Harut and Marut

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This folio from Walters manuscript W.659 depicts the angels Harut and Marut hanging as a punishment for being critical of Adam's fall

Harut and Marut (Arabic: هَـارُوت وَمَـارُوت‎, Hārūṫ wa-Mārūṫ) are the two angels mentioned in the second surah of the Quran, who were present during the reign of Sulaymân (Arabic: سُـلَـيْـمَـان‎, Solomon), and were located at Bābil (Arabic: بَـابِـل‎, Babylon).[1][2] According to some narratives, those two angels were in the time of Idrîs (Arabic: إِدْرِيْـس‎). The Quran indicates that they were a trial for the people and through them the people were tested with sorcery. The names are probably etymologically related to Haurvatat and Ameretat, two Zoroastrian archangels.[3]

Islamic interpretations[edit]

Story of Harut and Marut[edit]

The angels were astonished at the acts of disobedience committed by the human beings on earth, claiming they would do better than them. Therefore, God challenged the angels to choose two representatives among them, who would descend to earth and be endowed with bodily desires. During their stay on earth, they fell in love with a woman named Zohra (often identified with Venus). She told them she would become intimate with them if they joined her in idolatry. The angels refused and remained pious. Later they met her again and the woman this time stated she would become intimate with them if they drank alcohol. The angels thought that alcohol could not cause great harm and therefore, they accepted the condition. After they were drunk, they became intimate with her and after noticing a witness, they killed him. On the next day, Harut and Marut regretted their deeds but could not ascend to heaven anymore due to their sins, their link to the angels was broken. Thereupon, God asked them, either their punishment shall be in this world or in the hereafter. They chose to be punished on earth and therefore were sent to Babel, teaching humans magic but not without warning them that they were just a temptation.[4]

Ibn Kathir interpretation[edit]

The 14th century scholar Ibn Kathir interpreted the story of Harut and Marut and went into depth about what exactly the angels had taught to the people in his book, Stories of the Qur'an:

Narrated Al-`Ufi in his interpretation on the authority of Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) pertaining to Allah's Statement {They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulaiman (Solomon). Sulaiman did not disbelieve, but the Shayatin (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, "We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).”...} When Sulaiman lost his kingdom, great numbers from among mankind and the jinn renegaded and followed their lusts. But, when Allah restored to Sulaiman his kingdom and the renegade came to follow the Straight Path once again, Sulaiman seized their holy scriptures which he buried underneath his throne. Shortly after, Sulaiman (Peace be upon him) died. In no time, the men and the Jinn uncovered the buried scriptures and said: This was a book revealed by Allah to Sulaiman who hide it from us. They took it as their religion and Allah the Almighty revealed His Saying: {And when there came to them a Messenger from Allah confirming what was with them, a party of those who were given the Scripture threw away the Book of Allah behind their backs as if they did not know!}. (Al-Baqarah, 101) and they followed what the devils gave out, i.e. musical instruments, play and all that blocks the remembrance of Allah.[5]

Critics about Harut and Marut[edit]

Some Islamic exegetes prefer to view Harut and Marut as ordinary men than actual angels, who learned magic from devils since their legend cannot be certainly attributed to Muhammed.[6]

According to Muslim scholar Ansar Al-'Adl, many interpretations of the verse originated from alleged Judeo-Christian sources that came to be recorded in some works of Quranic exegesis, called Tafsir.[7] Numerous stories have been transmitted about these verses, yet all center around the same basic story:

Abdullah Yusuf Ali, noted translator of the Qur'an into English, asserts that the source of this story may be the Jewish Midrash:

Among the Jewish traditions in the Midrash was a story of two angels who asked Allah's permission to come down to earth but succumbed to temptation, and were hung up by their feet at Babylon for punishment. Such stories about sinning angels who were cast down to punishment were believed in by the early Christians, also (see II Peter 2:4, and Epistle of Jude, verse 6).[8]

Other scholars argue, that the Midrash actually adapted the story from Muslims,[9] but the names were changed to Azael and Shemyaza, terms for fallen angels in other earlier Jewish scriptures, however regarded as unauthentic by Rabbinic Judaism.

According to Umm al-Qura University professor Abdul Aziz al-Harbi, Harut and Marut were merely human beings described with qualities often attributed to angels rather than being actual angels.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Quran 2:102 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)
  2. ^ Morris Jastrow, Ira Maurice Price, Marcus Jastrow, Louis Ginzberg, and Duncan B. MacDonald; "Babel, Tower of", Jewish Encyclopedia; Funk & Wagnalls, 1906.
  3. ^ "Harut and Marut". Britannica.
  4. ^ Hussein Abdul-Raof Theological Approaches to Qur'anic Exegesis: A Practical Comparative-Contrastive Analysis Routledge 2012 ISBN 978-1-136-45991-7 page 155
  5. ^ www.islambasics.com/index.php?act=download&BID=80 IslamBasics
  6. ^ Cenap Çakmak Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia [4 volumes] ABC-CLIO 2017 ISBN 978-1-610-69217-5 page 578
  7. ^ a b Ansar Al-'Adl, Can Angels Disobey? The Case of Harut and Marut. Retrieved on 2010-01-20.
  8. ^ Ali, Abdullah Yousf, The Meaning of the Holy Quran Archived 2009-03-05 at the Wayback Machine., eleventh edition (2006), note 104, pg. 45.
  9. ^ Patricia Crone THE BOOK OF WATCHERS IN THE QURÅN page 10-11

External links[edit]