However, upon listening to the whispers of Satan, they began to dig drains from the sea into the land, resulting in the formation of ponds in the dry land. Satan further misguided them by giving them the evil idea that on Sabbath (Saturday), when fish come into the pond through these drains, close the passage of the drains and do not catch fish that day. Instead, catch them the next day. They liked this satanic idea but they did not realise the fact that the day when they trapped fish in ponds, would still be considered as fishing day. Therefore, capturing fish turned out to be on the day of Sabbath (Saturday) which Allah had prohibited for them. On this occasion, Jews divided into three groups:
1. There were some who prevented themselves from fishing according to the command of Allah , and tried to advise others to do the same. They showed anger and hatred towards this transgression.
2. Another group also disliked and hated this act but remained silent. They did not restrain people from indulging in it. Instead they said to those who tried to prevent others that why they advise such people whom Allah is either about to destroy or going to inflict His severe torment upon them.
When the disobedient people did not refrain from their evil act despite being forbidden from it, then those who attempted to prevent them said that they would no longer keep any ties with them. Therefore, they built a wall to separate themselves from the wrongdoers. The village was divided and separate entrance and exit were made. Wrathfully,
Sayyiduna Dawood cursed those who fished on Saturday. Consequently, no one among the disobedient came outside one day. Some people climbed up the wall to see them and saw that all of them were deformed into monkeys. When the people entered by opening the door of wrongdoers, the monkeys would recognise their relatives, come close to them and sniff their clothes and weep bitterly. But the people could not recognise the ones turned into monkeys. Those who became monkeys were twelve thousand in number. They lived for three days and could not eat or drink anything in between and all of them died out of thirst and hunger. The group of people who prevented from fishing remained safe from destruction. According to more trustworthy report, Allah also saved those who considered it evil even in their hearts and remained silent.
([afseer As-Saawi, vol. t pp. 72; part 2, Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 65)
The Holy Quran describes this event in the following Ayah of Surah Al-Baqarah:
And undoubtedly, you definitely know those amongst you who had transgressed in the matter of Sabbath (Saturday). So We said to them, ‘Become apes, despised.’
[Kanz-ul-Iman (Translation of Quran)J (Part t Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 65)
This event is also mentioned in detail in Surah Al-A’raf. Its translation is as follows:
And ask them (0 Beloved), of the town that was on the seashore; when they used to exceed the limit in the matter of the Sabbath (prohibition of fishing on Saturdays). When their fish used to come swimming on top of the water in front of them on the day of Saturday and would not come on the days it was not Saturday; this is how We used to test them, due to their disobedience. And when a group among them said (to another group), ‘Why do you advise those people whom Allah is to destroy or inflict a severe punishment?’ They said, ‘To have an excuse in the Majestic Court of your Lord, and they may fear.’ And when they forgot what they had been advised, We rescued those who forbade evil, and seized the unjust with a dreadful punishment; the recompense of their disobedience. Then, when they rebelled against the command of prohibition ( of fishing on Saturday), We said to them, ‘Become monkeys, despised.’
[Kanz-ul-Iman (Translation of Quran)J (Part 9, Surah Al-A’raJ; Ayah 163-166)
Therefore, we learnt how dangerous it is to disobey the commandments of Allah .k,_;’;i. and to fall into the trap plotted by Satan. Furthermore, we learnt how wretched are those cursed by a Nabi of Allah. Even their signs are wiped away from the face of the earth by Divine torment, they are destined for Hellfire and they are rendered unsuccessful in both the worldly life and the afterlife.
There are many lessons and words of ad vice that the Muslims can derive from this heart-trembling event of the people of Eelah. May the fear of Allah thrive in the hearts of the Muslims after reading it, may they stay away from evil temptations and remain steadfast upon the straight path and become successful in both the worlds!