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The City of Pillars 


In 1992, Nicholas Clapp, an amateur archaeologist using the NASA data discovered the ruins of an ancient city from under the sand dunes of Yemen. It was realized that they were the remnants of the City of Iram, home of the people of Aad, referred to in the Quran. Press releases appeared in leading newspapers around the world with such headlines as 'Fabled Lost Arabian City Re-Discovered,' 'Found: Arabian City of Legend', and 'Ubar - the Atlantis of the Sands'. Among the structures retrieved were columns, the existence of which is mentioned in the Quran. The excavations at Ubar unearthed many great artistic relics and works of an advanced civilization. Dr. Zarins, a member of the team that carried out the excavation, stated that these pillars were chiefly what made this city different from other archaeological discoveries, and that this, therefore, was the city of the people of Aad referred to in the Quran.

In Yemen, at the southern end of the Red Sea, about two millennia before the time Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihiwasallam ), there lived a magnificent tribe called the People of Aad. They were very tall and strong. They were considered brilliant architects as well as excellent warriors. They had an advanced civilization having lofty buildings in large cities with cultivated lands of verdant fields and lush gardens with luxuriant orchards. But today, there is nothing left there besides the sand dunes. The Quran refers to the people of Aad as the successors of the Prophet Nuh (alaihissalam). With the passage of time, they had become very proud of their physical superiority and invincibility in the battlefield. They transgressed from the right path and began worshipping idols.

When decadence set in, Almighty Allah sent Prophet Houd (alaihissalam) as His messenger to Aad. The Prophet invited them to the path of righteousness and told them to fear Allah and avoid His wrath. He relentlessly preached to his tribe about the oneness of Allah and called upon them to worship none other than Allah. However the people disobeyed him and proudly boasted: "Who is more powerful than us?" The Prophet replied to them: "O people! Do not be misled by your physical strength and political clout. Be grateful to Allah for having blessed you with these bounties. After the extermination of the people of Noah (alaihissalam), He made you the owners of the land. He granted you a trouble-free, secure existence. Therefore do not forget His bounties and refrain from worshipping these idols, which can neither bring benefit nor harm to you."

The people of Aad refused to believe that Houd was a prophet of Allah. They said "O Houd, you have not shown us any miracle. So, we are not going to leave our gods." This rejection did not deter the messenger of Allah from propagating the religion of truth. He advised them to seek forgiveness from the Lord for their imprudence: "Know that life, death, blessings, and retribution all lie in the hands of the Creator, the one true God. You have disobeyed Him for some time, but the door of repentance is not yet closed. Seek His clemency; He will forgive your failings. Be righteous and He will increase His bounties upon you." Very few among the people of the nation of Aad accepted his message. The vast majority of them were defiant. They did not even have the patience to listen to his words; and they did not want anyone to advise them in their affairs.

Prophet Houd (alaihissalam) was relentlessly ridiculed when he preached to them about Resurrection and the Day of Judgment. They asked, "O Houd! Do you say that we will be resurrected after we die and turn into dust?" He replied, "Yes, you will be made to assemble on the Day of Judgment and each of you will be questioned about your deeds in this life." His reply was greeted with peals of laughter from the crowd. The chiefs of his people said: "He is no more than a human being like you, he eats of that which you eat, and drinks of what you drink. If you were to obey a human being like yourselves, indeed, you will be losers. Does he promise you that when you have died and have become dust and bones, you shall be resurrected? Far, very far is that which you are promised. There is nothing but our life of this world! We live and we die! We are not going to be resurrected!"

As years went by, the conflict between Prophet Houd (alaihissalam) and his tribe became more intense. The people became prouder and more obstinate, more tyrannical and more defiant. They even accused him of being a lunatic. They told him: "We now understand the secret of your madness. You insulted our gods and they have harmed you; that is why you have become insane." He repeatedly reminded them of the terrible punishment that befell the nation of Prophet Noah (alaihissalam). But they refused to pay any attention to the warnings and some of them asked him: "Do you desire to be our master with your call? What payment do you want?" Prophet Houd (alaihissalam) tried to make them understand that he did not wish for anything from them except that they see the light of the truth, and that he expected no reward other than from Almighty Allah.

Before long, a drought spread throughout the land; no rain fell from the sky for a long time; the sun scorched the desert sands; and all the crops were parched. Prophet Houd (alaihissalam) told the people: "Allah is angry with you. If you believe in Him, He will forgive you; there will be rains; and you will become more prosperous than ever before." But the people refused to pay any heed to this last warning. They were more obstinate in their belief and declared that their gods would help them. The drought became more intense; trees bore fruits no more; and water was nowhere to be found.

One day, dark clouds suddenly appeared in the sky. The atmosphere underwent a drastic change. A strong chilly wind began to blow and its intensity increased by every hour. The people, who had anticipated imminent rains when they saw the dark clouds and had started rejoicing, were now panic-stricken and started running helter-skelter. The clouds grew larger and larger as the wind howled louder and louder. The air was full of dust and sand. When they ran to their tents for shelter, the wind ripped the tents from their stakes. When they hid under cloth covers, the gale swept them away. The storm raged for eight days and seven nights. It became so fierce that it slashed the clothing and skin, and all the unbelievers were decimated to the last one. The tall, handsome, and strong men of Aad lay dead on the ground, overthrown like hollow trunks of palm trees. The storm abated only after the entire city was obliterated -swallowed up and buried under huge, newly-formed sand dunes. Prophet Houd (Peace be upon him) and his few followers were miraculously spared from the fury of the storm. They migrated to Hadramaut and lived there in peace, worshipping Allah, the one true God.

“Then, when they saw the (Penalty in the shape of) a cloud traversing the sky, coming to meet their valleys, they said, "This cloud will give us rain!" "Nay, it is the (calamity) ye were asking to be hastened! A wind wherein is a Grievous Penalty! Everything will it destroy by the command of its Lord!" Then by the morning, nothing was to be seen but (the ruins of) their houses! Thus do We recompense those given to sin!” [Quran 46: 24-25 Translated meaning]

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"Invite to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided."

Holy Qur’an 16:125


"Narrated Aishah (radhi-yallaahu 'anhaa): The Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) said, “Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and receive good news because one's good deeds will not make him enter Paradise.” They asked, “Even you, O Allah's Messenger?” He said, “Even I, unless and until Allah protects me with His pardon and His Mercy."

Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, Hadith No. 474