The Thamūd (/θæˈmuːd/; Arabic: ثـمـود‎) is an ancient civilization in the Hejaz known from the 8th century BCE[1] to near the time of Muhammad. The Thamud civilization was located in the north of the peninsula. Although they are thought to have originated in Southern Arabia, Arabic tradition has them moving north to settle on the slopes of Mount Athlab near Mada'in Saleh.

Numerous Thamudic rock writings and pictures have been found on Mount Ath-lab and throughout central Arabia.[2]


The oldest known reference to Thamud is a 715 BC inscription of the Assyrian king Sargon II, which mentions them as being among the people of eastern and central Arabia subjugated by the Assyrians. According to Islamic tradition, the Thamūdi existed much earlier than this, whose ancestors are said to be Iram and Ars (identified as the Biblical Aram and Uz).[3]

They are referred to as ‘Tamudaei’ in the writings of Aristo of Chios, Ptolemy, and Pliny.[4]

The Qur’an

Like the ʿĀd, the Qur'an mentions the Thamud in Surah Al-A'raf in the context of several prophets who warned their people of coming judgment.The verses advise Thamud to take warning from the destruction of ʿĀd.

To the Thamud people (We sent) their brother Salih. He said, “O my people! worship Allah: you have no other deity other than Him. There has come to you clear evidence from your Lord. This is the she-camel of God sent to you as a Sign. So leave her to eat within God's land, and do not touch her with harm, lest there seize you a painful punishment.
And remember when He made you successors after ʿAd and settled you in the land, and you take for yourselves palaces from its plains and carve from the mountains, homes. Then remember the favors of God and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption.”

— Qur'an, Surah 7 (Al-A'raf), ayat 73-74[5]

This verse suggests some kind of relationship between ʿĀd and Thamud, and ʿĀd may even have been a part of Thamud's history and culture. However the 'Ad lived in the Hadramaut region of present-day Yemen, unlike the Thamud, who lived in the Hejaz region, near present-day Arabia Just as Nuh's (Noah) people were seen as the ancestors of ʿĀd, it seems ʿĀd were seen in a similar relation to Thamud.

The ʿĀad were a people living in southern Arabia.

A bit further on from the passage quoted above, the Qur'an says,

So they hamstrung the she-camel, and were insolent toward the command of their lord and said, “O Salih, bring us what you promise us, if you should be of the messengers.”
So the earthquake seized them, and they became within their home (corpses) fallen prone.

— Qur'an, Surah 7 (Al-A'raf), ayat 77-78[6]

In Surah Al-Qamar it says “Indeed, we sent upon them one shriek (i.e, blast from the sky), and they became like the dry twig fragments of an (animal) pen.”[7]

Ibn Khaldun

Historian and scholar, Ibn Khaldun also mentions the Thamud several times in his universal history Kitābu l-ʻibar (Arabic: كـتـاب الـعـبـر‎) (the Book of Lessons) written in the late 14th century, but only in passing, seldom giving much information.

This can be illustrated by what happened among the nations. When the royal authority of ʿĀd was wiped out, their brethren, the Thamud, took over. They were succeeded, in turn, by their brethren, the Amalekites. The Amalekites were succeeded by their brethren, the Himyar. The Himyar were succeeded by their brethren, the Tubba's, who belonged to the Himyar. They, likewise, were succeeded, by the Adhwa'.130 Then, the Mudar came to power.

— Muqaddimah ("Introduction"), Chapter II [8]

The Yemen, al-Bahrayn, ‘Oman, and the Jazirah have long been in Arab possession, but for thousands of years, the rule of these areas has belonged to different (Arab) nations in succession. They also founded cities and towns (there) and promoted the development of sedentary culture and luxury to the highest degree. Among such nations were the ‘Ad and the Thamud, the Amalekites and the Himyar after them, the Tubba‘s, and the other South Arabian rulers (Adhwa) . There was a long period of royal authority and sedentary culture. The coloring of (sedentary culture) established itself firmly. The crafts became abundant and firmly rooted. They were not wiped out simultaneously with (each ruling) dynasty, as we have stated. They have remained and have always renewed themselves down to this time, and they have become the specialty of that area. Such (special Yemenite) crafts are embroidered fabrics, striped cloth, and finely woven garments and silks.

— Muqaddimah Chapter V [9]


A script graphically similar to the Semitic alphabet (called Thamudic) has been found in southern Arabia and up throughout the Hejaz.[10] The script was first identified in a region in north central Yemen that is known as Thamud, which is bound to the north by the Rub' al Khali, to the south by the Hadhramaut and to the west by Shabwah. The script was named after the place where it was first discovered, not for the people. Inscriptions in Thamudic come mostly from northern Saudi Arabia, but can be found throughout the Arabian peninsula.[11]


Very little information is known about the identity or the nationality of Thamud, but they are referred to as Arabs (‘àrabes’) in the records of the Greek Historian Diodorus Siculus.[12]

The title and description given by Photius to the Thamud indicates that they had a status similar to Qedarites who have been identified as Arabs.[13]

In 2003, Professor Jan Retsö[14] in a research in his book The Arabs in Antiquity[15] concluded that Thamudic people were Arabs.[13]

Roman historian Pliny the Elder stated the Thamūd people ("Tamudaei") and other Arabian ethnic groups lived among and nearby the city of Domata,[16] an Arabic cognate to the Biblical son of Ishmael, Dumah, whose descendants became stone-carving Edomites.[17] The change from "Dumah" or "Dumat" to "Thamūd" may be attributed to undefined vowels in written Semitic languages as well as gradual shifting of consonantal pronunciation and dialects due to time and nomadic changes in location.

Use of the name

After the disappearance of the original people of Thamud, Robert Hoyland suggested that their name was subsequently adopted by other new groups that inhabited the region of Mada'in Saleh.[18]

This suggestion is supported by ʿAbdullah ibn ʿUmar and Ibn Kathir who report that people called the region of Thamud Al-Hijr, while they called the province of Mada'in Saleh as Ardh Thamud (Land of Thamud) and Bayt Thamud (house of Thamud).[19][20] The conclusion that can be taken from the evidences above is that the term ‘Thamud’ was not applied to the groups that lived in Mada'in Saleh, such as Lihyanites and Nabataeans,[21][22] but rather to the region itself.

According to Classical Arabic sources, it was agreed upon that the only remaining group of the native people of Thamud are the tribe of Banu Thaqif which inhabited the city of Taif south of Mecca.[23][24][25]


As it was told in the Qur'an the original people of Thamud vanished.[26][27] It is suggested that the story mentioned in the Qur'an explains “they may have been destroyed by one of the many volcanic outbreaks that have formed the far-reaching Arabian lava fields.”[28]

See also


  1. ^ Ephʻal, Israel (1982). The Ancient Arabs: Nomads on the Borders of the Fertile Crescent, 9Th-5Th Centuries B.C. BRILL. ISBN 9652234001.
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  3. ^ M. Th. Houtsma et al., eds., E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936
  4. ^ Phillip Hitti, A History of the Arabs, London: Macmillan, 1970, p. 37.
  5. ^ Quran 7:73–74
  6. ^ Quran 7:77–78
  7. ^ Quran 54:31
  8. ^ Muqaddimah Ch. 2.21
  9. ^ Muqaddimah Ch. 5.20
  10. ^ Brian Doe, Southern Arabia, Thames and Hudson, 1971, pp. 21-22.
  11. ^ Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - Thamudic inscriptions exhibit
  12. ^ Bibliotheca historica, Volume II, Book III, Page 219
  13. ^ a b The Arabs in Antiquity: Their History from the Assyrians to the Umayyads, Page 299
  14. ^ Jan Retsö
  15. ^ Retsö, Jan (2003). The Arabs in Antiquity: Their History from the Assyrians to the Umayyads. RoutledgeCurzon.
  16. ^ VI Archived 2017-01-01 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Isaiah 21:11
  18. ^ Hoyland, Robert G. (2001). Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam. Routledge. p. 69. ISBN 0415195349.
  19. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, Narrated: ʿAbdullah ibn ʿUmar, Hadiths: 2116 & 3379
  20. ^ Ibn Kathir (2003). Al-Bidâya wa-l-Nihâya ("The Beginning and the End") Vol.1. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyya. p. 159.
  21. ^ The New Encyclopædia Britannica: Macropædia Volume 13. USA: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 1995. Page: 818
  22. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Under the Category of: History of Arabia, the Section of: Dedān and Al-Ḥijr
  23. ^ The Detailed History of Arabs before Islam, Prof. Jawwad Ali, Volume: 15, Page: 301
  24. ^ The Historical Record of Ibn Khaldon, Volume: 2, Page: 641
  25. ^ Kitab Al-Aghani, Abu Al-Faraj Al-Asfahani, Volume: 4, Page: 74
  26. ^ Quran %3Averse%3D61 11 :61–69
  27. ^ Quran %3Averse%3D141 26 :141–158
  28. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Under the Category of: Thamūd

External links

Al-Fajr (surah)

Sūrat al-Fajr (Arabic: سورة الفجر‎, “The Dawn”, “Daybreak”) is the eighty-ninth chapter (sura) of the Quran with 30 verses. The sura describes destruction of disbelieving peoples: the Ancient Egyptians, the people of Iram of the Pillars, and Mada'in Saleh. It condemns those who love wealth and look with disdain upon the poor and orphans. Righteous people are promised Paradise – the final verse says "And enter you My Paradise!". The Surah is so designated after the word wal-fajr with which it opens.


Sūrat al-Qamar (Arabic: سورة القمر‎, "The Moon") is the 54th sura of the Quran with 55 ayat. Some verses refer to the Splitting of the moon. "Qamar" (قمر), meaning "'Moon" in Arabic, is also a common name among Muslims.


An-Naml (Arabic: الْنَّمْل, "The Ants") is the 27th chapter (sūrah) of the Qur'an with 93 verses (āyāt).

Regarding the timing and contextual background of the supposed revelation (asbāb al-nuzūl), it is an earlier "Meccan surah", which means it is believed to have been revealed in Mecca, instead of later in Medina.


Sūrat ash-Shams (Arabic: الشمس‎, "The Sun") is the 91st sura of the Qur'an with 15 ayat. It opens with a series of solemn oaths sworn on various astronomical phenomena, the first of which, "by the sun", gives the sura its name, then on the human soul itself. It then describes the fate of Thamud, a formerly prosperous extinct Arab tribe. The prophet Saleh urged them to worship God alone, and commanded them in God's name to preserve a certain she-camel; they disobeyed and continued to reject his message, and God destroyed them all except those who had followed Salih.

Companions of the Rass

The Companions of the Rass, also known as the People of the Well or the People of Ar-Rass, were an ancient community, who are mentioned in the Qur'an. The Qur'an provides little information concerning them other than to list them with other communities, including ʿĀd, Thamud, the People of Noah and others; the Qur'an groups all these communities together as nations who went astray and were perished for their sins. Muslim scholars related that the Companions of the Rass were a community in the Azerbaijan region. The root meaning of rass is a well or water pit, but some scholars have stated that Rass was the name of a river or the city itself. It is speculated that modern Aras River is ar-Rass.

Another less common theory is that Companions of the Rass were an Indus Valley Civilisation. With Rass meaning "well" or "along the water channels" or "water tranches". Means refer to place which has lot of wells. Today we know that at Mohenjo-daro around 700 wells existed at the peak of their civilization. Similar estimates Harappa city itself 300 well. Same about Dholavira, where a lot of trenches were created to store water. Some Arabs referred to Indus people as Companions of the Rass.


According to the Table of Nations in the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible, Gether (Hebrew: גֶּ֫תֶר‎ Ḡeṯer; Aather in Arabic) was the third son of Aram, son of Shem. He appears only twice in the Hebrew Bible, and both times is only mentioned in passing in genealogical lists. In the Table of Nations (Genesis 10:23), he is identified as a son of Aram, while in 1 Chronicles 1:17, he is listed among the sons of Shem.

In Arabic traditions, he is sometimes considered the father of Thamud, whose brother the Qur'an calls Salih.According to the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, he is ancestor of the Bactrians. Jerome (c. 390) considers Gether the ancestor of the Acarnanians. Isidore of Seville (c. 635) makes him ancestor of the Acarnanians or Curians.

Hadhramaut Governorate

Hadhramaut or Hadramawt (Arabic: حضرموت‎ Ḥaḍramawt) is a governorate of Yemen. Lying within the large historical region of Hadhramaut, it is the country's largest governorate.

The capital of Hadhramut is the city of Mukalla. Other cities in Hadhramaut include the historical towns of Shibam, Sena, Seiyun, Tarim, and Ash Shihr. It was badly hit by rainfall during the 2008 Yemen floods, which left thousands homeless and many buildings shattered.

The Socotra archipelago was transferred from the Adan Governorate to the Hadhramaut Governorate in 2004. It was subsequently separated to form the newly created Soqatra Governorate in December 2013.


The Hejaz (; Arabic: ٱلْـحِـجَـاز‎, romanized: al-Ḥijāz, lit. 'the Barrier') is a region in the west of Saudi Arabia. The name of the region is derived from the Arabic root hajaza, meaning "to separate", and it is so called as it separates the land of the Najd in the east from the land of Tihamah in the west. It is also known as the "Western Province". It is bordered on the west by the Red Sea, on the north by Jordan, on the east by the Najd, and on the south by the 'Asir Region. Its largest city is Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia.

Hejaz is significant for being the location of the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the first and second holiest sites in Islam respectively. As the site of the two holiest sites in Islam, the Hejaz has significance in the Arab and Islamic historical and political landscape. The Hejaz is the most populated region in Saudi Arabia, containing 35% of the population of Saudi Arabia. Arabic is the predominant language as in the rest of Saudi Arabia, with Hejazi Arabic being most widely spoken dialect in the region. Saudi Hejazis are of ethnically diverse origins.The region is the birthplace of the Islamic Ummah (Community) of Muhammad, who was born in Mecca, which is locally considered to have been founded by the Biblical figures Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael. The area became part of his empire through the early Muslim conquests, and it formed part of successive caliphates, first the Rashidun caliphate, and then the Umayyad caliphate and the Abbasid caliphate. The Ottoman Empire held partial control over the area of Hejaz. After its dissolution, an independent Kingdom of Hejaz existed briefly in 1925 before being conquered by the neighbouring Sultanate of Nejd, creating the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd. In September 1932, the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd joined the Saudi dominions of Al-Hasa and Qatif, creating the unified Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.[2][3]The Hejaz is the most cosmopolitan region in the Arabian Peninsula. People of Hejaz have the most strongly articulated identity of any regional grouping in Saudi Arabia. Their place of origin alienates them from the Saudi state, which invokes different narratives of the history of the Arabian Peninsula.

Hud (surah)

Hūd (Arabic: هود‎) is the 11th chapter (sūrah) of the Qur'an with 123 verses (āyāt). It is about the prophet Hud. Regarding the timing and contextual background of the supposed revelation (asbāb al-nuzūl), it is an earlier "Meccan surah", which means it is believed to have been revealed in Mecca, instead of later in Medina.

Iram of the Pillars

Iram of the Pillars (Arabic: إرَم ذَات ٱلْعِمَاد‎, Iram dhāt al-ʿimād), also called "Irum", "Irem", "Erum", "Ubar", or the "City of the pillars," is a lost city, region or tribe mentioned in the Qur'an.


Midian (; Hebrew: מִדְיָן Miḏyān [mid.jaːn]; Arabic: مَـدْيَـن‎, Madyan; Greek: Μαδιάμ, Madiam) is a geographical place mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and Quran. William G. Dever states that biblical Midian was in the "northwest Arabian Peninsula, on the east shore of the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea", an area which he notes was "never extensively settled until the 8th–7th century B.C."According to the Book of Genesis, the Midianites were the descendants of Midian, who was a son of Abraham and his wife Keturah: "Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah" (Genesis 25:1–2, King James Version).

Pre-Islamic Arabia

Pre-Islamic Arabia is the Arabian Peninsula prior to Muhammad's preaching of Islam in 610 CE.

Some of the settled communities developed into distinctive civilizations, and are limited to archaeological evidence, accounts written outside of Arabia and Arab oral traditions later recorded by Islamic scholars. Among the most prominent civilizations were the Thamud which arose around 3000 BCE and lasted to about 300 CE and Dilmun which arose around the end of the fourth millennium and lasted to about 600 CE. Additionally, from the beginning of the first millennium BCE, Southern Arabia was the home to a number of kingdoms such as the Sabaeans and Eastern Arabia was inhabited by Semitic speakers who presumably migrated from the southwest, such as the so-called Samad population. A few nodal points were controlled by Iranian Parthian and Sassanian colonists.

Pre-Islamic religion in Arabia included indigenous polytheistic beliefs, various forms of Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism.


Saleh () or Salih (; Arabic: صَالِح‎, romanized: Ṣāliḥ, lit. 'Pious') is a Prophet mentioned in the Quran and Bahá'í books who prophesied to the tribe of Thamud in ancient Arabia, before the lifetime of Muhammad. The story of Saleh is linked to the story of the She-Camel of God, which was the gift given by God to the people of Thamud when they desired a miracle to confirm that Saleh was truly a prophet.

She-Camel of God

The She-Camel of God (Arabic: نَـاقـة الله‎) in Islam was a miraculous female camel sent by God to the people of Thamud in Al-Hijr, after they demanded a miracle from the prophet Saleh. The narrative and story of the she-camel is recorded in the Quran.

Thamud, Yemen

Thamud (Arabic: ثمود‎) is a town in northeastern Yemen. It is located at around 17°18′0″N 49°55′0″E.

Thamud District

Thamud District (Arabic: مديرية ثمود‎) is a district of the Hadhramaut Governorate, Yemen. As of 2003, the district had a population of 4,402 inhabitants.


Thamudic is a name invented by nineteenth-century scholars for large numbers of inscriptions in Ancient North Arabian (ANA) alphabets which have not yet been properly studied. It does not imply that they were carved by members of the ancient tribe of Thamud. These texts are found over a huge area from southern Syria to Yemen. In 1937, Fred V. Winnett divided those known at the time into five rough categories A, B, C, D, E. In 1951, some 9000 more inscriptions were recorded in south-west Saudi Arabia which have been given the name Southern Thamudic.Thamudic A is now known as Taymanitic. Thamudic E is now known as Hismaic. Southern Thamudic is also known as Thamudic F.

Tribes of Arabia

The tribes of Arabia are the clans that originated in the Arabian Peninsula.


According to Islamic tradition, Ad (also called Aad) is the great-grandson of Shem, son of Noah (Arabic: sam ibn Nuh سام بن نوح) who came from the northeast and was the progenitor of the Adites. Noah is said to be Ad's the great-great-grandfather, he being the son of Awadh(Uz) (عوض), who was the son of Iram (إرم), who was the son of Shem (سام) the son of Noah (نوح).

In Islamic tradition, the Adites are believed to be among the first inhabitants of the country of the Arabians. They belong to what is known as the perished Arabs (العرب البائدة).

After Ad's death, his sons Shadid and Shedad reigned in succession over the Adites. "ʿĀd" then became a collective term for all those descended from 'Ad.

According to the Qur'an, Iram (إرم) is the place to which the prophet Hud (هود) was sent in order to guide its people back to the righteous path of God. The citizens continued in their idolatrous ways, and Allah destroyed their city in a great storm.

Surah 89:6-14 mentions ʿĀd:

The Quran, chapter 89 (Al-Fajr), verses 6–14:

It is said that Hud along with his closest family escaped the region and resettled in and around the modern area of Hadramaut in Yemen. His grave is traditionally said to be located there till this day. According to Islamic scholarship, the descendants of Hud were the forerunners to the Pure Arabs (العرب العاربة).

People and things in the Quran

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