Prophet Salih (Peace be upon Him) was sent to a community between Tabuk and al –Madina, Saudi Arabia. And he was sent to the People of Samud who lived after the people of Ad. Prophet Salih(PBUH) came before Prophet Ibraheem(PBUH).
Adand Thamud were two great civilizations destroyed by God due to their excessive wickedness. After the destruction of the Ad, the tribe of Thamud OR Samud succeeded them in power and glory. They also fell to idol-worshipping. As their material wealth increased so, too, did their evil ways while their virtue decreased. Like the people of Ad, they erected huge buildings on the plains and hewed beautiful homes out of the hills. Tyranny and oppression became prevalent as evil men ruled the land.
So Allah sent unto them His Prophet Salih (PBUH), a man from among them. His name was Salih Ibn Ubeid, Ibn Maseh, Ibn Ubeid, Ibn Hader, Ibn Thamud, Ibn Ather, Ibn Eram, Ibn Noah. He called his people to worship Allah alone, and to not associate partners with Him. While some of them believed him, the majority of them disbelieved and harmed him by both words and deeds.
Salih directed them: "O my people! Worship Allah, you have no other Ilah (god) but Him." Quran Surah Hud 11:61
Salih was known for his wisdom, purity and goodness and had been greatly respected by his people before Allah's revelation came to him. Salih's people said to him: "O Salih(Saleh)! You have been among us as a figure of good hope and we wished for you to be our chief, till this, new thing which you have brought that we leave our gods and worship your God (Allah) alone! Do you now forbid us the worship of what our fathers have worshipped? But we are really in grave doubt as to that which you invite us to monotheism." Quran Surah Hud 11:62
The people of Thamud gathered at their meeting place, in the shadows of a great mountain. They demanded that Saleh prove that the One God he spoke of was truly mighty and strong. They asked him to perform a miracle – to cause a unique and incomparable she camel to emerge from the nearby mountains. Saleh addressed his people asking, if the camel appeared would they then believe in his message. They answered a resounding yes, and together the people prayed with Saleh for the miracle to occur.
Allah granted Salih this miracle and a huge, unique, she camel appeared from the direction of the mountain. The Quranic commentators said that the people of Thamud gathered on a certain day at their meeting place, and the prophet Salih (PBUH) came and addressed them to believe in Allah, reminding them of the favors Allah had granted them.
Then pointing at a rock, they demanded: "Ask your Lord to make a she camel, which must be pregnant, tall and attractive, issue from the rock for us."
Salih replied: "Look now! If Allah sends you what you have requested, just as you have described, will you believe in that which I have come to you with and have faith in the message I have been sent with?"
They answered: "Yes."
So he took a vow from them on this, then prayed to Allah the Almighty to grant their request. Allah ordered the distant rock to split asunder, to bringing forth a great ten month pregnant she camel. When their eyes set on it, they were amazed. They saw a great thing, a wonderful sight, a dazzling power and clear evidence!
A number of Salih's people believed, yet most of them continued in their disbelief, stubbornness, and going astray. Allah the Almighty said: "We sent the she camel to Thamud as a clear sign, but they did her wrong. (Ch 17:59)
and also: "Verily the dwellers of Al Hijr (the rocky tract) denied the Messengers. We gave them Our Signs, but they were averse to them. Quran Surah Hijr 15:80-81
This she-camel in Arabic is naaqatullah (the she-camel of Allah).There are a number of ancient accounts of this camel and its miraculous nature. It was said that the she camel was miraculous because a rock in the mountain split open and it came forth from it, followed by its young offspring. Other accounts said that the she camel used to drink all the water in the wells in one day, and no other animals could approach the water. Still others claimed that the she camel produced milk sufficient for all the people to drink, on the same day that it drank all the water, leaving none for them.
At first, the people of Thamud were greatly surprised when the she camel issued from the mountain rocks. It was a blessed camel, and its milk sufficient for thousands of men, women and children. If it slept in a place that place was abandoned by other animals. Thus it was obvious that is was not an ordinary camel, but one of Allah's signs. It lived among Salih's people, some of whom believed in Allah while the majority continued in their obstinacy and disbelief.
Their hatred of Salih turned towards the blessed she camel and became centered on it. A conspiracy started to be hatched against the camel by the disbeliveers, and they secretly plotted against it.
Salih feared that they might kill the camel, so he warned them: "O my people! This she camel of Allah is a sign to you, leave her to feed on Allah's earth, and touch her not with evil lest a near torment will seize you." Quran Surah Hud 11:64
For a while, Salih's people let the camel graze and drink freely, but in their hearts they hated it. However, the miraculous appearance of the unique camel caused many to become Salih's followers, and they clung to their belief in Allah.
The disbelievers now began complaining that this huge she camel with its unusual qualities drank most of the water and frightened their cattle. The chiefs of the city then approached the most beautiful girls in the city to use their charms to entice the men to kill the she-camel of Allah.
They laid a plot to kill the camel, and sought the help of their women folk to tempt the men to carry out their commands. A very beautiful girl called Saduq bint of Mahya, who was from a rich and noble family, offered herself to a young man named Masrai Ibn Mahraj on condition that he hamstring the camel. Aniza, an old woman, offered one of her daughters to a young man, Qudar Ibn Saluf, in return for killing the camel. Naturally these young men were tempted and set about finding seven others to assist them. Usama Ibn Zayd (RA) narrated the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “I have not left behind me any fitnah (temptation) more harmful to men than women.” Sahih al-Bukhaari 5096 and Sahih Muslim 2740
They watched the camel closely, observing all its movements. As the she camel came to drink at the well, Masarai shot it in the leg with an arrow. It tried to escape but was hampered by the arrow. Qudar followed the camel and struck it with a sword in the other leg. As it fell to the ground, he pierced it with his sword.
The killers were given a hero's welcome, cheered with songs and poetry composed in their praise. In their arrogance they mocked Salih, but he warned them: "Enjoy life for 3 more days then the punishment will descend upon you." Salih was hoping that they would see the folly of their ways and change their attitude before the three days went out.
"Why three days?" they asked. "Let the punishment come as quickly as possible." He pleaded with them: "My people, why do you hasten to evil rather than good? Why do not you ask pardon of Allah so that you may receive mercy?"
They replied: "We see your presence and that of your followers as bringing evil on us."
Almighty Allah related their story: "And indeed We sent to Thamud their brother Salih, saying "Worship Allah Alone and none else." Quran Surah Araf 7:73
They also plotted to kill Salih and his household as Almighty Allah stated: "So they plot, and We planned a plan, while they perceived not." Quran Surah Naml 27:50 Allah saved Salih and his followers from their wicked plans. Heavy hearted, they left the evil doers and moved to another place.
"When they killed the she-camel, Salih said to them: "Enjoy yourselves in your homes for three days. This is a promise (i.e., a threat) that will not be belied.'' Quran Surah Hud 11:65 They said: `Salih claims that he will finish with us in three days, but we will finish him and his family before the three days are over.'
Salih had a place of worship in a rocky tract in a valley, where he used to pray. So they set out to go to a cave there one night, and said, `When he comes to pray, we will kill him, then we will return. When we have finished him off, we will go to his family and finish them off too.'
Then Allah sent down a rock upon them from the mountains round about; they feared that it would crush them, so they ran into the cave and the rock covered the mouth of the cave while they were inside.
Their people did not know where they were or what had happened to them. So Allah punished some of them here, and some of them there, and He saved Salih and the people who were with him.
Three days after Salih's warning, thunderbolts filled the air, followed by severe earthquakes which destroyed the entire tribe and its homeland. The land was violently shaken, destroying all living creatures in it. There was one terrific cry which had hardly ended when the disbelievers of Salih's people were struck dead, one and all, at the same time. Neither their strong buildings nor their rock hewn homes could protect them.
Allah the Exalted said: "To Thamud people We sent their brother Salih. HE said: "O my people! Worship Allah, you have no other Ilah (god) but Him (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah). Indeed there has come to you a clear sign ( the miracle of the coming out of a huge she camel from the midst of a rock) from your Lord. This she camel of Allah is a sign unto you so you leave her to graze in Allah's earth, and touch her not with harm, lest a painful torment should size you. Remember when He made you successors after Ad people and gave you habitations in the land, you build for yourselves palaces in plains and carve out homes in the mountains. So remember the graces bestowed upon you from Allah, and do not go about making mischief on the earth."
The leaders of those who were arrogant among his people said to those who were counted weak to such of them as believed: "Know you that Salih is one sent from his Lord." They said: "We indeed believe in that with which he has been sent." Those who were arrogant said: "Verily, we disbelieve in that which you believe in."
So they killed the she camel and insolently defied the Commandment of their Lord, and said: "O Salih! Bring about your threats if you are indeed one of the Messengers (of Allah)." So the earthquakes seized them and they lay dead, prostrate in their homes. Then he (Salih) turned from them, and said: "O my people! I have indeed conveyed to you the Message of my Lord, and have give you good advise but you like not good advisers." Quran Surah Araf 7:73-79
All were destroyed before they realized what was happening. As for the people who believed in the message of Salih (PBUH), they were saved because they had left the place.
Narrated `Abdullah bin `Umar(R):The people landed at the land of Thamud called Al-Hijr along with Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and they took water from its well for drinking and kneading the dough with it as well. (When Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) heard about it) he ordered them to pour out the water they had taken from its wells and feed the camels with the dough, and ordered them to take water from the well whence the she-camel (of Prophet Salih) used to drink. Sahih al-Bukhari 3379 (Vol.4:562)
Narrated `Abdullah bin Zam`a:I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) while referring to the person who had cut the legs of the she-camel (of the Prophet (ﷺ) Salih), saying, "The man who was appointed for doing this job, was a man of honor and power in his nation like Abu Zam`a." Sahih al-Bukhari 3377 (Vol.4:560)
Allah said: And We had certainly sent to Thamud their brother Salih, [saying], "Worship Allah ," and at once they were two parties conflicting. He said, "O my people, why are you impatient for evil instead of good? Why do you not seek forgiveness of Allah that you may receive mercy?" They said, "We consider you a bad omen, you and those with you." He said, "Your omen is with Allah . Rather, you are a people being tested." And there were in the city nine family heads causing corruption in the land and not amending [its affairs]. They said, "Take a mutual oath by Allah that we will kill him by night, he and his family. Then we will say to his executor, 'We did not witness the destruction of his family, and indeed, we are truthful.' " And they planned a plan, and We planned a plan, while they perceived not. So those are their houses, desolate because of the wrong they had done. Indeed in that is a sign for people who know. Quran Surah Naml 27: 45-52
God saved Prophet Saleh and all his followers; they packed some meagre belongings, and with heavy hearts, moved to another place. After three days, Prophet Saleh’s warning came to pass. The sky was filled with lightning and thunder and the earth shook violently. God destroyed the city of Thamud and her people died in a torment of fear and disbelief.
Ibn Kathir said that Saleh’s people fell down dead, one and all, all at the same time. Their arrogance and disbelief could not save them, nor could their idols. Their large and extravagant buildings afforded them no protection at all. God continues to send clear guidance to humankind but the disbelievers persist in their arrogance and denial. God is the most Merciful and the most Forgiving: He loves to forgive. However, God’s warnings should not to be ignored. God’s punishment, as the people of Thamud experienced, can be swift and severe.
ALLAH KNOWS BEST
Stories of the prophets by Ibn kathir