Harut and Marut

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 two angels mentioned in ayah (verse) 102 of 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 interpretates the story of Harut and Marut in a more modern manner of rejecting Isra'iliyyat; although regarding their story as sound in chain of narrations, but since it goes back to Ibn Abbas and not to Muhammad himself, he asserts Muslims should not follow this narrative.[5] Instead he goes 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 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 hid it from us. They took it as their religion and Allah the Almighty revealed His Saying: . (Al-Baqarah, 101) and they followed what the devils gave out, i.e. all that blocks the remembrance of Allah.[6]

Criticism[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.[7] This also shall defend the impeccability of angels, as already asserted by Hasan of Basra,[8] but mostly emphazised durign the Salafi-movement.[9]

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.[11] 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)

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).[10]

Other scholars argue, that the Midrash actually adapted the story from Muslims,[11] 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.

Shia discussion[edit]

Hasan ibn Ali ibn Muhammad, the 11th Imam of Twelver Shia, being asked about the truth of the story, refutes the belief that angels may emerge as transgressors, because, he reasons, they lack freedom to act upon their will and just rely on the Will of God. Pertaining to the Quran's statment: "To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth, and those who are near Him do not disdain to worship Him, nor do they become weary. They glorify [Him] night and day, and they do not flag"[12] he argues that how Harut and Marut could be the messengers of God or the Kalif (representative) of Allah on the earth while they had performed injustice and oppression.[13]:468

Shia Islamic scholars and philosophers such as Sadr al-Din al-Shirazi believe that angels are regarded as mujarradat who are “intrinsically intelligible” and free from the limitations of material existence. A mujarrad being, as described by Shirazi, is not necessarily something “that exists as an abstraction in the mind.” It can be a concrete reality as in the case of God, the angels or the intellect. [14]

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. ^ Hanan Jaber Harut and Marut in The Book of Watchers and Jubilees November 18, 2018 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign p. 14-15
  6. ^ www.islambasics.com/index.php?act=download&BID=80 IslamBasics
  7. ^ Cenap Çakmak Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia [4 volumes] ABC-CLIO 2017 ISBN 978-1-610-69217-5 page 578
  8. ^ Omar Hamdan Studien zur Kanonisierung des Korantextes: al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrīs Beiträge zur Geschichte des Korans Otto Harrassowitz Verlag 2006 ISBN 978-3-447-05349-5 page 292 (German)
  9. ^ Stephen Burge Angels in Islam: Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti's al-Haba'ik fi Akhbar al-malik Routledge 2015 ISBN 978-1-136-50473-0 p. 13-1
  10. ^ Ali, Abdullah Yousf, The Meaning of the Holy Quran Archived 2009-03-05 at the Wayback Machine, eleventh edition (2006), note 104, pg. 45.
  11. ^ Patricia Crone THE BOOK OF WATCHERS IN THE QURÅN page 10-11
  12. ^ [Quran 21:19-20 (Translated by ‘Ali Quli Qara’i)]
  13. ^ Neshat, Gholamreza (2018). A History of the Prophets. Isfahan: Neshat. ISBN 978-600-04-9294-6.
  14. ^ Kalin, Ibrahim (2010). Knowledge in Later Islamic Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-19-973524-2.

External links[edit]