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: هاروت وماروت) are the two angels mentioned in the second surah of the Qur'an who were present during the reign of the prophet Solomon and according to some narratives those two angels were in the time of Hazarat Idrees and were located at a location called Babel. The Qur'an indicates that they were a trial for the people and through them the people were tested with sorcery. (Sura Al-Baqara, verse 102).

In the Qur'an[edit]

The story of Harut and Marut is revealed in the second surah (chapter), of the Qur'an, entitled "Al-Baqara" or "The Cow" , it appears in the 102nd Ayah, or verse, and forms part of a narrative concerning the people who followed sorcery.

They followed what the Satans gave out during the reign of Solomon. Solomon disbelieved not, but the Satans disbelieved, teaching men sorcery and such things that came down upon the two Angels at Babel, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two taught anyone till they had said, "We are only for trial, so disbelieve not." And they learnt that which caused separation between a man and his wife, but they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah's leave. And they learnt that which harmed them and profited them not. And indeed they knew that the buyers of it would have no share in the Hereafter. And how bad indeed was that for which they sold their own selves, if they but knew. And if they had believed and guarded themselves from evil and kept their duty to Allah, far better would have been the reward from their Lord, if they but knew! (Al-Baqarah, 102, 103)

Muslim interpretations[edit]

Legend about Harut and Marut[edit]

The angels 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 representants among them, which will descend to earth and will 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, then they joined her 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, alcohol can not cause great harm and therefore they accepted the condition. After they were drunk, they became intimate with her and after notice a witness, they killed him, the woman took advantage of their drunken state and found out the phrase the angels used, to ascend to heaven. Trying to reach the plane of angels, she was transformed into Venus, on the next day, Harut and Marut regret their deeds but could not ascend to heaven anymore, due 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 choose to be punished on earth and therefore send to Babel, teaching humans magic, but not without warning them, they are just a temptation.[1]

Ibn Kathir[edit]

The 14th century scholar Ibn Kathir interpreted the story of Harut and Marut and goes into depth about what exactly the angels had taught to the people of magic 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.[2]

Critics about the legend of Harut and Marut[edit]

Some islamic exegets prefer to view Harut and Marut as ordinary men, than actual angels, who learned magic from devils, since their legend can not be certainly attributed to Muhammed.[3]

According to Muslim scholar Ansar Al-'Adl, many interpretations of the verse originate from alleged Judeo-Christian sources that came to be recorded in some works of Quranic exegesis, called Tafsir.[4] 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).[5]

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, a belief which originates with `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas, one of Muhammad's companions.[4]

Non-Muslim interpretations[edit]

European interpretations[edit]

William St. Clair Tisdall claims that Harut and Marut are two ancient Armenian deities, worshipped by the Armenians before their conversion to Christianity. They are said to be assistants of the goddess Spandaramit, they were the special promotors of the productiveness and profitableness of the earth. Horot and Morot also appear in the Avesta as Haurvat (or Haurvatat) and Ameretat, "abundance" and "immortality".[6]

The English orientalist and scholar David Samuel Margoliouth asserted that Harut and Marut were none other than Jannes and Jambres, the two magicians mentioned in II Timothy 3:8 as being the Egyptian magicians who withstood the prophet Moses in the court of the pharaoh in Exodus 7:8-12.[7][verification needed]

The story of Harut and Marut has a parallel in the apocryphal Jewish text The Book of Enoch, however, in that book the angels are named “Uzzah, Azzah and Azael." They are described teaching sorcery to the generation of Enoch which allows them to summon the “sun and moon, star and constellations” down to serve their idols.” [8]


  1. ^ Hussein Abdul-Raof Theological Approaches to Qur'anic Exegesis: A Practical Comparative-Contrastive Analysis Routledge 2012 ISBN 978-1-136-45991-7 page 155
  2. ^ www.islambasics.com/index.php?act=download&BID=80 IslamBasics
  3. ^ Cenap Çakmak Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia [4 volumes] ABC-CLIO 2017 ISBN 978-1-610-69217-5 page 578
  4. ^ a b Ansar Al-'Adl, Can Angels Disobey? The Case of Harut and Marut. Retrieved on 2010-01-20.
  5. ^ Ali, Abdullah Yousf, The Meaning of the Holy Quran, eleventh edition (2006), note 104, pg. 45.
  6. ^ William St. Clair Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Quran
  7. ^ David Samuel Margoliouth. Originally published in The Muslim World, Vol. XX, 1930, pp. 73-79.
  8. ^ Reed, A. Y. https://www.academia.edu/269741/_From_Asael_and_%C5%A0emihazah_to_Uzzah_Azzah_and_Azael_3_Enoch_5_7-8_and_the_Jewish_Reception-History_of_1_Enoch_ Originally published in Jewish Studies Quarterly

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