Chapter Scripts

Surah Hud: 11:91-100

11:91 [But his people] said: “O Shu’ayb! We cannot grasp the purport of much of what thou sayest; on the other hand, behold, we do see clearly how weak thou art in our midst: and were it not for thy family, we would have most certainly stoned thee to death, considering that thou hast no power over us!”

Explanation

Lit., “Thou wert among us one in whom hope was placed ere this”: an allusion to Hud’s outstanding intellect and strength of character, which had probably caused his tribe to see in him their future leader – until he startled them by his passionate demand that they should abandon their traditional beliefs and devote themselves to the worship of the One God.

11:92 Said he: “O my people! Do you hold my family in greater esteem than God? – for, Him you regard as something that may be cast behind you and be forgotten! Verily, my Sustainer encompasses [with His might] all that you do!

Explanation

Lit., “we are indeed in disquieting doubt as to that to which thou invitest us”. It is to be borne in mind that the pre-Islamic Arabs regarded their gods, as well as the angels (whom they believed to be “God’s daughters”), as legitimate mediators between man and God, whose existence as such they did not deny; consequently, they were greatly disturbed by their prophet’s demand that they should abandon the worship of those allegedly divine or semi-divine beings. The above answer of the Thamud seems to imply that they might consider Salih’s claim to be a prophet more favorably if he would but refrain from insisting that “you have no deity other than Him”: a suggestion that fully explains Salih’s retort in the next verse.

11:93 Hence, O my people, do [to me] anything that may be within your power, [while] I, behold, shall labor [in God’s way]; in time you will come to know which [of us] shall be visited by suffering that will cover him with ignominy, and which [of us] is a liar. Watch, then, [for what is coming:] behold, I shall watch with you!”

Explanation

i.e., “if I were to suppress – in spite of all the evidence obtained through divine revelation – the fundamental truth that there is no deity save God, and that the ascribing of divinity or divine powers to anyone or anything besides Him is an unforgivable sin”.

11:94 And so, when Our judgment came to pass, by Our grace We saved Shu’ayb and those who shared his faith, whereas the blast [of Our punishment] overtook those who had been bent on evildoing: and then they lay lifeless, in their very homes, on the ground

Explanation

Lit., “you do not add [anything] to me but perdition”. Although this dialogue is related in the context of the story of Salih 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 attribution of divine or semi-divine qualities and functions to anyone or anything else. The subtly-veiled suggestion of the Thamud (see note 92) and its rejection by Salih has a bearing on all religious attitudes based on a desire to “bring God closer to man” through the interposition 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 Hinduism, with the 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 a 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 men 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, responding [to the call of whoever calls unto Him]”.

11:95 As though they had never lived there. Oh, away with [the people of] Madyan, even as the Thamud have been done away with!

Explanation

For an explanation of this passage, see surah 7, note 57. 96 See surah 7, note 61.

11:96 And, Indeed, We sent Moses with Our messages and a manifest authority [from Us].  

11:97 Unto Pharaoh and his great ones: but these followed [only] Pharaoh’s bidding – and Pharaoh’s bidding led by no means to what is right. 

Explanation

Lit., “promise”.

11:98 [And so] he shall go before his people on the Day of Resurrection, having led them [in this world] towards the fire [of the life to come]; and vile was the destination towards which they were led.

Explanation

Lit., “they became, in their homes, prostrate on the ground”. Ibn ‘Abbas – as quoted by Razi – explains the term sayhah (lit., “vehement cry” or “sound”) occurring in this verse as a synonym of sa’iqah, a “thunderbolt” or the “sound of thunder”. Since the same event is described in 7:78 as “violent trembling” (rajfah), which in that context apparently denotes an earthquake, it is possible that the “vehement sound” mentioned here and in several other places describes the subterranean rumbling which often precedes and accompanies an earthquake and/or the thunderlike noise of a volcanic eruption (see surah 7, note 62). However, in view of the repeated use of this expression in varying contexts, we may assume that it has the more general meaning of “blast of punishment” or – as in 50:42, where it indicates the Last Hour – of “final blast”.

11:99 Seeing that they were pursued by [God’s] rejection in this [world], and [shall be finally overtaken by it] on the Day of Resurrection; [and] vile was the gift which they were given!

Explanation

The Qur’an does not state in so many words that these guests of Abraham were angels; but since the term rusuluna (“Our messengers”) is often used in the sense of heavenly messengers, all the classical commentators interpret it thus in the above context. For the contents of the “glad tiding” referred to here, see verse 71 below.- The reason for prefacing the story of Lot with an episode from Abraham’s life lies in the latter’s subsequent pleading on 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).

11:100 This Account of the [fate of those ancient] communities – some of them still remaining, and some [extinct like] a field mown-down – We convey unto thee [as a lesson for mankind].
Explanation

Lit., “and did not delay in bringing”. Regarding the deeper implications of the word “peace” (salam) as used in this passage, see surah 5, note 29.

President

The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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