Sunday 17 November 2019

Surah Hud - 11th Chapter of Holy Quran - Exegesis Part III

Sūrah Hūd " هود‎ " is the 11th chapter of the Qur'an with 123 āyāts (verses) with 10 ruku / sections, part of the 11th-12th Juz'. This Surah has been named after Prophet Hud (peace be upon him) whose story has been related in verses 50-60.

For the chronological place of this Sūrah and the general argument of Sūrahs x to xv, please read Overview of Sūrah 10 Yunus  (Jonah).

The Surah deals with the same subject as Sūrah Yunus, in which the stress was laid on the side of Allah's dealing with man which leans to Mercy. Here in this sūrah the invitation to the Message, admonition and warning, with this difference that the warning is sterner when all Grace is resisted.

As already mentioned in the Overview that owing to the length of the Sūrah, it has been divided into four parts as under:
  • Part I    : Ruku / Sections 1-2 [Verses 1-24]
  • Part II   : Ruku / Sections 3-4 [Verses 25-49]
  • Part III  : Ruku / Sections 5-7 [Verses 50-83] 
  • Part IV : Ruku / Sections 8-10 [Verses 84-123] 
We have already presented the exegesis of Parts I and II. Part II mainly focused on the story of Prophet Noah (Nuh, peace be upon him) and the great deluge. In this Part, that is Part III, Ruku / Sections 5-7 [Verses 50-83], mention of Prophets Hud, Saleh, Abraham and Lot (peace be upon them all) is made.

The translation and exegesis / tafseer is in English. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

Ruku / Sections 5 [Verses 50-60] 
Ayat 50–60 make a mention of Prophet Hud. He was sent to the ʿĀd, an Omani tribe which according to history crumbled sometime between the 3rd and 6th century AD. The ʿĀd did not believe Hud, and Hud and those who did believe were rescued by God, followed by God inflicting a "dreadful doom" on them so that they were "accursed in the world."
( 50 )   And to 'Aad [We sent] their brother Hud. He said, "O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. You are not but inventors [of falsehood].
As the chiefs of the Quraish had a false pride of their superiority and exulted in their wealth and prosperity, the story of Aad is being related to them about whom it was well known that they had been the mightiest people in Arabia.

'Ad, an ancient Arab people, were well-known throughout Arabia. They were known for their proverbial glory and grandeur. And when they were destroyed, their extinction also became proverbial. So much so that the word 'Ad has come to be used for things ancient and the word 'adiyat for archaeological remains. The land whose owner is unknown and which is lying fallow, from neglect is called 'adi al-ard.

The ancient Arabic poetry is replete with references to this people. Arab genealogists consider the 'Ad as the foremost among the extinct tribes of Arabia. Once a person of the Banel Dhuhl b. Shayban tribe, who was a resident of the 'Ad territory, called on the Prophet (peace be on him). He related stories to the Prophet about the people of 'Ad, stories handed down to the people of that region from generation to generation. (See Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 3, p. 482 - Ed.)

According to the Qur'an the people of 'Ad lived mainly in the Ahqaf region which is situated to the south-west of the Empty Quarter (al-Rub' al-Khali) and which lies between Hijaz, Yemen and Yamamah. It was from there that the people of 'Ad spread to the western coast of Yemen and established their hegemony in Oman, Hadramawt and Iraq. There is very little archaeological evidence about the 'Ad. Only a few ruins in South Arabia are ascribed to them. At a place in Hadramawt there is a grave which is considered to be that of the Prophet Hud. James R. Wellested, a British naval officer, discovered an ancient inscription in 1837 in a place called Hisn al-Ghurab which contains a reference to the Prophet Hud. The contents unmistakably bear out that it had been written by those who followed the Shari'ah of Hud.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Cf. the story of Hud the Messenger of the 'Ad People, in vii. 65-72. There the argument was how other Peoples treated their prophets as the Makkans were treating Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Here we see another point emphasized: the insolence of the 'Ad in obstinately adhering to false gods after the true God had been preached to them, Allah's grace to them, and finally Allah's justice in bringing them to book while the righteous were saved. The locality in which the 'Ad flourished is indicated in n. 1040 to vii. 65.
( 51 )   O my people, I do not ask you for it any reward. My reward is only from the one who created me. Then will you not reason?
This concise sentence contains a very strong argument: The fact that you are taking a superficial view of my Message and rejecting it without paying due and deep consideration to it is a clear proof that you are not using your common sense. Had you tried to understand the matter, you would have found much material for your consideration. You would have noticed that I have absolutely no personal interests: nay, I am suffering hardships, in conveying the message which cannot bring any benefit to me or to the members of my family. This is a conclusive proof that my faith has very sound bases which are strong enough to enable me to forsake all the worldly joys and comforts and encounter the enmity of the whole world by waging a war against the centuries old, established rites, customs and ways of life. Do these things not demand a deep and serious consideration? Why don’t you then use your common sense before rejecting the message outright?
( 52 )   And O my people, ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him. He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in showers and increase you in strength [added] to your strength. And do not turn away, [being] criminals."
This is the same thing that has been stated by the tounge of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in (Ayat 3). This is a clear proof that moral values count not only in the life of the Hereafter but also determine the rise and fall of nations in this world. This is because Allah rules over the world in accordance with moral principles and not on the basis of His physical laws alone. That is why Allah has declared in many places in the Quran that the fate of a community hangs on the message which He sends to it through His Prophet. If it accepts the message, He opens the gates of His favors and blessings for it, but if it rejects the message, then it is destroyed.

In short, this verse is an article of the moral law in accordance with which Allah deals with man. Conversely, the other article of the same principle of the law is that the community which, deluded by its worldly prosperity, begins to tread the paths of sin and iniquity is ultimately destroyed. But if, during its headlong race towards its doom, it realizes its erroneous behavior and gives up its disobedience and turns in repentance towards Allah, its evil fate is changed and the impending scourge is averted and it is given a further term of respite along with blessings and favors.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The beautiful metaphor about the skies coming down with rain has been obscured unnecessarily in most translations. The country of the 'Ad was an arid country, and rain was the greatest blessing they could receive. We can imagine this being said in a time of famine, when the people performed all sorts of superstitious rites and invocations instead of turning to the true God in faith and repentance. Further, when we remember that there were, in this tract in ancient times, dams like that at Maarib, for the storage of rain water, the effect is still further heightened in pointing to Allah's care and mercy in His dealing with men.

Adding strength to strength may refer to increase of population, as some Commentators think. While other parts of Arabia were sparsely populated, the irrigated lands of the 'Ad supported a comparatively dense population and added to their natural strength in the arts of peace and war. But the term used is perfectly general. They were a powerful people in their time. If they obeyed Allah and followed the law of righteousness, they would be still more powerful, for "righteousness exalteth a nation."
( 53 )   They said, "O Hud, you have not brought us clear evidence, and we are not ones to leave our gods on your say-so. Nor are we believers in you.
The argument of the Unbelievers is practically this: "We are not convinced by you: we don't want to be convinced: we think you are a liar,-or perhaps a fool!" (See next verse).
( 54 )   We only say that some of our gods have possessed you with evil." He said, "Indeed, I call Allah to witness, and witness [yourselves] that I am free from whatever you associate with Allah
That is, it appears that you had behaved rudely towards a god or goddess or saint: Consequently you have been smitten with madness and are being abused, dishonored and pelted with stones in the same streets in which you were respected and honored before this.

This was the refutation of their charge that he had not brought any clear evidence to them. It implied: You say that I have brought no evidence to prove that I have been sent by Allah who is a standing witness everywhere in His universe and giving evidence with the phenomena of nature to show that the truth I have stated before you is absolutely correct. This also proves conclusively that there is no sign of truth in what you falsely ascribe to your gods.

The answer of Prophet Houd (peace be upon him) to their assertion: We are not going to give up our gods at your word. (Ayat 53). His reply implied: Note it well that I, too, feel a strong disgust at the gods you have set up beside Allah.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Continuing their argument, the Unbelievers make a show of making all charitable allowances for Hud, but in reality cut him to the quick by bringing in their false gods. "To be quite polite," said they, "we will not say that you are exactly a liar! Perhaps you have been touched with imbecility! Ah yes! You rail against what you call our false gods! Some of them have paid you out, and made you a fool! Ha! ha!" This mockery is even worse than their other false accusations. For it sets up false gods against the One True God, even in dealing with Hud. So Hud replies, with spirit and indignation: "At least keep Allah's name out of your futile talk! You know as well as I do, that I worship the One True God! You pretend that your false gods can smite a true Prophet of Allah! I accept the challenge. Scheme and plot against me as you may, all of you-you and your gods! See if you have any power! I ask for no quarter from you! My trust is in Allah!"
( 55 )   Other than Him. So plot against me all together; then do not give me respite.
This is his answer to their threat: “Some of our gods have smitten you with some evil” Compare this with (Surah Younus, Ayat 71).
( 56 )   Indeed, I have relied upon Allah, my Lord and your Lord. There is no creature but that He holds its forelock. Indeed, my Lord is on a path [that is] straight."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Grasp of the fore-lock; an Arabic idiom, referring to a horse's fore-lock. The man who grasps it has complete power over the horse, and for the horse the fore-lock is as it were the crown of his beauty, the sum of his power of self-assertion. So Allah's power over all creatures is unlimited and no one can withstand His decree. Cf. xcvi. 15- 16.

That is, the standard of all virtue and righteousness is in the Will of Allah, the Universal Will that controls all things in goodness and justice. You are on a crooked Path. Allah's Path is a straight Path.
( 57 )   But if they turn away, [say], "I have already conveyed that with which I was sent to you. My Lord will give succession to a people other than you, and you will not harm Him at all. Indeed my Lord is, over all things, Guardian."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Hud was dealing with a people of pride and obstinate rebellion. He tells them that their conduct will only recoil on themselves. It can do no harm to Allah or in any way frustrate the beneficent Plan of Allah. He will only put some other people in their place to carry out His Plan. That Plan is referred to in the next sentence as "care and watch" over all his Creation.
( 58 )   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.
A few just men might suffer for the iniquities of the many. But Allah's Plan is perfect and eventually saves His own people by special Grace, if they have Faith and Trust in Him.
( 59 )   And that was 'Aad, who rejected the signs of their Lord and disobeyed His messengers and followed the order of every obstinate tyrant.
Though only one Messenger had come to them, he had presented the same message that had been presented by every Messenger in every age to every community. Therefore disobedience to one Messenger has been declared to be disobedience to all the Messengers.

Instead of following the beneficent Lord who cherished them, they followed every rebel against Allah's Law, if he only obtained a little power to dazzle them.
( 60 )   And they were [therefore] 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.
Ruku / Sections 6 [Verses 61-68] 
Ayat 61–68 concern the people of Thamud and the prophet Saleh. Saleh tries to convince Thamud to repent, but once more the unbelievers ignore the prophet. Saleh offers a she-camel as an offering of peace, but says that it should be left alone. If anything befalls it, the people will be punished. The camel is hamstrung, Saleh and those who believe are rescued, and the unbelievers are smitten by a "blast from heaven.
( 61 )   And to Thamud [We sent] their brother Salih. He said, "O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. He has produced you from the earth and settled you in it, so ask forgiveness of Him and then repent to Him. Indeed, my Lord is near and responsive."
Please keep in view (verses 73-79 of Surah Al-Aaraf).

This is the proof of the claim: “You have no other Deity than Allah” .The argument is based on the fact which the mushriks themselves acknowledged that it is Allah Who is their Creator. Therefore Prophet Salih (peace be upon him) argued like this: You yourselves acknowledge that it is Allah Who has created your wonderful human body out of the lifeless particles of the earth and that it is Allah Who has made the earth a suitable place for you to live. How can then there be any Deity other than Allah Who may be worthy of Godhead, service and worship?

That is, so ask His forgiveness for the sin you have been committing by worshiping others.

In this concise sentence, the Quran has refuted a grave misunderstanding of the mushriks, which has in every age misled people into wrong creeds. They presumed that Allah lived far away from them and, therefore, was unapproachable like their own rulers on the earth. As the only way of approach to them was an intercessor who alone could receive and present their requests and applications to their rulers, and convey their answers to them, they presumed that there should be some intercessor to help approach Allah and bring to them the answers to their prayers. Obviously this is a false presumption, which has been endorsed and encouraged by clever people that Allah is out of the reach of common people and it is not possible for them to reach Him and present their prayers and get their answers. So they should search for such sacred beings as may have an approach to Him. Accordingly, they tried to secure the services of those who were well versed in the art of conveying the requests with the necessary presents and gifts to the Highest Authority. This misunderstanding created hosts of intercessors, and the establishment of the system of priesthood, which has so incapacitated the followers of mushrik creeds of ignorance that they cannot perform by themselves any religious ceremony from birth to death.

Now let us consider the concise answer of Prophet Salih (peace be upon him), by which he broke asunder the false presumption of the mushriks. It is this: Allah is near at hand, so you can invoke His help directly without the help of any interceder. He answers prayers, so you can yourselves receive the answer to your prayer. Though He is the Highest, each one of you will find Him so near to yourself that you will be able to convey your request even in a whisper, nay, you are permitted to convey your requests openly or secretly to Him. Therefore give up the folly of seeking interceders and setting them up as His partners, and address your prayers to Him Who is near at hand and answers prayers. (Refer also to (E.N. 188 of Surah Al-Baqarah).

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The story of Salih and the Thamud people has been told from another point of view in vii. 73-79. The difference in the point of view there and here is the same as in the story of Hud: see xi. 50. Note how the story now is the same, and yet new points and details are brought out to illustrate each new argument. Note, also, how the besetting sin of the 'Ad-pride and obstinacy-is distinguished from the besetting sin of the Thamud-the oppression of the poor, as illustrated by the test case and symbol of the She-camel: see vii, 73. All sin is in a sense pride and rebellion; yet sins take particular hues in different circumstances, and these colours are brought out as in a most artistically painted picture-with the greatest economy of words and the most piercing analysis of motives. For the locality and history of the Thamud see vii. 73.

For Anshaa as process of creation see vi. 98. As to his body, man has been produced from earth or clay, and his settlement on earth is a fact of his material existence. Therefore we must conform to all the laws of our physical being, in order that through our life on this earth we may develop that higher Life which belongs to the other part of our being, our spiritual heritage. Through the use we make of our health, of our tilth, of our pastures, of material facts of all kinds, will develop our moral and spiritual nature.
( 62 )   They said, "O Salih, you were among us a man of promise before this. Do you forbid us to worship what our fathers worshiped? And indeed we are, about that to which you invite us, in disquieting doubt."
That is, we had expected that by your wisdom, intelligence, foresight, serious behavior and dignified personality, you would become a great and prosperous man. So we had looked forward to the great success you would achieve and to the manifold advantages we would gain over other clans and tribes because of you. But you have brought to naught all of our hopes by adopting the way based on Tauhid and the Hereafter which is bound to lead us to utter ruin.

It may be noted here that the people of Muhammad (peace be upon him) have had the same great expectations of him. They, too, had a very high opinion of his abilities and capabilities before his appointment as a Prophet. For they expected that he would become a great leader, and his foresight would bring innumerable benefits to them also. But when, contrary to their expectations, he began to invite them to the doctrines of Tauhid and the Hereafter, and preach the principles of high morality, they lost not only all hope in him, but began to entertain and express quite the reverse views. They said: What a pity, this man who was quite good till now has, under the influence of some charm, not only ruined his own career but has destroyed all of our hopes as well.

That was their argument for the worship of their gods. They said that they would worship them because their forefathers worshiped them. Prophet Salih (peace be upon him), argued like this: Worship Allah....Who has created you from the earth, and Who made it a living place for you. In answer to this they argued, as if to say: These deities are also worthy of worship, and we will not give them up because our forefathers have been worshiping them for a long time. This is an apt example of the type of arguments employed by the supporters of Islam and those of ignorance. The former base their arguments on sound reasoning, while the latter base them on blind imitation.

The Quran has not specified the nature of the doubts and feelings of distraction. This is because, though all of them had these feelings, these were different in different persons. For it is one of the characteristics of the message that it takes away the peace of mind of all these people to whom it is addressed. Though the feelings of distraction are of various kinds, everyone gets a portion of them. This is because it becomes simply impossible for anyone to continue treading the paths of deviation with that peace of mind which one had before the coming of the message. For it impels everyone to think whether one is following the right way or any of the wrong ways of ignorance. No one can shut one’s ears and eyes against the penetrating and merciless criticism of the weaknesses of the ways of ignorance, and the strong and rational arguments for the right way. Then the high moral character of the Messenger, his perseverance, his nobility, his gentle conduct, his frank and righteous attitude and his dignity cannot fail to shake their impressions even on the most obdurate, and prejudiced opponents. The message by itself attracts the best elements from that society and brings about the most revolutionary changes in the characters of its followers so as to make them models of excellence. Naturally all these things combine to produce the feelings of distraction in the minds of those who desire to uphold the ways of ignorance even after the coming of the truth.
( 63 )   He said, "O my people, have you considered: if I should be upon clear evidence from my Lord and He has given me mercy from Himself, who would protect me from Allah if I disobeyed Him? So you would not increase me except in loss.
This is the answer to the preceding question: If I disobey Allah by discarding the guidance I have received from Him in order to please you, you cannot defend me against Him. You will rather add to the intensity of my guilt of disobedience to Him. Thus I shall incur additional punishment from Him for misleading you instead of showing the right way for which I had been sent to you.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
"Allah has been good to me and bestowed on me His light and the inestimable privilege of carrying His mission to you. Don't you see that if I fail to carry out his mission, I shall have to answer before Him? Who can help me in that case? The only thing which you can add to may misfortunes would be total perdition in the Hereafter." Cf. xi. 28.
( 64 )   And O my people, this is the she-camel of Allah - [she is] to you a sign. So let her feed upon Allah 's earth and do not touch her with harm, or you will be taken by an impending punishment."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Salih does not merely take up a negative attitude. He puts forward the she-camel as a sign see vii. 73. "Give up your selfish monopoly. Make Allah's gifts on this free earth available to all. Give the poor their rights, including grazing rights on common lands. Show your penitence and your new attitude by leaving this she-camel to graze freely. She is a Symbol, and therefore sacred to you." But their only reply was to defy the appeal and ham-string the camel. And so they went the way of all sinners-to total perdition.
( 65 )   But they hamstrung her, so he said, "Enjoy yourselves in your homes for three days. That is a promise not to be denied."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Just three days' time for further thought and repentance! But they paid no heed. A terrible earthquake came by night, preceded by a mighty rumbling blast (probably volcanic), such as is well-known in earthquake areas. It came by night and buried them in their own fortress homes, which they thought such places of security! The morning found them lying on their faces hidden from the light. How the mighty were brought low!
( 66 )   So when Our command came, We saved Salih and those who believed with him, by mercy from Us, and [saved them] from the disgrace of that day. Indeed, it is your Lord who is the Powerful, the Exalted in Might.
According to the traditions that are current in the Sinai Peninsula, Allah delivered them from the torment and led them there. There is a Mount near Jabal-i-Musa, known by the name of Prophet Salih where, it is said, the Prophet took refuge after the destruction of his people.
( 67 )   And the shriek seized those who had wronged, and they became within their homes [corpses] fallen prone( 68 )   As if they had never prospered therein. Unquestionably, Thamud denied their Lord; then, away with Thamud.
Ruku / Sections 7 [Verses 69–83] 
The Qur'anic version of the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah is in ayat 69–83. Prophet Abraham and Sarah are given the news of their son and grandson's forthcoming birth (Isaac and Jacob), after which they plead for mercy for Lot's people. God refuses the request, saying that the punishment cannot be averted. Lot offers his daughters to the men of Sodom, but they respond with disinterest and say "you know what we want." Surah 7:80–84 confirms the Biblical account of homosexuality as being the crime of Lot's people. Angels descend to protect Lot and his daughters, and the city is destroyed by a stone rain. Lot's wife perishes as well.
( 69 )   And certainly did Our messengers come to Abraham with good tidings; they said, "Peace." He said, "Peace," and did not delay in bringing [them] a roasted calf.
This shows that the angels had come to Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) in the form of human beings and had not disclosed their identity. Therefore he took them for strangers and brought a roasted calf for their entertainment.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
According to the sequence of Surah vii, the next reference should be to the story of Lut, and that story commences at xi. 77 below, but it is introduced by a brief reference to an episode in the life of his uncle Abraham, from whose seed sprang the peoples to whom Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad Al-Mustafa were sent with the major Revelations. Abraham had by this time passed through the fire of persecutions in the Mesopotamian valleys: he had left behind him the ancestral idolatry of Ur of the Chaldees; he had been tried and he had triumphed over the persecution of Nimrud: he had now taken up his residence in Canaan, from which his nephew Lot (Lut) was called to preach to the wicked Cities of the Plain east of the Dead sea which is itself called Bahr Lut. Thus prepared and sanctified, he was now ready to receive the Message that he was chosen to be the progenitor of a great line of Prophets, and that Message is now referred to. Can we localize Nimrud? If local tradition in place-names can be relied upon, this king must have ruled over the tract which includes the modern Nimrud, on the Tigris, about twenty miles south of Mosul. This is the site of Assyrian ruins of great interest, but the rise of Assyria as an Empire was of course much later than the time of Abraham. The Assyrian city was called Kalakh (or Calah), and archaeological excavations carried out there have yielded valuable results, which are however irrelevant for our Commentary. A) Abraham received the strangers with a salutation of Peace, and immediately placed before them a sumptuous meal of roasted calf. The strangers were embarrassed. They were angels and did not eat. If hospitality is refused, it means that those who refuse it meditate no good to the would be host. Abraham therefore had a feeling of mistrust and fear in his mind, which the strangers at once set at rest by saying that their mission was in the first place to help Lut as a warner to the Cities of Plain. But in the second place they had good news for Abraham; he was to be the father of great peoples!
( 70 )   But when he saw their hands not reaching for it, he distrusted them and felt from them apprehension. They said, "Fear not. We have been sent to the people of Lot."
Some commentators are of the view that Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) was afraid of them because of their refusal to eat his meal. He had concluded that they had come to him with some evil intention. For, according to the Arab tradition, if some strangers refused hospitality, it meant that they had not come as guests but as enemies to plunder. But this view is not supported by the succeeding verse.

The wording of their answer shows that Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) had understood from their refusal to eat that they were angels. But he was afraid of their visit because he knew that the coming of the angels in the human shape did not bode well: So he was fearful that they might have come to take them to task for some offense committed by the people of his household or of his habitation or by himself. Had it been the same thing that the commentators presumed, then their answer should have been, “Don’t fear us for we are angels from your Lord.” But the answer they gave to remove his fear, “Don’t have any fear for we have been sent to the people of Lot (and not to you),” shows that Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) knew that they were angels but was troubled in his mind as to the reason of their visit in the human form. This was because the angels came in human form when some one was either to be put to a hard trial or punished severely for some offense.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The people of Lut means the people to whom Lut was sent on his mission of warning, the people of the wicked Cities of the Plain, Sodom and Gomorrah.
( 71 )   And his Wife was standing, and she smiled. Then We gave her good tidings of Isaac and after Isaac, Jacob.
It appears from this that the news of the visit of the angels in the human form had made the people of the house uneasy. So Prophet Abraham’s Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) wife had also come there to know what the matter was. She laughed with joy when she learned that the angels were sent not to punish their people but the people of Lot (peace be upon him).

The angels told the good news of a son to Sarah instead of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) because he already had a son, Ismail from Hajirah but had no child from her. Therefore to remove her sorrow they told her the good news that a son, Isaac, will be born to her, who will have a son, Jacob, both of whom will be great Messengers of Allah.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The narrative is very concise, and most of the details are taken for granted. We may suppose that the angels gave the news first to Abraham, who was already, according to Gen. xxi 5, a hundred years of age, and his wife Sarah was not far short of ninety (Gen. xvii. 7). She was probably screened. She could hardly believe the news. In her skepticism (some say in her joy) she laughed. But the news was formally communicated to her that she was to be the mother of Isaac, and through Isaac, the grandmother of Jacob. Jacob was to be a fruitful tree, with his twelve sons. But hitherto Abraham had had no son by her, and Sarah was past the age of child-bearing. "How could it be?" she thought.
( 72 )   She said, "Woe to me! Shall I give birth while I am an old woman and this, my husband, is an old man? Indeed, this is an amazing thing!"
These words were not used by her in their literal sense as an exclamation of grief and lamentation. She uttered these words merely to express surprise at the news. Or else this is as much a sigh of past regrets as of future wistfulness!According to the Bible Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) was 100 years old at the time and Sarah was 90 years.
( 73 )   They said, "Are you amazed at the decree of Allah? May the mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you, people of the house. Indeed, He is Praiseworthy and Honorable."
The question was posed to her to remind her that though people of old age do not bear children, it is not beyond Allah’s power to bring this about. Therefore a true believer like her should not show any surprise at the good news when it is conveyed to her from Allah.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Ahl-ul-bait = people of the house, a polite form of addressing the wife and members of the family. Blessings are here invoked on the whole family.

This little episode of Abraham's life comes in fitly as one of the illustrations of Allah's wonderful providence in His dealings with man. Abraham had had a tussle with his father on behalf of Truth and Unity (vi. 74); he had passed through the fire unscathed (xxi. 68-69); he had travelled to far countries, and was now ready to receive his great mission as the fountain-head of prophets in his old age. Humanly speaking it seemed impossible that he should have a son at his age, and yet it came to pass and became a corner-stone of sacred history.
( 74 )   And when the fright had left Abraham and the good tidings had reached him, he began to argue with Us concerning the people of Lot.
“He began to argue with Us” is the expression of affection and endearment which manifests the nature of close relationship of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) with his Lord. This helps depict the picture of the argument that the servant had with his Lord for pleading the case of the people of Lot. He pleaded persistently: Lord, avert the coming scourge from the people of Lot. The Lord replied: These people have become so degraded that no good was left in them and their crimes have become so heinous that they deserve no leniency at all. But the servant still persisted: Lord, give them more respite, even if a little good yet remains in them; maybe it should bear some fruit. This dispute has been recorded in the Bible rather in detail, but the concise mention in the Quran is more meaningful. (For comparison please refer to Genesis 18: 23-32).

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Glad-tidings: not only that he was to have a son, but that he was to be a fountain-head of prophets. So he now begins to plead at once for the sinful people to whom Lot was sent as a warner.
( 75 )   Indeed, Abraham was forbearing, grieving and [frequently] returning [to Allah].
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Like Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Abraham had three qualities in a preeminent degree, which are here mentioned: (1) he was long-suffering with other people's faults: (2) his sympathies and compassion were very wide: and (3) for every difficulty or trouble he turned to Allah and sought Him in prayer.
( 76 )   [The angels said], "O Abraham, give up this [plea]. Indeed, the command of your Lord has come, and indeed, there will reach them a punishment that cannot be repelled."
A superficial view of this incident from the life of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) in the context it occurs might lead one to consider it to be irrelevant, especially as an introduction to the coming scourge on the people of Lot. But if one reviews this in the light of the object for which these historical events have been related here, one will come to the conclusion that its mention is most apt here. In order to understand its relevancy we should keep in view the following two things:

(1) These historical events have been related here to warn the Quraish that they were absolutely wrong in their self delusion that they were quite immune from the scourge with which the Quran was threatening them because of their relationship with Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and their guardianship of the Kabah and their religious, economic and political leadership of Arabia. They thought that Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), whose descendants they were, was a beloved servant of Allah and would, therefore, intercede for them and defend them against any scourge from Him. That is why the graphic picture of the death of Prophet Noah’s (peace be upon him) son has been drawn to show that the prayer of a great Prophet like him could not save his own son from the scourge. Not only was his prayer rejected but he was also taken to task for making a request for his wicked son. Then this second incident from the life of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) has been related to show that, though Allah was very kind to him, He rejected his appeal for the people of Lot because he had tried to intercede for the wicked people, which was against the requirements of justice.

(2) This incident from the life of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) has been related along with, the destruction of the people of Lot for another object as well. The Quraish had forgotten that the law of divine justice had always been operating continuously and regularly and there were open proofs of this all around them. On the one hand, there was the case of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). He had to leave his home for the sake of the truth and righteousness and to live in a foreign country where, to all appearances, he had no outward power to support him. But divine justice rewarded him for his righteousness with a son like Isaac and a grandson like Jacob (peace be upon them) whose descendants, the Israelites, reigned supreme for centuries over the same Palestine where he had taken refuge as a stranger. On the other hand, there were the people of Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) who were living nearby in great prosperity, which had intoxicated them so much that they lived in open wickedness, totally forgetting that they would be overtaken by retribution from Allah. So much so that they scoffed at the admonition of Prophet Lot (peace be upon him). But divine justice came into operation at the same time, when it was conveying the good news to Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and decreed that those wicked people should be annihilated from the face of the earth. As a result of this, no vestige of their habitations was left on the surface of the earth. This fact should serve as a lesson to the wicked people for all times.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This is a sort of prophetic apostrophe. 'O Abraham! All your warning. O Lut, will be unheeded! Alas! they are so deep in sin that nothing will reclaim them!' This is illustrated in verse 79 below. And now we proceed to Lut and how he was dealt with by the wicked.
( 77 )   And when Our messengers, [the angels], came to Lot, he was anguished for them and felt for them great discomfort and said, "This is a trying day."
 The land inhabited by the people of Lot, which lies between Iraq and Palestine, is known as Trans-Jordan. According to the Bible, its capital town was Sodom, which is situated either somewhere near the Dead Sea, or presently lies submerged under it.. Apart from Sodom, according to the Talmud, there were four other major cities, and the land lying between these cities was dotted with such greenery and orchards that the whole area looked like one big garden enchanting any onlooker. However, the whole nation was destroyed and today we can find no trace of it. So much so that it is difficult to even locate the main cities which they inhabited. If anything remains as a reminder of this nation it is the Dead Sea which is also called the Sea of Lot. The Prophet Lot who was a nephew of the Prophet Abraham, accompanied his uncle as he moved away from Iraq. Lot sojourned to Syria, Palestine and Egypt for a while and gained practical experience of preaching his message. Later God bestowed prophethood upon him and assigned to him the mission of reforming his misguided people. The people of Sodom have been referred to as the people of Lot presumably because Lot may have established matrimonial ties with those people.

One of the many accusations recorded against Lot in the Bible - and the Bible has been tampered with extensively by the Jews - is that Lot migrated to Sodom after an argument with Abraham (Genesis 13: 10-12).

The Qur'an refutes this baseless charge and affirms that Lot was designated by God to work as His Messenger among his people.

The author refers to an argument between Abraham and Lot which he considers to be a fabrication of Jews.The obvious basis of this is that such an argument between the Prophets is inconceivable since it is unbecoming of them as Prophets. The basis of this inference is a statement in Genesis 13:1-12.

It seems that there has been some confusion with regard to this inference. The verses of Genesis in question make no reference to any strife between the two Prophets. The strife to which it refers allegedly took place between the two Prophets. In addition, when the two Prophets parted company it was on a pleasant note for Abraham had suggested that since there was an abundance of land, Lot should choose that part of the land he preferred so as to exclude all possibilities of strife between their herdsmen. (See Genesis 13:1-5-Ed.)

From the tenor of the details of the story as given in the different parts of the Quran, it becomes quite clear that the angels came to Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) in the form of handsome boys and that he was unaware that they were angels. He was troubled and distressed in his mind, for he knew how wicked and shameless his people were.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The story of Lot, as referred to in vii. 80-84, laid emphasis on the rejection of Lot's mission by men who practiced unnatural abominations. Here the emphasis is laid on Allah's dealings with men-in mercy for true spiritual service and in righteous wrath and punishment for those who defy the laws of nature established by Him;-also on men's dealings with each other and the contrast between the righteous and the wicked who respect no laws human or divine.
( 78 )   And his people came hastening to him, and before [this] they had been doing evil deeds. He said, "O my people, these are my daughters; they are purer for you. So fear Allah and do not disgrace me concerning my guests. Is there not among you a man of reason?"
By “My daughters”, Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) might have meant either of the two things. He might have referred to the daughters of the community as “my daughters” because the relationship of a Prophet to his people is as of a father to his children. But it is also possible that he aught have meant by this his own daughters. Anyhow, this could not have been an offer of adultery, for the succeeding sentence “they are purer for you” leaves no room for such a misunderstanding. This makes it quite obvious that Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) admonished them in this way so as to turn them to the females for the lawful gratification of their sexual desires instead of seeking unnatural ways.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Biblical narrative suggests that the daughters were married and their husbands were close by (Gen. xix. 14) and that these same daughters afterwards committed incest with their father and had children by him (Gen. xix. 31). The holy Qur'an nowhere suggests such abominations. Some Commentators suggest that "my daughters" in the mouth of a venerable man like Lut, the father of his people, may mean any young girls of those Towns. "My son" (waladi) is still a common mode of address in Arabic-speaking countries when an elderly man addresses a young man.
( 79 )   They said, "You have already known that we have not concerning your daughters any claim, and indeed, you know what we want."
This answer of the people of Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) shows that they had gone to the lowest depth of depravity and openly and brazen facedly declared that they did not want females but males. This was the proof that they had not only left the natural way of purity and strayed into the unnatural way of impurity but had also lost all interest in the natural way of gratification. Such a depraved condition is the worst form of moral degradation, for it shows that no good has been left at all. Supposing a person has fallen as a victim to an unlawful and sinful behavior, but at the same time considers it to be a wrong behavior which should be avoided, there is hope for the reform of such a person, and even if he does not mend his way the utmost that can be said about him is that he is a depraved person. On the other hand, if a person gives himself wholly to the unlawful because he has no interest in the lawful, such a filthy person is not worthy of being considered a man at all, and therefore should be wiped out of the earth. That is why Allah decreed that the people of Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) should be completely annihilated from the face of the earth.
( 80 )   He said, "If only I had against you some power or could take refuge in a strong support."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Lot seemed helpless in the situation in which he found himself,-alone against a rabble of people inflamed with evil passions. He wished he had had the strength to suppress them himself or had had some powerful support to lean on! But the powerful support was there, though he had not realized it till then. It was the support of Allah. His guests were not ordinary men, but Angels who had come to test the people before they inflicted the punishment. They now declared themselves, and gave him directions to get away before the morning, when the punishment would descend on the doomed Cities of the Plain.
( 81 )   The angels said, "O Lot, indeed we are messengers of your Lord; [therefore], they will never reach you. So set out with your family during a portion of the night and let not any among you look back - except your wife; indeed, she will be struck by that which strikes them. Indeed, their appointment is [for] the morning. Is not the morning near?"
This meant to impress on them the urgency of the matter so that they should get out of the doomed place and should not even turn round to look behind to see what was happening there. They were warned lest they should be attracted by the loud noises caused by the explosions and by the wailing of the people and thus lag behind in the territory that had been marked for the scourge and was to be overtaken by it.

The doom of the wife of Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) is the third incident related in this Surah to serve as a lesson that no relationship can deliver a people from the horrible consequences of their sin.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Even in Lot's household was one who detracted from the harmony of the family. She was disobedient to her husband, and he was here obeying Allah's Command. She looked back and shared the fate of the wicked inhabitants of the Cities of the Plain: see also lxvi. 10. The Biblical narrative suggests that she was turned into a pillar of salt (Gen. xix. 26).
( 82 )   So when Our command came, We made the highest part [of the city] its lowest and rained upon them stones of layered hard clay, [which were]
Probably the scourge came in the form of a horrible earthquake which turned their habitations upside down and the explosion of a volcano which rained stones on them.

“Stones of layered baked clay” probably refers to the stones that are formed by the underground heat and lava in the volcanic regions. The signs of such a formation are found even today near the Lot Sea.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Sijjil, a Persian word Arabicised, from Sang-o-gil, or Sang-i-gil, stone and clay, or hard as baked clay, according to the Qamus. Sodom and Gomorrah were in a tract of hard, caky, sulphurous soil, to which this description well applies. Cf. Ii. 33, where the words are "stones of clay" (hijarat min tin) in connection with the same incident. On the other hand, in cv. 4, the word sijjil is used for pellets of hard-baked clay in connection with Abraha and the Companions of the Elephant.
( 83 )   Marked from your Lord. And Allah 's punishment is not from the wrongdoers [very] far.
This was meant to warn the workers of iniquity who were engaged in their evil work, as if to say: You should not consider yourselves immune from scourge as though it were far from you. If it could visit the people of Prophet Lot (peace be upon him), it could overpower you as well. Neither the people of Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) were able to defend themselves against Allah, nor can you frustrate Him now.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
If we take the words literally, they would mean that the showers of brim stones were marked with the destiny of the wicked as decreed by Allah.

They: Arabic, hiya: some Commentators take the pronoun to refer to the wicked cities so destroyed: the meaning then would be: those wicked cities were not so different from other cities that do wrong, for they would all suffer similar punishment! Perhaps it would be better to refer "they" to the stones of punishment by a metonymy for "Punishment": 'punishment would not be far from any people that did wrong.'

We have come to the end of Part III of the exegesis of the surah. Our next post, i.e., Part IV covering Ruku / Sections 8-10 [Verses 84-123], will the last one on the series of exegesis of Sūrah Hūd.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrah Hūd with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

You may also refer to our following reference pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran:
Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [2]
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

If you like Islam: My Ultimate Decision, and to keep yourself updated on all our latest posts to know more about Islam, follow us on Facebook

Please share this page to your friends and family members through Facebook, WhatsApp or any means on Social Media so that they can also be benefited by it and better understand Islam and the Holy Qur'an - Insha Allah (Allah Willing) you shall be blessed with the best of both worlds.


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More