The Companions of the Rass
وَعَادًۭا وَثَمُودَا۟ وَأَصْحَـٰبَ ٱلرَّسِّ وَقُرُونًۢا بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ كَثِيرًۭا
And [We destroyed] ʿAad and Thamūd and the people of the well1 and many generations between them. [25:38]
كَذَّبَتْ قَبْلَهُمْ قَوْمُ نُوحٍۢ وَأَصْحَـٰبُ ٱلرَّسِّ وَثَمُودُ
Before them, the people of Noah denied ˹the truth,˺ as did the people of the well,1 Thamûd [50:12]
Who are the Companions of the Rass? There are many opinions.
A lengthy narration from Amir al-Mu’minin (peace be upon him) about the Companions of the Rass summarizes:
They were a people who worshipped a pine tree called (Shah Darakht), which Yafith, the son of Noah, had planted after the Flood next to a spring called (Roshan Ab). They had twelve populated villages along the bank of a river called (Al-Rass), named after the months: Aban, Azar, Dey, Bahman, Esfandar, Farvardin, Ordibehesht, Khordad, Mordad, Tir, Mehr, and Shahrivar, from which the Persians derived the names of their months.
In each of these villages, they planted a seed from that pine tree, channeled a river from the spring near the pine, and forbade themselves and their livestock from drinking its water. Whoever drank from it was killed, claiming it was the life of the gods and that no one should diminish its life. They designated one day each month of their year as a festival in each village, during which they would go out to the pine tree outside the village, offer sacrifices, slaughter offerings, then burn them in fire and prostrate to the tree as its smoke rose and shone in the sky. They would weep and implore, and Satan would speak to them from the tree. This was their practice in the villages until the day of the festival of their largest village, where they lived and which was named (Esfandar). All the villagers would gather there and celebrate for twelve days, bringing as many offerings and acts of worship for the tree as they could, and Satan would promise and delude them more than what the demons did in the other festivals from other trees.
When their disbelief in God and worship of the tree persisted, God sent them a messenger from the Children of Israel from the descendants of Judah. He called them for a while to worship God and abandon polytheism, but they did not believe. So, he prayed against the tree, and it withered. When they saw this, they were displeased, and some said: This man has bewitched our god, while others said: Our god is angry with us because it saw this man calling us to disbelieve in it, so we left it to its own without being angered for our god.
They unanimously agreed to kill him, so they dug a deep well, threw him into it, and sealed its opening. They continued to hear his moaning over it until he died. Then, God afflicted them with severe punishment that destroyed them to the last.
Stories of the Quran / by Ayatollah Sheikh Nasser Makarem Shirazi.