Madain Saleh – Cities inhabited by the People of Thamud



While Muslims believe in the message of Quran without any doubts, their faith gets even stronger when they see and experience real life proofs for the messages, events and other facts mentioned in the Quran. The sites of the people of Prophet Saleh is one such example.



These sites referred to as Madain Saleh are not only mentioned in the Quran but they continue to exist today in remote areas of Saudi-Arabia. Madain Saleh (translated as cities of [prophet] Saleh) is located near a city called “Ula”, about 400 kilometers north of Al-Madinah Munawwara in Saudi-Arabia. Madain Saleh was also referred to as “Al-Hjr”. Muslims believe that Madain Saleh was once inhabited by the people of Thamud, who are mentioned in the Quran. The name “Al-Hijr” is also mentioned in the Quran.


If you happen to visit Madain Saleh today, you will see the tombs and stone like structures that the people of Thamud had carved in the mountains (see picture below and above).

The Quran mentions about this fact by stating:

“And you carve houses out of mountains with great skill” – (Chapter 26 Ash-Shuara, Verse 149) – Quran

The story at Madain Saleh is about Prophet Saleh whom Allah had sent to preach to the people of Thamud. Prophet Saleh also had a she-camel about which Allah had specifically instructed Thamud not to harm the she-camel or they would face the consequences.

The Quran states in the same chapter:

  • “And touch her not with harm, lest the torment of a Great Day seize you.”
  • “But they killed her, and then they became regretful.”
  • “So the torment overtook them. Verily, in this is indeed a sign, yet most of them are not believers.”– (Chapter 26 Ash-Shuara, Verse 156-158) – Quran

If you happen to visit Madain Saleh and the cemetery in the area, you will notice many tombs. These tombs have various inscriptions that date back to sixth century BC.

These cities were later known to be inhabited by the Nabatean civilization. Therefore, some historians believe that some or all of the tombs were carved by Nabateans. However, Muslims believe (by referencing the Quran) that they were originally built by the people of Thamud.


The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through his teachings and experiences had taught Muslims to avoid being in such places simply because God’s wrath had fallen on such places. At the same time during his visits, he also pointed out in those places the lessons that others can learn from such historical places and events. The Prophet (saws) said, “Do not pass through the dwelling place of those who wronged themselves without crying….”. The crying out of reflection refers to thinking about denying and violating Allah’s message and the punishment that may be caused by it.

These archeological sites that existed so long ago and inhabited by people of high sophistication definitely can drive us to reflect regarding the temporary nature of this world and to ponder about the fact that material things that tend to preoccupy us so immensely in our daily life, don’t really matter at the end.

Share your thoughts below…


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