“Who are the Aṣḥāb al-Ukhdūd? Q 85:4‒10 in Near Eastern Context

Adam Silverstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This article seeks to contribute to our understanding of a short Qurānic passage, Q 85:4-10, which concerns the fate of the enigmatic A⋅ḣāb al-Ukhdūd. It is argued that the eschatological and historical readings of this passage, which have generally been taken to be mutually exclusive options for its interpretation, are both indispensable for a full contextualization of the verses in question. Furthermore, regarding the historical reading of the passage, it is argued that the verses refer to the events recorded in Daniel 3, rather than to the Martyrs of Najrān episode that most exegetes (and many modern scholars) opt for. Finally, a new etymology for the word Ukhdūd is proposed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)281-323
Number of pages43
JournalIslam - Zeitschrift fur Geschichte und Kultur des Islamischen Orients
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 De Gruyter. All rights reserved.


  • A⋅ḣāb al-ukhdūd
  • Daniel 3
  • Dhū nuwās
  • Fire ordeals
  • Hellfire in islam
  • Martyrdom
  • Martyrs of najrān
  • Meccan sūrahs
  • Men of the pit
  • Qurān


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