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Prophet Salih In The Quran: IOK Ramadan Reflections Series #12

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Transcript: Surat Hūd, verses 61-62, are:

وَإِلَىٰ ثَمُودَ أَخَاهُمۡ صَـٰلِحاۚ قَالَ یَـٰقَوۡمِ ٱعۡبُدُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنۡ إِلَـٰهٍ غَیۡرُهُۥۖ هُوَ أَنشَأَكُم مِّنَ ٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَٱسۡتَعۡمَرَكُمۡ فِیهَا فَٱسۡتَغۡفِرُوهُ ثُمَّ تُوبُوۤا۟ إِلَیۡهِۚ إِنَّ رَبِّی قَرِیبمُّجِیبࣱ ۝٦١ قَالُوا۟ یَـٰصَـٰلِحُ قَدۡ كُنتَ فِینَا مَرۡجُوࣰّا قَبۡلَ هَـٰذَاۤۖ أَتَنۡهَىٰنَاۤ أَن نَّعۡبُدَ مَا یَعۡبُدُ ءَابَاۤؤُنَا وَإِنَّنَا لَفِی شَكࣲّ مِّمَّا تَدۡعُونَاۤ إِلَیۡهِ مُرِیبࣲ ۝٦٢

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“[We have for sure sent] to the people of Thamūd their brother Ṣāliḥ [as a messenger]. He, Ṣāliḥ said, ‘My people! Worship and devote yourselves to The One True God Allāh — there is nothing else worthy of your worship and devotion other than him. He created all of you and brought you out from [the dirt of] the earth. And He has settled you here to live, live long, and build. So seek His forgiveness, repent and turn back to Him! My Master is absolutely close and responsive.’ — They responded saying ‘Hey Ṣāliḥ! We’ve always had such high hopes in you up until now. But now you’re telling us to no longer worship what our forefathers worship? For real – we are in doubt; we’re suspicious and doubtful about what you’re preaching to us and calling us towards.’”

This is the third story mentioned in Sūrah Hūd. The story of the people of Prophet Hūd was the second story. Historians try to piece together who the people of ʿĀd and Thamūd were. — A quick summary is that they were both super ancient Arabs living in the Arabian Peninsula. The people of ʿĀd are the people of Prophet Hūd. They rejected their messenger and were destroyed. Thamūd, our story here, were the people of Prophet Ṣāliḥ. They came later – after ʿĀd, but still way before the forefathers of the Prophet Muḥammad -, and also resided in the Arabian Peninsula.

Like all prophets, there was a call, an invitation to believe in The One True God, Allāh. To devote our worship, lives, efforts to Him and Him alone. To never have anything other than Allāh as recipient of our worship. And again, like all prophets, they would give examples, and reasons to believe. They would mention how Allāh has blessed them, created them, and gave them minds to think with.

So Ṣāliḥ does exactly that:

هُوَ أَنشَأَكُم مِّنَ ٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَٱسۡتَعۡمَرَكُمۡ فِیهَا

He, The One True God, Allāh created you from the earth. Materials of the earth were used in the core of our creation – dirt. And it should be no mystery that so many atomic building blocks overlap between the material of the earth and our human creation. But not only that, Allāh placed you here on the earth. He placed you in this land. He gave you lives here, and gave you long lives. And He also inspired you to build here as well. These are all contained within the word “istaʿmara”. And we know from other parts of the Qurʾān, that the people of Thamūd were excellent builders. To use more modern terms that may not exactly map onto them, but to give us a taste, they were refined builders, architects, civil engineers, structural engineers, and related trades. Allāh describes their talents in Sūrah al-Aʿrāf verse 74:

وَٱذۡكُرُوۤا۟ إِذۡ جَعَلَكُمۡ خُلَفَاۤءَ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ عَادوَبَوَّأَكُمۡ فِی ٱلۡأَرۡضِ تَتَّخِذُونَ مِن سُهُولِهَا قُصُورا وَتَنۡحِتُونَ ٱلۡجِبَالَ بُیُوتاۖ فَٱذۡكُرُوۤا۟ ءَالَاۤءَ ٱللَّهِ وَلَا تَعۡثَوۡا۟ فِی ٱلۡأَرۡضِ مُفۡسِدِینَ ۝٧٤

“And remember when we made you [Thamūd] the generation succeed and be leaders after the people of ʿĀd? And we settled you, gave you residence on earth? And you used to take soft sand and used it to build castles, and you used to precisely carve and chisel homes out of mountains. So remember and mention all these wonders and blessings of Allāh! And don’t you dare harm and spread evil on earth.”

This is a reminder for us in many ways.

Allāh gives and takes from whomever He wills. He can give evil disbelievers people money, power, strength, and intellect. And He can do the same for pious believers. And He can choose to deprive, withhold, and limit the material resources available; again to both evil disbelievers and pious believers.

Now, if we are blessed, like this example here, we make use of those gifts. We use them for good. If Allāh has blessed us with money, power, creativity, a strong business, a brilliant mind, any special qualities ➝ use that to please Allāh. Use that to help creation. Do NOT use those gifts to spread evil, harm, and disbelief. We see today how many multi-billion and now trillion dollar companies exist with some of the most advanced technology.

  • The ability to create single atom transistors.
  • The ability to do life-saving surgery with robots from across the globe.
  • The ability to go to Mars.
  • The ability to calculate price changes of cargo transportation in seconds and save millions of dollars.
  • The ability to grow massive crops.
  • The list goes on.

But which one of these mega companies does NOT engage in spreading evil? Which one of these corrupt companies, that are at the bleeding edge of innovation and technology, don’t partake in monopolies? Don’t partake in stealing and strong-arming the “little guy”? Don’t partake in bribing politicians? Don’t partake in destroying the livelihood of those in poverty? Don’t partake in aiding the Chinese genocide of the Uighyers? Don’t partake in the Israeli genocide of the Palestinians? Which one of these companies – that serves as a banner for the digital revolution of the 21st century isn’t involved in hundreds and thousands of avenues of pure evil?

فَٱسۡتَغۡفِرُوهُ ثُمَّ تُوبُوۤا۟ إِلَیۡهِۚ إِنَّ رَبِّی قَرِیبمُّجِیب

With every step we take, with every blessing we utilize, use it for good. And seek forgiveness from Allāh. Turn back to Him in repentance. We won’t be able to do everything perfectly without a single drop of error – but we better try.

The last thing I want to address is the first part of the āyah that follows. When Prophet Ṣāliḥ told his people everything that we just discussed, their response was:

قَالُوا۟ یَـٰصَـٰلِحُ قَدۡ كُنتَ فِینَا مَرۡجُوࣰّا قَبۡلَ هَـٰذَاۤۖ

‘Hey Ṣāliḥ! We’ve always had such high hopes in you up until now.” Their remarks were sarcastic and mean. We thought you’d be such a great leader, a great builder, someone we thought would be great to advance our community forward! But now look at you. All you talk about is God, worshiping and praying, being grateful, not doing wrong. What happened to you? You were so smart! Now you’re just some religious weirdo.

Sound familiar? This rhetoric came from the mouths of staunch disbelievers, and is still the rhetoric of many Muslims when they see their children developing an attachment to Allāh and the Prophet Muḥammad . If a young man or woman wants to take 2-3 years off from their university education to memorize Qurʾān, learn Arabic, study Islam, and strive to become a better and stronger Muslim, so many parents will scoff at this. “Why are you wasting your life away? Why are you delaying yourself from getting a job or going to grad school?” As if the only goals the parents see are education and financial. This is EXACTLY the same mindset coming from the wicked people of Ṣāliḥ. And to make matters worse, we see parents and elders not just discouraging our younger generation from pursuing Islamic education, but they look down upon it. The one category of knowledge that Allāh and the Prophet Muḥammad have labeled as knowledge that makes your path to Jannah easier, is something that is “low”, “backwards”, or “for the ignorant”. And even if a child chooses to be more religious, without giving up any bit of their education, simply by trying to be more obedient to Allāh – through character, attachment to the Masjid, going to a few MSA events, their dress, their friends – even that, a resemblance of Prophetic Character – is seen as “religious extremism”. May God help us.

May Allāh allow us to truly benefit from the blessings and gifts He’s given us. And allow us to value and appreciate religious knowledge, and people of piety. Āmīn.

Tonight’s Ramadan Reflections Series talk was brought to you by the IOK Seminary Faculty. Catch up on previous videos or catch the next videos on the IOK Ramadan Reflections Series page.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

IOK Seminary Faculty train highly motivated and dedicated Muslim men and women in classical Islam and contemporary scholarship, giving them the tools to grow as individuals, effectively serve those around them, and preserve the Islamic tradition in the West.

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