فَاِنۡ تَوَلَّوۡا فَقَدۡ اَبۡلَغۡتُکُمۡ مَّاۤ اُرۡسِلۡتُ بِہٖۤ اِلَیۡکُمۡ ؕ وَ یَسۡتَخۡلِفُ رَبِّیۡ قَوۡمًا غَیۡرَکُمۡ ۚ وَ لَا تَضُرُّوۡنَہٗ شَیۡئًا ؕ اِنَّ رَبِّیۡ عَلٰی کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ حَفِیۡظٌ ﴿۵۸﴾
فَإِن تَوَلَّوۡاْ فَقَدۡ أَبۡلَغۡتُكُم مَّآ أُرۡسِلۡتُ بِهِۦٓ إِلَيۡكُمۡۚ وَيَسۡتَخۡلِفُ رَبِّي قَوۡمًا غَيۡرَكُمۡ وَلَا تَضُرُّونَهُۥ شَيۡـًٔاۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيۡءٍ حَفِيظٞ
c. 7:69; 46:24. (close)
d. 4:134; 6:134. (close)
a. 7:69; 46:24. (close)
b. 4:134; 6:134. (close)
1438. Important Words:
حفیظ (Guardian) is derived from حفظ. They say حفظه i.e. he kept it, preserved it, guarded it or protected it; he prevented it from perishing or becoming lost. حفظ السر means, he kept the secret. حفظ یـمینه means, he kept or fulfilled his oath. حفظ القرآنmeans, he committed the Quran to memory or he retained the Quran in his memory. حافظ or حفیظ means, a keeper, preserver, watcher or guardian of a thing; one who is careful, mindful, attentive or considerate. الحفیظ is one of the attributive names of God and means the Preserver of all things; He from Whose preservation nothing is excluded (Lane & Aqrab).
The opponents of God’s Prophets, in their ignorance, often think that by rejecting the Message of a Prophet, they can do him any harm. But in no way can they harm a Divine Messenger. In fact, the rejection of a message can either harm the person who sends the message or the person to whom the message is sent. It cannot harm the bearer of the message. So the Prophet Hud says that he is only a Message-bearer, and therefore he would come to harm only if he failed to deliver his Message, but as he has faithfully delivered the Message he need fear no harm. Again, the rejection of the Message by the people can do no harm to God, Who is the Sender of the Message, for He is All-Powerful. So the only people who can come to grief by the rejection of the Message are those who reject it. If the people to whom it is originally addressed do not accept it, some other people will accept it and it will make them prosper. The Divine Message can never go in vain.
By the words, my Lord is Guardian over all things, Prophet Hud means to say that God will guard the teachings which He has sent through him. They also mean that the works of disbelievers are in the custody of God and they will have to render an account of them before Him. (close)
وَ لَمَّا جَآءَ اَمۡرُنَا نَجَّیۡنَا ہُوۡدًا وَّ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا مَعَہٗ بِرَحۡمَۃٍ مِّنَّا ۚ وَ نَجَّیۡنٰہُمۡ مِّنۡ عَذَابٍ غَلِیۡظٍ ﴿۵۹﴾
وَلَمَّا جَآءَ أَمۡرُنَا نَجَّيۡنَا هُودٗا وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ مَعَهُۥ بِرَحۡمَةٖ مِّنَّا وَنَجَّيۡنَٰهُم مِّنۡ عَذَابٍ غَلِيظٖ
e. 7:73. (close)
a. 7:73. (close)
1439. Important Words:
غلیظ (severe) is derived from غلظ which means, it was or became thick, gross, bulky or coarse. غلیظ means thick, gross, etc. It also means rough or rugged; dense or deep; rough manners or conduct; rude, unkind, hard, or ill-natured; vehement or severe; intensely painful (Lane & Aqrab).
The words, by Our special mercy, point to a law of God that when a general calamity overtakes a country, both good and bad people become involved in it. But, as in the time of a Prophet these calamities visit the earth in order to testify to his truth, God so ordains that believers more or less remain immune from them. This comparative immunity of believers from such visitations is due to the special grace and mercy of God, which become, as it were, particularly excited in the time of a heavenly Messenger.
The words عذاب غلیظ (severe torment) are intended to hint that disbelievers will not get immunity from the calamities notwithstanding their efforts; for, like one who gets stuck in thick and deep mud, they will not be able to extricate themselves from it. See the different meanings of the word غلیظ above. (close)
وَ تِلۡکَ عَادٌ ۟ۙ جَحَدُوۡا بِاٰیٰتِ رَبِّہِمۡ وَ عَصَوۡا رُسُلَہٗ وَ اتَّبَعُوۡۤا اَمۡرَ کُلِّ جَبَّارٍ عَنِیۡدٍ ﴿۶۰﴾
وَتِلۡكَ عَادٞۖ جَحَدُواْ بِـَٔايَٰتِ رَبِّهِمۡ وَعَصَوۡاْ رُسُلَهُۥ وَٱتَّبَعُوٓاْ أَمۡرَ كُلِّ جَبَّارٍ عَنِيدٖ
The word تلك (these) points to the worldly greatness and grandeur of the tribe of ‘Ad. It has been used to hint that although the ‘Adites were a powerful people, yet when they behaved insolently and wickedly and rejected the Divine Messenger, they came to nought. (close)
وَ اُتۡبِعُوۡا فِیۡ ہٰذِہِ الدُّنۡیَا لَعۡنَۃً وَّ یَوۡمَ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ ؕ اَلَاۤ اِنَّ عَادًا کَفَرُوۡا رَبَّہُمۡ ؕ اَلَا بُعۡدًا لِّعَادٍ قَوۡمِ ہُوۡدٍ ﴿٪۶۱﴾
وَأُتۡبِعُواْ فِي هَٰذِهِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا لَعۡنَةٗ وَيَوۡمَ ٱلۡقِيَٰمَةِۗ أَلَآ إِنَّ عَادٗا كَفَرُواْ رَبَّهُمۡۗ أَلَا بُعۡدٗا لِّعَادٖ قَوۡمِ هُودٖ
a. 28:43. (close)
1325A. Bu‘d (which is derived from Ba‘uda signifying, he was or became distant; he perished; he was cursed) means, remoteness; curse, malediction. They say Bu‘dalla-hu, i.e. may he be cursed, may he perish (Lane). (close)
1441. Important Words:
اتبعوا (was made to follow) literally means, they were made to follow. تبعه means, he followed him. اتبعه means, he followed and overtook him. اتبعه also means, he made him follow another (Lane).
The word لعنة (curse) when ascribed to God means "removing to a distance" or "casting away from mercy." In this sense the first sentence of the verse would mean that God will remove or cast away disbelievers from His mercy and they will not attain His nearness nor see Him on the Day of Resurrection.
The words, the tribe of ‘Ad behaved ungratefully to their Lord, comprise an extremely touching sentence and indicate how perverse and ungrateful were the ‘Ad that they refused to listen to the voice of their رب (Lord), Who brought them into being and then nourished and sustained them. Nobility of character demanded that they should have been grateful to Him, but by rejecting His Message, they set the seal not only on their ingratitude but also on their folly, because they consigned to oblivion the patent fact that He Who gave them greatness and glory could also degrade and debase them. (close)
وَ اِلٰی ثَمُوۡدَ اَخَاہُمۡ صٰلِحًا ۘ قَالَ یٰقَوۡمِ اعۡبُدُوا اللّٰہَ مَا لَکُمۡ مِّنۡ اِلٰہٍ غَیۡرُہٗ ؕ ہُوَ اَنۡشَاَکُمۡ مِّنَ الۡاَرۡضِ وَ اسۡتَعۡمَرَکُمۡ فِیۡہَا فَاسۡتَغۡفِرُوۡہُ ثُمَّ تُوۡبُوۡۤا اِلَیۡہِ ؕ اِنَّ رَبِّیۡ قَرِیۡبٌ مُّجِیۡبٌ ﴿۶۲﴾
۞وَإِلَىٰ ثَمُودَ أَخَاهُمۡ صَٰلِحٗاۚ قَالَ يَٰقَوۡمِ ٱعۡبُدُواْ ٱللَّهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنۡ إِلَٰهٍ غَيۡرُهُۥۖ هُوَ أَنشَأَكُم مِّنَ ٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَٱسۡتَعۡمَرَكُمۡ فِيهَا فَٱسۡتَغۡفِرُوهُ ثُمَّ تُوبُوٓاْ إِلَيۡهِۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي قَرِيبٞ مُّجِيبٞ
b. 7:74. (close)
1326. Thamud, being an Arabic word, shows that the tribe belonged to the Arab stock. It is futile to say that Salih may be the translation of a foreign name, for the Qur’an has adopted all foreign names without translating them such as Musa (Moses), Harun (Aaron), Yunus (Jonah) and Zakariyya (Zachariah). The Thamud were successors to the ‘Ad (7:75) which means that the ‘Ad were also an Arab race. Again, the ‘Ad, in their turn, were successors to the people of Noah. This shows that Noah was also an Arab. In fact, Noah was raised in Mesopotamia, which territory was in early times under Arab rule. Greek historians placed the Thamud tribe in a period not long before the Christian era. Hijr or Agra, as they call it, is given as their home. They call them Thamudeni and mention a place near Hijr which, according to them, the Arabs called Fajjun-Naqah. Ptolemy (140 B.C.) says that near Hijr is a place known as Badanata. Abu Isma‘il, author of the 'Futuhush-Sham,' says, 'The tribe of Thamud filled the land between Bosra (in Syria) and Aden and ruled there. Perhaps they were migrating to the north.' Al-Hijr, (also known as Mada’inu Salih) seems to have been the capital of these people. It lies between Medina and Tabuk, and the valley in which it is situated is called Wadi Qura. It is worthy of note that accounts of the Prophets Hud and Salih have been given at various places in the Qur’an and everywhere the order observed is the same, viz. the account of Hud precedes that of Salih, which is the true chronological order. This shows that the Qur’an gives accurately and in their true historical order the facts of history long consigned to oblivion and wrapped in obscurity. According to some, Thamud is only another name of ‘Ad-e-Thaniyah or the second ‘Ad, while according to others they came after the second ‘Ad. The Thamud ruled over plains and hills (7:75) and their country abounded in springs and gardens wherein grew date palms of excellent quality. They also cultivated land and grew corn (26:148, 149).
This Quranic account is corroborated by the inscription said to have been read by some Muslims during the reign of Mu‘awiyah. Their decline seems to have begun soon after the time of Salih, for only a few centuries after his time their name fails to find mention among victorious nations. Arabia was invaded by an Assyrian king (722-705 B.C.) and the name Thamud is found mentioned among the conquered tribes in an inscription which he caused to be engraved in memory of his victory. Of the Greek historians, Didorus (80 B.C.), Pliny (79 B.C.) and Ptolemy make mention of the Thamud. When Justinian, the Roman Emperor, invaded Arabia, his army included 300 Thamudi soldiers, but before the advent of Islam this tribe had become altogether extinct. See also "The Larger Edition of the Commentary." (close)
a. 7:74. (close)
1442. Important Words:
مجیب (answers prayers) which literally means answerer of prayers, is derived from جاب. They say جابه i.e. he made a hole through it; or he tore it or cut it; or he hollowed it out. جاب also means, he traversed or crossed or cut through (the land) by journeying. اجابه means, he answered or replied to him. اجاب دعاءہ means, He (God) answered his prayer or accepted his prayer. مجیب means, one who answers or replies. المجیب is one of the names of God and means, the Answerer of prayers; He Who recompenses prayers by gift and acceptance (Lane). See also 2:187
Salih, the name of the Prophet sent to the tribe of Thamud, being an Arabic word, shows that the Thamud were an Arab people. It is futile to say that Salih may be the translation of a foreign name, for the Quran has adopted all foreign names without translating them. The names Musa (Moses), Harun (Aaron), Yunus (Jonah) and Zechariah (Zachariah) may be cited as examples. The Quran further states that the Thamud were successors to the ‘Ad (7:75) which means that the ‘Ad were also an Arab race. Again, the ‘Ad, in their turn, have been spoken of in the Quran as successors to the people of Noah. This shows that Noah was also raised in an Arab territory and belonged to the Arab race. In fact, even historically it has been proved that Noah was raised in Mesopotamia, the territory of which was in early times under Arab rule.
The above fact leads to an interesting inference that Arabic was the language used by man in the beginning of the world, for when Arabia is admitted to be the cradle of the human race, the language of that country will have to be admitted as the mother of all languages.
European scholars hold that in the beginning there was such a language as Samiri, from which sprang Arabic and which subsequently became changed and distorted into other tongues. It is also admitted that Samiri was spoken in the south of Arabia. But the truth is that the different languages spoken in Mesopotamia and Arabia are all offshoots of Arabic.
The clause, He raised you up from the earth, does not mean that the people of Salih were created from the earth. It only means: "You were a lowly and despised people, no better than the earth. Then God raised you to a high position, granted you prosperity and eminence, gave you power and dominion and entrusted to you the task of bettering and improving the condition of the world. In view of your immense responsibility, you should pray for the forgiveness of your errors, so that if there has been any remissness on your part in the discharge of your duties, God may pardon it. In that case, you will receive additional grace from Him".
The verse points to the fact that all things tend to revert to their original condition. Man has been created from the earth and so he tends to revert to it. He should, therefore, bear in mind that he is weak by nature and it is only through the grace of God that he can prosper. So he should repeatedly turn to God that he may be able to maintain progress. Otherwise, his connection with God will become severed and he will drift back to his original low condition. By saying that God is "nigh" the verse warns man that God is very near to him. If he rejects His Message, He can quickly punish him, for His forces do not take long to come. One must not think that though God is near to man, He does not interfere in his affairs. This is clearly wrong; for God does interfere in the affairs of men, answers the prayers of those who call on Him, and comes to their aid.
A note on the tribe of Thamud will not be out of place here. This tribe has been mentioned by Greek historians. They place it in a period not long before the Christian era. Hijr or Agra, as they call it, is given as the home of these people, whom they call Thamudeni. They mention a place near Hijr which, according to them, the Arabs called فج الناقة (Fajjun-Naqqah). Ptolemy (بطلیموس 140 B.C.) says that near Hijr is a place known as Badanata. Abu Isma‘il, author of the Futuhush-Sham, says: "The tribe of Thamud filled the land between Bosra (in Syria) and Aden and ruled there. Perhaps they were migrating to the north." The tribes of Himyar and Saba had gained ascendancy in Yemen. When the Thamud who ruled in the south of Ahqaf were ejected from their land, they began to move northwards, first to the Hijaz, then to Tehama and lastly to Hijr. The author of the Tamadduni ‘Arab, however, says, "This is but a mere conjecture." See also Enc. Isl. under Thamud.
In fact, the Arabs think that the Thamud were a branch of the ‘Ad, and, like them, lived in Yemen, and when Himyar rose to power, they drove them towards the Hijaz. This view, however, is not supported by historical evidence, for no trace of them has yet been discovered in the south. Al-Hijr has also been known as Mada’ini Salih or the cities of Salih from ancient times and archaeological discoveries show that it had become subject to the Nabataeans, who were natives of Petra, previous to the Christian era. There have been discovered here many inscriptions in the Nabataean language, and some also in the Yemnite language. Scholars versed in Oriental literature have named these inscriptions as Thamudiyya, i.e. inscriptions belonging to the Thamud. These discoveries lend support to the view of those geographers who hold that the Thamud had migrated from the south to the north; for if it had not been so, their language would not have borne a resemblance to the Yemnite language.
Al-Hijr, which seems to have been the capital of these people, lies between Medina and Tabuk, and the valley in which it is situated is called Wadi Qura. These people held sway here. Speaking of the Thamud, the Quran says: Who hewed out the rocks in the valley (89:10). The Quran represents them as the immediate successors of the ‘Ad (7:75). From 40:31,32, it appears that the Thamud lived before the time of Moses.
Another consideration leads us to the conclusion that they lived even before the time of Abraham. Toward the end of their days they ruled over northern Arabia and southern Palestine. It appears from the Quran that in the time of Moses, these territories were dominated by the Midianites, who were descended from Abraham, Midian being the son of Abraham from Keturah, his third wife (Gen. 25:1,2). The descendants of Keturah lived in these parts, when Joseph was taken from the well and carried to Egypt. This shows that the Thamud had altogether been destroyed or their power had greatly declined before the time of Abraham, otherwise the Midianites would not have been able to take possession of their territory.
It is worthy of note that accounts of the Prophets Hud and Salih have been given at various places in the Quran and everywhere the order observed is the same, viz. the account of Hud precedes that of Salih which is the true chronological order. This shows that the Quran gives accurately and in their true historical order the facts of history long consigned to oblivion and wrapped in obscurity. This refutes the objection frequently urged against the Quran that it fails to observe true historical order in the narration of the events of history. According to some, Thamud is only another name for ‘Adi Thaniyah or the second ‘Ad, while according to others they came after the second ‘Ad. For further discussion of this subject see "Tafsir-e-Kabir" by Hadrat Khalifatul Masih II, vol. 3, p. 219, where, when speaking of the chronological order of the Prophets, it is only Hud and Salih, who are prehistoric Prophets, that are really meant. There is a tradition to the effect that some Muslims read a poetic inscription about the Thamud during the reign of Mu‘awiyah. This tradition is discredited by European critics. The inscription, however, was rediscovered by Captain Haines and Mr. Wellstedt, in 1834. It was published in the Royal Asiatic Society Journal and was reproduced by Mr. Forester in his works. It is in the Himyari language, which was originally a south Arabian tongue. Modern orientalists call it the Himyari inscription. It was discovered at Hisnul-Ghurab, a place near Aden. The following is a translation of it:
"We dwelt, living long and luxuriously in the Zenanas of this spacious mansion: our condition exempt from misfortune and adversity. Rolled in through our channel
The sea, swelling against our castle with angry surge; our fountains flowed, with murmuring fall, above.
The lofty palms: whose keepers planted dry dates in our valley date-grounds; they sowed the arid rice.
We hunted the mountain-goats, and the young hares, with gins and snares; beguiling, we drew forth the fishes.
We walked, with slow, proud gait, in needle-worked many-coloured silk vestments, in whole silks, in grass-green chequered robes.
Over us presided kings far removed from baseness, and stern chastisers of reprobate and wicked men. They noted down for us according to the doctrine of Heber.
Good judgements written in a book to be kept; and we proclaimed our belief in miracles, in the resurrection, in the return into the nostrils of the breath of life.
Made an inroad upon robbers, and would do us violence: collectively we rode forth . . . we and our generous youth, . . . with stiff and sharp-pointed spears; rushing onward
Proud champions of our families, and our wives; fighting valiantly, upon coursers with long necks, dun-coloured, iron-gray, and bright bay.
With our swords still wounding and piercing our adversaries; until, charging home, we conquered and crushed this refuse of mankind".
"With hostile hate, the men of crime We assailed: onward rushed
Our horses, and trampled them under foot."
"Divided into parts, and inscribed from right to left, and marked with points, this song of triumph, Sarash and Dzerah.
Transpierced, and hunted down, and covered their faces with blackness. Aws the Beni Ac" (Historical Geography of Arabia, p. 382. See also Enc. of Islam under Hisn al-Ghurab).
It is clear from the above that the Thamud were a civilized people and they possessed not only a code of laws but also recorded their decisions to serve as an authority in future cases, as is done in modern civilized countries. It is difficult to say whether the people to whom the above inscription refers lived before the Prophet Salih or after him, for possibly a section of the people of Hud may have been left behind in southern Arabia. At any rate it is a proven fact of history that these people were part of Thamud tribe and it was among them or among their brethren who had migrated to the north that Salih was raised.
From 7:75 it appears that the Thamud ruled over plains and hills. Again, from 26:148, 149 we learn that their country abounded in springs and gardens wherein grew date-palms of excellent quality and that they also cultivated lands and grew corn. Thus the Quranic account of these people is fully corroborated by the inscription quoted above.
Their decline seems to have begun soon after the time of Salih, for only a few centuries after his time their name fails to find mention among conquering and victorious nations. Arabia was invaded by an Assyrian king (722-705 B.C.) and the name Thamud is found mentioned among the conquered tribes in an inscription which he caused to be engraved in memory of his victory. Of the Greek historians, Didorus (80 B.C.), Pliny (79 B.C.) and Ptolemy make mention of the Thamud. When Justinian, the Roman Emperor, invaded Arabia, his army included 300 Thamud soldiers, but before the advent of Islam this tribe had become altogether extinct. (close)
قَالُوۡا یٰصٰلِحُ قَدۡ کُنۡتَ فِیۡنَا مَرۡجُوًّا قَبۡلَ ہٰذَاۤ اَتَنۡہٰنَاۤ اَنۡ نَّعۡبُدَ مَا یَعۡبُدُ اٰبَآؤُنَا وَ اِنَّنَا لَفِیۡ شَکٍّ مِّمَّا تَدۡعُوۡنَاۤ اِلَیۡہِ مُرِیۡبٍ ﴿۶۳﴾
قَالُواْ يَٰصَٰلِحُ قَدۡ كُنتَ فِينَا مَرۡجُوّٗا قَبۡلَ هَٰذَآۖ أَتَنۡهَىٰنَآ أَن نَّعۡبُدَ مَا يَعۡبُدُ ءَابَآؤُنَا وَإِنَّنَا لَفِي شَكّٖ مِّمَّا تَدۡعُونَآ إِلَيۡهِ مُرِيبٖ
The people of Salih here complain that they had hoped that he, promising and talented as he was, would bring them prosperity and glory; but, quite contrary to their expectations, he was going to ruin them by forbidding them to worship what their fathers worshipped. This threw them into disquieting doubt about the truth of his mission.
The above-mentioned expression of opinion by the people of Salih about him was no flattery. He really was the centre of their hopes, as are all Messengers of God who impress their people with their extraordinary talents and great righteousness of conduct from their very childhood, and such was the Holy Prophet of Islam. Abu Bakr, ‘Ali, Zaid and Khadijah all believed in him before they had any knowledge of the details of his teachings or had seen any sign in support of his mission. They accepted him on the basis of the evidence that his life was spotlessly pure.
The words, And we are surely in disquieting doubt concerning that to which thou callest us, mean that, just as the taste of the mouth of a man who is suffering from some internal malady becomes vitiated, similarly, the hearts of these people having become corrupt, the very teaching which had come to remove doubts and misgivings appeared to them as creating doubts in their minds. (close)
قَالَ یٰقَوۡمِ اَرَءَیۡتُمۡ اِنۡ کُنۡتُ عَلٰی بَیِّنَۃٍ مِّنۡ رَّبِّیۡ وَ اٰتٰٮنِیۡ مِنۡہُ رَحۡمَۃً فَمَنۡ یَّنۡصُرُنِیۡ مِنَ اللّٰہِ اِنۡ عَصَیۡتُہٗ ۟ فَمَا تَزِیۡدُوۡنَنِیۡ غَیۡرَ تَخۡسِیۡرٍ ﴿۶۴﴾
قَالَ يَٰقَوۡمِ أَرَءَيۡتُمۡ إِن كُنتُ عَلَىٰ بَيِّنَةٖ مِّن رَّبِّي وَءَاتَىٰنِي مِنۡهُ رَحۡمَةٗ فَمَن يَنصُرُنِي مِنَ ٱللَّهِ إِنۡ عَصَيۡتُهُۥۖ فَمَا تَزِيدُونَنِي غَيۡرَ تَخۡسِيرٖ
a. 11:29, 89. (close)
Salih here answers the objection of his people mentioned in the preceding verse to the effect that, but for the doubts created in their hearts by his teachings, they would have taken him as their chief. His reply is that if he is a true Messenger of God, it would do him no good to forsake Divine teachings and ally himself with them; it would bring on him only ruin and destruction. (close)
وَ یٰقَوۡمِ ہٰذِہٖ نَاقَۃُ اللّٰہِ لَکُمۡ اٰیَۃً فَذَرُوۡہَا تَاۡکُلۡ فِیۡۤ اَرۡضِ اللّٰہِ وَ لَا تَمَسُّوۡہَا بِسُوۡٓءٍ فَیَاۡخُذَکُمۡ عَذَابٌ قَرِیۡبٌ ﴿۶۵﴾
وَيَٰقَوۡمِ هَٰذِهِۦ نَاقَةُ ٱللَّهِ لَكُمۡ ءَايَةٗۖ فَذَرُوهَا تَأۡكُلۡ فِيٓ أَرۡضِ ٱللَّهِۖ وَلَا تَمَسُّوهَا بِسُوٓءٖ فَيَأۡخُذَكُمۡ عَذَابٞ قَرِيبٞ
a. 7:74; 17:60; 26:156; 54:28; 91:14. (close)
b. 7:74; 17:60; 26:156; 54:28; 91:14. (close)
Many legends have been woven round this ناقة (she-camel) of Salih. There is nothing in the Quran to lend support to these fanciful stories. One of these legends, for instance, is that she was miraculously born out of a rock in answer to a prayer of Salih when his people demanded from him a miracle and that she became pregnant at the time of her coming out of the rock, giving birth to a young one immediately after. The Quran, however, nowhere states that there was anything miraculous about her birth. On the contrary, it is clear from 26:154 & 159 that the birth of the she-camel was nothing out of the ordinary and that it was not her birth but the freedom of her movements that was held out as a sign. If the birth of the she-camel had been in any way miraculous, Salih, on the demand of his people for a sign, would have certainly referred them to that extraordinary happening. But, instead, he simply answered that the promised sign would be shown to them, if they interfered with her freedom.
There can be three answers to the question, in what sense was the she-camel a sign:
1. It was a custom in Arabia, as in some other countries as well, that a chief or king would let loose an animal as an emblem of his power and authority and would proclaim that any molestation with its free movements would be severely punished. In accordance with this ancient custom, Salih proclaimed, saying: "This she-camel is for you a sign. If you molest it, you will be held as defying the authority of God and will consequently be visited with Divine punishment."
2. Interference with a beast may mean interference with its rider. To prevent an animal from proceeding on its way amounts to preventing its rider from proceeding on his errand. So when Salih said, let her alone that she may feed in Allah’s earth, he meant that he himself should not be hindered from going about in Allah’s earth for the discharge of his duty of preaching his mission. Salih wanted to go about in the land preaching the word of God, but his people would not allow him to do so. So he told them that the she-camel on which he would go on the mission of preaching the Message of God must be allowed free movement and any interference with her would be regarded as defying God’s purpose and would be met with heavenly punishment.
3. Salih had learned to his sorrow that mixing with his people generally led to disturbance. So in order to avoid contact with them he decided to withhold his animals from the common pasture-lands and selected for himself another grazing ground, which did not belong to these people. Similarly, he abandoned the usual time when his people watered their animals and fixed another time for his own she-camel to drink. After having taken all possible precautions to avoid occasions for disturbance at great personal inconvenience, he told his people that if, even in spite of these precautions, there was any disturbance it would certainly be held as a sacrilegious act on their part which would bring down upon them Divine punishment. This interpretation is supported by the fact that old historical records contain references to a valley named فج الناقة (the valley of the she-camel) which is also mentioned in a book of geography written in 150 B.C. Old Greek historians give its name as Badanata which seems to be a corruption of (Fajjun-Naqqa). The name of this valley indicates that Salih fixed a valley for his she-camel to graze in, separate from the one used by his people, so that she might not mix with their herds and thus disturbance might be avoided.
It might be asked, why should a Prophet of God have behaved like worldly kings and potentates and let loose animals to go and graze where they chose. The present verse embodies an indirect answer to this question, for it is nowhere mentioned in the verse that Salih’s she-camel was to graze in other people’s fields. The verse only says, let her alone that she may feed in Allah’s earth, which obviously refers to land which was not the private property of any individual. So it was no private land in which, Salih’s she-camel was to graze but God’s waste, watered with rain from heaven and indebted to no human labour for its cultivation.
It may further be asked why a whole nation was destroyed for killing a mere she-camel. This objection is also based on a clear misconception, for the cause of Divine punishment was not the killing of the she-camel as such but the fact that the killing of the beast constituted an open challenge to threatening his life and declaring that his people were out to defy God’s authority. So it was not the killing of the she-camel, but the threat to Salih’s own life and the obstruction to his moving about freely in the land with a view to preaching God’s word that brought punishment on his people. See also 7:78. (close)
فَعَقَرُوۡہَا فَقَالَ تَمَتَّعُوۡا فِیۡ دَارِکُمۡ ثَلٰثَۃَ اَیَّامٍ ؕ ذٰلِکَ وَعۡدٌ غَیۡرُ مَکۡذُوۡبٍ ﴿۶۶﴾
فَعَقَرُوهَا فَقَالَ تَمَتَّعُواْ فِي دَارِكُمۡ ثَلَٰثَةَ أَيَّامٖۖ ذَٰلِكَ وَعۡدٌ غَيۡرُ مَكۡذُوبٖ
b. 7:78; 26:158; 54:30; 91:15. (close)
1327. The respite of three days was probably meant as a last chance for repentance of which the unlucky people did not avail themselves. (close)
a. 7:78; 26:158; 54:30; 91:15. (close)
1446. Important Words:
فعقروھا (But they hamstrung her). See 7:78.
تـمتـعـوا (Enjoy yourselves) may also mean, benefit by the provision Allah has made for men in this world. See also 2:37 & 4:25.
مكذوب (a lie) is derived from كذب meaning, inter alia, he lied or he uttered a falsehood; he said what was untrue, whether intentionally or unintentionally; he found his hopes false or vain. مکذوب is synonymous with کذب (kazibun) and means a lie or a falsehood; an untruth, etc. مکذوب also means, one to whom a lie or falsehood or untruth is told. قول مکذوب (originally مکذوب فیه) means, a false saying; a lie (Lane).
All the precautions which Salih took proved futile. His persecutors assaulted and killed his she-camel and thus challenged and insulted the proclamation of God, consequently bringing on themselves the threatened punishment.
The respite of three days was probably meant as a last chance for repentance of which the unlucky people, however, did not avail themselves. (close)
فَلَمَّا جَآءَ اَمۡرُنَا نَجَّیۡنَا صٰلِحًا وَّ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا مَعَہٗ بِرَحۡمَۃٍ مِّنَّا وَ مِنۡ خِزۡیِ یَوۡمِئِذٍ ؕ اِنَّ رَبَّکَ ہُوَ الۡقَوِیُّ الۡعَزِیۡزُ ﴿۶۷﴾
فَلَمَّا جَآءَ أَمۡرُنَا نَجَّيۡنَا صَٰلِحٗا وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ مَعَهُۥ بِرَحۡمَةٖ مِّنَّا وَمِنۡ خِزۡيِ يَوۡمِئِذٍۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ ٱلۡقَوِيُّ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ
1447. Important Words:
القوی (Powerful) is derived from قوی meaning, he was or became strong; vigorous, robust or sturdy. قوی علیه means, he had strength or power sufficient for it; or he had strength or power to endure it; he prevailed against it. قوة which is the noun-infinitive from this root means, strength, power, potency, might or force. قوی therefore means, powerful, strong, mighty. القوی is one of the attributive names of God, meaning, Powerful, Mighty, etc. (Lane & Aqrab).
Every punishment is a disgrace in itself. The addition of the words, the ignominy of that day, therefore shows that there were some special elements of disgrace in the visitation that overtook the people of Salih. (close)