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Who are ASHAAB-UR-RAS?

Literal meaning of the word ‘Ras’ is ‘old well’. Therefore, the ‘ Ashaab-ur-Ras’ means ‘the people of the well.’ In the Holy Quran, Allah has mentioned the destruction of a nation called ‘Ashaab-ur-Ras’ caused by their insolence and disobedience. Therefore, it is mentioned in Surah Al-Furqan: 
And (We destroyed) the tribes of ‘Aad and the Samood, and the People of the Well, and many generations between them. And We explained examples to each one of them and destroyed all of them; eliminating them.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (Translation of Quran)J (Part 19, Surah AI-Furqan, Ayah 38-39)
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In Surah Qaaf, while mentioning the list of the mutilated nations, Allah says:
Before these, the people of Nuh had belied, and (so did) the dwellers of Ras (name of a well) and Samood. And the compatriots of ‘Aad, and Fir’ awn, and Loot. And the  Dwellers of the Woods, and the people of Tubba’; each one of them belied the Messengers, so My promised punishment proved true.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (Translation of Quran)J (Part 2 61 Surah Qaaf Ayah 12-14)
Who were ‘ Ashaab-ur-Ras’? Where did they use to live? In this context, there are so many different opinions of the commentators of the Holy Quran that instead of reality getting clear to us, it has become muddled. However, after briefly mentioning some of these opinions, we will also mention our viewpoint in this regard.

First opinion 

‘Allamah Ibn  Jareer is of the opinion that one of the meaning of ‘Ras’ is ‘cave’. Hence Ashaab-ur-Ras is another name for Ashaab-ul-Ukhdood (the people of the pit).

Second opinion 

Ibn ‘Asakir has endorsed the following opm10n in his Tareekh that Ashaab-ur-Ras is the name of the people that existed centuries before the people of ‘Aad. The place where these people used to live, Allah  sent a Nabi, Sayyiduna Hanzalah Bin Safwaan there. But this insolent nation did not obey their Nabi and did not embrace the true faith at all. Instead, they killed their Nabi. As a punishment for their evil act, the whole nation was obliterated by the torment from Allah . (I’afseer Surah Al-Furqan & Tareekh Ibn Kaseer, vol. 1)

Third opinion 

The opinion of Ibn Abi Haatim is that there was a well near Azerbaijan. The people that lived near that well buried their Nabi alive in the well. That’s why these people are called ‘ Ashaab-ur-Ras’.
(I’afseer Ibn Kaseer, vol. 61 pp. 101, part 19, Surah Al-Furqan, Ayah 38)

Fourth opinion 

Qatadah reports that in the area of ‘Yamamah’, there was a dwelling called ‘Falaj’. Ashaab-ur-Ras used to live there. This is the same nation that has also  been referred as ‘Ashaab-ul-Qaryah’ in the Holy Quran. These people have been referred with different names.

Fifth opinion 

Abu Bakr ‘Umar Naqqaash and Suhayli have reported that in the dwelling of Ashaab-ur-Ras, there was a big well. These people used to drink the water of that well and would also irrigate their fields from it. After going astray, these people killed their Nabi. As a punishment of this sin, the torment of Allah  struck them and the whole nation was obliterated.

Sixth opinion 

Muhammad Bin Ka’b Qarazi has reported that the Holy Rasool  said:  meaning, ‘The person to enter
first in the Paradise will be a dark-skinned slave’.
This is because Allah sent a Nabi in a nation and no one embraced faith unto him except a black slave. Then the people of the community put their Nabi into a well and sealed the well with a heavy stone so that no one could open it. But the black slave used to go to forest daily, cut and sell wood and buy food from his earnings. After reaching the well, he used to lift the stone and serve the food to the Nabi of Allah. After few days, Allah  made him asleep in the jungle for fourteen years. Meanwhile, the state of the hearts of the people changed. They took their Nabi out of the well, repented sincerely and embraced faith unto him. After few days, the Nabi passed away.
When the black slave woke up after fourteen years, he thought that he slept for a few hours. He quickly cut wood and reached the city. But when he saw that the condition of the city has changed altogether, he enquired about it and ultimately he came to know the whole story. It was about the same slave  that the Holy Rasool  mentioned: The person to enter first in the Paradise will be a dark-skinned slave.
(I’afseer Ibn Kaseer, vol. 6, pp. 101; part 19, Surah Al-Furqan, Ayah 38)

Seventh opinion 

The famous historian, ‘Allamah Mas’ oodi has reported that Ashaab-ur-Ras are among the progeny of Sayyiduna Isma’eel _ These were two tribes, ‘Qaydmah’ and ‘Yaameen’ or ‘Ra’weel’. Both of these tribes lived in Yemen.

Eighth opinion 

An Egyptian scholar Farajullah Zaki Kurdi has reported that the word ‘ ‘ [Ras] is an abbreviation of the name of the city [Aras] which was situated in the region of Qafqaaz. Allah   sent a Nabi named lbraheem Zardasht in that valley who invited the people towards the true religion but the people adopted insolent and rebellious attitude against him. Therefore, the torment of Allah obliterated those people.
These are the eight opinions about ‘Ashaab-ur-Ras’. All of these opinions remained under debate. Many people have analytically criticized them. However, I would not like to make my brief book lengthy by describing them
To sum up, we can deduce from the Holy Quran that Ashaab-ur-Ras either existed during the intermediary era of Sayyiduna ‘Isa  or they belonged to very old times. However, the Holy Quran has not mentioned anything about it and it is very hard and difficult to reach an authentic conclusion about these people in the light of aforementioned commentaries. 

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