The Scientific Explanation of Ṣayḥah as a Divine Punishment of Some Ancient Tribes Mentioned in the Qur’an

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Qur'anic Studies Research Institute, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


The narration of the life of some of the past tribes who lived after Noah has been mentioned in detail or in summary in the Qur’an. The fate of these tribes has mostly ended in divine punishment, which based of the geographical location, the type of sins of the people, and other reasons, this punishment has had different external manifestations, such as storm, ṣayḥah, sinking into the ground and drowning in water. Since the function of ṣayḥah (which is translated as loud and strong sound) as a destructive force is not as clear as the other punishments mentioned, the main goal of this research is to scientifically explain the function of ṣayḥah as a divine punishment. Due to the semantic similarities of ṣayḥah to sound wave (a type of pressure wave), the proposal here is the correspondence of ṣayḥah to shock wave which can be defined as a strong sound wave with a large amplitude. Recent advances in science have shown that this type of wave has a very high destructive power and has the ability to cause serious damage to living tissues of the body.  In this research, first, the different meanings of the word ṣayḥah have been studied according to Arabic lexicons, and then the verses of the Qur’an related to punishment by ṣayḥah that some past tribes have suffered have been carefully investigated. After studying the possibility of the destruction of the ṣayḥah, both in terms of the Qur’an and the latest developments in physics, as a suggestion for scientific interpretation, shock wave, which is a type of sound waves, has been proposed as a possible example to the punishment by ṣayḥah.