The People of 'Ád and Thamúd; Húd;
Sálih and the She-Camel

These names mentioned in the Lawh-i-Burhán (Chapter 6 above) appear in various chapters of the Qur'án. Húd and Sálih were prophets of God who appeared before Abraham, but they are not mentioned in the Old or the New Testament. The people of 'Ád and Thamúd inhabited a large tract of country in Southern Arabia. Tradition has it that 'Ád was a fourth-generation descendant of Noah. His people, who are said to be of a tall race, were idolators and aggressive people. In the Qur'án it is stated that the People of both 'Ád and Thamúd were fine builders, gifted with intelligence and skills, but that they were guided by the Evil One, Satan.

God chose Húd to be a prophet to the people of 'Ád. He too is said to be a fourth-generation descendant of Noah, and therefore a cousin of 'Ád. Húd proclaimed to his people that God had chosen him as a prophet, and preached to them the one true God and the destruction of their idols. But they rejected him and only a few became his followers. When the people did not respond to his preaching, he warned them of an impending calamity. This took place, and all perished except Húd and his followers. The nature of this calamity is given in the Qur'án:

...and Ad were destroyed by a roaring and furious wind; which God caused to assail them for seven nights and eight days successively: thou mightest have seen people, during the same, lying prostrate, as though they had been the roots of

hollow palm-trees, and couldst thou have seen any of them remaining? 1
According to tradition Húd is buried in Hadhramaut, in the south of the Arabian peninsula.

The people of Thamúd were the successors to the culture and civilization of 'Ád. Tradition has it that they were a younger branch of the same tribe and lived in the same regions of the Arabian peninsula. Thamúd himself is also said to be a descendant of Noah. The people of Thamúd were skilful in carving stone. They are reputed to have made buildings out of solid rock. Like the people of 'Ád, they were idolators. According to the Qur'án, God had bestowed upon them skills: they had plenty of cornfields and date farms, but they were unholy, oppressive and unkind to the poor.

Then God sent Sálih to them as a prophet. He was one of the people of Thamúd. Like Húd, he exhorted people to believe in God and stop worshipping idols. He argued with them for a long time, but they said that they could not find in him the signs of prophethood. Thereupon God brought forth a she-camel as a sign. Tradition has it that the she-camel came out of a rock. Sálih asked the people to take care of the she-camel and to drink of her milk, but they did not. And when she came to drink of their water, which was scarce in that land and therefore vital to their existence, they raised great objections and eventually they hamstrung the she-camel and killed her.

Sálih repeatedly warned the people that if they did not respond to his message they would be struck by a calamity and would be seized by God with a grievous punishment. When the sign from God, the she-camel, had no effect on the people and the animal was killed, an earthquake wiped them out, all except Sálih and his followers, who were saved. The Qur'án describes this episode in this way:

Then they hamstrung the she-camel, and insolently defied the order of their Lord, saying: 'O Sálih I bring about thy threats, if thou art an apostle.'

1. Qur'án, 69:6.
So the earthquake took them unawares, and they lay prostrate in their homes in the morning.2
The versions we have given in these pages are based on the verses of the Qur'án.* However, there are further details derived from various traditions other than the Qur'án, but these seem to be unreal and pure fantasy.

The stories of Húd and Sálih are somewhat similar to the story of Noah, the flood and the Ark. They are all symbolic. In the Bahá'í Writings we find explained the significance of such terms as Noah's Ark, the flood, the she-camel and other incidents. For example, 'Abdu'l-Bahá in a Tablet3 explains that the she-camel was symbolic of the holy spirit of Sálih, and the milk was symbolic of the spiritual food which his spirit offered to the people. The significance of the she-camel being hamstrung is the suffering inflicted by the wicked people on that holy soul, Sálih. The spring of water which the people denied to the she-camel signifies life on this earth. The people were so attached to earthly things that they could not recognize the gifts of God to them, and so they rose up in opposition to Sálih, and when he departed from their midst they became deprived of his spiritual influence. His absence was the calamity which caused them to be deprived of the bounties of God and consequently they perished spiritually.

There is a chapter in the Qur'án known as the Súrah of Húd. It tells the story of all the Prophets including Húd and Sálih. It describes how they were all denied, opposed and persecuted by their own people. Bahá'u'lláh refers to this in the Kitáb-i-Íqán:

To them that are possessed of true understanding and insight the Súrah of Húd surely sufficeth. Ponder a while those holy words in your heart, and with utter detachment, strive to grasp their meaning. Examine the wondrous behaviour of the Prophets, and recall the defamations and denials uttered by the children of negation and falsehood, perchance you may cause the bird of the human heart to wing its flight away from the abodes of heedlessness and doubt unto the nest of faith and

* For more information see Qur'án 7, 11, 17, 26, 29, 51, 69.

2. Qur'án, 7:77-8.

3. Má'idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. 2, pp. 99-100.

certainty, and drink deep from the pure waters of ancient wisdom, and partake of the fruit of the tree of divine knowledge.4
He also dwells briefly upon the story of Húd and Sálih in these words:

And after Noah the light of the countenance of Húd shone forth above the horizon of creation. For well-nigh seven hundred years, according to the sayings of men, He exhorted the people to turn their faces and draw nearer unto the Ridván of the divine presence. What showers of afflictions rained upon Him, until at last His adjurations bore the fruit of increased rebelliousness, and His assiduous endeavours resulted in the wilful blindness of His people. 'And their unbelief shall only increase for the unbelievers their own perdition.'*

And after Him there appeared from the Ridván of the Eternal, the Invisible, the holy person of Sálih, Who again summoned the people to the river of everlasting life. For over a hundred years He admonished them to hold fast unto the commandments of God and eschew that which is forbidden. His admonitions, however, yielded no fruit, and His pleading proved of no avail. Several times He retired and lived in seclusion. All this, although that eternal Beauty was summoning the people to no other than the city of God. Even as it is revealed: 'And unto the tribe of Thamúd We sent their brother Sálih. 'O my people,' said He, 'Worship God, ye have none other God beside Him....'They made reply: 'O Sálih, our hopes were fixed on thee until now; forbiddest thou us to worship that which our fathers worshipped? Truly we misdoubt that whereunto thou callest us as suspicious.'† All this proved fruitless, until at last there went up a great cry, and all fell into utter perdition.5


* Qur'án 35:9.

Qur'án 11:61 and 11:62.

4. Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 5-6.

5. ibid. pp. 9-10.