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People of Ad

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People of 'Ād (Arabic: قوم عاد) were Arab and lived in south of Arabia. They were descendants of 'Ad b. 'Aws who named their tribe after their forefather. They had large bodies and benefitted from many blessings. God sent Prophet Hud (a) to them to invite them to monotheism. Most of them stood against him and did not accept his invitation and thus were afflicted with divine punishment.

In the Qur'an

The glorious Qur'an has mentioned the people of 'Ad in several verses some of which are verses 21 – 26 of Qur'an 46, verses 69 – 74 of Qur'an 7, verse 46 of Qur'an 51, verse 50 of Qur'an 11, verse 31 of Qur'an 23, verses 13 – 15 of Qur'an 41, verse 20 of Qur'an 54, verse 7 of Qur'an 69, verse 8 of Qur'an 89, verse 15 of Qur'an 32 and verse 130 of Qur'an 26.

Name and Time

People of 'Ad were Arab.[1] They were descendants of 'Ad b. 'Aws b. Aram b. Sam b. Nuh (a) (Noah) and named their tribe after their forefather.[2]

The glorious Qur'an considered the people of 'Ad after Nuh (a);[3] when it says, "and that it is He who destroyed the former 'Ad",[4] "The former 'Ad" were the people of Prophet Hud (a)[5] who lived after the people of Nuh (a) and before the people of Thamud.[6] Thus, there was a latter 'Ad as well, whom some exegetes considered the people of Thamud.[7]

Place of Living

The Qur'an calls the place where the people of 'Ad lived al-Ahqaf, and mention Prophet Hud (a) the brother of 'Ad, "when he warned his people at Ahqaf.[8] "al-Ahqaf" means: dunes which pile up by the blow of wind in the deserts" and the land of 'Ad was called al-Ahqaf because it was a dune of such nature.[9] Exegetes have considered al-ahqaf a region in the south of Arabia.[10] However, there are disagreements on its accurate location.[11] 'Allama Tabataba'i and al-Tabrisi believed that al-Ahqaf was a place between Yemen and Oman which is a dune now.[12] In Qur'an 46 which meant to warn polytheists about a painful punishment.[13] A part of the story of 'Ad is mentioned as an example of punished polytheists. In Tafsir-i Nimuni, Ayatollah Makarim Shirazi believed that the name of Sura al-Ahqaf (Qur'an 46) is adopted from the story of 'Ad and their place of living.[14]

Apparent Characteristics

The glorious Qur'an describes people of 'Ad tall like palm tree,[15] very strong and large.[16] Imam al-Baqir (a) described them as, "they were tall like palm trees and destroyed mountains".[17]

It is mentioned in a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a) that they were tall like palm trees. in other sources it is said that the people of 'Ad were too tall. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi in al-Tibyan mentioned some of these reports. Also in some narrations it is said that they grew to the height of 100 Dhara' ("cubit" which is a measurement of length about 52 cm) and their shortest ones were about 70 Dhara'.[18] There are different reports in this regard, for example another report described them as 12 Dhara'.

Life and Civilization

Some exegetes believe that from the appearance of the verses, it can be learned that these people had a civilization and a developed community. They also had developed cities and fertile lands full of gardens, palm gardens and farms. Verse 8 of Qur'an 89 describes Eram which was one of their cities, "the like of which was not created among cities" [19] 'Ad had farming and many palm trees and had built great stone houses for themselves.[20]

Beliefs and Actions

People of 'Ad worshipped different deities.[21] Every time, they made an idol for themselves out of fun. They made water reservoirs in their basements for they hoped to be immortal.[22] Prophet Hud (a) was chosen to guide them.[23] The Qur'an introduces Prophet Hud (a) as the brother of 'Ad,[24] because he (a) was one of them.[25] 'Allama Tabataba'i believed that there is a possibility that 'Ad had prophets other than Hud (a) as well who were chosen after Noah (a) and before Hud (a), but the Qur'an has not mentioned them; however, the context of verses does not agree with this possibility.[26]

Exegetes believe that from verse 59 of Qur'an 11 (Sura Hud) which says, "and followed the dictates of every obdurate tyrant",[27] it can be learned that 'Ad were had three problems of rejecting divine signs, disobeying prophets and obeying tyrants. In fact, they followed the orders of every despot and that kept them away from following Hud (a) and accepting his invitation. Then, God continues describing them in the next verse as, "they were pursued by a curse in this world and on the Resurrection", because of those three problems. The curse in this verse refers to the punishment which followed them and finally reached them.[28]

Divine Punishment

In different verses, the Qur'an mentions the conversations between Prophet Hud (a) and people of 'Ad.[29] 'Ad were afflicted with drought and for many years it did not rain there.[30] Prophet Hud (a) promised them that if they repent, drought will be gone and their power may even increase.[31] But, they did not accept Hud's (a) invitation.[32]

They saw a great cloud in the distance and thought that it was a rain cloud, while it was actually the cloud of punishment. [33]Finally, for seven days punishment casted upon them.[34] After destruction of the people of 'Ad, Prophet Hud (a) and other believers left that land and went to Mecca.[35]


  1. Ibn Kathīr al-Dimashqī, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 2, p. 157.
  2. Fakhr al-Rāzī, Mafātīḥ al-ghayb, vol. 31, p. 152.
  3. Qurʾān, 7:69; 51:46.
  4. Qur'an 53:50.
  5. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 19, p. 50.
  6. Miybudī, Kashf al-asrār, vol. 5, p. 532.
  7. Miybudī, Kashf al-asrār, vol. 6, p. 435.
  8. Qur'an 46:21.
  9. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 21, p. 292.
  10. Qarashī, Qāmūs al-Qurʾān, vol. 5, p. 65.
  11. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 18, p. 210.
  12. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 10, p. 456; Ṭabrisī, Tarjuma-yi Tafsīr Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 18, p. 218.
  13. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 18, p. 283.
  14. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 21, p. 295.
  15. Qurʾān, 54:20; 69:7.
  16. Qurʾān, 6:69.
  17. Ṭūsī, al-Tibyān, vol. 4, p. 445.
  18. Jazāʾirī, al-Nūr al-mubīn, p. 135.
  19. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 26, p. 452; Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 10, p. 456.
  20. Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qumm, vol. 1, p. 329.
  21. Qurʾān, 11:53.
  22. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 6, p. 226-232; Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 10, p. 457; Ṭabrisī, Tarjuma-yi Tafsīr Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 23, p. 15.
  23. Qurʾān, 11:50.
  24. Qurʾān, 11:50.
  25. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 10, p. 298.
  26. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 10, p. 453.
  27. Qurʾān, 11:59.
  28. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 9, p. 143-144; Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 10, p. 453.
  29. Qurʾān, 11:50-57.
  30. Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī, vol. 1, p. 329.
  31. Qurʾān, 11:52.
  32. Qurʾān, 11:53.
  33. Qurʾān, 46:24.
  34. Qurʾān, 69:24.
  35. ʿŪtabī al-Ṣaḥārī, al-Ansāb, vol. 1, p. 71.


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