The Thamūd (Arabic: ثمود) were a people of ancient Arabia who were known from the 1st millennium BC to near the time of Muhammad. Although they are thought to have originated in southern Arabia, Arabic tradition has them moving north to settle on the slopes of Mount Athlab near Mada'in Saleh. According to the Qur'an, the Thamud were punished and destroyed by a soundwave (rajfa).
The Qur'an 
The Qur'an mentions Thamud in Sura Al-A'raf in the context of several prophets who warned their people of coming judgement. Verse 74 says of Thamud, "Ye build for yourselves palaces and castles in (open) plains, and carve out homes in the mountains". This could refer to the rock-cut tombs of Mada'in Saleh (the Cities of Saleh)
To the Thamud people (We sent) Salih, one of their own brethren: He said: "O my people! worship Allah: ye have no other god but Him. Now hath come unto you a clear (Sign) from your Lord! This she-camel of Allah is a Sign unto you: So leave her to graze in Allah's earth, and let her come to no harm, or ye shall be seized with a grievous punishment.
"And remember how He made you inheritors after the 'Ad people and gave you habitations in the land: ye build for yourselves palaces and castles in (open) plains, and carve out homes in the mountains; so bring to remembrance the benefits (ye have received) from Allah, and refrain from evil and mischief on the earth."
This verse suggests some kind of relationship between ʿĀd and Thamud, and ʿĀd may even have been a part of Thamud's history and culture. Just as Nuh's (Noah) people were seen as the ancestors of ʿĀd, it seems ʿĀd were seen in a similar relation to Thamud.
The ʿĀd were a people living in southern Arabia. Some remains of Thamud were found in the region where ʿĀd had lived, especially around the region where capital city of the Hadramites, the descendants of ʿĀd, stood.
A bit further on from the passage quoted above, the Qur'an says,
Then they ham-strung the she-camel, and insolently defied the order of their Lord, saying: "O Salih! bring about thy threats, if thou art a messenger (of Allah)!"
So the earthquake took them unawares, and they lay prostrate in their homes in the morning!—Qur'an, Sura 7 (Al-A'raf), ayat 77-78
`Abd Allah ibn `Umar (ca. 614–693) narrated that while Muhammad was passing by Thamud's houses on his way to the Battle of Tabouk, he stopped together with the people there. The people fetched water from the wells from which the people of Thamud used to drink. They prepared their dough (for baking) and filled their water skins from it (the water from the wells). Muhammad ordered them to empty the water skins and give the prepared dough to the camels. Then he went away with them until they stopped at the well from which the she-camel (of Salih) used to drink. He warned them against entering upon the people that had been punished, saying "Do not enter the house of those who were unjust to themselves, unless (you enter) weeping, lest you should suffer the same punishment as was inflicted upon them."
Ibn Khaldun 
Some examples from the Muqaddimah ("Introduction"):
This can be illustrated by what happened among the nations. When the royal authority of 'Ad was wiped out, their brethren, the Thamud, took over. They were succeeded, in turn, by their brethren, the Amalekites. The Amalekites were succeeded by their brethren, the Himyar. The Himyar were succeeded by their brethren, the Tubba's, who belonged to the Himyar. They, likewise, were succeeded, by the Adhwa'. Then, the Mudar came to power.—Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah Chapter II Bedouin civilization, savage nations and tribes and their conditions of life, including several basic and explanatory statements, 21 As long as a nation retains its group feeling, royal authority that disappears in one branch will, of necessity, pass to some other branch of the same nation.
Yemen, Bahrain (historical region), Oman, and other parts of the Arabian Peninsula have long been in Arab possession, but for thousands of years, the rule of these areas has belonged to different (Arab) nations in succession. They also founded cities and towns (there) and promoted the development of sedentary culture and luxury to the highest degree. Among such nations were the 'Ad and the Thamud, the Amalekites and the Himyar after them, the Tubbas, and the other South Arabian rulers (Adhwa). There was a long period of royal authority and sedentary culture. The coloring of (sedentary culture) established itself firmly. The crafts became abundant and firmly rooted. They were not wiped out simultaneously with (each ruling) dynasty, as we have stated. They have remained and have always renewed themselves down to this time, and they have become the specialty of that area. Such (special Yemenite) crafts are embroidered fabrics, striped cloth, and finely woven garments and silks.—Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah Chapter V On the various aspects of making a living, such as profit and the crafts. The conditions that occur in this connection. A number of problems are connected with this subject, 20 The Arabs, of all people, are least familiar with crafts.
A script graphically similar to the Semitic alphabet (called Thamudic) has been found in southern Arabia and up throughout the Hejaz. The script was first identified in a region in north central Yemen that is known as Thamud, which is bound to the north by the Rub' al Khali, to the south by the Hadhramaut and to the west by Shabwah. The script was named after the place where it was first discovered, not for the people. Inscriptions in Thamudic come mostly from northern Saudi Arabia, but can be found throughout the Arabian peninsula.
The Disappearance 
As it was told in the Quran how the original people of Thamud were vanished, it's suggested that the story mentioned in Quran can be explained like "they may have been destroyed by one of the many volcanic outbreaks that have formed the far-reaching Arabian lava fields" 
The Usage of the Name 
After the mysterious disappearance of the original people of Thamud, it's suggested that their name was subsequently adopted by some other new groups that inhabited the region of Mada'in Saleh during the late centuries of Anno Domini period. This suggestion can be evidenced by the reports from the Pre-Islamic and Post-Islamic period when people called the region of Thamud people as "Al-Hijr" in general, while they called the province of Mada'in Saleh in specific as (Ardh Thamud : the Land of Thamud) and (Bayt Thamud : the House of Thamud).
The conclusion that can be taken from the evidences above is that the term "Thamud" wasn't applied to the groups that lived in Mada'in Saleh such as Lihyanites and Nabataeans, but rather to the region itself.
According to Classical Arabic sources, it's agreed upon that the only remaining group of the native people of Thamud are the tribe of Banu Thaqif which inhabited the city of Taif south of Mecca.
See also 
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- "ICOMOS Evaluation of Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih) World Heritage Nomination". World Heritage Center. Retrieved 2009-09-16.
- M. Th. Houtsma et al., eds., E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936
- Encyclopædia Britannica Online
- Phillip Hitti, A History of the Arabs, London: Macmillan, 1970, p. 37.
- Quran 7:74
- Quran 7:73–74
- Quran 7:77–78
- Quran 54:31
- Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:55:562–563
- Muqaddimah Ch. 2.21
- Muqaddimah Ch. 5.20
- Brian Doe, Southern Arabia, Thames and Hudson, 1971, pp. 21-22.
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - Thamudic inscriptions exhibit
- Bibliotheca historica, Volume II, Book III, Page 219
- The Arabs in Antiquity: Their History from the Assyrians to the Umayyads, Page 299
- Jan Retsö
- "The Arabs in Antiquity"
- Encyclopedia Britannica, Under the Category of: Thamūd
- Arabia and the Arabs: from the Bronze Age to the coming of Islam, Robert G. Hoyland, Page: 69
- The Beginning and the End, by: Ibn Kathir, Volume: 1, Page: 159
- Sahih al-Bukhari, Narrated: Abdullah ibn Umar, Hadiths: 2116 & 3379
- The New Encyclopædia Britannica: Macropædia Volume 13. USA: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 1995. Page: 818
- Encyclopedia Britannica, Under the Category of: History of Arabia, the Section of: Dedān and Al-Ḥijr
- The Detailed History of Arabs before Islam, Prof. Jawwad Ali, Volume: 15, Page: 301
- The Historical Record of Ibn Khaldon, Volume: 2, Page: 641
- Kitab Al-Aghani, Abu Al-Faraj Al-Asfahani, Volume: 4, Page: 74
- Photos of Thamud dwellings at Madain Saleh, Saudi Arabia
- The story of the Prophet Salih
- The Arab Identity of Thamud