The message of anti-corruption is always met with resistance – Reflections on Surat al-Shu’araa’
Shuayb (peace be on him) was one of the five Arab prophets, (the others being Hud, Salih, Ismail and Muhammad, peace be on them). He lived in Madyan (Midian, which is a large area in the Sham and Hijaz region that now part of Saudi). Despite his teaching of the Oneness of God, the people of Madyan worshipped Aikah, which was a garden of trees, so are often referred to as Ashabul Aikha (the people of Aikah). They were also notorious for cheating and dishonesty.
Shuayb was alive during the time of Ibrahim and believed in him. There used to be trade routes, including the silk route, through their land, which was booming and bustling, and a great deal of import and export was taking place as traders passed through the region.
Shuayb preached continuously against their underhand dealings. They tampered with their scales and they meddled with their products and they defrauded their customers.
Recall, when Shuyab said to them: “Have you no fear?
I am a trustworthy Messenger to you.
So fear Allah and obey me.
(I ask of you no reward for this. My reward is with none but the Lord of the Universe.
Fill up the measure and do not diminish the goods of people, weigh with an even balance and do not deliver short, and do not go about creating mischief in the land, And defraud not people by reducing their things, nor do evil, making corruption and mischief in the land.
And fear Him Who created you and the generations of the men of old. (26:177-184)
Refusal to clean up their dirty dealings
Though Shuyab kept forbidding them from doing this, they refused to change and challenged him. They said how come you are human like us but have divine revelation.
They said: “You are no more than one of those who have been bewitched, you are only a mortal like us. Indeed we believe that you are an utter liar. (26:185-6)
Rejecting the prophet for being mortal
This reason has been used as a grounds for rejecting prophets throughout time and appears in many places in the Quran. People have insisted that their prophet should be supernatural beings, and angels. However, Allah Almighty tell us that if the prophets had been angels they would have still met with resistance and people would have questioned why their prophets were not human. Therefore it was merely a flimsy pretext to justify the fact they would not comply with divine revelation. The bottom line is that did not want to be restricted by God’s rules or change their errant practices. They wanted to pursue their own interests.
Calling for retribution
Like other nations, the defiant nation taunted Shuayb:
So cause a piece of the sky to fall upon us if you are truthful.”
Shuayb said: “My Lord knows well all what you do.”
But they denied him. So the punishment of the day of gloom gripped them. It was the punishment of a great day.(26:187-189)
Shuayb told them that it was not in his hands to punish them. They continued to abuse him and ultimately Allah Almighty punished them. On a searingly hot day, Allah Almighty gathered clouds above them which rained down fire on them.
Never ask Allah Almighty punishment. Always ask for His mercy.
The revelation comes to the Heart
We see this pattern repeated in the Quran, with different nations and prophets and tyrants and oppressors. The link between Shuayb and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on them) is that they both received the message ala qalbik (on your heart).
And truly, this (the Qur’an) is a revelation from the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists),
Which the trustworthy Ruh [Jibrael (Gabriel)] has brought down;
Upon your heart (O Muhammad ) that you may be (one) of the warners, (26:192-4)
When Allah Almighty says the revelation was sent on their heart, rather than for instance their brain, it shows the importance of their heart, which is the entry point of divine guidance and place of connection with Allah Almighty for all of us.
The words of Allah have to be in the heart, have to preserved and reflected on in the heart. Yet, the message was resisted by every nation when it came.
We see from this story, that if you go against revelation, punishment will certainly befall you in akhirah and also in dunya.
It is an important message. Follow Allah’s revelation and the instructions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him).
We ask Allah to keep us on the straight path. Ameen.
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