Another miraculous aspect of the Qur'an is its prediction of future events all of which have been so far fulfilled, as well as accurate historical information which could not have been known at the time, and information in it which has been confirmed since by science and archeological evidence. This is one of the proofs that the Qur'an is the Word of Allah. In the following sections, we will dwell on some of these events.
An astonishing prediction is found in the first verses of Surat ar-Rum, which refers to the Byzantine Empire, the eastern part of the later Roman Empire: The Byzantine Empire, which had met with a great defeat, would soon gain victory.
Alif, Lam, Mim. The Romans have been defeated in the lowest land, but after their defeat they will be victorious within three to nine years. The affair is Allah's from beginning to end. On that day, the believers will rejoice. (Qur'an, 30:1-4)
These verses were revealed around 620, almost 7 years after the idolatrous Persians had severely defeated Christian Byzantium in 613-14. In fact, Byzantium had suffered such heavy losses that it seemed impossible for it even to survive, let alone be victorious again. Following their defeat of the Byzantines at Antioch in 613, the Persians seized control of Damascus, Cilicia, Tarsus, Armenia, and Jerusalem. The loss of Jerusalem in 614 was particularly traumatic for the Byzantines, for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was destroyed and the Persians seized the "True Cross," the symbol of Christianity.1
In addition, the Avars, Slavs, and Lombards also were posing serious threats to the Byzantine Empire. The Avars had reached as far as the walls of Constantinople. Emperor Heraclius ordered the gold and silver in churches to be melted and turned into money in order to meet the army's expenses. When this proved insufficient, bronze statues were melted down in order to mint more money. Many governors had revolted against Heraclius, and Byzantium was on the point of collapse.2 Mesopotamia, Cilicia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Armenia, which had earlier belonged to Byzantium, were invaded by the idolatrous Persians.3
In short, everyone was expecting Byzantium to be destroyed. But during this time, the first verses of Surat ar-Rum were revealed, announcing that Byzantium would triumph in 3 to 9 years. This predicted victory seemed so impossible that the Arab polytheists thought it would never come true.
On top a satellite photograph of the Dead Sea basin. The altitude of the Dead Sea could only be determined with modern measurement techniques. These measurements led to the discovery that this region is the "lowest region on the Earth."
Like all the other predictions in the Qur'an, however, this one also came true. In 622, Heraclius gained a number of victories over the Persians and conquered Armenia.4 In December 627, the two empires fought a decisive battle at Nineveh, some 50 kilometres east of the Tigris river, near Baghdad. This time too, the Byzantine army defeated the Persians. A few months later, the Persians had to sue for peace with Byzantium, which obliged them to return the territories they had taken from it.5
The Byzantine victory was completed when Emperor Heraclius defeated the Persian ruler Khosrow II in 630, recaptured Jerusalem, and regained the "True Cross" for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.6 In the end, "the victory of the Romans" proclaimed by Allah in the Qur'an miraculously came true within the verses' stated "three to nine years" time frame.
Another miracle revealed in these verses is the announcement of a geographical fact that could not have been known by anyone at that time: that the Romans had been defeated in the lowest region of Earth. This Arabic expression adna al-Ard is interpreted as "a nearby place" in many translations. However, this is not the literal meaning, but rather a figurative interpretation. The word adna, derived from the word dani (low), means “the lowest”. The word ard means “the world.” Therefore, adna al-ard means "the lowest place on Earth."
Some interpreters of the Qur'an, considering the closeness of the region in question to the Arabs, prefer the "closest" meaning of the word. However, the actual meaning indicates a very important geological fact: The Dead Sea, one of the regions in which the Byzantines were defeated in 613-14, is the lowest region on Earth.7
As stated earlier, for Christian Byzantium, the loss of the True Cross was the heaviest blow in that defeat in Jerusalem, located near the shores of the Dead Sea.
The Byzantines and the Persians actually fought at the Dead Sea basin, which is situated at the intersection point of the lands belonging to Syria, Palestine, and Jordan. At 399 meters below sea level, the Dead Sea is the "lowest" place on Earth's surface.8
However, as only modern measuring methods and equipment can prove this fact, it would have been impossible for anyone living at that time to realise this truth. Yet, the Qur'an states clearly that this region was the "lowest land" on Earth and thereby provides further evidence that it is the Word of Allah.
2. Warren Treadgold, A History of the Byzantine State and Society (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press: 1997), 287-99.
5. Treadgold, A History, 287-99.
6. http://web.genie.it/utenti/i/inanna/livello2-i/mediterraneo-1-i.htm; http://impearls.blogspot.com/2003_12_07_impearls_archive.html; and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclius.
7. “The Lowest Part on the Face of the Earth,”www.beconvinced.com/science/QURANLOWEST.htm.
8. “Dead Sea,” World Book Encyclopedia, 2003, Contributor: Bernard Reich, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University
THE PRESERVATION OF PHARAOH'S BODY
As we shall see later on, Pharaoh regarded himself as a deity and responded with slanders and threats to Prophet Moses's (as) calls for him to believe in Allah. This arrogant attitude lasted until he was faced with the threat of death through drowning. The Qur'an relates that Pharaoh immediately turned to belief when faced with Allah's punishment:
We brought the tribe of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his troops pursued them out of tyranny and enmity. Then, when he was on the point of drowning, he [Pharaoh] said: "I believe that there is no god but Him in Whom the tribe of Israel believes. I am one of the Muslims." (Qur'an, 10:90)
However, this last-minute conversion was not accepted, for it was not sincere. According to the Qur'an, Allah exclaimed:
"What, now! When previously you rebelled and were one of the corrupters? Today we will preserve your body so you can be a Sign for people who come after you. Surely many people are heedless of Our Signs." (Qur'an, 10:91-92)
The information that Pharaoh's corpse would serve as a sign for later generations may be regarded as an indication that his body would not decay. On display in the Royal Mummies Chamber of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is a mummified body believed to be that of this tyrant. In all likelihood, Pharaoh's body floated to shore after being drowned, was found and mummified by the Egyptians, and then carried to a previously prepared burial chamber.1
1. “Archaeology,” www.angelfire.com/az/miracles/Archaeology.html.
"HAMAN" AND ANCIENT EGYPT MONUMENTS
The name "Haman" was not known until the decoding of Egyptian hieroglyphics in the 19th century. When the hieroglyphics were decoded, it was understood that Haman was a close helper of the Pharaoh and was "the head of the stone quarries." (Above are shown ancient Egyptian construction workers). The most important point here is that Haman is mentioned in the Qur'an as the person who directed construction work under the command of the Pharaoh. This means that information that could not have been known by anybody else at that time was given in the Qur'an, a point most worthy of note.
The Qur'an relates the life of the Prophet Musa (as) with great clarity. As it tells of the conflict with the Pharaoh and his dealings with the Children of Israel, the Qur'an reveals a wealth of information about ancient Egypt. The significance of many of these historical points have only recently come to the attention of the learned people of the world. If one considers these points with reason, it quickly becomes clear that the Qur'an, and the fountain of information contained within it, has been revealed by the All-Wise Allah for it correlates directly with all major scientific, historic and archaeological finds in recent times.
One such example of this wisdom can be found in the Qur'anic references to Haman: a character whose name is mentioned in the Qur'an, along with the Pharaoh. He is mentioned in six different places in the Qur'an, in which it informs us that he was one of Pharaoh's closest allies.
Surprisingly, the name "Haman" is never mentioned in those sections of the Torah pertaining to the life of the Prophet Musa (as). However, the mention of Haman can be found in the last chapters of the Old Testament as the helper of a Babylonian king who inflicted many cruelties on the Israelites approximately 1,100 years after the Prophet Musa (as).The Qur'an, far more in tune with recent archaeological discoveries, does indeed contain the word "Haman" in reference to the life of the Prophet Musa (as).
The criticisms thrown at the book of Islam by some non-Muslims have disappeared by the wayside as an Egyptian hieroglyphic script had been deciphered, approximately 200 years ago, and the name "Haman" discovered in the ancient scripts. Until the 18th century, the writings and inscriptions of ancient Egypt could not be understood.
The language of ancient Egypt was made up of symbols rather than words: hieroglyphics. These pictures, which tell stories and keep records of important events in the same way that modern words do, was usually engraved on rock or stone and many examples survived through the ages. With the spread of Christianity and other cultural influences in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Egypt forsook its ancient beliefs along with the hieroglyphic writing which was synonymous with that now defunct belief system. The last known example of the use of hieroglyphic writing was an inscription dated 394. The language of pictures and symbols was forgotten, leaving nobody who could read and understand it. Naturally, this made historical and archaeological study virtually impossible. This situation remained-until just over two centuries ago.
In 1799, much to the delight of historians and other learned people, the mystery of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics was solved by the discovery of a tablet called the "Rosetta Stone." This amazing find dated back to 196 B.C. The importance of this inscription was that it was written in three different forms of writing: hieroglyphics, demotic (a simplified form of ancient Egyptian hieratic writing) and Greek. With the help of the Greek script, the ancient Egyptian writings were decoded. The translation of the inscription was completed by a Frenchman named Jean-Françoise Champollion. Hence, a forgotten language and the events related in it were brought to light. In this way, a great deal of knowledge about the civilization, religion and social life of ancient Egypt became available to mankind and this opened the way to greater knowledge about this important era in human history.
Through the decoding of hieroglyph, an important piece of knowledge was revealed: The name "Haman" was indeed mentioned in Egyptian inscriptions. This name was referred to in a monument in the Hof Museum in Vienna. This same inscription also indicated the close relationship between Haman and the Pharaoh.1
The result revealed a very important truth: Unlike the false assertion of the opponents of the Qur'an, Haman was a person who lived in Egypt at the time of the Prophet Musa (as). He had been close to the Pharaoh and had been involved in construction work, just as imparted in the Qur'an.
Pharaoh said, "Council, I do not know of any other god for you apart from Me. Haman, kindle a fire for me over the clay and build me a lofty tower so that perhaps I may be able to climb up to Musa's god! I consider him a blatant liar." (Qur'an, 28:38)
The verse in the Qur'an describing the event where the Pharaoh asked Haman to build a tower is in perfect agreement with this archaeological finding. Through this brilliant discovery, the irrational claims of the opponents of the Qur'an were demonstrated to be false and intellectually worthless.
In a miraculous way, the Qur'an conveys to us historical information that could not have been possessed or understood at the time of the Prophet (saas). Hieroglyphics could not be deciphered until the late 1700s so the information could not have been ascertained from Egyptian sources. When the name "Haman" was discovered in the ancient scripts, it was further proof of the infallibility of Allah's Word.
1. Walter Wreszinski, Aegyptische Inschriften aus dem K.K. Hof Museum in Wien (Egyptian Inscriptions from the K.K. Hof Museum in Vienna) (Leipzig: J C Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung: 1906).
2. Hermann Ranke, Die Ägyptischen Personennamen, Verzeichnis der Namen (The Egyptian Family Names, Listing of the Names), Verlag Von J J Augustin in Glückstadt, Band I,1935, Band II, 1952.
PROPHET MUSA/MOSES (AS) AND SEA'S SPLITTING IN TWO
The kings of Egypt-known as "Pharaohs" (or "Fir'awn" in the Arabic of the Qur'an)-regarded themselves as divine in the polytheistic, superstitious religion of ancient Egypt. At a time when the people of Egypt favoured a superstitious belief system over a divine belief system-the same era in which when the Children of Israel were enslaved-Allah sent the Prophet Musa (as) as a messenger to the tribe of Egypt.
However, Pharaoh and his court, and the people of Egypt in general, almost universally refused to abandon their idolatrous beliefs when the Prophet Musa (as) called them to divine religion and the Oneness of Allah. The Prophet Musa (as) revealed to Pharaoh and his courtiers that they should avoid false worship, warning them of Allah's wrath. In response to this, they rose up and slandered the Prophet Musa (as): They accused him of being mad, of being a sorcerer and of falsehood. Pharaoh and his people refused to submit to the Prophet Musa (as) even though many troubles were visited upon them. They refused to accept Allah as the only God. They even held the Prophet Musa (as) responsible for what had befallen them and sought to exile him from Egypt. In the Qur'an, Allah makes this reference to the Prophet Musa (as) and the believers with him:
We revealed to Musa: "Travel with Our servants by night. You will certainly be pursued." Pharaoh sent marshals into the cities: "These people are a small group and we find them irritating and we constitute a vigilant majority." We expelled them from gardens and springs, from treasures and a splendid situation. So it was! And We bequeathed them to the tribe of Israel. So they pursued them towards the east. (Qur'an, 26:52-60)
The map shows the route taken by the Prophet Musa (as) after leaving Egypt and the estimated location of the site where the sea divided.
As revealed in the Qur'an, the two communities met at the edge of the sea following this pursuit. Allah divided the sea and saved the Prophet Musa (as) and the believers with him, destroying Pharaoh and his people. This aid from Allah is revealed thus:
So We revealed to Musa, "Strike the sea with your staff." And it split in two, each part like a towering cliff. And We brought the others right up to it. We rescued Musa and all those who were with him. Then We drowned the rest. There is certainly a Sign in that yet most of them are not believers. Truly your Lord is the Almighty, the Most Merciful. (Qur'an, 26:63-68)
In connection with this subject, the following account has recently been found in papyruses from the time of Pharaoh:
When this letter reaches you and has been read point by point, surrender your heart to the sharpest pain, like a leaf before the storm, when you learn of the sorrowful disaster of the drowning in the whirlpool…
Calamity struck him suddenly and inescapably. Depict the destruction of the lords, the lord of the tribes, the king of the east and the west. The sleep in the waters has made something helpless out of something great. What news can compare to the news I have sent you?1
This miracle, experienced by the Prophet Musa (as) and the Children of Israel as they crossed the Red Sea, has been the subject of many studies. Archaeological investigations have established not only the path taken to the Red Sea after leaving Egypt, but also that the place where Pharaoh and the Prophet Musa (as) and his tribe met was one surrounded by mountains. (Allah knows best.)
The mountain known as Jabal-al Musa is generally regarded as being in the Sinai Peninsula. However, recent findings have shown that it is actually on the Arabian shore of the Red Sea.
Following a long and difficult journey for the Prophet Musa (as) and the Israelites, a passage out between the mountains could be seen.
That part of the Sinai Peninsula opening onto the Gulf.
Following a great deal of study and investigation taking this as the starting point, scientists came to striking conclusions with regard to how the sea was divided into two. These conclusions are in full agreement with those revealed in the Qur'an. The way that historical events described in the Qur'an are today illuminated by historical records is without doubt an important miracle of the book of Islam.
Pharaoh’s royal chariot is on display in a museum in Egypt. A similar example was found during excavations in the location where the sea divided.
Naum Volzinger and Alexei Androsov, two Russian mathematicians, proved that the Prophet Musa (as) could indeed have parted the sea. Unlike those scientists who concentrated on the probability of such a miracle, the Russian mathematicians investigated the conditions that might have led to the miracle. In turn, this led to the confirmation of the miracle itself.
According to the study which was published in the Bulletin of the Russian Academy of Sciences, there was a reef, which was close to the surface in the Red Sea at that time. From there, the scientists set about establishing the speed of the wind and the strength of the storm needed to leave the reef high and dry at low tide.
As a result, it became apparent that a wind speed of 30 metres per second would have caused the sea to retract, leaving the reef exposed. Naum Volzinger, of the Institute of Oceanography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, stated that "if the [east] wind blew all night at a speed of 30 metres per second then the reef would be dry." He also said that "it would take the Jews-there were 600,000 of them-four hours to cross the 7 kilometre reef that runs from one coast to another… then, in half an hour, the waters would come back."2 In addition, Volzinger said that he and his colleague Androsov studied the issue strictly from Isaac Newton's point of view. As he put it, "I am convinced that God rules the Earth through the laws of physics."3
It must not be forgotten that there is always a possibility of this natural phenomenon taking place. If Allah so desires, this miracle can take place again when the requisite conditions-such as windspeed, time and place-are met. However, the truly miraculous aspect here is the fact that these events took place just when the Prophet Musa (as) and his tribe were about to be vanquished. The fact that the waters withdrew just as the Prophet Musa (as) and the community with him were about to cross them-not to mention the way that the waters returned just as Pharaoh and his army were crossing-is a clear example of the aid that Allah gives to the faithful. Indeed, the way that the Prophet Musa (as) relied on and trusted in Allah is an example of the most pleasing moral values:
And when the two hosts came into sight of one another Musa's companions said, "We will surely be overtaken!" He said, "Never! My Lord is with me and He will guide me." (Qur'an, 26:61-62)
1. British Museum, Egyptian Papyri No.6.
2. Galina Stolyarova, "City Scientists Say Red-Sea Miracle Can Be Explained," The St. Petersburg Times, 20 January 2004, www.sptimes.ru/archive/times/936/top/t_11445.htm; Galina Stolyarova, "Mathematicians Dissect a Miracle," The Moscow Times, 21 January 2004, www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2004/01/21/003.html.
THE TROUBLES WHICH AFFLICTED PHARAOH AND THOSE AROUND HIM
Pharaoh and those people close to him were so devoted to their polytheistic system and pagan beliefs that not even message of the Prophet Musa (as), armed with wisdom and spectacular miracles, could soften their hearts and thus turn them away from baseless superstitions. They also openly stated this fact:
They said, "No matter what kind of Sign you bring us to bewitch us, we will not believe in you." (Qur'an, 7:132)
Because of their haughty attitude, Allah sent to them afflictions, described as "Signs, clear and distinct" in one verse, in order to punish them for their haughtiness. (Qur'an, 7:133) The first of these was drought. As a result, there was a fall in production. The relevant verse of the Qur'an states:
We seized Pharaoh's people with years of drought and scarcity of fruits so that hopefully they would pay heed. (Qur'an, 7:130)
The Egyptians' agricultural systems depended on the River Nile and changes in natural conditions did not therefore generally affect them. However, Pharaoh and those around him suffered greatly because of their pride and refusal to recognise Allah's Messenger. Yet instead of "paying heed," they regarded these events as bad luck caused by the Prophet Musa (as) and the Tribe of Israel. Following that, Allah sent a series of tribulations. We are told of these in the Qur'an:
So We sent down on them floods, locusts, lice, frogs and blood, Signs, clear and distinct, but they proved arrogant and were an evildoing people. (Qur'an, 7:133)
In the early 19th century a papyrus dating back to the Middle Kingdom was discovered in Egypt. The papyrus was taken to the Leiden Museum in Holland and translated by A.H. Gardiner in 1909. The entire text appears in the book Admonitions of an Egyptian from a Hieratic Papyrus in Leiden, and describes major changes in Egypt; famine, drought, the slaves’ flight from Egypt with their assets, and death all over the nation. The papyrus was written by an Egyptian called Ipuwer and it appears from its contents that this individual personally witnessed the disasters that struck Egypt. This papyrus is a most significant hand-written description of the catastrophes, the death of Egyptian society and the destruction of Pharaoh.
The details in the papyrus regarding the disasters that struck the people of Egypt are just as described in the Qur'an. In the Qur'an, we are told about these catastrophes. This Islamic account of this period of human history has been confirmed by the discovery in Egypt, in the early 19th century, of the Ipuwer papyruses dating back to the Middle Kingdom. After the discovery of this papyrus, it was sent to the Leiden Dutch Museum in 1909 and translated by A. H. Gardiner, a prominent scholar of ancient Egypt. In the papyrus were described such disasters in Egypt as famine, drought and the fleeing of the slaves from Egypt. Moreover, it appears that the writer of the papyrus, one Ipuwer, had actually witnessed these events. This is how the Ipuwer papyrus refers to these catastrophes described in the Qur'an:
Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere.1
The river is blood.2
Forsooth, that has perished which yesterday was seen. The land is left over to its weariness like the cutting of flax.3
Lower Egypt weeps... The entire palace is without its revenues. To it belong (by right) wheat and barley, geese and fish.4
Forsooth, grain has perished on every side.5
The land-to its whole extent confusion and terrible noise… For nine days there was no exit from the palace and no one could see the face of his fellow… Towns were destroyed by mighty tides… Upper Egypt suffered devastation… blood everywhere… pestilence throughout the country… No one really sails north to Byblos today. What shall we do for cedar for our mummies?… Gold is lacking…6
Men shrink from tasting-human beings, and thirst after water.7
That is our water! That is our happiness! What shall we do in respect thereof? All is ruin!8
The towns are destroyed. Upper Egypt has become dry.9
The residence is overturned in a minute.10
The chain of disasters which struck the people of Egypt, according to this document, conforms perfectly with the Qur'anic account of these matters.11 This papyrus, which closely parallels the catastrophes which struck Egypt in the time of Pharaoh, once again demonstrates the Qur'an to be divine in origin.
205. “The Plagues of Egypt,” Admonitions of Ipuwer 2:5-6, www.mystae.com/restricted/streams/thera/plagues.html.
206. Admonitions of Ipuwer 2:10, www.mystae.com/restricted/streams/thera/plagues.html.
207. Admonitions of Ipuwer 5:12, www.geocities.com/regkeith/linkipuwer.htm.
208. Admonitions of Ipuwer 10:3-6, www.geocities.com/regkeith/linkipuwer.htm.
209. Admonitions of Ipuwer 6:3, www.students.itu.edu.tr/~kusak/ipuwer.htm.
210. Admonitions of Ipuwer, www.mystae.com/restricted/streams/thera/plagues.html.
211. Admonitions of Ipuwer 2:10, www.geocities.com/regkeith/linkipuwer.htm.
212. Admonitions of Ipuwer 3:10-13, www.geocities.com/regkeith/linkipuwer.htm.
213. Admonitions of Ipuwer 2:11, www.geocities.com/regkeith/linkipuwer.htm.
214. Admonitions of Ipuwer 7:4, www.geocities.com/regkeith/linkipuwer.htm
215. Rabbi Mordechai Becher, “The Ten Plagues – Live From Egypt,” Ohr Somayach Institutions, www.ohr.org.il/special/pesach/ipuwer.htm.
THE WORD "PHARAOH" IN THE QUR'AN
In the Old Testament, the Egyptian ruler during the period of Prophet Ibrahim (as) and Prophet Yusuf (as) are named "Pharaoh." However, this title was actually employed after the eras in which these two Prophets lived.
While addressing the Egyptian ruler at the time of Prophet Yusuf (as), the word "Al-Malik" in Arabic is used in the Qur'an: It refers to a ruler, king or sultan:
The King said, 'Bring him to me straight away!'… (Qur'an, 12:50)
The ruler of Egypt in the time of the Prophet Musa (as) is referred to as "Pharaoh." This distinction in the Qur'an is not made in the Old and New Testaments nor by Jewish historians. In the Bible, the word "Pharaoh" is used, in every reference to an Egyptian monarch. On the other hand, the Qur'an is far more concise and accurate in the terminology it employs.
The use of the word "Pharaoh" in Egyptian history belongs only to the late period. This particular title began to be employed in the 14th century B.C., during the reign of Amenhotep IV. The Prophet Yusuf (as) lived at least 200 years before that time.1
The Encyclopaedia Britannica says that the word "Pharaoh" was a title of respect used from the New Kingdom (beginning with the 18th dynasty; B.C. 1539-1292) until the 22nd dynasty (B.C. 945-730), after which this term of address became the title of the king. Further information on this subject comes from the Academic American Encyclopaedia, which states that the title of Pharaoh began to be used in the New Kingdom.
As we have seen, the use of the word "Pharaoh" dates from a specific period in history. For that reason, the fact that the Qur'an distinguishes between the different Egyptian titles in different Egyptian eras is yet another proof that the Qur'an is Allah's Word.
216. Elias Karîm, “Qur’anic Accuracy vs. Biblical Error: The Kings & Pharaohs of Egypt,” www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Contrad/External/josephdetail.html; Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, “An Aspect of the Qur’aan’s Miraculous Nature,” www.islaam.com/Article.asp?id=40.
We sent Nuh to his people and he remained among them for fifty short of a thousand years; yet the Flood engulfed them while they were wrongdoers. (Qur'an, 29:14)
The Prophet Nuh (as) was sent to his people by Allah. They had distanced themselves from the commandments of the Lord and ascribed partners to Him. The Prophet Nuh (as) warned them that they should serve Allah alone and abandon the false worship which they had established in their community. Although the Prophet Nuh (as) called on his people with great eloquence and wisdom, and warned them against the punishment of Allah, they rejected the Prophet and continued to associate partners to Him. At this, Allah told the Prophet Nuh (as) that He would punish the deniers by drowning them. But He also informed His Messenger that His mercy would save the believers, those who embraced true religion and worshipped the One and Only God. The destruction of the people of Nuh and the salvation of the believers is described thus in the Qur'an:
But they denied him so We rescued him and those with him in the Ark. And We drowned the people who denied Our Signs. They were a blind people. (Qur'an, 7:64)
When the time of punishment came, the water in the ground combined with violent rains to cause a giant flood. (Allah knows best.) It is revealed that before the flood came, Allah spoke to the Prophet Nuh (as):
We revealed to him: "Build the Ship under Our supervision and as We reveal. When Our command comes and water bubbles up from the earth, load into it a pair of every species, and your family-except for those among them against whom the word has already gone ahead. And do not address Me concerning those who do wrong. They shall be drowned." (Qur'an, 23:27)
Apart from those who boarded Prophet Nuh's (as) Ark, the entire tribe was drowned. The dead included the Prophet's son who thought he could escape by seeking shelter on a mountain.
It was said, "Earth, swallow up your water!" and, "Heaven, hold back your rain!" And the water subsided and the affair was concluded and the Ark came to land on al-Judi. And it was said, "Away with the people of the wrongdoers!" (Qur'an, 11:44)
Compared to the flood accounts contained in Jewish scriptures, and indeed the various cultural beliefs of other peoples, the Qur'anic account, which was revealed by Allah and is the only divine text to have remained uncorrupted, stands as the most reliable of all these accounts. The Torah, a corrupted text, says that this flood was universal and covered the whole world. On the contrary, it appears from the relevant verses that the flood was a regional one and punished not the whole world but only the tribe that rejected the Prophet Nuh (as). Those who were destroyed in it were the people who rejected the message of the Prophet Nuh (as) and persisted in their denial. There is no indication in the Qur'an that the flood was universal. The verses on the subject read:
We sent Nuh to his people: "I am a clear warner to you. Worship none but Allah. I fear for you the punishment of a painful day." (Qur'an, 11:25-26)
But they denied him so We rescued him and those with him in the Ark. And We drowned the people who denied Our Signs. They were a blind people. (Qur'an, 7:64)
So We rescued him and those with him by mercy from Us, and We cut off the last remnant of those who denied Our Signs and were not believers. (Qur'an, 7:72)
As we have seen, we are told in the Qur'an that only the people of the Prophet Nuh (as) were destroyed, not the whole world. The corrected states of the corrupted accounts in Christian and Jewish scriptures in the Qur'an prove that it is, in its entirety, a book sent down by Allah.
Excavations in the region where the flood is believed to have occurred also show that the flood was not a universal event, but a wide-scale disaster that affected part of Mesopotamia.
When the waters subsided, the Ark came to rest. As revealed in the Qur'an, the resting place of the ark was al-Judi. The word "judi" is sometimes taken to mean a particular mountain, although the Arabic word itself means "high place, hill." From that point of view, the word "judi" can refer to the waters reaching only up to a certain height and not to the covering of all the land. In other words, we learn from the Qur'an that the flood did not swallow up all the land and all the mountains on Earth-as is related in Jewish scriptures and other legends-but only one particular region.
Archaeological Evidence for the Flood
According to the archaeological findings, Nuh’s Flood took place on the Mesopotamian Plain, the shape of which was very different to that of today. The present-day limits of the plain are shown with a dotted red line in the above diagram. The wide region beyond that line is known to have been part of the sea at that time.
If a natural disaster, sudden migration or war, for example, should result in the destruction of a civilisation, traces of that civilisation are well-protected. The houses people lived in and the objects people used in their daily lives are quickly buried under the earth. These are thus conserved for long periods without being touched by human hands. For students of the past, they provide invaluable clues when they are finally brought to light.
In recent times, the discovery of a large amount of evidence concerning Nuh's Flood has come to the attention of the world's most prominent archaeologists and historians. The Flood, believed to have occurred around 3000 B.C., destroyed an entire civilisation and allowed an entirely new one to be founded in its place. That evidence of the Flood was preserved for thousands of years provides a deterrent to those people who have come after this punishment of the wicked.
Many excavations have been carried out to study the flood, which was localised on and around the Mesopotamian Plains. Digs in the region have encountered traces of a flood in four main cities on the Mesopotamian Plain: Ur, Erech, Kish and Shuruppak. Excavations in these cities have shown that these cities were hit by flooding around 3000 B.C.
The oldest of the remains of the civilisation in the city of Ur-today known as Tell al Muqqayar-date back to 7000 B.C. The city of Ur, one of the oldest human civilisations, was a settlement region in which consecutive civilisations were born and died.
The archaeological discoveries which came from study of Ur unearthed information which clearly informs us that a civilisation there was interrupted by a terrible flood and that new civilisations gradually sprang up in its place. Leonard Woolley led a joint excavation by the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania in the desert area between Baghdad and the Persian Gulf. Woolley's excavations are described by the German archaeologist Werner Keller as follows:
"The graves of the kings of Ur" - so Woolley, in the exuberance of his delight at discovering them, had dubbed the tombs of Sumerian nobles whose truly regal splendour had been exposed when the spades of the archaeologists attacked a fifty-foot mound south of the temple and found a long row of superimposed graves. The stone vaults were veritable treasure chests, for they were filled with all the costly goblets, wonderfully shaped jugs and vases, bronze tableware, mother of pearl mosaics, lapis lazuli, and silver surrounded these bodies which had mouldered into dust. Harps and lyres rested against the walls…
When after several days some of Woolley's workmen called out to him, "We are on ground level", he let himself down onto the floor of the shaft to satisfy himself. Woolley's first thought was "This is it at last". It was sand, pure sand of a kind that could only have been deposited by water.
They decided to dig on and make the shaft deeper. Deeper and deeper went the spades into the ground: three feet, six feet - still pure mud. Suddenly, at ten feet, the layer of mud stopped as abruptly as it had started. Under this clay deposit of almost ten feet thick, they had struck fresh evidence of human habitation…
The Flood - that was the only possible explanation of this great clay deposit beneath the hill at Ur, which quite clearly separated two epochs of settlement…1
Excavations in the Mesopotamian Plain revealed the presence of a layer of mud and clay at a depth of 2.5 metres (8 feet). This stratum in all probability consisted of clay carried by the waters of the Flood, and is to be found only under the Mesopotamian Plain.
Microscopic analysis revealed that this great clay deposit beneath the hill at Ur had accumulated here as a result of a flood, one so large and powerful as to annihilate ancient Sumerian civilisation. The epic of Gilgamesh and the story of Nuh were united in this shaft dug deep under the Mesopotamian desert.
Max Mallowan related the thoughts of Leonard Woolley, who said that such a huge mass of alluvium formed in a single time-slice could only be the result of a huge flood disaster. Woolley also described the flood layer, which separated the Sumerian city of Ur from the city of Al-Ubaid whose inhabitants used painted pottery, as the remains of the Flood.2
These facts demonstrated that the city of Ur was one of those places affected by the Flood. The German archaeologist Werner Keller also described the importance of the excavation in question. He has gone on record to say that the yield of city-remains beneath a muddy layer in the archaeological excavations made in Mesopotamia proves that there was indeed a flood in the region.3
Another Mesopotamian city to bear the traces of the Flood is the "Kish of the Sumerians," the present-day Tall Al-Uhaimer. Ancient Sumerian records describe this city as the "seat of the first postdiluvian dynasty."4
The southern Mesopotamian city of Shuruppak, the present-day Tall Fa'rah, also bears evident traces of the Flood. Archaeological investigations were carried out in this city between 1920 and 1930 by Erich Schmidt of the University of Pennsylvania. These excavations uncovered three layers of habitation which stretched from the late prehistoric period to the 3rd dynasty of Ur (2112-2004 B.C.). The most distinctive finds were ruins of well-built houses along with cuneiform tablets of administrative records and lists of words, indicating a highly developed society already in existence toward the end of the 4th millennium B.C.5
When one examines the opinions of these learned scientists, it is clear that they believe that the evidence which supports the Flood account is overwhelming. According to this opinion, this terrible flood took place in or around 3000-2900 B.C. According to Mallowan's account, 4-5 metres below the earth, Schmidt had reached a yellow soil layer (formed by flood) made up of a mixture of clay and sand. This layer was closer to the plain level than the tumulus profile and it could be observed all around the tumulus. Schmidt defined this layer made up of a mixture of clay and sand, which remained from the time of Ancient Kingdom of Cemdet Nasr, as "a sand with its origins in the river" and associated it with Nuh's Flood.6
In short, the excavations in the city of Shuruppak once again revealed the traces of a flood around 3000-2900 B.C. Together with the other cities, Shuruppak was in all probability struck by the Flood.7
The last settlement containing evidence of being struck by the Flood is the city of Erech, south of Shuruppak. Today, it is known as Tall Al-Warka. As in the other cities, a flood layer was also discovered here. Like the other cities, this flood layer has been dated to 3000-2900 B.C.8
The Euphrates and Tigris rivers divide Mesopotamia from one end to the other. It appears that in the era in question, these two rivers overflowed, together with all other water sources, great and small, combining with rainwater to create an enormous flood. This phenomenon is reported in these terms in the Qur'an:
So We opened the gates of heaven with torrential water and made the earth burst forth with gushing springs. And the waters met together in a way which was decreed. We bore him on a planked and well-caulked ship. (Qur'an, 54:11-13)
When the clues obtained from the research are evaluated, they indicate that the Flood covered all of the Mesopotamian plains. When we look at the succession of cities-Ur, Erech, Shuruppak and Kish-that bear the traces of the Flood, we see that they all lie in a line. In addition, the geographical structure of the Mesopotamian Plain was very different in around 3000 B.C. compared to its constitution today. At that time, the bed of the River Euphrates was much further to the east than it is today, lying on a line passing through Ur, Erech, Shuruppak and Kish. It therefore appears that the Euphrates burst its banks in this region and destroyed the four cities. (Allah knows best.)
Allah imparted the news of Nuh's Flood in order that it should act as a deterrent for those of that time and a valuable lesson to those who were to come after, people like us. By means of the Prophets and books, He sent guidance to different societies. However, each time the texts which were brought to the people by Allah's Prophets were corrupted from their original forms. Men added cultural, mystical or mythological elements to the true account of the Flood. The Qur'an, because it is from Allah and because He preserves it eternally, is the only source compatible with the archaeological findings of the past. (See Harun Yahya, Perished Nations, Ta - Ha Publishers, 2002)
1. Werner Keller, Und die Bibel hat doch recht (The Bible as History; a Confirmation of the Book of Books)
(New York: William Morrow: 1964), 25-29.
2. Max Mallowan, Noah’s Flood Reconsidered (Iraq: XXVI-2: 1964), 70.
3. Keller, Und die Bibel hat doch recht, 23-32.
4. “Kish,” Britannica Micropaedia 6, 893.
5. “Shuruppak,” Britannica Micropaedia 10, 772
6. Max Mallowan, Early Dynastic Period in Mesopotamia, Cambridge Ancient History 1-2, (Cambridge: 1971), 238.
7. Joseph Campbell, Eastern Mythology, 129.
8. Bilim ve Utopya (Science and Utopia), July 1996, 176. Footnote, 19.
THE CITY OF IRAM
At the beginning of 1990, press-releases in the well-known newspapers of the world declared "Fabled Lost Arabian city found," "Arabian city of Legend found" and "The Atlantis of the Sands, Ubar." What rendered this archaeological find particularly intriguing was the fact that this city is mentioned in the Qur'an. Many people had previously suggested 'Ad was a legend or that the location in question could never be found. Such people could not conceal their astonishment at this phenomenal discovery.
It was Nicholas Clapp, a noted documentary filmmaker and a lecturer on archaeology, who found this legendary city mentioned in the Qur'an.1 Being an Arabophile and a winning documentary film maker, Clapp had come across a very interesting book during his research on Arabian history. This book was Arabia Felix, written by the English researcher Bertram Thomas in 1932. Arabia Felix was the Roman designation for the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula which today includes Yemen and much of Oman. The Greeks called this area "Eudaimon Arabia" and medieval Arab scholars called it "Al-Yaman as-Saeed."2 All of these names mean "Happy Yemen," because the people living in that region used to serve as middlemen in the lucrative spice trade between India and places north of the Arabian Peninsula. In addition, the people living in this region produced and distributed "frankincense," an aromatic resin from rare trees.
The English researcher Thomas described these tribes at length and claimed that he found the traces of an ancient city founded by one of these tribes.3 This was the city known as "Ubar" by the Bedouins. In one of the trips he made to the region, the Bedouins living in the desert had shown him well-worn tracks and stated that these tracks led toward the ancient city of Ubar. Thomas, who showed great interest in the subject, died before being able to complete his research.
Whole societies have passed away
before your time, so travel about the earth and see the final fate of the
Clapp, who examined what the English researcher Thomas wrote, was convinced of the existence of the lost city described in the book. He quickly started his research, attempting to carry on from where Thomas had left the project. Clapp took two different approaches in his mission to prove the existence of Ubar. First, he found the tracks which the Bedouins said existed and in order to aid his work, he applied to NASA to provide the satellite images of the area. After a long struggle, he succeeded in persuading the authorities to take the pictures of the region he so craved.4
Clapp went on to study the ancient manuscripts and maps in the Huntington library in California. Here, he quickly found a map covering the region he was studying so intensely. He found a map drawn by the Greek-Egyptian geographer Ptolemy in 200, which showed the location of an old city found in the region and the paths which actually led up to this city.
Meanwhile, his research received a further boost when he received the news that satellite photographs had been taken by members of NASA. In the pictures, caravan trails, which were virtually invisible to the naked eye, caught Clapp's attention. They could only be seen as a whole from the sky. Comparing these pictures with the old map he had in hand, Clapp immediately realised that the trails in the old map corresponded with the trails in the pictures taken from the satellite. The final destination of these trails was a broad site understood to have once been a city.
Finally, thanks to the work of Clapp and Thomas before him-along with a helping hand from NASA researchers-the location of this legendary city, which had been subject of the stories told orally by the Bedouins, was discovered. After a short while, excavations began and remains of an old city were brought to light. This lost city was dubbed "Ubar, the Atlantis of the Sands."
But let us ask: What was it that proved this to be the city of the people of 'Ad mentioned in the Qur'an?
From the very beginning of the study of the site, it was understood that this ruined city belonged to 'Ad. Researchers discovered Iram's pillars, which were specifically mentioned in the Qur'an, in the form of towers in the land of the people of 'Ad. Dr. Juris Zarins, a member of the research team leading the excavation, said that since the towers were alleged to be the distinctive feature of Ubar and since Iram was mentioned as having towers or pillars, this then was the strongest proof so far that the site they had unearthed was Iram, the city of 'Ad described in the Qur'an:
Do you not see what your Lord did with 'Ad-Iram of the Columns whose like was not created in any land? (Qur'an, 89:6-8)
As seen, that the information provided by the Qur'an about the events of the past is in total agreement with historical information is another evidence of the fact that the Qur'an is the Word of Allah.
1. Thomas H. Maugh II, "Ubar, Fabled Lost City, Found by LA Team," The Los Angeles Times, 5 February 1992.
2. Kamal Salibi, A History of Arabia (Caravan Books: 1980).
3. Bertram Thomas, Arabia Felix: Across the "Empty Quarter" of Arabia, (New York: Schrieber's Sons: 1932), 161.
4. Charlene Crabb, "Frankincense", Discover, January 1993.
THE CITIES OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH
The Prophet Lut (as) lived at the same time as the Prophet Ibrahim (as) and was sent as a Messenger to a neighbouring tribe to the Prophet Ibrahim (as). That tribe, according to the Qur'an, practiced a perversion never before seen in the world: homosexuality. When the Prophet Lut (as) told the people to abandon one of the greatest sins and delivered to them the message of Allah, they rejected him. They denied that he was a Prophet and continued with their horrid lifestyle. As a result of this, the tribe was destroyed in a terrible disaster by Allah.
And Lut, when he said to his people, "Do you commit an obscenity not perpetrated before you by anyone in all the worlds? You come with lust to men instead of women. You are indeed a depraved people." (Qur'an, 7:80-81)
We rained down a rain upon them. See the final fate of the evildoers! (Qur'an, 7:84)
[Our Messengers said to Lut,] "We will bring down on the inhabitants of this city a devastating punishment from heaven because of their deviance." We have left a Clear Sign of them behind for people who use their intellect. (Qur'an, 29:34-35)
This city, in which the Prophet Lut (as) lived and which was later destroyed, is called "Sodom" in the Old Testament. It appears that this people, who lived to the north of the Red Sea, was destroyed in a manner compatible with the description in the Qur'an. Archaeological excavations have revealed that the city lay close to the Dead Sea on the present-day Israeli-Jordanian border. According to scientists, the area is covered in large deposits of sulphur. For this reason, no life in the form of animals or plants is to be found there and the region stands as a symbol of destruction.
[He is] the Lord of the heavens and the earth and everything in between them, if you are people with certainty. There is no god but Him—He gives life and causes to die—your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers, the previous peoples.
Sulphur is an element which appears as a result of volcanic eruptions. Indeed, there is clear evidence in the Qur'an that the method of destruction was earthquake and volcanic eruptions. The German archaeologist Werner Keller says this about the region:
Together with the base of this mighty fissure, which runs precisely through this area, the Vale of Siddim, including Sodom and Gomorrah, plunged one day into the abyss. Their destruction came about through a great earthquake which was probably accompanied by explosions, lightning, issue of natural gas and general conflagration… The subsidence released volcanic forces that had been lying dormant deep down along the whole length of the fracture. In the upper valley of the Jordan near Bashan there are still towering craters of extinct volcanoes; great stretches of lava and deep layers of basalt have been deposited on the limestone surface.1
The photographs above show the ancient settlement area around the volcano Mount Vesuvius. It is clear from the remains in the region that the Pompeiians who lived here enjoyed a luxurious and splendid lifestyle.
These layers of lava and basalt are the most important evidence showing that a volcanic eruption and earthquake once took place there. In any event Lake Lut, otherwise known as the Dead Sea, lies directly above a seismically active region-in other words, an earthquake belt:
The technical aspect of the disaster suffered by the people of Lut has been revealed in studies carried out by geologists. These have shown that the earthquake which wiped out the people of Lut came about as the result of a very long fault line. The Jordan River drops a total of 180 metres during its 190 km course. This, and the fact that the Dead Sea is 400 metres below sea level, combined to prove that that there once took place a major geological event in and around this area.
This interesting structure of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea comprise only part of the crack or fissure which passes through this region. It begins at the slopes of the Toros Mountains and runs southward past the southern shores of the Dead Sea, through the Arabian Desert, reaching the Gulf of Aqaba, from where it crosses the Red Sea before coming to an end in Africa. There is major volcanic activity in those areas through which the line passes. In fact, this occurs to such an extent that black basalt and lava can be found in the Mountains of Galilee in Israel, in part of the high plateaus in Jordan, the Gulf of Aqaba and other areas.
All these remains and geographical features show that there was a major geological event at the Dead Sea.
The December 1957 edition of National Geographic magazine contained these statements on the subject:
The mount of Sodom, a barren wasteland, rises sharply above the dead sea. No one has ever found the destroyed cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, but scholars believe that they stood in the Vale of Siddim across from these cliffs. Possibly flood waters of the Dead Sea engulfed them following an earthquake.3
One of the pieces of information regarding this destroyed city is-as revealed in Surat al-Hijr 76-that these cities are still on the main line. Geographers have identified this region as being on a line to the south-east of the Dead Sea, extending from the Arabian peninsula to Syria and Egypt.
We turned the place completely upside down and rained down on them stones of hard-baked clay. There are certainly Signs in that for the discerning. They were beside a road which still exists. There is certainly a Sign in that for the believers. (Qur'an, 15:74-77)
1. Keller, Und die Bibel hat doch recht, 75-76.
2. “Le Monde de la Bible” (The World of the Bible), Archeologie et Histoire, July-August 1993.
3. G. Ernest Wright, “Bringing Old Testament Times to Life,” National Geographic 112, December 1957, 883.
Many centuries ago, the community of Saba was one of the four biggest civilisations which lived in South Arabia.
Historical sources relating to Saba usually say that this was a culture akin to that of the Phoenicians. It was particularly involved in commercial activities. The Sabaeans are recognised by historians as a civilised and cultured people. In the inscriptions of the rulers of Saba, words such as "restore," "dedicate" and "construct" are frequently used. The Ma'rib Dam, which is one of the most important monuments of this people, is an important indication of the technological level this people had reached.
The Sabaean state had one of the strongest armies in the region and was able to adopt an expansionist policy thanks to its potent army. With its advanced culture and army, the Sabaean state was without question one of the "super powers" of the region at the time. This extraordinarily strong army of the Sabaean state is also described in the Qur'an. An expression of the commanders of the Saba army related in the Qur'an, shows the extent of the confidence this army had in itself. The commanders call out to the female ruler (Queen) of the state:
… "We possess strength and we possess great force. But the matter is in your hands so consider what you command." (Qur'an, 27:33)
Because of the Ma'rib Dam which had been constructed, with the help of quite advanced technology for that particular era, the people of Saba possessed an enormous irrigation capacity. The fertile soil they acquired by virtue of this technique and their control over the trade route permitted them a splendid lifestyle, full of well-being. However, instead of giving thanks to Allah for all this, the Qur'an informs us that they actually "turned away from Him." Furthermore, they refused to heed the warnings and reminders issued to them. Because of these poor moral values, they merited punishment in the sight of Allah and their dams collapsed and the flood of Arim ruined all their lands.
The capital city of the Sabaean state was Ma'rib, which was extremely wealthy thanks to its advantageous geographical position. The capital city was very close to the River Adhanah. The point where the river reached Jabal Balaq was very suitable for the construction of a dam. Making use of this condition, the Sabaean people constructed a dam at this location at the time when their civilisation was first established, and they began irrigation. As a result, they reached a very high level of economic prosperity. The capital city, Ma'rib, was one of the most developed cities of the time. The Greek writer Pliny, who had visited the region and greatly praised it, also mentioned how green this region was.1
The height of the dam in Ma'rib was 16 metres, its width was 60 metres and its length was 620 metres. According to the calculations, the total area that could be irrigated by the dam was 9,600 hectares, of which 5,300 hectares belonged to the southern plain. The remaining part belonged to the northern plain. These two plains were referred to as "Ma'rib and two plains" in the Sabaean inscriptions.2 The expression in the Qur'an, "two gardens to the right and to the left," points to the imposing gardens and vineyards in these two valleys. Thanks to this dam and its irrigation systems, the region became famous as the best irrigated and most fruitful area of Yemen. The Frenchman J. Holevy and the Austrian Glaser proved from written documents that the Ma'rib dam existed since ancient times. In documents written in the Himer dialect, it is related that this dam rendered the territory very productive and was the heartbeat of the economy.
The dam that collapsed in 542 led to the flood of Arim and caused enormous damage. The vineyards, orchards and fields cultivated for hundreds of years by the people of Saba were completely destroyed. Following the collapse of the dam, the people of Saba appear to have entered a period of rapid contraction, at the end of which the Sabaean state came to an end.
When we examine the Qur'an in the light of the historical data above, we observe that there is very substantial agreement here. Archaeological findings and the historical data both verify what is recorded in the Qur'an. As mentioned in the verse, these people, who did not listen to the exhortations of their Prophet and who rejected faith, were in the end punished with a dreadful flood. This flood is described in the Qur'an in the following verses:
There was, for Saba, aforetime, a Sign in their home-land-two Gardens to the right and to the left. "Eat of the Sustenance [provided] by your Lord, and be grateful to Him: a territory fair and happy, and a Lord Oft-Forgiving!" But they turned away [from Allah], and We sent against them the Flood [released] from the dams, and We converted their two garden [rows] into "gardens" producing bitter fruit, and tamarisks, and some few [stunted] Lote-trees. That was the Requital We gave them because they ungratefully rejected Faith: And never do We give [such] requital except to such as are ungrateful rejecters. (Qur'an, 34:15-17)
In the Qur'an, the punishment sent to the Sabaean people is named as "Sayl al-Arim" which means the "flood of Arim." This expression used in the Qur'an also tells us the manner in which this disaster occurred. The word "Arim" means dam or barrier. The expression "Sayl al-Arim" describes a flood that came about with the collapse of this barrier. Islamic commentators have resolved the issue of time and place being guided by the terms used in the Qur'an about the flood of Arim. For example, Mawdudi writes in his commentary:
As also used in the expression, Sayl al-Arim, the word "arim" is derived from the word "arimen" used in the Southern Arabic dialect, which means "dam, barrier." In the ruins unearthed in the excavations made in Yemen, this word was seen to be frequently used in this meaning. For example, in the inscriptions which was ordered by Yemen's Habesh monarch, Ebrehe (Abraha), after the restoration of the big Ma'rib wall in 542 and 543 AD, this word was used to mean dam (barrier) time and again. So, the expression of Sayl al- Arim means "a flood disaster which occurs after the destruction of a dam." "… We converted their two garden [rows] into gardens producing bitter fruit, and tamarisks, and some few [stunted] Lote-trees" (Qur'an, 34:16). That is, after the collapse of the dam-wall, all the country was inundated by the flood. The canals that had been dug by the Sabaean people, and the wall that had been constructed by building barriers between the mountains, were destroyed and the irrigation system fell apart. As a result, the territory, which was like a garden before, turned into a jungle. There was no fruit left but the cherry-like fruit of little stumpy trees.3
The Christian archaeologist Werner Keller, writer of "Und Die Bible Hat Doch Recht" (The Holy Book Was Right), accepted that the flood of Arim occurred according to the description of the Qur'an and wrote that the existence of such a dam and the destruction of the whole country by its collapse proves that the example given in the Qur'an about the people of the garden was indeed realised.4
After the disaster of the Arim flood, the region started to turn into a desert and the Sabaean people lost their most important source of income. Their lands, which had been agricultural havens of prosperity and financial strength, disappeared. The people, who had not heeded the call of Allah to believe in Him and to be grateful to Him, were in the end punished with this disaster.
1. Hommel, Explorations in Bible Lands (Philadelphia: 1903), 739.
2. "Marib", Islam Ansiklopedisi: Islam Alemi, Tarihi, Cografya, Etnografya ve Bibliyografya Lugati (Encyclopedia of Islam: Dictionary of Islamic World, History, Geography, Ethnography, and Bibliography,) 7, 323-339.
3. Mevdudi, Tefhimül Kuran (An Honoring of the Qur’an) 4, Insan Yayinlari (Istanbul), 517.
4. Keller, Und die Bibel hat doch recht, 230
THE PEOPLE OF AL-HIJR
The people of Thamud are a tribe mentioned in the Qur'an about whom a substantial amount is known. Historical sources confirm that a people known as the Thamud existed many years ago. It is believed that the people of al-Hijr referred to in the Qur'an are actually the same people as Thamud, because another name for Thamud is "Ashab al-Hijr." That being the case, the word "Thamud" may be the name of a people and al-Hijr one of the cities they founded. In fact, this is exactly what is suggested by the descriptions of the Greek geographer Pliny, who wrote that Thamud lived in places called Domotha and Hegra, the present-day city of Hijr.1
The oldest known historical source to refer to Thamud are the Babylonian state records. They relate the details of the victory of King Sargon II of Babylon over that people in the 8th century B.C. Sargon defeated them in a war in Northern Arabia. The Greeks also mention this people and Aristotle, Ptolemy and Pliny refer to them as the "Thamudaei" i.e. "Thamud."2 All trace of them vanished before the time of our Prophet (saas) in around 400-600.
The well-known ruins of Petra in Jordan
The people of al-Hijr denied the Messengers. We brought them Our Signs but they turned away from them. They carved out houses from the mountains, feeling safe, but the Great Blast seized hold of them in the morning, so all that they earned was of no use to them.
Today, one can see the finest examples of these peoples' stonework in the Rum Valley in Jordan, better known as Petra. Indeed, the Qur'an refers to their expertise in stonework thus:
[Salih said to his people,] "Remember when He appointed you successors to 'Ad and settled you in the land. You built palaces on its plains and carved out houses from the mountains. Remember Allah's blessings and do not go about the earth, corrupting it." (Qur'an, 7:74)
The people of al-Hijr denied the Messengers. We brought them Our Signs but they turned away from them. They carved out houses from the mountains, feeling safe, but the Great Blast seized hold of them in the morning, so all that they earned was of no use to them. (Qur'an, 15:80-84)
1. "Hicr", Islam Ansiklopedisi: Islam Alemi, Tarihi, Cografya, Etnografya ve Bibliyografya Lugati, (Encyclopedia of Islam: Dictionary of Islamic World, History, Geography, Ethnography, and Bibliography) Vol. 5/1, 475.
2. Phillip Hitti, A History of the Arabs (London: Macmillan: 1970), 37.