To the Thamud people (We sent) Salih, one of their own brethren: He said: “O my people! worship Allah: ye have no other god but Him. Now hath come unto you a clear (Sign) from your Lord! This she-camel of Allah is a Sign unto you: So leave her to graze in Allah’s earth, and let her come to no harm, or ye shall be seized with a grievous punishment.
Yusuf Ali writes,
The Thamud people were the successors to the
culture and civilization of the ‘Ad people, for whom see
n. 1040 and 7:65 above.
They were cousins to the ‘Ad, apparently a younger
branch of the same race.
Their story also belongs to Arabian tradition, according
to which their eponymous ancestor Thamud was a son of
‘Abir (a brother of Aram), the son of Sam, the son of
Their scat was in the north-west corner of Arabia (Arabia
Petraea), between Madinah and Syria. It included both
rocky country (hijr, 15:80), and the spacious fertile
valley (Wadi) and plains country of Qura, which begins
just north of the City of Madinah and is traversed by the
When the holy Prophet in the 9th year of the Hijrah led
his expedition to Tabuk (about 400 miles north of
Madinah) against the Roman forces, on a reported
Roman invasion from Syria, he and his men came across
the archaeological remains of the Thamud. The recently
excavated rock city of Petra, near Maan, may go back to
the Thamud, though its architecture has many features
connecting it with Egyptian and Graeco-Roman culture
overlaying what is called by European writers Nabataean
Who were the Nabataeans?
They were an old Arab tribe which played a considerable
part in history after they came into conflict with
Antigonus I in 312 B.C. Their capital was Petra, but they
extended their territory right up to the Euphrates. In 85
B.C. they were lords of Damascus under their king
Haritha (Aretas of Roman history). For some time they
were allies of the Roman Empire and held the Red Sea
littoral. The Emperor Trajan reduced them and annexed
their territory in A.D. 105.
The Nabataeans succeeded the Thamud of Arabian
tradition. Ile lbamijd are mentioned by name in an
inscription of the Assyrian King Sargon, dated 715 B.C.,
as a people of Eastern and Central Arabia (Encyclopedia
of Islam). See also Appendix VII to Surah 26.
With the advance of material civilisation, the Thamud
people became godless and arrogant, and were
destroyed by an earthquake. Their prophet and warner
was Salih, and the crisis in their history is connected
with the story of a wonderful she-camel:’
see next note.