By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
26 March, 2015
The stories of prophets oft repeated in the Quran during the first 13 years of the Meccan period are the stories of Noah, Lut, Moses, Hud, Salih, and Shoaib (pbut). What is common in each of these oft repeated stories is that those who actively opposed the Prophets and tried to harm them and their followers or were intransigent rejecters of the Message were utterly destroyed by an act of God. Their destruction came about after the rejecters were left with no excuse for their rejection of the “Message” and after clear warnings. There are 86 Surahs of the Meccan period and the stories of one or more or all of the prophets are found in 26 of these Surahs in varying detail and brief references in 6 other surahs. These are the only stories that are repeated in the Quran with some overlap with the story told elsewhere and additional details not found in other Surahs or only a brief summary of the story related in greater detail elsewhere.
The earliest Surah is number 3 in chronological order which briefly touches upon the story of Moses and the punishment of Pharaoh and his followers. Surah 10 in chronological order Al-Fajr contains the stories of the Prophets Hud and Salih briefly. The other Surahs with number denoting chronological order that contain the stories are Sad 38, Al Araf 39, Al Furqan 42, Al Qamar 55, Taha (Moses) 45. Ash Shuara 47, An Naml 48, Al Qasas 49, Al Isra 50, Yunus 51, Hud 52, Al Hijr 54, As Saffat 56, As Saba 58, Al Ghafir 60, Fussilat 61, Nooh 71, Ibrahim 72, Al-Ambiya (The Prophets) 73, Al-Mominun 74, Al-Haqa 78, An Naziat 81,Al-Ankaboot 85. Other MeccanSurahs that contain a reference to these stories are: Fatir 43, Maryam, 44, Al Anam 55, AzZukhruf 63, Al Ahqaf 66, Ar –Rome 84
Let us look at the warning in Surah Saad (chronological order 38)
(38:1) Saad: By the Qur´an, Full of Admonition: (This is the Truth).
(2) But the Unbelievers (are steeped) in self-glory and Separatism.
(3) How many generations before them did We destroy? In the end they cried (for mercy)- when there was no longer time for being saved!
(4) So they wonder that a Warner has come to them from among themselves! and the Unbelievers say, "This is a sorcerer telling lies!
(5) "Has he made the gods (all) into one Allah? Truly this is a wonderful thing!"
(6) And the leader among them go away (impatiently), (saying), "Walk ye away, and remain constant to your gods! For this is truly a thing designed (against you)!
(7) "We never heard (the like) of this among the people of these latter days: this is nothing but a made-up tale!"
(8) "What! has the Message been sent to him - (Of all persons) among us?"...but they are in doubt concerning My (Own) Message! Nay, they have not yet tasted My Punishment!
(9) Or have they the treasures of the mercy of thy Lord,- the Exalted in Power, the Grantor of Bounties without measure?
(10) Or have they the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all between? If so, let them mount up with the ropes and means (to reach that end)!
(11) But there - will be put to flight even a host of confederates.
(12) Before them (were many who) rejected messengers,- the people of Noah, and ´Ad, and Pharaoh, the Lord of Stakes,
(13) And Thamud, and the people of Lut, and the Companions of the Wood; - such were the Confederates.
(14) Not one (of them) but rejected the messengers, but My punishment came justly and inevitably (on them).
(15) These (today) only wait for a single mighty Blast, which (when it comes) will brook no delay.
(16) They say: "Our Lord! hasten to us our sentence (even) before the Day of Account!"
(17) Have patience at what they say, and remember our servant David, the man of strength: for he ever turned (to Allah) …….
Interestingly, the stories of these prophets are not found in any of the Medinian Surahs which number 28 except in Surah Al Haj which gives the permission to fight in verse 39 and the justification for it in verse 40. That the nature of this fighting was to assume the punishment meted out to the people of Noah, Hud (Ad), Salih (Thamud), Lut, Shoaib (Madyan), Abraham and Moses of which the Meccans were repeatedly warned in 32 of the MeccanSurahs is clearly indicated in this Surah. So while the MeccanSurahs repeatedly warned the people, the Medinian Surah Al Haj announces the beginning of the warning coming true. There is another two verse reference in Surah Tahrim to the fact that wife of Prophet Lut was a disbeliever and also the son of Prophet Noah whereas the wife of the Pharaoh was a believer.
The Stories of Prophets like Jesus, Isaac, Ismail, Yaqoub, David, Solomon,Yusuf, Yunus(pbut) etc. whose prophetic missions did not end in the destruction of the disbelievers are told only once and not repeated and these stories are found in the Mediniansurahs with the exception of the stories of the Prophets Yusuf and Yunus. Surah Yusuf and Surah Yunusare both MeccanSurahs.This is an extremely interesting exception and its relevance to the people of Mecca will be discussed in part 4.
The end of the disbelievers of Mecca in this world and the hereafter,if they acted in a manner similar to those people of the earlier generations and actively opposed Muhammad (pbuh), is therefore repeatedly foretold and forewarned through the stories of these prophets from the earliest period when the followers of Muhammad were only three and when the mission had just begun.
The Medinians consisted of the following three categories of people:
1. Arab pagans who accepted Islam and were sincere followers of the faith
2. Arab pagans who accepted Islam but were hypocrites
3. The People of the Book or the Christians and the Jews.
The Medinians did not meet an end similar to the end the disbelievers among people of the prophets Noah, Moses, Lut, Hud, Salih and Shoaib (pbut) met since there were no disbelievers among them. The Medinians were like the people of Jesus, Isaac, Yaqoub, David Solomonetc and therefore it is the stories of these prophets that are found in the MedinianSurahs and not the stories of the prophets Noah, Moses Lut, Hud, Salih and Shoaib. The real distinction between the Meccan and MedinianSurahs is only this. The Medinian period consisted of bringing to reality what was repeatedly warned and foretold in the MeccanSurahs as to the fate of those who actively opposed the faith would meet.
The story of the Prophets Noah, Hud, Salih, Shoaib, Lut and Moses from Surah Al-A'raaf / The Heights which is number 39 in chronological order is related below through the verses of the Quran.
The story of the Prophet Noah (pbuh)
(7:59) We sent Noah to his people. He said: "O my people! worship Allah! ye have no other god but Him. I fear for you the punishment of a dreadful day!
(60) The leaders of his people said: "Ah! we see thee evidently wandering (in mind)."
(61) He said: "O my people! No wandering is there in my (mind): on the contrary I am a messenger from the Lord and Cherisher of the worlds!
(62) "I but fulfil towards you the duties of my Lord´s mission: Sincere is my advice to you, and I know from Allah something that ye know not.
(63) "Do ye wonder that there hath come to you a message from your Lord, through a man of your own people, to warn you,- so that ye may fear Allah and haply receive His Mercy?"
(64) But they rejected him, and We delivered him, and those with him, in the Ark: but We overwhelmed in the flood those who rejected Our signs. They were indeed a blind people!
The story of the Prophet Hud (pbuh)
(7:65) To the ´Ad people, (We sent) Hud, one of their (own) brethren: He said: O my people! worship Allah! ye have no other god but Him will ye not fear (Allah)?"
(66) The leaders of the Unbelievers among his people said: "Ah! we see thou art an imbecile!" and "We think thou art a liar!"
(67) He said: "O my people! I am no imbecile, but (I am) a messenger from the Lord and Cherisher of the worlds!
(68) "I but fulfil towards you the duties of my Lord´s mission: I am to you a sincere and trustworthy adviser.
(69) "Do ye wonder that there hath come to you a message from your Lord through a man of your own people, to warn you? call in remembrance that He made you inheritors after the people of Noah, and gave you a stature tall among the nations. Call in remembrance the benefits (ye have received) from Allah: that so ye may prosper."
(70) They said: "Comest thou to us, that we may worship Allah alone, and give up the cult of our fathers? bring us what thou threatenest us with, if so be that thou tellest the truth!"
(71) He said: "Punishment and wrath have already come upon you from your Lord: dispute ye with me over names which ye have devised - ye and your fathers,- without authority from Allah? then wait: I am amongst you, also waiting."
(72) We saved him and those who adhered to him. By Our mercy, and We cut off the roots of those who rejected Our signs and did not believe.
The story of the Prophet Salih (pbuh)
(7:73) To the Thamud people (We sent) Salih, one of their own brethren: He said: "O my people! worship Allah: ye have no other god but Him. Now hath come unto you a clear (Sign) from your Lord! This she-camel of Allah is a Sign unto you: So leave her to graze in Allah´s earth, and let her come to no harm, or ye shall be seized with a grievous punishment.
(74) "And remember how He made you inheritors after the ´Ad people and gave you habitations in the land: ye build for yourselves palaces and castles in (open) plains, and care out homes in the mountains; so bring to remembrance the benefits (ye have received) from Allah, and refrain from evil and mischief on the earth."
(75) The leaders of the arrogant party among his people said to those who were reckoned powerless - those among them who believed: "know ye indeed that Salih is a messenger from his Lord?" They said: "We do indeed believe in the revelation which hath been sent through him."
(76) The Arrogant party said: "For our part, we reject what ye believe in."
(77) Then they ham-strung the she-camel, and insolently defied the order of their Lord, saying: "O Salih! bring about thy threats, if thou art a messenger (of Allah)!"
(78) So the earthquake took them unawares, and they lay prostrate in their homes in the morning!
(79) So Salih left them, saying: "O my people! I did indeed convey to you the message for which I was sent by my Lord: I gave you good counsel, but ye love not good counsellors!"
The story of the Prophet Lut (pbuh)
(7:80) We also (sent) Lut: He said to his people: "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you?
(81) "For ye practise your lusts on men in preference to women : ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds."
(82) And his people gave no answer but this: they said, "Drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!"
(83) But we saved him and his family, except his wife: she was of those who legged behind.
(84) And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): Then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime!
The story of the Prophet Shoaib (pbuh)
(7:85) To the Madyan people We sent Shu´aib, one of their own brethren: he said: "O my people! worship Allah; Ye have no other god but Him. Now hath come unto you a clear (Sign) from your Lord! Give just measure and weight, nor withhold from the people the things that are their due; and do no mischief on the earth after it has been set in order: that will be best for you, if ye have Faith.
(86) "And squat not on every road, breathing threats, hindering from the path of Allah those who believe in Him, and seeking in it something crooked; But remember how ye were little, and He gave you increase. And hold in your mind´s eye what was the end of those who did mischief.
(87) "And if there is a party among you who believes in the message with which I have been sent, and a party which does not believe, hold yourselves in patience until Allah doth decide between us: for He is the best to decide.
(88) The leaders, the arrogant party among his people, said: "O Shu´aib! we shall certainly drive thee out of our city - (thee) and those who believe with thee; or else ye (thou and they) shall have to return to our ways and religion." He said: "What! even though we do detest (them)?
(89) "We should indeed invent a lie against Allah, if we returned to your ways after Allah hath rescued us therefrom; nor could we by any manner of means return thereto unless it be as in the will and plan of Allah, Our Lord. Our Lord can reach out to the utmost recesses of things by His knowledge. In the Allah is our trust. our Lord! decide Thou between us and our people in truth, for Thou art the best to decide."
(90) The leaders, the unbelievers among his people, said: "If ye follow Shu´aib, be sure then ye are ruined!"
(91) But the earthquake took them unawares, and they lay prostrate in their homes before the morning!
(92) The men who reject Shu´aib became as if they had never been in the homes where they had flourished: the men who rejected Shu´aib - it was they who were ruined!
(93) So Shu´aib left them, saying: "O my people! I did indeed convey to you the messages for which I was sent by my Lord: I gave you good counsel, but how shall I lament over a people who refuse to believe!"
The story of the Prophet Moses (pbuh)
(7:103) Then after them We sent Moses with Our signs to Pharaoh and his chiefs, but they wrongfully rejected them: So see what was the end of those who made mischief.
(104) Moses said: "O Pharaoh! I am a messenger from the Lord of the worlds,-
(105) One for whom it is right to say nothing but truth about Allah. Now have I come unto you (people), from your Lord, with a clear (Sign): So let the Children of Israel depart along with me."
(106) (Pharaoh) said: "If indeed thou hast come with a Sign, show it forth,- if thou tellest the truth."
(107) Then (Moses) threw his rod, and behold! it was a serpent, plain (for all to see)!
(108) And he drew out his hand, and behold! it was white to all beholders!
(109) Said the Chiefs of the people of Pharaoh: "This is indeed a sorcerer well-versed.
(110) "His plan is to get you out of your land: then what is it ye counsel?"
(111) They said: "Keep him and his brother in suspense (for a while); and send to the cities men to collect-
(112) And bring up to thee all (our) sorcerers well-versed."
(113) So there came the sorcerers to Pharaoh: They said, "of course we shall have a (suitable) reward if we win!"
(114) He said: "Yea, (and more),- for ye shall in that case be (raised to posts) nearest (to my person)."
(115) They said: "O Moses! wilt thou throw (first), or shall we have the (first) throw?"
(116) Said Moses: "Throw ye (first)." So when they threw, they bewitched the eyes of the people, and struck terror into them: for they showed a great (feat of) magic.
(117) We put it into Moses´s mind by inspiration: "Throw (now) thy rod":and behold! it swallows up straight away all the falsehoods which they fake!
(118) Thus truth was confirmed, and all that they did was made of no effect.
(119) So the (great ones) were vanquished there and then, and were made to look small.
(120) But the sorcerers fell down prostrate in adoration.
(121) Saying: "We believe in the Lord of the Worlds,-
(122) "The Lord of Moses and Aaron."
(123) Said Pharaoh: "Believe ye in Him before I give you permission? Surely this is a trick which ye have planned in the city to drive out its people: but soon shall ye know (the consequences).
(124) "Be sure I will cut off your hands and your feet on apposite sides, and I will cause you all to die on the cross."
(125) They said: "For us, We are but sent back unto our Lord:
(126) "But thou dost wreak thy vengeance on us simply because we believed in the Signs of our Lord when they reached us! Our Lord! pour out on us patience and constancy, and take our souls unto thee as Muslims (who bow to thy will)!
(127) Said the chiefs of Pharaoh´s people: "Wilt thou leave Moses and his people, to spread mischief in the land, and to abandon thee and thy gods?" He said: "Their male children will we slay; (only) their females will we save alive; and we have over them (power) irresistible."
(128) Said Moses to his people: "Pray for help from Allah, and (wait) in patience and constancy: for the earth is Allah´s, to give as a heritage to such of His servants as He pleaseth; and the end is (best) for the righteous.
(129) They said: "We have had (nothing but) trouble, both before and after thou camest to us." He said: "It may be that your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you inheritors in the earth; that so He may try you by your deeds."
(130) We punished the people of Pharaoh with years (of droughts) and shortness of crops; that they might receive admonition.
(131) But when good (times) came, they said, "This is due to us;" When gripped by calamity, they ascribed it to evil omens connected with Moses and those with him! Behold! in truth the omens of evil are theirs in Allah´s sight, but most of them do not understand!
(132) They said (to Moses): "Whatever be the Signs thou bringest, to work therewith thy sorcery on us, we shall never believe in thee.
(133) So We sent (plagues) on them: Wholesale death, Locusts, Lice, Frogs, And Blood: Signs openly self-explained: but they were steeped in arrogance,- a people given to sin.
(134) Every time the penalty fell on them, they said: "O Moses! on your behalf call on thy Lord in virtue of his promise to thee: If thou wilt remove the penalty from us, we shall truly believe in thee, and we shall send away the Children of Israel with thee."
(135) But every time We removed the penalty from them according to a fixed term which they had to fulfil,- Behold! they broke their word!
(136) So We exacted retribution from them: We drowned them in the sea, because they rejected Our Signs and failed to take warning from them.
(137) And We made a people, considered weak (and of no account), inheritors of lands in both east and west, - lands whereon We sent down Our blessings. The fair promise of thy Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because they had patience and constancy, and We levelled to the ground the great works and fine buildings which Pharaoh and his people erected (with such pride).
Verses common to all people
(7:94) Whenever We sent a prophet to a town, We took up its people in suffering and adversity, in order that they might learn humility.
(95) Then We changed their suffering into prosperity, until they grew and multiplied, and began to say: "Our fathers (too) were touched by suffering and affluence" ... Behold! We called them to account of a sudden, while they realised not (their peril).
(96) If the people of the towns had but believed and feared Allah, We should indeed have opened out to them (All kinds of) blessings from heaven and earth; but they rejected (the truth), and We brought them to book for their misdeeds.
(97) Did the people of the towns feel secure against the coming of Our wrath by night while they were asleep?
(98) Or else did they feel secure against its coming in broad daylight while they played about (care-free)?
(99) Did they then feel secure against the plan of Allah?- but no one can feel secure from the Plan of Allah, except those (doomed) to ruin!
(100) To those who inherit the earth in succession to its (previous) possessors, is it not a guiding, (lesson) that, if We so willed, We could punish them (too) for their sins, and seal up their hearts so that they could not hear?
(101) Such were the towns whose story We (thus) relate unto thee: There came indeed to them their messengers with clear (signs): But they would not believe what they had rejected before. Thus doth Allah seal up the hearts of those who reject faith.
(102) Most of them We found not men (true) to their covenant: but most of them We found rebellious and disobedient.
Clear Warning to the addressees of Muhammad (pbuh)
(181) Of those We have created are people who direct (others) with truth. And dispense justice therewith.
(182) Those who reject Our signs, We shall gradually visit with punishment, in ways they perceive not;
(183) Respite will I grant unto them: for My scheme is strong (and unfailing).
(184) Do they not reflect? Their companion is not seized with madness: he is but a perspicuous warner.
(185) Do they see nothing in the government of the heavens and the earth and all that Allah hath created? (Do they not see) that it may well be that their terms is nigh drawing to an end? In what message after this will they then believe?
(186) To such as Allah rejects from His guidance, there can be no guide: He will leave them in their trespasses, wandering in distraction.
(187) They ask thee about the (final) Hour - when will be its appointed time? Say: "The knowledge thereof is with my Lord (alone): None but He can reveal as to when it will occur. Heavy were its burden through the heavens and the earth. Only, all of a sudden will it come to you." They ask thee as if thou Wert eager in search thereof: Say: "The knowledge thereof is with Allah (alone), but most men know not."
Or the warning in Surah Al-Furqan/The Criterion, Meccan, 42 in chronological order:
(25:35) (Before this,) We sent Moses The Book, and appointed his brother Aaron with him as minister;
(36) And We command: "Go ye both, to the people who have rejected our Signs:" And those (people) We destroyed with utter destruction.
(37) And the people of Noah,- when they rejected the messengers, We drowned them, and We made them as a Sign for mankind; and We have prepared for (all) wrong-doers a grievous Penalty;-
(38) As also ´Ad and Thamud, and the Companions of the Rass, and many a generation between them.
(39) To each one We set forth Parables and examples; and each one We broke to utter annihilation (for their sins).
(40) And the (Unbelievers) must indeed have passed by the town on which was rained a shower of evil: did they not then see it (with their own eyes)? But they fear not the Resurrection.
(41) When they see thee, they treat thee no otherwise than in mockery: "Is this the one whom Allah has sent as a messenger?"
(42) "He indeed would well-nigh have misled us from our gods, had it not been that we were constant to them!" - Soon will they know, when they see the Penalty, who it is that is most misled in Path!
(43) Seest thou such a one as taketh for his god his own passion (or impulse)? Couldst thou be a disposer of affairs for him?
There are similar warnings in other Surahs as well for example Al-Qasas / The Stories, Meccan, Chronological order 49, ends with the following warning:
(28:55) And when they hear vain talk, they turn away therefrom and say: "To us our deeds, and to you yours; peace be to you: we seek not the ignorant."
(56) It is true thou wilt not be able to guide every one, whom thou lovest; but Allah guides those whom He will and He knows best those who receive guidance.
(57) They say: "If we were to follow the guidance with thee, we should be snatched away from our land." Have We not established for them a secure sanctuary, to which are brought as tribute fruits of all kinds,- a provision from Ourselves? but most of them understand not.
(58) And how many populations We destroyed, which exulted in their life (of ease and plenty)! now those habitations of theirs, after them, are deserted,- All but a (miserable) few! and We are their heirs!
(59) Nor was thy Lord the one to destroy a population until He had sent to its centre a messenger, rehearsing to them Our Signs; nor are We going to destroy a population except when its members practise iniquity.
Surah Yunus a Meccan Surah chronological order 51, ends with the following warning:
(11:120) All that we relate to thee of the stories of the messengers,- with it We make firm thy heart: in them there cometh to thee the Truth, as well as an exhortation and a message of remembrance to those who believe.
(121) Say to those who do not believe: "Do what ever ye can: We shall do our part;
(122) "And wait ye! We too shall wait."
(123) To Allah do belong the unseen (secrets) of the heavens and the earth, and to Him goeth back every affair (for decision): then worship Him, and put thy trust in Him: and thy Lord is not unmindful of aught that ye do.
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com. The author initially used a pseudonym "Observer" for this article.