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Shu'ayb (a)

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Shu'ayb (a), the prophet
Shoayb1.jpg
Photo of Shu'ab's grave in Jordan
Name in
the Qur'an:
Shu'ayb (شعيب)
Name in
the Bible:
Jethro
Place(s) of
Residence:
Midian (Madyan) and Ayka
Burial place: Mecca or Yemen or Palestine or Tustar
Before: Moses (a)
After: Yusuf (a) (Joseph)
Well known
Relatives:
Prophet Moses (a) (son-in-law)
Religion: Monotheism
Age: 242
Repeat in
the Qur'an:
11
Important
Events:
Marriage of Moses (a) with his daughter, becoming blind

Shuʿayb or Shoaib or Shuaib (Arabic: شُعَيب) was a divine prophet from the progeny of the prophet Ibrahim (a). He was the third Arab prophet who is mentioned in the Qur'an. According to Suras of Qur'an 7, Qur'an 11, and Qur'an 26, he was selected by God as a prophet after Nuh (a) (Noah), Hud (a), Salih (a), and Lut (a). He was the prophet of the land or the people of Midian (Madyan) and Ayka. The Qur'an points to the story of Moses (a) (Moses) and Shu'ayb (a), referring to Shu'ayb (a) as Moses's (a) father in law, but some exegetes of the Qur'an believe that Shu'ayb (a) the prophet was different from the Shu'ayb (a) mentioned in the Qur'an and the Torah as the father of Moses's (a) wife. The Qur'an refers to the problem with the people of Shu'ayb (a) as a financial corruption on which they persisted even after Shu'ayb's (a) efforts by bringing scales and measures.

Lineage

Shu'ayb (a) was a progeny of the Prophet Ibrahim (a). His father was Madyan b. Ibrahim and his mother was a daughter of Lut (a) the prophet. According to some scholars, Shu'ayb's (a) father was Nuwayb, and Madyan was his grandfather, and so they refer to his lineage as Shu'ayb b. Nuwayb b. Madyan b. Ibrahim. They say that, after Sarah, Ibrahim (a) married a woman from Canaan from whom Madyan was born. There is a disagreement among scholars as to whether Jethro, the Moses's (a) father in law mentioned in the Torah, is the same person as Shu'ayb (a) the prophet.

Moses (a) in the House of Shu'ayb (a)

It is reported that after Moses (a) helped Shu'ayb's (a) daughters in supplying water to the animals and accompanied them to Shu'ayb's (a) house, one of his daughters suggested that Moses (a) be employed to help them. Shu'ayb (a) welcomed the suggestion and so, he offered Moses (a) to work for him and to marry his daughter. The offer was accepted by Moses (a), and he married Shu'ayb's (a) daughter after his contract with Shu'ayb (a) ended.

Torah's Account of Shu'ayb (a)

The story of Shu'ayb (a) and his people is not mentioned in the Torah. The only mention is that after Moses (a) killed the Copt man, he fled from Egypt to Midian (to the end of the story) where he met a person known as "the priest in Midian".

Shu'ayb (a) in the Qur'an and Hadiths

The Quranic Account

The Qur'an has pointed to the story of Shu'ayb (a) in over 40 verses of Qur'an 7, Qur'an 11, Qur'an 26, Qur'an 29, and Qur'an 28, but the word, "Shu'ayb", occurs only in 11 verses. Most such verses are concerned with Shu'ayb's (a) divine mission, such as management, social rights, moralities, the propagation of monotheism, and economic reforms. They are also concerned with people who denied Shu'ayb's (a) mission and their punishment. In the Qur'an, God has reported truths, doctrines, and politeness toward God and people from Shu'ayb (a). It was because of his politeness that God made Moses (a) serve him for a while.

The Hadith-Based Account

According to some hadiths, Shu'ayb (a) was so strongly opposed by his people that some of his representatives were horribly murdered. However, it is reported that despite such oppositions, he talked with his people in such an attractive way that the Prophet Muhammad (s) is quoted as saying: "Shu'ayb (a) was the orator of the prophets". Al-Rawandi has cited a hadith from Imam al-Sajjad (a) according to which, the first person who made measures and scales for people was Shu'ayb (a), however, they began to undersell after a while, which led to their punishment.

Shu'ayb in the Work of Muslims

A number of books and essays have been written about Shu'ayb's (a) character. "Shu'ayb" was mentioned in the poetry of some Muslim poets, such as Rumi, Abu l-Qasim Ferdowsi, Hafiz, Sa'di and others.

Shu'ayb's (a) cry and moan and his dew-like tears
when exceeded the limit, a call came from the sky at the dawn
The shepherd of the safe land gains the goal when
he serves Shu'ayb (a) for years out of his heart

Shu'ayb's Blindness

According to some sources, Shu'ayb (a) was blind, just like the prophets Jacob (a) and Ishaq (a) (Isaac). A number of scholars, such as al-Maybudi in his exegesis of the Qur'an, Kashf al-asrar, al-Sayyid Hashim al-Bahrani in his exegesis, al-Burhan, Surabadi in his exegesis, 'Allama Tabataba'i in his al-Mizan, and some others have appealed to the verse, "and indeed, we consider you among us as weak", to point to his blindness. They take his blindness to be because of his crying so much out of the passion and love for God.

Mission

Shu'ayb (a) was selected as a prophet after Yusuf (a) (Joseph) the son of Jacob (a) and before Moses (a). It is reported that he was the third Arab prophet regarding whom there are stories in the Qur'an.

People of Midian and Ayka

Midian, or Midian of Shu'ayb (a), is a town in eastern Gulf of Aqaba. Shu'ayb (a) lived in Midian at first and asked people there to worship God and avoid wrong actions, but they denied him and deported Shu'ayb (a) and his followers from Midian. Shu'ayb (a) cursed them, and so, God punished them with an earthquake, destroying the town and its people.

According to Qur'an 26, verses 176-7 [Note 1], after the punishment of people of Midian, Shu'ayb (a) went to the people of Ayka, which seems to have located near Midian. Today, the town is known as Tabuk. The Qur'an points out that the people of Ayka were unbelievers and polytheists and denied Shu'ayb's (a) instructions. God heated their place for 7 or 9 days and then fire was sent over them, and they were all killed.

Economic Reforms

In the verse, "so fulfill the measure and weight" Qur'an 7:85, the Qur'an points out that the people of Midian (Madyan) undersold or overcharged the commodities, and so, they did not observe the maxims of transactions and commerce. To reform their practices, Shu'ayb (a) provided them with devices to measure the goods in their transactions, but they did not agree to use them. Some people believe that scales and other devices for measuring the goods were invented by Shu'ayb (a).

Burial Place

There is a disagreement about how long Shu'ayb (a) lived. Some people believe that he lived for 242 years, and others believe that he lived for 254 or 400 years. There is also a disagreement over the place of his death and burial. There are 4 views about where he was buried:

  • Tustar, a city in ancient Persia.

Notes

  1. The inhabitants of Aykah impugned the apostles, (176) when Shu‘ayb said to them, ‘Will you not be wary [of Allah]? (177)

References