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Sura XI — Houd

by Rev. G. Margoliouth, M.A.

Mecca — 123 Verses

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

ELIF. LAM. RA.[576] A book whose verses are stablished in wisdom and then set forth with clearness from the Wise, the All-informed—

That ye worship none other than God—Verily I come to you from Him charged with warnings, announcements;

And that ye seek pardon of your Lord, and then be turned unto Him! Goodly enjoyments will He give you to enjoy until a destined time, and His favours will He bestow on every one who deserves his favours.[577] But if ye turn away, then verily I fear for you the chastisement of the great day.

Unto God shall ye return, and over all things is he Potent.

Do they not doubly fold up their breasts, that they may hide themselves from Him?

But when they enshroud themselves in their garments, doth He not know alike what they conceal and what they shew?

For He knoweth the very inmost of their breast.

There is no moving thing on earth whose nourishment dependeth not on God; he knoweth its haunts and final resting place: all is in the clear Book.

And He it is who hath made the Heavens and the Earth in six days: His throne had stood ere this upon the waters,[578] that He might make proof which of you[579] would excel in works.

And if thou say, "After death ye shall surely be raised again," the infidels will certainly exclaim, "This is nothing but pure sorcery."

And if we defer their chastisement to some definite time, they will exclaim, "What keepeth it back?" What! will it not come upon them on a day when there shall be none to avert it from them? And that at which they scoffed shall enclose them in on every side.

And if we cause man to taste our mercy, and then deprive him of it, verily, he is despairing, ungrateful.

And if after trouble hath befallen him we cause him to taste our favour, he will surely exclaim, "The evils are passed away from me." Verily, he is joyous, boastful.

Except those who endure with patience and do the things that are right: these doth pardon await and a great reward.

Perhaps thou wilt suppress a part of what hath been revealed to thee, and wilt be distress at heart lest they say, "If a treasure be not sent down to him, or an angel come with him. . . ." But thou art only a warner, and God hath all things in his charge.

If they shall say, "The Koran is his own device," SAY: Then bring ten Suras like it[580] of your devising, and call whom ye can to your aid beside God, if ye are men of truth.

But if they answer you not, then know that it hath been sent down to you in the wisdom of God only, and that there is no God but He. Are ye then Muslims?

Those who choose this present life and its braveries, we will recompense for their works therein: they shall have nothing less therein than their deserts.

These are they for whom there is nothing in the next world but the Fire: all that they have wrought in this life shall come to nought, and vain shall be all their doings.

With such can they be compared who rest upon clear proofs from their Lord? to whom a witness from him reciteth the Koran, and who is preceded by the Book of Moses, a guide and mercy? These have faith in it: but the partisans of idolatry, who believe not in it, are menaced with the fire! Have thou no doubts about that Book, for it is the very truth from thy Lord. But most men will not believe.

Who is guilty of a greater injustice than he who inventeth a lie concerning God? They shall be set before their Lord, and the witnesses shall say, "These are they who made their Lord a liar." Shall not the malison of God be on these unjust doers,

Who pervert others from the way of God, and seek to make it crooked, and believe not in a life to come? God's power on earth they shall not weaken; and beside God they have no protector! Doubled shall be their punishment! They were not able to hearken, and they could not see.

These are they who have lost their own souls, and the deities of their own devising have vanished from them:

There is no doubt but that in the next world they shall be the lost ones.

But they who shall have believed and done the things that are right, and humbled them before their Lord, shall be the inmates of Paradise; therein shall they abide for ever.

These two sorts of persons resemble the blind and deaf, and the seeing and hearing: shall these be compared as alike? Ah! do ye not comprehend?

We sent Noah of old unto his people:—"Verily I come to you a plain admonisher,

That ye worship none but God. Verily I fear for you the punishment of a grievous day."

Then said the chiefs of his people who believed not, "We see in thee but a man like ourselves; and we see not who have followed thee except our meanest ones of hasty judgment, nor see we any excellence in you above ourselves: nay, we deem you liars."

He said: "O my people! how think you? If I am upon a clear revelation from my Lord, who hath bestowed on me mercy from Himself to which ye are blind, can we force it on you, if ye are averse from it?

And, O my people! I ask you not for riches: my reward is of God alone: and I will not drive away those who believe that they shall meet their Lord:—but I see that ye are an ignorant people.

And, O my people! were I to drive them away, who shall help me against God? Will ye not therefore consider?

And I tell you not that with me are the treasures of God: nor do I say, 'I know the things unseen;' nor do I say, 'I am an angel;' nor do I say of those whom you eye with scorn, No good thing will God bestow on them:—God best knoweth what is in their minds—for then should I be one of those who act unjustly."

They said: "O Noah! already hast thou disputed with us, and multiplied disputes with us: Bring then upon us what thou hast threatened, if thou be of those who speak truth."

He said, "God will bring it on you at His sole pleasure, and it is not you who can weaken him;

Nor, if God desire to mislead you, shall my counsel profit you, though I fain would counsel you aright. He is your Lord, and unto Him shall ye be brought back.

Do they say, "This Koran is of his own devising?" Say: On me be my own guilt, if I have devised it, but I am clear of that whereof ye are guilty.

And it was revealed unto Noah. Verily, none of thy people shall believe, save they who have believed already; therefore be not thou grieved at their doings.

But build the Ark under our eye and after our revelation: and plead not with me for the evil doers, for they are to be drowned.

So he built the Ark; and whenever the chiefs of his people passed by they laughed him to scorn:[581] said he, "Though ye laugh at us, we truly shall laugh at you, even as ye laugh at us; and in the end ye shall know

On whom a punishment shall come that shall shame him, and on whom shall light a lasting punishment."

Thus was it until our sentence came to pass, and the earth's surface[582] boiled up. We said, "Carry into it one pair of every kind, and thy family, except him on whom sentence hath before been passed, and those who have believed." But there believed not with him except a few.

And he said, "Embark ye therein. In the name of God be its course and its riding at anchor! Truly my Lord is right Gracious, Merciful."

And the Ark moved on with them amid waves like mountains: and Noah called to his son—for he was apart—"Embark with us, O my child! and be not with the unbelievers."

He said, "I will betake me to a mountain that shall secure me from the water." He said, "None shall be secure this day from the decree of God, save him on whom He shall have mercy." And a wave passed between them, and he was among the drowned.

And it was said, "O Earth! swallow up thy water;" and "cease, O Heaven!" And the water abated, and the decree was fulfilled, and the Ark rested upon Al-Djoudi;[583] and it was said, "Avaunt! ye tribe of the wicked!"

And Noah called on his Lord and said, "O Lord! verily my son is of my family: and thy promise is true, and thou art the most just of judges."

He said, "O Noah! verily, he is not of thy family: in this thou actest not aright.[584] Ask not of me that whereof thou knowest nought: I warn thee that thou become not of the ignorant.

He said, "To thee verily, O my Lord, do I repair lest I ask that of thee wherein I have no knowledge: unless thou forgive me and be merciful to me I shall be one of the lost.

It was said to him, "O Noah! debark with peace from Us, and with blessings on thee and on peoples to be born from those who are with thee; but as for other and unbelieving peoples, we will give them their good things in this world, but hereafter shall a grievous punishment light on them from us.

This is one of the secret Histories: we reveal it unto thee: neither thou nor thy people knew it ere this: be patient thou: verily, there is a prosperous issue to the God-fearing.

And unto Ad we sent their Brother HOUD. He said, "O my people, worship God. You have no God beside Him. Ye only devise a lie.

O my people! I ask of you no recompense for this: my recompense is with Him only who hath made me. Will ye not then understand?

O my people! ask pardon of your Lord; then be turned unto Him: He will send down the heavens upon you with copious rains:

And with strength on strength will He increase you: only turn not back with deeds of evil."

They said, "O Houd, thou hast not brought us proofs of thy mission: we will not abandon our gods at thy word, and we believe thee not.

We can only say that some of our gods have smitten thee with evil." Said he, "Now take I God to witness, and do ye also witness, that I am clear of your joining other gods

To God. Conspire then against me all of you, and delay me not.

For I trust in God, my Lord and yours. No single beast is there which he holdeth not by its forelock. Right, truly, is the way in which my Lord goeth.

But if ye turn back, I have already declared to you my message. And my Lord will put another people in your place, nor shall ye at all hurt Him; verily, my Lord keepeth watch over all things."

And when our doom came to be inflicted, we rescued Houd and those who had like faith with Him, by our special mercy: we rescued them from the rigorous chastisement.

These men of Ad gainsaid the signs of their Lord, and rebelled against his messengers, and followed the bidding of every proud contumacious person.

Followed therefore were they in this world by a curse; and in the day of the Resurrection it shall be said to them, "What! Did not Ad disbelieve their Lord?" Was not Ad, the people of Houd, cast far away?

And unto Themoud we sent their Brother Saleh:[585] —"O my people! said he, worship God: you have no other god than Him. He hath raised you up out of the earth, and hath given you to dwell therein. Ask pardon of him then, and be turned unto him; for thy Lord is nigh, ready to answer."

They said, "O Saleh! our hopes were fixed on thee till now:[586] forbiddest thou us to worship what our fathers worshipped? Truly we misdoubt the faith to which thou callest us, as suspicious."

He said, "O my people! what think ye? If I have a revelation from my Lord to support me, and if He hath shewed his mercy on me, who could protect me from God if I rebel against him? Ye would only confer on me increase of ruin.

O my people! this is the she-Camel of God, and a sign unto you. Let her go at large and feed in God's earth, and do her no harm, lest a speedy punishment overtake you."

Yet they hamstrung her: then said he, "Yet three days more enjoy yourselves in your dwellings: this menace will not prove untrue."

And when our sentence came to pass, we rescued Saleh and those who had a like faith with him, by our mercy, from ignominy on that day. Verily, thy Lord is the Strong, the Mighty!

And a violent tempest overtook the wicked, and they were found in the morning prostrate in their dwellings,

As though they had never abode in them. What! Did not Themoud disbelieve his Lord? Was not Themoud utterly cast off?

And our messengers came formerly to Abraham with glad tidings. "Peace," said they. He said, "Peace," and he tarried not, but brought a roasted calf.

And when he saw that their hands touched it not,[587] he misliked them, and grew fearful of them. They said, "Fear not, for we are sent to the people of Lot."

His wife was standing by and laughed;[588] and we announced Isaac to her; and after Isacc, Jacob.

She said, "Ah, woe is me! shall I bear a son when I am old, and when this my husband is an old man? This truly would be a marvellous thing."

They said, "Marvellest thou at the command of God? God's mercy and blessing be upon you, O people of this house; praise and glory are His due!"

And when Abraham's fear had passed away, and these glad tidings had reached him, he pleaded with us for the people of Lot. Verily, Abraham was right kind, pitiful, relenting.

"O Abraham! desist from this; for already hath the command of thy God gone forth; as for them, a punishment not to be averted is coming on them."

And when our messengers came to Lot, he was grieved for them; and he was too weak to protect them,[589] and he said, "This is a day of difficulty."

And his people came rushing on towards him, for aforetime had they wrought this wickedness. He said, "O my people! these my daughters will be purer for you: fear God, and put me not to shame in my guests. Is there no rightminded man among you?"

They said, "Thou knowest now that we need not thy daughters; and thou well knowest what we require."

He said, "Would that I had strength to resist you, or that I could find refuge with some powerful chieftain."[590]

The Angels said, "O Lot! verily, we are the messengers of thy Lord: they shall not touch thee: depart with thy family in the dead of night, and let not one of you turn back: as for thy wife, on her shall light what shall light on them. Verily, that with which they are threatened is for the morning. Is not the morning near?"

And when our decree came to be executed we turned those cities upside down, and we rained down upon them blocks of claystone one after another, marked[591] by thy Lord himself. Nor are they far distant from the wicked Meccans.

And we sent to Madian[592] their brother Shoaib. He said, "O my people! worship God: no other God have you than He: give not short weight and measure: I see indeed that ye revel in good things; but I fear for you the punishment of the all-encompassing day.

O my people! give weight and measure with fairness; purloin not other men's goods; and perpetrate not injustice on the earth with corrupt practices:

A residue,[593] the gift of God, will be best for you if ye are believers:

But I am not a guardian over you."

They said to him, "O Shoaib! is it thy prayers which enjoin that we should leave what our fathers worshipped, or that we should not do with our substance as pleaseth us? Thou forsooth art the mild, the right director!"

He said, "O my people! How think ye? If I have a clear revelation from my Lord, and if from Himself He hath supplied me with goodly supplies, and if I will not follow you in that which I myself forbid you, do I seek aught but your amendment so far as in me lieth? My sole help is in God. In Him do I trust, and to Him do I turn me.

O my people! let not your opposition to me draw down upon you the like of that which befel the people of Noah, or the people of Houd, or the people of Saleh: and the abodes of the people of Lot are not far distant from you!

Seek pardon of your Lord and be turned unto Him: verily, my Lord is Merciful, Loving.

They said, "O Shoaib! we understand not much of what thou sayest, and we clearly see that thou art powerless among us: were it not for thy family we would have surely stoned thee, nor couldest thou have prevailed against us."

He said, "O my people! think ye more highly of my family than of God? Cast ye Him behind your back, with neglect? Verily, my Lord is round about your actions.

And, O my people! act with what power ye can for my hurt: I verily will act: and ye shall know

On whom shall light a punishment that shall disgrace him, and who is the liar. Await ye; verily I will await with you."

And when our decree came to pass, we delivered Shoaib and his companions in faith, by our mercy: And a violent tempest overtook the wicked, and in the morning they were found prostrate in their houses

As if they had never dwelt in them. Was not Madian swept off even as Themoud had been swept off?

Of old sent we Moses with our signs and with incontestable power to Pharaoh, and to his nobles—who followed the behests of Pharaoh, and, unrighteous were Pharaoh's behests.

He shall head his people on the day of the Resurrection and cause them to descend into the fire: and wretched the descent by which they shall descend!

They were followed by a curse in this world; and in the day of the Resurrection, wretched the gift that shall be given them!

Such, the histories of the cities which we relate to thee. Some of them are standing, others mown down:

We dealt not unfairly by them, but they dealt not fairly by themselves: and their gods on whom they called beside God availed them not at all when thy Lord's behest came to pass. They did but increase their ruin.

Such was thy Lord's grasp[594] when he laid that grasp on the cities that had been wicked. Verily his grasp is afflictive, terrible!

Herein truly is a sign for him who feareth the punishment of the latter day. That shall be a day unto which mankind shall be gathered together; that shall be a day witnessed by all creatures.

Nor do we delay it, but until a time appointed.

When that day shall come no one shall speak a word but by His leave, and some shall be miserable and others blessed.

And as for those who shall be consigned to misery—their place the Fire! therein shall they sigh and bemoan them—

Therein shall they abide while the Heavens and the Earth shall last, unless thy Lord shall will it otherwise; verily thy Lord doth what He chooseth.

And as for the blessed ones—their place the Garden! therein shall they abide while the Heavens and the Earth endure, with whatever imperishable boon thy Lord may please to add.

Have thou no doubts therefore concerning that which they worship: they worship but what their fathers worshipped before them: we will surely assign them their portion with nothing lacking.

Of old gave we Moses the Book, and they fell to variance about it. If a decree of respite had not gone forth from thy Lord, there had surely been a decision between them. Thy people also are in suspicious doubts about the Koran.

And truly thy Lord will repay every one according to their works! for He is well aware of what they do.

Go straight on then as thou hast been commanded, and he also who hath turned to God with thee, and let him transgress no more. He beholdeth what ye do.

Lean not on the evil doers lest the Fire lay hold on you. Ye have no protector, save God, and ye shall not be helped against Him.

And observe prayer at early morning, at the close of the day, and at the approach of night; for the good deeds drive away the evil deeds. This is a warning for those who reflect:

And persevere steadfastly, for verily God will not suffer the reward of the righteous to perish.

Were the generations before you, endued with virtue, and who forbad corrupt doings on the earth, more than a few of those whom we delivered? but the evil doers followed their selfish pleasures, and became transgressors.

And thy Lord was not one who would destroy those cities unjustly, when its inhabitants were righteous.

Had thy Lord pleased he would have made mankind of one religion: but those only to whom thy Lord hath granted his mercy will cease to differ. And unto this hath He created them; for the word of thy Lord shall be fulfilled, "I will wholly fill hell with Djinn and men."

And all that we have related to thee of the histories of these Apostles, is to confirm thy heart thereby. By these hath the truth reached thee, and a monition and warning to those who believe.

But say to those who believe not, "Act as ye may and can: we will act our part: and wait ye; we verily will wait."

To God belong the secret things of the Heavens and of the Earth: all things return to him: worship him then and put thy trust in Him: thy Lord is not regardless of your doings.[595]



[576] See Sura lxviii. p. 32.

[577] Or, will bestow his grace on every gracious one, or will bestow his abundance on every one who hath abundance (of merit). The difficulty of rendering this passage arises from the word fadhl, which means merit as applied to man, favour as applied to God.

[578] That is, before the Creation. Precisely the same statement occurs in Raschi on Gen. i. 2, also in the modern catechism. Tsenah ur'enak b'noth Tsion, authoritatively put forth by the Polish and German Talmudist Rabbins. "At the first creation of Heaven and Earth . . . the throne of glory of the Blessed God stood in the air above the waters." Comp. Ps. civ. 3.

[579] Men, heaven, and earth. Comp. Tr. Aboth, v. Mischna 1.

[580] Comp. verse 37 and Sura [xci.] ii. 21. It should be observed that the challenge in these passages is not to produce a book which shall equal the Koran in point of poetry or rhetoric, but in the importance of its subject-matter with reference to the Divine Unity, the future retribution, etc. Upon these topics Muhammad well knew that he had preoccupied the ground. And we may infer from the fragments of the Revelations of Musailima and Sajâh (Hisam. 946; Attabâri (ed. Kosegarten) i. 134, 136, 152; Tab. Agâni, 339), which are mere imitations of the Koran, that he felt this to be the case.

[581] "They laughed and jeered at him in their words." Midr. Tanchuma. "The passage Job xii. 5, refers to the righteous Noah who taught them and spake to them words severe as flames: but they scorned him, and said, 'Old man! for what purpose is this ark?"' Sanhedr. 108. Comp. Midr. Rabbah on Gen. 30, and 33 on Eccl. ix. 14.

[582] Or, oven: according to others, reservoir. Geiger thinks that the expression the oven boiled up may be a figurative mode of expressing the Rabbinic idea that "the generation of the Deluge were punished by hot water." Rosch. Haschanah, 16, 2; Sanhedr. 108. Comp. Weil's Legenden, p. 44.

[583] The Montes Gordyoei, perhaps.

[584] According to another reading: He hath done amiss. The origin of this story is probably Gen. ix. 20-25.

[585] A Prophet, so far as we know, of Muhammad's own invention, unless Muir's conjecture be admitted that he was a Christian or Jewish missionary whose adventures and persecution were recast into this form.—The name may have been suggested by, Methusaleh, upon whose piety the Midrasch enlarges.

[586] That is, we had intended to make thee our chief. Beidh.

[587] Thus, in contradiction to Gen. xviii. 8, the Rabbins; comp. Tr. Baba Mezia, fol. 86, "They made as though they ate."

[588] Or, menstrua passa est, in token of the possibility of her bearing a child.

[589] Lit. his arm was straitened concerning them.

[590] Lit. column.

[591] With the name, it is said, of the person each should strike.

[592] See Sura [lvi.] xxvi. 176.

[593] That is, after giving fair measure.

[594] Seizure, for punishment. Hence, the punishment itself.

[595] In the later period of his life Muhammad attributed his gray hairs to the effect produced upon him by this Sura and its "Sisters." While Abu Bekr and Omar sat in the mosque at Medina, Muhammad suddenly came upon them from the door of one of his wives' houses. . . . And Abu Bekr said, "Ah! thou for whom I would sacrifice father and mother, white hairs are hastening upon thee!" And the Prophet raised up his beard with his hand and gazed at it; and Abu Bekr's eyes filled with tears. "Yes," said Muhammad, "Hûd and its sisters have hastened my white hairs." "And what," asked Abu Bekr, "are its sisters?" "The Inevitable (Sura lvi.) and the Blow (Sura ci.)." Kitâb al Wackidi, p. 84, ap. Muir.


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