BETWEEN HISTORY AND THE QURAN : THE CASE OF THE FAMOUS CAMEL OF ALLAH (II)

In the first installment of the above captioned article we proved that there is a link between history and revealed texts of the Quran using the example of the she-camel of Allah. Let me conclude by treating the remaining aspects of the animal’s life from the same history and Quran perspectives.
Continuing with the discussion, a second evidence that authenticates the validity of the she-camel’s story in the historical accounts is the presence of the Thamud leadership on the occasion of the spiritual contest underscoring the seriousness of the encounter between the Prophet Salih, on whom be peace, and his opponents. Present were the following leaders of the Thamud: Jundu Bin Umr’u (The King), Zuaab Bin Umru Bin Lubaid and Al-Khabaab (the two Thamud leading Chief priests of their idols) and Rayab Bin Samar. The last three persons were said to have prevented the entire Thamud from accepting the Prophet hood of Salih when they saw that mighty sign of the she-camel. But Jundu Bin Umru, the king, and some few leading personalities are reported to have believed in Salih when they saw that mighty sign. Shihaab Bin Umru, a cousin of the King, was also on the verge of acceptance when the priests convinced him to the contrary, so he went back to his former faith of idol worship. A poem was composed by one who believed in Salih to mark the occasion. Arabs, like other nations, mark special and memorable occasions for posterity using poems that describe the occasion or event. (Qisas Al-Anbiyaa, P 59). According to this historical source the Prophet Salih uttered the following words when the she-camel emerged from the rock: “Here is a she-camel. She has her turn of drinking you (Thamud) have your turn of drinking on specific days” (Qisas Al-Anbyaa, P59). These words were revealed to him by Allah just a day before the contest. Dividing the limited water resources by alternating them between the she-camel and the Thamud was a measure adopted by the Wise and All-knowing Allah to ensure the she-camel’s access to their water resources and secondly to serve a trial (Fitna) for the Thamud. The trial being that whenever it came to the turn of the animal to drink she drank all the water from the wells leaving very little or practically no water for the Thamud (Qisas Al-Anbiyaa, P 59). Thus subjecting the Thamud and their livestock to scarcity of water and thirst. Thus was fulfilled an aspect of the trial (Fitna) promised them by Allah according to the verse: “We shall send the she-camel to them as a trial (Fitna) “(Quran 54:24-27). The wells from which the animal used to drink water have been preserved up to date. Concerning, the animals free, unchecked nor unguided movements that was divinely imposed on the Thamud by Allah to ensure the animals accessibility to food and also to serve the purpose of the second trial promised them by Allah in Quran 54:24-27. Says Allah in the Quran: “Leave her alone, so that she could feed in Allah’s earth (Ard Ullah). “(Quran 11:64). This is corroborated by the following historical evidence “The she-camel and its young one roamed the mountains grazing trees” (Qisas Al-Anbiyaa, P 60). There is a place in Hijr preserved up to date known as Faiju Naaqat, the high way of the she-camel, where the camel used to roam. The following remark was made by the Holy Prophet when the Muslims reached Hijr (Thamud capital) on their way to Tabuk “The she-camel used to disappear in that gorge and reappear from the gorge (Faj)” (Qisas Anbiyaa). The description leaves not the least iota of doubt that the animal moved freely without been guided. In short just as the animal successfully competed with the people of Hijr for water so did it successfully compete with the livestock of the Thamud for leaves and herbs. Thus putting the livestocks to hunger, which became the second trial. Yet another source of trial equally devastating to the Thamud comes from the unusual size of the animal that used to frighten the livestock. In winter the livestocks would run from the relatively warm inner parts of the valleys to the outside chilly parts. Similarly, in summer its presence would drive away the livestock from the relatively cooler outside to the extremely hot inner parts of their valleys. The livestocks were thus exposed to two extreme temperatures of heat and cold. This harmed the animals, thus serving as another trial. An indication of the enormous and frightening size of the she-camel comes from the Quranic words “And We send not signs but to cause fear “(Quran 17:59). Meaning that God sent the she-camel in order to cause fear to the Thamud and made them submit. A measure of its size comes from the following statement of Hadrat Abu Musah Ashaari: “I came to the land of the Thamud and measured the place from where the she-camel emerged. I obtained sixty cubit feet “(Qisas Anbiyaa, P 60). A she-camel measuring about sixty cubit feet is extremely far above the average size of a normal she-camel. That measurement of the site of the she-camel is proof positive that the Holy Prophet and the Companions were fully aware and believed that the animal emerged from a rock.
When these trials became unbearable two rich ladies owing large herds of camels, goats, sheep and cows decided to eliminate the she-camel, since their livestock were worst hit. They are Aniiza Bint Ghanim and Saduuq Bint Mahya. The former was aged and had four very beautiful daughters. She promised to marry any of them to Qudaar Bin Salif if he agreed to kill the animal to which he consented. Saduuq Bint Mahya, a most beautiful lady also promised to give herself and wealth to Masda Bin Mahraj if he would kill the she-camel, to which he also consented.
These two men then succeeding in getting seven more accomplices to join them; thus making a total of nine. They are referred to in the verse: “And there were in the city (Hijr) nine men who made mischief in the land, and would not reform “ (Quran 27:40). The eminent commentator Imam Ibn Kathir has mentioned their names in volume 3 of his commentary. These men were influential amongst the Thamud, so they travelled amongst them soliciting for their permission and support to kill the she-camel, which they readily gave as a result of the trials posed to them by the animal. The need to solicit for such permission rose from the fact that, even for those who continued to reject Salih after the appearance of the she-camel, they held the animal to be sacred because of the signs associated with it. Killing the animals without first consulting the Thamud could lead to great differences and possible war. Historic sources describe Qudaar as short, blue-eyed with red skin and red hair. Commenting on the verse: “When the most wicked man amongst them (Thamud) went forth to kill the she-camel” (Quran 91:12). The Holy Prophet said, ‘The man who killed the she-camel was protected in his circle, had influence and was wicked” (Bukhari).
Seven of the accomplices surrounded the well from which the animal used to drink. Having finished drinking and was retracing its steps to where it came from, the seven shouted to Qudaar and Masda who were hiding behind some trees awaiting it the animals arrival. Masda’ shot an arrow at it that locked into its hind legs bringing it down. Qudaar then rushed forward and slaughtered the animal. (Qisas Anbiyaa, P 61). In reference to this plot and killing of the animal says Allah in the Quan: “But they called their comrade who rushed forth and killed it” (Quran 54:29). Since no immediate punishment befell them after killing the animal contrary to Salihs’ past threats and promises they became bold and teased Salih: ‘Oh Salih bring upon us the punishment if indeed you are one of the messengers “(Quran 7:77). In response Allah revealed: “Enjoy yourselves in your rooms for three days. This is a promise that shall not be belied” (Quran 11:65). The killing was on a Wednesday, so the countdown began from Thursday (day 1) to Friday (day 2) to Saturday (day 3). Early Sunday morning, just as the sun was rising from the horizon there was a terrible thunder from the heavens coupled with a severe earthquake from beneath and all the Thamud laid dead and motionless. Stay tuned for the last installment. May Allah guide us.
Conclusion:
There is perfect corroboration between history and the Quran on the she-camel.

BY Abdul Naasir, Islamic University of Madina

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