Thamud
Overview
 
The Thamūd were a people of ancient Arabia
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 who were known from the 1st millennium BC to near the time of Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

. Although they are thought to have originated in southern Arabia, Arabic tradition has them moving north to settle on the slopes of Mount Athlab near Mada'in Saleh. According to the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

, the Thamud were punished and destroyed by an earthquake (rajfa).

Numerous Thamudic rock writings and pictures
Petroglyph
Petroglyphs are pictogram and logogram images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving, and abrading. Outside North America, scholars often use terms such as "carving", "engraving", or other descriptions of the technique to refer to such images...

 have been found on Mount Athlab and throughout central Arabia.
The oldest known reference to Thamud is a 715 BC inscription of the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n king Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 which mentions them as being among the people of eastern and central Arabia subjugated by the Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

.

They are referred to as "Tamudaei" in the writings of Aristo of Chios, Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

, and Pliny
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

.
The Qur'an mentions Thamud in Sura
Sura
A sura is a division of the Qur'an, often referred to as a chapter. The term chapter is sometimes avoided, as the suras are of unequal length; the shortest sura has only three ayat while the longest contains 286 ayat...

 Al-A'raf
Al-A'raf
Sura Al-A'raf is the seventh chapter of the Qur'an, with 206 verses. It is a Meccan sura. Its final verse, verse 206, requires a sajdah, or prostration.-Verses:...

 in the context of several prophets who warned their people of coming judgement.
Encyclopedia
The Thamūd were a people of ancient Arabia
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 who were known from the 1st millennium BC to near the time of Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

. Although they are thought to have originated in southern Arabia, Arabic tradition has them moving north to settle on the slopes of Mount Athlab near Mada'in Saleh. According to the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

, the Thamud were punished and destroyed by an earthquake (rajfa).

Numerous Thamudic rock writings and pictures
Petroglyph
Petroglyphs are pictogram and logogram images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving, and abrading. Outside North America, scholars often use terms such as "carving", "engraving", or other descriptions of the technique to refer to such images...

 have been found on Mount Athlab and throughout central Arabia.

History

The oldest known reference to Thamud is a 715 BC inscription of the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n king Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 which mentions them as being among the people of eastern and central Arabia subjugated by the Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

.

They are referred to as "Tamudaei" in the writings of Aristo of Chios, Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

, and Pliny
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

.

The Qur'an

The Qur'an mentions Thamud in Sura
Sura
A sura is a division of the Qur'an, often referred to as a chapter. The term chapter is sometimes avoided, as the suras are of unequal length; the shortest sura has only three ayat while the longest contains 286 ayat...

 Al-A'raf
Al-A'raf
Sura Al-A'raf is the seventh chapter of the Qur'an, with 206 verses. It is a Meccan sura. Its final verse, verse 206, requires a sajdah, or prostration.-Verses:...

 in the context of several prophets who warned their people of coming judgement. Verse 74 says of Thamud, "ye build for yourselves palaces and castles in (open) plains, and carve out homes in the mountains". This could refer to the rock-cut tombs of Mada'in Saleh (the Cities of Saleh
Saleh
Saleh or Salih was a prophet of ancient Arabia mentioned in the Qur'an, who prophesied to the tribe of the Thamud. He is mentioned nine times throughout the Qur'an and his people are frequently referenced as a wicked community who, because of their sins, were ultimately destroyed...

)

In the Qur'an, [[ʿĀd]] and Thamud are generally mentioned together as a matter of context. The verses advise Thamud to take warning from the destruction of ʿĀd.
This verse suggests some kind of relationship between ʿĀd and Thamud, and ʿĀd may even have been a part of Thamud's history and culture. Just as Nuh's (Noah
Noah
Noah was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the tenth and last of the antediluvian Patriarchs. The biblical story of Noah is contained in chapters 6–9 of the book of Genesis, where he saves his family and representatives of all animals from the flood by constructing an ark...

) people were seen as the ancestors of ʿĀd, it seems ʿĀd were seen in a similar relation to Thamud.

The ʿĀd were a people living in southern Arabia. Some remains of Thamud were found in the region where ʿĀd had lived, especially around the region where capital city of the Hadramites
Hadhrami people
The Hadhrami or Hadharem are people from the Hadhramaut and their descendants in diaspora communities around the world. They speak Hadhrami Arabic....

, the descendants of ʿĀd, stood.

A bit further on from the passage quoted above, the Qur'an says,
In Sura Al-Qamar it says " For We sent against them a single Mighty Blast, and they became like the dry stubble used by one who pens cattle."

Hadith

`Abd Allah ibn `Umar
`Abd Allah ibn `Umar
Abdullah ibn Umar was the son of the second Caliph Umar ibn Khattab. He was a prominent authority in hadith and law, and was known for his neutrality toward factions engaged in the first civil war within the Muslim community ....

 (ca. 614–693) narrated that while Muhammad was passing by Thamud's houses on his way to the Battle of Tabouk
Battle of Tabouk
The Battle of Tabouk was a military expedition, which, according to Muslim biographies, was initiated by the Prophet Muhammad in October, AD 630. Muhammad led a force of as many as 30,000 north to Tabouk in present-day northwestern Saudi Arabia, with the intention of engaging the Byzantine army...

, he stopped together with the people there. The people fetched water from the wells from which the people of Thamud used to drink. They prepared their dough (for baking) and filled their water skins from it (the water from the wells). Muhammad ordered them to empty the water skins and give the prepared dough to the camels. Then he went away with them until they stopped at the well from which the she-camel (of Salih) used to drink. He warned them against entering upon the people that had been punished, saying "Do not enter the house of those who were unjust to themselves, unless (you enter) weeping, lest you should suffer the same punishment as was inflicted upon them."

Historians

The famous historian Ali ibn al-Athir
Ali ibn al-Athir
Abu al-Hassan Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad, better known as Ali 'Izz al-Din Ibn al-Athir al-Jazari was a Kurdish Muslim historian from the Ibn Athir family...

 mentions the Thamud in his book The Complete History (Arabic: الكامل في التاريخ - al-Kamil fi at-tarikh) composed ca. 1231.

Ibn Khaldun

Historian and scholar, Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldūn or Ibn Khaldoun was an Arab Tunisian historiographer and historian who is often viewed as one of the forerunners of modern historiography, sociology and economics...

 also mentions the Thamud several times in his great universal history
Universal history
Universal history is basic to the Western tradition of historiography, especially the Abrahamic wellspring of that tradition. Simply stated, universal history is the presentation of the history of humankind as a whole, as a coherent unit.-Ancient authors:...

 al-Kitābu l-ʻibār ("Book of Evidence"), but only in passing, seldom giving much information.

Some examples from the Muqaddimah
Muqaddimah
The Muqaddimah , also known as the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun or the Prolegomena , is a book written by the Maghrebian Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun in 1377 which records an early view of universal history...

 ("Introduction"):

Script

A script graphically similar to the Semitic alphabet (called Thamudic) has been found in southern Arabia and up throughout the Hejaz
Hejaz
al-Hejaz, also Hijaz is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. Defined primarily by its western border on the Red Sea, it extends from Haql on the Gulf of Aqaba to Jizan. Its main city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina...

. The script was first identified in a region in north central Yemen that is known as Thamud
Thamud, Yemen
Thamud is a town in northeastern Yemen. It is located at around ....

, which is bound to the north by the Rub' al Khali, to the south by the Hadhramaut
Hadhramaut
Hadhramaut, Hadhramout, Hadramawt or Ḥaḍramūt is the formerly independent Qu'aiti state and sultanate encompassing a historical region of the south Arabian Peninsula along the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea, extending eastwards from Yemen to the borders of the Dhofar region of Oman...

 and to the west by Shabwah
Shabwah Governorate
Shabwah is a governorate of Yemen. Its main town is Ataq.-Districts:*Ain District*Al Talh District*Ar Rawdah District*Arma District*As Said District*Ataq District*Bayhan District*Dhar District*Habban District*Hatib District...

. The script was named after the place where it was first discovered, not for the people. Inscriptions in Thamudic come mostly from northern Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, but can be found throughout the Arabian peninsula.

External links

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