What does this warning signify: "If they turn away, say: I warn you of a thunderbolt like the thunderbolt that struck the Aad and Thamud." Essentially, it begins a fresh round showing us images of the fates met by earlier communities who rejected God's message. The reckless arrogance of the present unbelievers is thus made all the more apparent through this reminder of what happened to similarly reckless and arrogant peoples: "There came to them, from all directions, messengers saying: Worship none but God." This is the single issue as presented by all God's messengers; it states the central point in every divine religion.
Â "They answered: 'If our Lord had wished, He would have sent down angels. We will never believe in your message." Similarly, this represents the same point of doubt faced by every messenger. Yet a messenger addressing human beings could not be other than human. This is so that he would know the people he addressed and they would know him. In essence, a messenger should provide a practical example and share his people's problems. Yet the Aad and Thamud declared themselves unbelievers simply because the messengers sent to them were human like themselves. They were not angels as they wanted them to be.
Up to this point, the surah speaks of the fates of both peoples as if they are one: Both were struck by thunderbolts. Now, the surah gives us some specific details about both peoples: "As for the Aad, they behaved arrogantly through the land, against all right, and said: Who is mightier than us?" The right attitude is that all creatures should submit to God and that people should not behave arrogantly. Who, then, are the Aad in comparison to God's great creation? All arrogant behavior, by whatever creature, is against all right. Yet these people thought themselves powerful. They asked: "Who is mightier than us?" This is the false sense exhibited by all tyrants when they feel that they have silenced all opposition and that none can stand against their power. They forget the truth: "Did they not realize that God, who created them, was mightier than them?" This is a basic truth: The One who originated them is more powerful than they. He was the One who enabled them to exercise their power in the first place, albeit in the limited measure He allowed them. Yet tyrants always overlook facts: "They continued to reject Our revelations." (Verse 15)
We see them here boasting of their power, thinking themselves mighty. The image portrayed in the next verse shows us the fate their despicable arrogance deserved: "Therefore, We let loose upon them a howling gale raging through several days of misfortune, so as to give them, in the life of this world, a foretaste of humiliating suffering." It was a freezing gale lasting several days that brought them great misfortune. What was more was their humiliation in this life: A fitting response to their arrogance toward God's servants. Yet all this was a first installment, a punishment in the life of this world. They will not escape further punishment in the life to come: "Yet the suffering in the life to come will be even more humiliating, and they will have none to help them."
Â "As for the Thamud, We offered them guidance, but they chose blindness in preference to guidance." This appears to be a reference to their initial acceptance of God's message after they had seen the miracle of the she-camel which drank as much as all their other camels and cattle. However, they reverted to disbelief shortly after this, preferring to remain blind, straying from the path of truth. This is the worst type of blindness. "Therefore, the thunderbolt of humiliating suffering struck them in consequence of what they had wrought." Humiliation is the most fitting outcome for such an attitude. It is not merely a punishment of destruction; it adds the suffering of humiliation.
Â "And We saved those who believed and were God-fearing." The round is thus concluded. They should realize by now that nothing can withstand God's power. No one can give or seek protection against Him. ¬