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She-Camel of Salih (a)

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She-Camel of prophet Salih (a) or Nāqa of Ṣāliḥ (Arabic: نَاقَة صَالح), was the miracle of prophet Salih (a) which is stated in Qur'an as Naqat Allah (she-Camel of God). The camel miraculously came out of the middle of a mountain as disbelievers requested.

According to Islamic narrations, the camel of Salih (a) was sent to the people of Thamud and they were tested by God. As the water of the stream in their region was dedicated to the camel for one day and people could use it the day after, also they were prohibited from hurting the camel. However after a while the camel was killed by some people and other people appreciated the action. As a result, God punished the people of Thamud and eliminated all the disbelievers.

Divine Sign

Naqa of Salih (a) was a she-camel which was created by a divine miracle in order to prove prophethood of Salih (a) to people of Thamud. The camel is mentioned in Qur'an in several verses and it is generally called "Naqat Allah" (The She-Camel of God).[1] The term "God" which is added after Naqat, represents the significance of the camel.[2] The importance of the camel was because of the special way of creation of her; a divine miracle. And the people of Thamud were tested by the camel as well.

The camel is regarded as a divine sign in Quran: "Now a clear proof has come to you from your Rabb; here is Allah's she-camel as a sign for you, therefore, leave her alone to pasture on Allah's land and do not touch her with bad intentions, lest you incur a painful punishment". Sura al-A'raf, verse 73.[3]

Creation

The process of the creation of the she-camel is not described in the Qur'an, it has only stated that the creation of the she-camel was a sign.[4] However more details are mentioned about the miracle in Islamic narrations. After decades of promoting Monotheism among the people of Thamud and facing constant rejections from people, prophet Salih (a) said to them, "If you want, you can ask me anything and I will ask God to provide it for you; or if you want I ask something from your Gods and if they comply with my request I will leave you alone, as I have exhausted you and you have exhausted me".[5]

According to narrations, Thamud people accepted Salih's (a) suggestion, they prepared the situation but when Salih (a) asked each of their gods they were unable to respond. Then it was people's turn to ask Salih's (a) God. Seventy grand figures of Thamud people went near a mountain with Salih (a) and they said, "Right now a red-headed, hairy and ten months pregnant she-camel should come out of the mountain." Then Salih (a) said, "To meet your demand is tough for me, but it is easy for my God." And he asked God to bring the desired camel. Then suddenly the mountain was split open with a loud noise and a pregnant she-camel came out of the mountain. Then they asked that the camel should give her birth, and then the baby was born. Eventually only few of disbelievers converted to Monotheism and they told the truth to people.[6]

People of Thamud were Tested

The she-camel was a divine miracle and her presence among Thamud people was a strong reason for the believers. prophet Salih (a) and believers used the milk of the camel[7] and God ordered people to protect the camel as they were to be tested by the camel, "We are going to send the she-camel as a trial for them, therefore, watch them and have patience".[8]

According to Quranic verses, people of Thamud were responsible for:

  1. Salih said, "Well, here is the she-camel (the sign that you asked for). She shall have her share of water as you all have yours, each drinking on an alternate appointed day".[9]
  2. "Now a clear proof has come to you from your Rabb; here is Allah's she-camel as a sign for you, therefore, leave her alone to pasture on Allah's land and do not touch her with bad intentions, lest you incur a painful punishment".[10]

Killing the Camel and the Punishment

Although the camel was a magnificent miracle to the people of Thamud, they did not follow the divine orders and killed the camel; they said to Salih (a), "O Salih! Bring, about that [punhavement] with which you have threatened us, if you are truly one of God's message-bearers".[11] Eventually they were all punished by God. Based on Quranic verses, when they became sure of the imminent punishment, then became full of regrets,[12] which was not useful for them anymore as an earthquake overtook them and they became lifeless bodies in their homes with their faces down.

One Person's Crime Led to Punishment of the Tribe

In one verse of Qur'an, it is stated that one person killed the camel. The people of Thamud called out to one of their companions, who took the responsibility and hamstrung her Qur'an 54, verse 29; it is implicitly stated in a number of narrations as well.[13] But in other verses, it is stated that all the people of Thamud were responsible for killing the camel, and they were all punished by God, "Then they hamstrung the she-camel, defied the commandment of their Rabb".[14]

Different wordings emphasize the fact that, although several persons killed the camel, the others were happy about it and they appreciate it.[15] According to a narration from Imam 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a), "One person cut the hands and feet of the camel, but the whole people of Thamud were punished, as they appreciated the incident."[16]

Notes

  1. Qurʾān, 7:73; 11:64.
  2. Ḥusaynī Shīrāzī, Taqrīb al-Qurʾan ilā l-adhhān, vol. 2, p. 200.
  3. Qurʾān, 7:73.
  4. Qurʾān, 7:73.
  5. Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 8, p. 185.
  6. Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 8, p. 185.
  7. Ibn ʿAsākir, Tārīkh madīnat Damascus, vol. 10, p. 458.
  8. Qurʾān, 54:27.
  9. Qurʾān, 26:155.
  10. Qurʾān, 7:73.
  11. Qurʾān, 7:77.
  12. Qurʾān, 26:157.
  13. Ḥaskānī, Shawāhid al-tanzīl, vol. 2, p. 435.
  14. Qurʾān, 7:77.
  15. Faḍl Allāh, Tafsīr min waḥy al-Qurʾān, vol. 24, p. 287.
  16. Nahj al-balāgha, p. 319.

References

  • Nahj al-balāgha. Edited by Ṣubḥī Ṣāliḥ. Qom: Hijrat, 1414 AH.
  • Faḍl Allāh, Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn. Tafsīr min waḥy al-Qurʾān. Second edition. Beirut: Dār al-Milāk, 1419 AH.
  • Ḥaskānī, ʿUbayd Allāh b. Aḥmad al-. Shawāhid al-tanzīl li-qawāʿid al-tafḍīl. Tehran: Wizārat-i Irshad-i Islāmī, 1411 AH.
  • Ḥusaynī Shīrāzī, Sayyid Muḥammad. Taqrīb al-Qurʾan ilā l-adhhān. Beirut: Dār al-ʿUlūm, 1424 AH.
  • Ibn ʿAsākir, ʿAlī b. al-Ḥasan. Tārīkh madīnat Damascus. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1315 AH.
  • Kulaynī, Muḥammad b. Yaʿqūb al-. Al-Kāfī. Edited by ʿAlī Akbar Ghaffārī & Muḥammad Ākhūndī. Fourth edition. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1407 AH.