وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَۤا إِلٰى ثَمُودَ أَخَاهُمْ صَالِحًا
And certainly, We sent to the (people of) Thamūd their brother Sālih. (An-Naml 27:45)
The following points may be worth considering why the Qur’ān continues with the Thamūd, the people of Prophet Sālih, right after the narrative about Prophet Solomon, who was the Prophet-king of the Children of Israel, peace be upon them both:
- The community of Solomon knew the Thamūd very well.
- The community of Thamūd must have been known as a powerful people, which had influences on the community of Solomon.
- There may have been a relationship between the people of Solomon and the Thamūd similar to that of the people of Urartu and the people of Iram, who appeared in history one after the other.
- These two peoples—the people of Solomon and the Thamūd—may have had similar characteristics.
It is a historical fact that when a Prophet came with God’s Message, the people among whom he appeared and whom he called to God were divided into two groups as believers and unbelievers, as “two factions which dispute with each other” (An-Naml 27:45). There may have been a close similarity between the Thamūd and a faction which appeared after the death of Prophet Solomon among his people: When Prophet Sālih, who was sent to the Thamūd, warned them, saying, “Why do you seek to hasten the coming (upon you) of evil instead of good?” (An-Naml 27:46), the Thamūd responded to him with the words: “We augur ill of you and those who are with you” (An-Naml 27:47), and continued their mischief. This same reaction had been shown to Prophet Moses and would be shown to Jesus as well. Some from among his people said to Jesus, upon him be peace: “We augur ill of you” (Yā-Sīn 36:18). This marks the similarity of character between the Thamūd and some from among the Children of Israel, who were Moses’ and Solomon’s people.
In addition, there were other similarities between these two peoples such as the tyranny of the power, the spread of injustice and oppression, demanding miracles from their Prophets, and even demanding to see God with physical eyes in the world.
In fact, five or six peoples who rebelled against their Prophets and represented unbelief also in the same strain were mentioned in succession in several places of the Qur’ān. This part of the Sūratu’n-Naml, in which certain aspects of the Thamūd are mentioned, is one of these places.
All praise is for God eternally (both in the beginning and in the end), and may blessings and peace be upon the best of His creation—Muhammad, and upon his Family and Companions altogether.