Homes in the Mountains
The evil deed done, they then challenged Saleh AS and said: "… O Saleh! Bring about your threats if you are indeed one of the Messengers (of Allah)." (7:77)
To this Saleh AS replied: “Enjoy yourselves in your homes for three days. That is a promise [i.e. a threat] not to be denied." (11:65). Some reports say that this threat was made on a Wednesday. Saleh AS warned the people that as a sign of the impending torture, their faces would turn yellow, black and red.
The Destruction of Thamud
Accounts mention that the people commissioned to assassinate Saleh AS and his family were crushed by a stone sent by Allah before they could carry out their treacherous plan.
Meanwhile, the people of Thamud waited. On the dawn of Thursday, the first morning, their faces had turned a pale yellow, as had been forewarned by Saleh AS. The deadline for their destruction grew closer, and on the second day, Friday, they awoke with their faces red. On Saturday morning, as warned by Saleh AS, their faces became black. The signs were convincing. They knew that their destruction was inevitable, yet on the face of it, still tried to deny what was coming.
They however, did not know in what manner such punishment would take place. Would it be by water, wind or some other form? When the sun rose on Sunday, they sat down in readiness and trepidation to face their destruction.
This time, Allah did not unleash violent forces of water or the wind. A wholly more innocuous means was used – sound. “And As-Saihah overtook the wrong-doers, so they lay (dead), prostrate in their homes, as if they had never lived there. No doubt! Verily, Thamud disbelieved in their Lord. So away with Thamud!” (11:67-11:68) As-Saihah can be described as an awful shrieking noise, a thunderous cry by the angels themselves, the effects of which are deadly and immediate. A slightly different description is used in 41:17: “… but they preferred blindness to guidance, so the Sa'iqah (a destructive awful cry, torment, hit, a thunderbolt) of disgracing torment seized them, because of what they used to earn.” The point however, being that the entire community, save for Saleh AS and the believers, were wiped from existence in the blink of an eye.
Their magnificent houses, intelligence and status offered them no sanctuary. The people of Thamud were totally disgraced and obliterated, and are now no more.
Over the succeeding generations, Islam became a forgotten memory. There was not a single Muslim on earth, until Allah sent Ibrahim AS, one of the greatest five Messengers, down to his community click here to find out more.
The ruins of Thamud
It is narrated by Imam Ahmad from Abdullah bin Umar (RA) that when the Prophet SAW came with the people of Tabuk, he camped at Al Hijr, which was close to the dwellings of the Thamud community. He forbade the people from entering into the places of people punished by Allah, saying that: “I fear that the same adversity may inflict upon you which inflicted upon them, so do not enter their places.”
In another narration, it is said that when Rasulullah SAW passed by their houses, he masked his face and accelerated his camel, and asked not to enter their houses except crying.
Lesson for us – Signs of Allah and Cautious Tourism
Here the method of destruction was even less significant than the dramatic flood sent to the community of Nuh AS and the raging wind sent to the people of ‘Ad. Destruction was simply by way of sound waves, and with this Allah tells us that any of His forces can be employed by Him with deadly precision in ways that we cannot imagine.
Why do we feel as if the balance of power lies with us, and not with Allah? It is an illusion – even the internet, which is the source of knowledge and communication for all of us, is exceedingly vulnerable and unstable, and can be burnt in one second, should Allah wish to send down a devastating spark to the servers. We have faith in our buildings, technology and ability, but for many of us, our faith in Allah is not that strong.
Just think of how vulnerable many of the big cities in the world are – despite their fortifications, many can be crippled, submerged or wiped out in an instant. The power of Allah is manifesting itself – and it broadcasts to us through rain, snow, uncontrollable fires, earthquakes, floods, landslides, tornados and tsunamis. These are constant reminders of our own vulnerability. The sunnah or pattern of Allah has been repeating itself and will continue to repeat itself. How many towns and villages are destroyed instantaneously, while we are oblivious to such disasters, thinking ourselves immune from the same fate? Many of us maintain the attitude that events like these only happen to other people. We have fallen prey to the same of steps of Shaitan, which makes people forget the Message. As the earlier articles have emphasized, once a person forgets the message, he becomes a slave to his desires and temptations. The indulgence, arrogance and heedlessness that follow provoke the anger of Allah, little by little, culminating in the torture of Allah if the whole community falls under the same disease of spiritual blindness. Once this happens, none of our buildings, bank accounts or social and political connections can grant us immunity. The only way to be safe is if we hold tight to the rope of Allah, and try to be active for Allah and save Islam.
The reaction of Prophet Muhammad SAW also establishes that it is wiser to avoid visiting communities and sites which are known to have incurred the wrath of Allah. Apart from feeling fear that the same fate might befall on us, it is also discouraged for us to promote, support and glorify the places and monuments of those whom Allah has cursed, not least when such places and communities are categorically identified in the Qur’an and Hadith.