Jethro and the Destruction of Midian
The Prophet Shu’ayb was sent to Midian to get the people there to submit to Allah’s Will. They not only refused, but accused Shu’ayb of not practicing what he preached, i.e. of cheating his customers and getting wealthy in the process (verse 11:88).
You do not accuse a prophet of Allah of cheating if you want to live.
The story of Shu’ayb and the wanton destruction of Midian begins shortly after one of Allah’s accounts of His obliteration of the people of Lot.
11:84 And to Midian [We sent] their brother Shu’ayb. He said: “O my people, worship Allah; you have no other god but Him. Do not skimp the measure and the weight. I see that you are prospering, but I fear for you the punishment of an encompassing day.
11:85 “And my people, be just and give full measure and full weight and do not cheat people out of things due to them, and do not sow corruption in the land by committing evil.
11:86 “What remains for you from Allah’s provision is better for you if you are true believers; and I am not a watcher over you.”
The people of Midian mocked Shu’ayb.
11:87 They said: “O Shu’ayb, does your prayer (that is, religion) command you that we should abandon what our fathers worshipped and that we should not do with our wealth what we wish? You are indeed the clement and right-minded one (they said this mockingly).”
11:88 He said: “O my people, do you think that if I have a clear proof from my Lord and He has granted me a fair provision from Him [I would commit any of those evils]? I do not want to do what I forbid you to do. I only want to do what I can to set things right. My success comes only from Allah. In Him I have put my trust and to Him I turn.
11:89 “O my people, let not my disagreement with you bring upon you what the people of Noah, the people of Hud or the people of Salih brought upon themselves (that is, destruction). The people of Lot are not far away from you.
11:90 “And ask forgiveness from your Lord; then repent upon Him. My Lord is truly Merciful, Kind.”
Instead, they threatened to stone him in spite of his wealth, and only hold back because of his family.
11:91 They said: “O Shu’ayb, we do not understand much of what you say; and surely we see you weak in our midst. Were it not for your family, we would have stoned you; for you are not too dear [to be stoned].”
But don’t let that stop you!
11:92 He said: “O my people, is my family dearer to you than Allah? You have turned your backs on Him. My Lord knows what you do.”
Continue doing what you’re doing, warns Shu’ayb, and see what happens.
11:93 “O my people, continue to do what you can, and I shall continue too. You will surely learn who will be seized by a punishment disgracing him, and who is a liar. Wait and see, and I shall be waiting with you.”
Not enough mercy and kindness could be found to save the men, women and children of Midian after their leaders expressed doubts as to how Shu’ayb made his money.
11:94 And when Our Decree came, We delivered Shu’ayb and those who believed with him by a mercy of Ours, and the wrongdoers were overtaken by the [thundering] Cry, and they lay prostrate in their homes,
11:95 As if they never dwelt therein. Away with Midian. [It perished] as did Thamud before.
Day of the Parasol
In this retelling of the story of Jethro a.k.a. Shu’ayb (in this reiteration spelt Shu’aib), the inhabitants of Midian are referred to as the “companions of the Thicket”. The central theme of this account of the destruction of Midian and its people remains weights and measures.
26:176 The companions of the Thicket denounced the Messengers as liars.
26:177 When Shu’aib said to them: “Do you not fear God?
26:178 “I am a faithful Messenger to you.
26:179 “So fear Allah and obey me.
26:180 “I do not ask you for any wage. My wage is with the Lord of the Worlds.
26:181 “Fill up the measure and do not be swindlers.
26:182 “And weigh with the just scales,
26:183 “Do not stint people their things and do not work corruption in the land.
26:184 “Fear Him who created you and the generations of old.”
26:185 They said: “Surely, you are one of those bewitched.
26:186 “And you are only a mortal like us, and we think you are simply a liar.
In revelation 8:32 the Meccans had asked that Allah “rain down upon us brickstones” for them to believe; for the “companions of the Thicket”, any piece of heaven will do, the meaning of “chips” in the following revelation.
26:187 “Do, then, bring down upon us chips from heaven, if you are truthful.”
It bears repeating, again and again; in the Koran, Paradise is just above the clouds held up by invisible pillars and contains structures similar to those found on earth, but much bigger (see chapter, Heaven).
26:188 He said: “My Lord knows best what you do.”
The “Day of the Parasol”, in the following revelation, five other translations consulted refer to it as “a day dark with shadows”, “day of overshadowing gloom”, “day of gloom”, “day of covering” respectively.
In a previous account of the destruction of Midian the city and its inhabitants was obliterated by a “thundering cry.” All translations would indicate that the city was destroyed during some kind of thunderstorm. A sturdy umbrella might have been more appropriate than a parasol, but still would have offered little protection against what Allah had in mind.
26:189 They denounced him as a liar, and so the punishment of the Day of the Parasol seized them. It was, indeed, the punishment of a Great Day.
26:190 In that, there is a sign, but most of them were not believers.
26:191 And your Lord is truly the All-Mighty, the Merciful.
Was Median Destroyed by an Earthquake?
In a two-verse retelling of the tale of Shu’ayb, it is an earthquake that destroys Midian if “tremor” in verse 29:37 is given its everyday implication. Sunni scholar al Tabari [838–923] is quoted by Fakhry as interpreting “tremor” as “punishment.“
29:36 And to Midian We sent their brother, Shu’ayb, who said: “O my people, worship Allah and hope for the Last Day, and do not spread corruption in the land.”
29:37 They denounced him as a liar and so the tremor overtook them, and they were left in their home prostrate.
In still another account of the labours of Shu’ayb, there is no doubt that Midian was destroyed by an earthquake (verse 7:91).
7:85 And [to the people of] Midian We sent their brother Shu’ayb, who said: “O my people, worship Allah, you have no other god but He. A clear proof as now come to you from your Lord; so fulfil the measure and the weight; and do not withhold anything of what is due to people; and do not make mischief in the land after it has been put in order. That is better for you if you a true believers.
7:86 “And do not sit down at every roadside, and threatening and barring from Allah’s Path those who have believed, seeking to make it crooked. And remember when you were few in number and He multiplied you, and see what was the fate of those who sought to corrupt.
7:87 “And if one group of you believes in the message I have been sent with, and another group does not believe, wait then until Allah judges between us; for He is the Best of Judges.”
7:88 The arrogant dignitaries of his people said: “O Shu’ayb, we will surely drive you, together with those who believe, out of our city, unless you return to our religion.” He said: “Even if we were unwilling?
7:89 “We would actually be fabricating lies about Allah, if we were to return to your religion, after Allah has delivered us from it. It is not given to us to return to it, unless Allah our Lord wills it. Our Lord embraces all things in knowledge. In Allah we have put our trust. Our Lord, judge between us and our people in truth, for you are the Best of Judges.”
7:90 The dignitaries of his people who disbelieved then said: “If you follow Shu’ayb, then you are the losers.”
7:91 Thereupon, the earthquake overtook them, and so they lay prostrate in their homes.
7:92 Those who denounced Shu’ayb were as thought they had never dwelt there; those who denounced Shu’ayb were the losers.
7:93 So he turned away from them and said: “O my people, I have delivered to you the revelations of my Lord and given you advice. How should I then grieve for an unbelieving people?"