Verses From Surah Hud (61-76)

[61] And (We sent) to Thamud their brother Salih. He said, ‘My people. Worship Allah (alone). You have no other god besides Him. It is He who brought you out of the earth and granted you a long life in it.70 Therefore, seek His forgiveness and then turn to Him (in repentance). Surely, my Lord is Near, Responsive.’ 

Commentary

70. By the article ‘it’ the reference is not to the earth as a whole, rather to the Thamud lands (Au).

[62] They said, ‘O Salih! You have been amongst us a promising man before this.71 Do you forbid us that we worship what our forefathers worshiped? Indeed, we are in doubt concerning what you invite us to in (grave) disquiet.’

 

Commentary

71. Majid reproduces the mournful cry of another bleeding heart prefacing it with his own comment: “With the sense of regret, curiously similar, and a sentiment almost identical, over what might been does a modern Christian speak of the holy Prophet: ‘Had Muhammad, stern to his early convictions, followed the leading of Jewish and Christian truth, and inculcated upon himself their simple doctrine, there might have been a ‘saint Muhammad,’ more likely a ‘Muhammad the Martyr,’ laying the foundation stone of the ‘Arabian Church.’ (Muir, op. cit. Intro. p. xcviii.)’”

[63] He replied, ‘My people! Have you considered? If I happen to be on a clear (path) from my Lord, and He accorded me mercy from Himself, who will then defend me against Allah if I disobeyed Him? You will cause me increase in nothing except loss.72 

Commentary

72. Asad has something quite pertinent to say, not so much for the unbelievers, as for the believers: “Although this dialogue is related in the context of the story of Salih (asws) and the leaders of the Thamud, its implications have as is always the case with Qur’anic stories and parables a universal, timeless import. The stress here is on the intrinsic impossibility of reconciling belief in the One God, whose omniscience and omnipotence embraces all that exists, with an attribution of divine or semi-divine qualities and functions to anyone or anything else. The subtly veiled suggestion of the Thamud… and its rejection by Salih has a bearing on all religious attitudes based on a desire to ‘bring God closer to man’ through the interpretation of alleged ‘mediators’ between Him and man. In primitive religions, this interposition led to the deification of various forces of nature and, subsequently, to the invention of imaginary deities which were thought to act against the background of an undefined, dimly perceived Supreme Power (for instance, the Moira of the ancient Greeks). In higher religious concepts, this need for mediation assumes the form of personified manifestations of God through subordinate deities (as is the case, in Hindus, with personifications of the Absolute Brahma of the Upanishads and the Vedanta in the forms of Vishnu or Shiva), or in His supposed incarnation in human form (as represented in the Christian idea of Jesus as ‘God’s son’ and the Second Person of the Trinity). And, lastly, God is supposedly ‘brought closer to man’ by the interposition of hierarchy of saints, living or dead, whose intercession is sought even by people who consider themselves to be ‘monotheists’  and this includes many misguided Muslims who do not realize that their belief in saints as ‘mediators’ between man and God conflicts with the very essence of Islam. The ever recurring Qur’anic stress on the oneness and uniqueness of God, and the categorical denial of the idea that anyone or anything whether it be a concrete being or an abstract force could have the least share in God’s qualities or the least influence on the manner in which He governs the universe aims at freeing man from the self imposed servitude to an imaginary hierarchy of “mediating powers”, and at making him realize that ‘wherever you turn, there is God’s countenance’ (2: 115), and that God is (always) near, [to the call of whosoever calls unto Him]’ (2: 186; also, in a condensed form, in verse 61 of this Surah).”

 

[64] And O my people! This is Allah’s she-camel: for you a sign.73 So, let her alone to feed on Allah’s earth (freely). Do not touch her with evil, or a swift punishment will overtake you.’

 

Commentary

73. She bore a number of signs: She was brought out of a rock, she was pregnant without the touch of a male, she alone drank off all the water of a well, and, she yielded a very large amount of milk (Razi).

[65] But they hamstrung her. So he said, ‘Enjoy yourself in your homes for three days. This is a promise that will not be proven false.’ [66] So, when Our command came, We rescued Salih and those who had believed with him by Our grace, (as also) from the humiliation of That Day. Surely, your Lord is the Strong, the Mighty.74

Commentary

74. Jarir b. ‘Abdullah has said that when our Prophet (saws) passed by the Hijr area (where the Thamud dwelt) he remarked, “Do not ask your Messenger for signs. Salih’s people asked for a sign, so Allah sent them a camel. It used to come from this glen and go out from that glen drinking their water of the day assigned to her. Another report coming through Ibn ‘Umar transmits him as saying, ‘Do not enter into these destroyed (dwellings), unless you are weeping. If you are not weeping, do not go into them lest that befalls you which befell them’ (Ibn Jarir).

[67] And a (mighty) cry seized those who had wronged,75 so that by morning (they lay) in their homes fallen dead. 

Commentary

75. In another place the Qur’an has said that they were seized by a massive quake (7: 87). Perhaps a massive earthquake accompanied by a huge blast was the cause of their destruction (Ma’arif).

[68] As if they never dwelt there. Lo! Thamud surely disbelieved in their Lord. Lo! Away with Thamud. [69] Surely, Our envoys went to Ibrahim with the good news.76 They said, ‘Peace.’ He answered, ‘Peace.’ And he didn’t tarry long before he brought in a roasted calf.

Commentary

76. Asad has a significant point especially in the second half of the passage which has been overlooked by most if not all commentators: ‘The reason for prefacing the story of Lot with an episode from Abraham’s life lies in the latter’s subsequent pleading in behalf of the sinful people of Sodom (verses 74,76) and also, possibly, in God’s earlier promise to him, “Behold I shall make thee a leader of men” (see 2: 124), which must have imbued him with an enhanced sense of moral responsibility not only for his own family but also for the people with whom he was indirectly connected through his nephew Lot (Lut in Arabic).’ Yusuf Ali adds: ‘According to the sequence of Surah vii, the next reference should be to the story of Lut,.. 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.’

[70] But when he saw their hands not reaching for it,77 he felt some mistrust of them and felt some apprehension.78 They said, ‘Fear not. We have been sent to the people of Lut.’ 

Commentary

77.  Majid points out a Biblical error: “This corrects the Biblical mis-statement that ‘they did eat’” (Gen. 19: 78).

78. Qatadah has said that among the Arabs, if the guests did not eat from the food presented to them, then it signaled an ill-foreboding (Ibn Jarir). Asad paraphrases the summary of interpretations at this point: “… since in the Arabian tradition of hospitality, a stranger’s refusal to partake of the food offered him is an indication of unfriendly intent, Abraham  who until then had not realized that his guests were angels became apprehensive of possible hostility on their part.” Thanwi adds: “In fact, Ibrahim had not only felt some fear, he frankly expressed it as elsewhere in the Qur’an. He said (15: 52), ‘We are apprehensive of you.’ Also, his penetrating eye told him that the good tiding couldn’t have been the ultimate objective. They must have another errand on hand. Hence, he asked them, as in another place in the Qur’an (15: 57): ‘So, what’s your mission?’

[71] His woman was standing by.79 She smiled.80 So We gave her the good tidings of Ishaq and after Ishaq, Ya‘qub.81

Commentary

79. That was Sarah (some say Sarrah: meaning one who brings happiness, or the happy one), standing behind the curtains. Another opinion is that she was serving the guests while Ibrahim sat with them (Ibn Jarir). 

80. Suddi has said that she smiled at the funny scene: the sight of Ibrahim who did the roasting and the connected works in great haste, brought them the food, they wouldn’t eat, and Ibrahim in fear…! (Ibn Jarir). Another possibility is that she felt relieved when she realized that the angels hadn’t come with an ill intent directly affecting them (Au.).

Dahika is literally to show the teeth (in happiness). However, it is also applicable to turning a bright face. You will say, ‘I visited someone and he was dahikan’ i.e., he was bright-faced. Hence a hadith which says, ‘Allah sends clouds and they speak out in a beautiful manner and shine out in a beautiful manner.’  (The hadith is in Musnad Ahmed. And note the usage of the word dahika: au.).

81. That is, a grandson Ya‘qub (Ibn Jarir).

[72] She said, ‘Woe unto me. Will I bear a child, seeing that I am an old (woman) and this my husband, is (also) of an advanced age?!82 This, indeed, is something amazing.’

 

Commentary

82. It is said that she was then in her nineties while Ibrahim was a hundred and two scores.

[73] They said, ‘Are you amazed at your Lord’s ways? (When) Allah’s mercy and grace is upon you, (O) people of the House. Surely, He is worthy of all praise and full of glory.’83

Commentary

83. This demonstrates that the angels can speak to other than Prophets (Thanwi).

[74] When the awe had left Ibrahim and good tidings came to him, (he began to) dispute with Us concerning the people of Lut.84

Commentary

84. It should be obvious that Ibrahim could not have argued with his Lord, involving exchange of a series of questions and answers. It was the angels he must have argued with. The pronoun ‘us’ then refers to them, the angels. It is also reported that he began to ask them how they could destroy a nation when there were so many believers in God. The angels told him that obviously they wouldn’t, if there were so many believers. At the end Ibrahim learnt that there were no believers at all except for Lut and his two daughters. So he asked (29: 33) ‘But Lut is among them.’ The answer was (29: 33), ‘We know better who are in there (in the town). Surely, we shall save him and his home folk except his woman: she was the one to stay behind’ (Ibn Jarir). Shawkani adds, ‘Similar reports are in ‘Abdur Razzaq and Abu al Sheikh in reference to Surah al Mujadalah.’

Another possibility is that to argue with the angels carrying a commandment of Allah (swt) was tantamount to disputing with His command, hence the pronoun ‘Us’, referring to Allah (Au.).

[75] Surely, Ibrahim was slow to anger, given to pleading and oft-returning.85

Commentary

85. “Like Al Mustafa, Abraham had three qualities in a pre-eminent 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.” (Yusuf Ali)

 

[76] (We said), ‘O Ibrahim, leave this (matter) alone.86 Your Lord’s command has already come. Surely, a punishment is coming upon them that cannot be averted.’

 

Commentary

86. Although, apparently Ibrahim seemed to be pleading for Lut, (by saying, ‘But Lut is among them’), Allah (swt) knew that his name was taken as a pretext. The true objective was to try and save the nation of Lut. Therefore, he had to be told, ‘Ibrahim, leave this (matter) alone.’ (Thanwi).