Surah Hud (سورةُ هود), which is named after Prophet Hud, is the 11th surah in the Noble Quran. The reason it is called Hud is that it relates the story of Prophet Hud, the prophet of the tribe of ‘Ād (عاد). Moreover, the stories of the wretchedness and punishment of the people of six other prophets are told, that is, the stories of the prophets Noah, Saleh, Ibrahim, Lot, Shu‘ayb, and Moses. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny said that this surah aged me greatly due to verse 112 in which Allah commands the Prophet to be steadfast along with those who have turned to Allah. In this article, the following topics will be discussed:
Facts about Surah Hud
|Place||Juz’ 11 & 12|
|Order of revelation||52|
|No. of verses||123|
|No. of words||1948|
|No. of letters||7820|
Benefits of Reciting Surah Hud
- Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny has said, “Whoever recites surah Hud will be rewarded ten times the number of those who believed in or rejected Noah, and also the number of the advocates and enemies of the prophets Hud, Saleh, Shu‘ayb, Lot, Ibrahim, and Moses. Moreover, such an individual will be prosperous on the Day of Judgment. 1
- Abu Ja‘far Muhammad ibn Ali has said, “Whoever recites surah Hud every Friday, Allah will unite him with the prophets on the Day of Judgment and all his sins will be forgiven. 2
- Abu Abdullah Ja‘far ibn Muhammad has said, “Whoever writes surah Hud and keeps it with himself wherever he goes, Allah will grant him an incredible power. Moreover, if he has it with himself and fights his enemies, he will become victorious over them, such that whoever sees him will be frightened. 3
Content of Surah Hud
The first four verses of surah Hud mention all the Quranic teachings that have been stated in detail throughout this surah. Surah Hud gives the good news of paradise to those who believe and warns people of Allah’s punishment if they do not believe and commit sins. Surah Hud also talks about major Islamic issues such as monotheism (tawḥīd: تَوحيد), prophethood, and resurrection (ma‘ād: مَعاد). It also talks about Allah’s promises to believers and the righteous. But what makes this surah unique is that it has told the story of seven prophets:
- Prophet Noah
- Prophet Hud
- Prophet Saleh
- Prophet Ibrahim
- Prophet Lot
- Prophet Shu‘ayb
- Prophet Moses
The Story of Prophet Noah in Surah Hud
Surah Hud tells the story of Noah in great detail compared to other surahs that have told his story. Verse 25-26 read:
وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِۦٓ إِنِّى لَكُمْ نَذِيرٌ مُّبِينٌ ﴿25﴾
Certainly We sent Noah to his people [to declare]: ‘Indeed I am a manifest warner to you.
أَن لَّا تَعْبُدُوٓا۟ إِلَّا ٱللَّـهَ ۖ إِنِّىٓ أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ أَلِيمٍ ﴿26﴾
Worship none but Allah. Indeed I fear for you the punishment of a painful day.’ 4
Monotheism was the very first thing prophets of Allah invited their people to. Worship of one God is the most fundamental belief that everyone should have. However, the majority of the people of Noah rejected him. At last, they said, “Bring us what you threaten us with, should you be truthful.” That was when Allah commanded Noah to build the ark. Subsequently, the great flood came and all the disbelievers drowned. Noah’s son was also one of the disbelievers. Noah called him and told him to board the ark along with the others. However, his son was arrogant and said he would climb a mountain and would be safe from the punishment. The Quran quotes them as saying:
وَهِىَ تَجْرِى بِهِمْ فِى مَوْجٍ كَٱلْجِبَالِ وَنَادَىٰ نُوحٌ ٱبْنَهُۥ وَكَانَ فِى مَعْزِلٍ يَـٰبُنَىَّ ٱرْكَب مَّعَنَا وَلَا تَكُن مَّعَ ٱلْكَـٰفِرِينَ ﴿42﴾
And it carries them through the waves which were like the mountains and Noah calls out to his son, who remained aloof, “O my son! Get on [the ship] with us and do not stay with the disbelievers.”
قَالَ سَـَٔاوِىٓ إِلَىٰ جَبَلٍ يَعْصِمُنِى مِنَ ٱلْمَآءِ ۚ قَالَ لَا عَاصِمَ ٱلْيَوْمَ مِنْ أَمْرِ ٱللَّـهِ إِلَّا مَن رَّحِمَ ۚ وَحَالَ بَيْنَهُمَا ٱلْمَوْجُ فَكَانَ مِنَ ٱلْمُغْرَقِينَ ﴿43﴾
He replied, “I will stand on the mountain to give me shelter from the water”. He said, “Nothing will be saved today unless those on whom He shows mercy”. And [suddenly] the waves came in between them, so he was of the drowned. 5
The Most Eloquent Verse in the Quran in Surah Hud
Verse 44 of surah Hud which describes how the flood subsided and how the ark landed on Mount Judi is known as the most eloquent verse of the Quran. The verse reads:
وَقِيلَ يَـٰٓأَرْضُ ٱبْلَعِى مَآءَكِ وَيَـٰسَمَآءُ أَقْلِعِى وَغِيضَ ٱلْمَآءُ وَقُضِىَ ٱلْأَمْرُ وَٱسْتَوَتْ عَلَى ٱلْجُودِىِّ ۖ وَقِيلَ بُعْدًا لِّلْقَوْمِ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ ﴿44﴾
Then it was said, ‘O earth, swallow your water! O sky, leave off!’ The waters receded; the edict was carried out, and it settled on [Mount] Judi. Then it was said, ‘Away with the wrongdoing lot!’ 6
There was a man who wanted to take on the challenge that the Quran has presented to people to bring a writing like the Quran. When he reached this verse of surah Hud, he forfeited and said that he will never be able to surpass the eloquence of this verse and the Quran.
The Story of Prophet Hud in Surah Hud
Verses 50-60 of surah Hud tell the story of Hud and the people of ‘Ād (عاد). The gist of the message of Hud to his people was the same as the prophets before him such as Noah: Believe in one God and do not ascribe partners to him. The people of Hud said, “We say some of our gods have visited you with evil.” However, Hud rejected such a claim and said that he repudiates what they take as partners with God.” Then, the Quran reveals the miracle of Hud who says to his people:
مِن دُونِهِۦ ۖ فَكِيدُونِى جَمِيعًا ثُمَّ لَا تُنظِرُونِ ﴿55﴾
[You can ask everyone] except Him [for help to] plot against me, all together then do not give me a respite. 7
According to some Quranic exegetes, it was a miracle of Prophet Hud that no matter how much they tried to inflict harm on him he would remain unharmed. In other words, he was invincible. In any case, the people of Prophet Hud refused to believe in him and were punished. Surah Hud does not talk about how the punishment was. Other surahs like surah Haqqah state that they were punished by an icy gale.
The Story of Saleh in Surah Hud
The next story that is told in surah Hud after Prophet Hud is the story of the prophet of the people of Thamūd, Saleh. Saleh called out to them to worship one God and to repent to Him of their sins. However, just like the people of ‘Ād, they too defied their prophet and insisted on worshipping idols. They said:
قَالُوا۟ يَـٰصَـٰلِحُ قَدْ كُنتَ فِينَا مَرْجُوًّا قَبْلَ هَـٰذَآ ۖ أَتَنْهَىٰنَآ أَن نَّعْبُدَ مَا يَعْبُدُ ءَابَآؤُنَا وَإِنَّنَا لَفِى شَكٍّۢ مِّمَّا تَدْعُونَآ إِلَيْهِ مُرِيبٍ ﴿62﴾
They said, “O Ṣāliḥ! We had a considerable hope in you before this [event]. Do you prevent us from worshiping [the idols] which our fathers used to worship? Indeed, we have serious doubt concerning that to which you invite us.” 8
Then he showed them his miracle by making a she-camel come out from the heart of the mountain by Allah’s leave. He told them:
وَيَـٰقَوْمِ هَـٰذِهِۦ نَاقَةُ ٱللَّـهِ لَكُمْ ءَايَةً فَذَرُوهَا تَأْكُلْ فِىٓ أَرْضِ ٱللَّـهِ وَلَا تَمَسُّوهَا بِسُوٓءٍ فَيَأْخُذَكُمْ عَذَابٌ قَرِيبٌ ﴿64﴾
“And O my people! This is the camel of God. It is for you, so allow it to graze [freely] in the field, and do not harm it; [if you do so] God will punish you with a quick punishment.” 9
The people of Thamūd did not listen to their prophet and hamstrung the camel. Hud and the ones who had believed in him were saved. However, the disbelievers were punished:
فَلَمَّا جَآءَ أَمْرُنَا نَجَّيْنَا صَـٰلِحًا وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ مَعَهُۥ بِرَحْمَةٍ مِّنَّا وَمِنْ خِزْىِ يَوْمِئِذٍ ۗ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ ٱلْقَوِىُّ ٱلْعَزِيزُ ﴿66﴾
When Our command was carried out, We saved Ṣālih and the believers with him from the disgrace of that day by our mercy. Indeed, your Lord is All-Strong, All-Mighty.
وَأَخَذَ ٱلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا۟ ٱلصَّيْحَةُ فَأَصْبَحُوا۟ فِى دِيَـٰرِهِمْ جَـٰثِمِينَ ﴿67﴾
And the Cry struck the wrongdoers, so they fell lifeless in their homes.
كَأَن لَّمْ يَغْنَوْا۟ فِيهَآ ۗ أَلَآ إِنَّ ثَمُودَا۟ كَفَرُوا۟ رَبَّهُمْ ۗ أَلَا بُعْدًا لِّثَمُودَ ﴿68﴾
[They were removed] as if they had not lived there. [O people!] Know that [the tribe of] Thamūd disbelieved in their Lord. May Thamūd be far away [from God’s mercy]!
This was the story of Prophet Saleh in surah Hud.
The Story of Prophet Ibrahim in Surah Hud
From verse 69 to verse 76, surah Hud tells a fragment of the story of Ibrahim. Two angels came to Ibrahim to give him the good news of the birth of Isaac and Jacob. Sarah, Ibrahim’s wife, laughed while they gave her the good news of the birth of a son from Ibrahim, Isaac, and Jacob as their grandson. She said, “How is it possible when I am an old woman and my husband is an old man? They said to her:
قَالُوٓا۟ أَتَعْجَبِينَ مِنْ أَمْرِ ٱللَّـهِ ۖ رَحْمَتُ ٱللَّـهِ وَبَرَكَـٰتُهُۥ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ ٱلْبَيْتِ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ حَمِيدٌ مَّجِيدٌ ﴿73﴾
They replied, “Are you surprised at God’s command? His mercy and blessings be upon you, people of the house. Indeed, He is the Praised, the Glorious.” 10
Then the angels started talking about the people of Lot and how Allah would punish them soon. Ibrahim pleaded with them not to punish them because Lot who happened to be his cousin and also a prophet of Allah was among them. The angels said:
يَـٰٓإِبْرَٰهِيمُ أَعْرِضْ عَنْ هَـٰذَآ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ قَدْ جَآءَ أَمْرُ رَبِّكَ ۖ وَإِنَّهُمْ ءَاتِيهِمْ عَذَابٌ غَيْرُ مَرْدُودٍ ﴿76﴾
‘O Abraham, let this matter alone! Your Lord’s edict has certainly come, and an irrevocable punishment shall overtake them.’ 11
Then the angels went to Prophet Lot to inform him of the punishment of his people.
The Story of Prophet Lot in Surah Hud
The angels went to Lot to inform him of the incoming punishment that would be inflicted on his people. Lot was greatly disturbed that these angels came to his house as they were handsome and his people would desire them. Meanwhile, his people rushed to Lot’s house and demanded that he hands over his guests to them. Lot said, “My daughters are purer for you. Fear Allah and do not disgrace me concerning my guests.” However, they insisted that he hands over the guests to them. This was when the angels revealed their identity to Lot and said, “We are your Lord’s messengers. They will never get at you. Set out with your family in a watch of the night; and none of you shall turn round, except your wife; indeed she will be struck by what strikes them. Indeed their tryst is the dawn. Is not the dawn [already] near?” 12
Therefore, Allah’s punishment was inflicted on the people of Lot who used to commit the most indecent vices. The topmost of the city was made the nethermost, and stones of laminar shale rained on them. This is the fate of wrongdoers.
The Story of Shu‘ayb in Surah Hud
Surah Hud tells the story of the Midian prophet named Shu‘ayb. The Midianites were an Arab tribe who worshipped a large tree and their other sin was that they cheated people by diminishing the measure and balance. Shu‘ayb was sent to them; first, he was commanded to invite them to monotheism and worship of Allah, and second, Allah told him to stop them from cheating people. Shu‘ayb said:
وَيَـٰقَوْمِ أَوْفُوا۟ ٱلْمِكْيَالَ وَٱلْمِيزَانَ بِٱلْقِسْطِ ۖ وَلَا تَبْخَسُوا۟ ٱلنَّاسَ أَشْيَآءَهُمْ وَلَا تَعْثَوْا۟ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ ﴿85﴾
‘O my people! Observe fully the measure and the balance, with justice, and do not cheat the people of their goods, and do not act wickedly on the earth, causing corruption.’
بَقِيَّتُ ٱللَّـهِ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ ۚ وَمَآ أَنَا۠ عَلَيْكُم بِحَفِيظٍ ﴿86﴾
What remains [lawful] from Allah is best for you, if you would be believers. But I am not a guardian over you.” 13
Nevertheless, the people of Midian did not listen to Shu‘ayb except a few of them. They threatened Shu‘ayb, saying that if it was not for your tribe, they would have surely stoned him. Because they did not desist from their vicious acts, they became subject to Allah’s punishment. The Cry seized them and they lay lifeless in their houses as if they had never lived there.
The Story of Prophet Moses in Surah Hud
The story of Moses is the last story of prophets that is told in surah Hud in brief. Verses 96-99 tell the story of this great prophet. It says how Moses was sent to Pharaoh with signs of Allah, but Pharaoh and his elite did not accept Moses’ call. On the Day of Resurrection, their abode will be hell owing to the evil deeds that they committed in this world.
The Verse in Surah Hud That Aged the Prophet
Verse 112 according to the Prophet aged him because the content is so weighty. The verse reads:
فَٱسْتَقِمْ كَمَآ أُمِرْتَ وَمَن تَابَ مَعَكَ وَلَا تَطْغَوْا۟ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ ﴿112﴾
So be steady [on the straight path] as you have been commanded, and those who repent with you [should be steady], and do not violate [God’s law]. Indeed, He sees what you do. 14
This command of Allah was so serious and important to the Prophet that he said that surah Hud aged him because of this verse. From this saying of the Prophet, we learn how difficult the mission of his prophethood was. We also understand that being steady on the straight path and not violating Allah’s law is extremely difficult. Therefore, we pray to Allah to help us carry out this command of His.
Good Deeds Efface Sins According to Surah Hud
Verse 114 of surah Hud reads:
وَأَقِمِ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ طَرَفَىِ ٱلنَّهَارِ وَزُلَفًا مِّنَ ٱلَّيْلِ ۚ إِنَّ ٱلْحَسَنَـٰتِ يُذْهِبْنَ ٱلسَّيِّـَٔاتِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ذِكْرَىٰ لِلذَّٰكِرِينَ ﴿114﴾
Maintain the prayer at the two ends of the day, and during the early hours of the night. Indeed good deeds efface misdeeds. That is an admonition for the mindful. 15
As for the occasion of revelation of this verse, it has been said that a man during the time of the Noble Prophet had an affair with a woman but he did not take the matter further to commit fornication. Consequently, he went to the Prophet and told him what he had done and asked him to punish him to purge him of his sin. The Prophet did not say anything. At this moment, verse 114 of Surah Hud was revealed. The Prophet told the man to come back, make wudu, and pray with him as this would be compensation for his sin. People asked the Prophet if this effacement of sins by performing prayer was only for that man, whereat he said that it was for everyone. Therefore, prayer or salat is compensation for our sins. However, we must be careful not to commit sins in our lives.
Surah Hud is one of the most virtuous surahs one can recite because it brings many rewards and benefits for the reader. What makes surah Hud unique is that it has told the stories of seven prophets, including Prophet Hud, which the surah is named after. By reciting surah Hud, we will receive all the benefits, rewards, and virtues that it brings, God willing.
- Mustadrak al-Wasā’il, vol. 4, p. 341.
- Al-Burhan fi Tafseer al-Quran, vol. 7, p. 77.
- Quran 11:25-26 (Qara’i).
- Quran 11:42-43 (Foroutan).
- Quran 11:44 (Qara’i).
- Quran 11:55 (Foroutan)
- Quran 11:62 (Foroutan).
- Quran 11:64 (Foroutan).
- Quran 11:73 (Foroutan).
- Quran 11:76 (Qara’i).
- Quran 11:81 (Qara’i).
- Quran 11:85 (Qara’i).
- Quran 11:112 (Foroutan).
- Quran 11:114 (Qara’i).