Al-Ula’s Story is related to a Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Al-Ula (Hegra or Al-Hijr) is a city located in the northwest of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with a history that dates back to pre-Islamic times. It is known for its well-preserved ancient structures and heritage sites. However, despite its significance, it is forbidden for Muslims to visit the city. This prohibition stems from a historical event that took place during the life of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. The place is also known as Maidan e Saleh, which is home to the nation of Thamud. Let’s learn more about the mysteries surrounding the Al-Ula’s Story and why Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) forbade us to visit Al Ula.
Prophet Saleh and the People of Thamud
The people of Prophet Saleh (PBUH) were known for their miraculous strength and skill in making mountain carvings and constructions that we still can see today. This region was also very fertile; however, the abundant natural wealth made the rich among the Thamud people arrogant and cruel. Allah sent a guide to them, as narrated in the Holy Quran, reminding them of the favors bestowed upon them and warning them against spreading corruption.
“And remember when He made you successors after the ‘Aad and settled you in the land, [and] you take for yourselves palaces from its plains and carve from the mountains, homes. Then remember the favors of Allah and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption.” [Quran 7:74]
Miracle Birth of a Camel from Rocks
Instead of accepting the message, they challenged Prophet Saleh (PBUH) to perform a miracle. They demanded he produce a camel out of nearby rocks. Prophet Saleh (PBUH) prayed, and a miracle happened from Allah – a camel appeared among them and gave birth to a calf. While some believed in Saleh’s (PBUH) prophethood, others refused it, leading to the tragic killing of the innocent camel. As a punishment, Allah sent an earthquake in the middle of the night, and none of them woke up ever again. In verse 78, Allah says,
“Thereupon an earthquake overtook them: and then they lay lifeless, in their very homes, on the ground” [Quran 7:78]
Allah’s Punishment Arrives
All that remains are the massive buildings and monuments carved out of the mountains and rocks, as we can still see today. The big earthquake that occurred thousands of years ago has also diminished the underground protective layer of the Earth. This places, the region at a higher risk for earthquake damage, various skin diseases, cancer, and natural storms.
Prophet’s (SAW) Hadith to not visit Al-Ula (Al-Hijr)
When Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him, passed by this place while going for the Battle of Tabuk, he specially pointed this place out to his companions.
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar: (While we were going for the Battle of Tabuk and when we reached the places of the dwellers of Al- Hijr), Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said about the dwellers of Al-Hijr (to us)”.Do not enter (the dwelling places) of these people unless you enter weeping, but if you weep not, then do not enter upon them, lest you be afflicted with what they were afflicted with”.Sahih al-Bukhari 4702 (Book 65, Hadith 224)
As an ibrah, he ordered them to drink water only from the one well used by the camel of Prophet Saleh (PBUH) and forbade them to eat and drink anything from that area, urging them to pass through it rather quickly. Additionally, he recognized that the Temple of Al-manat had a strong influence on the people of the city and the surrounding areas. He feared that if Islam allowed Muslims to visit the city, they would be influenced by the idol worship of the people and be at risk of deviating from the true teachings of Islam.
Why did Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) forbade us to visit Al Ula?
To avoid the above-mentioned risks, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) prohibited Muslims from visiting Al-Ula. He issued an order that forbade any Muslim from entering the city or visiting the Temple of Al-manat. Additionally, he warned his followers that the people of Al-Ula were engaging in practices considered idolatrous and against the teachings of Islam. Therefore, they should avoid any association with the people of the city.
The prohibition of visiting Al-Ula may seem drastic, but it served a significant purpose. The order was meant to protect the faith of Muslims from external influences that could potentially harm it. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) understood the importance of steadfastness and faith and the potential risks of diverting from the true teachings of Islam. He knew that Muslims needed to be protected from any influences that could cause them to deviate from their religion.
The prohibition of Al-Ula also teaches us an important lesson about the importance of loyalty and obedience to Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) teachings. Muslims should follow the prophet’s (SAW) guidance and adhere to the principles of Islam without deviation. By doing so, they can protect their faith and prevent any potential harm that might come from external influences.
In today’s world, there are many dangers that can lead Muslims astray from the teachings of Islam. The modern world is full of temptations that can divert Muslims’ attention from their faith. However, the prohibition of Al-Ula provides a timeless lesson that still applies today. Muslims should always remain steadfast and loyal to the teachings of Islam and avoid any activities or practices that go against it.