Is it ok to visit the ruins of nations who were destroyed?
The Prophet (peace be upon him), when he passed by al-Hijr, which was the dwelling place of the people of Thamud who were destroyed, said:
“Do not enter the dwelling places of those who wronged themselves, lest there befall you what befell them, unless you are weeping.” Then he covered his head and hastened until he left the valley. (Bukhari)
We should not visit places where nations were destroyed, such as Petra, al Ula, the Dead Sea and the pyramids with the intention of tourism or entertainment, as these people incurred Allah’s wrath and destruction for their unrelenting disobedience and corruption.
They were preached to by their prophets – Hud, Salih, Shuayb and Lut (peace be upon them) but refused to listen or to accept the truth, despite their prophet’s best efforts to convey God’s message to them over years and in different styles. They were warned of the punishment and still ignored all the warnings.
Allah Almighty sent Prophet Salih (peace be upon him) to Thamud, which was well known by the name al Hijr (Hegra), and is now called Mada’in Salih, with a valley (Wadil Qura).
Allah had given their nation tremendous wealth and the ability to carve huge buildings out of the mountains. The Thamud were rich due to their monopoly on the trade of incense and spice in particular between the East and the Roman, Greek and Egyptian empires
Though the people of Thamud had thriving cities they were ungrateful and Allah destroyed everything. Only their deserted ruins are left now in Mada’in Salih, between Jordan and Saudi. They choose this for themselves. Allah said in the Quran:
وَأَخَذَ ٱلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا۟ ٱلصَّيْحَةُ فَأَصْبَحُوا۟ فِى دِيَـٰرِهِمْ جَـٰثِمِينَ ٦٧
And those who transgressed were caught by the Cry, and they were found dead in their homes, fallen on their knees, [11:67]
كَأَن لَّمْ يَغْنَوْا۟ فِيهَآ ۗ أَلَآ إِنَّ ثَمُودَا۟ كَفَرُوا۟ رَبَّهُمْ ۗ أَلَا بُعْدًۭا لِّثَمُودَ ٦٨
as though they had never lived there. Lo! The people of Thamūd disbelieved their Lord. Lo! Ruined were the people of Thamūd. [11:68]
The people of Lut lived in Sodom and Gomorrah, which was destroyed by being tipped upside down.
فَلَمَّا جَآءَ أَمْرُنَا جَعَلْنَا عَـٰلِيَهَا سَافِلَهَا وَأَمْطَرْنَا عَلَيْهَا حِجَارَةًۭ مِّن سِجِّيلٍۢ مَّنضُودٍۢ ٨٢
So, when Our command came to pass, We turned their habitations upside down, and rained on it stones of hard clay, one over another. [11:82]
۞ وَإِلَىٰ مَدْيَنَ أَخَاهُمْ شُعَيْبًۭا ۚ قَالَ يَـٰقَوْمِ ٱعْبُدُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرُهُۥ ۖ وَلَا تَنقُصُوا۟ ٱلْمِكْيَالَ وَٱلْمِيزَانَ ۚ إِنِّىٓ أَرَىٰكُم بِخَيْرٍۢ وَإِنِّىٓ أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍۢ مُّحِيطٍۢ ٨٤
And to Madyan (We sent) their brother, Shu‘aib. He said, “O my people, worship Allah. You have no god other than Him. And do not curtail the measure and the weight. I see you quite well off, and I fear for you the punishment of an encircling day. [11:84]
وَيَـٰقَوْمِ أَوْفُوا۟ ٱلْمِكْيَالَ وَٱلْمِيزَانَ بِٱلْقِسْطِ ۖ وَلَا تَبْخَسُوا۟ ٱلنَّاسَ أَشْيَآءَهُمْ وَلَا تَعْثَوْا۟ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ ٨٥
And O my people, perfect the measure and the balance with justice and do not make the people short of their things, and do not go about the earth spreading disorder. [11:85]
وَيَـٰقَوْمِ لَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شِقَاقِىٓ أَن يُصِيبَكُم مِّثْلُ مَآ أَصَابَ قَوْمَ نُوحٍ أَوْ قَوْمَ هُودٍ أَوْ قَوْمَ صَـٰلِحٍۢ ۚ وَمَا قَوْمُ لُوطٍۢ مِّنكُم بِبَعِيدٍۢ ٨٩
O my people, let not your hostility towards me cause you to suffer what was suffered by the people of NūH, or the people of Hūd, or the people of SāliH. And the people of LūT are not far from you. [11:89]
وَٱسْتَغْفِرُوا۟ رَبَّكُمْ ثُمَّ تُوبُوٓا۟ إِلَيْهِ ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّى رَحِيمٌۭ وَدُودٌۭ ٩٠
Seek forgiveness from your Lord, then turn towards Him in repentance. Surely, my Lord is very merciful, most loving.” [11:90]
وَلَمَّا جَآءَ أَمْرُنَا نَجَّيْنَا شُعَيْبًۭا وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ مَعَهُۥ بِرَحْمَةٍۢ مِّنَّا وَأَخَذَتِ ٱلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا۟ ٱلصَّيْحَةُ فَأَصْبَحُوا۟ فِى دِيَـٰرِهِمْ جَـٰثِمِينَ ٩٤
And when Our command came, We saved Shu‘aib and those who believed along with him, out of mercy from Us; and those who transgressed were caught by the Cry, and they were found (dead) in their homes, fallen on their knees. [11:94]
The verses were a strong and clear message to the audience at the time of the revelation, the Quraysh, not follow their own Firaun otherwise they would have a miserable fate.
The Quran depicts a scene from the akhirah, where Firaun, who was a leader in the dunya and will lead his people into the fire. Similarly, Allah warns the Quraysh that if they follow their Firaun they will be lead into the fire.
إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ وَمَلَإِي۟هِۦ فَٱتَّبَعُوٓا۟ أَمْرَ فِرْعَوْنَ ۖ وَمَآ أَمْرُ فِرْعَوْنَ بِرَشِيدٍۢ ٩٧
to Pharaoh and his group. So, they followed the command of Pharaoh, while the command of Pharaoh was not right. [11:97]
يَقْدُمُ قَوْمَهُۥ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ فَأَوْرَدَهُمُ ٱلنَّارَ ۖ وَبِئْسَ ٱلْوِرْدُ ٱلْمَوْرُودُ ٩٨
He will lead his people on the Day of Judgement, and make them descend into the Fire. And it is the evil descending place. [11:98]
وَأُتْبِعُوا۟ فِى هَـٰذِهِۦ لَعْنَةًۭ وَيَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ ۚ بِئْسَ ٱلرِّفْدُ ٱلْمَرْفُودُ ٩٩
The curse was made to pursue them here and on the Day of Judgement. It is the evil reward to be offered. [11:99]
ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ أَنۢبَآءِ ٱلْقُرَىٰ نَقُصُّهُۥ عَلَيْكَ ۖ مِنْهَا قَآئِمٌۭ وَحَصِيدٌۭ ١٠٠
That is a part of stories of the towns that We narrate to you. Some of them are still standing, and (some are) eradicated like a harvested field. [11:100]
وَمَا ظَلَمْنَـٰهُمْ وَلَـٰكِن ظَلَمُوٓا۟ أَنفُسَهُمْ ۖ فَمَآ أَغْنَتْ عَنْهُمْ ءَالِهَتُهُمُ ٱلَّتِى يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ مِن شَىْءٍۢ لَّمَّا جَآءَ أَمْرُ رَبِّكَ ۖ وَمَا زَادُوهُمْ غَيْرَ تَتْبِيبٍۢ ١٠١
We did no wrong to them; rather, they have wronged themselves. So, their gods whom they used to invoke beside Allah did not come to their help in any way, when came the command of your Lord, and they added nothing to them except destruction. [11:101]
وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَخْذُ رَبِّكَ إِذَآ أَخَذَ ٱلْقُرَىٰ وَهِىَ ظَـٰلِمَةٌ ۚ إِنَّ أَخْذَهُۥٓ أَلِيمٌۭ شَدِيدٌ ١٠٢
Such is the seizing of your Lord when He seizes the (people of) towns when they are transgressing. Indeed, His seizing is painful, severe. [11:102]
Therefore these are not places one should go to admire their ruins but places that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told us we should weep that we do not follow their footsteps and bring about the same end upon ourselves.
إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَةًۭ لِّمَنْ خَافَ عَذَابَ ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ يَوْمٌۭ مَّجْمُوعٌۭ لَّهُ ٱلنَّاسُ وَذَٰلِكَ يَوْمٌۭ مَّشْهُودٌۭ ١٠٣
In this there is a sign for the one who fears the punishment of the Hereafter. That is a day when all the people shall be gathered together, and that is a day which will be witnessed by all. [11:103]
Is is ok to purchase products from the Dead Sea?
This is permissible.
May Allah guide us and make us from those who reflect and take heed from Allah’s cautionary verses in the Quran.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim
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