The Plot of the Mischief-Makers and the End of the People of Thamud
قال الله تعالى: *وَكَانَ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ تِسْعَةُ رَهْطٍ يُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا يُصْلِحُونَ قَالُوا تَقَاسَمُوا بِاللَّهِ لَنُبَيِّتَنَّهُ وَأَهْلَهُ ثُمَّ لَنَقُولَنَّ لِوَلِيِّهِ مَا شَهِدْنَا مَهْلِكَ أَهْلِهِ وَإِنَّا لَصَادِقُونَ وَمَكَرُوا مَكْرًا وَمَكَرْنَا مَكْرًا وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ فَانظُرْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ مَكْرِهِمْ أَنَّا دَمَّرْنَاهُمْ وَقَوْمَهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ فَتِلْكَ بُيُوتُهُمْ خَاوِيَةً بِمَا ظَلَمُوا ۗ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ وَأَنجَيْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَكَانُوا يَتَّقُونَ* [سورة النمل 48-52]
And there were in the city nine Rahtin, who made mischief in the land, and would not reform.
They said: “Swear one to another by Allah that we shall make a secret night attack on him and his household, and thereafter we will surely say to his near relatives: `We witnessed not the destruction of his household, and verily, we are telling the truth.”’
So, they plotted a plot, and We planned a plan, while they perceived not.
Then see how was the end of their plot! Verily, We destroyed them and their nation all together.
These are their houses in utter ruin, for they did wrong. Verily, in this is indeed an Ayah for people who know.
And We saved those who believed, and had Taqwa of Allah.
*The Plot of the Mischief-Makers and the End of the People of Thamud*
Allah tells us about the evildoers of Thamud and their leaders who used to call their people to misguidance and disbelief, and to deny Salih. Eventually they killed the she-camel and were about to kill Salih too. They plotted to let him sleep with his family at night, then they would assassinate him and tell his relatives that they knew nothing about what happened to him, and that they were telling the truth because none of them had seen anything. Allah says:
﴿وَكَانَ فِى الْمَدِينَةِ﴾
(And there were in the city) meaning, in the city of Thamud,
(nine Raht,) meaning, nine people,
﴿يُفْسِدُونَ فِى الاٌّرْضِ وَلاَ يُصْلِحُونَ﴾
(who made mischief in the land, and would not reform.) They forced their opinions on the people of Thamud, because they were the leaders and chiefs. Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said: “These were the people who killed the she-camel,” Meaning, that happened upon their instigation, may Allah curse them. Allah says:
﴿فَنَادَوْاْ صَـحِبَهُمْ فَتَعَاطَى فَعَقَرَ ﴾
(But they called their comrade and he took (a sword) and killed (the she-camel). ) (54:29)
﴿إِذِ انبَعَثَ أَشْقَـهَا ﴾
(When the most wicked man among them went forth (to kill the she-camel).) (91:12) `Abdur-Razzaq said that Yahya bin Rabi`ah As-San`ani told them, “I heard `Ata’ – i.e. Ibn Abi Rabah – say:
﴿وَكَانَ فِى الْمَدِينَةِ تِسْعَةُ رَهْطٍ يُفْسِدُونَ فِى الاٌّرْضِ وَلاَ يُصْلِحُونَ ﴾
(And there were in the city nine Raht, who made mischief in the land, and would not reform.) `They used to break silver coins.”’ They would break off pieces from them, as if they used to trade with them in terms of numbers ﴿as opposed to weight﴾, as the Arabs used to do. Imam Malik narrated from Yahya bin Sa`id that Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib said: “Cutting gold and silver (coins) is part of spreading corruption on earth.” What is meant is that the nature of these evil disbelievers was to spread corruption on earth by every means possible, one of which was that mentioned by these Imams.
﴿قَالُواْ تَقَاسَمُواْ بِاللَّهِ لَنُبَيِّتَنَّهُ وَأَهْلَهُ﴾
(They said: “Swear one to another by Allah that we shall make a secret night attack on him and his household…”) They took a mutual oath, pledging that during the night, whoever met the Allah’s Prophet Salih, peace be upon him, he would assassinate him. But Allah planned against them and caused their plot to backfire. Mujahid said, “They took a mutual oath pledging to kill him, but before they could reach him, they and their people were all destroyed.” `Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Hatim said: “When they killed the she-camel, Salih said to them:
﴿تَمَتَّعُواْ فِى دَارِكُمْ ثَلَـثَةَ أَيَّامٍ ذلِكَ وَعْدٌ غَيْرُ مَكْذُوبٍ﴾
(“Enjoy yourselves in your homes for three days. This is a promise (i.e., a threat) that will not be belied.”) (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. Then he recited:
﴿وَمَكَرُواْ مَكْراً وَمَكَرْنَا مَكْراً وَهُمْ لاَ يَشْعُرُونَ فَانظُرْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَـقِبَةُ مَكْرِهِمْ أَنَّا دَمَّرْنَـهُمْ وَقَوْمَهُمْبُيُوتُهُمْ خَاوِيَةً﴾
(So, they plotted a plot, and We planned a plan, while they perceived not. Then see how was the end of their plot! Verily, We destroyed them and their nation, all together. These are their houses in utter ruin,) i.e., deserted.“
﴿فَتِلْكَ بُيُوتُهُمْ خَاوِيَةً بِمَا ظَلَمُواْ إِنَّ فِى ذلِكَ لاّيَةً لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ – وَأَنجَيْنَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَكَانُواْ يَتَّقُونَ ﴾
(for they did wrong. Verily, in this is indeed an Ayah for people who know. And We saved those who believed, and had Taqwa of Allah.)
Tafsir Ibn Kathir رحمه الله