Hadrat Noah (Alaihis Salam)
Hadrat Noah (Alaihis Salam) was one of the grand messengers of God. He is also known as the second Adam. According to estimates of some scholars he was born one hundred twenty-six years after Hadrat Adam(Alaihis Salam). According to some ahadeeth there occurred a gap of ten centuries or ten generations between them. In some ahadeeth the expression ” ten qarn” has occurred. If Qarn means a generation or an era then because a generation of early times lived for many centuries it may mean a gap of thousands of years. Only Allah (Ta’ala) knows the exact fact.
Incidence of Idolatry among Noah’s Folk: Quran has mentioned the names of some of the idols adopted by Hadrat Noah’s people:
وَقَالُوا لا تَذَرُنَّ آلِهَتَكُمْ وَلا تَذَرُنَّ وَدّاً وَلا سُوَاعاً وَلا يَغُوثَ وَيَعُوقَ وَنَسْراً (نوح: 23)
Translation of Meaning: “They [elders of Noah’s folk] said: Don’t give up your gods and give up neither Wadd nor Sua’ nor Yaghuth nor Ya’uq nor Nasr” (Noah: 23).
Idolatry thus originated with Noah’s folk. Wadd, Sua’, Yaghuth, Ya’uq and Nasr were in fact the names of the pious and righteous elders of this community. They were men of God. It so happened that when any one of them died the whole community felt grief-stricken and bereaved. Taking advantage of their grief and bereavement, Satan approached them to suggest that the images of the departed souls should be kept to perpetuate their memory. The people liked this idea and kept their images. After passage of a long time the succeeding generations, unaware of the original facts, began to show devotion to these images. Then Satan enticed them to carve out their idols. Later on they began to attribute divine qualities to these idols and considered them to be their patron-gods giving them livelihood, rains and crops. Later on with a view to please them or to avoid their displeasure they began to perform a number of polytheistic rites.
Hadrat Noah’s Mission: Hadrat Noah started preaching monotheism among his idolatrous people. In the words of Quran:
لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحاً إِلَى قَوْمِهِ فَقَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مَا لَكُمْ مِنْ إِلَهٍ غَيْرُهُ إِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ (الأعراف: 59)
Translation of Meaning: “We sent Noah unto his people, and he said: O my people! Worship Allah. There is no god for you save him. Lo! I fear for you the retribution of an Awful Day” (Al-A’raf: 59).
The poor and weak accepted the call of Noah while the rich and mighty made fun of him and repudiated his mission. Quran has depicted their response in these words: “The chieftains of his folk, who were disbelievers, said:
مَا نَرَاكَ إِلاَّ بَشَراً مِثْلَنَا وَمَا نَرَاكَ اتَّبَعَكَ إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ هُمْ أَرَاذِلُنَا بَادِي الرَّأْيِ وَمَا نَرَى لَكُمْ عَلَيْنَا مِنْ فَضْلٍ بَلْ نَظُنُّكُمْ كَاذِبِينَ (هود: 27)
Translation of Meaning: “We see you but as an ordinary man like us and we don’t see anybody following you save the unthinking low people amongst us. We don’t behold in you any merit over us, rather we presume you to be liars” (Hud: 27).
Hadrat Noah did not lose hope despite the adverse response of his people. He kept on inviting them towards Allah day and night. He tried all reasonable methods to convince them of his mission. He met them in person as well as collectively. He called them to Allah with utmost affection and love. He warned them of the impending retribution on the Day of Judgment. But they did not budge from their stand. The more he preached to them the more they sank in their recalcitrance and disbelief. One day the chiefs, said to Noah that they cannot sit along with the poor and lowly persons in his gatherings. If he debars them they could attend his meetings. Hadrat Noah flatly rejected their arrogant demand. He told them that he cannot exclude these believers in Allah for the sake of ignorant people like them. The chiefs became furious hearing this from Noah. According to Quran
قَالَ الْمَلأ مِنْ قَوْمِهِ إِنَّا لَنَرَاكَ فِي ضَلالٍ مُبِينٍ (الأعراف: 60)
Translation of Meaning: “The chiefs of his folk said: Lo! We see you surely in manifest deviation” (Al-A’raf: 60).
In reply Noah said:
قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ لَيْسَ بِي ضَلالَةٌ وَلَكِنِّي رَسُولٌ مِنْ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (61) أُبَلِّغُكُمْ رِسَالاتِ رَبِّي وَأَنصَحُ لَكُمْ وَأَعْلَمُ مِنْ اللَّهِ مَا لا تَعْلَمُونَ (الأعراف:61-62)
Translation of Meaning: “O my people! There is no deviation in me but I am only a messenger from the creator of the whole universe. I convey to you the messages from my Lord and give good counsel unto you, and I know from Allah that which you know not” (Al-A’raf: 61-62).
It was under these trying conditions that Hadrat Noah continued to preach to them not for days, months and years but for an enormous period of 950 years. On the other hand, the people became so disgusted with him that whenever he spoke to them they inserted their fingers in their ears. When he tried to visit somebody, the, covered up their face to hide their identity from him. Even a dying person used to exhort his survivors not to listen to Noah and never to embrace his belief. Ultimately, his people challenged Noah to bring about the retribution of which he had been warning them. According to Quran:
قَالُوا يَا نُوحُ قَدْ جَادَلْتَنَا فَأَكْثَرْتَ جِدَالَنَا فَأْتِنَا بِمَا تَعِدُنَا إِنْ كُنتَ مِنْ الصَّادِقِينَ (هود: 32)
Translation of Meaning: “They said: O Noah! You have disputed with us and disputed with us excessively. Now you must bring upon us that of which you have been threatening us if you are truthful” (Hud: 32).
Hadrat Noah replied that Allah will bring it upon you if he will, and when it comes you cannot deter it. My counsel will not benefit you if Allah wills to keep you astray. He is your creator and unto him you shall return. They accused Noah of fabricating all this. Noah replied that if he fabricated this, upon him be his crime, but he is innocent of what they are doing. Despairing of his people, in the end, Noah prayed to God to settle the matter between him and them, as they have been repudiating him consistently. Upon this God Almighty inspired Noah with these words:
لَنْ يُؤْمِنَ مِنْ قَوْمِكَ إِلاَّ مَنْ قَدْ آمَنَ فَلا تَبْتَئِسْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ (هود: 36)
Translation of Meaning: “None of your folk will believe save those who have believed already. Be not distressed over what they have been doing” (Hud: 36).
In the above verse God Almighty consoled Noah against dejection over his failure to convert his people. It was an indication that barring those who have believed others will be dealt with very soon. After his relentless effort over 950 years Hadrat Noah became convinced that he had exhausted the argument and that it was futile for him to preach to them any more, he prayed to Allah.
رَبِّ لا تَذَرْ عَلَى الأَرْضِ مِنْ الْكَافِرِينَ دَيَّاراً (26) إِنَّكَ إِنْ تَذَرْهُمْ يُضِلُّوا عِبَادَكَ وَلا يَلِدُوا إِلاَّ فَاجِراً كَفَّاراً (27) (نوح: 26-27)
Translation of Meaning: “O Allah, Do not leave any one of the disbelievers alive on earth because if the they are left they will mislead the slaves of God and they will beget none save the wrong-doing disbelievers”. (Noah: 26-27).
Allah accepted the supplication of Noah and ordered him:
وَاصنَعْ الْفُلْكَ بِأَعْيُنِنَا وَوَحْيِنَا وَلا تُخَاطِبْنِي فِي الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا إِنَّهُمْ مُغْرَقُونَ (هود: 37)
Translation of Meaning: “Build an ark under our eyes and by our inspiration, and speak not unto me on behalf of those who do wrong. They are going to be drowned” (Hud: 37).
Noah started building the ark. Every time the chiefs passed by him they mocked at him for building an ark in a place where there was no river, no lake and no ocean. Did he mean to sail it on dry sand? Noah said, “though you mock at me I also mock at you. You shall soon know upon whom the punishment will come and upon whom the lasting doom will fall.” When he finished the ark and the deluge started [with water gushing from earth like springs and the sky raining heavily] God Almighty ordered him to load on the ark his household, the believers and one pair [male and female] of each species.
Allah (Ta’ala) depicts the scene in this words:
فَفَتَحْنَا أَبْوَابَ السَّمَاءِ بِمَاءٍ مُنْهَمِرٍ (11) وَفَجَّرْنَا الأَرْضَ عُيُوناً فَالْتَقَى الْمَاءُ عَلَى أَمْرٍ قَدْ قُدِرَ (12) (القمر: 11-12)
Translation of Meaning: “So We opened the gates of heaven with water pouring forth. (11) And We caused the spring to gush forth from the earth. So the waters (of the heaven and the earth) met for a matter predestined” (Al-Qamar : 11-12)
With everyone aboard the ark began to sail amid waves rising like mountains. Then he saw his son standing aloof. He asked him to ride the ship. The son refused saying that he will climb the summit of the mountain and will be saved. Noah said to his son nobody can escape from deluge today save those on whom Allah has had his mercy. Suddenly a wave, came between them and he was drowned. When all were drowned the deluge abated by the command of Allah. According to Quran:
وَقِيلَ يَا أَرْضُ ابْلَعِي مَاءَكِ وَيَا سَمَاءُ أَقْلِعِي وَغِيضَ الْمَاءُ وَقُضِيَ الأَمْرُ وَاسْتَوَتْ عَلَى الْجُودِيِّ وَقِيلَ بُعْداً لِلْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ (هود: 44)
Translation of Meaning: “And it was ordained: O earth! Swallow your water and, O sky! Be cleared of clouds! And the water was made to subside. And the commandment was fulfilled. And it came to rest on Mount Judi and it was proclaimed: Hark! Away with the wrong-doing people” (Hud: 44).
When the ark settled on Mount Judi all disembarked and a new life began upon earth.
Lessons to be Learnt:
- Although mankind started its journey on earth with divine revelation and guidance provided by the messengers of God yet shirk is such a pervading affliction that in spite of availability of all sources of guidance men are led to get infected with this fatal disease. The entire problem revolves around consciousness and negligence. It requires a lot of self-control to keep vigil and be conscious. It is like climbing uphill. If you are not alert and cautious you may soon slacken and become negligent. As soon as you become negligent you come down the hill. Blind conventionalism takes the place of free thinking and ijtihad [due deliberation], profligacy replaces determination and myths and superstitions cancel out faith and reason. This way the essence of life withers away and superficial phenomena become the hallmark of life.
- This negligence and slackness brings societies to a point when they easily become a prey for Satanic machinations. Satan does not commit the mistake of launching a frontal attack on your faith and belief. He rather looks for your weaknesses and loopholes to infiltrate slowly and gradually to deflect you from the Straight Path and put you in a mire of corruption and degradation.
- When societies reach a state of degradation and incorrigibility Allah (Ta’ala) ordains to finish them off after completing his argument.
- The causes of the rise and decline of nations lie in their belief and conduct rather than in their material resources and progress.
- Whenever the world is filled with vice Allah (Ta’ala) deputes his apostles and messengers for the guidance of the mankind.
- The criterion of the success of the messengers of Allah is not the number of people who follow their lead and guidance but rather their steadfastness and perseverance in the way of fulfilment of the mission entrusted to them.
- As a result of preaching by the messengers of God human society has been split into two clear-cut categories–those who are believers and those who are non-believers. There exists no third category in between. There is no criterion for adoption or rejection of any thing save that of belief and disbelief. No kinship with a prophet matters unless the kin are believers. Even if one is a father of a prophet or a son of a prophet it is of no avail to him unless he is a believer.
- The history of the missionary struggles by the prophets reveals that in the beginning it is the weak, poor and deprived of the society who accepts their call. The rich, the privileged and mighty usually oppose them.
- Many details of Hadrat Noah’s story are found in the commentaries [tafaseer] of Quran. Most are unreliable because they are drawn from the narratives of the People of the Book [Ahl–i–Kitaab]. There have been many variations and differences. Let us, therefore, confine ourselves to what has been narrated succinctly in holy Quran and should not become too curious about the details. For us the important thing is not the train of events as such but the moral to be drawn from such stories [Qisas] narrated in the Holy Quran.