The next Prophet to speak of is Prophet Hud. Prophet Muhammad said in a long hadith reported by Abu Dharr in the Sahih of Ibn Hibban that four Prophets were Arabs: Hud, Salih, Shu^ayb and Prophet Muhammad himself.
The lineage of Prophet Hud is as follows: He is Hud, the son of ^Abdullah, the son of Rabah, the son of al-Jalud, the son of ^Ad, the son of ^Aws, the son of Iram, the son of Sam, the son of Noah. Other lineages were cited as well.
In Suratul-‘A^raf, 65, God told us about sending a Prophet to the tribe of ^Ad. This Prophet told them, “O my people worship God. No one is God but Him. Won’t you be God-fearing? This Prophet is Prophet Hud. Let us tell some history leading up to the call of Prophet Hud.
Shaddad, the Unjust
The man “Iram” had a city named after him, built by Shaddad, the son of ^Ad. This city was between Hadramawt and San^a’ in Yemen. The tribe of ^Ad had thirteen branches. The people of the tribe of ^Ad were very tall and strong. The tallest among them was 100 cubits in height and the shortest was 60 cubits in height (~90 feet). Shaddad established himself as king of his people and he ruled unjustly, oppressing his people. Shaddad kept conquering other countries, until he was the dominant ruler at that time, with the other kings submitting to him.
Shaddad was fascinated with old books. Whenever he read about Paradise that the Prophets spoke of, he imagined that he could build such a “Paradise” here on Earth (which of course is not true). Shaddad assembled a huge team of men to build what he claimed would be another “Paradise”. He first appointed one hundred men, each having one thousand assistants, to search the land of Yemen. They were to find a spot with the finest soil and freshest air. The spot they determined was the spot where Shaddad wanted to build his city.
Then Shaddad wrote all the kings under him, and ordered them to gather all the gold, silver, gems, musk, amber, and saffron that their land contained, and to send it all to him. Shaddad had divers go to the sea to bring up pearls and other jewels. He commissioned miners to bring out sapphires, emeralds, and topaz from the Earth.
Once having rich materials, Shaddad ordered that his city be built in that lovely spot. He ordered that the walls of the buildings be made out of gold and silver bricks, covered with gems. Wide marble pillars were also to be employed.
Canals were dug, bringing fresh water to flow along side the streets. Shaddad ordered that the banks of these streams be painted with gold and that gems be scattered in the streams. Shaddad also ordered his craftsmen to construct trees of gold, with jewels hanging off the branches.
Many palaces were built, with the largest being for Shaddad, in the center of the city. Nut sided balls of musk and saffron were scattered in the streets giving their good scent. A huge rock wall, painted with gold and embedded with jewels, was built around the city, 140 meters high. On it were two golden gates, richly decorated, opening to a beautiful valley. The city was 32 kilometers long and wide.
On the outskirts of the city, hills were made, enclosing thousands of high gold and silver towers. These were to be the living quarters of the soldiers.
This city took five hundred years to build. God gave Shaddad a long life and he was still alive when it was completed. In the midst of this, God gave Revelation to Prophet Hud, one of the people of the tribe of Shaddad. Hud went to Shaddad, calling him to Islam. Shaddad was arrogant, occupied with building this city. Hud came to Shaddad after Shaddad had been the ruler for seven hundred years.
Hence after rejecting the call from Prophet Hud, and remaining blasphemous, Shaddad set out to see his city, when his workers told him it was finished. Shaddad went out in a great procession, with his princes, ministers, followers, guards and servants. Shaddad left his son, Marthad, in charge of Hadramawt and other lands in his absence. It is said that Marthad did follow Prophet Hud.
When Shaddad approached the city he had built, being only a night and day away, a great scream came from the sky, killing Shaddad and all his companions. Hence, Shaddad died at the age of nine hundred years, without ever entering this city. As well, all the workers who constructed the city, died, and the city became hidden from the sight of people.
Hud, a Prophet From His Own People
In Ash-Shu^ara’, verses 123-125, God told us that the tribe of ^Ad rejected the Messengers. Hud was from their tribe, and conveyed to them, “Won’t you be God-fearing? I am a trustworthy Messenger to you from God”. The people did not accept Hud, except those whom God willed to be saved.
In Suratul-Ahqaf, verse 21 we know that God sent Prophet Hud to his own tribe, that of ^Ad, who were Arabs. He warned them and told them that they had to worship God alone, or there would be a day with severe torture for them. Hud warned them in a place called Al-Ahqaf, in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula. The dunes stretching from Oman to Hadramawt today is Al-Ahqaf where ^Ad lived.
In verse 69, of Suratul-‘A^raf, we know that God reminded them of making them the vicegerents after the people of Noah. (A vicegerent in this context is one ordered to live on the Earth, benefit from the facilities and abide by rules. If one obeys, one will be rewarded. If one disobeys, one deserves punishment.)
These people that Hud called were arrogant blasphemers. Part of their arrogance was from having such huge bodies, bigger than the people at the time of Prophet Noah.
The people of ^Ad made idols and worshipped them. The idols were called Sada’, Samud, and Haba’. Their land had abundant water at that time. They planted many crops and orchards, and built high-rise castles. Despite all of their riches, they were not thankful to God. They were the first nation to blaspheme after the great flood of the time of Noah.
Hud was the best among them in manners and they knew him. Still when Prophet Hud told them that they should stop worshipping idols, most rejected him. They said, “You are only one among us and we think that you are a liar. One of our gods got angry with you and that is why you talk like you do!”
Hud told them, “I am not a ridiculous person. I am a Messenger sent by God. I am sent to teach you that those idols do not benefit or harm. They cannot harm or benefit themselves. God is the only One Who deserves to be worshipped. If you do not submit, you will face a severe torture from God.”
From Surah Fussilat, verse 15, we know these blasphemers said, “Who is stronger than ourselves?” In the same verse, we are told, “Didn’t they see that God has great Power over all things?”
Hud said, “Remember the people of Noah and what befell them. They were made the vicegerents; but they blasphemed, and were drowned. You must worship God and clear yourself of blasphemy, or God will destroy you as God destroyed the disbelievers in Noah. Look at your bodies. Some of you are as tall as 100 cubits in height and some of you are 60 cubits in height. God gave you a great strength in your bodies, fertile land, crops, and high-rise castles, but you do not thank God by worshipping God alone.”
Prophet Hud told them about the Day of Resurrection and the Day of Judgment. They said, “Look, we are so powerful. How could we die, be reborn and reconstructed, and face an everlasting torture?” They rejected believing that they would be resurrected after their bones turn to soil.
In Suratush-Shu^ara’, verse 127, we are told that Prophet Hud told them, “I do not ask any reward from you. I only seek the reward from the Lord of the Worlds.” Hud was not asking them for leadership or a high social status. He was only conveying the message. Still, the tribe of ^Ad were snobs to Prophet Hud and those who believed in him. In verses 136-138 of Suratush-Shu^ara’, we know what these blasphemous people of Prophet Hud told him, “This religion that we have is the religion of our forefathers. We shall not divert from that.” For that they deserved the punishment of God. They insisted on worshipping the idols, and told Prophet Hud, “We shall not be tortured”. Prophet Hud told them, “You await the extreme torture of God that is inevitable.”
Only a handful of people followed Hud in the message of Islam, and those followers would conceal their belief out of fear of affliction by those people.
Torture is Sent on Those Who Rejected Prophet Hud
When the people of Hud disbelieved in God, and the signs of the proof of Prophet Hud’s truthfulness, God sent the torture upon them. In Suratul-Mu’minun, in verses 49-50 there is the meaning, “Prophet Hud made a supplication to God”. He said, “O God support me over them since they rejected me and belied the message. Only shortly they will wake up in great regret.” Suratul-‘A^raf, verse 71, means that Prophet Hud told them, “Await the torture of God and I shall be waiting with you to see the torture befall you.”
God ordered that the rain be withheld from the people of ^Ad until they were exhausted from the state of drought. Each time they suffered from the drought, Prophet Hud reminded them about Islam, and about the importance in believing in his message and quitting blasphemy.
Hud told them that the only way to escape the torture of the drought is for them to clear themselves of blasphemy, and to adhere to the Religion of God. Yet Hud’s reminders only made them more persistent in their disbelief. Each time he reminded them, they rejected more and more. They drowned more and more in their blasphemy. Each time they did that, the intensity of the drought increased, up to a point that they made a plan to ask for rain.
They sent a delegate on their behalf to go to Makkah, to make a supplication, so for rain to come down and rescue them from the drought. When the delegate did that, God sent black clouds over the people of ^Ad. They came from the direction of some valley. When they saw the black clouds they thought that they would receive the rain that will save them from the drought. They thought that these were clouds of mercy, but really they were clouds of great torture.
God told us in Suratul-Ahqaf, verses 24-25, that He sent to them a very strong wind, which drove the black clouds to them. They said to themselves “Ha, this is the rain coming to us. These are the clouds of mercy. The rain shall come down. God responded to our delegate who went to Makkah.” God told them that this was a strong wind that carried with it a severe torture. It would destroy most of the things.
The first to recognize and acknowledge what the cloud and the wind were bringing was a woman from ^Ad. When she realized what it brought, she screamed and fainted. When she woke up, they asked her, “What did you see?” She said, “I have seen a wind with flames of fire in front of it, with men leading it.” That strong wind carried their luggage and animals far away to the desert. Their hearts were gripped with extreme terror. They rushed into their houses, thinking by doing so, that they would be rescued. However, this wind was so severe that they were totally destroyed. Truly, their delegate was not answered.
In Suratul-Haqqah, verses 6-8, God told us that He sent on the blasphemous people of ^Ad a strong, cold wind for seven nights and eight days, until that wind destroyed them and they died. God likened their situation to the trunks of the palm trees that have no heads on them. This is so because that wind would come to one of the blasphemers and carry him up into the air. Then he would be turned upside-down and be launched back to the ground. He would be smashed, his head would pop off of his body, and his dead corpse would remain. When they were destroyed, God sent birds to carry these corpses into the sea. In Suratul-Ahqaf, verse 25, we are told that only their houses were seen, empty of people. God put an end to those who belied Him and His signs.
God saved Prophet Hud and those who believed in his message, as God informed us in the Qur’an in Suratul-‘A^raf, verse 72 and Surat Hud, verse 58. The meaning of these verses is that God rescued and saved Hud and the believers with him, as a mercy from Him. Prophet Hud and the believers who were with him were isolated in a specific spot, and they were not touched by that wind. They received a pleasant thing.
After all of this, Prophet Hud performed Hajj, as narrated by Imam Abu Ya^la in his Musnad. As to the place of the grave of Prophet Hud, there is a difference of opinion. Some say it is in Hadramawt in Yemen and some say it is in Makkah. Some said it was in Damascus.
Take note that the land of the people of ^Ad nowadays is a complete desert that is extremely dry. There is no construction there. Yet, truly that land used to be full of vegetation and abundance of water.
The Delegate of ^Ad
After the destruction of ^Ad, the Arabs used to say, when they sent a delegation, “Be careful. Don’t be like the delegate of ^Ad”, with this becoming a proverb among them.
Some of the story of the tribe of ^Ad was related by Imam Ahmad, Ibn Jarir and others from the route of the Companion Al-Harith Ibn Hassan Al-Bakriyy.
Al-Harith said, "I left to go to the Messenger of God (Prophet Muhammad) and passed by a location called ar-Rabdhah. There, I found an old woman from the tribe of Tamim who did not have an animal to ride to get to her destination. (The one who knows the history of that era would realize that the narrator of the story belonged to the Bakr tribe and that old woman belonged to the Tamim tribe. Those two tribes used to engage in fighting occasionally in the Era of Ignorance.) She said, ‘I have a need for the Messenger of God, so would you take me to him?’ I let her ride on an animal and I took her with me.
“There is nothing but our life of this world! We die and we live! We are not going to be resurrected! He is only a man who has invented a lie against God, but we are not going to believe in him.” (Quran 23:33-3)
When I arrived in Madinah, I saw black banners flying. I said, ‘What is the story with the people?’ They said, ‘The Prophet wants to send ^Amr Ibnul-^As as the head of a Muslim army to fight.’ I sat down until the Prophet was done then he went into his house. I asked permission to come in and it was given.
I went in and sat. Then the Prophet asked me, ‘Was there any fighting between you and the tribe of Tamim during the Era of Ignorance?’ I answered the Prophet, ‘Yes, we defeated them. I passed by the location of ar-Rabdhah and I found an old woman among the Tamim tribe that did not have an animal to ride to come to her destination and asked me to take her to you. She is standing by the door.’ The Prophet gave permission for the woman to come in and she did.
As she went in, Al-Harith was addressing the Prophet by saying, ‘O Prophet of God, let the desert of ad-Dahna' stand as a barrier between us and the Tamim tribe, so that there would not be any more fighting.’ The woman was provoked when she heard these words and asked the Prophet, ‘If you let this desert of ad-Dahna' stand as a barrier, then where would Mudar go to graze animals?’ She referred to herself as belonging to Mudar—in reference to a grandfather of the Prophet, to tell him that ‘we and you, Quraysh and Tamim, go back to the same grandfather’.
At this, Al-Harith Ibn Hassan Al-Bakriyy said a proverb in Arabic that indicates a person sometimes would do something, unsuspecting of harm coming out of it, and he ends up being harmed by it. (He brought this woman along with him, and he did not expect her to stand as an adversary in front of the Prophet as she did). He said, ‘I seek refuge with God and His Prophet from being like the delegate that ^Ad sent to the Ka^bah to supplicate for water.’
The Prophet asked, ‘Who is the delegate of ^Ad?’ Al-Harith told the Prophet, ‘You have asked the expert in this story.’ Al-Harith proceeded to say that the Prophet made him tell the story. (The Prophet already knew that story, but he wanted Al-Harith to say it aloud).
Al-Harith said, ‘The tribe of ^Ad suffered a great drought. They sent Qil, a man among them, as a delegate to supplicate for water. On the way, he went in as a guest at a person called Bakr Ibnu Mu^awiyah. This man kept him occupied for an entire month, offering him wine to drink, and having two young women singing to him. This man was kept busy and forgot all about his people.
Then the host himself reminded him of his own people, saying to him, ‘Did you not come this way for your people’s need?’ Then he remembered and left the man's house. He called out and said, ‘O Lord, I did not come to cure an ill person, nor to expiate a prisoner of war. O God, provide the water for the tribe of ^Ad, whatever You willed to provide.’
God sent three clouds, one white, the other red, and the third black. A voice (of a caller/ angel) called to Qil from the clouds, addressing him. It said, ‘Qil, choose for yourself and your people from among these clouds.’ Qil said, ‘I choose the black cloud, because it bears the most water.’ A caller (angel) called to him saying, ‘You have chosen that which will destroy the entire ^Ad, that is, except those whom God excluded.’”
We ask God not to be like the delegate of ^Ad!