The People of Ditch

“By one that witnesses, and the subject of the witness ;(3)

Woe to the makers of the pit (of fire) (4)

Fire supplied abundantly with fuel, (5)

Behold! They sat over against the (fire), (6)

And they witnessed all that they were doing against the Believers. (7)

And they ill-treated them for no other reason than that they believed in Allah, Exalted in Power, Worthy of all Praise! (8)”

Surah: 85 Al buruj chapter 30

Main passage starting at the West gate of Al-Ukhdood at the middle of the site.

Main passage starting at the West gate of Al-Ukhdood at the middle of the site.

Situated in the historically rich city of Najran, few kms from the city center is the famous site of “Ashab-ul-ukhdood”-The people of ditch (the reference of which is also given in the glorious Holy Quran as mentioned in the verses above).

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Inscriptions on stones.

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Inscriptions on stones.

Earlier this year I had a chance to pay a visit and acknowledge for myself the ruins of the ancient civilization, connected to the mournful story.

On the site you can witness the remains of the society characterized by a castle built of stones and mud. It consists of more than 25 buildings. Some archeological excavations were made there, and the objects recovered are displayed in the museum adjacent to the site.

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the entrance

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Hand print on one of the stones

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Some more inscriptions

This is a story that was narrated in a hadith* on the authority of the Messenger of Allah SAW.

“It is reported on the authority of Suhayb (RA) that the Messenger of Allah SAW said: There was (once) a king over those who were before you, and the King had a (count) magician. When (the magician) grew old, he said to the King, “I have become old, so send a young boy to me (as an apprentice) so that I may teach him magic.” So the King sent him a young boy to teach.

On his way (to the magician), he came across a monk, so he sat withn him and listened to what he had to say, and it impressed him. whenever he went to the magician, he would pass by the monk and sit with him.

When he was (doing this), he happened to come across a huge beast that blocked (the path) of people. So (the boy) said (to himself), “Today I will know whether the magician is superior or the monk.” he took a stone and said, “O Allah, if the way of monk is more beloved to You than the way of the magician, then kill this beast so that the people may pass.” He threw the stone, killed the beast and the people were able to pass. the boy then went to the monk and told him about what had happened, so the monk replied> “O my son! Today you are better than me! You have reached to the stage that I see, and you will soon be tested. When you are tested, do not indicate anything about me.”

The boy later began to cure the blind and lepers, and cure the people of all types of illness. One of the King’s courtiers who had become blind and heard about him, so he came to him bearing many gifts and said “All that I have here will be yours, if you cure me.” the boy replied , “I do not cure anyone but rather Allah SWT is the One Who cures. If you have faith in Allah SWT, I will call upon Allah to cure you.” the man had faith in Allah, and Allah cured him. He then went to the king and sat by his side as he used to sit before. the king then said to him,, “who has returned to you your sight?” He said, “My Lord.” the king then replied, “Do you have a Lord other than me?” He said. “My Lord and your Lord is Allah.” The King then took him and continued to torture him until he pointed him to the boy. So the boy was brought to the king, who said to him, “My boy, has your magic reached such a level that you can cure the blind and leper, and do the things you do….?” the boy replied, “I do not cure anyone. It is only Allah SWT who cures.” The king then took him and tortured him until he pointed him to the monk. So the king ordered for a saw to be brought, which he placed in the middle of his head and his beard was sawed until it split into half. The courtier was then brought and it was said to him, “Renounce your religion,” but he refused. So the king ordered a saw to be brought and his head was sawed until it was split into half. The boy was then brought and it was said to him, “Renounce your religion,” but he refused. So the king pushed him towards a group of men and said to them, “take him to such a mountain and climb the mountain with him until you reach the peak. If he renounces his religion, leave him, but if he does not then throw him off the mountain.”

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Mud and clay pots discovered from the site.

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Jewelery discovered from the site

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So they took the boy and climbed the mountain with him. He said, “O Allah, save me from them in any way You please.” whereupon the mountain then began to shake and they fell off it, except the boy. He then went walking back to the king and the king asked him “What did your companions do?” The boy replied, “Allah SWT saved me from them.” So the King pushed him towards another group of men and said, Take him in a long boat to the middle of the ocean. If he renounces his religion, leave him, but if he does not then throw him (into the ocean).”

They took him, and he said, “O Allah, save me from them in any way you please.” whereupon the boat overturned and they drowned. The boy then went walking back to the king, and the King said to him, “What did your companions do?” He replied, “Allah SWT saved me from them. He then said to the king, “You will not be able to kill me until you do what I say!” the king asked, “what is that?” The boy replied, “You should gather all the people on a single plain and tie me to a tree trunk. then take an arrow from my quiver and place it in the middle of the bow and say In the name of Allah,, the Lord of the boy,” then shoot me with the arrow. If you do that you will be able to kill me.”

The petroglyphs of human and animal figures are attributed to the Bronze and early age.

“So the king gathered all the people on a single plain and tied the boy on a tree trunk. and did as the boy had said. The arrow hit the boy’s temple. the boy placing his hand on the temple died. So the people said, We believe in the Lord of the boy, we believe in the Lord of the boy,we believe in the Lord of the boy.”

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The king was then told, “do you see what you feared? By Allah, that which you feared has happened! The people have believed in the Lord of the boy.” So the King ordered for the ditches to be dug at the junctions of the roads. When they were dug, fires were lit in them and the king ordered, “Whoever does not renounce their religion, threw him in the fire, or tell them to jump into it.” So this was what happened, until a woman came carrying a baby and she hesitated to jump into the fire, so her child said to her, “O mother! Have patience, for you are upon the truth!”

[Reported by Muslim, Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi, and al-Nasai]

and as the Quraan mentions,

“By one that witnesses, and the subject of the witness ;(3)

Woe to the makers of the pit (of fire) (4)

Fire supplied abundantly with fuel, (5)

Behold! They sat over against the (fire), (6)

And they witnessed all that they were doing against the Believers. (7)

And they ill-treated them for no other reason than that they believed in Allah, Exalted in Power, Worthy of all Praise! (8)”

Surah: 85 Al buruj chapter 30

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A work of: Javeriya Sayeed Siddiqui

 

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