Has the news of those who came before them not reached them the people of Nuh and ‘Ad and Thamud, and the people of Ibrahim and the inhabitants of Madyan and the overturned cities? Their Messengers brought them the Clear Signs. God did not wrong them; rather they wronged themselves. (Qur’an, 9: 70)
The Great Pyramid, Egypt, 2600 BC
Stonehenge, England, 2000 BC
Angkor Wat, Cambodia, 1150 AD
Machu Picchu, Peru, 1470 AD
What you are seeing are the imposing remains of some old civilisations.
Throughout world history, a great many very different civilisations have grown up, ruled for a while, and then faded away when their time came.
The level of craftsmanship reached by some of them is enough to amaze us even today.
Yet these civilisations, which may have approached and perhaps even surpassed today’s levels of mathematical, astronomical, medical and architectural knowledge, no longer exist.
The knowledge they had, the unbelievable riches they acquired, their magnificent palaces and temples now stand empty and in ruins.
Despite all their power and wealth, they disappeared off the face of the earth.
We now know that some of them were destroyed as the result of terrible disasters.
In this film, we shall be examining just what happened to them.
We shall also see how these destructive events were actually divine retribution, news of which is given in the Qur’an.
We shall see that the peoples in question were destroyed because of their rebellion against God and their excesses.
And archaeological discoveries provide the evidence for this.
THE PEOPLE OF LUT
The people of Lut denied the warnings. We unleashed a sudden squall of stones against all of them... (Qur'an, 54: 33-34)
The land of Anatolia, the plains of Mesopotamia, the Arabian Peninsula and the continent of Africa have witnessed the births of different civilisations since the beginning of time.
God sent messengers to them throughout history, and called them to His path.
Those peoples who refused to believe the messengers sent to them, who tried to kill or exile them, were all destroyed …
One of these civilisations was found within the borders of the present day state of Israel. This people, who settled by the shores of the Dead Sea, were the people of Lut.
According to the Qur’an, homosexuality was so rife among these people, to whom the Prophet Lut had been sent, that its like had never been seen before.
When their brother Lut said to them, “Will you not do your duty? I am a faithful Messenger to you. So heed God and obey me. I do not ask you for any wage for it. My wage is the responsibility of no one but the Lord of all the worlds. Of all beings, do you lie with males, leaving the wives God has created for you? You are a people who have overstepped the limits.” (Qur’an, 26: 161-166)
When Lut told them to renounce their perversions and brought them God’s commands, they denied him, rejected that he was a prophet and continued with their perverted ways.
In return for that behaviour, they were destroyed in a terrible catastrophe.
Let us now have a look at the archaeological evidence that has recently been unearthed regarding this people that are discussed in the Qur’an.
When we look at the Old Testament, the holy book of both Christians and Jews, we see that the matter is described in the same terms as in the Qur’an.
According to the Old Testament, the city where this deviant people lived was Sodom.
Archaeological discoveries from excavations reveal that the city was built near the Dead Sea, which runs along the Israeli-Jordanian border.
Archaeologists working in the area unearthed evidence of a terrible disaster here. The terrible damage to the human skeletons unearthed bore the signs of a powerful earthquake.
According to the Qur’an, angels came to Lut and gave him this warning the night before the disaster:
They said, “Lut, we are messengers from your Lord. They will not be able to get at you. Set out with your family—except for your wife—in the middle of the night and none of you should look back. What strikes them will strike her as well. Their promised appointment is the morning. Is the morning not close at hand?”
When Our command came, We turned their cities upside down and rained down on them stones of hard baked clay;
Piled on top of one another in layers, each one earmarked by your Lord. And they are never far from the wrongdoers. (Qur’an, 11: 81-83)
The expression “turning their cities upside down” in all probability refers to the region being shattered in a powerful earthquake.
According to a news story carried by the BBC under the title “Scientists Uncover Sodom’s Fiery End” the British geologist Graham Harris was one of the scientists to discover powerful evidence on this subject.
According to Dr. Harris, Sodom had been built on the shores of the Dead Sea and traded in the asphalt found in the region. This tarry substance was used in ancient times to waterproof boats and to hold stones together in buildings.
Yet this settlement area, right by the Dead Sea, also stood on very unstable land. This was the point where two tectonic plates, moving in opposite directions, met:
This was an earthquake zone!
The layers of lava and basalt unearthed during the excavations are the strongest proof that there had been a volcanic eruption and earthquake here.
The event described in the Qur’an in the words “rained down on them stones of hard baked clay” was in all probability a volcanic eruption. The event described in the same verse in the words “When Our command came, We turned their cities upside down” may well refer to the ruptures and destruction caused by an earthquake.
Under the Dead Sea shores lie large deposits of flammable methane pockets. The earthquake would have set these in motion and ignited them.
The ground would have turned into a quicksand, and a massive landslide would have swept the city into the water.
A series of scientific experiments at Cambridge University confirmed this theory. Scientists built a replica of the region in which the People of Lut had settled in the laboratory, and induced an artificial earthquake. As had been expected, the earth was inundated and the miniature houses slid into it and were buried there.
These archaeological and experimental discoveries reveal one important fact: The People of Lut discussed in the Qur’an really lived in the past, and were punished for their perversions by a disaster sent by God. All the evidence for that disaster has today been revealed, and is in complete agreement with the account given in the Qur’an. Once again, the fact is revealed that the Qur’an is the word of God.
So the Great Blast seized hold of them at the break of day.
We turned the place completely upside down and rained down on them stones of hard-baked clay.
There are certainly Signs in that for the discerning. (Qur’an, 15: 73-75)
THE END OF POMPEII
Mount Vesuvius is a symbol of Italy, and especially of the city of Naples.
The volcano is also known as “The Mountain of Misfortune.”
There is a good reason for this. A city built on its slopes experienced a similar catastrophe to that which hit the city of Sodom.
The name of the city, destroyed on account of its rebellion against God and its perversions, was Pompeii.
These pictures portray what was once the busiest street in Pompeii.
The city was a holiday destination of the high society of the Roman Empire and a symbol of wealth. The architecture of the houses was breathtaking.
The people of Pompeii were very wealthy.
Yet instead of giving thanks to God for that wealth, they turned into a nation of deviants and gave themselves over to debauchery, and the city became a den of iniquity.
Pompeii was best-known for two things.
One was the gladiatorial combats organized in the huge arena solely for the amusement of the rich. That savage spectacle had only one rule: To fight to the death …
The second largest arena in the Empire, after the Coliseum in Rome, was that of Pompeii.
In the early years of Christianity, that arena witnessed the deaths of countless numbers of people, solely because of their belief in God.
This unbelievable savagery came to be the greatest form of entertainment for the people of Pompeii, whose consciences had withered and died.
The second main feature of Pompeii was that it was the scene of the most ruthless implementation of the system of slavery, which prevailed throughout the Roman Empire.
For a slave to disobey an order there could be only one end …
They were treated as worthless objects, bought for money.
Yet the real oppression of the slaves by the nobles of Pompeii was something different: They were forced into prostitution! The perverted homosexual relations between themselves among the nobles ended in the rape of slaves no older than children …
In short, their wealth had made the people of Pompeii degenerate, and led them into a morass of perversion and deviancy.
They had no idea what was about to happen …
The disaster was so terrible that this huge marble bathtub from one of the baths smashed into the opposite wall with unbelievable force, leaving a huge, deep scar.
In an instant, the lava from Vesuvius wiped Pompeii off the face of the earth.
That disaster remained concealed under the ground for the next 2,000 years …
In the first quarter of the 20th century, archaeologists began to unearth the remains from under tons of volcanic rock. What they encountered was a piece of history 2,000 years old, totally unspoiled.
The disaster had struck the people of Pompeii so suddenly that everything stayed just as it had been 2,000 years ago. As if time had stood still.
Despite the terrible eruption of Vesuvius, nobody fled, but just turned into stone where they stood.
The faces, and even the teeth of some of these bodies remained completely intact. The thing they almost all had in common was their expressions of surprise and terror …
A family eating together were petrified at that exact moment. Even the food on the table has been preserved.
The most extraordinary side of the tragedy is this: How was it that thousands of people waited for death to come and claim them, seeing and hearing nothing?
That dimension of the catastrophe shows that the destruction of Pompeii closely resembles the incidents of destruction recounted in the Qur’an. When such incidents are described in the Qur’an, it is revealed how people were always struck down in an instant, where they stood:
It was but one Great Blast and they were extinct. (Qur’an, 36: 29)
We sent a single Blast against them and they were just like a thatcher’s reeds. (Qur’an, 54: 31)
THE PEOPLE OF AD
‘Ad were destroyed by a savage howling wind. God subjected them to it for seven whole nights and eight whole days without a break. You could see the people flattened in their homes just like the hollow stumps of uprooted palms. Do you see any remnant of them left? (Qur’an, 69: 6-8)
The history of the Arabian peninsula goes back a very long way. Countless legends of the desert-dwelling Bedouins have come down from the past to the present day …
One of these legends speaks of a city built among the empty dunes of the desert. Despite the lethal land around it, the city was rich and fertile. The people of the city enjoyed great well-being.
However, according to the story, the people of the city committed a great sin, and suffered a great punishment for it. A horrible sandstorm annihilated them as if they had never existed.
Archaeological research in Oman, in the south of the Arabian peninsula, has revealed that this tale is true, not a myth at all, and that the people mentioned in the early sources are the People of ‘Ad mentioned in the Qur’an.
It was the amateur archaeologist Nicholas Clapp who discovered this lost city. An Arabophile and a winning documentary film maker, Clapp had encountered a very interesting book during his studies into Arab history.
This book was called Arabia Felix, written by the British researcher Bertram Thomas in 1932.
Arabia Felix was the name given by the Romans to the southern part of the Arabian peninsula, and meant “Fortunate Arabia.”
The reason for this was that the inhabitants of that region in ancient times used to be known as the most fortunate people of the age. But why was that?
The people of the region produced and sold frankincense (fræŋkınsεns), an aromatic resin from rare trees. Frankincense was of great value in ancient societies, and was used as a fumigant in various religious ceremonies. That aromatic resin was as valuable as gold at the time.
In his book, the British researcher Thomas claimed that he had discovered the traces of one of the “fortunate” peoples in question. This was the city known to the Bedouins as “Ubar.” On one of his trips to the region, the Bedouins had shown him an ancient track, saying that it led to a very ancient city known as Ubar. Thomas was greatly interested in this matter, but died before he could complete his research.
Nicholas Clapp studied Thomas’ writings, and came to believe in the existence of the lost city mentioned in the book. Wasting no time, he embarked on his own research.
Clapp asked NASA to scan the region by satellite. In the pictures taken from space appeared the traces of a number of tracks, invisible to the naked eye from the ground. Clapp then compared these pictures to old maps, and came up with the result he had been expecting. The tracks in the old maps were the same as those in the pictures taken from space. Where these tracks joined was a wide area that was realised to have been an ancient settlement.
The time had come for Nicholas Clapp to set off on his travels …
It was a long journey, and one full of adventure… As it made its way through the endless dunes, the research team from time to time made use of the latest technology.
Yet there were also times in that wild place where technology was of no use.
Eventually, Clapp and his team arrived at the historic remains they hoped would be those of the city of Ubar.
From the moment the ruins were discovered, it was realised that they belonged to the People of ‘Ad mentioned in the Qur’an and the city of Iram that they had built. Clapp also made use of the Qur’an during his investigations.
In the Qur’an, the city of Iram was described as possessing tall pillars. Yet the Arabic word used for “pillar” also means “tower.” In other words, the feature of the city described in the Qur’an was that it possessed tall towers.
The traces of these tall towers duly emerged during the excavations. Thanks to the use of three-dimensional graphic technology, scientists were able to reconstruct them. Dr. Zarins, a member of the research team that carried out the excavations, stated that it was these towers that distinguished this city from other archaeological discoveries, and confirmed that the site was the city of Iram which had belonged to the People of ‘Ad mentioned in the Qur’an.
Do you not see what your Lord did with ‘Ad, of the city of Iram with lofty pillars, whose like was not created in any land. (Qur’an, 89: 6-8)
‘Ad denied the truth. How terrible were My punishment and warnings! We unleashed a howling wind against them on a day of unremitting horror. It plucked up men like uprooted stumps. (Qur’an, 54: 18-20)
The people of ‘Ad, whose traces the archaeologists discovered in the city of Ubar, had denied the Prophet Hud who had been sent to them, at which they were destroyed by God.
When they saw it as a storm cloud advancing on their valleys they said, “This is a storm cloud which will give us rain.” No, rather it is what you desired to hasten—a wind containing painful punishment. (Qur'an, 46: 24)
It is revealed in the verse how the people saw a cloud that would bring them great suffering, yet that they failed to understand its significance, believing it to be a rain cloud. This is an important indication of the nature of the suffering that was about to be unleashed on them: Desert storms…
The whirlwinds that proceed along by raising up the desert sands resemble a rain cloud from a distance. It is possible that the People of ‘Ad were deceived by this and failed to realise the danger.
In fact, Ubar, “The Atlantis of the Sands,” was unearthed from beneath a layer of sand several metres thick.
As revealed in the Qur’an, the storm lasted “seven nights and eight days,” depositing tons of sand on the city and burying its population alive.
The most important evidence that the People of ‘Ad had been buried in a desert storm is the word “Ahqaf” used in the Qur’an to define the place of the People of ‘Ad.
Remember the brother of ‘Ad when he warned his people by the sand-dunes—and warners passed away before and after him—“Worship no one but God. I fear for you the punishment of a terrible Day.” (Qur’an, 46: 21)
“Ahqaf” in Arabic means “sand dunes.”
This shows that the people of ‘Ad lived in a region full of sand dunes, so it is quite natural that the city should have been buried in a sand storm.
The disaster that struck the people of ‘Ad in the form of a storm that “flattened people just like the hollow stumps of uprooted palms” must have destroyed the whole population within a very short time.
The whole city and everything in it was buried alive under the sand. The desert slowly spread after the destruction of the People of ‘Ad, leaving no trace of them behind as it settled over them.
In brief, historical and archaeological discoveries prove the existence of the People of ‘Ad and of the city of Iram with lofty pillars, as mentioned in the Qur’an, and that they were destroyed in just the same way that the Qur’an relates. Research has unearthed traces of that people from beneath the desert sands.
In the Qur’an, God reveals that the People of ‘Ad turned away from the straight path out of arrogance.
The peoples we have been examining all committed similar mistakes: They all rebelled against God. They adopted other gods than Him. They grew arrogant in the earth without any right. And turned to sexual deviancy and perversion. And God destroyed them.
A great many societies that have lived throughout the course of history have been destroyed for similar reasons, not just the few examples we have seen here. God tells us of this fact in the Qur’an, and asks us to think hard about them. Our task is to learn from the destruction of these peoples and to take warning from them. One verse from the Qur’an says:
“‘Ad were arrogant in the land, without any right, saying, ‘Who has greater strength than us?’” Did they not see that God, who created them, had greater strength than them? But they renounced Our Signs. (Qur’an, 41: 15)
We must not forget that God can destroy an individual or a whole people whenever He wishes. He can also honour those whom He wishes and confer blessings upon them. All good and beautiful things are in the hands of God. Man’s duty is to constantly thank God for all the blessings He has bestowed and to seek His good pleasure. God issues the following call to man in another verse of the Qur’an:
Whole societies have passed away before your time, so travel about the earth and see the final fate of the deniers. This is a clear explanation for all mankind, and guidance and admonition for those who do their duty. (Qur'an, 3: 137-138)