Islamic Stories From The Quran┇What Happened to The Previous Nations? All of God’s Prophets came with miracles (signs of God’s existence) to prove God sent them. Islam defines a miracle as an extraordinary act or event that go against the laws of nature and can only come about through the direct intervention and will of God. Miracles are not magic, which by definition are only tricks or illusions. Acts of Magic are evil acts performed with the help of devils. Prophets can only achieve miracles. They supported past Prophets as irrefutable evidence proving that their Prophethood was, in fact, a matter of truth. The Prophets were supported by miracles that their nations excelled in so the acts would be more convincing, understood, appreciated and identified by the people of that nation and not thought of just magic.
For instance, the people of Egypt excelled in magic and sorcery and felt they had reached the pinnacle of these evil acts as they often were in contact with Jinn (spirits) to play illusions on people. Thus, God provided Prophet Moses peace be upon him types of miracles that were related to illusions, such as the power to transform his staff into a snake right before his people. He was also able to strike the Nile with his rod to transform the river into blood and part the Red Sea. All meant to humble his people and remind that the power, control, and might of God is true and not just an illusion of the eyes.
Likewise, during the time of Prophet Jesus peace be upon him, the Romans pride themselves in their medicine, healing, cures, and best doctors on the land when medical science was at its height. Thus, God sent down Prophet Jesus peace be upon him with several miracles all coming from this nature which could not be justified by medical science. These miracles include the miraculous birth of Prophet Jesus of a virgin. Prophet Jesus could heal individuals with leprosy, cure the blind, and resurrect the dead all with the permission and will of God. The Almighty states:
“[The Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, remember My favor upon you and upon your mother when I supported you with the Pure Spirit, and you spoke to the people in the cradle and maturity; and [remember] when I taught you writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and when you designed from clay [what was] like the form of a bird with My permission, then you breathed into it, and it became a bird with My permission; and you healed the blind and the leper with My permission; and when you brought forth the dead with My permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from [killing] you when you came to them with clear proofs and those who disbelieved among them said, “This is not but obvious magic” (Quran 5:110)
Past Prophets had miracles one can only see if they lived in that time to witness it. After the Prophets died, their miracles turned in to stories the following generations can only narrate and not witness. For instance, someone that witnessed Prophet Moses peace be upon him transform his staff into a snake or someone that saw Prophet Jesus peace be upon him give life to a dead person with the permission of God can only share it with his children, and his children can narrate it to their children, and so forth. However, for the generations that were not alive or present to witness the miracles, they became only stories to them. All previous miracles were limited to its time and place. However, for our nation, God has provided our Prophet, Muhammad peace be upon him with a miracle, the Holy Quran, to be witnessed by everyone for all the upcoming generations. The miracle is as convincing, persuasive, compelling, and relevant now as it was when it was first revealed 1400+ years ago. The Quran is a miracle for the eyes to see and the ears to hear. Since the Quran is the final Book for humanity, it had to outlive Prophet Muhamad peace be upon him, so it was audible.
In the time of Prophet Muhammad, the Arabs, although predominantly unlettered, were masters of the spoken word. They were people that excelled in the art of eloquence and knowledge. Their poetry and spoken word were considered a model of literary excellence and they valued spoken word and speech. Thus, God revealed to his final nation, the best and the most eloquent of all speeches, the Holy Quran which left the people of Prophet Muhamad peace be upon him, astounded in terms of eloquence and other terms. The Book was revealed to a Prophet who was unlettered, unable to read, write or calculate to prove to the people his Prophet was not the author. Billions of people since the advent of this miracle have witnessed it, believed in it because of its miraculous nature in terms of its style, content and spiritual uplifting.
The Holy Quran mentions recounted stories of previous nations that were sent down Prophets and Messengers to convey God’s Message. But the people rejected, disobeyed, and denied the truth. God states:
“And nothing has prevented Us from sending signs except that the former peoples denied them…” (Quran 17:59)
Between Prophet Adam and Prophet Noah peace be upon them were ten centuries. Amongst the people of that period were righteous individuals that obeyed the laws taught by Prophet Adam and worshipped God accordingly. As time passed, people started to veer away from the remembrance of God. Certain righteous men amongst them would remind the people of their obligations to God. Later, the righteous men began to die, and Satan, the enemy of mankind, came whispering to the people who had looked up to these righteous individuals, putting thoughts into their minds in his sly, deceptive ways, inspiring the people to erect statues in their memory to remember to worship God. After these statutes were built across the land, Satan later came back to the people who had forgotten the reason these statues were constructed. Satan then suggested to the people to worship the statues directly. He told them that their forefathers had worshiped these statues. Out of these people’s ignorance, idol worship started. Soon after, Allah sent Messengers after Messengers to guide people to the right path. God states in his Book:
“Satan has overcome them and made them forget the remembrance of Allah. Those are the party of Satan. Unquestionably, the party of Satan – they will be the losers” (Quran 58:19)
God sent Prophet Noah peace be upon him to his people where he preached for 950 years, calling people to worship one God and follow his commandments, but only a few people believed in him. His people denied, mocked him and stated that he is nothing special but another human being amongst them. Prophet Noah peace be upon him agreed he was only human, but he was sent from God the Glorious with a clear warning. After the denial. God instructed Noah to build an ark.
“And construct the ship under Our observation and Our inspiration and do not address Me concerning those who have wronged; indeed, they are [to be] drowned” (Quran 11:37)
As he was building the Ark, his people accuse him of being a madman for building a ship made of planks and nails on land, nowhere near any body of water. Soon, water started to gush from the Earth and fall from the sky; God instructed Noah to enter the Ark with the ones that believed in the Message. He also commanded Prophet Noah to take a male and female of every animal aboard. Then God caused a great flood where water gushed from every crack on the Earth, and rain fell from the skies like never before. Prophet Noah peace be upon him saw his son overwhelmed by the water, so he cried out to him, pleading him to board the Ark and to leave the non-believers to their fate. However, his son was thinking in terms of this worldly life and did not rely on the Trust and Word of God. He replied to his dad he would go to a mountain where the waves could not reach. Noah pleaded with his son saying:
“…There is no protector today from the decree of God, except for whom He gives mercy…” (Quran 11:43)
His son refused. God then stated:
“…O Earth, swallow your water, and O sky, withhold [your rain].” And the water subsided, and the matter was accomplished, and the ship came to rest on the [mountain of] Judiyy. And it was said, “Away with the wrongdoing people” (Quran 11:44)
Soon, his son was drowned. He was drowned with the disbelievers and Noah’s wife, who also disbelieved. The flood had cleansed the Earth of idol worshippers and disbelievers. Not a single person who had disbelieved in God remained on the Earth. The ship remains intact upon Judi right until today. An archeological study found the 500-foot long boat-shaped formation atop Mount Judi. God left it as a sign for mankind.
Prophet Hud (Eber in English) peace be upon him was sent to an ancient tribe called Ad who is believed to have been positioned in an area of curved sand hills of Oman and Yemen. They worshiped idols as gods which they believed would provide them happiness and wealth and protect them from evil, harm, and all catastrophes. The people of Prophet Hud were very tall, strong, and well built. They were arrogant people who would boast and tyrannize people with their large size. According to the Quran, they would say:
“Who is greater than us in strength?” (Quran 41:15)
They were known to build lofty towers; thus, the area became known as the land of a thousand pillars since God blessed them with fertile soil and abundant agriculture, many children, an ample supply of livestock and easy access to water resources. They mistakenly understood the purpose of life was to accumulate wealth, prestige, and live in luxury. Prophet Hud would command them to fear God and be righteous. According to the Holy Koran, Prophet Hud peace be upon him would say to his people:
“…O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. You are not but inventors [of falsehood]” (Quran 11:50)
Their Prophet advised them to seek God’s forgiveness for their heedlessness and arrogance and advised them that if they seek forgiveness, God will increase them in power, strength and wealth. According to the Quran, Prophet Hud would state:
“And O my people, ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him. He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in showers and increase you in strength [added] to your strength. And do not turn away, [being] criminals” (Quran 11:52)
However, they proudly saw themselves as the most powerful nation in existence. They rejected their Prophet’s Message believing that after death their bodies would decay to dust and be swept away by the wind. With their hearts and minds filled with the accumulation of this world, they would say to their Prophet: ‘Why did God chose you when you do not differ from the rest of us, you eat and drink like the rest of us.’
Prophet Hud’s people proudly stated: ‘Have you come to turn us away from our gods? Then bring upon us the calamity with which you threaten us if you are telling the truth!’ Prophet Hud peace be upon him turned to God the Almighty and renounced his people. Soon after, the people of Hud suffered through a three-year famine and a drought which spread throughout the once green, fertile and abundant land. The people looked to the sky hoping to see signs of rain. One fateful day the weather changed. The burning heat changed to furious violent winds which God the Almighty imposed on them, for seven nights and eight days. The winds ripped apart their homes, possessions, clothing and even the skin on their bodies. The sands of their desert swallowed and buried their crops. Only Prophet Hud and his small band of believers were saved and are believed to have migrated to the Hadhramaut area of what is today known as Southern Yemen. God states:
“Have you not considered how your Lord dealt with ‘Aad – [With] Iram – who had lofty pillars, The likes of whom had never been created in the land?” (Quran 89:6-8)
God also speaks in the Quran of a nation where he sent one of his Messengers named Saleh peace be upon him. He was sent to a tribe called ‘Thamud.’ While many of the Prophets mentioned in the Quran are Prophets shared with Christianity and Judaism, thus their stories are mentioned in the Bible, Muslims additionally believe in all the past Messengers and Prophets of God. Prophet Saleh is not mentioned in the Bible today.
Similar to the people of Hud, the people of Prophet Saleh were also people that cultivated rich, prosperous, vibrant, fertile land, led excessive wealthy lives, built grand buildings, and had become vain because of their wealth. Regretfully, with their extravagant lifestyles came the worship of many gods, oppressing of the poor and living of a life which went against their Lord’s commandments.
Prophet Saleh was a pious, righteous man who held a position of leadership in their community, but his call to worship God alone angered many of his people. Prophet Saleh’s Message was like all the other Prophets; he warned his people to turn away from worshipping false gods and to follow the One God, Allah, who provided them all their substance. He advised them to thank their One True Creator and urged the rich to stop oppressing the poor and to end all mischief and evil in the land.
The people of Thamud gathered in the shadows of a high mountain where they demanded that Prophet Saleh peace be upon him to prove that the One God, he spoke of was truly Mighty and Strong. They asked him to perform a miracle; they challenged him to produce for them an incomparable she-camel out which must be ten months pregnant, tall and attractive which will emerge from the rock. Prophet Saleh asked them if a she-camel appeared would they then believe in his Message. They responded yes and prayed with Prophet Saleh for the miracle to emerge. By the power and will of God, a massive, pregnant she-camel emerged from the rocks at the bottom of the mountain. They saw a powerful, clear sign from their Lord. Several Prophet Salah’s people believed, yet most of them continued in their disbelief and stubbornness even though they witness a great miracle. The Quran states:
“And nothing has prevented Us from sending signs except that the former peoples denied them. And We gave Thamud the she-camel as a visible sign, but they wronged her. And We send not the signs except as a warning” (Quran 17:69)
The she-camel lived among people of Thamud. Later, the people began to complain that the camel drank too much water and frightened the other livestock. Prophet Saleh peace be upon him began to fear for the camel. He warned his people of great a suffering that would befall them if they harmed the she-camel.
“And O my people, this is the she-camel of Allah – [she is] to you a sign. So let her feed upon Allah’s Earth and do not touch her with harm, or you will be taken by an impending punishment” (Quran 11:64)
A group of his people got together and plotted to kill the she-camel. When they approached her, they shot their arrow and pierced her with a sword. They cheered and congratulated each other while mocking and laughing at their Prophet. Then they challenged Prophet Saleh to have God punish them for it. Their Prophet warned them that a great punishment would be upon them within three days while hoping his people would realize their mistake and repent for their massive error. Prophet Saleh and the believers then departed together to Palestine to be saved from God’s upcoming punishment. Soon, the sky was filled with lightning and thunder, and the Earth shook aggressively with a frightening earthquake or volcanic eruption. No one, including their idols, could save them.
The result of these nation’s was destruction. According to the Quran, when punishment came to these sinners, their only last utterance was:
“…Indeed, we were wrongdoers!” (Quran 7:5)
In the end, they cried out for mercy, but it was too late:
“(When they approached their doom) they cried out (for deliverance), but the time for deliverance was already past” (Quran 38:3)
This brings us to an important point, why is there past nations that rejected, hid, denied, and buried the Message of their Prophets and Messengers? There are several reasons for this. The Message that the Prophets came with went against everything these nations were brought up and raised to believe and went against the beliefs of their forefathers. These people had a strong attachment to the customs of their forefathers and were sensitive concerning the good name of their fathers. They took pride in following their footsteps whether right or wrong. They grew up worshipping idols then the Prophets came and told them they were wrong and only Allah Alone is worthy of worship without partners and sons. The polytheists (idol worshippers) felt the Prophets wanted to dethrone their gods and did not tolerate the Muslims’ rejection of their gods and reacted with severe harassment and abuse. God states in the Quran:
“And when it is said to them, ‘Follow what Allah has revealed,’ they say, ‘Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.’ Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided? The example of those who disbelieve is like that of one who shouts at what hears nothing but calls and cries cattle or sheep – deaf, dumb and blind, so they do not understand” (Quran 2:170-171)
God shares a conversation between Prophet Abraham peace be upon him and the idol worshippers at his time which included his father:
“When he said to his father and his people, ‘What do you worship?’ They said, ‘We worship idols and remain to them devoted.’ He said, ‘Do they hear you when you supplicate? Or do they benefit you, or do they harm?’ They said, ‘But we found our fathers doing thus’ (Quran 26:70-74)
The disbelievers of some nations rejected their Prophet because they were mere mortals who ate, drank, and walked the markets like everyone else. To be convinced of their Prophethood they arrogantly wanted God to send an Angel down from Heaven to accompany him. Other unbelievers accused their Prophet of incorporating into his alleged Revelation myths, legends, and fables that were well known to the people of that time. God states in His Book:
“Even when they come to you arguing with you, those who disbelieve say, “This is not but legends of the former peoples.” (Quran 6:25)
Certain nations believed in many gods, and some of their cities were dedicated to these gods. They allowed people from all around to come and worship their idols. If Islam told them they were wrong, and that Allah is the Only One that should be worshiped, and all other gods are false, their city would decline in visitors and revenue. It would be the end of their political and economic domination. Greed, selfishness, money, and power got the best of them.
The Prophets came to nations with immense difficulties and conditions. This call to true Islam took the slumbering men by surprise. These people’s customs and habits were sunk low. Adultery, liquor, gambling, violence, stealing, dishonesty, murder, and many illicit practices were widespread among them. These were all condemned by Islam, and embracing Islam meant leaving all of them and adopting a new mode of life, and many were unwilling to change their wicked old habits. In addition, there was the desire for worldly things which had become so predominant in them, they soon became slaves to their desires, that nothing could move them from this, not even the command of God the Almighty. Islam came down to free people from being slaves to their desires and constant needs for material goods that could never make one permanently happy.
A certain number of these nations contained proud and arrogant people that considered no one else his or her equal. Slaves were mainly looked down upon and were wrongfully treated. Soon after, Islam came down and sought to stop the pride and racism and to establish a universal brotherhood. Islam taught people whether one is the slave or the master, they are both in the same level, and the best amongst them were only the ones with the most piety, righteousness, fear and God consciousness. This angered many of the tribe’s chieftains.
God, the Almighty has mentioned the stories of perished nations and their wrongdoings in the Holy Quran to warn our nation from making the same mistakes they did. The repeating of the same mistakes they made can lead to the same outcome. Unfortunately, the current average Muslim hardly recites Quran with deep reflection, pondering over its profound Verses and Signs. By comparing the past nations to our nation, one would conclude that our nation is in danger. People today do the same sinful deeds that were done in the past. We see the same errors happening now, that happened in the past, such as disobeying God’s commandments and associating partners with Him, behaving arrogantly, wrongfully, and sinfully. All the nations of the past have been punished through natural disasters. God has given our nation warnings that if we repeat the same errors and sins the past nations did, we would be punished too.
“Then, has it not become clear to them how many generations We destroyed before them as they walk among their dwellings? Indeed, in that are signs for those of intelligence” (Quran 20:128)
God shares these stories in the Holy Koran to warn people about the punishment of nations that disobeyed their Creator, Allah states:
“Have they not traveled through the Earth and observed how was the end of those before them? They were greater than them in power, and they plowed the Earth and built it up more than they have built it up, and their messengers came to them with clear evidence. And Allah would not ever have wronged them, but they were wronging themselves” (Quran 30:9)
God also states:
“And never would your Lord have destroyed the cities until He had sent to their mother a messenger reciting to them Our Verses. And We would not destroy the cities except while their people were wrongdoers” (Quran 28:59)
It’s crucial to indicate God punishes nations when they disobey their messenger while their Prophet is present amongst them. This is because when the messenger invites people to worship the One God, often the rejecters and the deniers would mock the messengers, persecute them, attack them, and sometimes even kill them. They would also sarcastically ask the Messengers of Gods, ‘if you were God’s messenger, then ask God to send down a punishment to us right now.’ They asked for their punishments to be hastened, so it’s only fair they got punished.
In addition, God destroys people when they collectively insist on evil after several repeated warnings. Nations that refused to accept faced God’s Wrath and were destroyed, while those who believed in God’s Messengers attained the means to everlasting success and salvation. So, read the Holy Quran and take lessons from the stories of the past nations. Reminisce of the nations who reached the pinnacle of civilization, amassing great wealth and power and prestige, only to be ungrateful and forget themselves and their Lord. They became corrupt, arrogant, cruel and oppressive, as they lived ungrateful lives and turned to falsehoods and false gods. God sent to them His Prophets, supported by miracles and revelation, to remind them of His Favors and remind them to be compassionate amongst themselves and His creation at large. But they disbelieved in God the Almighty, despite His Clear Signs and warnings.
Some ruins of past civilians, cities, and nations can still be seen as a reminder today, proof, and a sign to mankind. God is the most Merciful and the Most-Forgiving. He loves to Forgive. However, God is also All-Just, and His warnings should not be ignored, rejected or denied because God’s punishment can be rapid and severe.
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