The requirements for a messenger of God to prove the authenticity of his messengership is threefold.
- Advocate the worship of God alone (3:79, 21:25)
- Never ask for a wage (6:90, 11:51, 26:109, 36:21)
- Provide a sign (40:28, 64:6)
This is spelled out very clearly in Appendix 2 of the Quran translated by Dr. Rashad Khalifa.
Some people claim that the messenger Hud did not provide a sign and therefore the third requirement is not necessary. They base this understanding according to the following verse.
[11:53] They said, “O Hûd, you did not show us any proof (bibayyinatin), and we are not abandoning our gods on account of what you say. We will never be believers with you.
(٥٣) قَالُوا يَاهُودُ مَا جِئْتَنَا بِبَيِّنَةٍ وَمَا نَحْنُ بِتَارِكِي آلِهَتِنَا عَنْ قَوْلِكَ وَمَا نَحْنُ لَكَ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ
Firstly, it is worth noting that this statement is made by the disbelievers. Disbelievers by their very nature will reject any proof that they are presented. Because if they accepted the proof, then they would not be disbelievers. For instance, we see similar responses to all of God’s messengers by the disbelievers.
[23:44] Then we sent our messengers in succession. Every time a messenger went to his community, they disbelieved him. Consequently, we annihilated them, one after the other, and made them history. The people who disbelieved have perished.
ثُمَّ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا تَتْرَىٰ كُلَّ مَا جَاءَ أُمَّةً رَسُولُهَا كَذَّبُوهُ فَأَتْبَعْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ بَعْضًا وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَحَادِيثَ فَبُعْدًا لِقَوْمٍ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
So 11:53 in itself does not indicate that Hud did not provide a sign for his messengership. And just because God did not inform us of what his specific sign was, does not necessarily mean that he was not given a sign.
But can we find positive evidence in the Quran that he was given a sign for his people to prove the authenticity of his messengership? If we go just a few verses ahead we read the following:
[11:59] Such was ‘Ãd—they disregarded the in the signs (biāyāti) of their Lord, disobeyed His messengers, and followed the ways of every stubborn tyrant.
(٥٩) وَتِلْكَ عَادٌ جَحَدُوا بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ وَعَصَوْا رُسُلَهُ وَاتَّبَعُوا أَمْرَ كُلِّ جَبَّارٍ عَنِيدٍ
The Arabic word used in 11:59 for signs is biāyāti. The word ayat means signs or miracles. A clear example of this is in the following verse regarding Moses’s miracles where the same word is used.
[17:101] We supported Moses with nine profound miracles (āyātin)—ask the Children of Israel. When he went to them, Pharaoh said to him, “I think that you, Moses, are bewitched.”
وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَىٰ تِسْعَ آيَاتٍ بَيِّنَاتٍ فَاسْأَلْ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِذْ جَاءَهُمْ فَقَالَ لَهُ فِرْعَوْنُ إِنِّي لَأَظُنُّكَ يَامُوسَىٰ مَسْحُورًا
Some may argue that the word ayat mentioned in 11:59 could constitute verses, but Hud was a messenger (rasool) and not a prophet (nabi) and therefore did not receive scripture. So this word in this context must mean either signs or miracles.
But some may still argue that the word used in 11:53 is بِبَيِّنَةٍ / bibayyinatin and not ayat like used in 11:59. If we look at the following verse, we see that it uses the same word as 11:53 in the plural form بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ / bil-bayināti as well as a reference to the people of ‘Ad. This shows without any doubt that Hud most certainly provided proof for his messengership, despite the disbelievers claim in 11:53.
[14:9] Have you not heard about those before you—the people of Noah, ‘Ãd, Thamûd, and others who came after them and known only to GOD? Their messengers went to them with clear proofs (bibayyinatin), but they treated them with contempt and said, “We disbelieve in what you are sent with. We are skeptical about your message; full of doubt.”
أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ نَبَأُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ قَوْمِ نُوحٍ وَعَادٍ وَثَمُودَ وَالَّذِينَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ لَا يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلَّا اللَّهُ جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُمْ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَرَدُّوا أَيْدِيَهُمْ فِي أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَقَالُوا إِنَّا كَفَرْنَا بِمَا أُرْسِلْتُمْ بِهِ وَإِنَّا لَفِي شَكٍّ مِمَّا تَدْعُونَنَا إِلَيْهِ مُرِيبٍ