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Harut and Marut

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Hārūt and Mārūt (Arabic: هاروت و ماروت) were two angels who taught magics to people after the death of the prophet Solomon (a) in order for people to be able to neutralize the magics of evil magicians. But people misused what they learned from the angels. The story is mentioned in the Qur'an, Sura al-Baqara, verse 102.

Harut and Marut

Harut and Marut were two angels sent by God to Babylon: "and that which was revealed to the two angels at Babylon, Harut and Marut". (Qur'an 2:102)

There is a disagreement over the origin of the terms, "Harut" and "Marut":

  • Some people believe that the terms come from the Aramaic language.
  • Others take them to be of a Syriac origin, which means monarchical.
  • A number of other people take the terms to be of a Persian origin.

There are many tales and stories about Harut and Marut, many of which are taken by scholars and exegetes of the Qur'an to be fake. For example, the story that a woman called "Zuhra" deceived Harut and Marut and learned God's Greatest Name and then turned into a star and went to the sky is considered as fake.

Teaching Magics

According to hadiths, a group of people practiced magics and witchcraft in the period of Solomon (a). He ordered that all their writings be gathered and kept in a place. After Solomon's (a) death, some of them found the writings and began to learn magics. They said that Solomon (a) was not a prophet and that he just took over the territories and did extraordinary things by magics. They were followed by a number of Israelites.

The practice of magics prevailed in Babylon in such a way that people were frustrated and hurt. God sent two angels to them in the form of human persons in order to teach people the magics and the ways of neutralizing them so that they can get rid of the devils of magicians.

The Qur'an rejects the claim that Harut and Marut did evil things. It says that the magics was revealed to them, but they intended no harms. They reminded people that "we are a trial, so do not disbelieve and do not misuse the knowledge", but people misused the knowledge and disbelieved God.

There is a great deal of disagreement over the story of Harut and Marut. In addition to the above account, the following accounts are also offered:

  • Some people believe that Harut and Marut were two angels who blamed human beings because of their sins. God sent them down to the earth in the form of human beings, but they committed sins themselves and were finally punished by God.
  • Hasan al-Basri believed that Harut and Marut were not angels; rather they were two sturdy men from Babylon.
  • They were spirits of the nature at first, and then they turned into angels. They were worshiped by ancient Armenians as two gods.

Harut and Marut in non-Islamic Books

Armenian Sources and Avesta

According to historians, the words, "Harut" and "Marut", appear in Armenian books, historical books of Egypt, and Slavonic texts of Enoch and the like with remarkable differences. A British historian reported an Armenian source as saying that "Hurut" means fertile and "Murut" means immortal, referring to two gods of the Mount Masis or Ararat. In an Egyptian myth that he translated, Watts Neld encountered the names, "Hurvanati" and "Amerekati" which are similar to "Harut" and "Marut".

Accounts in Jewish Sources

In his al-Mizan, 'Allama Tabataba'i writes that the story of Harut and Marut corresponds to myths maintained by the Jews about the two angels, and it is not dissimilar to ancient Greek myths about stars.

The myth appears in the Second Epistle of Peter: "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but delivered them, drawn down by infernal ropes to the lower hell, unto torments, to be reserved unto judgment".

Also, in verse 6 of the Epistle of Jude we read: "And the angels who kept not their principality but forsook their own habitation, he hath reserved under darkness in everlasting chains, unto the judgment of the great day".