The Story of Prophet Hud

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Who is prophet hud? What is the story of the prophet hud?

The prophet of the people turned upside down by a hurricane
HUD
-peace be upon him-

Hud (as) was a descendent of Sam and sent as a prophet to the people of Aad.

The name Hud comes from the Arabic word hawadah, which means softness, calm, peace and any means that gives a person these qualities. Hud (as) was also known as Abir, as well as Nabiyyullah, Allah’s prophet.

Hud (as) was born to a noble family in the land of Ahqaf. Before becoming a prophet, he was a merchant by profession. He was a swarthy, handsome and good-natured man of medium height. It was said he looked a lot like Adam (as).[1] He was also pious and took worshipping seriously. He was also a compassionate and generous man, who looked out for the poor.

The People of Aad

The Qur’an mentions the people of Aad in chapters Araf, Hud, Mu’minun, Shuara, Fussilat, Ahqaf, Dhariyat, Qamar, Haqqa and Fajr.

The Aad were an Arab people made up of 23 tribes. They had taken their name from a man by the name of Aad, who was a grandson of Noah (as). It is believed that the Aad people existed around 800 years after the Great Flood.

The land of Ahqaf, where the Aad lived and perished, is near Aden between Yemen and Oman. The Aad are also known as the first people to settle in Arabia. The land was very fertile, abounding in luscious greens and gardens, with livestock grazing all around. The Aad had even built mansions by the rivers that gushed through the land, as well as reservoirs.[2] The area was also known as Irem; and that is where expression ‘Gardens of Irem’ comes from. The Aad were strong and burly, and enjoyed long life spans. They built luxury homes often carved out of stone with lush gardens and nice pools. It was a dazzling city.

The Aad were the first people to return to paganism after the people of Noah (as). They had lost their way in the riches and pleasure of the world, and had forgotten the Lord. They failed to recall and reflect on the lessons of the Great Flood. They were arrogant and blinded by their wealth and power to what was to come. About them, the Almighty says:

“As for Aad, they were arrogant upon the earth without right and said, ‘Who is greater than us in strength?’ Did they not consider that Allah who created them was greater than them in strength? But they were rejecting Our signs.” (Al-Fussilat, 41: 15)

The Aad worshipped idols that they had made, called Samad, Samud and Haba. The more they went in their ways, the more merciless they became. They would terrorize the poor and the weak. They would even throw them off high buildings and laugh over their scattered corpses. That was how hard their hearts had become. Tyranny was rife. They would raid weaker tribes and loot their possessions. They simply reveled in pomp and luxury. However, they subsequently became the first people after the time of Noah (as) to perish under divine wrath.

The only thing Hud (as) shared with the people of Aad was a common bloodline. His lifestyle was the stark opposite.

Once it became clear that the Aad were heading fast towards a point of no return, the Almighty commanded Hud (as) to:

“Go and warn them without fear. I have chosen you to deliver my message…and through you, I will show them a number of miracles”.

After receiving the revelation, Hud (as) went to the place where the leading members of Aad would normally gather. Their king, Haljan was also there, seated on his throne. Hud (as) began to speak in a deep tone:

“My people…only Allah alone deserves to be worshipped. Do not bow to idols. Remember that it was for no other reason that Noah’s (as) people were destroyed!”

The Qur’an recounts:

“O my people, ask forgiveness from your Lord, and repent to Him. He will release the sky pouring down upon you, and will add strength to your strength. And do not turn away and be wicked” (Hud, 11: 52)

Haljan was furious.

“Shame on you, Hud”, he shouted. “Do you think we will succumb to you, knowing how strong we are? You are just one, we are many. We increase a thousand by the day!”

Haljan and the people of Aad relented to their pride and ignored the words of Hud (as). The Qur’an says:

“And to Aad, their brother Hud. He said, ‘O my people! Worship Allah; you have no god other than Him. Will you not take heed?’ The elite of his people who disbelieved said, ‘We see foolishness in you, and we think that you are a liar.’ He said, ‘O my people! There is no foolishness in me, but I am a messenger from the Lord of the worlds.’” (Al-Araf, 7: 65-67)

The Qur’an further recounts their protests:

“They said, ‘O Hud, you did not bring us any evidence, and we are not about to abandon our gods at your word, and we are not believers in you. We only say that some of our gods have possessed you with evil.’ He said, ‘I call God to witness, and you to witness, that I am innocent of what you associate.’” (Hud, 11: 53-54)

Their arguments are no different from the arguments raised against prophets in general. In fact, they are pretty much the same as what deniers say today. More often than not, they are raised by the wealthy and the powerful, because they feel threatened and fear they will lose their authority over the community. The objections of Aad may be summarized as follows:

  1. They were foolish to the point of accusing Hud (as) of being stupid:

“The dignitaries among his people said, ‘We see that you are in obvious error.’” (Al-Araf, 7: 60)

“The elite of his people who disbelieved said, ‘We see foolishness in you, and we think that you are a liar’” (Al-Araf, 7: 66)

  1. They were conservative and stubborn to think that there was no better way to follow than the way of their ancestors:

“They said, ‘Did you come to us to make us worship God alone, and abandon what our ancestors used to worship? Then bring us what you threaten us with, if you are truthful!’” (Al-Araf, 7: 70)

  1. They kept on reminding Hud (as) that they were tough and impervious to whatever he could do to harm them:

“But the people of Aad became arrogant without a right in the land, and they said, ‘Who is mightier in strength than us?’ Did they not see that Allah Who created them is mightier than they are, in strength? And they were denying our Verses knowingly, stubbornly.” (Fussilat, 41: 15)

  1. They denied the hereafter, thinking that this life is the only life there is:

“No life but our life of this world! We die and we live! And we shall not be raised again.” (Al-Mu’minun, 23:  37)

  1. They developed habit of mocking and provoking Hud (as) and the believers:

“And the leaders of his people who disbelieved and belied meeting Allah before death, whom We had given plenty to enjoy in this world’s life, said, ‘This is but a human being like yourselves, eating of what you eat from and drinking of what you drink. And if you obey a human like yourselves, then most surely you will be one of those who have fallen into Loss.” (Al-Mu’minun, 23:  33-34)

Divine Warnings to Aad

Hud (as) was deeply saddened by his people’s reaction and made a sincere plea. To knock some sense into them, the Almighty made all their women barren for ten years.

After a while, they had no choice but to come to Hud (as). They wanted him to pray for the bane to be reversed. Hud (as) said he would pray but only if they believed in Allah. They responded by asking for another sign.

They then went a step further and scornfully asked for divine punishment:

“They said, ‘Have you come to turn us away from our gods? Then bring us that with which you threaten us, if you are one of the truthful.’” (Al-Ahqaf, 46: 22)

Soon, the illustrious Gardens of Irem dried up, along with their springs. Those strong and burly men became desperate for a piece of bread.

Hud (as) once again gathered them around and advised them to repent:

“Surely I call Allah to witness. And you bear witness too, that I am surely clear of what you associate with Allah. Besides Him, therefore scheme against me all together, then give me no respite. Surely I put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord. There is no moving creature but He holds it by its forelock. Surely my Lord is upon the straight path.” (Hud, 11: 54-56)

“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.”[3] (Hud, 11: 57)

It is understood from the above verses that Hud (as) issues a clear challenge to his arrogant kinsmen and, in a sense, says:

“All of you come together and do whatever it is within your power to destroy me. Do not wait even for a second. I will not worry about what you might do to me…I would not even care to look at you. I only trust in Allah and rely on Him. No harm should come to a person who relies on Him. I do not care for anyone other than Him. I only depend on Allah and only worship Him.”

Those words alone are proof that Hud (as) was indeed a messenger of Allah (jj) and that those who went against him were in the wrong. Even though Hud (as) had laid down the people of Aad a rather belittling challenge, they could not do anything, despite all their physical strength. That shows that Hud (as) was truthful in his message.

Yet, these warnings were not enough to set the people of Aad straight. Despite suffering a major famine and a number of other hardships, they did not turn to Allah and repent. That was because their excess wealth and power had sapped their energy to serve the Lord. If they had listened to their prophet, they would no longer have been able to enjoy the vices and injustices that had become part of their lives. They felt that the religion of truth constricted them. They were too deep in an egoistic lifestyle to willingly succumb to limitations. However, in the end, they placed a far greater limitation on their eternal happiness.

The Hurricane that Turned Aad Upside Down

Allah then withheld rain from Aad for three years. They sent a group to where Mecca stands today to pray for rain. Before long, the clouds began gathering. Seeing the rainclouds cover the skies, the Aad were elated:

“The rains are here!” they exclaimed. Little did they know that the clouds had brought their destruction. With one last hope, Hud (as) urged:

“Believe, my people…these clouds are not what you think!”

“What do you mean?” they mocked. “This is rain!”

And so they remained blind and deaf to the last words of warning they would ever hear. The angels of destruction grouped the clouds together and encircled the people of Aad. By morning, the winds had picked up tremendously and began plucking out trees by their roots. The storm became deafening and the weather chilling. The Qur’an describes the scene:

“So We let loose on them a violent wind for several days of distress to make them taste a most disgraceful punishment here in this world, and far more shameful will be the punishment in the Hereafter, and there will be no help for them.” (Fussilat, 41:  16)

“We sent upon them a furious windstorm through certain time of enduring disaster.” (Al-Qamar, 54: 19)

“In Aad is also a sign, when We sent a blasting wind against them…which turned everything it touched to ashes.” (Al-Dhariyat, 51: , 41-42)

The hurricane began hurling people up in the air like grasshoppers. To hold out, they tied their clothes to one another and stood in circles. However, it was of no use. Some tried making it to the safety of their homes after seeing men and livestock flying about with the force of the wind. However, the wind threw them out of their homes just the same. The Qur’an says:

“It extracted the people as if they were trunks of palm trees uprooted.” (Al-Qamar, 54: 20)

The Almighty then ordered the winds to heap sand dunes on the people of Aad. That process continued for seven nights and eight days. The Aad had met a bitter end. The Qur’an describes it as:

“It was imposed upon them for seven nights and eight days in succession, so you would see the people there fallen as if they were hollow trunks of palm trees. Then do you see of them any remains?” (Al-Haqqa, 69: 7-8)

“So We saved him and those with him by mercy from Us. And We eliminated those who denied Our signs, and they were not at all believers.” (Al-Araf, 7: 72)

“And that was Aad, who rejected the signs of their Lord and disobeyed His messengers and followed the order of every obstinate tyrant. And they were followed in this world with a curse and as well on the Day of Resurrection. Unquestionably, Aad denied their Lord; then away with Aad, the people of Hud.” (Hud, 11: 59-60)

With the mercy of Allah, Hud (as) and his followers were spared.

“And when Our command came, We saved Hud and those who believed with him, by mercy from Us; and We saved them from a harsh punishment.” (Hud, 11: 58)

Scholars have interpreted the expression ‘by mercy from Us’ as follows:

It was a direct consequence of Allah’s mercy that He protected and saved Hud (as) and the believers. It also means that the blessings Allah bestows on humans are not in return for their actions but are granted only through nothing other than His eternal mercy.

Aisha (rha) says that the Prophet (saw) would worry, whenever he felt a breeze or saw a black cloud appear in the sky. At times, he would stare at the cloud, while at others, he would return home. He would feel relief only when it began to rain. She recalls how she once asked him the reason. The Prophet (saw) explained:

“It might well be one of those clouds that rolled up over Aad. They had thought that a black cloud had come with mercy. However, it turned out it had come with wrath”. (Al-Bukhari, Tafsir, 46/2; Muslim, Istisqa, 14-16)

Aisha (rha) also says:

“Whenever the wind picked up, the Messenger of Allah (saw) would pray:

‘Allah…I pray that this wind and what it carries from the things You have sent, are good for us. And I seek refuge in You from this wind and what it carries of the evils You send’”. (Muslim, Al-Bukhari, 15)

Our Prophet (saw) has advised us to be in a similar state of awareness as his.

On his farewell pilgrimage, the Prophet (saw) had reached the Usfan Valley, where he stood and asked Abu Bakr (ra) whether he knew where they were.

“We are at the Usfan Valley”, he said. Then the Prophet (saw) informed him how Hud (as) had once passed through the same valley on his way to pilgrimage, with a woolen cloth wrapped around his waist and wearing an assorted colored shirt…on the back of a young, red camel, whose bridles were woven from date threads. (Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, I, 232)

And after the hurricane, Hud (as) took the believers to Mecca, where he remained for the rest of his days.

The Miracles of Hud (as)

With the permission of Allah, Hud (as) was able to guide the winds to whichever direction he wanted.

The people of Aad had specifically called on Hud (as) to do that, when they asked him to show a miracle. It is ironic that the winds that they asked for would in the end be their downfall. The Qur’an calls those winds a howling hurricane (rih-i sarsar).

He could turn wool into shiny cloth.

The Aad were once caught in a thunderstorm while on a campaign and faced the danger of being swept away by the floods. Hud (as) prayed to Allah and shelters formed on the sides of the roads. People sought refuge in them until the sun came out.

The Qur’an recounts the parables of the prophets and their people to teach believers valuable lessons. Each and every conduct of a prophet is, at the same time, a pathway for us to follow. Hud (as) offers us a number of them:

Hud (as) was a noble man, who relied only on Allah, and who measured his words before he spoke. For example, when his kinsmen accused him of being a fool, all he merely said was that he was not, and that he was only assigned by Allah to warn them. He said no more. Not only did he did not respond to their evil with evil, he remained gentle towards them. He reminded them of Allah’s blessings and told to them they needed to thank Allah in return. He assured them that, for all his troubles, he did not ask for any payment.

Peace be upon him.

[1].      See, Hakim, al-Mustadrak, II, 614-616.

[2].      See, al-Shu’ara, 42: 129, 133, 134.

[3].      In other words, God is correct in all his judgments and is free of injustice and error in all His decisions.

Source: The History of Prophets in Light of The Qur’an, THE CHAIN OF PROPHETS, Osman Nuri TOPBAŞ, Erkam Publications

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