Since their purpose was often the same, the stories of many of the prophets are very similar. They were all raised up among their own people, to warn their people against their sinful ways and warn of Allah’s pending punishment. Their message was the same, to worship Allah and heed the words of His prophet. The prophets emphasized that they had nothing to gain from their people; that they were merely conveying Allah’s message. And all the prophets were deeply compassionate men, who became frustrated that so few heeded their words, but who never stopped trying to convey Allah’s message, until the people’s deeds exceeded limits set by Allah.
The response to each prophet’s message was also very similar. A very small number of his people would heed his message and follow his advice. But most of his community would refuse to listen. They would say that their prophet was crazy. They would laugh at him, scorn his followers, and threaten him. They would challenge him to bring on the punishment with which he was always threatening them. But only Allah knew when the punishment would strike and what it would be. When the punishment did strike, the prophet and his believers would be saved, and all the nonbelievers would be destroyed.
The type of punishment differed: it was a great flood at the time of Nuh (Peace be upon him) and a shower of brimstones among the people of Lut (Peace be upon him). In this issue we will see what happened to the people of the prophet Hud (Peace be upon him) and the people of the prophet Salih (Peace be upon him). These two prophets are not mentioned in the Bible.
Hud (pronounced “who’d”) (Peace be upon him) was a member of the ‘Ad (rhymes with “rod”) tribe, a powerful Arab tribe which lived in the southern Arabian peninsula. (Muhajir, A.M.R. 1975. Lessons from the Stories of the Quran, Sh. Muhammed Ashraf, Lahore, Pakistan, pp 45-46). They were descendants of Nuh (Peace be upon him). They were tall in stature and were skilful builders. They were all idol-worshippers. The prophet Hud (Peace be upon him) was raised up to bring them back to the worship of Allah.
Hud’s (Peace be upon him) message and his people’s reaction to it followed the usual pattern. They called him an idiot and a liar. He implored them to listen to him, but they rejected him. And so Allah sent down His terrible penalty, from which only Hud (Peace be upon him) and his followers were saved. The penalty in this case was a great wind which destroyed everything in its path. It raged for seven nights and eight days, and when it had passed, nothing could be seen but the ruins of the houses. It picked the people up and flung them to the ground.
Nothing and nobody could withstand its force. Thus was the tribe of Ad, a powerful nation of skilful and intelligent people, destroyed because it would not listen to its prophet.
The tribe of Thamud existed about 200 years after the tribe of ‘Ad. They lived in an area which is now near the border between Syria and Arabia. They carved their homes out of rocks. Some of those rock habitations, called asalib, are still in existence (Muhajir, pp 49-50). They are often mentioned in the Qur’an in conjunction with the tribe of Ad. The prophet who was sent to them was named Salih (Peace be upon him).
Salih (Peace be upon him), too, had only a very small band of followers. The remaining townspeople were very much against Salih (Peace be upon him) and his teachings. A group of them were even plotting to secretly do away with Salih (Peace be upon him), but that was not part of Allah’s plan so the plot failed.
A sign of Salih’s (Peace be upon him) prophethood was sent by Allah to the people of Thamud in the form of a she-camel. Salih (Peace be upon him) instructed the people of Thamud to allow the camel to pasture freely and to have its share of water. It was when they killed the camel that they overstepped the limits placed by Allah, and their destruction was inevitable. Salih (Peace be upon him) foretold that within three days of having slain the camel disaster would come upon them. It is not clear exactly what the disaster was. Some sort of earthquake activity and some storms are mentioned. But the result was the total destruction of the people of Thamud, with the exception of Salih (Peace be upon him) and his followers.
Thus we see again in the stories of these two prophets, Hud (Peace be upon him) and Salih (Peace be upon him), how two powerful nations were totally destroyed, because they did not heed Allah’s warning. Only the faithful were saved.
You can read about Hud (Peace be upon Him) in the Qur’an, Sura 7:65-72, Sura 11: 50-60, Sura 26:123-140, Sura 41:15-16, Sura 46:21-26, Sura 51:41-42, Sura 54:18-21, Sura 69:6-8, and Sura 89:6-8. You can read about Salih (Peace be upon Him) in the Qur’an, Sura 7:73-79, Sura 11:61-68, Sura 26:141-159, Sura 27:45-53, Sura 41:17, Sura 51:43-45, Sura 54:23-31, Sura 69:4-5, Sura 85:17-20 and Sura 91:11-15.