Iram of the Pillars
Iram of the Pillars (Arabic: إرَم ذَات ٱلْعِمَاد, Iram dhāt al-ʿimād; an alternative translation is Iram of the tentpoles), also called "Irum", "Irem", "Erum", "Ubar", or the "City of the pillars", is considered a lost city, region or tribe mentioned in the Quran.
Iram in the Quran
The Quran mentions Iram in connection with ‘imad (pillars):Surah al-Fajr (6-14)
6: Have you not considered how your Lord dealt with ‘Aad –
7: [With] Iram – who had lofty pillars,
8: The likes of whom had never been created in the lands
9: And [with] Thamud, who carved out the rocks in the valley?
10: And [with] Pharaoh, owner of the Pyramids? –
11: [All of] whom oppressed within the lands
12: And increased therein the corruption.
13: So your Lord poured upon them a scourge of punishment.
14: Indeed, your Lord is in observation.
There are several explanations for the reference to "Iram – who had lofty pillars". Some see this as a geographic location, either a city or an area, others as the name of a tribe. Those identifying it as a city have made various suggestions as to where or what city it was, ranging from Alexandria or Damascus to a city which actually moved or a city called Ubar. As an area, it has been identified with the biblical region known as Aram. It has also been identified as a tribe, possibly the tribe of ʿĀd, with the pillars referring to tent pillars. The Nabataeans were one of the many nomadic Bedouin tribes who roamed the Arabian Desert and took their herds to where they could find grassland and water. They became familiar with their area as the seasons passed, and they struggled to survive during bad years when seasonal rainfall decreased. Although the Nabataeans were initially embedded in the Aramean culture, theories that they have Aramean roots are rejected by modern scholars. Instead, archaeological, religious and linguistic evidence confirms that they are a North Arabian tribe.
"The identification of Wadi Rum with Iram and the tribe of ʿĀd, mentioned in the Quran, has been proposed by scholars who have translated Thamudic and Nabataean inscriptions referring to both the place Iram and the tribes of ʿĀd and Thamud by name."
Iram became widely known to Western literature with the translation of the story "The City of Many-Columned Iram and Abdullah Son of Abi Kilabah" in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights.
The oldest mention of the city of Iram was found in the Ebla tablets, dated from c. 2500 BCE to c. 2250 BCE. In November 1991, the remains of a settlement were discovered in southern Oman which was hypothesized to be the legendary lost city claimed to have been destroyed by God. In 1992 Ranulph Fiennes wrote a book called Atlantis of the Sands about the expedition. The term Atlantis of the Sands had originally been coined by T. E. Lawrence.
There's a lot of confusion about that word. If you look at the classical texts and the Arab historical sources, Ubar refers to a region and a group of people, not to a specific town. People always overlook that. It's very clear on Ptolemy's second century map of the area. It says in big letters "Iobaritae". And in his text that accompanied the maps, he's very clear about that. It was only the late medieval version of One Thousand and One Nights, in the fourteenth or fifteenth century, that romanticised Ubar and turned it into a city, rather than a region or a people."
- As far as the legend of Ubar was concerned, there was no evidence that the city had perished in a sandstorm. Much of the fortress had collapsed into a sinkhole that hosted the well, perhaps undermined by ground water being taken to irrigate the surrounding oasis.
- Rather than being a city, interpretation of the evidence suggested that "Ubar" was more likely to have been a region—the “Land of the Iobaritae” identified by Ptolemy. The decline of the region was probably due to a reduction in the frankincense trade caused by the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity, which did not require incense in the same quantities for its rituals. Also, it became difficult to find local labour to collect the resin. Climatic changes led to desiccation of the area, and sea transport became a more reliable way of transporting goods.
There are many ahadith about Iram, with one being the story of 'Abdullah bin Qalabah, who found Iram of the Pillars while searching for his lost camel. The story has been rejected by some Islamic scholars who consider the story an Isra'iliyyat Hadith. Ka’b al-Ahbar, who told the story, was Jewish before he converted to Islam, and thus he was accused by some scholars of narrating Isra'iliyyat stories.(though all tribes were Jewish or Christian or worshiped several gods before they converted to Islam)
- Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception explores Iram of the Pillars in the city of Ubar.
- Illwinter Game Design's Dominions 5 Iram is featured as the playable nation Ubar, a precursor to Na'Ba, which represents the Nabataeans
- Irem is featured as a port of call in Sunless Sea, having been transported underground to a subterranean ocean.
- Fallout 4 mentions Ubar and the Rub' al Khali by way of character Lorenzo Cabot.
- League of Legends' Icathia (a location in Runeterra) seems to be based on the lost city as it's lore also seems to reference H.P. Lovecraft's "Nameless City" and his mythos in general.
- H. P. Lovecraft places it somewhere near "The Nameless City" in his stories (1921). In "The Call of Cthulhu" (1926) it is the supposed base of the Cthulhu Cult. Lovecraft and other Cthulhu Mythos authors have settled on the spelling Irem.
- Iram is the theme of Daniel Easterman's novel The Seventh Sanctuary (1987).
- Bayard Taylor's poem The Garden of Irem.
- Josephine Tey's novel The Singing Sands (1952) concerns, among other things, the search for the lost city of Wabar.
- Al-Hijr Archaeological Site
- Arabian Desert
- Al-Ukhdud ("The Ditch", or a place near Najran)
- Babil (Babylon)
- Madyan (Midian)
- Ma'rib, Saba' (Sheba)
- Sodom and Gomorrah
- The town in Surah Ya-Sin
- Wabar craters
- Glassé, Cyril; Smith, Huston (2003). "ʿĀd". The New Encyclopedia of Islam. Rowman Altamira. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-7591-0190-6.
- Quran 89:6–14 (Translated by Pickthall)
- Noegel, Scott B.; Wheeler, Brannon M. (2010). "Iram". The A to Z of Prophets in Islam and Judaism. Scarecrow Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-8108-7603-3.
- Bosworth, C.E., ed. (1999). The History of al-Ṭabarī, Volume V: The Sāsānids, the Byzantines, the Lakhmids, and Yemen. SUNY Series in Near Eastern Studies. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-7914-4355-2.
- "Wadi Rum (Jordan). ICOMOS Advisory Body Evaluation" (PDF). UNESCO.org. 2011.
- Burton, Richard Francis (1885). The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. p. – via Wikisource.
- Wilford, John Noble (5 February 1992). "On the Trail From the Sky: Roads Point to a Lost City". New York Times. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
- Fiennes, Ranulph (1993). Atlantis of the Sands: The Search for the Lost City of Ubar. Harmondsworth: Signet Books. ISBN 0-451-17577-8. OL 17393459M.
- "The Atlantis of the Sands: the real myth behind Uncharted 3". PlayStation Universe.
- Zarins, Juris (September 1996). "Interview with Dr. Juris Zarins". PBS Nova Online (Interview). Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- Blom, Ronald G.; Crippen, Robert; Elachi, Charles; Clapp, Nicholas; Hedges, George R.; Zarins, Juris (2006). Wiseman, James; El-Baz, Farouk (eds.). "Southern Arabian Desert Trade Routes, Frankincense, Myrrh, and the Ubar Legend". Remote Sensing in Archaeology. Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology. New York: Springer: 71–87. doi:10.1007/0-387-44455-6_3. ISBN 978-0-387-44455-0.
- Lawton, John (May–June 1983). "Oman: Frankincense". Saudi Aramco World. Vol. 34 no. 3. pp. 26–27. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
- "Chapter 54: Shaddad and his Paradise, those who had very long life-spans". Al-Islam.org. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
- Ibn Khaldun (1958). The Muqaddimah: an introduction to history. 1. Princeton University Press. p. 17. ISBN 0691017549.
- "The Nameless City". Mythos Tomes. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- Taylor, Bayard. "The garden of Irem". Poetry nook.