Allah sent the Prophet Shu’ayb (as) to Madyan as a messenger. The Qur’an informs us that this was another nation that had no faith in Allah and caused corruption upon the Earth. Until the very last moment, the Prophet Shu’ayb (as) called upon this nation, which perished out of its insolence by a terrible scourge, to be the servant of Allah.
The immorality of non-God fearing people manifests itself at every moment of their lives. If we remember the nations we discussed in the previous pages, their peoples were such as had no feelings of shame; they had no fear of Allah, committed perverted deeds, sinned at every turn,—threatening and diverting people from the way of Allah—violated others’ rights and indulged themselves in their own personal interests. People in our day deserve to be censured for the same evils, for such perverted attitudes are common in the societies today. It follows that, everyone in modern times should benefit from these reminders.
One of the greatest shortcomings of the Prophet Shu’ayb’s (as) people was their lack of probity in their commercial practices. The Prophet Shu’ayb (as) warned them and reminded them that it would be more befitting to comply with his admonitions:
… “My people, worship Allah! You have no other god than Him. A Clear Sign has come to you from your Lord. Give full measure and full weight. Do not defraud others of their possessions. Do not cause corruption in the land after it has been purged of evil. That is better for you if you are true believers.” (Surat al-A’raf, 85)
These reprehensible attributes of the Madyan people are not unknown in the societies of today which are far removed from Allah’s religion. Furthermore, deceit has become a common factor in business, dealings, for which reason the Prophet Shu’ayb’s (as) warnings to his people still apply to our day. Indeed, people nowadays need to conduct their business honestly, be ethical, keep order in the world and keep away from corruption. Otherwise, they should fear meeting an end similar to those of past nations. It follows that, the duty of believers is,—taking the example of Allah’s messengers—, to warn the societies in which they live.
The Prophet Shu’ayb (as) Declared To His People That He Was A Messenger Worthy Of Trust
Shu’ayb said to them, “Will you not fear Allah? I am indeed a faithful Messenger to you, so fear Allah and obey me. I do not ask you for any recompense for this. My reward is the responsibility of no one but the Lord of all the worlds.” (Surat ash-Shu’ara’, 177-180)
The Prophet Shu’ayb (as) Told His People That What They Earn From Business Is Better If It Is Halal (Lawful) Than If It Is Haram (Unlawful)
The Prophet Shu’ayb addressed his people as follows:
“My people! Give full measure and full weight with justice; do not defraud your fellow men of their possessions; and do not go about the Earth, corrupting it. Allah’s reward is better for you if you are true believers. I am not set over you as your keeper.” (Surah Hud, 85-86)
An individual may well make a fortune through means that Allah has decreed unlawful. However, wealth and possessions acquired through such unlawful means never bring any good, happiness or peace to their owner. Moreover, he loses the benefit of what he has and can never attain what he aims at. More importantly however, the one who ignores Allah’s approval and commits what is unlawful is punished with the torment of Hell for all eternity, unless he changes this attitude before death comes upon him. Gains acquired through halal means, on the other hand, always bring good, for the path shown by Allah to people is the most beneficial and straightest one. For this reason, those who lead a life in compliance with Allah’s religion and live on halal transactions always benefit from doing so. Both in this world and the Hereafter, Allah grants believers bountiful blessings in return for their being meticulous in obeying His commands. In one verse, Allah describes the difference between lawful and unlawful gains:
What you give with usurious intent, aiming to recover a greater amount from others’ wealth, will not be blessed by Allah. But anything you give as alms for His sake shall be repaid to you many times over. (Surat ar-Rum, 39)
He Told His People Who Failed To Obey Him That He Only Intended To Set Things Right
They said, “Shu’ayb, did your prayers instruct you that we should abandon the gods our fathers worshipped or stop doing whatever we wanted to with our wealth? You are clearly a forbearing, and rightly-guided man!” (Surah Hud, 87)
As was the case with all other messengers, aware that he was only assigned to communicate Allah’s message and that it was Allah alone Who gave guidance, the Prophet Shu’ayb (as) answered his people as follows:
He said, “My people! What do you think? If I do possess a Clear Sign from my Lord and He has bestowed on me a gracious gift, I would clearly not want to go behind your backs and do something I have forbidden you to do. I seek only to reform you as far as I am able. Nor can I succeed without Allah’s help. I have put my trust in Him and I turn to Him in repentance.” (Surah Hud, 88)
The Prophet Shu’ayb (as) reminded them once again that he was Allah’s messenger. He called his people’s attention to the fact that the commands of the religion he brought were, in actuality, Allah’s commands and that his sole purpose was to summon them to the right path. Indeed, as a messenger who fulfilled his duty, he was aware that success could not be attained unless specifically willed by Allah. He also reminded his people of this fact and declared that everything happened by Allah’s Will.
The Prophet Shu’ayb (as) Warned His People Against Allah’s Scourge
The Prophet Shu’ayb (as) reminded his people about the blessings they enjoyed and commanded them to feel grateful to Allah for them. Moreover, he warned them that they would be punished unless they followed Allah’s commands:
And to the people of Madyan we sent their brother Shu’ayb. He said, “My people, worship Allah! You have no god but Him. Do not give short measure or short weight. I see you prospering, but I fear for you the punishment of a fateful Day.” (Surah Hud, 84)
This aside, Prophet Shu’ayb (as) also reminded these people about the end of those past nations who insisted on disbelief and stressed that they had also faced affliction, for they resisted their messengers, and warned them against a similar error:
“My people! Do not let your breach with me provoke you into doing wrong so that the same thing happens to you as happened to the people of Nuh, Hud and Salih; nor is it long since the tribe of Lut was punished. Ask your Lord for forgiveness and then repent to Him. My Lord is Most Merciful and Most Loving.” (Surah Hud, 89-90)
The Prophet Shu’ayb (as) Made His People Aware Of Their Cruelty And Tyranny And Stressed His Loyalty And Commitment To Allah
The haughty elders of his tribe said, “We will drive you out of our city, Shu’ayb, you and all your followers, unless you return to our religion.” He replied, “What, even though we are unwilling?” (Surat al-A’raf, 88)
Throughout history, all messengers of Allah were exposed to similar attacks by their disbelieving people. These nations denounced their messengers and their adherents for their devotion to Allah’s religion and made efforts to make them revert to their false religion. They even threatened them with exile unless they complied with them. The Prophet Shu’ayb’s (as) answer was clear:
“We would be false to Allah if we returned to your religion after Allah had saved us from it. We could never return to it unless Allah our Lord so willed. Our Lord encompasses everything in His knowledge. We have put our trust in Allah. Our Lord, judge rightly between us and our people with truth. You are the best of judges.’” (Surat al-A’raf, 89)
The words of Allah’s messenger quoted in the above verse are a clear sign of his resoluteness, which is exemplary for all believers. As the Prophet Shu’ayb (as) says, believers know that “Allah encompasses everything in His knowledge.”
They are certain that no one can harm another or take advantage of them unless Allah wills, and therefore they put their trust in Allah whenever they are attacked. More importantly, they do not make the slightest compromise in complying with Allah’s commands.
The Prophet Shu’ayb (as) Declared That It Was Allah Alone Whom One Needed To Fear
One of the most evident shortcomings of the idolatrous nations is that they fear other people or beings more than they fear Allah. They love them more than Allah or prefer their approval over Allah’s. The people of the Prophet Shu’ayb (as) were also the kind of people who failed to appreciate Allah’s grandeur. They felt no fear of Allah, yet they stood in awe of other people. For example, they even stated their wish to murder the Prophet Shu’ayb (as) but it was only their fear of the people around him which prevented them from doing so:
They said, “Shu’ayb, we do not understand much of what you say and we see you are weak among us. Were it not for your clan, we would have stoned you. We do not hold you in high esteem!” (Surah Hud, 91)
Indeed, it is Allah alone Who is Exalted in Might. He is also the sole One of Whom one needs to feel fear. Allah keeps control over every being and every occurrence. In the face of the threat made by his people, the Prophet Shu’ayb (as) also reminded them that Allah reigns Supreme.
He said, “My people! Do you esteem my clan more than you do Allah? Dare you turn your backs on Him? My Lord has knowledge of everything that you do! My people! Do as you think best, and so shall I. You will certainly come to know who will be punished and held up to shame and who is a liar. Wait if you will! I too am waiting.” (Surah Hud, 92-93)
As is the case with all other nations who rejected Allah’s messenger and His commands, the people of Madyan brought Allah’s wrath upon themselves while they were still in this world. This is related in the Qur’an as follows:
When Our judgement was carried out, We rescued Shu’ayb through Our mercy and those who believed along with him. A Great Blast overtook the evil-doers, and morning found them lying flattened in their homes as if they had never prospered there at all. Like the Thamud, gone are the people of Madyan. (Surah Hud, 94- 95)