Here Allah tells us about His servant and Messenger Hud, when he called his people `Ad. His people used to live in the Ahqaf, curved sand-hills near Hadramawt, on the borders of Yemen. They lived after the time of Nuh, as Allah says in Surat Al-A`raf:
(And remember that He made you successors after the people of Nuh and increased you amply in stature) (7:69). This refers to the fact that they were physically strong and well-built, and very violent, and very tall; they had also been given a great deal of provisions, wealth, gardens, rivers, sons, crops and fruits. Yet despite all of that, they worshipped others besides Allah. So Allah sent Hud, one of their own, as a Messenger bringing them good news and delivering warnings. He called them to worship Allah alone, and he warned them of Allah's wrath and punishment if they were to go against him and treating him harshly. He said to them, as Nuh had said to his people:
(Do you build on every Ri` an Ayah for your amusement) The scholars of Tafsir differed over the meaning of the word Ri`. In brief, they said that it refers to an elevated location at a well-known crossroads, where they would build a huge, dazzling, sturdy structure, this is why he said:
(Do you build on every Ri` an Ayah) i.e., a well-known landmark,
(for your amusement) meaning, `you are only doing that for the purpose of frivolity, not because you need it, but for fun and to show off your strength.' So their Prophet (peace be upon him) denounced them for doing that, because it was a waste of time and exhausted people's bodies for no purpose, and kept them busy with something that was of no benefit in this world or the next. He said:
(And do you get for yourselves Masani` as if you will live therein forever) Mujahid said, "This means fortresses built up strong and high and structures that are built to last.''
(as if you will live therein forever) means, `so that you may stay there forever, but that is not going to happen, because they will eventually cease to be, just as happened in the case of those who came before you.'
(And when you seize (somebody), seize you (him) as tyrants) They are described as being strong, violent and tyrannical.
(So, have Taqwa of Allah, and obey me.) `Worship your Lord and obey your Messenger.' Then Hud began reminding them of the blessings that Allah had bestowed upon them. He said:
(And have Taqwa of Him, Who has aided you with all that you know. He has aided you with cattle and children, and gardens and springs. Verily, I fear for you the torment of a Great Day.) meaning, `if you disbelieve and oppose (your Prophet).' So he called them to Allah with words of encouragement and words of warning, but it was to no avail.
(136. They said: "It is the same to us whether you preach or be not of those who preach.'') (137. "This is no other than Khuluq of the ancients,'') (138. "And we are not going to be punished.'') (139. So they denied him, and We destroyed them. Verily, in this is indeed a sign, yet most of them are not believers.) (140. And verily your Lord, He is indeed the Almighty, the Most Merciful.)
Allah tells us how the people of Hud responded to him after he had warned them, encouraged them, and clearly explained the truth to them.
(They said: "It is the same to us whether you preach or be not of those who preach.'') meaning, `we will not give up our ways.'
(And we shall not leave our gods for your (mere) saying! And we are not believers in you) (11:53). This is how it was, as Allah says:
(Verily, those who disbelieve, it is the same to them whether you warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe) (2:6).
(Truly, those, against whom the Word of your Lord has been justified, will not believe) (10:96-97). And they said:
(This is no other than Khuluq of the ancients.) Some scholars read this: "Khalq''. According to Ibn Mas`ud and according to `Abdullah bin `Abbas -- as reported from Al-`Awfi -- and `Alqamah and Mujahid, they meant, "What you have brought to us is nothing but the tales (Akhlaq) of the ancients.'' This is like what the idolaters of Quraysh said:
(And they say: "Tales of the ancients, which he has written down, and they are dictated to him morning and afternoon.'') (25:5) And Allah said:
(Those who disbelieve say: "This is nothing but a lie that he has invented, and others have helped him in it. In fact, they have produced an injustice and a lie.'' And they say: "Tales of the ancients...'') (25:4-5)
(And when it is said to them: "What is it that your Lord has sent down'' They say: "Tales of the ancient!'') (16:24). Some other scholars recited it,
(This is no other than Khuluq of the ancients,) "as Khuluq,'' meaning their religion. What they were following was the religion of the ancients, their fathers and grandfathers, as if they were saying: "We are following them, we will live as they lived and die as they died, and there will be no resurrection and no judgment.'' Hence they said:
(And we are not going to be punished.) Allah's saying;
(So they denied him, and We destroyed them.) meaning, they continued to disbelieve and stubbornly oppose Allah's Prophet Hud, so Allah destroyed them. The means of their destruction has been described in more than one place in the Qur'an: Allah sent against them a strong and furious wind, i.e., a fiercely blowing wind that was intensely cold. Thus the means of their destruction was suited to their nature, for they were the strongest and fiercest of people, so Allah overpowered them with something that was even stronger and fiercer than them, as Allah says:
(Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with `Ad of Iram Possesors of the pillars) (89:6-7). This refers to the former `Ad, as Allah says:
(And that it is He Who destroyed the former `Ad) (53:50). They were descendents of Iram bin Sam bin Nuh,
(Possesors of the pillars) They used to live among pillars. Those who claim that Iram was a city take this idea from Isra'iliyyat narrations, from the words of Ka`b and Wahb, but there is no real basis for that. Allah says:
(The like of which were not created in the land) (89:8). meaning, nothing like this tribe was created in terms of might, power and tyranny. If what was meant was a city, it would have said, "The like of which was not built in the land.'' And Allah says:
(As for `Ad, they were arrogant in the land without right, and they said: "Who is mightier than us in strength'' See they not that Allah Who created them was mightier in strength than them. And they used to deny Our Ayat!) (41:15) And Allah says:
(And as for `Ad, they were destroyed by a furious violent wind!) until His saying:
(in succession) (69:6-7) meaning, consecutively (i.e., seven nights and eight days).
(so that you could see men lying overthrown (destroyed), as if they were hollow trunks of date palms!) (69:7) means, they were left as headless bodies, because the wind would come and carry one of them, then drop him on his head, so that his brains were spilled out, his head was broken and he was thrown aside, as if they were uprooted stems of date-palms. They used to build fortresses in the mountains and caves, and they dug ditches half as deep as a man is tall, but that did not help them against the command of Allah at all.
(Verily, the term given by Allah, when it comes, cannot be delayed) (71:4). Allah says here:
(So they denied him, and We destroyed them.)
(141. Thamud denied the Messengers.) (142. When their brother Salih said to them: "Will you not have Taqwa'') (143. "I am a trustworthy Messenger to you.'') (144. "So, have Taqwa of Allah, and obey me.'') (145. "No reward do I ask of you for it; my reward is only from the Lord of Al-`Alamin.'')
Here Allah tells us about His servant and Messenger Salih, whom He sent to his people Thamud. They were Arabs living in the city of Al-Hijr -- which is between Wadi Al-Qura and Greater Syria. Their location is well known. In our explanation of Surat Al-A`raf, we mentioned the Hadiths which tell how the Messenger of Allah passed by their dwelling place when he wanted to launch a raid on Syria. He went as far as Tabuk, then he went back to Al-Madinah to prepare himself for the campaign. Thamud came after `Ad and before Ibrahim, peace be upon him. Their Prophet Salih called them to Allah, to worship Him alone with no partner or associate, and to obey whatever commands were conveyed to them, but they refused, rejecting him and opposing him. He told them that he did not seek any reward from them for his call to them, but that he would seek the reward for that with Allah. Then he reminded them of the blessings of Allah.
(146. "Will you be left secure in that which you have here'') (147. "In gardens and springs.'') (148. "And crops and date palms with soft clusters.'') (149. "And you hew out in the mountains, houses with great skill.'') (150. "So, have Taqwa of Allah, and obey me.'') (151. "And follow not the command of the extravagant,'') (152. Who make mischief in the land, and reform not.'')
They enjoyed Salih preached to them, warning them that the punishment of Allah could overtake them and reminding them of the blessings that Allah had bestowed upon them, by giving them ample provision and making them safe from all kinds of dangers, giving them gardens and flowing springs, and bringing forth for them crops and fruits.
(and date palms with soft clusters.) Al-`Awfi narrated from Ibn `Abbas, "Ripe and rich.'' `Ali bin Abi Talhah narrated from Ibn `Abbas that this meant growing luxuriantly. Isma`il bin Abi Khalid narrated from `Amr bin Abi `Amr -- who met the Companions -- from Ibn `Abbas that this means, "When it becomes ripe and soft.'' This was narrated by Ibn Abi Hatim, then he said: "And something similar was narrated from Abu Salih.''
(And you hew out in the mountains, houses with great skill.) Ibn `Abbas and others said, "With great skill.'' According to another report from him: "They were greedy and extravagant.'' This was the view of Mujahid and another group. There is no contradiction between the two views, because they built the houses which they carved in the mountains as a form of extravagant play, with no need for them as dwelling places. They were highly skilled in the arts of masonry and stone-carving, as is well known to anyone who has seen their structures. So, Salih said to them:
(So, have Taqwa of Allah, and obey me.) Pay attention to that which could benefit you in this world and the Hereafter; worshipping your Lord Who created you, who granted you provisions so that you could worship Him alone and glorify Him morning and evening.
(And follow not the command of the extravagant, who make mischief in the land, and reform not.) meaning, their chiefs and leaders, who called them to Shirk, disbelief and opposition to the truth.
(153. They said: "You are only of those bewitched!'') (154. "You are but a human being like us. Then bring us a sign if you are of the truthful.'') (155. He said: "Here is a she-camel: it has a right to drink (water), and you have a right to drink (water) (each) on a day, known.'') (156. "And touch her not with harm, lest the torment of a Great Day should seize you.'') (157. But they killed her, and then they became regretful.) (158. So, the torment overtook them. Verily, in this is indeed a sign, yet most of them are not believers.) (159. And verily, your Lord He is indeed the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful.)