Allah sent the Prophet Salih (as) to the Thamud as a Messenger. It is narrated in the Qur'an that he told his people to worship Allah alone:
To the Thamud We sent their brother Salih telling them to worship Allah, and straightaway they divided themselves into two discordant factions. (Surat an-Naml, 45)
Like all messengers, the Prophet Salih (as) made clear to his people that he was a faithful messenger and called them to fearAllah:
The Thamud denied the messengers, when their brother Salih said to them, “Will you not guard against evil? I am a faithful Messenger to you so fear Allah and obey me.”(Surat ash-Shu‘ara’, 141-144)
While calling his people to Allah's religion, the Prophet Salih (as) also said that he did not ask for any recompense from them in return.
The Prophet Salih (as) Told His People Allah's Greatness,
And Called Them To Ask For Forgiveness
While communicating the message of religion to their people, the messengers of Allah pointed to the signs of Allah's existence and reminded people of the flawless balance and systems in the universe and the outstanding features in the living beings that Allah created.
In like manner, the Prophet Salih (as) was one of the messengers who encouraged his people to remember Allah by telling them about the signs of Creation. With a view to enabling them to comprehend Allah's infinite knowledge, wisdom and greatness, he reminded his people of man's creation:
To the Thamud We sent their brother Salih. He said, “My people, worship Allah! You have no god apart from Him. He brought you into being from the earth and made you its inhabitants. So ask His forgiveness and then turn to Him in repentance. My Lord is Close and Quick to Respond.” (Surah Hud, 61)
The Prophet Salih Called His People To Obey
Him As The Messenger Of Allah
The Prophet Salih (as) instructed his people to fear Allah, Who is the real owner of their possessions, not to make mischief in the land and to obey him. He warned them that Allah would not let them live in security unless they followed him:
"Are you going to be left secure amid what is here, amid gardens and clear springs, and cultivated fields and palm trees laden with fine fruit? Will you continue hewing houses from the mountains and leading a wanton life? Fear Allah and obey me. Do not do the bidding of the profligate, those who corrupt the Earth and do not put things right.” (Surat ash-Shu‘ara’, 146-152)
Allah charged His messengers with calling people to accept the true religion and set things right in the land. The above warnings of the Prophet Salih (as) serve the purpose of performing this duty.
The Prophet Salih (as) Told His People To Remember
Allah’s Blessings And Not To Corrupt The Earth
And to the Thamud We sent their brother Salih, who said, “My people, worship Allah! You have no other god than Him. A Clear Sign has come to you from your Lord. This is the She-Camel of Allah as a Sign for you. Leave her alone to eat on Allah’s earth and do not harm her in any way or a painful punishment will afflict you. Remember when He appointed you successors to the ‘Ad and settled you in the land. You built palaces on its plains and carved out houses from the mountains. Remember Allah's blessings and do not go about the Earth, corrupting it.” (Surat al-A’raf, 73-74)
The Prophet Salih (as) Reminded His People
Of The Desperate Outcome Of Disobedience To Allah
However, the Thamud did not obey the Prophet Salih (as) and opposed him, saying, “Salih, we had great hopes in you before this happened. Do you forbid us to worship what our fathers worshipped? We have grave doubts about the faith that you are urging us to accept.” (Surah Hud, 62) In reply, the Prophet Salih (as) said to his people that there was no being to help him if he disobeyed Allah:
He [Salih] said, “My people! What do you think? If I were to possess a Clear Sign from my Lord and He bestowed on me His grace: Who would help me against Allah if I disobeyed Him? You would surely aggravate my ruin.” (Surah Hud, 63)
There is certainly no power to protect those who refuse to obey Allah, and as is made clear in the above words of the Prophet Salih (as), one who follows the disobedient will himself find that it is to his detriment.
The Prophet Salih (as) Advised His People
To Take Heed Of Allah’s Punishment
Since the true religion brought by the messengers conflicted with the interests of the unbelievers, the latter declined to believe in the messengers. They were seriously discomfited by being reminded of Allah and the Hereafter. This has been a common trait of almost all disbelieving nations throughout history. The same applied to the Thamud who had no fear of Allah. They turned away from all warnings of the Prophet Salih (as), who then addressed to them as follows:
He [Salih] turned away from them, saying, “My people, I conveyed my Lord’s message to you and gave you good counsel. However, you had no love for good counselors!”(Surat al-A’raf, 79)
Although the Prophet Salih (as) struggled hard to lead his people to the path of truth, they persisted in their disbelief. Allah tried them by sending them a she-camel, commanding them not to approach her to cause her any harm. He warned them that they would be punished if they did not follow this command. Disobeying the command of Allah, they hamstrung the camel and were destroyed by a severe punishment like all the other nations who refused to obey Allah. Some of the relevant verses of the Qur’an are as follows:
Then when Our judgment came to pass, We rescued Salih and those who believed along with him through Our special mercy from the disgrace of that day. Mighty is your Lord and All-Powerful. The Great Blast seized hold of those who did wrong and morning found them lying flattened in their homes. It was as if they had never lived and prospered there at all. Yes indeed! The Thamud rejected their Lord. Gone are the people Thamud! (Surah Hud, 66-68)
Just as the Prophet Salih (as) did, the messengers of Allah communicated to their people the message of religion, letting them know that the world is a place of trial and that only those who act on the commands of Allah will be saved from punishment. They made it clear that Allah would certainly send down a punishment to them if they persisted in disbelieving.
Yet these serious endeavours of the messengers yielded positive results only in a minor group, while the majority of people turned a deaf ear to their advice. As a result of their persistent disbelief, however, they themselves were the ones to suffer great loss as they received their punishment. Their punishment in the Hereafter will be even much more severe.