The Ark

Bismillah. This is a continuation of our Prophets of Islam series. We already began the story of Nuh, and inshaAllah we will complete it today.

Build the Ship, O Nuh

The more Nuh called his people to Allah, the more they increased in disbelief, until they said, “If you do not desist, O Noah, you will surely be of those who are stoned.” (26:116) At this point, Noah prayed against them, and Allah responded to his prayer. Nuh said,

“My Lord! Verily, my people have denied me. Therefore, judge You between me and them.”

Allah instructed Nuh to built the ship/ark. “And construct the ship under Our Eyes and with Our Inspiration, and address Me not on behalf of those who did wrong; they are surely to be drowned.” (11:37)

As Nuh was constructing the ship, whenever the chiefs of his people would pass by, they would make fun of him and mock him. Imagine how hard that must have been – to be doing something like building a ship on top of a hill and there was no ocean or river. Imagine the leaders of the people coming and mocking you. What a difficult situation that must have been! It oddly made me think of bullies in school; how they are so ignorant themselves, but they come and mock the children for good in others – like being smart or having good character is something to mock one for!

So Nuh begins to build this shop by the command of Allah. Nuh told them, “If you mock at us, so do we mock at you likewise for your mocking. And you will know who it is on whom will come a torment that will cover him with disgrace and on whom will fall a lasting torment.” (11:38-39)

We Will Witness

Disbelief and stubborness became their characteristics in this world, and so it will be in the Hereafter. The Prophet (S) said:

Noah and his people would come (on the Day of Judgment), Allah will say: “Did you convey My Message?” Noah will answer: “Yes, my Lord.” Then Allah will ask his people: “Did he convey to you My Message?” They will answer: “No! No Prophet came to us.” Then He will say to Noah: “Who could bear witness for you?” He will reply: “Muhammad and his Ummah.” So we will bear wtiness that Noah conveyed the Message.” (Bukhaari)

The Ark and Its Cargo

How big was the ship? Well, there are many different opinions on the actual size, but it is reported unanimously that its height was 30 cubits, and it was a three-story deck ship, every deck with a height of 10 cubits. The bottom deck was kept for animals and cattle, the middle deck was for human beings, and the upper deck was for birds.

Allah says: “And We saved him and those with him in the laden ship. Then We drowned the rest thereafter.” (26:119-120)  The “laden ship” is one that is filed with cargo and the couples, one pair from every species, that were carried in it.

So  We  inspired  to  him,  “Construct  the  ship  under  Our  observation,  and  Our inspiration,  and  when  Our  command  comes  and  the  oven  overflows,  put  into  the  ship from  each  [creature]  two  mates  and  your  family,  except  those  for  whom  the  decree  [of destruction]  has  proceeded.  And  do  not  address  Me  concerning  those  who  have wronged;  indeed,  they  are  to  be  drowned. (23:27) Allah instructed Noah that when His Decree has come and the punishment befallen, he should load in that Ark a pair from every kind of animal, male and female, and all those which have a soul, so that the species could survive. He should take with him his family except those who have rejected his call, because Allah has decreed against them. He also commanded him not to speak to Him about them when the Punishment has arrived.

Who was on the ship from amongst his family? Well, we all know of the disbelieving son, which we will mention in detail later. He also had three other sons which were mentioned who were all in the ship as well. Nuh’s wife was of those who disbelieved. Allah says: Allah presents  an  example  of  those  who  disbelieved:  the  wife  of  Noah  and  the  wife  of  Lot. They  were  under  two  of  Our  righteous  servants  but  betrayed  them,  so  those  prophets did  not  avail  them  from Allah at  all,  and  it  was  said,  “Enter  the  Fire  with  those  who enter.” (66:10)

The number of followers of Nuh reported goes from 7 to 80. 80 is the maximum narrated. After 950 years of work, the fruit is 80 (or, the maximum would be). Let’s think about it – the fruits of Noah’s work. Whenever we work for something, we are encouraged by the fruits of that work. For example, a student would be encouraged to work hard when they get good grades for studying hard. A businessman would be encouraged when he sees his business running well. A mother would be encouraged seeing her children behave well. But what would happen if you put serious effort into something and see no change? It becomes increasingly difficult to move on. And Noah worked. For 950 years, Nuh does not see anything happening before his eyes. But Nuh has trust that Allah rewards. Allah is the one who gives ajr. That is the imaan and tawakkul in Allah. This part really struck a cord with me, because I get frustrated easily and lose hope easily. We should always remember that our situation does not reflect how much Allah loves us or how good a Muslim we are. Our attitude reflects that. And the good end will always be for the steadfast believers.

Allah says: “And when you have embarked upon the Ark and those with you, say: ‘Praise be to Allah Who has saved us from the evildoers.’ And say: ‘My Lord! Let my landing be blessed, for You are the Best Who give harbour.” (23:28, 29) Allah commanded us to say prayers or supplications before we start something so we could gain His blessing and goodness, and reach a favorable outcome.

Allah also says: “Embark  therein;  in  the  name  of Allah is  its  course  and  its anchorage.  Indeed,  my  Lord  is  Forgiving  and  Merciful.” (11:41) The Ark would start in the Name of Allah and it would finish the journey in the Name of Allah, the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

In reference to Allah’s statement: “Surely, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” – this statement is suitable here while mentioning Allah’s vengeance upon the disbelievers by drowning them all. Allah also says: “But verily, your Lord is full of forgiveness for mankind in spite of their wrongdoing. And verily, your Lord is (also) severe in punishment.” (13:6)

Waves Like Mountains

Allah says: “So it (the ship) sailed with them amidst waves like mountains.” (11:42) This means that the ship sailed with them upon the surface of the water, which had completely covered the earth until it encompassed the tops of the mountains and even rose over the mby a height of 15 cubits. The water covered the earth from easet to west, its plains and mountains, its deserts and wilds. Everything died as a result of this Flood.

It was also said that the waves rose over the mountains by a height of 80 miles. Imagine waves that high! It was not the ship that Nuh built that gave them safety. It was not the ark that saved them. This is only the part that told Allah to do; otherwise that ark would be a matchbox in the waves. Allah wanted Nuh to do his part. The ship moved under Allah’s Shade, His Help, His Protection and His Blessing.

It is the will of Allah that will take care of you and save you. You have to do your part; take the first step. Allah says, “Take one step towards Me, I will take ten steps towards you. Walk towards me, I will run towards you.”

You have to take the first step. You have to seek guidance and Allah will guide you. The victory of Allah comes after you do your part.

Allah says: “So he called to his Lord saying: ‘I am defeated, so administer Your victory.’ So We opened the gates of  heaven with pouring water met according to the decree which had been ordained. And We carried him in a ship made of planks and nails, floating under Our Eyes; a reward for him who had been rejected! And indeed, We have left this as a sign. Then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)?” (54:10-15)

O My Son, Embark With Us

Allah continues the story, saying: “and Nuh called out to his son.” (This is just the continuation in Surah Hud). This was the fourth son of Noah, and his name was Yaam. He was a disbeliever. His father, Noah called him at the time of boarding the ship, that he might believ and embark with them. If he did so, he would be saved from the drowning like the other disbelievers.

The son replied: “I will betake myself to some mountain, it will save me from the water.” He believed, in his ignorance, that the flood would not reach the tops of mountains, and if he clung to a mountain top, he would be saved. His father Noah told him: “This day there is no savior from the decree of Allah except him on whom He has mercy.” And then Allah says: “And waves came between them, so he (the son) was among the drowned.”

What a difficult situation for Noah – to watch and know that his son will be destroyed with the disbelievers. Indeed, the Prophets were tested with the most difficult of tests.

O Earth, Swallow Your Water!

And it was said: “O earth! Swallow up your water, and O sky! Withhold (your rain).” And the water was diminished (made to subside) and the Decree (of Allah) was fulfilled (i.e. the destruction of the people of Nuh (Noah). And it (the ship) rested on Mount Judi, and it was said: “Away with the people who are Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doing)!” (11:44)

All of those who disbelieved were removed from the earth; not a single one of them remained.

Mujaahid said: “Judi is a mountain in Al-Jazirah (Northwest Mesopotamia) where the mountains sought to tower above each other on the day of the drowning. On that day of destruction, all the mountains sought to be higher (to avoid being overcome by water). However, this mountain (Judi) humbled itself to Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, and therefore it was not drowned. This is why Nuh’s shop anchored upon it.” (At-Tabari) Qatadah said: “The ship rested upon it (Mount Judi) for a month before they (The people) came down from it.” Qatadah also said: “Allah made Nuh’s ship remain on Mount Judi in the land of Al-Jazirah as a lesson and sign.” Even the early generations of this Ummah saw it. How many ships are there that have come after it and have been destroyed and become dust?

All Noah’s Children

Sa’eed ibn Abi ‘Arubah said, narrating from Qatadah concerning the ayah And, his progeny, them We made the survivors: “All people descended forom the offspring of Noah, peace be upon him.”

Sa’eed bin Musaybah said: Noah had three sons: Shem (Sam), Japheth (Yaafith) and Ham (Ham). Each of them had three children. From Sam came Arabs, Persians and Romans. From Yaafith posterity came Turk, Saqaalibah and Gog and  Magog. And Ham started the lineage of Copts, Sudanese and Berbers.

All of the disbelieving people in the world were killed then, and the survivors were all believers.

One Last Thing

When everything settled down, there was something Nuh wanted to ask Allah. “And Nuh (Noah) called upon his Lord and said, ‘O my Lord! Verily, my son is of my family! And certainly, Your Promise is true, and You are the Most Just of the judges.’” (11:45) Allah had promised Nuh that he would be saved with his family, so Nuh is saying, ‘O Allah, didn’t you tell me that all of my family would be saved? – and my son is from my family.’ Look at what Nuh adds – ‘Your promise is true.’ He doesn’t doubt; he just wants to understand.

Allah taught Nuh a lesson. We use words to mean some things, but Islam comes and gives them a new definition. Salah, for example, had the meaning of supplication before Islam. Family has a definition amongst us – blood relations. Nuh is considering his son to be part of his family because he is his blood son. Allah subhaana wa ta’aala is teaching Nuh the true meaning of family. Allah said, “O Nuh (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.” (11:46) Because his work was not righteous, he was not of Nuh’s family any more.

Nuh (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.’ (11:47)

Allah subhaana wa ta’aala is telling Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam after this story – and this is the conclusion of the story of Nuh – that this is the true news of Nuh that is revealed to you; neither you nor your people knew before. What was the lesson? Allah is saying, Be patient. The entire story leads to this. 950 year of patience, he never gave up.

Be patient, for the winners in the end will be those who have taqwa. Nuh did win, but he won after 950 years. And he couldn’t have won if he didn’t have patience. The road is long, and it needs a lot of energy, and that energy is sabr (patience). We ask Allah to give us the patience that we need.

We Reveal

“This is of the news of the Unseen which We reveal unto you; neither you nor your people knew it before this. So be patient. Surely, the (good) end is for those who have Taqwa.” (11:49)

Allah is saying that He revealed it to the Prophet (peace be upon him) as if he witnessed it himself. Neither Muhammad (S) nor any of his people had any knowledge of it. This is so that those who rejected the Prophet (peace be upon him) couldn’t say that the Prophet learned these stories from them. Rather, it was Allah that informed the Prophet of it in conformity with the true situation. Therefore, you should be patient with the rejection of your people and their harming you. For verily, We shall help you and surround you with Our aid. Then, We will make the good end for you and those who follow you in this life and the Hereafter.

Noah’s Will

Imam Ahmad has narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) saying: While we were sitting with the Prophet (peace be upon him) a Bedouin came to him waering a long garment (Jubbah) made in Saihaan, Syria, woven with silk. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “This friend of yours has put on a pure Persian style, and erased every sign of being a shepherd.” Then he seized him with his Jubbah and said: “Do I not see upon you the cloth of those who do not employ their intelligence?” Then he said to him: “When death approached the Prophet Noah ‘alayhis salaam, he gave his last advice to his children, and said:

‘I am going to tell you my will: I am enjoining upon you two things and forbidding you from two things. I enjoin upon you to keep the belief that there is no God (worthy of worship) but Allah. If the seven heavens and seven earths were to be put on one side of the scale, and the word La ilaaha illallah on the other, the latter will outweigh and excel the former. And I forbid you from shirk (associating equals and partners to Allah) and arrogance and haughtiness.”

Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) says that it was said to the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Messenger of Allah! We know what shirk means: but what is haughtiness? Does that mean when one of us has a pair of beautiful shoes with beautiful laces?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) answered: “No.” Then somebody said: “Is it to have a good dress and wear it?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied again: “No.” Another person asked him whether or not is to have an animal to ride on it? The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “No.” He was again asked whether it has anything to do with friendship and sitting with them? The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “No.”

They then asked him: “Then, what is haugtiness (kibr)?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Haughtiness is to reject the Truth and despise people.”

And this is the end of the story of Noah. InshaAllah we will talk about Hud ‘alayhis salaam next.

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