Ruins of 'Aad and Thamood existed at time of Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam
Fatwa No: 339598

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. I was wondering, does verse 29:38 of the Quran mean that the houses of 'Aad and Thamud are still standing and that we can see them? If 'Aad were destroyed, there is nothing left of 'Aad apart from their land, so their houses have fallen down, and if they were not standing in Prophet Muhammad's, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, time, then there is nothing left off them in our time either. Or maybe there was nothing left off them in the Prophet's, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, time either, and what they thought was the town of 'Aad was not them, because they (the historians) said that the town was destroyed about 100 AD, but 'Aad was destroyed before Moses and Abraham, peace be upon them. So my question is: what does this verse mean? May Allaah reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger. 

The houses of ‘Aad ('Ad) and Thamood (Thamud) were known to the Arabs as they used to see them when traveling to and from Syria or Yemen. The houses of Thamood are called Al-Hijr, and the houses of ‘Aad are called Al-Ahqaaf.

Allah says (what means): {And [We destroyed] 'Aad and Thamood, and it has become clear to you from their [ruined] dwellings...} [Quran 29:38]

Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him when interpreting the above verse, said, “Aad are the people of Hood (Hud); they used to live in Al-Ahqaaf (curved sand-hills), near Hadramawt in the lands of Yemen. Thamood are the people of Saalih (Salih); they lived in Al-Hijr, near Waadi Al-Qura. The Arabs used to know their dwellings very well, and they would pass by them often.

Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, “Do not enter the dwellings of those who were unjust to themselves unless (you enter) weeping, lest you should suffer the same punishment as was inflicted upon them...” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Therefore, those houses were known to those Arabs whom the Quran addressed with these verses when they were revealed. Now, in the north of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, there is what is called Madaa'in Saalih. Some scholars say that they are the houses of Thamood.

The Standing Committee for Research and Fatwa was asked about the ruling of going to Madaa'in Saalih to picnic, and the Committee issued a fatwa saying that it is not permissible unless one goes with the purpose of seeking admonishment and taking a lesson from them because they were houses of a punished people. Thus, the Committee did not deny that they are the houses of Thamood. Also, Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him was asked about this, and he did not deny that they are their houses.

As regards the dwellings of ‘Aad, then as we have already mentioned, the Arabs knew their dwellings in those times and they used to pass by them; as for now, we have not come across anyone who mentioned that they still exist.

Allah knows best.

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