Prophet Saleh is a significant figure in Islam. He is known for his mission to the people of Thamud, an ancient tribe believed to have lived in the Arabian Peninsula. Prophet Saleh’s story is primarily found in the Quran, where it serves as a moral and spiritual lesson.
The story of Prophet Saleh is mentioned in several Surahs of the Quran. These include:
Surah Al-A’raf (Surah 7)
Surah Hud (Surah 11)
Surah Ash-Shu’ara (Surah 26)
Surah Al-Qamar (Surah 54)
In these Surahs, various aspects of Prophet Saleh’s story, his message to the people of Thamud, the miracle of the she-camel, and the eventual fate of the Thamud are described, offering important lessons and insights.
A Detailed Account of Prophet Saleh’s Story
The People of Thamud: The Thamud were a prosperous tribe who lived in large, ornate houses carved out of mountains. They were known for their skills in crafting and building, but they were also steeped in idolatry and immorality.
Prophet Saleh’s Mission: Prophet Saleh was raised among the Thamud and was known for his wisdom and righteousness. He was chosen by Allah as a prophet to guide his people back to the worship of one God. His message to his people was simple: worship Allah, the one true God, and abandon idolatry. This message is reiterated in the Quran: “And to Thamud [We sent] their brother Saleh. He said, ‘O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him'” (Chapter 7, Verse 73).
The People’s Demand for a Miracle: The people of Thamud, skeptical of Saleh’s claim to prophethood, demanded a miracle as proof. They asked him to produce a she-camel out of a rock as a sign. This event is mentioned in the Quran: “And remember when He made you successors after the ‘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” (Chapter 7, Verse 74).
The Miraculous She-Camel: In response to their challenge, Allah granted Saleh the miracle they asked for. A massive she-camel emerged from the mountains, as a clear sign of Saleh’s truthfulness and Allah’s power. The Quran says: “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” (Quran Chapter 11, Verse 64).
The People’s Response and Their Crime: Despite witnessing the miracle, the majority of the Thamud remained arrogant and refused to believe in Saleh. They not only rejected the message but also plotted against the she-camel, seeing it as a challenge to their way of life. A group among them cruelly hamstrung the she-camel, defying the warning given by Saleh. This act of defiance and cruelty is mentioned in the Quran: “But they hamstrung her. So he said, ‘Enjoy yourselves in your homes for three days. That is a promise not to be denied'” (Chapter 11, Verse 65).
The Punishment of Thamud: The destruction of the she-camel was a test of their faith and morality, which they miserably failed. As a consequence, the Thamud were given a respite of three days after which a terrible punishment was to befall them. This is referenced in the Quran: “So when Our command came, We saved Saleh and those who believed with him, by mercy from Us, and [saved them] from the disgrace of that day. Indeed, it is your Lord who is the Powerful, the Exalted in Might” (Quran 11:66). The entire community, except for those who believed in Saleh, was annihilated.
Lessons from the Story of Saleh: The story of Prophet Saleh and the people of Thamud is repeatedly mentioned in the Quran as a lesson for humanity. It serves as a warning against arrogance, disbelief, and the consequences of defying Allah’s signs and messengers. The Quran emphasizes the importance of faith, obedience, and moral integrity, using the fate of Thamud as a stark example of what happens when these values are disregarded.
Saleh’s Legacy: Prophet Saleh’s legacy is that of a patient, steadfast messenger who remained committed to his mission despite the rejection and hostility of his people. His story is a testament to the struggle and perseverance of the prophets in conveying the message of monotheism and righteousness.
These references and the story of Prophet Saleh illustrate the Quran’s approach to teaching moral and spiritual lessons through the narratives of prophets and their communities. The story of Saleh, like other prophetic stories in the Quran, transcends its historical context to offer timeless lessons on faith, obedience, and the consequences of moral transgression.