Prophet Hud

Prophet Hud (هود) was a prophet of ancient Arabia mentioned in the Quran. The eleventh chapter of the Quran, Hud or Hoodh, is named after him, though the narrative of Hud comprises only a small portion of the chapter.

Historical context

See also: Arabian Desert and Rub’ al Khali

Hud has sometimes been identified with Eber, an ancestor of the Ishmaelites and the Israelites who is mentioned in the Old Testament.

He is said to have been a subject of a mulk (مُلك, kingdom) named after its founder, ‘Ad, a fourth-generation descendant of Noah (his father being Uz, the son of Aram, who was the son of Shem, who, in turn, was a son of Noah):

The ʿĀd people, with their prophet Hud, are mentioned in many places. See especially Quran 26:123–140, and Quran 46:21–26 . Their eponymous ancestor ‘Ad was fourth in generation from Noah, having been a son of ‘Aus, the son of Aram, the son of Sam, the son of Noah. They occupied a large tract of country in Southern Arabia, extending from Umman at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Hadhramaut and Yemen at the southern end of the Red Sea. The people were tall in stature and were great builders. Probably the long, winding tracts of sands (ahqaf) in their dominions (46:21) were irrigated with canals. They forsook the true God, and oppressed their people. A three years famine visited them, but yet they took no warning. At length a terrible blast of wind destroyed them and their land, but a remnant, known as the second ʿĀd or the Thamud (see below) were saved, and afterwards suffered a similar fate for their sins. The tomb of the Prophet Hud (qabr Nabi Hud) is still traditionally shown in Hadhramaut, latitude 16 N, and longitude 4912 E, about 90 miles north of Mukalla. There are ruins and inscriptions in the neighborhood.

— Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary, Note 1040

The other tribes claimed to be present at this time in Arabia, were the Thamud, Jurhum, Tasam, Jadis, Amim, Midian, Amalek Imlaq, Jasim, Qahtan, Banu Yaqtan and others.

The Quran gives the location of ʿĀd as being Al-Aḥqāf (الأَحقَاف, “The Sandy Plains”, or “the Wind-curved Sand-hills”). It is believed to have been in South Arabia, possibly in eastern Yemen and/or western Oman. In November 1991, a settlement was discovered and hypothesized for Ubar, which is thought to be mentioned in the Qur’an as Iram dhāṫ al-‘Imād (إِرَم ذَات العِمَادIram of the Pillars; an alternative translation is Iram of the tentpoles), and may have been the capital of ʿĀd. One of the members of the original expedition, archeologist Juris Zarins, however, later concluded that the discovery did not represent a city called Ubar. In a 1996 interview on the subject he said:

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.”

The Moroccan mystic Abdulaziz ad-Dabbagh gives detailed information about Hud: According to him, 53:50 (Shakir) alludes to the fact that Hud was sent to the second ‘Ad tribe, which lived after Noah. The first ‘Ad tribe had a messenger named Huwayd, whose message was to be revived by Hud, and the tribe was destroyed with stones and fire by God. Hud was Eber’s son (see Eber#In_Islam for his genealogy) and Iram was the name of one of the tribes of ‘Ad, specifically the one Hud was sent to (see Iram of the Pillars#Iram_in_the_Quran).

Tomb of prophet Hud

Tomb of Prophet Hud

Narrative in the Quran

This is a brief summary of Hud’s narrative, with emphasis on two particular verses:

The people of ʿĀd were extremely powerful and wealthy and they built countless buildings and monuments to show their power. However, the ʿĀd people’s wealth ultimately proved to be their failure, as they became arrogant and forsook God and began to adopt idols for worship, including three idols named SamdSamud and Hara. Hud, even in childhood, remained consistent in prayer to God. It is related through exegesis that Hud’s mother, a pious woman who had seen great visions at her son’s birth, was the only person who encouraged Hud in his worship. Thus, the Lord raised up Hud as a prophet for the ʿĀd people.

When Hud started preaching and invited them to the worship of only the true God and when he told them to repent for their past sins and ask for mercy and forgiveness, the ʿĀd people began to revile him and wickedly began to mock God’s message. Hud’s story epitomizes the prophetic cycle common to the early prophets mentioned in the Quran: the prophet is sent to his people to tell them to worship God only and tells them to acknowledge that it is God who is the provider of their blessings The Quran states:

We sent to the people of ‘Ad their brother Hud, who said: “O my people, worship God; you have no other god but He. (As for the idols,) you are only inventing lies.
O my people, I ask no recompense of you for it: My reward is with Him who created me. Will you not, therefore, understand?
O my people, beg your Lord to forgive you, and turn to Him in repentance. He will send down rain in torrents for you from the skies, and give you added strength. So do not turn away from Him as sinners.”
They said: “O Hud, you have come to us with no proofs. We shall not abandon our gods because you say so, nor believe in you.
All we can say is that some of our gods have smitten you with evil.” He replied:” I call God to witness, and you be witness too, that I am clear of what you associate (in your affairs)
Apart from Him. Contrive against me as much as you like, and give me no respite.
I place my trust in God who is my Lord and your Lord. There is no creature that moves on the earth who is not held by the forelock firmly by Him. Verily the way of my Lord is straight.
If you turn away, then (remember) I have delivered to you the message I was sent with. My Lord will put other people in your place, and you will not be able to prevail against Him. Indeed my Lord keeps a watch over all things.”

— Qur’an, sura 11 (Hud), ayah 50-57

Miracle of Hud

According to tafsir from Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya in his analysis book, Madaarij Saalikeen, which has been quoted by Ibn Abi al-Izz in his syarh (commentary) of Al-Aqida al-Tahawiyya, Hud has shown his miracle which are pointed by the verse of 56-58:

(56)“All we can say is that some of our gods have smitten you with evil.” He replied:” I call God to witness, and you be witness too, that I am clear of what you associate (in your affairs)…Apart from Him. Contrive against me as much as you like, and give me no respite.

(57)I place my trust in God who is my Lord and your Lord. There is no creature that moves on the earth who is not held by the forelock firmly by Him. Verily the way of my Lord is straight.

(58)If you turn away, then (remember) I have delivered to you the message I was sent with. My Lord will put other people in your place, and you will not be able to prevail against Him. Indeed my Lord keeps a watch over all things.”

— Qur’an, sura 11 (Hud). ayah 56-58

Both Ibn Qayyim and Ibn Abi al-Izz examining this chain of verses as the occurrence when Hud fought alone against entire nation of ‘Ad, as the entire city was about to harm him both psychologically and physically, only to be defeated by miraculous power shown by Hud based on his firm belief of God protection. Umar Sulaiman Al-Ashqar, Salafi scholar of Tafsir, quoted this literation on his book, while his brother, Muhammad Sulaiman Al Ashqar, professor of Islamic University of Madinah, also implied his support of this narrative about Hud miracle in his own tafsir, Zubdat at Tafsir Min Fath al Qadir. The miracle are further highlighted by Firanda Andirja, lecturer of Masjid al-Haram, that according to tafsir of whole Surah Hud, the ‘Ad were acknowledged by Tafsir scholars as superpower empire that preceded the era of Abraham and Nimrod, and ‘Ad were known to be tyranically oppressed the whole known human civilization at that time.

Calamity upon ʿĀd

After Hud has been left alone by the people of ʿĀd for a long time. The majority of them, however, refused to pay any notice to his teachings and they kept ignoring and mocking all he said. As their aggression, arrogance and idolatry deepened, God, after plenty of warning, sent a thunderous storm to finish the wicked people of ʿĀd once and for all. The destruction of the ʿĀd is described in the Quran:

So when they saw it as a cloud advancing towards their valleys, they said: “This is just a passing cloud that will bring us rain.” “No. It is what you were trying to hasten: The wind which carries the grievous punishment!
It will destroy everything at the bidding of its Lord.” So in the morning there was nothing but their empty dwellings to be seen. That is how We requite the sinners.

— Qur’an, Surah 46 (Al-Ahqaf), ayah 24-25

The King Saud University from The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stated the interpretation from Al-Tabari of Quran 69:6–129 were narrated about the disaster which caused the extinction of ʿĀd. Wahbah al-Zuhayli, Salih bin Abdullah al Humaid, Imam of Grand Mosque of Mecca, along with the officials of Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance also agreed the verse were speaking about the punishment from God towards ʿĀd peoples.

Meanwhile, another Quran verse that describes further the characteristic of winds that bear calamity was Adh-Dhariyat:

And in ‘Ad when We unleashed upon them a barren wind.

— Qur’an Surah 51,(Adh-Dhariyat), ayah 41

Exegesis experts translate the “al-Rih ul-Aqeem” (الريح العقيم) literally as “fruitless wind” or “barren wind”, a winds that does not bring benefit or any positive reaction to any biological existences. According to Arabic linguists and tafseer experts has examined the al Aqeem are in it literal form as “sterile” in this verse context, which correlates the antithesis of common characteristic of natural winds that usually benefitted the natural cycle or any biological progressions or reproductions whether for humans, animals, or plants.

In addition for its barren characteristic, another verse also described additional feature about the catastrophic tornado which decimated the ‘Ad were Al-Qamar:

Surely We sent on them an evil omen (catastrophes), the wind (a furious very cold of harsh voice) that lasts throughout the day.

— Qur’an Surah 54,(al-Qamar), ayah 19

Exegesis experts describe the “Rih as-Sharshar” (cold and harsh wind) as literally freezing yet possessing thunderous deafening voice, and according to Tafsir Ibn Kathir, the strength of such punishing winds alone has squeezed the peoples of Ad inside out, until their intestines came out from their rectum and mouths. Nevertheless, modern contemporary scholars such as Al-Tahawi, Wahbah al-Zuhayli, and other scholars from Islamic University of Madinah and Saudi religious ministry has interpreted the verses of al-Qamar from the 18th verse to the 20th verse were narrating the story about the process of the calamity upon ʿĀd.

Calamity of ʿĀd in Hadith

There are several hadiths from various chains that became supporting materials regarding Calamity that has fallen upon the ʿĀd peoples, such as:

  • Abdulaziz al-Tarefe gave commentary in his book, Aqida al Khurasaniyya, regarding Hadith came from Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, where Muhammad has mentioned the threat of Kharijites: From this one’s stock there will be people who recite the Quran, but it will not pass down their throats. They will sever from Islam and leave the worshippers of Idols alone; but if I live up to their time I shall certainly kill them as ‘Ad were killed (by Hud). The Hadith has recorded in Al-Nasa’i, Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, and Sunan Abu Dawood, which all graded authentic by Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani.
  • Another mention of the calamity of ‘Ad from Hadith came from the narration of Ibn Abbas and recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim during the battle of the trench, when the Polytheists coalition army encampment were struck by storm, that Muhammad as said: “I have been made victorious with As-Saba (easterly wind) and the people of ‘Ad were destroyed by Ad-Dabur (westerly wind).”

In other religions

Judaism and Christianity do not venerate Hud as a prophet and, as a figure, he is absent from the Bible. However, there are several pre-Quranic references in Palmyrene inscription to individuals named Hud or possessing a name which is connected to Hud as well as references to the people of ʿĀd. The name Hud also appears in various ancient inscriptions, most commonly in the Hadhramaut region. Hud is referred to in the Baha’i Faith as a Prophet who appeared after Noah and prior to Abraham, who exhorted the people to abandon idolatry and practice monotheism. His endeavors to save His people resulted in their “willful blindness” and His rejection. (The Kitab-i-Iqan, The Book of Certitude, p. 9

Place of burial

Several sites are revered as the tomb of Hud. The most noted site, Kabr Nabi Hud, is located in a deserted village in Hadhramaut, Yemen, and is a place of frequent Muslim pilgrimage. Robert Bertram Serjeant in his study of the pilgrimage rite to the tomb of Hud verified on the spot the facts related by al-Harawi, who described, at the gate of the Mosque, on the west side, the rock onto which Hud climbed to make the call to prayer and mentioned the grotto of Balhut at the bottom of the ravine. Around the tomb and neighborhood, various ancient ruins and inscriptions have been found. However, as is often the case with the graves of prophets, other locations have been listed. A possible location for his qabr (قبر, grave) is said to be near the Zamzam Well in Saudi Arabia, or in the south wall of the Umayyad Mosque in Syria. Some scholars have added that the Masjid has an inscription stating: “Hadha Maqam Hud” (هذا مقام هود, “This is (the) Tomb of Hud”); others, however, suggest that this belief is a local tradition spewing from the reverence the locals have for Hud.

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia