God says in the Quran that prophets and messengers have been sent to every nation on earth and that they all have the same message – to worship the One God Alone without partners, sons or daughters. The majority of the prophets mentioned in the Quran are recognized and are considered prophets of the Jewish and Christian faith. The Prophet Salih, however, is one of only four Arab prophets and his story is not widely known.
“And surely we already sent messengers before you; among them are some of which We have already told you about, and there are some of whom We have not told you about; and no envoy could have given a sign without God’s permission. ” (Quran 40:78)
Ad and Tamud were two great civilizations that had been destroyed by God because of their wickedness. After the destruction of Ad, the Tamud surpassed them in strength and size. People lived prosperous and excessive lives, erecting tall buildings both on the plains and in the mountains. Unfortunately, with their extravagant lifestyle, idolatry and wickedness also came. The Prophet Salih was sent to warn the Tamud people and tell them that God was not happy with their behavior and will destroy them if they do not change their evil ways.
Salih was a pious, righteous man who held a leadership position in the community, but his call to worship God Alone angered many people. Some understood the wisdom of his words, but the majority of people did not believe and hurt Salih with words and deeds.
„They said:“ O Salih, you were the focus of hope among us before. Do you want to prevent us from worshiping what our fathers worshiped? And we are truly in troubling doubt about what you are asking us to do. „” (Quran 11:62)
The people of Tamud gathered at their place of assembly, in the shadow of a large mountain. They asked Salih to prove that the One God he was talking about was really powerful and strong. They said he should do a miracle – let a unique and incomparable camel emerge from the nearby mountains. Salih turned to his people and asked: if the camel would appear, would they believe his message. They answered with a resounding “yes” and the people prayed together with Salih that the miracle would be done.
By the grace of God, a huge camel, born in the tenth month, came out of the rock at the foot of the mountain. Some of the people understood the extent of this miracle, but the majority remained incredulous. They saw a large and shiny sign, and yet they remained arrogant and stubborn.
„And we gave the tamud the camel mare as a visible sign, but they tortured her.“ (Quran 17:59)
The Quran commentator and Islamic scholar Ibn Kathir tells us that there are numerous reports of the camel mare and her wonderful nature. It is said that the camel appeared from a stone that broke open, and some people indicated that the camel was so large that it was able to drink all the water from the city’s springs in a single day. Other people said the camel was able to produce enough milk every day to feed the entire population. The camel lived among the Tamud people, and unfortunately the anger and resentment of the unbelievers who molested Salih turned against the camel.
Although many people believed in God, listened to the Prophet Salih, and understood the camel’s miracle, many others stubbornly refused to listen. People started to complain that the camel drinks too much water or that it scares the other animals. The Prophet Salih started to take care of the K camel. He warned his people of the great punishment they will receive if they harm the camel.
“O my people, this is the camel mare of Allah as a sign for you; so let them graze on Allah’s earth and do them no harm, so that you will not soon be punished. „” (Quran 11:64)
A group of men asked their wives to come up with a plan to kill the camel mare and at the first opportunity they shot her with an arrow and stabbed her with a sword. The camel fell to the ground and died. The murderers screamed and congratulated each other and the unbelievers laughed and made fun of Salih. The Prophet Salih warned people that a great punishment would come within three days, but he still hoped that they would recognize the mistake of their way and ask God for forgiveness. The Prophet Salih said, „O my people, I brought the message of my Lord to you and offered you sincere counsel; but you do not love counselors.“ (Quran 7:79) The people of Tamud mocked Salih’s words and planned to
“And there were nine (sons of) leaders in the city who caused mischief in the country, and they did not want to keep order. They said: „Swear to God that we will assault him (Salih) and his relatives at night and then say to his survivors:“ We were not witnesses to the downfall of his family, and we are sure to speak the truth. „“ ( Quran 27: 48 & 49)
God kept the prophet Salih and all his followers; they grabbed their few belongings and heavy hearts and moved to another place. After three days, Prophet Salih’s warning came true. The sky was filled with lightning and thunder and the earth trembled violently. God destroyed the city of Tamud and the population died in agony of fear and unbelief.
Ibn Kathir said that the people of Salih fell dead, all together, all at the same time. Her arrogance and unbelief could not save her, nor her idols. Their large and extravagant buildings have offered them no protection. God continued to send clear guidance to mankind, but the unbelievers persisted in their arrogance and rejection. God is the Most Merciful and the Forgiver: He loves forgiveness. However, His warnings should not be ignored. God’s punishment experienced by the Talmud can be difficult.