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Question for Muslims about 29:38

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Printed Date: 23 November 2014 at 8:32am


Topic: Question for Muslims about 29:38
Posted By: TG12345
Subject: Question for Muslims about 29:38
Date Posted: 18 April 2014 at 11:23am
Salaam Alaikum. I don't know whether or not this will come across as "a trick question", but I hope that it leads to a debate.

Can anyone please explain to me what 29:38 means?

And [We destroyed] 'Aad and Thamud, and it has become clear to you from their [ruined] dwellings. And Satan had made pleasing to them their deeds and averted them from the path, and they were endowed with perception.

http://quran.com/29/38 - Surat Al-`Ankabut [29:38] - The Noble Qur'an - القرآن الكريم

Where are the dwellings of the 'Ad and Thamud, that people can see, so it is clear for them that these nations were destroyed as the Quran says?

Thanks.


The topic of the Thamud was discussed on several previous threads in the past, but I am curious about 29:38. Where can one find the dwellings of the Thamud and 'Ad, and how do they back up the Quran's account?



Replies:
Posted By: NABA
Date Posted: 19 April 2014 at 2:05am
These dwellings are present in Madina Saleh.Allah in Quran in ch 11 v 68 says that he destroyed people of thamud as if they never existed.th8 doesn't mean that their dwellings are destroyed fully.


Posted By: Abu Loren
Date Posted: 19 April 2014 at 3:08am


Abdullah b. 'Umar reported that the people encamped along with Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) in the valley of Hijr, the habitations of Thamud, and they quenched their thirst from the wells thereof and kneaded the flour with it. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) commanded that the water collected for drinking should be spilt and the flour should be given to the camels and commanded them that the water for drinking should be taken from that well where the she-camel (of Hadrat Salih) used to come.

Reference : Sahih Muslim 2981 a
In-book reference : Book 55, Hadith 49
USC-MSA web (English) reference : Book 42, Hadith 7105



Posted By: TG12345
Date Posted: 19 April 2014 at 5:26am
Originally posted by Abu Loren



Abdullah b. 'Umar reported that the people encamped along with Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) in the valley of Hijr, the habitations of Thamud, and they quenched their thirst from the wells thereof and kneaded the flour with it. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) commanded that the water collected for drinking should be spilt and the flour should be given to the camels and commanded them that the water for drinking should be taken from that well where the she-camel (of Hadrat Salih) used to come.

Reference : Sahih Muslim 2981 a
In-book reference : Book 55, Hadith 49
USC-MSA web (English) reference : Book 42, Hadith 7105



Thanks for posting this hadith. I found another one, also in Muslim, which states that Muhammad and his men left the valley in a hurry.

(5) Ibn Shihab reported, and he had been talking about the stony abodes of thamud, and he said: Salim b. 'Abdullah reported that 'Abdullah b. Umar said: We were passing along with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) through the habitations of Hijr, and Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Do not enter but weepingly the habitations of these persons who committed tyranny among themselves, lest the same calamity should fall upon you as it fell upon them. He then urged his mount to proceed quickly and pass through that valley hurriedly.  (Book http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=042&translator=2&start=0&number=7104 - #042 , Hadith http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=042&translator=2&start=0&number=7104#7104 - #7104 )

http://searchtruth.com/searchHadith.php?keyword=thamud&translator=2&search=1&book=&start=0&records_display=10&search_word=all

Is the Quran saying that the homes of the Thamud were completely destroyed, or are they still around?

Also, where are these wells?




Posted By: TG12345
Date Posted: 19 April 2014 at 5:27am
Originally posted by NABA

These dwellings are present in Madina Saleh.Allah in Quran in ch 11 v 68 says that he destroyed people of thamud as if they never existed.th8 doesn't mean that their dwellings are destroyed fully.

That would make sense to me. Where in Madain Saleh can you find the dwellings of the Thamud?


Posted By: NABA
Date Posted: 19 April 2014 at 8:29pm
U can refer to wikipedia as well as even if u rite thamud structures on google u will find it, I think from aug to oct last yr we hv been discussing abt Thamud n I hv shown u lot of proofs of thamud structures.


Posted By: TG12345
Date Posted: 19 April 2014 at 10:00pm
Originally posted by NABA

U can refer to wikipedia as well as even if u rite thamud structures on google u will find it, I think from aug to oct last yr we hv been discussing abt Thamud n I hv shown u lot of proofs of thamud structures.

Salaam Alaikum, NABA. We definitely did discuss this.

I used scholarly sources that show that the structures were built by the Nabataeans, who were in the area some 1,000 years after the events described in the Quran allegedly took place.

The wikipedia article shows the buildings built by the Nabateans, and claims the Thamud built them. They actually link to a source to back up this claim, and the source states they were built by the Nabataeans! The author of the wikipedia article did not read his sources.

From the wikipedia article:


File:Petra%20Jordan%20BW%2036.JPG

Thamud dwellings in Mada'in Saleh. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thamud#cite_note-1 - [1]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thamud

Click on the [1] and it will take you to the UNESCO report. It says clearly that the tombs in Madain Saleh were built by the Nabataeans, between the 2nd century AD and the first century BC.

I have listed some scholarly sources that show that the Nabataeans were the ones who built these structures, and I have no problem listing them again. The authors are historians and archaeologists, not anonymous wikipedia writers.

Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)

The Archaeological Site of Al-Hijr (Madâin Sâlih) is the first World Heritage property to be inscribed in Saudi Arabia. Formerly known as Hegra it is the largest conserved site of the civilization of the Nabataeans south of Petra in Jordan. It features well-preserved monumental tombs with decorated facades dating from the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD. The site also features some 50 inscriptions of the pre-Nabataean period and some cave drawings. Al-Hijr bears a unique testimony to Nabataean civilization. With its 111 monumental tombs, 94 of which are decorated, and water wells, the site is an outstanding example of the Nabataeans’ architectural accomplishment and hydraulic expertise.


http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1293 - http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1293


Most of the monuments and inscriptions of the archaeological site of Al-Hijr date from the 1st century BCE and the 1st century CE. But the inscriptions in Lihyanite script and some recently discovered archaeological vestiges are evidence for human settlement as early as the 3rd or 2nd century BCE.
One-third of the tombs, which are amongst the largest, are clearly dated to between 0-75 CE.

The Hedjaz region was integrated into the Roman province of Arabia in 106 CE. A monumental Roman epigraph of 175-177 CE was recently discovered at Al- Hijr. The region then formed part of Roman history, and then Byzantine history, until the 7th century. In 356, the city of Hegra is again mentioned, as being led by a mayor of local origin, but it seems to have been very modest in size at that time.

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1293 - Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih) - UNESCO World Heritage Centre


2) The Nabataean city of Hegra or Al-Hijr was formed
around a central residential zone and its oasis
. The
sandstone outcrops at various degrees of proximity
offered outstanding possibilities for rock-cut necropoles
or spaces, forming a remarkable site for the expression of
Nabataean monumental architecture.

http://whc.unesco.org/archive/advisory_body_evaluation/1293.pdf - http://whc.unesco.org/archive/adviso...ation/1293.pdf

According to the First International Conference for Urban Heritage in the Islamic countries, Al Hijr was settled by the Thamud and other people groups before the Nabateans, but the Nabateans were the only ones who built a city... they carved tombs out of rocks. There have been remains of prehistoric people discovered in some of the mountains as well as petroglyphs. The Lihyanites, Thamud and Minaites left inscriptions... however it was the Nabateans who carved buildings out of rock. They settled in the area around the 1st century BC and built a city.




Al-Hijr lies in northwest Saudi Arabia, between the cities of Medina and Tabuk, 22 kilometres north of the city of al-Ula. Remains of human occupation in the region go back to ancient times. The area has been a significant focus of human settlement over a long period, due to the abundance of factors supporting an early shift to a sedentary way of life. These include fertile land, the presence of sources of water and a strategic position with respect to the great centres of civilization in the ancient Near East. Prehistoric remains have been recorded at the top of some of the mountains which surround the site of Mada’in Salih. Moreover, many rock faces in the area are covered with petroglyphs, some of which are prehistoric.

According to several passages in the Qur’an, the site was already inhabited in the third millennium BC by the Thamudic tribes. Lihyanite, Minaic and Thamudic inscriptions which have been found on the site, are evidence for an occupation in the first millennium BC.

The Nabataeans probably settled in Mada’in Salih in the first century BC and were politically independent at least until the beginning of the second century AD.

They are the only inhabitants of the site who left behind them the remains of a real city. The part of the city in which the people were living was surrounded by various necropolises, which contained monumental rock-cut tombs as well as ordinary pit tombs, while a specific area was devoted to sanctuaries. Water was provided by a dense network of wells.

During the Islamic period, al-Hijr was an important stop on the Syrian pilgrimage road. A citadel and a large reservoir were built for the pilgrims’ convenience. Finally, at the beginning of the 20th century, a railway station was constructed at Mada’in Salih on the so-called Hejaz railway, which linked Turkey to the city of Madina, also crossing Syria.


http://www.islamicurbanheritage.org.sa/english/MadanSaleh.aspx - First International Conference For Urban Heritage In The Islamic Countries


Mada’in Saleh, not far from al-Ula (22 km), was known as al-Hijr, or Hegra, by the Nabataean people who carved its magnificent tombs into the golden Quweira sandstone outcrops. The delicate details on the entrance portals and the smooth surfaces of its 111 tomb façades reflect the great skills of the masons of their time. The splendor of the natural setting here must have reminded the Nabataeans of their capital, Petra, hewn into the rosey sandstone cliffs to the north in modern-day Jordan. It is no wonder that they chose this very spot to build their second city, Hegra. Based on the many dated tomb inscriptions, Hegra thrived between 1 BCE -74 CE.

http://saudi-archaeology.com/sites/madain-saleh/


The Thamud were a nomadic Arabian tribe, who traveled from place to place. They did not build any permanent settlements.

Earliest Historical and Archaeological Information
The first clear mention of the Nabataeans in historical reference dates back to 312 BC, when Diodorus described Petra and its people during Antigonus’s attack on the town (Diodorus XIX 94-97). In was almost three hundred years later that Mada'in Salih was first mentioned by Strabo, who described Gallus’s attack on Arabia in 24 BC (Strabo, Geography 16.4.24). That meant that the town was established in the last quarter of the first century BC.
However,scholars suggest that the town might have been founded before the Nabataean settlement, in the early part of the first millennium B.C., by the Dedanites (Healey, 1993, 25). Dedan is known as Al-Ula. It was an important station on the main caravan routs from South Arabia to North Arabia and flourished during the sixth century BC. Winnett believes that the Minaean inscriptions in Madain Salih (JS1-5, 33, 34) and the 29 Lihyanite inscriptions are strong evidence that the site had witnessed a Minaean occupation prior to the Nabateans (Winnnet and Reed 1970, 130 Chapter 7). Musil believes that the Nabataeans were initially under Lihyanite rule (1926, 107). Al-Ansari believes that the Minaean inscriptions which are located at various places in al-Ula and Madain Salih indicate trade relations between the two towns and not Minaean rule. Minaeasns were temporary residents in Al-Ula, just as they were in other places, like Greece (Al-Ansari, et al. 1984, 11). Pliny mentioned that Hegra was the Lihyanite capital, while Musil believed that Madain Salih was the capital of the Lihyanies before the Nabataeans (Musil, 1926, 107). There were Nabataean inscriptions located on the road between Tay’ma and Madain Salih, which translate as saying that Masudu called himself the King of the Lihyanites. Those inscriptions are dated to the second century B.C. (Winnet and Reed, 1970, 120). As the inscriptions are engraved in Nabataean, it may be suggested that perhaps Masudu was a Nabataean. There seems to be no apparent reason for a Lihyanite to write in Nabataean script. Also Masudu is not listed among the known Nabataean kings, so perhaps he was a revolutionary who took over power from the Lihyanites for the time. Subsequently, Madain Salih took the place of Al-Ula as a trade centre.
Reference should be made to the numerous Thamudian inscriptions located in the area. Muslim historians wrote that Al-Hijr was the land of the Thamudians (Al-Istakhari, 24, Al-Hamawi, 2.220-221), Thamud being an old Arabian tribe. There are a large number of so-called Thamudian inscriptions located all over Arabia, which are usually short, and mention the name of the inscriber, or the tribe or the deities. Some contain the SLM (Salam),* a deity of Tayma attributed to the 6th century B.C. There is a general view among scholars that the Thamudians had no permanent land or settlement and that they never established a kingdom. It is likely that the “Thamud” was the name of a group of several of these tribes (Al-Talhi et al. 1988, 48). However, there is no archaeological evidence from the excavation which can be attributed to an early settlement prior to the Nabataeans.
The archaeological surveys conducted by Winnettt and Reed (1970), by Parr, Harding and Dayton (1971) and the current work do not provide any archaeological material from earlier settlements.

Page 179- 180 of report, p 194-195 of the document
http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/42225/1.hasCoversheetVersion/0000319.pdf - http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/42225/1.hasCoversheetVersion/0000319.pdf


If you type the word "Thamud" into the saudi-archaeology website, you will see various artifacts that they left behind. They carved different images into rocks. Majeed Khan discusses them in great detail.

http://saudi-archaeology.com/?s=thamud&submit=Search

What there is no mention of is any of them carving any buildings out of rock. The Nabataeans did that.


Posted By: NABA
Date Posted: 20 April 2014 at 9:16pm
I also showed u quote of archaelogist who says Quran is correct abt strktres of Thamud.


Posted By: TG12345
Date Posted: 20 April 2014 at 9:34pm
Originally posted by NABA

I also showed u quote of archaelogist who says Quran is correct abt strktres of Thamud.

Really? I must have missed it, I can't recall seeing that.

Would you be so kind as to please show me again? My apologies but I honestly don't remember seeing you do that. Thanks so much, NABA.


Posted By: NABA
Date Posted: 21 April 2014 at 8:05pm
U can still c the posts in interfaith dialouge.it might b in page 6 or 7.


Posted By: TG12345
Date Posted: 22 April 2014 at 4:58am
Originally posted by NABA

U can still c the posts in interfaith dialouge.it might b in page 6 or 7.

I'm looking through them. I don't see any any quote posted by archaeologists who claim that the Quran was correct about the structures of the Thamud.

Page 6 of our debate
http://www.islamicity.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=25890&PN=6

Page 7 of our debate
http://www.islamicity.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=25890&PN=7


Posted By: NABA
Date Posted: 22 April 2014 at 11:31pm
I had showed u the quote of Muslim archaeologist.


Posted By: TG12345
Date Posted: 23 April 2014 at 5:10am
Originally posted by NABA

I had showed u the quote of Muslim archaeologist.

Which Muslim archaeologist? What did he say?


Posted By: Lachi
Date Posted: 23 April 2014 at 1:23pm
Forgive me the interruption, but could we backtrack a bit? How certain is it that the Quran/Hadiths identify the Thamud with the archaeological site of al-Hijr?

Articles I've been reading take it for granted that the connection is sound, but don't give any explanation of it. Is this a later identification / interpretation, or is there evidence that it was so at the time of Mohammed?

Have alternative sites been identified for the Thamud at anytime?



Posted By: TG12345
Date Posted: 23 April 2014 at 3:55pm
Originally posted by Lachi

Forgive me the interruption, but could we backtrack a bit? How certain is it that the Quran/Hadiths identify the Thamud with the archaeological site of al-Hijr?

Articles I've been reading take it for granted that the connection is sound, but don't give any explanation of it. Is this a later identification / interpretation, or is there evidence that it was so at the time of Mohammed?

Have alternative sites been identified for the Thamud at anytime?


The Quran claims that the Thamud used to carve homes out of stones at Al-Hijr. "Al Hijr" means "rocky tract".

15:80
And verily, the dwellers of Al-Hijr (the rocky tract) denied the Messengers.

Many Muslims have identified the site "Madain Saleh" as the Al Hijr mentioned in the Quran. Others have identified it as Petra.

Muslim and non-Muslim archaeologists have also identified Madain Saleh as the place mentioned in the Quran.

The National Museum Guide- Saudi Arabia Through the Ages

Al-Hajer (Medain Saleh)
Al-Hajer or Medain Saleh is located 22 kilometers
northeast of Al-Ula. Its historical reputation based
on its position along the ancient trade route linking
the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant, and Egypt. The
settlement had two main roads, the first one led to Petra
via Tabuk, and the other led to Mesopotamia through
Tayma and Dawmat al Jandal. Majority of the ruins in
the city date back to Nabatean period. Next to Petra, it
is no doubt the most important Nabataean site in the
world. Accounts from the Quran, however, tell of an
earlier settlement of the area by the tribe of Thamud.

http://www.nationalmuseum.org.sa/images/Museimguide.pdf - http://www.nationalmuseum.org.sa/images/Museimguide.pdf

Dedan and al-Hijr

At about the start of the Christian era, the Nabataeans took control of the oasis. They settled at al-Hijr, which grew considerably. It was from this period that the famous rock necropolis dates, with its splendid façades cut in the sandstone like those at Petra.

In 106 AD, Rome annexed the Nabataean kingdom. Al-Hijr became a Roman town, as is
illustrated by a superb Latin inscription from the end of the reign of Marcus Aurelius
(161–180).

An inscription in Nabataean-type Aramaic, dating from the middle of the 4th century,
mentions princes of al-Hijr with biblical names. This fact is indicative that Judaism was probably the dominant religion.

Al-Hÿr was abandoned before Islam. The Quran refers to it as one of the victims of divine
anger (15:80–84). A French and Saudi archaeological team has been studying the site for about ten years.

Page 50
http://www.scta.gov.sa/Antiquities-Museums/ArcheologicalMasterpieces/Documents/Routes_d_Arabie_ar.pdf - http://www.scta.gov.sa/Antiquities-M..._Arabie_ar.pdf

I am unaware of any alternative sites.

Both at Petra and Madain Saleh you can see large majestic buildings are carved into rock. It is easy to see how people would have associated them with the Thamudic tribe described in the Quran.

The Quran clearly states in 29:38 that the dwellings of the Thamud and 'Ad can be seen by people, and that these dwellings "make it clear" what the Quran says.


Muslim and non-Muslim archaeologists identify the site of Madain Saleh as the "Al Hijr" described in the Quran. However, as history shows us, these buildings were constructed by the Nabataeans and not the Thamud. In fact, the Thamud were a nomadic tribe that didn't make any permanent settlements anywhere.

Earliest Historical and Archaeological Information
The first clear mention of the Nabataeans in historical reference dates back to 312 BC, when Diodorus described Petra and its people during Antigonus’s attack on the town (Diodorus XIX 94-97). In was almost three hundred years later that Mada'in Salih was first mentioned by Strabo, who described Gallus’s attack on Arabia in 24 BC (Strabo, Geography 16.4.24). That meant that the town was established in the last quarter of the first century BC.
However,scholars suggest that the town might have been founded before the Nabataean settlement, in the early part of the first millennium B.C., by the Dedanites (Healey, 1993, 25). Dedan is known as Al-Ula. It was an important station on the main caravan routs from South Arabia to North Arabia and flourished during the sixth century BC. Winnett believes that the Minaean inscriptions in Madain Salih (JS1-5, 33, 34) and the 29 Lihyanite inscriptions are strong evidence that the site had witnessed a Minaean occupation prior to the Nabateans (Winnnet and Reed 1970, 130 Chapter 7). Musil believes that the Nabataeans were initially under Lihyanite rule (1926, 107). Al-Ansari believes that the Minaean inscriptions which are located at various places in al-Ula and Madain Salih indicate trade relations between the two towns and not Minaean rule. Minaeasns were temporary residents in Al-Ula, just as they were in other places, like Greece (Al-Ansari, et al. 1984, 11). Pliny mentioned that Hegra was the Lihyanite capital, while Musil believed that Madain Salih was the capital of the Lihyanies before the Nabataeans (Musil, 1926, 107). There were Nabataean inscriptions located on the road between Tay’ma and Madain Salih, which translate as saying that Masudu called himself the King of the Lihyanites. Those inscriptions are dated to the second century B.C. (Winnet and Reed, 1970, 120). As the inscriptions are engraved in Nabataean, it may be suggested that perhaps Masudu was a Nabataean. There seems to be no apparent reason for a Lihyanite to write in Nabataean script. Also Masudu is not listed among the known Nabataean kings, so perhaps he was a revolutionary who took over power from the Lihyanites for the time. Subsequently, Madain Salih took the place of Al-Ula as a trade centre.
Reference should be made to the numerous Thamudian inscriptions located in the area. Muslim historians wrote that Al-Hijr was the land of the Thamudians (Al-Istakhari, 24, Al-Hamawi, 2.220-221), Thamud being an old Arabian tribe. There are a large number of so-called Thamudian inscriptions located all over Arabia, which are usually short, and mention the name of the inscriber, or the tribe or the deities. Some contain the SLM (Salam),* a deity of Tayma attributed to the 6th century B.C. There is a general view among scholars that the Thamudians had no permanent land or settlement and that they never established a kingdom. It is likely that the “Thamud” was the name of a group of several of these tribes (Al-Talhi et al. 1988, 48). However, there is no archaeological evidence from the excavation which can be attributed to an early settlement prior to the Nabataeans.
The archaeological surveys conducted by Winnettt and Reed (1970), by Parr, Harding and Dayton (1971) and the current work do not provide any archaeological material from earlier settlements.

Page 179- 180 of report, p 194-195 of the document
http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/42225/1.hasCoversheetVersion/0000319.pdf - http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/42225/1.hasCoversheetVersion/0000319.pdf


Posted By: Lachi
Date Posted: 24 April 2014 at 4:41pm
So the identification rests on whether the word 'alhijr' is to be taken as a specific locality (Al-Hijr where the Nabateans lived), or is just a generic word related to geography (rocky place).

Perhaps the identification was erroneously made by early Muslims, based on seeing the impressive rock tombs of the Nabateans, and then became so ingrained as to become 'obvious' when reading the Surah. Modern guide-books, archaeologists and scholars might just be repeating this tradition.

What evidence backs up the identification? Does the Hadith mentioned clearly identify the locality? And links it to the Thamud?


Posted By: TG12345
Date Posted: 24 April 2014 at 6:39pm
Originally posted by Lachi

So the identification rests on whether the word 'alhijr' is to be taken as a specific locality (Al-Hijr where the Nabateans lived), or is just a generic word related to geography (rocky place).

Perhaps the identification was erroneously made by early Muslims, based on seeing the impressive rock tombs of the Nabateans, and then became so ingrained as to become 'obvious' when reading the Surah. Modern guide-books, archaeologists and scholars might just be repeating this tradition.

What evidence backs up the identification? Does the Hadith mentioned clearly identify the locality? And links it to the Thamud?

Nowhere in the Quran is the direction or specific location given. That is as true of Al Hijr as it is of Jerusalem.

If Madain Saleh and Petra are not the places that the Quran is referring to, the question remains- where are these dwellings? They allegedly stand as witness to the destruction of the Thamud (and 'Ad). The Quran's author claims that their destruction "has become clear to you" from their dwellings.

Where are they?

29:38

And [We destroyed] 'Aad and Thamud, and it has become clear to you from their [ruined] dwellings. And Satan had made pleasing to them their deeds and averted them from the path, and they were endowed with perception.

Why do historians and archaeologists say that they never settled anywhere or built a permanent kingdom?

It isn't for lack of evidence left by these people. The Thamud enjoyed carving pictures out of rocks. Their art can be seen in some parts of Arabia, as well as also parts of Jordan and Egypt. Most of the pictures contain camels, people, and ibexes.

http://www.academia.edu/4362714/Rock_art_landscapes_beside_the_Jubbah_palaeolake_Saudi_Arabia

As this source also shows, the Thamud were a nomadic people, who traveled from place to place. They did not leave behind them any material remains.

The expedient nature of Thamudic rock art and its focus at the jebel bases suggest that it was made by transhumant people. The lack of material remains, the limited themes presented in the rock art, and the profusion of camel images, which are occasionally mounted, all suggest that the people who created this rock art were nomadic. This supports MacDonald’s (2010)hypothesis that many nomadic societies in ancient Arabia were literate and were profligate at marking graffitti on rocks in the desert.

There is an academic paper online that I would love to read, but unfortunately am unable to access without paying. Fortunately, an abstract is given.


THE STORY OF THE ARABIAN ROCK ART: A THAMUDIC 'INFORMANT'

There is in northern Arabia an extensive corpus of inscriptions that were left behind by ancient nomadic people. These inscriptions are found sharing the same space as rock art, overlaying older petroglyphs or in proximity to them. Often decipherable, the northern Arabian inscriptions are, at minimum, of a heuristic value for the interpretation of rock art. They provide a rare window into the minds of the rock artists, their motives, their thoughts and the purpose of their parietal activities. Most importantly, they show that drawing and writing were just as important a preoccupation for the ancient nomads as herding. These nomads used drawing and writing for the purpose of expressing their thoughts and emotions, for recording their commemorations, and for greeting. Writing and drawing were also associated with spirituality, yet they indicate no shamanic activity.

http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/35227725/story-arabian-rock-art-thamudic-informant


The Quran's author is making the claim that the Thamud, a tribe of people who were very obviously nomads built castles and carved homes out of mountains. It tells people that these structures can still be seen and serve as a reminder of their destruction.

History shows us the following:

1) The majestic buildings carved out of mountains that can be seen in Saudi Arabia and Jordan are not homes carved out more than three thousand years ago before the time of Moses, but rather tombs carved out only a century of so before the time of Jesus... and some of them afterwards. Not by the Thamud, but by the Nabataeans.

2) The Thamud were a nomadic tribe that traveled from place to place. They left "rock grafitti", in which they carved out camels, ibexes, and people. They did not form any permanent settlements, and left behind no traces of their existence other than their petroglyphs.


Clearly, the author of the Quran didn't know the history of the Thamud that well. Which wouldn't be the case if he was the one who created them.


Posted By: Lachi
Date Posted: 25 April 2014 at 4:07pm
Thank you TG12345. That makes the argument clearer; -

1. The Quran says the Thamud built dwellings that still existed in the 7th Century.

2. Archaeologists/scholars believe that the Thamud were nomads and had no permanent dwellings.

3. Scholars assume that the Thamud dwellings mentioned in the Quran must be referring to the Nabatean rock tombs

How unlikely is it that other structures could have been destroyed since the 7th Century, or that the caves containing the rock art were identified as Thamud dwellings?



Posted By: TG12345
Date Posted: 25 April 2014 at 5:05pm
Originally posted by Lachi

Thank you TG12345. That makes the argument clearer; -

1. The Quran says the Thamud built dwellings that still existed in the 7th Century.

2. Archaeologists/scholars believe that the Thamud were nomads and had no permanent dwellings.

3. Scholars assume that the Thamud dwellings mentioned in the Quran must be referring to the Nabatean rock tombs

How unlikely is it that other structures could have been destroyed since the 7th Century, or that the caves containing the rock art were identified as Thamud dwellings?

Greetings, Lachi. Thanks for this great discussion.

Is 29:38 addressed to only people in the 7th century? Or to all readers of the Quran?


Yusuf Ali, in his commentary of the Quran, writes the following:

38.  Remember also the 'Ad and the Thamud (people):

C3459. For the 'Ad people see http://www.quran4u.com/Tafsiraya/whatever - http://www.quran4u.com/Tafsiraya/whatever - ,

and for the Thamud, http://www.quran4u.com/Tafsiraya/whatever - http://www.quran4u.com/Tafsiraya/whatever - .

The remains of their buildings show:

-        that they were gifted with great intelligence and skill;

-        that they were proud of their material civilization; and

-        their destruction argues how the greatest material civilization and resources cannot save a People who disobey Allah's moral law.


I see nothing to suggest that these remains were destroyed. I am unaware of any tafsir or Quran commentary that states that they were around at the time of Muhammad, and now are gone.

Ask yourself this question- why would petroglyphs that the Thamud carved out of rocks all across the region they live be around... and they exist, in the thousands... survive, but all of the buildings which they carved out of mountains, and that have been allegedly around for at least 1,500 years- be suddenly destroyed to the extent that we have no trace of these structures whatsoever existing?

Also, why would the mountain-carved homes of the Thamud be completely annihilated, yet the mountain-carved tombs of the Nabataeans still remain in place?

It makes no sense, to say the least.

Outside of the Quran, there is absolutely no mention of the Thamud building castles or carving homes out of mountains. All archaeological evidence we have indicates that they were a nomadic people, who traveled from place to place.


I think the argument that these buildings existed but they could have since been destroyed since the 7th century, is a weak one.

We have no proof outside of the Quran that the Thamud carved homes out of rock or built castles.

We have plenty of archaeological evidence that they were a nomadic people, who traveled from place to place. They left their art in many places- another sign that they moved around quite a bit. But no buildings.

We also have buildings carved from rock at both Madain Saleh and Petra, that many Muslim scholars and archaeologists alike have identifed as the structures that the Quran makes reference to.

I believe the Quran's author made a historic error.

You asked

"How unlikely is it that other structures could have been destroyed since the 7th Century, or that the caves containing the rock art were identified as Thamud dwellings? "

I responded to the first part of your question by saying that it is highly improbable that such structures ever existed.

If you want to speculate that they were destroyed, feel free to do so, but the onus is on you to present what evidence you have that this destruction took place. Also, let me know where you believe this happened.

Regarding the second part, in blue, which caves are you referring to? The ones cited in the articles I provided? Not sure if I understand what you are asking, if you could please clarify that would be great.
Are you saying that the Thamud could have lived in the caves where the rock art has been found? Quite possibly, it could have been a place to stop by between travels, I suppose. Is there any evidence of buildings being carved out anywhere from these rocks?

Salaam.


Posted By: TG12345
Date Posted: 25 April 2014 at 7:37pm
In his tafsir of 29:38, Ibn Qathir wrote that Al Hijr is located near Wadi Al Qura.

Allah tells us about these nations who disbelieved in their Messengers, and how He destroyed them and sent various kinds of punishments and vengeance upon them. `Ad, the people of Hud, peace be upon him, used to live in the Ahqaf (curved sand-hills), near Hadramawt, in the Yemen. Thamud, the people of Salih, lived in Al-Hijr, near Wadi Al-Qura. The Arabs used to know their dwelling place very well, and they often used to pass by it. Qarun was the owner of great wealth and had the keys to immense treasures. Fir`awn, the king of Egypt at the time of Musa, and his minister Haman were two Coptics who disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him.

http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2167&Itemid=85

Wadi Al Qura is another name for Al Ula, Saudi Arabia. Al Ula is close to Madain Saleh.


Tourists who visit Al Ula often also visit Madain Saleh.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201311150307.html

http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Middle_East/Saudi_Arabia/Mintaqat_al_Madinah/Al_Ula-1807519/Things_To_Do-Al_Ula-TG-C-1.html

These sites are about 22 kilometres away from each other.

Mada’in Saleh, not far from al-Ula (22 km), was known as al-Hijr, or Hegra, by the Nabataean people who carved its magnificent tombs into the golden Quweira sandstone outcrops.

http://saudi-archaeology.com/sites/madain-saleh/

I believe that this is more evidence that the Quran mistakenly attributes the structures of the Nabataeans to the Thamud.


Posted By: Lachi
Date Posted: 26 April 2014 at 2:16pm
I do not know what the 'official' take on the passage in Surah 29:38 is, but I would read it as directed towards Mohammed's audience at that time - not to all mankind for ever. It is not a law or command, otherwise there would have been a regular pilgrimage to the site in order for every Muslim to see the ruins.

Yusuf Ali's comments on the Thamud are taken directly from the Quranic scriptures, not from an archaeological or historical investigation.

Ibn Qathir was writing over 700 years after the Quran was written. He is preserving a tradition, but can we say he is accurately describing the geographical opinions of people seven centuries earlier? Also note the sentence straight after his mention of Thamud;
"The Arabs used to know their dwelling place very well, and they often used to pass by it."
Notice the past tense? - implying that the dwellings no longer existed in Ibn Qathir's time.

I'm not suggesting that any buildings left were 'suddenly' destroyed. If they were in an advanced state of decay in the time of Mohammed, then why could they not have become completely destroyed in a few centuries after? It might not have taken any great event - just a couple of earthquakes and a storm or two. Not unusual events over a few generations.

Petroglyphs would survive because they are inside caves within their natural form - not artificially carved out dwellings which could have introduced structural weaknesses that were less likely to withstand the rigours of nature. This is of course assuming some peculiar type of carving was employed that did introduce a weakness. Something I'm only suggesting, not trying to prove. Maybe the 'dwellings carved out of stone' actually refers to natural caves that had been modified to live in?

There seems also to be the assumption by you that the Thamud dwellings that were seen in the 7th Century amounted to a veritable city of structures, whereas the reality might have been that only a handful of buildings existed as recognisably such. The disappearance of a few ruins in an advanced state of decay (as I imagine could have been the case) is less improbable than the disappearance of a vast number of structures that were still impressive and sturdy (the scenario you seem to imagine).

The Quranic author might indeed have made an historical error, but the interpretation of it as an error seems to be based on an assumption that the Quran is referring to the Nabataean tombs. Since there doesn't seem to be any evidence for where the 7th Century Muslims believed the Thamud dwellings to be, we cannot be certain that the modern identification on their behalf is accurate.

What we can say is that no other structures in the general area have been identified by modern scholars or archaeologists as being 'carved out of rocks', that mediaeval writers (or at least one) identified the area (albeit implying that the structures no longer exist) as near Madein Salah (although not actually as Madein Salah itself), and that the tourist trade promotes the link in order to boost revenue.

Circumstantial evidence is what we have. In the absence of any other evidence to the contrary, this is what we have to go on. But we must be aware that it is based on an assumption - a highly likely one, but an assumption none the less (unless there is something else written that we haven't seen here yet).

BTW, this is not a belief of mine I'm trying to prove. I'm only providing alternative thinking on the subject (and hopefully not breaking any academic standards, or sounding fanatical, in the process).


Posted By: TG12345
Date Posted: 26 April 2014 at 9:45pm

Originally posted by Lachi

I do not know what the 'official' take on the passage in Surah 29:38 is, but I would read it as directed towards Mohammed's audience at that time - not to all mankind for ever. It is not a law or command, otherwise there would have been a regular pilgrimage to the site in order for every Muslim to see the ruins.

Why would it be a pilgrimage spot? Remember that Muhammad and his men rode through the valley quickly, and he told them to only enter the habitations of the Thamud weepingly, lest the same fate befall them. It would to me seem more like a curses place than a place to visit.

Originally posted by Lachi


Yusuf Ali's comments on the Thamud are taken directly from the Quranic scriptures, not from an archaeological or historical investigation.

True. And he claims they are still around.

Originally posted by Lachi


Ibn Qathir was writing over 700 years after the Quran was written. He is preserving a tradition, but can we say he is accurately describing the geographical opinions of people seven centuries earlier?

 True, there is a large time gap. I am unaware of earlier historians who give the location. I am unaware of Muslim scholars who have challenged his statement, and I am aware of Muslim archaeologists and historians who agree with him.

Originally posted by Lachi


 Also note the sentence straight after his mention of Thamud;
"The Arabs used to know their dwelling place very well, and they often used to pass by it."
Notice the past tense? - implying that the dwellings no longer existed in Ibn Qathir's time. 


Yet in his tafsir of 26:149, he writes:

(And you hew out in the mountains, houses with great skill.) Ibn `Abbas and others said, "With great skill.'' According to another report from him: "They were greedy and extravagant.'' This was the view of Mujahid and another group. There is no contradiction between the two views, because they built the houses which they carved in the mountains as a form of extravagant play, with no need for them as dwelling places. They were highly skilled in the arts of masonry and stone-carving, as is well known to anyone who has seen their structures. So, Salih said to them:

http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2263&Itemid=82

He seems to be saying that it is obvious to anyone who has seen the structures, that the Thamud were very skilled builders. This seems to be a reference to the present, not only the past.

Ibn Qathir did state that the city that the Thamud lived in was still around in his time.

Here Allah tells us about His servant and Messenger Salih, whom He sent to his people Thamud. They were Arabs living in the city of Al-Hijr -- which is between Wadi Al-Qura and Greater Syria. Their location is well known. In our explanation of Surat Al-A`raf, we mentioned the Hadiths which tell how the Messenger of Allah passed by their dwelling place when he wanted to launch a raid on Syria. He went as far as Tabuk, then he went back to Al-Madinah to prepare himself for the campaign. Thamud came after `Ad and before Ibrahim, peace be upon him. Their Prophet Salih called them to Allah, to worship Him alone with no partner or associate, and to obey whatever commands were conveyed to them, but they refused, rejecting him and opposing him. He told them that he did not seek any reward from them for his call to them, but that he would seek the reward for that with Allah. Then he reminded them of the blessings of Allah.

http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2264&Itemid=82#1

Originally posted by Lachi


I'm not suggesting that any buildings left were 'suddenly' destroyed. If they were in an advanced state of decay in the time of Mohammed, then why could they not have become completely destroyed in a few centuries after? It might not have taken any great event - just a couple of earthquakes and a storm or two. Not unusual events over a few generations.

How do you know they were in an advanced state of decay?

Also, I find it improbable that all traces of them would be destroyed. Consider the city of Ur, built in the 6th century BCE. Sure, most of it is gone, yet there are still remains.
http://www.ancient.eu.com/ur/

Or the stone pillars at Al Jawf.

Al-Jawf

An article] in the March/April 1998 issue of Aramco World recommends a visit to a little-known place called Al-Jawf. How little known? As the article states, "Even among historians of the Arabian Peninsula, al-Jawf is not a name that comes tripping off the tongue."

Al-Jawf is an oasis located at the northern curve of Saudi Arabia's Great Nafud desert. The current community is relatively modern, but as it is set where the trade routes met that once linked Mesopotamia, Persia and Syria with Arabia and Yemen, habitation goes back for millennia.

As the article states:

During the Chalcolithic, or Copper Age, approximately 6000 years ago, the population of Al-Jawf laboriously erected 54 groups of squared-off stone pillars, some of which measured up to three meters (9'6") in height. Called al-rajajil ("the men") today, the pillars appear to the casual observer to be randomly placed, although a bird's-eye view shows that they are placed in roughly parallel east-west lines.

Their significance is no more certain than that of the more famous megaliths at Stonehenge, or the dolmens of Jordan. ....

Today, Al-Jawf is part of an agricultural area, and its ancient history is only now being rediscovered.

http://www.hziegler.com/articles/historical-ancient-sites-in-ksa.html

Structures that were built longer ago than when the Thamud are estimated to have lived, are still around. In ruins, yes, but it's not like all traces of them are gone. They would have been subjected to no less earthquakes and ravages of time than the dwellings of the Thamud.

Why is there absolutely no trace of the buildings that the Thamud allegedly built?


And why do scholars like Ibn Qathir and Yusuf Ali claim that they are around at Madain Saleh? Why do archaeologists, Muslim and non-Muslim, back the claim that the Quran is referring to Madain Saleh?

Originally posted by Lachi



Petroglyphs would survive because they are inside caves within their natural form - not artificially carved out dwellings which could have introduced structural weaknesses that were less likely to withstand the rigours of nature. This is of course assuming some peculiar type of carving was employed that did introduce a weakness. Something I'm only suggesting, not trying to prove.

Interesting, but a lot of the rocks with the petroglyphs on them are found in the open, like this one.
Thamudic%20rock%20art

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/1492571

Originally posted by Lachi


 Maybe the 'dwellings carved out of stone' actually refers to natural caves that had been modified to live in?

The Quran refers to "houses" "carved out with great skill".

26:149
And you carve out of the mountains, homes, with skill.

Corpus Quran translates the word "homes" as "houses"
http://corpus.quran.com/wordmorphology.jsp?location=%2826:149:4%29

The Thamud allegedly carved houses out of the mountains. A natural cave would have been "carved out" by God, not the Thamud.

Originally posted by Lachi


There seems also to be the assumption by you that the Thamud dwellings that were seen in the 7th Century amounted to a veritable city of structures, whereas the reality might have been that only a handful of buildings existed as recognisably such. The disappearance of a few ruins in an advanced state of decay (as I imagine could have been the case) is less improbable than the disappearance of a vast number of structures that were still impressive and sturdy (the scenario you seem to imagine).

According to Ibn Qathir, the Thamud dwellings are "the city" of Al Hijr (known today as Madain Saleh).

I don't know of earlier Muslim scholars who state the same thing. I am however aware of Muslim scholars and historians and archaeologists alike who agree with him. Some of them state that their buildings are in Petra... which were also built by the Nabataeans.

Originally posted by Lachi


The Quranic author might indeed have made an historical error, but the interpretation of it as an error seems to be based on an assumption that the Quran is referring to the Nabataean tombs. Since there doesn't seem to be any evidence for where the 7th Century Muslims believed the Thamud dwellings to be, we cannot be certain that the modern identification on their behalf is accurate.

That is why you will notice that I asked what 29:38 is referring to. In earlier threads I started I made the claim that the Quran is referring to Madain Saleh, but I decided to not do that, and just ask the Muslim posters first.

Even if the Quran is not stating that Petra and/or Madain Saleh is "Al Hijr", the question remains where these dwellings are, or were. The word "ruined" is inserted btw, in the original text it is not there.
http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=29&verse=38

I think all historical evidence points to the reality of a historical mistake in the Quran's description of the Thamud.

1. We know they were a nomadic people, who traveled from place to place.

2. We have absolutely no record of any buildings they carved from mountains or rock.

3. The petroglyphs created by the Thamud show pictures of camels, people, ibexes. They are indicative of a lifestyle of traveling around and herding.

4. While the Thamud did not skillfully carve buildings out of mountains, others did. The Nabataeans carved elaborate tombs from mountains, which can still be seen today.

5. While I am unaware of any 7th century source which connects Madain Saleh to "Al Hijr", we know that Ibn Qathir, who lived 700 years later but is a very respected tafsir writer, did make that connection. We know that  Muslim historians and archaeologists agree with him.

Originally posted by Lachi


What we can say is that no other structures in the general area have been identified by modern scholars or archaeologists as being 'carved out of rocks', that mediaeval writers (or at least one) identified the area (albeit implying that the structures no longer exist) as near Madein Salah (although not actually as Madein Salah itself), and that the tourist trade promotes the link in order to boost revenue.

All true, except stating that Ibn Qathir implied the structures no longer exist. In other parts of his exegesis, he described them in the present form.

Also, not only the tourist trade but archaeologists and historians also agree that Madain Saleh is the "Al Hijr" that is mentioned in the Quran.

Originally posted by Lachi


Circumstantial evidence is what we have. In the absence of any other
evidence to the contrary, this is what we have to go on. But we must be aware that it is based on an assumption - a highly likely one, but an assumption none the less (unless there is something else written that we haven't seen here yet).

I agree. I think that all evidence that we have does point rather convincingly to the fact that the Thamud were nomadic and did not carve out any homes from mountains. I look forward to any evidence proving my words to be wrong.

Originally posted by Lachi



BTW, this is not a belief of mine I'm trying to prove. I'm only providing alternative thinking on the subject (and hopefully not breaking any academic standards, or sounding fanatical, in the process).

I think you are doing a great job. It's great to have a respectful discussion with an intelligent person.

Looking forward to your response, though I'll be away from the forum for a few days. Will respond then, inshAllah.



Posted By: TG12345
Date Posted: 26 April 2014 at 10:20pm
I just discovered something interesting regarding the placement of the location of the Thamud.

The 9th century Arab historian Masudi, identified the ruins at Petra as the homes of the Thamud.

In a footnote from Islamic Historiography, the Histories of Mas'Udi, by Tarif Khalid, p.37

4. Eg. Muruj sec. 1363, where he* asserts that the people of Iraq can discover for themselves how the various seasons affect health; Muruj sec 929, where he points to the ruins of the Thamud (Petra) as proof that the bodies of their inhabitants were of normal size.

* Mas'udi. Read the text and you will see he is being referenced to.

http://books.google.ca/books?id=3Kl7TjXys6gC&pg=PA37&lpg=PA37&dq=location+of+thamud+masudi&source=bl&ots=ZeSgl7skH6&sig=_bbAHdSLrHgdx4POEeWG7H9Hvk4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xZBcU564KISjyAS2soDoDQ&ved=0CEcQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=location%20of%20thamud%20masudi&f=false

Unlike Ibn Qathir, Mas'Udi identified the ruins at Petra as those of the Thamud. Like him, he mistook Nabataean architecture for the homes allegedly carved out by the Thamud.

If you do some quick research, you will see that the tombs carved out at Petra and Madain Saleh are extremely similar.

So we have an example of an even earlier source attributing Nabataean structures to the homes allegedly carved out by the Thamud. Unlike Ibn Qathir who lived 700 years after the Quran was written, al-Mas'udi lived some 300 years afterwards.



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