Friday, January 15, 2010


Chambers at inside the hewed home
Cluster of hewed homes in a mountain
Cluster of hewed homes in a mountain

Cluster of hewed homes in another mountain

Prophet Saleh

God selected a man among Thamuds as His messenger. He was Saleh bin Ubaid bin Maseh bin Ubaid bin Hadir bin Thamud bin Athir bin Iram bin Noah. His presence among Thamuds as Prophet is the pinnacle of their history that is well documented and remembered by Muslims all over the world and particularly in the region even today. It is also observed from the traditions of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) that this region is cursed by the Creator due to the severe punishment meted out to Thamuds through natural obliteration. Even today, the elderly Arabs living nearby region was not interested to visit the place. Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) advises to avoid visiting such cursed places and even if someone to visit for learning purposes, should cry for the fear of curse and punishment.

Followings are the verses from different parts of Holy Quran to detail the final events that led to the destruction of Thamuds from earth. Prophet Saleh called them to worship one God and not to associate any partner with Him. He warned of their corrupted life widely prevailed among them including their way of life that is against the Creator and the law of nature.

“And to Thamud We sent their brother Saleh. He Said, ‘O my people! Worship Allah, you have no God other than Him. He has created you from the earth and made you dwell in it, therefore, ask for forgiveness from Him, then repent to Him, surely my Lord is near and responsive’.

They said, ‘O Saleh! Surely, you were among us a source of hope before this. Do you forbid us to worship what our fathers worshipped? Surely, we are in suspicious doubt as to what you invite us to”. (11:61,62 – Holy Quran)

“Thamud rejected the Messengers, when their brother Saleh said to them; Will you fear Allah? I am for you a trustworthy Messenger. So fear Allah and obey me. And I do not ask you for any reward for it, surely my reward is only with the Lord of the worlds. Do you think you will be left secure here, in gardens and fountains, in plantations and date groves with fine spathes? And you hew houses out of the mountains with great skills. So fear Allah and obey me, and do not obey the bidding of the transgressors, who spread corruptions in the land do not do right”. (26:141-152 – Holy Quran)

Thamuds were continue to reject him and even believed that he is a sorcerer or bewitched.

“You are merely one of those who are bewitched” (26:153 – Holy Quran)

Thamuds then demanded Saleh to produce some evidence or to bring a miracle to prove his claim as Prophet and has received guidance from God.

"So bring a sign if you are truthful” (26:154 – Holy Quran)

The researchers and scholars have summarized that Thamud gathered in their assembly and Prophet Saleh came to them again and invited to believe in one God. He further admonished them and even warned the consequences of spreading corruption and rejecting the faith. Thamuds have demanded something impossible like ‘If you can produce from this rock (pointing towards a rock) a she-camel with a specific characteristic of at least 10 meters long. The Prophet Saleh accepted their challenge and asked them to believe in him as messenger of God and took their covenant and promise for that. Prophet Saleh stood up and offered prayers to God to respond their demand. God commanded particular rock to produce a she-camel with the qualities they have described.

“This is a she-camel, she shall have her portion of water and you shall have your portion of water on an appointed day. And do not harm her, least you be seized with a chastisement of grievous day”. (26:155,156 – Holy Quran)

“This is the she-camel of Allah, as a sign for you, leave her to graze in Allah’s earth and do not harm her, lest you be seized by a swift chastisement”. (7:73 – Holy Quran)

“We shall send the she-camel as a trial for them. So watch them and bear patiently. And inform them that the water is to be shared between them and her, each one will have his drink in turn”. (54:27,28 – Holy Quran)

When they watched this miracle, many of them believed in Saleh’s message and equal number of them still persisted in their erroneous way of life and devotion. However, the she-camel is a reality and need to remain with them. The she-camel was grazing wherever she wanted and drink whenever it require. It became the practice for Thamud tribes and the she-camel to drink from the well on alternative days and the well was equally divided between she-camel and Thamuds. It is also said that Thamuds drank or consumed the milk from the she-camel in return of sharing the water well.

After a long confrontational situation, their leaders gathered and decided unanimously that the she-camel should be hamstrung and killed, in order to relieve them with sufficient portion of water for themselves. The person who took charge or volunteered of slaying the she-camel was their chief Qidar bin Salif bin Junda. It is said that he was born out of wedlock and chief of them, hence his act of slaying is regarded as the act of his whole people.

Ibn Jarir have mentioned that there were two women in Thamuds and one of them was Saduq, the daughter of Mahya bin Zuhair bin Mukhtar and was wealthy. The other woman was Unaizah bint Ghunaim bin Mijlaz and nicknamed Umm Ghanmah. Saduq was divorced due to her husband’s belief in Saleh as Prophet and approached her cousin to marry her provided if he can kill the she-camel. Her cousin name was Masra bin Muharraj bin Mahya. Umm Ghanmah had four daughters and offered one of her daughters to Qidar bin Salif bin Junda if he can kill the she-camel. These are the two men and along with seven more members from the community made available to kill the she-camel.

“And there were in the city nine people who made mischief in the land, and did not act righteously” (27:48 – Holy Quran)

They pursued the rest of the tribe to agree with them by presenting the benefits of killing the she-camel and all agreed to their plan. When the she-camel came out from a well Masra ambushed her with his arrow into her shinbone. While group of women chanting for their heroics and instigated other men, Qidar bin Salif came forward with his sword and hamstrung her and she fell on the earth.

"But they called their companion and he took a sword and hamstrung her. See how was My punishment and how True My warnings". (54:29,30 – Holy Quran)

“When their most wretched broke forth with mischief; then the Messenger of Allah said to them: ‘The she-camel of Allah, let her have her drink’. But they disbelieved him and they hamstrung her, for their sin their Lord obliterated them. And He fears not the consequences thereof’. (91:12 to 15 – Holy Quran)
“So they slew the she-camel and insolently defied their Lord’s command and challenged Saleh saying; ‘Bring us that which you threaten us with, if you are a Messenger” (7:77 – Holy Quran)
As soon as the she-camel fell on earth, all other people cut the she-camel into pieces when her calf watched all this. The calf fled from the place and went onto the peak of the mountain and howled three times. They even tried to kill Saleh on the same evening.
“But they slew her, and he said: Enjoy yourselves in your homes for three days, this is the promise not to be belied”. (11:65 Holy Quran)

They still could not believe in the warning of Saleh and continue their mission of killing Saleh and his family.

“They said; ‘swear a mutual oath by Allah that we shall make a night attack on him and his family, and then we will say to his heir; we did not witness the slaying of his family, and we are saying the truth”. (27:49 – Holy Quran)

“And they devised a plot, and We planned a plan while they did not perceive. See how was the end of their plot, for We destroyed them and their people all together. So these are their houses in utter ruin, because of the evil they committed. Surely there is a sign in this for people who have knowledge. And We rescued those who believed and were God fearing”. (27:50 to 53 – Holy Quran)

God saved Saleh and his people with His miracle by crushing the enemies with a larger stone rolled down from a mountain while they were waiting to ambush Saleh and his family. It is also observed in history that Saleh and his people left the city and lived afterwards in Makkah.

“So Saleh left them and said: ‘O my people! I did indeed convey to you the message of my Lord, and I advised you sincerely, but you do not love sincere advisors”. (7:79 – Holy Quran)

(To be continued)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

உழவர் திருநாள்

பொங்கல் திருநாள்
உலகிற்கு அமுதூட்டும்
உழவர் திருநாள்.
வானும் மண்ணும் பார்த்து
வயிற் நிறைத்தவனின்
வாழ்வுத் திருநாள்

சேற்றில் வீடுகட்டி
செம்மண்ணில் நடைபயின்று
வரப்பு வீதிகளில்
கோவனத்தில் வாழ்ந்துவரும்
விவசாயித் திருநாள்

நாடு வளம் பெற
காடு மண்ணில் களம் பரப்பி
நாய் நரிகள் மத்தியிலும்
நன் மக்கள் குடிசையிலும்
சாக்கு முக்காடிட்டு

சந்திரனின் ஒளிகொண்டு
வாழ்வின் விடியலுக்கு
விடியல்வரை நீர் பாய்ச்சும்
எளியோர் திருநாள்

என் பாட்டன் பூட்டன் முதல்
சாதி சனம் சேர்ந்தணைத்து
இயற்கையின் அரவணைப்பில்
இன்பமாய் வாழ்ந்துணர்ந்த
வலியோர் பெருநாள்

நெருங்கரும்பை நிற்க வைத்து
கொத்து மஞ்சள் படைசாற்றி
வெண் பானை பொங்கலிட்டு
பல்லில்லா பாட்டன் முதல்
பொக்கைவாய் மழலை வரை
வான் சிரிக்க வாய்விட்டு
பொங்கலோ பொங்கல் சொல்லும்
ஏழைகளின் எழுச்சித் திருநாள்

இனம் மறந்து இயல் மறந்து
இருப்பின் நிலைமறந்து
பொருள் ஈட்டும் போதையிலே
தமிழின் தரம் மறந்த தமிழனுக்கு
நினைவூட்டும் தாயகத் திருநாள்

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Chiseled wall (rough finish)

Chiseled wall (fine finish)

Chiseled roof corner

Wall shelves

Wall shelves

Thamud was a famous Arab tribe living between Hijaz and Tabuk named after their forefather Thamud the brother of Jadis. Both are sons of Athir bin Iram bin Shem bin Noah the Prophet. Thamud tribe came into existence after the natural devastation that must have been annihilated the ‘Ad’ tribe. It is known from the Holy Quran that Ad tribe have suffered continued rain, cold wind and thunders for seven nights and eight days that spelled doom to their existence on earth. In fact the Ad and Thamud stories are well known to the followers of Moses, Jesus and among Muslims.

Thamuds have built palaces and castles on the plains of the earth and particularly had the great skills of hewing the houses out of mountains. The art of hewing the houses from the mountains and hills is certainly stands even today and proved to be a great skill that benefits numerous generations to come. Hewing the mountains guaranteed a safe shelter to Thamuds since their average life span is more than four hundred years. They must have frequently experienced damages to their mud houses and tents often in their own life time and prompted to try and learn the hewing of mountains. The inspiration of hewing the mountains certainly stands as a monumental creative thinking of Thamuds and is yet another example of human competence under duress. Their mastery in carving the mountains again shows that this tribe must have enjoyed unperturbed lifestyle and considerable freedom. Life in harmony with nature always helps the humans to evolve with noble principles to benefit all humans and the existence of Madaen Saleh is yet another proof in regard to the civilization. It is amazing to see the walls (as shown in above pictures) and roofs that are beautifully carved with stone tools. The carved surfaces remind us a perfect interior paint design of heritage in our modern houses. I was able to distinguish the works of craftsmanship in different chiseled walls having some variation in carved effects as some of the walls and roofs are extremely tidy with uniformed chisel works.

Some of the interior walls are having beautifully carved shelves to keep provisions or utensils (see above pictures). The interesting observation is that the home style of Thamuds or the early generation does not differ much from present generation in some part of the world, especially in Asia and Africa.

The interior arrangement and neatness clearly shows that there exists a wonderful lifestyle and were well settled in their life. Further it denotes that their life must have been largely pleasant enough to concentrate on improving the lifestyle. The history mentioned in Holy Quran does not include any references or information related to war or skirmishes with fellow dwellers in the region. Therefore, it may be safe to conclude that they were largely having comfortable life.

There were few trenches at inside the home suggests that this could have been used as resting place for older or dying people. Thamuds are seems to be well built in their physique and having the average height of 7 feets as most of the trenches are having similar length and width. In many houses, the trenches are suitable enough for a single man or woman to lay down with required air circulation. In few houses, we observed wide trenches like basement rooms. It was not clear whether it was carved or extended by Thamuds or the following occupants.

The region has acquired tremendous importance and gained significant position in trade, culture, arts and political route to successive kingdoms and becomes an integral part of the world history. The relevance of Madaen Saleh became more interesting due to the Nabataens who have further utilized these hewed houses for considerable period. However, before we scrutiny the history of Nabataeans , it is worth to read the penultimate last period of Thamuds that is highly significant in Islam and to some extend in other religions originated from Middle East. Although Thamuds’ stories are not clearly or well documented in Jewish and Christian holy books, but Holy Quran exponents the examples.

(To be continued)


Visiting the historical sites and monuments, especially the naturally preserved sites are extremely delightful to eyes and equally mysterious to minds. Often it turned out to be an enriching experience due to the inscrutability surrounded with it. I have experienced one such during my recent visit to Madaen Saleh historical site which is inexplicable in terms of its silent existence for more than 5000 years. I must appreciate the Saudi government and the authorities for preserving its originality and preventing it from human pollution (see the below picture). I would even recommend leaving the site as it is so as the researchers, historians, archeologists, scientists and geologists can easily feel the presence of history in almost original form. They can also able to uncover and reconstruct the history of its inhabitants including the Nabataeans life and their astuteness.

My visit to Madaen Saleh with family is one of the most memorable experiences to all of us. The incapable human minds always tend to travel to past and try to unravel the lost sequence of human history. It did happen to me and I tried to identify such frequency of feelings. The dead sands and rocks; perplexing shapes and sizes of mountains; curiously looking skies; and the comprehensive existence of historical evidences are all consistently exhibiting the visual lessons to the humans that the world is impermanent to any living beings. Nature has many to offer and its imperceptible communication to every human observing mind is unexplainable in words. Nature has its own language and meanings and Madaen Saleh too. Madaen Saleh is undoubtedly one of the remarkable historical monuments on earth which is imprinting the exciting experiences and memory for ever. Precisely, the mentioning of Prophet Saleh and his people’s story in Holy Quran added the meaningful purpose to my visit.

Time and again it is proved that history has many faces and incredibly mysterious when we look at the astounding appearances of monuments and structures. One cannot have conclusive satisfaction of mere visit with simple or casual approach. It required a careful, concentrated and detailed approach right from basic knowledge about the locations, preparation of mind, proper guide and above all a clean mind to observe everything without any prejudice. I prepared with all necessary information and have read the records including Holy Quran and Ibn Kathir’s ‘the stories of prophets’ prior to my travel. Obviously, I will have to repeat the same when I come back.

It is appropriate to start from the years of Prophet Saleh as is known to the world as Madaen Saleh. It is also learned from history references that the site was named as Madaen Saleh by Andulasian traveler in 1336 AD. However, Holy Quran is the only authentic and highly relevant source available at present with the stories of Ad and Thamud tribes. Through Holy Quran only we would able to understand that Prophet Moses also warned his people with the stories of Ad and Thamuds. Holy Quran explains in detail including the explanation from Ibn Kathir.

(To be continued)