Earlier Revealed Religions of Arabia

Arabia had been the birth-place of several prophets of God in the bygone times. The Qur’an says: “And make mention (O Muhammad) of the brother of A’ad when he warned his folk among the wind-curved sandhills – and verily warners came and went before and after him – saying: Serve none but Allah. Lo! I fear for you the doom of a tremendous Day.” [Qur’an 46:21]

Prophet Hud(78) (‘alayhis salaam) was sent to the A’ad; a people, according to historians, belonging to the ‘Arab Ba’idah who lived in a tract of white or reddish sand blown into hill banks or dunes and covering a vast area to the south-west of al-Rub’e al-Khali (the vacant quarter) near Hadramaut. This region has no habitation and is void of the breath of life, but it was a verdant land in the ancient times, with flourishing towns inhabited by a people of gigantic strength and stature. The whole area was consumed by a fearful and roaring wind which covered it with sand dunes.(79)

The Quranic verse quoted above shows that the Prophet Hud (‘alayhis salaam) was not the only messenger of God sent to the ancient Arabs of this area as many more ‘warners came and went before him’.

Salih(80) (‘alayhis salaam) was another Arabian Prophet sent to the people called Thamud who lived in al-Hijr situated between Tabuk and Hijaz. Prophet Isma’il (‘alayhis salaam) was brought up in Makkah, and he died in the same city. If we extend the frontiers of the Arabian peninsula northwards to include Midian on the borders of Syria, Prophet Shu’yeb(81) (‘alayhis salaam) would also be reckoned as an Arabian prophet. The historian Abul Fida says that Midianites were Arabs, living in Midian near Ma’an, which is adjacent to the Sea of Lut (Dead Sea) in Syria on the frontier of Hijaz. The Midianites flourished after the downfall of the people of Lut.

Ancient Arabia had been the cradle of many a civilised and flourishing people to whom God had sent His Prophets. But all of them were either destroyed because of their evil ways or became strangers in their own homeland, or were forced to seek new homes. The prophets of God born in the lands far away had sometimes to seek refuge in Arabia from the despotic kings of their lands. Ibrahim (Abraham) (‘alayhis salaam) had migrated to Makkah and Moses (‘alayhis salaam) had to flee to Midian. Followers of other religions, too, had to seek shelter in Arabia. The Jews, when persecuted by the Romans, had settled in Yemen and Yathrib while several Christian sects harassed by the Byzantine Emperors had migrated to Najran.(82)

[78] Recognised by some as Heber of the Bible (Judges iv-l).

[79] For details see the Chapter “The Reality” of the Qur’an.

[80] Identified by some as Salah of Genesis xi-13.

[81] Identified with Jethro

[82] For further details see Vol. I of Kathim-un-Nabiyin by Shekh Muhammad Abu Zuhra.

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