; and the king added, "Hear, O Salih! if thou be the prophet of God, let this mountain be cleft open, and a camel step forth with skin, hair, flesh, blood, bones, muscles, and veins, like other camels, only much larger, and let it immediately give birth to a young camel, which shall follow it every where as a child follows its mother, and when scarcely produced, exclaim, 'There is but one God, and Salih is his messenger and a prophet.'"

"And will you turn to Allah if I pray to him, and if he perform such a miracle before your eyes?"
"Assuredly!" replied Davud. "Yet must this camel yield its milk spontaneously, and the milk must be cold in summer and warm in winter." 
"Are these all your conditions?" asked Salih. 
"Still farther," continued Shihab; "The milk must heal all diseases, and enrich all the poor; and the camel must go alone to every house, calling the inmates by name, and filling all their empty vessels with its milk."
Mausoleum of Salih
"Thy will be done!" replied Salih. "Yet I must also stipulate that no one shall harm the camel, or drive it from its pasture, or ride on it, or use it for any labor."

On their swearing to him to treat the camel as a holy thing, Salih prayed to God for such one. He prayed "O God! who hast created Adam out of the earth, and formed Eve from a rib, and to whom the hardest things are easy, let these rocks bring forth a camel such as their king has described, for the conversion of the Thamudites."

Scarcely had Salih concluded his prayer. And God told him, ‘We send a She-Camel to test them. So Saleh keeps watch their behavior and be patient.’

The earth opened at his feet, and there gushed forth a fountain of fresh water fragrant with musk: the tent which had been erected for Adam in Paradise descended from heaven, and thereupon the rocky wall which supported the eastern side of the temple groaned like a woman in travail; a flight of birds descended, and filling their beaks with the water of the fountain, sprinkled it over the rock, and lo! there was seen the head of the camel, which was gradually followed by the rest of its body; when it stood upon the earth, it was exactly as it had been described by the king, and it cried out immediately, "There is no God but God; Salih is his messenger and a prophet."

The angel Gabriel then came down and touched the camel with his flaming sword, and it gave birth to a young camel which resembled it entirely, and repeated the confession that had been required. The camel then went to the dwellings of the people, calling them by name, and, filling every empty vessel with its milk. On its way all animals bowed before it, and all the trees bent their branches to it in reverence.

The king could no longer shut his heart to such proofs of God's Almightiness and Salih's mission: he fell on the prophet's neck, kissed him, and said, "I confess there is but one God, and that thou art his messenger!"

Seeing this, some people also believed in Salih. But the eminent ones were still arrogant and its true no one can make the unbelievers to believers except Allah's will. The brother of the king, as well as Davud, and all the priesthood, called it only sorcery and delusion, and invented all kinds of calumnies and falsehoods to retain the people in unbelief and idolatry.

So Salih only aware them saying- And o my people, this is the she-camel of Allah –(she is) to you a sign. So let her feed upon Allah's earth and do not touch her with harm, or you will be taken by an impending punishment."(11:64)

When the She-camel goes to a field, all the animals flew away from there seeing her. And she finishes grasses from 2/4 fields and drinks water from 2/4 wells a day. So it takes place a crisis of grasses and water for other animals to eat and drink. All the domestic animals become skinny within a few months.

A group of people came to Salih and filed a case. They demand an early solution for this problem. So Salih pray to God for a solution. God told him, ‘let them know that the shift of distribution are finalized and each of them will present shiftily to drink water.’ So Salih told them, God says that your animal’s drinks water one day and the She-Camel will drinks the next day. And the angels will take care of this distribution.’

But many of them were not satisfied with this distribution. Because they still have to face the problem on the day allotted for the she-camel. So they whole heartedly wish to die she-camel. But they never attempted to kill her because of the fear of the curse of God on them.

Meanwhile, since the camel, by constantly yielding its milk and praising God as often as it went down to the water, made daily new converts and then the chiefs of the infidels resolved to kill it.

The biggest cheating through which, Satan able to destroy ones intelligence, knowledge and awareness, is the women’s decoy. Two young beautiful ladies of the tribe bet on them and declared- ‘The man, who able kill the She-Camel will get the chance to choose his bride among any of us.’ These ladies were the daughter of kings brothers Shihab.

A man from the tribe (some Kudar ibn Salek), had long loved this maiden, distinguished as she was for grace and beauty, but without daring to woo her, Now he armed himself with a huge sword, and, attended by Davud and some other priests waited for a suitable opportunity to kill the She-Camel. When they were hiding behind a big stone, the She-Camel comes to the well to drink water as per her shift. Suddenly, they came out from their position and hamstrung the She-Camel.-(11:65) from behind while it was descending to the waters., And when she fell down, they killed her.

At that moment all nature uttered a frightful shriek of woe. The little camel ran moaning to the highest pinnacle of the mountain, and shouts three times, "May the curse of God light upon thee, thou sinful people!"

On hearing this news, Saleh was shocked. And God informed him the plan of destroying his nation. And never would God have destroyed the cities until He had sent to their mother a messenger reciting to them His verses. And God would not destroy the cities except while their people were wrongdoers.-(28:59)

So Salih and the king, who had not quitted him since his conversion, went into the city, demanding the punishment of Kudar and his accomplices. But Shihab, who had in the mean time usurped the throne, threatened them with instant death.

Salih, told them that God would wait their repentance only three days longer, and on the expiration of the third day would annihilate them like their brethren the A'adites. So, he said- "Enjoy yourselves in your homes for three days. That is a promise not to be denied." -(11:65)
They said with ignorance, ‘O, Salih, what would be the sign of punishment? And how do we know it’s a punishment?’ 
Salih said, ‘Tomorrow your face turns into yellowish, next day reddish and in the last day it will be black’

Hearing this, a group of nine people made a plan against Salih. They told each other, ‘if he is truthful and God cursed on us, then why should we not kill him before our death? On the other hand, if he is a liar, then it will be the right punishment for him for the false promise.’

They made a Plan. Qur’an says- And there were in the city nine family heads causing corruption in the land and not amending (its affairs). They said, "Take a mutual oath by Allah that we will kill him by night, he and his family. Then we will say to his executor, 'We did not witness the destruction of his family, and indeed, we are truthful.' "
And they planned a plan, and We planned a plan, while they perceived not.-

God inform Salih before about their plan and ordered him to move to a safer place with his follower. And they moved towards the mountain shore. And he turned away from them and said, "O my people, I had certainly conveyed to you the message of my Lord and advised you, but you do not like advisors."-

Already on the next day the people grew as yellow as the seared leaves of autumn; according to the promise of Salih. But they were not attentive to repent on finding the 1st sign becomes true. Actually, they were angry. So the whole nation becomes mad to find him to kill. Wherever the wounded camel trod, there issued fountains of blood from the earth.

On the second day their faces became red as blood; but on the third, they turned black as coal, This time they were hopeless and were waiting for the Cursed of God helplessly. They have no idea about power of punishment and how it comes upon them. Is it comes from the earth or from the sky?

On the same day, toward nightfall, they saw the camel hovering in the air on crimson wings, whereupon some of the angels hurled down whole mountains of fire. In the early morning of the 4th day, it begins to flow air with a high velocity. Then a earth quake with a shriek. mountains opened the subterraneous vaults of fire, so that the earth vomited forth fire-brands in the shape of camels. At sunset, all the Thamudites were a heap of ashes. Qur’an says- Then look how was the outcome of their plan - that We destroyed them and their people, all.-(27:51)

And certainly did the companions of Thamud deny the messengers. And We gave them Our signs, but from them they were turning away.-(15:80-81)

So the earthquake seized them, and they became within their home (corpses) fallen prone.-(7:78)And they used to carve from the mountains, houses, feeling secure. But the shriek seized them at early morning. So nothing availed them (from) what they used to earn.-(15:82-84)

Salih and King Djundu wandered in company to Palestine, where they ended their days as hermits.

The End
Not Yet Verified.

Picture: Wikipedia,

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