71. Nuh (Noah)
From the early years of the Revelation of the Qur’an in Makkah, this sūrah of 28 verses takes its name from the word Nuh or Nooh (Noah). It records how the Prophet Noah, upon him be peace, conveyed God’s Message to his people, and how harshly they reacted against it. The sūrah ends with Noah’s appeal to God after ages of harshness, derision and persecution endured at the hands of his people.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
1. We sent Noah as Messenger to his people (and commanded him): “Warn your people before a painful punishment comes to them.”
2. He said: “O my people! I am indeed a plain warner to you (and I urge you:
3. “Worship God alone, and keep from disobedience to Him in reverence for Him and piety; and obey me,
4. “So that He may forgive you your sins (which you have committed so far) and grant you respite until a term appointed by Him (instead of destroying you because of your sins). The term appointed by God, when it comes, is never deferred. If you but knew!”1
5. (After long ages spent in conveying God’s Message, he turned to his Lord in prayer and)2 he said: “My Lord, I have surely called my people night and day;
6. “But my call has only caused them to flee more and more (from accepting the truth).
7. “And every time I have called them so that You may forgive them, they have thrust their fingers in their ears, and wrapped themselves up in their garments, and grown obstinate and more and more arrogant (in refusing my call).
8. “Then I have called them in a loud (emphatic) manner;
9. “Then again, I have called them in public; and I have spoken to them confidentially in private.
10. “I have said: ‘Ask your Lord for forgiveness, for surely He has always been All-Forgiving.
11. ‘He will release (the rain-bearing clouds in) the sky over you, with abundance of rain;
12. ‘And will strengthen you by increasing you in wealth and children, and make for you gardens, and make for you running waters.3
13. ‘What is the matter with you that you do not want to see majesty in God (to worship Him),
14. ‘Seeing that He has created You in different, successive stages?4
15. ‘Do you not see how God has created the seven heavens in harmony?
16. ‘And He has set up within them the moon as a light (reflected), and has set up the sun as a lamp.5
17. ‘And God has caused you to grow from earth like a plant (in a mode of growth particular to you).6
18. ‘Thereafter, He will return you into it, and He will bring you forth from it in resurrection.
19. ‘God has made for you the earth a wide expanse,
20. ‘So that you may move on it, along the ways through mountains and valleys.’”
21. Noah (turned to his Lord, and) said: “My Lord! They have disobeyed me and followed those whose wealth and children7 have increased them only in loss and self-ruin.
22. “And they have made tremendous schemes (to prevent my call and people’s acceptance of it).
23. “And they have said: ‘Do not ever abandon your deities; do not abandon (in particular) Wadd, nor Suwā’, nor Yaghūth, and Ya‘ūq, and Nasr!’
24. “And they have indeed led many astray. And (O God,) increase not these wrongdoers in anything but further straying (by way of just punishment for all that they have done).”
25. And because of their (unforgivable) sins, they were drowned (in the Flood), and were made to enter a (punishing) Fire; and so, they found none who could help them against God.
26. Noah also said: “My Lord! Do not leave on the earth any from among the unbelievers dwelling therein!
27. “If You do leave them, they will lead Your servants astray, and they will beget none but shameless and dissolute thankless unbelievers.8
28. “My Lord! Forgive me and my parents, and everyone who joins my household as a believer, and all the believing men and believing women, and do not increase the wrongdoers in anything but ruin.”9
1. For God’s sparing and reprieving people over a term be appointed by God, see sūrah 10: 98, note 20. The term mentioned here is the final term, which normally is never altered— neither delayed nor brought forward. However, if a person (or people) insists on doing things that incur God’s punishment, then God may punish and destroy that person or group, as He has destroyed many peoples throughout history. This is also included in God’s Destiny, which relates to both cause and effect. If they had paid heed to God’s Message conveyed to them by His Messengers, they would not have been destroyed.
2. The Prophet Noah, upon him be peace, is one of the first five greatest Messengers (42: 13, note 6). He stayed among his people for 950 years and conveyed God’s Message to his people (29: 14).
3. Turning to God with sincere repentance and asking for forgiveness is a door that opens on God’s blessings. Whoever complains of anything – such as drought, a lack of wealth or children, or barren fields, etc. – is advised by Hasan al-Basrī to repent and ask God for forgiveness for their sin. They then must do whatever (lawful) they must in order to attain to their goal.
4. See sūrah 22: 5, and 23: 12–14.
5. It is worth noticing that the verse mentions the moon and the sun not as in a (single) heaven, but in or within the seven heavens. This may be a clue to what the Qur’ān means by seven heavens. However, some hold that there is no difference between the moon being mentioned in a single heaven or within seven heavens, since what is meant is that all the heavens are of the same substance and in full harmony with each other.
6. The verse alludes to the first origin of the father of humanity from the elements of the earth – soil, air, and water – and also the material origin of every human being, which are the same elements that are made into particular biological entities in human body. As Hamdi Yazır points out, the word nabātan, which comes at the end of the verse as an adverbial complement to “grow,” denotes the particular way of human creation and growth. So, the verse allows no room for any inclination toward the Darwinian Theory of Evolution.
7. There is no direct link between faith and worship and God’s allocation of provision in the form of income or children. The granting of wealth and children is quite different from His opening the door of His blessings as a result of one’s repentance and asking for forgiveness, as mentioned in note 3 above. As pointed out in several places before, besides His laws in the form of the Religion, God also has laws of life. Prosperity in both worlds requires obedience to both of these laws. Obedience to the former (the Religion) adds to the success which comes as a result of obedience to the latter (Divine laws of life). So if believers obey the latter in addition to sincere adherence to the Religion, they always and inevitably prevail over unbelievers. In any case, we should always bear in mind that whatever blessing we are given, it is a means of testing us and requires certain things, such as thanking God, spending wealth on religiously lawful things and in God’s cause, for the needy, and for educating our children so that they can be good servants of God.
8. The words of this prayer of a Messenger, who had been calling his people to Divine guidance for 950 years, show how obstinately wicked, ungrateful and misled those unbelievers were who drowned in the Flood.
9. For other accounts of the story of Noah, upon him be peace, and his people, in all its diverse aspects, see sūrah 7: 59–72; sūrah 10: 71–73; sūrah 11: 25–48; sūrah 23: 23–30; sūrah 26: 105–122; sūrah 29: 14–15; sūrah 37: 75–80; sūrah 54: 9–16, and the corresponding notes.