Ibn Batuta and The Settlements of Madaen-e-Saleh
The famous muslim traveller Ibn Batuta entered Tabuk from Syria in year 1326 AD. The city of Tabuk is located in north of present day Saudi Arabia (near Jordan). After travelling five days from Tabuk (while heading towards Medina) he enters a place called Al-Hijr where the ancient civilization of Thamud once thrived.
The Greeks have also mentioned about the people of Thamud. Aristotle, Ptolemy and Pliny have referred to them as the Thamudaei i.e. Thamud (Phillip Hitti, A History of the Arabs). Presently this place is called Madaen-e-Saleh and it is located some 250 miles to the north of the famous Holy city of Madina. The city located near to Madaen-e-Saleh is ‘Al-Ula’ as mentioned by Ibn Batuta in his famous travelogue (Ibn Batuta, Travels in Asia and Africa, 1325-1354). This city still exits and carries the same name.
The settlements of Madaen-e-Saleh hosts remains of the late antiquity from the Nabatean Kingdom which dates back to 1st century CE. In 2008, UNESCO approved Madaen-e-Saleh as its site of heritage thus becoming Saudi Arabia’s first World Heritage Site.
The Holy Quran has also discussed about the people of Thamud in Surah Al-A’raf, Surah Al-Isra’ and other Surahs but specifically mentions the name of the city of Al-Hijr (Madaen-e-Saleh) in Surah Al-Hijr
وَلَقَدْ كَذَّبَ أَصْحَابُ الْحِجْرِ الْمُرْسَلِينَ
Surely the people of al-Hijr also rejected the Messengers, calling them liars.
[Surat Al-Hijr 80]
The people of Thamud were ultimately destroyed by Allah for disobedience and the Holy Quran explains these events very clearly in its various Surahs