Bismillah. Today we will talk about the Prophet Hud. The story of him and his people can be found in Surah Hud (of course!), Al ‘Araaf, Al Mu`minoon, Ash-Shu’ara and others. Although the listed were my primary sources.
The Original Arabs
Hud ‘alayhis salaam was sent to the people of ‘Aad, who were Arabs. In a hadith about the Prophets narrated by Abu Dharr, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “…four of them were Arabs: Hud, Salih, Shu’aib and your Prophet, O Abu Dharr!” (Sahih ibn Hibbaan)
The Arabs that lived before Ismail (Ishmael) were called “Arab Aribah”—the original or Pure Arabs, and they included the people of ‘Aad, Thamud, Jurhum, Tasm, Jadis, Umaim, Madyan, Imlaaq, Jasim, Qahtan, Banu Yaqtan and others.
Those who are called “Arab Muta’ribah”—those who assimilated themselves by means of marriage—come from the lineage of Ishmael, the son of Abraham. Ishmael was the first to speak eloquent and literary Arabic. He learnt Arab literature from the tribe of Jurhum, who happened to stay in the Haram with him and his mother Hagar. He, however, spoke better Arabic than them, and similarly, our Prophet (peace be upon him) used to speak Arabic eloquently.
They were the people who were the successors of Noah. ‘Aad were the first people to disbelieve after the Flood. They lived in Yemen, in a place called Hadramowt.
The description that Allah has given of these people is amazing. He says in the Qur’an: “And remember when He made you successors to the people of Noah, and increased you in stature broadly. Remember, then, Allah’s bounty that you may prosper.” (7:69)
“And keep your duty to Him, fear Him Who has aided you with all (good things) that you know. He has aided you with cattle and children.” (26:131-132)
So as a society, Allah subhaana wa ta’aala blessed them with everything—livestock, man power, agriculture. And then, as individuals, Allah created them with a very powerful structure. So they are wealthy; they have every luxury. And then, they fall into the trap that any nation with every wealth and luxury but no imaan (faith) would do—they fell into wastefulness.
The people of ‘Aad had this additional wealth, so they started to build monuments over the mountains. And they didn’t actually use these monuments for living—they were just for pride; to show off. Allah says, “Do you build high palaces on every high place, while you do not live in them?” (26:128) The word abath refers to wasting something. They had so much disposable money that they started building these monuments on top of mountains.
The dwellings that they did build to live in were built as if they would live forever –strong and powerful. Allah says: “And do you get for yourselves palaces (fine buildings) as if you will live therein forever?” (26:129) This is not the way a believer should make his house. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam told us to live in this world as if we are travelers. Look at their life in contrast with the simplicity of the Prophet’s life.
Allah also says about them: “And when you seize, seize you as tyrants?” (26:130) Some nations, when they become wealthy, they become weak. But not ‘Aad. They had wealth and power. When they attacked neighboring countries they would completely destroy them. These people were tyrants.
When you put together all of the blessings that Allah subhaana wa ta’aala had given them, they surpassed all civilizations during their time; the like of which were not created in their land.
Hud Invites, ‘Aad rejects
The people of ‘Aad had transgressed against Allah and begun to worship idols. Allah sent to them their brother Hud.
And to `Aad (people, We sent) their brother Hud. He said: “O my people! Worship Allah! You have no other Ilah (God) but Him. (La ilaha ill-Allah: none has the right to be worshipped but Allah). Will you not fear (Allah)?” The leaders of those who disbelieved among his people said: “Verily, we see you in foolishness, and verily, we think you are one of the liars.” (Hud) said: “O my people! There is no foolishness in me, but (I am) a Messenger from the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists)! I convey unto you the Messages of my Lord, and I am a trustworthy adviser (or well-wisher) for you. Do you wonder that there has come to you a Reminder (and an advice) from your Lord through a man from amongst you that he may warn you? And remember that He made you successors after the people of Nuh (Noah), and increased you amply in stature. So remember the graces (bestowed upon you) from Allah, so that you may be successful.” (7:65-69)
Hud was from their most common lineage and was the best among them in status. What did Hud called them to? What every Prophet calls to! “O my people! Worship Allah! You have no other Ilah (diety of worship) but Him.” (11:50) The worship of one God. He also ordered them to stop committing injustices against the people.
[Hud said to his people]: “And O my people! Ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him, He will send you (from the sky) abundant rain, and add strength to your strength, so do not turn away as Mujrimun (criminals, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah).” (11:52) This is a common theme I notice in all of the Prophets’ stories—when they call their people to Allah, it seems to simple. All they have to do is repent to Allah, and Allah will in turn give them so many things: forgiveness, blessings of this world, strength…and yet, they can’t commit that simple act of tawbah.
But then, I look to myself and see that in myself as well: there are very few things Allah asks of us (prayer, fasting, the mere remembrance of him with simple du’aa`), but we overlook these things as trivial and are just too lazy to do them. So, personal reflections aside… Hud invited them, called them to ask for forgiveness, but they refused.
And then, of course, ‘Aad did what every disbelieving nation does to its Messenger: they began to accuse of him. Of insanity. Of lying. Of being a ‘mere man.’ This is what ignorant people do; when they have nothing of substance to say, they resort to disgusting attacks and lies.
Allah says in the Qur’an: “All that we say is that some of our gods have seized you with madness.” (11:54)
“The leaders of those who disbelieved among his people said: ‘Verily, we see you in foolishness, and verily, we think you are one of the liars.’” (7:66)
“And the chiefs of his people, who disbelieved and denied the Meeting in the Hereafter, and to whom We had given the luxuries and comforts of this life, said: ‘He is no more than a human being like you, he eats of that which you eat, and drinks of what you drink.’”(23:33)
Give us a Miracle
The people of ‘Aad said to Hud what every arrogant person says of God: prove it.
Allah tells us that his people said to him: “O Hud! You have not brought us a clear sign, and we shall not desert our gods at your word, we do not believe in you. We say nothing but that some of our gods have smitten you with some evil.” (11:53-54) They want a miracle to support his truthfulness; they are saying he is merely a crazy person, and this madness has been inflicted on him because he has angered some of their gods.
Hud replied: “I call Allah to witness, and you should bear witness that I am free of what you associate with Him of other gods, so scheme against me all together and give me no respite.” (11:54-55) Hud is in turn challenging them—these idols are unable to benefit or harm anyone; they are inanimate bodies. So Hud is renouncing them and sending his curse upon them. He is saying that you can all scheme against me without giving me any respite. I do not fear you or your gods. “I have put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord, there is no creature that moves but He has grasp of its forelock. Surely, my Lord is on the Straight Path.” (11:56)
This was a clear evidence in itself—when Hud challenged their gods and no harm came to him. ‘Aad was in utter ignorance and error for worshiping gods other than Allah. This was the same reasoning that we saw in the story of Noah and we will inshaAllah see in the story of Abraham.
Hud made du’aa` at that point. He said: ‘O my Lord! Help me because they deny me.’ (23:39) And when the du’aa` of Hud reached Allah, Allah said, “In a little while, they are sure to be regretful.” (23:40) Allah was taking the people of ‘Aad through a test to remind them. Allah was giving them a chance. He did not bring the punishment at once. He made them go through a period of draught to remind them of their weakness as human beings so that they may turn to Allah in tawbah and repentance.
They were going through this difficult time; their crops were dry. This was not sufficient to turn their attention to the truth and ask Allah for forgiveness. Allah accepted Hud’s du’aa`.
Dark clouds began to approach them. Then, when they saw it as a dense cloud coming towards their valleys, they said: ‘This is a cloud bringing us rain!’ Nay, but it is that (torment) which you were asking to be hastened! A wind wherein is a painful torment! Destroying everything by the Command of its Lord! (46:24-25)
When there was on any day windstorm or dark cloud, you could see the worry on the face of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him). He would move forward and backward (in a state of anxiety); and when it rained, he was delighted and it (the state of restlessness) disappeared. ‘Aa`isha said: I asked him the reason of this anxiety and he said: “I was afraid that it might be a calamity that might fall upon my Ummah.” And when he saw rainfall he said: “It is the mercy (of Allah).” (Sahih Muslim, the book of rain)
Unfortunately, we are now (and in the world in general) exactly like ‘Aad. When earthquakes or natural calamities happen some people think they’re cool, as if they are an adventure or something. SubhaanAllah, Allah sends these ayaat as reminders. Look at the state of hearts of people – exactly like the people of ‘Aad. They are completely leaving Allah out of the equation; as if He doesn’t exist.
This wind that Allah sent on them besieged them – it surrounded them on every side. And it did not stay there for a few minutes, but it stayed there—slamming them around—for 7 nights and 8 days. Imagine wind coming for eight days, slamming their bodies against walls and against trees, and destroying everything. Allah uses the word husooma, meaning continuously, without a break.
Allah says, “And as for ‘Aad, they were destroyed by a furious violent wind Which Allah imposed on them for seven nights and eight days in succession, so that you could see men lying overthrown (destroyed), as if they were hollow trunks of date-palms.” (69:6-7)
Their destruction suited their nature because they were the strongest and fiercest of people, so Allah overpowered them with something that was even stronger and fiercer than them.
Do You See Their Remnants?
What was the result when the dust settled? When you walk into the nation of ‘Aad, what do you see? Allah says, “So that you could see men lying overthrown as if they were hollow trunks of palm trees.” They were very tall men, so Allah says they were like palm trees lying dead.
If Allah did not tell us about the people of ‘Aad, we would not know where they lived. Allah says, “Do you see any remnants them?” (69:8)
Allah completely destroyed them and erased them from the face of the earth because they were the most powerful. We have the pyramids around still, from the time of Pharoah (the biggest, baddest wolf that usually comes to mind). We have remnants from the dwellings of Thamud. We have remnants from the Greek and Roman empires. From the empire of ‘Aad, we have nothing. Now it is a land called al-ahqaaf – sand dunes. Nobody even lives there; it is a desert. This is a nation of which Allah says: “Iram, the Land of Pillars, which no other land was similar to.”
Allah subhaana wa ta’aala saved Hud. Allah says: “And when Our Commandment came, We saved Hud and those who believed with him by a Mercy from Us, and We saved them from a severe torment. Such were ‘Aad (people). They rejected the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of their Lord and disobeyed His Messengers, and followed the command of every proud obstinate (oppressor of the truth, from their leaders). And they were pursued by a curse in this world and (so they will be) on the Day of Resurrection. No doubt! Verily, ‘Aad disbelieved in their Lord. So away with ‘Aad, the people of Hud.” (11:58-60)
Allah completely destroyed them. Whoever follows in the footsteps of ‘Aad, the same thing will happen to them. We said at the beginning that the stories of the prophets and their nations are not mentioned for amusement; they are mentioned to learn from. We should look at the stories of the past nations and try not to make the same mistakes they did.
We are going to close with a hadith of Abu Dardaa`, a great companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him), who was known for strictly holding on to the way he lived during the time of the Prophet even after the Prophet’s death.
Abu Dardaa` was in Damascus, the capital of the Islamic Khilaafa at the time. He saw the extravagance of the Muslim Ummah. The Muslims were so wealthy of at that time, and their lifestyle was changing. Abu Dardaa` hadn’t changed, and he didn’t want the people to change. So he stood up in Damascus, and he said,
“O people of Damascus, don’t you have any shame? You are gathering wealth that you will not use. And you are building palaces that you will not live in. And you are expecting to live longer than your life. And the people used to gather and use what they would gather. They would build and they would build better than you. They used to live longer than your life. But then – what they gathered did them no good; their palaces became their graveyards; and their desires were false. And remember that the people of ‘Aad had an army that extends from ‘And to Oman. Who will buy from me the remnants of ‘Aad with two dirhams?”
This huge nation left nothing. We need to remember that anything we see around us will do us no good if we disbelieve in Allah like ‘Aad did. If we stick to the truth that we have and keep our unique identity and our proud with what Allah has given us, then whenever Allah punishes the non-believers, Allah will save the ones who believed in him.
The Stories of the Prophets by Ibn Kathir
Tafsir by the same scholar of Surah Hud, Al ‘Araah, Al Mu`minun and Ash-Shu’ara