The people of Noah – Previous nations 1

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

And verily we sent Noah (as Our messenger) unto his folk, and he continued with them for a thousand years save fifty years; and the flood engulfed them, for they were wrong-doers. (14) And We rescued him and those with him in the ship, and made of it a portent for the peoples. (15)

Al-ankaboot – verse 14,15

وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَى قَوْمِهِ فَلَبِثَ فِيهِمْ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ إِلَّا خَمْسِينَ عَامًا فَأَخَذَهُمُ الطُّوفَانُ وَهُمْ ظَالِمُونَ ﴿29:14﴾
(29:14) We did indeed send Noah to his people *21 and he lived among them a thousand years save fifty. *22 Eventually the Flood overtook them while they were engaged in wrongdoing. *23
*21 For comparison, see AI-i-`Imran: 33-34, An-Nisa’: 163, AI-An`am: 84, AI-A’raf: 59-64, Yuuns: 71-73, Hud: 25-48, AI-Anbiyaa: 76-77, AlMu’minun: 23-30, AI-Furqan: 37, Ash-Shu araa: 105-123, As-Saffat: 75-82, AIQamar: .9-15, AI-Haaqqah: 11-12, Nuh (the whole of it). One should keep the initial verses of the Surah in view in order to understand the relevancy of these stories in this context. There, on the one hand, it has been said to the believers, “We have put to the test all those believers who have passed before you”, and, on the other, the wicked disbelievers have been warned to the effect: “You should not have the misunderstanding that you will outstrip Us and escape Our grasp.” It is to impress these two things that these historical events are being related here .
*22 This does not mean that the Prophet Noah lived for 950 years, but it means that after his appointment to Prophethood till the coming of the Flood, he went on making efforts for 950 years for the reformation of his wicked people, and he did not lose heart even though he suffered persecutions for such a long time. The same is the aim of the discourse here. The believers are being told: “You have been suffering persecutions and experiencing stubbornness of your wicked opponents hardly for six years or so. Just imagine the patience and resolution and firmness of Our servant who braved such afflictions and hardships continuously for nine and a half centuries.” The Qur’an and the Bible differ about the age of the Prophet Noah. The Bible says that he lived for 950 years. He was 600 years old when the Flood came, and lived for another 350 years after the Flood. (Gen. 7: 6 and 9: 28-29). But according to the Qur’an, he must have lived for at least a thousand years, because 950 years is the time that he spent in preaching his mission after his appointment to Prophethood till the coming of the Flood. Evidently, he must have been appointed to Prophethood after he had attained his maturity, and must have lived some life after the Flood also. For some people such a long life is inconceivable. But in this world of God strange happenings are not rare. Wherever one may look one will see extraordinary manifestations of His power. The occurrence of certain events and things in a usual form and manner is no proof that the event or thing cannot happen in an unusual and extraordinary way. To break these assumptions there exists a long list of unusual events and things that have taken place in every kind of creation in every part of the universe. In particular, the person who has a clear concept of God’s being AII-Powerful, cannot be involved in the misunderstanding that it is not possible for God, Who is the Creator of life and death, to grant a life of a thousand years or so to any man. The fact is that man of his own will and wish cannot live even for a moment, but if Allah wills, He can make him live for as long as He pleases. *23 That is, the Flood came when they still persisted in their wickedness. Had they desisted from it before the coming of the Flood Allah would not have sent this torment on them.
فَأَنْجَيْنَاهُ وَأَصْحَابَ السَّفِينَةِ وَجَعَلْنَاهَا آَيَةً لِلْعَالَمِينَ ﴿29:15﴾
(29:15) Then We rescued Noah together with the people in the Ark *24 and made it (that is, the Ark) a lesson for all people. *25
*24 That is, the people who had believed in Noah, and who had been permitted by Allah to board the Ark. This has been elucidated in Surah Hud: 40, thus: “Until when Our Command game to pass and at-Tannur began to boil up, We said, `(O Noah), take into Ark a pair from every species, and embark your own people-save those who have already been specifically marked–and also those who have believed; and those who had believed with Noah were only a few.” *25 It can also mean this: “We made this dreadful punishment or this great event a Sign of warning for the later generations.” But from the way this has been mentioned here and in Surah Qamar, it appears that the object of warning was the Ark itself, which remained on the top of the mountain for centuries and continued to remind the later generations that a Flood of such magnitude had once come in that land because of which the Ark had risen up to rest on the mountain. In Surah Qamar: 13-15, it has been said: “And We bore Noah upon a thing (Ark) made of planks and nails, which floated under Our care. This was a vengeance for the sake of him who had been slighted. And We left that Ark as a Sign. Then, is there any who would take admonition ?” In his commentary on this verse of Surah Qamar, Ibn Jarir says on the authority of Qatadah that during the period of the Companions when the Muslims went to the land of al-Jazirah, they saw the Ark on mount Judi (according to another tradition, near the habitation of Baqirwa). In the modern times also news appear from time to time in the papers that expeditions are being sent to search out the boat, because something resembling a boat has been sighted many time from aeroplanes during flights over Mount Ararat. (For further details, see E.N. 47 of Al-A`raf and E.N. 46 of Hud).
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