After the destruction of the Ad, the tribe of Thamud succeeded them in power and glory. They also fell to idol worshipping. As their material wealth increased so, too, did their evil ways while their virtue decreased. Like the people of Ad, they erected huge buildings on the plains and hewed beautiful homes out of the hills. Tyranny and oppression became prevalent as evil men ruled the land.
So Allah sent unto them His Prophet Salih , a man from among them. His name was Salih Ibn 'Ubeid, Ibn Maseh, Ibn 'Ubeid, Ibn Hader, Ibn Thamud, Ibn Ather, Ibn Eram, Ibn Noah. He called his people to worship Allah alone, and to not associate partners with Him. While some of them believed him, the majority of them disbelieved and harmed him by both words and deeds. Salih directed them: "0 my people! Worship Allah, you have no other Ilah (god) but Him." Surah 11: 61
Salih was known for his wisdom, purity and goodness and had been greatly respected by his people before Allah's revelation came to him. Salih's people said to him: "0 Salih! You have been among us as a figure of good hope (and we wished for you to be our chief), till this new thing which you have brought, that we leave our gods and worship your God (Allah) alone! Do you (now) forbid us the worship of what our fathers have worshiped? But we are really in grave doubt as to that which you invite us to (monotheism)." Surah 11: 62
They merely wanted to worship the same gods as their fathers had, with no reason, no proof, no thought. The proof of Salih's message was evident, but despite this it was obvious that most of his people did not believe him. They doubted his words, thinking he was charmed, and they saw that he would not stop preaching. Fearing that his followers would increase, they tried to put him off by assigning him an important task: to prove that he was a messenger of Allah by performing a miracle. Let a unique she-camel issue from the mountains.
Allah granted Salih this miracle and a huge, unique shecamel appeared from the direction of the mountain. The Qur'anic commentators said that the people of Thamud gathered on a certain day at their meeting place, and the prophet Salih came and addressed them to believe in Allah, reminding them of the favors Allah had granted them.
Then, pointing at a rock, they demanded: "Ask your Lord to make a she-camel - which must be ten months pregnant, tall and attractive - issue from the rock for us."
Salih replied: "Look now! If Allah sends you what you have requested, just as you have described, will you believe in that which I have come to you with, and have faith in the message I have been sent with?"
They answered: "Yes."
So he took a vow from them on this, then prayed to Allah the Almighty to grant their request. Allah ordered the distant rock to split asunder, bringing forth a great ten-month pregnant she-camel. When their set eyes on it, they were amazed. They saw a great thing, a wonderful sight, dazzling power, clear evidence!
A number of Salih's people believed, yet most of them continued in their disbelief, stubbornness and going astray. Allah the Almighty said: And We sent the she-camel to Thamud as a clear sign, but they did her wrong. Surah 17: 59 Also: And verily, the dwellers of Al-Hijr (the rocky tract) denied the Messengers. And We gave them Our Signs, but they were averse to them. Surah 15: 80-81
There are a number of ancient accounts of this camel and its miraculous nature. It was said that the she-camel was miraculous because a rock in the mountain split open and it came forth from it, followed by its young offspring. Other accounts said that the she-camel used to drink all the water in the wells in one day, and no other animals could approach the water. Still others claimed that the she-camel produced milk sufficient for all the people to drink, on the same day that it drank all the water, leaving none for them
At first, the people of Thamud were greatly surprised when the she-camel issued from the mountain rocks. It was a blessed camel, its milk sufficient for thousands of men, women and children. If it slept in a place, that place was abandoned by other animals. Thus it was obvious that it was not an ordinary camel, but one of Allah's signs. It lived among Salih's people, some of whom believed in Allah while the majority continued in their obstinacy and disbelief.
Their hatred of Salih turned towards the blessed she-camel and became centered on it. A conspiracy started to be hatched against the camel by the disbelievers, and they secretly plotted against it.
Salih feared that they might kill the camel, so he warned them: "0 my people! This she-camel of Allah is a sign to you, leave her to feed on Allah's earth, and touch her not with evil, lest a near torment will seize you." Surah 11: 64
For a while, Salih's people let the camel graze and drink freely, but in their hearts they hated it. However, the miraculous appearance of the unique camel caused many to become Salih's followers, and they clung to their belief in Allah.
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