Saleh - Miracles and Punishments
Kaan Ya Makaan, Fee Qadeem Al-Zamaan…
There was a Place, in Times of Old…
Where lived a tribe named Thamud who were renowned for their prodigious strength and their skillful stonework. So talented were their stonemasons that they carved elaborate homes and palaces into the living rock of the mountains, and people came from all around to admire their artistry. Unfortunately, along with their skill, the people of Thamud also had a great deal of hubris.
Saleh , the Prophet and Messenger that God had sent to Thamud, was having an impossible time speaking to them. All of his attempts to convince them to abandon their false idols and arrogant ways in favor of worshipping God, the one who had given them their gifts and talents, failed miserably.
Most of the people reacted to Saleh's words by unmercifully mocking and ridiculing him. They told Saleh that they had always considered him the wisest and most promising member of their tribe but clearly, they added with a jeer, they had been mistaken.
Finally, a group consisting of the most and powerful and arrogant members of the tribe mockingly challenged Saleh to prove that he was a Prophet and Messenger of God by showing them a miracle. They told him that if his God could make a pregnant camel emerge from a massive boulder near the tribe's wells, then they would all become members of his faith. Saleh readily accepted their challenge, and their public oaths that they would join his faith once the miracle had been fulfilled.
Word of the challenge and oaths soon spread throughout the town and the people of Thamud gathered round the boulder expecting to have many a laugh at Saleh and his followers' expense. As Saleh approached and stood facing the boulder his challengers had chosen, a hush fell over the boisterous crowd. Without so much as a glance at the idle spectators, Saleh stood alone and prayed quietly for some time. When he finished his prayers, he looked expectantly at the boulder.
Quiet sounds of derision started swirling through the crowd as the minutes passed. Suddenly, a loud cracking sound boomed out from the giant boulder silencing the mirthful crowd. With a low eerie groan, the boulder split and crumbled as a heavily pregnant camel walked out of it. The crowd stared in mute wonder at the lovely creature standing serenely before them, they had never seen anything like it.
As the people of Thamud approached the camel and laid reverent hands on her sides, Saleh warned them that she was a miracle of God and that any who harmed her or her offspring would face terrible consequences. Although there was a little jostling, the people treated the camel gently. They all felt wary of the living creature that had stepped out of a solid boulder, and the God who had created that miracle.
Along with everyone else, the people who struck the deal with Saleh stood and gaped at the camel in stunned disbelief. Their leader, who had been unconsciously holding his breath, exhaled deeply, walked up to Saleh and fulfilled his oath by declaring his belief in God and joining Saleh and his followers. The others who had also given Saleh their oaths looked sheepishly at one another then followed their leader's example.
Not long after its miraculous appearance, the beautiful camel gave birth to an equally beautiful baby. The people of Thamud converged again and watched raptly as the diminutive camel trotted unsteadily about on his spindly legs, then settled down to nurse from his mother.
Since the arrival of the camel, there had been quite a bit of grumbling from many of the townsmen. They were displeased with the increase in the number of people joining Saleh and his followers because of the miraculous camel. After a little thought, they began to complain loudly all over town about the massive amounts of water the camel consumed every day.
Ever considerate, Saleh proposed that the townspeople could have the camel's rich milk on the day she drank the water from the town wells. On the next day, the camel would abstain from drinking any water and the townspeople would have all the well-water to themselves.
More grumbling followed this proposal but eventually everyone agreed to it. Many of the townspeople were more than satisfied with this arrangement since they all enjoyed the plentiful fresh milk that was both delicious and healthful. In contrast, the malcontents were very disappointed by the speedy settlement of the trouble they had started.
A woman who could not abide Saleh or the faith he spoke of so passionately, decided to take it upon herself to destroy the miracle God had given to the people of Thamud. She shamelessly and publicly offered the hand of any of her daughters to the man who would go out and slaughter the lovely camel.
It wasn't long before one of the most violent and dissipated of the townsmen took the woman at her word and, with the blessings of the townspeople, he set off to destroy a miracle by slaughtering the placidly grazing camel. Using his cronies to assist him, the man tracked the movements of the camel and decided on the best place to lie in wait for her.
When he was ready, he hid behind a large rock and struck out at her with his sword as she ambled by. A few vicious swings at her long delicate legs, brought the surprised camel crashing down to her knees. She struggled desperately to stand and cried frantic warnings to her frightened son as her attacker was handed a spear by one of his friends. Mercilessly, he slew her as she looked up at him in pained confusion, by plunging the spear into her heart.
The tiny baby camel leapt away from the men who had slain his mother and fled at a full gallop. Though they ran as fast as they could and tried again and again to surround him, none of the men managed to catch the small, swift camel.
In an attempt to evade his pursuers, the little camel clambered up onto a boulder at the foot of a mountain just as Saleh and his followers arrived to defend the two camels. Fixing his eyes accusingly on the men who had killed his mother, the handsome little camel extended his sinuous neck and let out three sorrowful cries.
The world seemed to stand still as the camel's cries echoed hauntingly across the mountains. Saleh called out frantically, "Save the baby and God may rescind the punishment for the camel's death!!"
Saleh's voice seemed to release everyone from the fearful paralysis that had kept them standing so still for so long. Everyone dashed towards the little camel standing on his boulder, some determined to save him, others determined to kill him. Neither group succeeded in their aim because the camel vanished before their eyes into the boulder he stood upon, just as miraculously as his mother had once emerged from one.
Saleh looked in turn at the beautiful camel lying dead in her own blood, the boulder into which the camel's unhappy son had disappeared, and the sullen men who had murdered the camel and attempted to murder her son. In a quiet voice he said, "In three days, God's punishment will fall."
Trying to appear confident and hide the fear that had crept into their hearts the men, who had so ruthlessly murdered the camel, jeered, "If you are truly a Messenger of God, then show us this punishment."
Despite their nonchalant words and their soulless actions, the men were afraid that they would have to answer for their sins. They decided to murder Saleh hoping that would save them from their fate so they secured the townspeople's promise not to retaliate against them for the murder of Saleh and then gathered to carry out their plans. They were convinced that the same plan that they used to murder the camel would serve to murder Saleh , too. As night fell, they hid along the streets and waited for Saleh and his family to pass by.
This time, their plans went terribly awry. One by one they were struck down by rocks. At first they thought one of their group had betrayed them and was attacking them. Then they realized that the rocks were falling from the sky above their heads. Though they tried to flee, none of them escaped and they were all soon lying dead in the streets.
On the first day after the camel's death, the people of the town stared fearfully at one another and wondered at the yellow hue of their faces. On the second day, the people of the town awoke to find their faces tinged with a mysterious redness. On the third day, their faces had grown dark. They woke up on their last day sure that their doom was upon them, everything Saleh had said was true, and that they had committed a terrible sin by supporting the slaughter of the miraculous camel and would soon be punished for it.
As the sun rose languidly over the horizon, a terrible howling sound came swooping down from the sky upon the people of Thamud just as the ground beneath them began to shake. They all huddled fearfully in their homes while the world around them turned against them.
When the sky and the earth finally ceased their raging, a terrible silence enveloped the picturesque town that had been carved into the mountains. Everyone, except those who had believed in and supported Saleh and had no hand in the murder of the miraculous camel, were sitting still and lifeless in their homes.
*Written by Aisha Bilal © 2012. Care to read or leave Comments?
- Names, Translations and Aliases:
- Saleh PBUH: صالح عليه السلام.
- Saleh PBUH: صالح عليه السلام.