Thamud – People of Hz. Saleh عليه اسلام

Descendants of the People of Ad, Thamud were an ancient polytheistic people who were destroyed by Allah for their Polythiesm

Madain Saleh, Saudi Arabia

Coordinates: 26.832761, 37.962911

The Thamud were an ancient Arabian tribe or tribal confederation that occupied the northwestern Arabian peninsula between the late eighth century BCE, when they are attested in Assyrian sources.

It is possible that multiple unrelated groups took on the name of Thamud. They probably spoke Old Arabic.

The Quran mentions the Thamud as an example of an ancient polytheistic people who were destroyed by Allah for their sins.

According to the Quran and the Islamic exegetical tradition, the Thamud were an early Arab tribe who rejected the message of the prophet Salih عليه اسلام.

When they cut the hamstring of a female camel that Allah had sent down for them, despite the prophet’s warnings, they were annihilated except for Salih عليه اسلام and the few righteous tribesmen.

Islamic historiography identifies the Thamud with the ruins of Hegra in what is now the northern Hejaz.

Thamud in Islam

Arab Islamic sources state that the Thamud were an early Arab tribe that had gone extinct in ancient days.

Thamud is mentioned twenty-three times in the Quran as part of a moralistic lesson about Allah’s destruction of sinful nations, a central motif in the Quran.

According to the Quran, the Thamud were the successors of a previous nation called the Aad, who had also been destroyed for their sins.

They lived in houses carved into the surface of the earth. Allah chose the prophet Salih عليه اسلام to warn the polytheistic Thamud that they should worship the One Allah.

The tribe refused to heed him, saying that Salih عليه اسلام was merely a mortal, and demanded a sign from Allah.

Allah sent down a female camel as his sign, and Salih عليه اسلام told his countrymen that they should not harm the camel and allow it to drink from their well.

But the Thamud tribe instead of all the warnings, killed her.

Allah then destroyed the tribe except for Salih عليه اسلام and a few other righteous man.

The means of Allah’s destruction of Thamud differs according to the exigencies of the Quran’s rhyme scheme, including a thunderbolt, a storm, a shout, and an earthquake.

The account presented in Surah an-Naml also mentions nine evil people of Thamud who are immediately responsible for Allah’s punishment of their people[Quran 27:48–51] in a narrative reminiscent of Jewish descriptions of the demise of Sodom.

To the Thamud, We sent their brother, Salih. He said, “My people, worship Allah. You have no Allah other than Him. It was He who brought you into being from the earth and made you inhabit it, so ask forgiveness from Him, and turn back to Him: my Lord is near, and ready to answer.” They said, “Salih عليه اسلام, We used to have such great hope in you. Will you forbid us to worship what our fathers worshipped? We are in grave doubt about what you are asking us to do.” He said, “My people, just think: if I did have clear proof from my Lord, and if He had given me mercy of His own, who could protect me from Allah if I disobeyed Him? You would only make my loss greater. My people, this camel belongs to Allah, a sign for you, so leave it to pasture on Allah’s earth and do not harm it, or you will soon be punished.” But they hamstrung it, so he said, “Enjoy life for another three days: this warning will not prove false.” And so, when Our command was fulfilled, by Our mercy We saved Salih عليه اسلام and his fellow believers from the disgrace of that day. [Prophet], it is your Lord who is the Strong, the Mighty One. The blast struck the evildoers and they lay dead in their homes, as though they had never lived and flourished there. Yes, the Thamud denied their Lord– so away with the Thamud!

[Quran 11:61–68 (Abdel Haleem)]