Who Is Noah (Nuh)?
He was Noah Ibn Lamik, Ibn Mitoshilkh, Ibn Enoch, Ibn yard, Ibn Mahlabeel, Ibn Qinan, Ibn Anoush, Ibn Seth, Ibn Adam the Father of Mankind (peace be upon him).
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
What Did Noah’s People Worship?
For many generations Noah’s countrymen had been worshiping statues that they called gods. They believed that these gods held the blessings of the great men they were named after.
They thought they could bring them good, protect them from evil and provide all their needs. They gave their idols names such as Wadd, Suwa`, Yaghuth, Ya`uq, and Nasra, (These idols represented, respectively, manly power; mutability, beauty; brute strength, swiftness, sharp sight, insight) according to the power they thought these gods possessed.
Originally these were the names of good people who had lived among them. After their deaths, statues of them were erected to keep their memories alive.
After sometime, however, people began to worship these statues. Later generations did not even know why they had been erected; they only knew their parents had prayed to them.
That is how idol worshiping developed. Since they had no understanding of God the Almighty Who punishes his servants for their evil deeds, they became cruel and immoral.
Ibn Abbas explained:
“Following upon the death of those righteous men, Satan inspired their people to erect statues in the places where they used to sit. They did this, but these statues were not worshiped until the coming generations deviated from the right way of life. Then they worshipped them as their idols.”
In his version, Ibn Jarir narrated:
“There were righteous people who lived in the period between Adam and Noah and who had followers who held them as models. After their death, their friends who used to emulate them said: ‘If we make statues of them, it will be more pleasing to us in our worship and will remind us of them.’ So they built statues of them and after they had died and others came after them, Iblis crept into their minds saying: ‘Your forefathers used to worship them, and they thought that through that worship they got rain.’ So they worshipped them.”
Ibn Abi Hatim related this story:
“Wadd was a righteous man who was loved by his people. When he died, they withdrew to his grave in the land of Babylonia and were overwhelmed by sadness. When Iblis saw their sorrow caused by his death, he disguised himself in the form of a man saying: ‘I have seen your sorrow because of this man’s death; can I make a statue like him which could be put in your meeting place to make you remember him?’ They said: ‘Yes.’
So he made the statue like him. They put it in their meeting place in order to be reminded of him. When Iblis saw their interest in remembering him, he said: ‘Can I build a statue of him in the home of each one of you so that he would be in everyone’s house and you could remember him?’
They agreed. Their children learned about and saw what they were doing. They also learned about their remembrance of him instead of God. So the first to be worshipped instead of God was Wadd, the idol which they named thus.”
The essence of this point is that every idol from those earlier mentioned was worshipped by a certain group of people. It was mentioned that people made picture sand as the ages passed they made these pictures into statues, so that their forms could be fully recognized; afterwards they were worshipped instead of God.
Worshipping anything other than God is a tragedy that results not only in the loss of freedom; its serious effect reaches man’s mind and destroys it as well. Almighty God created man and his mind with its purpose set on achieving knowledge the most important of which is that God alone is the Creator and all the rest are worshippers.
Therefore, disbelief in God or polytheism results in the loss of freedom, the destruction of the mind, and the absence of a noble target in life. By worshipping anything other than God, man becomes enslaved to Satan, who is himself a creature and becomes harnessed to his own baser qualities.
Why Did God Send Noah?
Into this environment God sent Noah with His message to his people. Noah was the only intellectual not caught in the whirlpool of man’s destruction which was caused by polytheism.
God in His Mercy sent His messenger Noah to guide his people. Noah was an excellent speaker and a very patient man. He pointed out to his people the mysteries of life and the wonders of the universe.
He pointed out how the night is regularly followed by the day and that the balance between these opposites were designed by God Almighty for our good.
The night gives coolness and rest while the day gives warmth and awakens activity. The sun encourages growth, keeping all plants and animals alive, while the moon and stars assist in the reckoning of time, direction and seasons. He pointed out that the ownership of the heavens and the earth belongs only to the Divine Creator.
Therefore, he explained to this people, there cannot have been more than one deity. He clarified to them how the devil had deceived them for so long and that the time had come for this deceit to stop. Noah spoke to them of God’s glorification of man, how He had created him and provided him with sustenance and the blessing of a mind.
He told them that idol worshipping was a suffocating injustice to the mind. He warned them not to worship anyone but God and described the terrible punishment God would execute if they continued in their evil ways.
The people listened to him in silence. His words were a shock to their stagnating minds. Just as it is a shock to a person who is asleep under a wall which is about to fall and who is vigorously awakened. This person may be alarmed and may even become angry although the aim was to save him.
How Did Noah’s People React to His Mission?
Noah’s people were divided into two groups after his warning. His words touched the hearts of the weak, the poor, and the miserable and soothed their wounds with its mercy.
As for the rich, the strong, the mighty and the rulers they looked upon the warning with cold distrust. They believed they would be better off if things stayed as they were.
Therefore they started their war of words against Noah. First they accused Noah of being only human like themselves. ‘The chiefs of the disbelivers among his people said:
We see you but a man like ourselves. (Hud 11:27)
He, however, had never said anything other than that. He asserted that, indeed, he was only a human being; God had sent a human messenger because the earth is inhabited by humans. If it had been inhabited by angels, God would have sent an angelic messenger.
The contest between the polytheists and Noah continued. The rulers had thought at first that Noah’s call would soon fade on its own. When they found that his call attracted the poor, the helpless and common laborers, they started to verbally attack and taunt him: ‘You are only followed by the poor, the meek and the worthless.’
The Quran tells us:
Thus the conflict between Noah and the heads of his people intensified. The disbelievers tried to bargain: “Listen Noah, if you want us to believe in you, then dismiss your believers. They are meek and poor, while are elite and rich; no faith can include us both.”
Noah listened to the heathens of his community and realized they were being obstinate. However, he was gentle in his response. He explained to his people that he could not dismiss the believers as they were not his guests but God’s.
Noah appealed to them:
Noah refuted the arguments of the disbelievers with the noble knowledge of the Prophets. It is the logic of intellect that rids itself of personal pride and interests.
The rulers were tired of Noah’s arguments. God the Exalted related their attitude: They said:
O Noah! You have disputed with us and much have you prolonged the dispute with us, now bring upon us what you threaten us with, if you are of the truthful.” He said: “Only God will bring it (the punishment)on you, if He will, and then you will escape not. And my advice will not profit you, even if I wish to give you counsel, if God ‘s Will is to keep you astray. He is your Lord! And to Him you shall return. (Hud 11:32-34)
The battle continued; the arguments between the disbelievers and Noah became prolonged. When all the refutations of the disbelievers collapsed and they had no more to say, they began to be rude and insulted God ‘s prophet:
The leaders of his people said:
Verily, we see you in plain error. (Al-A`raf 7:60)
Noah responded in the manner of the Prophets:
Noah continued appealing to his people to believe in God hour after hour, day after day year after year. He admonished his people and called them to God day and night, in secret and openly. He gave them examples, explained God’s signs and illustrated God’s ability in the formation of His creatures.
But whenever he called them to God, they ran away from him. Whenever he urged them to ask God to forgive them, they put their fingers in their ears and became too proud to listen to the truth.
God Almighty related what Noah faced:
Verily, We sent Noah to his people saying: ‘Warn your people before there comes to them a painful torment.” He said: “O my people! Verily, I am a clear Warner to you. Worship God alone, be conscious of Him and obey me, He (God) will forgive you of your sins and respite you to an appointed term. Verily, the term of God when it comes, cannot be delayed, if you only knew.
He said: “O my Lord! Verily, I have called my people night and day to the way of God, but all my calling added nothing but their flight from the truth. Indeed, every time I invited them that You might forgive them, they thrust their fingers into their ears, covered themselves with their clothes (refusing to listen), and persisted (in their refusal), and they were defiantly arrogant. Then, I called to them openly (aloud) in public, and I have appealed to them in private, I said to them: ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord, Surely, He is Oft Forgiving; He will send rain to you in abundance, and give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers.
What is the matter with you, that you don’t fear God (His Punishment) and attribute to His Oneness granduer, while He has created you. Don’t you see how God has created the seven heavens one above another, and has made the moon a reflecting light therein and made the sun a lamp? And God has brought you forth from the dust of earth. Afterwards He will return you to it (the earth), and bring you forth (again on the Day of Resurrection) God has made for you the earth a wide expanse that you may go about therein through broad roads.
Noah said: “My Lord! Indeed, they have disobeyed me, and followed one whose wealth and children give him no increase but only loss. They have plotted a mighty plot. They said: ‘You shall not leave your gods, nor shall you leave wadd, nor Suwa, nor Yaghuth, nor ya’uq nor Nasr (names of the idols). Indeed they have led many astray. O God! Grant no increase to the unjust except in error.”
Because of their sins they were drowned, then were made to enter the Fire and they found none to help them.” (Nuh 71:1-25)
How Long Did Noah Call His People to Worship God?
Noah continued to call his people to believe in God for nine hundred fifty years. God Almighty said what means:
It happened that every passing generation admonished the succeeding one not to believe Noah and to wage war against him.
Parents used to teach their children about the dispute that was between themselves and Noah and counsel them to reject his call when he reached adulthood.
Noah saw that the number of believers was not increasing, while that of the disbelievers was. He was sad for his people, but he never reached the point of despair.
There came a day when God revealed to Noah that no others would believe. Allah inspired him not to grieve for them at which point Noah prayed that the disbelievers be destroyed. He said:
Noah had a right to call upon God in this manner. He has seen many generations and they are all disbelievers. Knowing this to be true, God accepted Noah’s prayer. The case was closed, and He passed His judgment on the disbelievers in the form of a flood. God the Exalted ordered His Messenger Noah to build an ark with His knowledge and instructions and with the help of angels. Almighty God commanded:
Noah chose a place outside the city, far from the sea. He collected wood and tools and began to work day and night to build the ark. The people’s mockery continued:
O Noah! Does carpentry appeal to you more than Prophethood? Why are you building an ark so far from the sea? Are you going to drag it to the water or is the wind going to carry it for you?” Noah replied: “You will come to know who will be put to shame and suffer.”
God says what means:
The ship was constructed, and Noah sat waiting on God’s command. God revealed to him that when water miraculously gushed forth from the oven in Noah’s house, that would be the sign of the start of the flood, and the sign for Noah to act.
The terrible day arrived when the oven at Noah’s house overflowed. Noah hurried to open the ark and summon the believers. He also took with him a pair, male and female, of every type of animal, bird and insect.
Seeing him taking these creatures to the ark, the people laughed loudly: “Noah must have gone out of his head! What is he going to do with the animals?”
Almighty God said what means:
Noah’s wife was not a believer with him so she did not join him; neither did one of Noah’s sons, who was secretly a disbeliever but had pretended faith in front of Noah. Likewise most of the people were disbelievers and did not go on board.
How Many People Were in the Ark?
The scholars hold different opinions on the number of those who were with Noah on the ship.
Ibn Abbas stated that there were 80 believers while Kaab Al-Ahbar held that there were 72 believers. Others claimed that there were 10 believers with Noah. The issue does not have an authentic reference.
What Happened in the Ark?
Water rose from the cracks in the earth; there was not a crack from which water did not rise. Rain poured from the sky in quantities never seen before on earth.
Water continued pouring from the sky rising from the cracks; hour after hour the level rose. The seas and waves invaded the land. The interior of the earth moved in a strange way, and the ocean floors lifted suddenly, flooding the dry land. The earth, for the first time was submerged.
God teaches us about this event:
He (Noah) said: “Ride (all of you) therein, It will float in the Name of God. Surely, my Lord is Oft Forgiving, most Merciful.” so it (the ship) sailed with them amidst the waves like mountains, and Noah called out to his son, who had separated himself (apart), “O my son! Join us and be not with the disbelievers.” The son replied, “I will take refuge on top of a mountain, it will save me from the water.” Noah said: “This day there is no savior from the Decree of God except him on whom He has mercy.” And a wave came in between them so he (the son) was among the drowned.
It was said: “O Earth! Swallow up your water, and O sky! Withhold (your rain).” The water was diminished (made to subside) and the Decree (of God) was fulfilled (the destruction of the people of Noah). And it (the ship) rested on Mount Judi, and it was said: “Away with these Pagans arrogant oppressors!”
Noah called upon his Lord and said, “O my Lord! Truly, my son is of my family! Certainly, Your Promise is true, and You are the Most Just of the judges.” God said: “O Noah! Surely, he is not of your family; verily, his work is unrighteous, so ask not of Me that of which you have no knowledge! I admonish you, lest you be one of the ignorant.”
Noah said: “O my Lord! I seek refuge with You from asking You that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have Mercy on me, I would indeed be one of the losers.”
It was said:
“O Noah! Come down (from the ship) with our peace and blessings upon you and on the people who are with you (and on some of their offspring), but (there will be other) people to whom We shall grant their pleasures (for a time), but in the end a painful torment will reach them from Us.” (Hud11:41-48)
With the issue of the divine command, calm returned to earth, the water retreated, and the dry land shone once again in the rays of the sun. The flood had cleansed the earth of the disbelievers and polytheists.
Noah released the birds, and the beats which scattered over the earth. After that the believers disembarked. Noah put his forehead to the ground in prostration.
The survivors kindled a fire and sat around it. Lighting a fire had been prohibited on board so as not to ignite the ship’s wood and burn it up. None of them had eaten hot food during the entire period of the floor. Following the disembarkation there was a day of fasting in thanks to God.
The Quran draws the curtain on Noah’s story. We do not know how his affairs with his people continued..
Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn Al-As narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: