Hud (هود) in the Quran is one of the Arab prophets of God whom God sent to a group of people known as the ‘Ād (عاد). Like all other prophets, Hud invited his people to monotheism and demanded that they stop worshipping idols. In this article on Islam4u, we will take a look at:
Who is Hud in the Quran?
God has mentioned Hud’s name seven times in the Quran. He was the prophet of the people of ‘Ād. The reason people called them the people of ‘Ād was because their great ancestor was named ‘Ād, the son of ‘Ūṣ (عاد ابن عوص). Hud was one of the descendants of Noah through his son Shem. Some have said that Hud was the first Arab prophet and used to speak Arabic. A whole surah is named after this great prophet and his story is told in it. Nevertheless, his story is told several times in other chapters of the Quran, including:
- Surah A‘rāf (سورَةُ الاعراف)
- Surah Shu‘arā (سورَةُ الشُّعَراء)
- Surah al-Aḥqāf (سورَةُ الاحقاف)
One thing to be noted is that even though God tells his story in different surahs, they are not inconsistent and contradictory. In fact, they add extra information and detail without contradicting each other.
Hud in the Quran: The People of ‘Ād
The people of ‘Ad were probably the first Arab race that existed on the earth. Their story has not been told in other Holy Scriptures except the Quran. According to the Quran, the people of ‘Ad were very tall people, as tall as date palms and had broad shoulders. They lived long lives and built very advanced cities. The Quran states that they lived in a region called Aḥqāf:
وَاذْكُرْ أَخَا عَادٍ إِذْ أَنذَرَ قَوْمَهُ بِالْأَحْقَافِ وَقَدْ خَلَتِ النُّذُرُ مِن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا اللَّـهَ إِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ ﴿21﴾
And mention [Hud] the brother of ‘Ad, when he warned his people at Ahqaf—and warners have passed away before and after him—saying, ‘Do not worship anyone but Allah. Indeed I fear for you the punishment of a tremendous day.’ 1
أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِعَادٍ ﴿6﴾
Have you not regarded how your Lord dealt with [the people of] ‘Ad,
إِرَمَ ذَاتِ الْعِمَادِ ﴿7﴾
[and] Iram, [the city] of the pillars,
الَّتِي لَمْ يُخْلَقْ مِثْلُهَا فِي الْبِلَادِ ﴿8﴾
the like of which was not created among cities, 2
The city was so advanced that God says the like of it was not created. The people of ‘Ad were idolaters and thus polytheists. God sent Prophet Hud to them to guide them to monotheism .
Hud in the Quran: The Story in Surah A‘rāf
The Quran is a holy book that tells certain stories more than once in different surahs, so that it is a reminder for us and we draw lessons from it. Surah A‘rāf is the first surah that tells the story of Prophet Hud:
وَإِلَىٰ عَادٍ أَخَاهُمْ هُودًا ۗ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ ۚ أَفَلَا تَتَّقُونَ ﴿65﴾
And to [the people of] ‘Ad [We sent] Hud, their brother. He said, ‘O my people, worship Allah! You have no other god besides Him. Will you not then be wary [of Him]?’ 3
The message of all prophets of God was one: Worship only one God, the God of the universe. The verse says ‘their brother’ Hud to show that he was among the same people as the ‘Ad, however, Hud never believed in idols and followed the religion of the previous prophets who were his ancestors meaning Shem and Noah.
The People of ‘Ad Impugn Hud
The response of the ‘Adites was such:
قَالَ الْمَلَأُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن قَوْمِهِ إِنَّا لَنَرَاكَ فِي سَفَاهَةٍ وَإِنَّا لَنَظُنُّكَ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ ﴿66﴾
The elite of his people who were faithless said, ‘Indeed we see you to be in folly, and indeed we consider you to be a liar.’ 4
This was a response that almost all prophets heard when they invited their people to monotheism, the ‘Adites were no exception. Calling prophets crazy and folly is also something most prophets heard. For example, the people of Noah kept calling him a mad man who was possessed. Hud replied:
قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ لَيْسَ بِي سَفَاهَةٌ وَلَـٰكِنِّي رَسُولٌ مِّن رَّبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿67﴾
He said, ‘O my people, I am not in folly. Rather, I am an apostle from the Lord of all the worlds.
أُبَلِّغُكُمْ رِسَالَاتِ رَبِّي وَأَنَا لَكُمْ نَاصِحٌ أَمِينٌ ﴿68﴾
I communicate to you the messages of my Lord and I am a trustworthy well-wisher for you.
أَوَعَجِبْتُمْ أَن جَاءَكُمْ ذِكْرٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ عَلَىٰ رَجُلٍ مِّنكُمْ لِيُنذِرَكُمْ ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا إِذْ جَعَلَكُمْ خُلَفَاءَ مِن بَعْدِ قَوْمِ نُوحٍ وَزَادَكُمْ فِي الْخَلْقِ بَسْطَةً ۖ فَاذْكُرُوا آلَاءَ اللَّـهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ ﴿69﴾
Do you consider it odd that there should come to you a reminder from your Lord through a man from among yourselves, so that he may warn you? Remember when He made you successors after the people of Noah, and increased you vastly in creation. So remember Allah’s bounties so that you may be felicitous.’ 5
From these verses, we come to know that the ‘Adites were the first community that came forth after the Flood. However, they slowly abandoned their monotheistic beliefs and became idolaters. Moreover, this verse reminds the ‘Adites of the vast blessings and bounties that God gave them. Hud’s people said:
قَالُوا أَجِئْتَنَا لِنَعْبُدَ اللَّـهَ وَحْدَهُ وَنَذَرَ مَا كَانَ يَعْبُدُ آبَاؤُنَا ۖ فَأْتِنَا بِمَا تَعِدُنَا إِن كُنتَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ ﴿70﴾
They said, ‘Have you come to [tell] us that we should worship Allah alone and abandon what our fathers have been worshiping? Then bring us what you threaten us with, should you be truthful.’ 6
This is the justification almost all idolaters give for clinging to their pagan beliefs. Satan had led the ‘Adites astray and had to be guided. That is why God sent Hud to them. Hud replied to them:
قَالَ قَدْ وَقَعَ عَلَيْكُم مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ رِجْسٌ وَغَضَبٌ ۖ أَتُجَادِلُونَنِي فِي أَسْمَاءٍ سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُم مَّا نَزَّلَ اللَّـهُ بِهَا مِن سُلْطَانٍ ۚ فَانتَظِرُوا إِنِّي مَعَكُم مِّنَ الْمُنتَظِرِينَ ﴿71﴾
He said, ‘Punishment and wrath from your Lord has become due against you. Do you dispute with me regarding names, which you have named—you and your fathers—for which Allah has not sent down any authority? So wait! I too am waiting along with you.’ 7
This verse shows that the ‘Adites were too insistent on their own beliefs and never believed except a few of them. Therefore, God’s punishment became incumbent on them. The next verse reads:
فَأَنجَيْنَاهُ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ بِرَحْمَةٍ مِّنَّا وَقَطَعْنَا دَابِرَ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۖ وَمَا كَانُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿72﴾
Then We delivered him and those who were with him by a mercy from Us, and We rooted out those who denied Our signs and were not faithful. 8
Hud in the Quran: The Story in Surah Hud
As the name of the surah indicates, one expects Hud’s story to be told in great detail. The story begins from verse 50 of this surah:
وَإِلَىٰ عَادٍ أَخَاهُمْ هُودًا ۚ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ ۖ إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلَّا مُفْتَرُونَ ﴿50﴾
And to ‘Ad [We sent] Hud, their brother. He said, ‘O my people! Worship Allah. You have no other god besides Him: you merely fabricate [the deities that you worship]. 9
Even though this verse is similar to the first verse that told the story of Hud in surah A‘rāf, the way the verse ends is different. Hud says, you merely create with your own hands the idols that you worship. Therefore, how can they be your gods if you are the ones who make them? Then Hud says:
يَا قَوْمِ لَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا ۖ إِنْ أَجْرِيَ إِلَّا عَلَى الَّذِي فَطَرَنِي ۚ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ ﴿51﴾
‘O my people! I do not ask you any reward for it. My reward lies only with Him who originated me. Do you not exercise your reason? 10
No prophet asked for any reward for their prophethood except the Noble Prophet of Islam, Muhammad , peace be upon him and his progeny:
قُل لَّا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَىٰ
Say, ‘I do not ask you any reward for it except the love of [my] relatives.’ 11
In fact, the recompense of the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad is for us to love the Ahl al-Bayt, the household of the Prophet. All Muslims are obligated to love the Ahl al-Bayt no matter their sect or denomination.
Hud Preaches to His People
In verse 52 of surah Hud, Prophet Hud gives a few words of advice to his people:
وَيَا قَوْمِ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ ثُمَّ تُوبُوا إِلَيْهِ يُرْسِلِ السَّمَاءَ عَلَيْكُم مِّدْرَارًا وَيَزِدْكُمْ قُوَّةً إِلَىٰ قُوَّتِكُمْ وَلَا تَتَوَلَّوْا مُجْرِمِينَ ﴿52﴾
‘O my people! Plead with your Lord for forgiveness, then turn to Him penitently: He will send copious rains for you from the sky, and add power to your [present] power. So do not turn your backs [on Him] as guilty ones.’ 12
This verse shows that the ‘Adites were not only idolaters, but they were sinners as well. That is why Prophet Hud enjoins them to seek forgiveness from God. Of course, idolatry was their biggest sin. The arrogant ones among the people of ‘Ad said:
قَالُوا يَا هُودُ مَا جِئْتَنَا بِبَيِّنَةٍ وَمَا نَحْنُ بِتَارِكِي آلِهَتِنَا عَن قَوْلِكَ وَمَا نَحْنُ لَكَ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿53﴾
They said, ‘O Hud, you have not brought us any manifest proof. We are not going to abandon our gods for what you say, and we are not going to believe you. 13
The ‘Adites were very similar to the people of Noah. In reality, they impugned him and were insistent on worshipping their idols. They continued:
إِن نَّقُولُ إِلَّا اعْتَرَاكَ بَعْضُ آلِهَتِنَا بِسُوءٍ ۗ قَالَ إِنِّي أُشْهِدُ اللَّـهَ وَاشْهَدُوا أَنِّي بَرِيءٌ مِّمَّا تُشْرِكُونَ ﴿54﴾
All we say is that some of our gods have visited you with some evil.’ He said, ‘I call Allah to witness—and you too be [my] witnesses—that I repudiate what you take as [His] partners
مِن دُونِهِ ۖ فَكِيدُونِي جَمِيعًا ثُمَّ لَا تُنظِرُونِ ﴿55﴾
besides Him. Now try out your stratagems against me, together, without granting me any respite. 14
It is funny that the ‘Adites think their gods have done something to Hud and something evil has happened to him. However, Hud denies such words and says he completely dissociates himself with whatever they take as partners besides God. Now in verse 55, Hud shows one of his miracles to his people. His miracle was that they could not do any harm to Hud no matter what they did, whether it be physical or psychological harm.
Hud in the Quran: Hud the Monotheist
Hud once again speaks:
إِنِّي تَوَكَّلْتُ عَلَى اللَّـهِ رَبِّي وَرَبِّكُم ۚ مَّا مِن دَابَّةٍ إِلَّا هُوَ آخِذٌ بِنَاصِيَتِهَا ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي عَلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ ﴿56﴾
Indeed I have put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord. There is no living being but He holds it by its forelock. Indeed my Lord is on a straight path.
فَإِن تَوَلَّوْا فَقَدْ أَبْلَغْتُكُم مَّا أُرْسِلْتُ بِهِ إِلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَيَسْتَخْلِفُ رَبِّي قَوْمًا غَيْرَكُمْ وَلَا تَضُرُّونَهُ شَيْئًا ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ حَفِيظٌ ﴿57﴾
But if you turn your backs [on me], then [know that] I have communicated to you whatever I was sent to you with. My Lord will make another people succeed you, and you will not hurt Allah in the least. Indeed my Lord is watchful over all things.’ 15
Hud gave them an ultimatum and they still disbelieved. Now it was the time for their punishment which they asked for:
وَلَمَّا جَاءَ أَمْرُنَا نَجَّيْنَا هُودًا وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ بِرَحْمَةٍ مِّنَّا وَنَجَّيْنَاهُم مِّنْ عَذَابٍ غَلِيظٍ ﴿58﴾
When Our edict came, We delivered Hud and the faithful who were with him, by a mercy from Us, and We delivered them from a harsh punishment.
وَتِلْكَ عَادٌ ۖ جَحَدُوا بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ وَعَصَوْا رُسُلَهُ وَاتَّبَعُوا أَمْرَ كُلِّ جَبَّارٍ عَنِيدٍ ﴿59﴾
Such were [the people of] Ad: they impugned the signs of their Lord and disobeyed His apostles, and followed the dictates of every obstinate tyrant.
وَأُتْبِعُوا فِي هَـٰذِهِ الدُّنْيَا لَعْنَةً وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّ عَادًا كَفَرُوا رَبَّهُمْ ۗ أَلَا بُعْدًا لِّعَادٍ قَوْمِ هُودٍ ﴿60﴾
So they were pursued by a curse in this world and on the Day of Resurrection. Behold! ‘Ad indeed defied their Lord. Now, away with ‘Ad, the people of Hud! 16
As a result, God’s punishment was inflicted on the ‘Adites and their race became extinct. A group of Arab people came after them who were known as the people of Thamud whose prophet was Saleh .
Hud in the Quran: The Story in Surah Shu‘arā’
It is very interesting that although the story of Hud is told several times in different surahs, the content is not repetitive. For example Prophet Hud in surah Shu‘arā’ says to his people things that God did not mention in surah A‘rāf and Hud:
أَتَبْنُونَ بِكُلِّ رِيعٍ آيَةً تَعْبَثُونَ ﴿128﴾
Do you build futile a sign on every prominence?
وَتَتَّخِذُونَ مَصَانِعَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَخْلُدُونَ ﴿129﴾
You set up structures as if you will be immortal,
وَإِذَا بَطَشْتُم بَطَشْتُمْ جَبَّارِينَ ﴿130﴾
and when you seize [someone for punishment], you seize [him] like tyrants.
فَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ ﴿131﴾
So be wary of Allah and obey me.
وَاتَّقُوا الَّذِي أَمَدَّكُم بِمَا تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿132﴾
Be wary of Him who has provided you with whatever you know,
أَمَدَّكُم بِأَنْعَامٍ وَبَنِينَ ﴿133﴾
and aided you with sons and with cattle,
وَجَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ ﴿134﴾
gardens and springs.
إِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ ﴿135﴾
Indeed I fear for you the punishment of a tremendous day.’ 17
Nevertheless, there is no inconsistency between the story of Hud in the Quran. These verses show the might of the ‘Ad and their defiance. As a matter of fact, Hud tells them to be wary of God and obey him as he is God’s messenger, and reminds them of the blessings God gave them and warns them of God’s wrath and punishment.
The ‘Adites reply:
قَالُوا سَوَاءٌ عَلَيْنَا أَوَعَظْتَ أَمْ لَمْ تَكُن مِّنَ الْوَاعِظِينَ ﴿136﴾
They said, ‘It is the same to us whether you exhort us or not.
إِنْ هَـٰذَا إِلَّا خُلُقُ الْأَوَّلِينَ ﴿137﴾
These are nothing but the traditions of the ancients,
وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمُعَذَّبِينَ ﴿138﴾
and we will not be punished.’
فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَأَهْلَكْنَاهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً ۖ وَمَا كَانَ أَكْثَرُهُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ ﴿139﴾
So they impugned him, whereupon We destroyed them. There is indeed a sign in that; but most of them do not have faith. 18
How Were the ‘Adites Punished?
The two surahs that we mentioned spoke about the punishment of the people of ‘Ad or the ‘Adites. However, they did not mention exactly what and how the punishment was. God describes the punishment in another surah, namely surah Ḥāqqah (سورَةُ حاقَّة):
مَا الْحَاقَّةُ ﴿2﴾
What is the Besieger?!
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْحَاقَّةُ ﴿3﴾
What will show you what is the Besieger?!
كَذَّبَتْ ثَمُودُ وَعَادٌ بِالْقَارِعَةِ ﴿4﴾
Thamud and ‘Ad denied the Cataclysm.
فَأَمَّا ثَمُودُ فَأُهْلِكُوا بِالطَّاغِيَةِ ﴿5﴾
As for Thamud, they were destroyed by the Cry.
وَأَمَّا عَادٌ فَأُهْلِكُوا بِرِيحٍ صَرْصَرٍ عَاتِيَةٍ ﴿6﴾
And as for ‘Ad, they were destroyed by a fierce icy gale,
سَخَّرَهَا عَلَيْهِمْ سَبْعَ لَيَالٍ وَثَمَانِيَةَ أَيَّامٍ حُسُومًا فَتَرَى الْقَوْمَ فِيهَا صَرْعَىٰ كَأَنَّهُمْ أَعْجَازُ نَخْلٍ خَاوِيَةٍ ﴿7﴾
which He clamped on them for seven grueling nights and eight days, so that you could see the people there lying about prostrate as if they were hollow trunks of palm trees.
فَهَلْ تَرَىٰ لَهُم مِّن بَاقِيَةٍ ﴿8﴾
So do you see any remaining trace of them? 19
So God punished the ‘Adites by an icy gale that hit them seven nights and eight days. Their punishment was so severe that no trace of them remained other than them lying prostrate like hollow trunks of palm trees. This is the punishment of arrogant tyrants who do not believe in God .
- Quran 46:21 (Qara’i).
- Quran 89:6-8 (Qara’i).
- Quran 7:65 (Qara’i).
- Quran 7:66 (Qara’i).
- Quran 7:67-69 (Qara’i).
- Quran 7:70 (Qara’i).
- Quran 7:71 (Qara’i).
- Quran 7:72 (Qara’i).
- Quran 11:50 (Qara’i).
- Quran 11:51 (Qara’i).
- Quran 42:23 (Qara’i).
- Quran 11:52 (Qara’i).
- Quran 11:53 (Qara’i).
- Quran 11:54-55 (Qara’i).
- Quran 11:56-57 (Qara’i).
- Quran 11:58-60 (Qara’i).
- Quran 26:128-135 (Qara’i).
- Quran 26:136-139 (Qara’i).
- Quran 69:1-8 (Qara’i).
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