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The Story of Saleh and His People: Surah Al-Araf

 Surah Al-Araf is a chapter of the Quran that recounts the stories of numerous prophets and their communities. One of these stories is that of Saleh and his people, who lived in Thamud. The tale of Saleh is essential, as it highlights the dangers of disbelief and arrogance and emphasizes the importance of obedience to God's commands. 

In this article, we will delve into the story of Saleh and his people as narrated by Surah Al-Araf, examining the core message of his prophethood, the response of his people, and the punishment that befell them. We will also draw lessons from the story and reflect on its relevance to contemporary times.

A deserted ruined city

Introduction to Saleh and His People

Saleh was a prophet sent by Allah to the people of Thamud, who lived in a valley in modern-day Saudi Arabia. The Thamudis were known for their advanced civilization and skill in carving houses from rocks. They were also known for their idol worship and arrogance, which led them to reject Saleh's message of monotheism.

The Background of Saleh and His People

The Thamudis were descendants of one of the sons of Prophet Noah, named Sam (or Thamud in Arabic). They lived in the valley of Al-Hajr, an area with abundant vegetation and water. 

The Thamudis became a prosperous, advanced civilization, but they also became idolaters. They worshiped idols made of stone and believed in supernatural powers associated with them.

The Context of the Revelation of Surah Al-Araf

Surah Al-Araf is the seventh chapter of the Quran, containing the story of Saleh and his people. The revelation of this chapter came after the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had migrated from Mecca to Medina. The 's purpose of the disclosure was to guide the early Muslim community and warn them of the consequences of disbelief.

The Message of Saleh to His People

The Core Message of Monotheism

Saleh's message was centered on the belief in one God, Allah. He taught that Allah is the only One worthy of worship and that all other gods are false. Saleh proclaimed that Allah had created the heavens and the earth and that He was the source of all power and sovereignty.

The Call to Abandon Idol Worship

Saleh called his people to abandon idol worship and turn to Allah as the only God. He warned them that their idols could not help them and that they would be held accountable for their actions. Saleh reminded his people that they would only find salvation by following Allah's commandments.

The Warning of Impending Punishment

Saleh warned his people that they would face severe punishment if they continued to reject his message. He reminded them of the story of the people of Noah, who were destroyed by Allah for their disobedience. Saleh urged his people to repent and seek Allah's mercy before it was too late.

The Rejecting Attitude of Saleh's People

The Refutation of Saleh's Message

Despite Saleh's message of monotheism and warning of punishment, the Thamudis refused to listen. They rejected his message, accusing him of being a liar and sorcerer. They challenged him to bring down the punishment he had warned them about, but Saleh replied that the timing of the sentence was in Allah's hands.

The Arrogant Attitude of Saleh's People

The Thamudis were known for their arrogance, and this attitude was reflected in their rejection of Saleh's message. They believed themselves superior to Saleh and refused to take his message seriously. They continued to worship their idols and mocked Saleh and his followers.

The Role of the Disbelievers in Saleh's Story

The disbelievers in Saleh's story played a central role in the narrative. Their rejection of monotheism and insistence on idol worship led to their destruction. Allah used their disobedience as an example for future generations, emphasizing the importance of obedience and faith.

The Punishment of Saleh's People

The Nature of the Punishment Inflicted on Saleh's People

The Thamudis' refusal to heed Saleh's warning led to their destruction. Allah punished them with a loud blast, which destroyed their homes and killed them instantly. The exact nature of the punishment is unclear, but it is believed to have been an earthquake or a severe storm.

The Consequences of Disobedience

The story of Saleh and his people illustrates the consequences of disobedience and disbelief. The Thamudis' refusal to listen to Saleh's message destroyed them, emphasizing the importance of obedience to Allah's commandments. The story also serves as a warning to all those who reject Allah's message.

The Fate of the Disbelievers in the Afterlife

The Quran emphasizes that the punishment inflicted on the disbelievers in this life is only a prelude to the eternal punishment that awaits them in the afterlife. The fate of the Thamudis serves as a warning to all those who reject Allah's message and disobey His commandments, emphasizing the importance of repentance and seeking Allah's mercy.

Lessons from the Story of Saleh and His People

The Importance of Obedience to God's Commands

The story of Saleh and his people serves as a reminder of the importance of obedience to God's commands. The people of Thamud had been blessed by Allah with abundant resources, but they refused to use them as He had prescribed. 

Instead of showing gratitude and obedience, they indulged in arrogance and disobedience. The punishment that they received serves as a warning for those who refuse to obey God. It illustrates the importance of following His commands and living a life of virtue and compassion.

The Dangers of Disbelief and Arrogance

The story of Saleh and his people also highlights the dangers of disbelief and arrogance. The people of Thamud refused to believe in the message that Saleh brought them, even though Allah had chosen him as a prophet. They also exhibited arrogance and disdain towards Saleh, despite his earnest efforts to help them. This resulted in their doom. 

This serves as a warning to all those who reject the message of Islam or behave arrogantly toward others. Such behavior can have severe consequences, both in this life and in the hereafter.

The Relevance of Saleh's Story to Modern Times

Saleh's story is still relevant in modern times. It serves as a reminder of the importance of living a life of obedience and compassion. It also illustrates the dangers of disbelief, arrogance, and corruption. The story shows that a society that neglects its moral obligations will inevitably suffer from the consequences of its negligence. 

This has particular relevance in a world where many organizations grapple with the results of greed, corruption, and environmental destruction. The story of Saleh reminds us of the importance of ethical behavior and the need to work towards a more just and compassionate society.

Reflections on the Significance of Surah Al-Araf

The Connections between Surah Al-Araf and Other Chapters of the Quran

Surah Al-Araf contains many themes that are explored in other chapters of the Quran. For example, it covers the story of Adam and Iblis, also found in Surah Al-Baqarah. Similarly, it discusses the fate of previous nations, such as the people of Thamud, which is also explored in Surah Hud. 

The various themes and stories in Surah Al-Araf reinforce and expand upon the teachings of other chapters of the Quran.

The Relationship between Surah Al-Araf and the Story of Saleh

Surah Al-Araf contains several stories of previous nations, including the people of Thamud. The story of Saleh is presented as an example of a society that failed to follow the commands of Allah and suffered the consequences of their disobedience. 

The Surah highlights the importance of listening to prophets and following their teachings. It also teaches us to be wary of the arrogance and insubordination that led to the downfall of the people of Thamud.

The Relevance of Saleh's Story Today

The Lessons That Can Be Drawn from Saleh's Story

The story of Saleh has many lessons that apply to contemporary life. One such lesson is the importance of living a life of morality and compassion. The report shows that neglecting these moral obligations can have severe consequences. 

Another lesson is the need to listen to prophets and follow their teachings. This is especially relevant for Muslims, who believe Muhammad is the final Prophet and his teachings are to be followed. Finally, the story of Saleh teaches us to be cautious of arrogance and disobedience, which can lead to one's downfall.

The Implications of Saleh's Story for Contemporary Muslim Communities

The story of Saleh has several implications for contemporary Muslim communities. One such implication is the need for Muslims to prioritize their religious obligations and strive for ethical behavior. 

It also highlights the importance of following the guidance of scholars and Imams in matters of faith and morality. Additionally, the story of Saleh encourages Muslims to work towards building just and compassionate societies, which align with Islam's teachings. 

The tale of Saleh and his people is a powerful reminder of our obligation to follow the guidance of God and avoid the dangers of disbelief and arrogance. Through understanding the lessons of Saleh's story, we can strive to live our lives by His commands and avoid the pitfalls that befell his people. 

As we reflect on this story, let us strive to live in a way that honors God and seeks to embody the noble qualities exemplified by the prophets.


What is the story of Saleh and his people?

The story of Saleh and his people is a narrative in the Quran that tells of the Prophet Saleh's call to his people to abandon their idol worship and embrace monotheism. When his people refused to listen, they were destroyed by a terrible punishment from God.

Why is the story of Saleh important?

The story of Saleh is essential because it highlights the dangers of disbelief and arrogance and emphasizes the importance of obedience to God's commands. By studying Saleh's story, we can draw lessons that help us avoid the pitfalls that befell his people and strive to live lives that honor God.

What can we learn from Saleh's story?

From Saleh's story, we can learn about the importance of following God's commands, the dangers of disbelief and arrogance, and the consequences of disobedience. We can also draw inspiration from the prophets and their noble qualities, striving to embody them.

How is Saleh's story relevant to modern times?

Saleh's story is relevant to modern times because it highlights universal themes and lessons that still apply today. For example, the dangers of disbelief and arrogance are just as accurate now as in Saleh's time, and the importance of following God's commands is just as relevant. By studying Saleh's story, we can gain insights that can help us navigate the challenges of contemporary life.  

A deserted ruined city
Expert Insights
  1. Islamic scholar: The story of Saleh and his people, as narrated by Surah Al-Araf, is an essential story in Islamic history as it highlights the importance of belief in the Oneness of Allah and the consequences of disobedience to Him.
  2. Historian: The story of Saleh and his people takes place in the ancient Arabian Peninsula and provides insight into that time and region's social and cultural dynamics.
  3. Arabic linguist: The language used in Surah Al-Araf to describe the punishment that befell the people of Saleh, such as the earthquake and the screaming sound, is rich in imagery and creates a vivid picture in the reader's mind.
  4. Theologian: The story of Saleh and his people highlights the concept of prophethood in Islam, where Allah sends messengers to guide and warn people towards the right path.
  5. Cultural anthropologist: The story of Saleh and his people can be seen as a cautionary tale about the dangers of becoming attached to material possessions and ignoring spiritual values.
  6. Comparative religion scholar: The story of Saleh and his people share similarities with reports from other Abrahamic religions, such as the story of Noah and the flood in Christianity and Judaism.
  7. Interfaith dialogue expert: The story of Saleh and his people can be used to discuss the similarities and differences between Islam and other religions and the importance of respecting different beliefs and traditions.
References & External Links
  1. Al-Quran, Surah Al-Araf (Chapter 7), verses 73-79. Available online at
  2. Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Quran: Text, Translation, and Commentary. Available at
  3. M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, The Qur'an: English Translation and Parallel Arabic Text. Available at
  4. Dr. Mustafa Khattab, The Clear Quran: A Thematic English Translation. Available at
  5. Muhammad Asad, The Message of The Quran. Available at


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