Hath not the story reached them of those before
them?- the People of Nuh, and 'Ad, and Thamud; the
People of Ibrahim, the men of Madyan, and the cities
overthrown. To them came their messengers with clear
signs. It is not Allah Who wrongs them, but they wrong
their own souls. (Surat at-Tawba: 70)
The divine message, conveyed
to the people by Allah through His messengers, has been
communicated to us since the creation of man. Some societies
have accepted the message while others have denied it. Occasionally,
a minority from a society which denied the message followed
But the majority of communities who have received the message
have not accepted it. They not only disregarded the message
proclaimed by the messenger, but also tried to do harm to
the messenger and his followers. The messengers were generally
accused slanderously of "falsehood, magic, insanity
and conceit" and leaders of many peoples even sought
All that the prophets wanted from their people was their
obedience to Allah. They did not ask for money or any other
worldly gain in return. Nor did they try compel their people.
What they did was only to invite their people to the religion
of truth and that they should start a different way of life
together with their followers apart from that community.
What has happened between Shu'ayb and the Madyan people
to whom he was sent, illustrates the aforementioned prophet-community
relationship. The reaction of Shu'ayb's tribe to Shu'ayb,
who called them to believe in Allah and give up the injustices
they had been doing, and the way they ended up are very
To the Madyan People (We sent) Shu'ayb, one of their
own brethren: he said: "O my people! worship Allah:
Ye have no other god but Him. And give not short measure
or weight: I see you in prosperity, but I fear for you
the penalty of a day that will compass (you) all round.
And O my people! give just measure and weight, nor
withhold from the people the things that are their due:
commit not evil in the land with intent to do mischief.
That which is left you by Allah is best for you, if ye
(but) believed! but I am not set over you to keep watch!"
They said: "O Shu'ayb! Does thy (religion of)
prayer command thee that we leave off the worship which
our fathers practiced, or that we leave off doing what
we like with our property? truly, thou art the one that
forbeareth with faults and is right-minded!"
He said: "O my people! see ye whether I have
a Clear (Sign) from my Lord, and He hath given me sustenance
(pure and) good as from Himself? I wish not, in opposition
to you, to do that which I forbid you to do. I only desire
(your) betterment to the best of my power; and my success
(in my task) can only come from Allah. In Him I trust,
and unto Him I look.
And O my people! let not my dissent (from you) cause
you to sin, lest ye suffer a fate similar to that of the
people of Nuh or of Hud or of Salih, nor are the people
of Lut far off from you! But ask forgiveness of your Lord,
and turn unto Him (in repentance): For my Lord is indeed
full of mercy and loving-kindness."
They said: "O Shu'ayb! much of what thou sayest
we do not understand! In fact among us we see that thou
hast no strength! Were it not for thy family, we should
certainly have stoned thee! for thou hast among us no
He said: "O my people! is then my family of more
consideration with you than Allah? For ye cast Him away
behind your Previouss (with contempt). But verily my Lord
encompasseth on all sides all that ye do! And O my people!
Do whatever ye can: I will do (my part): Soon will ye
know who it is on whom descends the penalty of ignominy;
and who is a liar! and watch ye! for I too am watching
When Our decree issued, We saved Shu'ayb and those
who believed with him, by (special) mercy from Ourselves:
But the (mighty) blast did seize the wrong-doers, and
they lay prostrate in their homes by the morning,- As
if they had never dwelt and flourished there! Ah! Behold!
How the Madyan were removed (from sight) as were removed
the Thamud! (Surah Hud: 84-95)
Devising to "stone Shu'ayb", who had done nothing
but summon them to goodness, the Madyan people were punished
by the wrath of Allah and they perished as described in
the verses above. The Madyan people are not the sole example.
On the contrary, as Shu'ayb noted while talking with his
people, many previous communities before the Madyan people
had perished. After Madyan, many other communities also
were destroyed by Allah's wrath.
In the following pages, we will describe the aforementioned
communities which perished and their remnants. In the Qur'an,
these communities are described in detail and people are
invited to ponder on and take warning from how these people
At this point, the Qur'an particularly draws attention
to the fact that the majority of the communities which perished
had established high civilisations. In the Qur'an, this
characteristic of the communities which perished is stressed
But how many generations before them did We destroy
(for their sins) - stronger in power than they? Then did
they wander through the land: was there any place of escape
(for them)? (Surah Qaf: 36)
In the verse, two characteristics of the peoples which
perished are particularly emphasised. The first is their
being "stronger in power". This conveys that the
communities which perished had established disciplined and
strong military-bureaucratic systems and snatched power
in the territory they lived through force. The second point
is that the aforementioned communities founded big cities
distinguished by their impressive architectural characteristics.
It is noteworthy that both of these characteristics belong
well to the current civilisation, which has established
an elaborate world-culture through today's technology and
science, and has founded centralised states, huge cities,
yet denies and ignores Allah, forgetting that all is made
possible by His power. But, as it is said in the verse,
the civilisations they established could not save the communities
which perished, since their civilisations were based on
the denial of Allah. The end of today's civilisation will
not be different as long as it is based on denial and mischief
A considerable number of the incidents of destruction,
some of which are related in the Qur'an, have been confirmed
by archaeological research made in modern times. These findings,
which definitely prove that these incidents cited in the
Qur'an have occurred, elucidate the need to be "forewarned"
which features so much in the Qur'anic anecdotes. Allah
tells us in the Qur'an that it is necessary to "travel
through the earth" and "see what was the end of
those before us".
Nor did We send before thee (as messengers) any but
men, whom we did inspire - (men) living in human habitations.
Do they not travel through the earth, and see what was
the end of those before them? But the home of the hereafter
is best, for those who do right. Will ye not then understand?
(Respite will be granted) until, when the messengers
give up hope (of their people) and (come to) think that
they were treated as liars, there reaches them Our help,
and those whom We will are delivered into safety. But
never will be warded off our punishment from those who
are in sin.
There is, in their stories, instruction for men endued
with understanding. It is not a tale invented, but a confirmation
of what went before it - a detailed exposition of all
things, and a guide and a mercy to any such as believe.
(Surah Yusuf: 109-111)
Indeed, there are examples in the stories of past communities
for people endowed with understanding. Having perished because
of their rebellion against Allah and their rejection of
His commands, those communities reveal to us how weak and
impotent mankind are with respect to Allah. In the following
pages, we will examine these examples in a chronological