And to the Thamud We sent their brother Saleh. He said, “O my people, worship Allah ; you have no deity other than Him. There has come to you clear evidence from your Lord. This is the she-camel of Allah sent to you as a sign. So leave her to eat within Allah’s land and do not touch her with harm, lest there seize you a painful punishment.
Surah al-Araf, Ayah 73
In the valley of Al-Hijr lived the tribe of Thamud. This valley is in modern-day northern Saudi Arabia. It is about 2 to 3 hours north of Madinah. These people were known for their excellent craftsmanship and architectural marvels. They were amongst the ancient Arab tribes. Also, they were a continuation of the civilization that inhabited the lands of Petra in Jordan as well.
The people of Thamud had fallen into sinning and would commit evil acts such as worshipping rocks, arrogance, and violence against innocent people. Among the people of Thamud, there was a sincere and righteous man named Saleh (as). He was known in the tribe for being a compassionate, pure, and wise individual. His tribesmen respected him very much. He preached a message to the people which was to return to worshipping Allah (swt) alone. Out of the whole tribe, only a few people embraced his message.
One day, Prophet Saleh’s (as) wicked fellow tribesmen asked him to prove his prophethood. The challenged him to ask Allah (swt) to create a she-camel out of a giant rock, which was supposed to be pregnant, attractive, and well-built. Prophet Saleh (as) then asked his people if they would believe in Allah (swt) if he were to produce this miracle, to which they agreed. So, Prophet Saleh (as) then turned to Allah (swt) and asked Him to allow this miracle to occur. In an instant, Allah (swt) then made the pregnant and attractive she-camel appear from out of the boulder. Out of all the people, only a few embraced Prophet Saleh’s (as) message. Most of the people accused Prophet Saleh (as) of doing magic and sorcery to create the camel.
Once the camel was out and grazing around, Prophet Saleh (as) informed the people to not harm the camel or its calf.
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.”
Surah al-Hud, Ayah 64
The people despised this camel. They absolutely hated it. It was a miracle that gave credibility to Saleh (as). They were becoming tense knowing that the message of Saleh (as) was gaining popularity. Furthermore, the great she-camel was beautiful and drank lots of water and gave plenty of milk to its newborn calf and the people. Disobeying the command of Prophet Saleh (as), the people started to harm the camel and its calf until they finally killed both.
So they hamstrung the she-camel and were insolent toward the command of their Lord and said, “O Saleh, bring us what you promise (punishment) us, if you should be of the messengers.”
Surah al-Araf, Ayah 77
At this point, Prophet Saleh (as) received divine news that the people only had 3 days to ask for forgiveness from Allah (swt). Along with ask for forgiveness, they had to mend their ways, otherwise Allah (swt) would send a harsh punishment on them. They denied.
Before the punishment, Allah (swt) gave them 3 days to fix their mistakes. Their faces also became darker each day, until the final day in which their faces were black. When they awoke on the third day, they got ready to see their punishment that Saleh (as) had promised them. At first, the day started out perfectly normal, however, as the sun rose, the land rocked underneath their feet. In addition, an extremely loud and strong scream was heard that immediately caused these disbelievers to drop dead.
So the earthquake seized them, and they became within their home [corpses] fallen prone.
Surah al-Araf, Ayah 78
And the shriek seized those who had wronged, and they became within their homes (corpses) fallen prone.
Surah al-Hud, Ayah 67
Their hearts ruptured inside their chests and in a matter of seconds they were fallen corpses on the ground. Only Prophet Saleh (as) and his followers were spared the wrath of Allah (swt).