By Sikandar Azam
The Qur’ān relates many instances wherein upholding justice in all transactions as well as in the matters of faith has been enjoined. We know the Qur’ān is the Last Book revealed by God, the Creator and Master, for the Guidance of human beings. It tells us stories of some of the past nations just to pick lessons therefrom and mend our lives. One such story is that of the Madyan or the People of Prophet Shu‘ayb. The Qur’ān (7:85) speaks about the people of Madyan and their Prophet, Shu‘ayb: “And to Madyan (We sent) their brother Shu‘ayb. He said: ‘My people, worship God alone: you have no deity other than Him’.”
This message of Prophet Shu‘ayb forms the nucleus of the divine faith that admits no change or alteration. This is in fact the central theme of the teachings of God that He has sent since dawn the ages, right from Prophet Adam to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. This Divine Message is simple to understand. The structure of our own physique and the objects of Nature as well as the stars and galaxies moving in the universe are in perfect conformity to this Message. This is why Prophet Shu‘ayb further says to his people: “Clear evidence of the truth has come to you from your Lord.”
The people of Prophet Shu‘ayb were unbelievers who did not implement in their own dealings and transactions the divine law which ensures justice for all. They had been also indulged in the various social malpractices and spreading corruption on earth. One distinctive evil of their society was that they had been unjust in weighing and measuring different articles. This was a social ill. And Prophet Shu‘ayb addressed this social curse in the same breath, in the same ayah: “Give full measure and weight (in your dealings), and do not deprive people of what rightfully belongs to them. Do not spread corruption on earth after it has been so well ordered. That is best for you, if you are true believers.” These injunctions of Prophet Shu‘ayb required his people to give full and just measure and weight, and refrain from spreading corruption on earth.
The people of Prophet Shu‘ayb were also in the habit of teasing and threatening the passers-by who go about their businesses and persuaded the believers to change their faith by creating doubts in the true path. The Qur’ān (7:86) directs them not to indulge in such activities: “Do not squat on every road, threatening and turning away from God’s path anyone who believes in Him, and trying to make it appear crooked.”
Prophet Shu‘ayb then tries to draw their attention towards two important factors: One, that they were small in number and how God the Almighty increased their number: “Remember when you were few and how He caused you to rapidly increase in number.” And, two, how the previous nations had been ruined for their sin of spreading corruption on earth: “Behold what happened in the end to those who spread corruption.”
These are some of the lessons that we can draw from the teachings of Prophet Shu‘ayb, mend our lives, save ourselves from the Divine chastisement and reap the ultimate success.