The Prophet Shu’ayb
To Midian, their brother Shu’ayb
In the Qur’an, is the story of the Prophet of Allah, Shu’ayb, whom He sent to Midian and the People of the Thicket. These people were merchants, and controlled the great trade routes between Yemen and Syria, and between Iraq and Egypt on the shores of the Red Sea.
They associated other gods with Allah as did the communities to whom other Prophets were sent in every age. Furthermore, they cheated in their dealings and gave short measure. Also, they interfered with the caravans and threatened and alarmed them. They caused havoc in the land, as people will who seek only power and riches in this life, and expect no reckoning nor fear any punishment in the Hereafter.
Allah sent His Messenger Shu’ayb to them to call them and warn them. He said to them: ‘О my people, worship Allah. You have no god but Him. Do not diminish the measure and the balance. I see you are prosperous and I fear for you the punishment of an encompassing day.
‘О my people, fill up the balance and the measure justly and do not diminish the goods of the people and do not make havoc in the land, working corruption.’ (11: 84-5)
Shu’ayb spoke to them at length and loosened the knot in their souls, the knot of love of poverty and worldly increase.
He said: The profit you receive after giving full measure and weight is better for you than taking people’s property unjustly and through trickery. When you examine your life and the life of those who were wealthy and amassed riches, you will find that the actual result of everything they obtained through shortening, lessening and trickery was destruction, ruin, corruption and affliction. It was either stolen from them, or looted, or spent in ways which do not please Allah, or else someone gained control of it who wasted and squandered it. A small amount that brings true contentment is better than an abundance that does not.’
Say: ‘The corrupt and the wholesome are not equal, even if the great amount of the corrupt pleases you. ‘(5:100)
‘My advice to you is pure and sincere. Allah alone is the One who watches over you.’
He spoke with compassion and wisdom, and from knowledge and insight: ‘What remains with you from Allah is better for you if you are believers. I am not a guardian over you. ‘(11: 86)
A merciful father and a wise teacher
Shu’ayb spoke to them on many occasions and gave them advice as does any compassionate father and wise teacher.
He said: ‘О my people, serve Allah! You have no god but Him. A clear sign has come to you from your Lord. So fill up the measure and the balance, and do not
diminish the goods of the people. Do not work corruption in the land after it has been set right. That is better for you if you are believers. Do not sit in every path, threatening and barring those who believe in Allah from the path of Allah, desiring to make it crooked. Remember when you were few and He multiplied you. See what was the end of those who worked corruption.’ (7: 85-6)
Those among Shu’ayb’s people who were thought to be clever looked for bad motives in his words. They said in arrogant pride, as if they had discovered a secret or solved a riddle:
‘Shu’ayb, does your prayer command you that we should abandon what our fathers worshipped or forbid us to do whatever we like with our own property? You are the forbearing, sensible. ‘(11: 87)
Shu’ayb was kind to them, not harsh or angry. He told them that he had only taken it upon himself to deliver this summons and good counsel after a long time of bearing silently their corrupt morals and unjust behaviour. Then Allah had honoured him with prophethood and revelation, and opened his breast and given him a light from Him.
Envy was not the reason he spoke up. Allah had made him wealthy and given him wholesome, lawful provision. He was happy with that, cheerful and content, and thankful to Allah.
He did not forbid them from doing anything that he himself did, nor did he deny them anything that he himself indulged in. He was not one of those who command others to piety while they forget themselves, nor one of those who speak but do not act. He sought only to put them right, to direct them to contentment, and rescue them from the punishment which was hovering above their heads. All bounty returns to Allah and depends on Him.
He said: ‘О my people, what do you think? If I stand upon a clear sign from my Lord, and He has given me an excellent provision from Him, and / do not desire to come behind you, taking myself to what I forbid you.
/ only desire to set things right as far as I can. My success is only with Allah. I have put my trust in Him and I turn to Him in repentance. ‘(11: 88)
We do not understand much of what you say
The people shut their ears to Shu’ayb’s words. It was as if he were speaking to them in a foreign language, though he was one of them and from their own country. It was as if he was not making things clear, though he was both eloquent and clear in speech. But that is the way people are when they do not really want to accept good counsel.
Shu’ayb is amazed at his people
The people used Shu’ayb’s weakness and isolation as an excuse. If it had not been for his tribe and kinsfolk, they would have stoned him and been rid of him. Shu’ayb was amazed that Allah, the All-Mighty, the All-Powerful, the All-Conquering, should be less in their eyes than a tribe which was subject to illness, weakness and destruction.
They said: ‘Shu’ayb, we do not understand much of what you say. We see that you are weak among us. If it had not been for your tribe; we would have stoned you. You are not strong against us.’
He said: ‘О my people, is my tribe stronger against you than Allah? And have you taken Him as something to thrust behind you? My Lord encompasses what you do.’ (11: 92)
When the people had finished their arguments, they shot the last bolt which the arrogant of every nation shoot against their Prophet and his followers. The Council of those of his people said: ‘Shu’ayb, we will drive you out of our city along with those who believe with you unless you return to our religion.’ (7: 88)
Shu’ayb’s answer showed his pride in his faith and his way of life, his earnest concern for his belief. When they urged him to return to their religion, he said:
‘Even though we detest it? We would have forged lies against Allah if we were to return to your religion after Allah has saved us from it. It is not for us to return to it unless Allah our Lord wills. Our Lord encompasses all things in His knowledge. In Allah we put all our trust. Our Lord, decide with truth between us and our people. You are the best of those who make decisions.’
They said the same as those before them said
The people responded the same as those before them had responded: They said: ‘You are one of the
bewitched. You are only a mortal like us. Indeed\ we think that you are one of the liars. Cause lumps to fall on us from heaven if you are one of the truthful.’ (26: 187)
The end of a nation who rejected their Prophet
Their end was the same as that of every community which rejects its Prophet and is ungrateful for the blessing of Allah. So the earthquake seized them, and morning found them prostrate in their dwellings. Those who cried lies to Shu’ayb, it was as if they had never lived there. Those who cried lies to Shu’ayb were the losers. (7: 92)
He conveyed the message and discharged the trust
Shu’ayb, like all the Prophets, delivered the message of Allah to his people, fulfilling the task entrusted to him, and he established the proof of it. He turned his back on them and said: ‘О my people: I have conveyed to you the messages of my Lord and I have given you good counsel. Why then should I grieve for an unbelieving peopled (7: 93)