An Account of Nuh
al-Qutb al-Rawandi and others have stated that Nuh was the son of Malik son of Matushalakh who was the son of Akhnookh also known by the name of Idris.
From reliable source it is related from Imam al-Ridha that a Syrian asked Amir al-Mu’minin the name of Nuh. He replied that his name was Sakar but because he mourned over his people for nine hundred years, he has been named as Nuh.
It is related from Imam as-Sadiq that the name of Nuh was Abdul Gaffar but he was known as Nuh because he used to mourn on his own self.
The Holy Prophet said that the name of Nuh was Abdul Malik, but since he wept for five hundred years, he was called Nuh. In another reliable tradition, he mentioned that his name was Abul-a-haa.
Imam al-Ridha is reported to have said that when Nuh boarded the ship, the Almighty revealed to him. “When you fear that the ship is to sink, recite La Ilaha-ilallah a thousand times and then pray to Me, that I may save you and those whom you have brought with yourself. Nuh and those along with him sat safely on the ship and raised the sails of the ship high, a strong wind struck them and Nuh feared that the ship would sink.
But in no time the wind became more aggressive and there was no time for reciting La-ilaha ilallah a thousand time, so he said in Syrian “Halooleya alfan alfan, ya mareyya utgin” as a result the swinging movement of the ship abated and it began to sail in a normal way. Nuh said that the words through which God saved him from drowning were such worthy words that they should not get separated from him. Hence he engraved “La-Ilaha-Illallaho alfa marratin Ya Rabbe aslehnee” on his ring which is the Arabic translation of the Syrian expression and the meaning of which is “I recite La-Ilaha-Illallah a thousand time, oh God give me salvation.”
In authentic books, it is reported from Wahab that Nuh was a carpenter. He was of wheatish complexion, a thin face, elongated head, big eyes, thin legs but well fleshy thighs, big navel and with a long thick beard. He was of tall stature, heavy built and had a very hot temperament. He was appointed as a Prophet at the age of eight hundred years. For nine hundred years, he invited the people towards Allah, but their obstinacy kept on increasing. Three centuries passed in this manner. The people of his tribe would become aged and die leaving children. And everyone amongst them would take his sons in their childhood to Nuh and would say to them that “If you happen to live after me do no submit to this insane person.”
Imam as-Sadiq says that Nuh lived for two thousand five hundred years, eight hundred years before attaining Prophethood, nine hundred years of guidance to the people, then two hundred years were spent in making the ship and he lived for five hundred years after the deluge.
When the water receded, he laid the foundation of cities and settled his there. When two thousand five hundred years of his life had passed, the Angel of Death came to him while he was sitting in the sunshine and said “Peace be on you.” Nuh replied to his salaam and inquired for the purpose of his visit. He replied, “I have come to take away your soul.” Nuh asked, “Could you give me respite that I may go beneath shade?” He said, “Yes.” Thereafter, Nuh went into shade and said, “Oh Angel of the Death the entire span of my life in this world was just like the coming from under the sunshine into a shade. Now you can execute the divine command.” The Angel of Death captured the holy soul of Nuh.
By authentic traditions, it is related from ‘Abd al-‘Azim that Imam ‘Ali al-Naqi said that Nuh lived for two thousand five hundred years. One day while he was sleeping on the Ark, a strong wind blew and uncovered him. Ham and Yafith saw this and started laughing. Sam scolded them and covered Nuh. Nuh woke up and saw the two of them laughing and inquired the reason for that. Sam narrated what had happened. Nuh raised his hands towards the heavens and said, “O God, change the seed of Ham and al-Yasa‘ so that they beget dark-skinned children.” Nuh told them: “God has made your children the slaves of the children of Sam because he did good to me. You both are disinherited and your disinheritance will manifest itself in your children and the signs of notoriety will remain distinguishable in the progeny of Sam until the time the world will last. Therefore, all dark-skinned people are children of Ham and all the Turks, Saqaleyeh, Gog and Magog are the descendants of Yafith.
Apart from this, those who are reddish and fair, are the children of Sam.
The Almighty revealed to Nuh, “I have appointed the rainbow as My bow and it an amnesty for My slaves and cities; and I have concluded a treaty between myself and My creation that they shall have no fear of drowning until the day of resurrection. And who can be greater fulfiller of promises than Me?”
After knowing this Nuh because happy and gave glad tiding to the people. Till that time, along with the rainbow, these used to be the bowstring and the arrow. But after that, the bowstring and the arrow were removed.
After the deluge, Satan came to Nuh and said, “You have done a great favor to me ask from me any advice, I shall not do any treachery with you.” Nuh remained quite and did not ask any questions. Almighty Allah revealed to Nuh to ask him questions that will bring out from his own tongue, proofs and arguments against himself. So Nuh said, “So, what you want to say?” Satan said, “Whenever we find a child of Adam to be a miser or greedy, or jealous, or an oppressor, or hasty, we pick him like a person picks up a drinking cup. And whenever these characteristics are found together in a person, I call him an obstinate Satan.”
Nuh asked him what that favor was that he thinks that Nuh has done to him. He replied, “You cursed the people on the earth and sent them all into the hell immediately and I was relieved from (working upon) them. If you had not cursed them, I would have had to occupy myself with them for a long time.”
Reliable tradition of Imam as-Sadiq mentions that after embarking from the ship, Nuh lived for five hundred years. When he had lived his (destined) age, Archangel Gabriel came to him and said, “O Nuh, your Prophethood is now over. So pass on “The Greatest Name” of Allah, the heritage of knowledge and the relics of Prophethood to your son Sam, because Allah says that He would never keep the earth devoid of His representative. “There will always be a learned one on it because of whom the slaves would regard Me worthy of worship, so that after passing away of one Prophet to the appointment of another Prophet, he may be the source of their salvation. I will never ever leave the world without a proof who will call people towards Me and who would know My commands. This is My order. And I have destined this for every group of people that I will establish a guide through whom I will guide the obedient people and thereby My argument would be exhausted on the wretched people.” Accordingly Nuh handed over “The Greatest Name”, and the Prophetic relics to his son Sam. Ham and Yusuf had no knowledge from which they could benefit themselves.
Nuh gave the glad tidings of Hud to his legatee and ordered the people to obey him. He also urged them to see the will at least once every year. That day would be a festive day for them just like Adam had commanded them. After some time oppression and deviation found roots in the children of Ham. Sam went into hiding with the relics. After Nuh Sam got the wealth of Ham and Yafith and they became dominant over them. It is for this that Allah says: “And We perpetuated to him (praise) among the later generations.”
That we gave the wealth of the oppressors to Nuh and Allah will make Muhammad dominant with it. The inhabitant of Sind, India, and Ethiopia are the children of Ham and the inhabitants of Iran and Sind are the children of Yafith and their wealth reached the followers of Muhammad and thereafter according to tradition that (wealth) passed from one A’alim (learned religious scholar) to another until Almighty Allah appointed Prophet Hud.
In another reliable tradition it is mentioned that the life-span of Nuh’s people was three hundred years. In another traditions it is reported that the age of Nuh was two thousand four hundred and fifty.1
Imam Zayn al-‘abidin said that people have adopted three things from three persons; patience from Ayyub, thankfulness from Nuh and jealousy from the children of Ya‘qub.
It has come in authentic traditions from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir and Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq, concerning the explanation verses where the Almighty has praised Nuh,
“Indeed Nuh was a very grateful slave”, (17:3)
Imams have said that he was named thankful servant (of God) for every morning and evening he used to recite this invocation: “Allahhumma innee ashadoka unnahoo ma usbaha au umsa bee nematin all aafeyaten fee deenin au dunya feminka vahedaka la sharuka laka al humdobelia alayya valakashskra beha allayya hatta tarza va badrrezaa”2
It is related in authentic tradition from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq that when after the deluge, Nuh was given the assignment of planting trees, the Satan arrived. When Nuh was about to plant the grape tree, the Satan said that it belonged to him. Nuh said, “You are a liar.” Satan said, “You allot a share to me in this. Nuh said, “All right, two-third is your share. It is for this reason that when grape juice reduces by two third in boiling, it becomes haram. In another authentic tradition he said that Satan quarreled with Nuh in respect of the grape-tree. At that time, Archangel Gabriel came and said he has right, and it should be given to him.
Hence, one-third went to Satan but he was not satisfied, then he was given half, he even then he did not agree. Archangel Gabriel set the tree on fire until two-thirds of the tree was burnt and one third remained. he (Archangel Gabriel) said, “Whatever got burnt was the share of Satan and whatever is left is your share and is permissible (halal) on you.”
It is related from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir from authentic sources that when Nuh came down from the ship he planted many trees and amongst them he had also planted the date palm. Iblis (Satan) may Allah curse him, came and uprooted the tree and took it along with him. When Nuh came back, he did not find the date palm and saw the Satan standing near. At this moment Archangel Gabriel came and informed Nuh that Satan has taken away the date palm. Nuh asked him as to why he had taken that tree, “By Allah amongst all the trees none I consider more dear to me than this tree and by Allah, until I do not plant this tree I will not rest.” Iblis said, “Whenever you plant it I will uproot it. So, you fix a share in it for me.”
Nuh agreed to set aside one-third for him but he did not agree, then he set aside half, yet he did not agree. Nuh did not increase his share any more. Archangel Gabriel said to him, “You are a Prophet of Allah, you do a favor, because goodness is from your side. Nuh understood that Allah has given the place right to him and for this reason he agreed to give two-third share. And for this reason it was prescribed that its juice be boiled until its two third, which is the share of the accursed Satan. If is not burnt away, it will not become permissible.
It is related from Wahab, both by Shi‘ah as well as Sunni traditionalists, that when Nuh came down from the Ark, he planted the trees that he had brought with him. The same moment trees bore fruits, but the grape vine was missing. It was taken away by Iblis and he had hidden it. When Nuh thought of looking for it on the ship, an angel said, “Wait, right now that tree will come for you at this very place.” And said, “In the juice of grape you have a partner with Iblis .” Nuh said that he would give one-seventh to him and that six shares will remain for him. The angel said, “You do a good deed, because you are a doer of good.” Nuh said that he would give one-sixth to him. The angel said, “You do a good deed, because you are a doer of good.” Nuh said that he would give one-fifth him. The angel said, “You do a good deed, because you are a doer of good.” This continued until Nuh offered two-thirds while keeping one-third for himself. The angel agreed. Thus two-thirds, the share of the Satan remains forbidden and one-third, the share of Nuh remains permissible.
In another tradition, it is related from ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas that Satan told Nuh, “You have a right and a favor upon me and in return I will teach you some virtues. Nuh asked, “What is my right upon you?” He said that by the curse that you laid upon your people by whom they all perished saved me the labor of making them go astray. Hence, always abstain from pride and jealousy because pride induced me not to bow towards Adam and I became an infidel and was declared as the accursed Satan. And greed induced Adam to eat from the forbidden tree in spite of the fact that all of the trees of Paradise were permissible for him except the forbidden tree. He ate from that tree and was asked to leave the Garden. And jealousy became the cause for the son of Adam to kill his own brother.”
Nuh asked him as to when he had the greatest control on the children of Adam. He replied, “When they are angry.”
Propagation- Disobedience of the people and an account of their circumstances until the Deluge
‘Ali ibn Ibrahim relates from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq that when Nuh began his mission and invited people towards Allah, they rejected his invitation. This situation lasted for 300 years when Nuh decided to invoke Divine curse. It was early dawn and a group of 2000 great angels arrived from the first heaven. Nuh inquired from them who they were? They replied they were angels of the first heaven whose width is equivalent to 500 years’ journey and from the first heaven to the Earth; the distance is of 500 years. “We started near dawn and have reached here now to recommend to you not to invoke curse on your people.” Nuh said, “I agree. I will allow a grace period of 300 years.” Another 300 years passed but the people did not bring faith. Once again, he thought of invoking Divine curse on them. Again, a 2000-strong group of angels came from the second heaven. Nuh asked, “Who are you?”
They replied, “We are 2000 tribes among the tribes of angels from the second heaven. The width of the second heaven is equivalent to 500 years’ journey and likewise from the second heaven to the first heaven and from the first heaven to the Earth is a distance of 500 years. We started near dawn and have arrived here. (i.e.. we have undertaken a long journey). We have come to request you not to curse your people.’
Nuh said that another 300 years respite was granted. And when 300 years had passed and the people still did not bring faith, he thought of cursing them. At that time Allah said,
“None of your people will believe except those who have already believed, therefore do not grieve at what they do.” (11:36)
“My Lord! Leave not upon the land any dweller from among the unbelievers:
For surely if Thou leave them they will lead astray Thy servants, and will not beget any but immoral, ungrateful (children).” (72:26-27)
Allah ordered Nuh to plant palm trees and Nuh planted them. The people saw this and were amused that Nuh has lived for 900 years and was now keen on planting palm trees. They ridiculed him and even began to throw stones at him. Fifty years passed in this way while the trees grew tall and strong. Then the command of Allah came to cut down the trees. Seeing this the people again ridiculed Nuh saying, “Now that the trees have grown so big this old man was cutting them down. He has lost his wits and old age has affected his wisdom.”
As the Almighty says,
“And he began to make the ark; and whenever the chiefs from among his people passed by him they laughed at him. He said, If you laugh at us, surely we too laugh at you as you laugh (at us).
So shall you know who it is on whom will come a chastisement which will disgrace him, and on whom will lasting chastisement come down?” (11:38-39)
Imam said that the Almighty had ordered him to build a ship and delegated Archangel Gabriel to teach him the technique. Nuh began to construct the ship. Its length was twelve hundred hands, width 800 hands and height 80. Nuh inquired, “Who will assist me in building this ship.”
Allah revealed to him to announce among his people that whosoever would help him in making the ship and scrape a log, the shavings will turn into gold and silver. When Nuh announced this, the people came along to help him in building the ship. But at the same time, they mocked him saying that he was building a ship in the middle of a desert.
It is related through acceptable chains from the same Imam that when Allah decided to destroy the people of Nuh he made their women barren 40 years prior to that. When Nuh completed the construction of the ship, he called out in Syrian language and the beasts rushed to him in response. From each of the species he took a pair. There were in all 80 people who had accepted faith. Allah revealed to him,
“Until when Our command came and water came forth from the valley, We said, Carry in it two of all things, a pair, and your own family —except those against whom the word has already gone forth, and those who believe. And there believed not with him but a few.” (11:40)
The ship was built at the al-Kufah Mosque. When that day arrived on which the Almighty had intended to destroy them, the wife of Nuh was making bread in the famous oven of al-Kufah Mosque. And Nuh was setting up things pertaining to the animals in their part of the ship. During all this the wife of Nuh called out to him that water was gushing out from the oven. Nuh came and poured some soil on the oven and sealed the openings so that water may not come out. Then he went and collected all the animals in the ship and finally broke the seal of the oven. The Sun disappeared and instead of rain, water came down suddenly and the springs started gushing out. As All
“So We opened the gates of the cloud with water pouring
And We made water to flow forth in the land in springs, so the water gathered together according to a measure already ordained.
And We bore him on that which was made of planks and nails.” (54:11-13)
Allah commanded Nuh to pray for the safety of the ship in the name of Allah or keep reciting ‘Bismillah’ as the sailing and the halting of the ship depends on the name of Allah.
And when the ship came into motion, Nuh saw his infidel son standing in the water and falling again and again. He said, “O, my son, get on to the ship along with us and do not be with infidels.”
“He said, I will betake myself for refuge to a mountain that shall protect me from the water. Nuh said, There is no protector today from Allah’s punishment but He Who has mercy; and a wave intervened between them, so he was of the drowned.” (11:43)
“And Nuh cried out to his Lord and said, My Lord! Surely, my son is of my family, and Thy promise is surely true, and Thou art the most just of the judges.
He said, O Nuh! Surely he is not of your family; surely he is (the doer of) other than good deeds, therefore ask not of Me that of which you have no knowledge; surely I admonish you lest you may be of the ignorant
He said, My Lord! I seek refuge in Thee from asking Thee that of which I have no knowledge; and if Thou shouldst not forgive me and have mercy on me, I should be of the losers.” (11:45-47)
And so Nuh became silent upon the Lord’s command. During the same time, a wave came between them and the son of Nuh drowned. Imam says, “The ship took a turn and the waves carried it towards Makkah. It began to circle the Holy Ka‘bah because except for the holy house everything was submerged. The Ka‘bah is also referred to as al-Bayt al-‘Atiq because it did not submerge.”
The rains and the gushing springs continued for forty days. The level of water arose so much that it lifted the ship towards heaven.
At this Nuh raised his hands and prayed, “O my Lord, have mercy!”
“And it was said, O earth, swallow your water, and O cloud, clear away; and the water was made to abate and the affair was decided, and the ark rested on the Judi.” (11: 44)
The water was absorbed into the earth and the verdict of Allah in respect of the punishment of infidels and salvation of the faithful came into effect. The ship finally berthed at Mount Judi.
Imam said, “The earth only absorbed the water that had gushed from it’s springs. It refused to accept the water that had descended as rain because it said that Allah has commanded it only to absorb the water that had come out of it. As a result the water from the heaven spread all over the Earth and the ship halted at Mount Judi which is a great mountain in Mosul.”
Allah sent Archangel Gabriel who transferred that water which was left over to the seas, which are created round the earth. Allah revealed to Nuh,
“O Nuh! Descend with peace from Us and blessings on you and on the people from among those who are with you, and there shall be nations whom We will afford provisions, then a painful punishment from Us shall afflict them.” (11:48)
Imam said, “Then Nuh with eighty believers who were with him embarked from the ship at Mosul and laid the foundation of Madinatus Samaaneen. A daughter of Nuh was with him. The human generation continued from her. For this reason the Holy Prophet has said that Nuh is one of the two fathers of humanity. That is after Adam, the father of humanity is Nuh.”
From reliable sources, it is related from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir that people asked him, “How Nuh came to know that no one of his people will bring faith while he cursed his own people by saying that may their children be lewd and sensuous.”
Imam replied, “Have you not heard that Allah told Nuh that except for those who have brought faith (by now), no one else from your people will bring faith?”
In reliable traditions, it is related from Imam as-Sadiq that when the Almighty declared Prophethood of Nuh, Nuh and his Shi‘ahs (friends) who were suffering persecution and injury at the hands of the infidels became sure that the time of peace and rest is near. Whereas the calamities became severe and mental torture kept on increasing and getting tough and reached to this limit that the infidels started throwing stones at Nuh. Sometimes, it so happened that Nuh remained unconscious for three days at a stretch, bleeding all the time. After three hundred years of guidance, he began getting such treatment. Then he started inviting them towards Allah, day and night, but they did not bring faith. He would preach and they would turn their back on him. After three hundred years, one day, after the morning prayers, he thought of cursing them. Three angels from the seventh heaven came to him and said, “O Prophet of Allah, we have a request for you.”
“What is that?” asked Nuh.
They replied, “Postpone the act of cursing the people, because this would be the first punishment and wrath to descend to the earth.”
Nuh replied, “I postpone it for three hundred years.”
He returned to his people and again continued to invite them towards Allah. But the people continued to torment him. This went on for another three hundred years and at last Nuh lost hope of them ever coming towards faith. One evening he decided to curse them. Suddenly a group of angel from the sixth heaven came down and after salaam said,
“We started from the sixth heaven in the morning and have reached you at this time and we desire that at present you set aside the curse that you intend to invoke upon your people.”
Again Nuh promised to abstain from cursing them for three hundred years and returned to his people and began preaching among them. But it had no effect until the second respite of three hundred years expired. In all nine hundred years of propagation passes in this manner. His followers came to him and complained to him about all they had suffered at the hands of the cruel kings and infidels and requested him to pray so that Allah may relieve them from the persecution. Nuh accepted the request and prayed to the Lord. Archangel Gabriel descended and said that the Almighty has accepted his supplication and commands him to tell his followers to consume date and plant its seeds and to take care of the trees until they bear fruit.
“When the trees bear fruits. We will provide them salvation.”
Hearing this Nuh praised Allah and gave glad tidings to his followers. They also became happy and waited until the trees bore fruits. They brought the fruits to Nuh and requested him to fulfill his promise. Nuh prayed to the Almighty and the Almighty said,
“Tell these people to eat these dates too and sow their seeds. And when those trees bear fruits I will bestow give them salvation.” When the people heard this, they thought that the promise has not been fulfilled and two-third of them renounced faith. Only a third of them remained firm on the faith of Nuh. They ate the dates and sowed the seeds.
When they bore fruits they came to Nuh and said,
“Very few of us have remained on religion and if there is a delay in repelling our hardships, all of us might turn away from religion. Hearing this Nuh offered his prayers and supplicated fervently,
“O Lord, very few followers are left and if they do not receive salvation, I fear that they might also perish.”
It was revealed to him that his prayer has been accepted and that he should start building the Ark.
Between the acceptance of his prayers and the deluge, there was a period of fifty years.
It has come in reliable traditions that when Nuh prayed for divine punishment on the people, Allah sent Archangel Gabriel with seven seeds of dates. He said, “O Prophet of Allah, the Almighty says, ‘These people have been created by Me and are My servants. I will not destroy them with My wrath until they are not emphatically invited towards Me and until all the arguments have been exhausted for them. Therefore make intense efforts to guide the people, bearing every type of hardship that may be necessary and the same shall be recompensed. Plant these date seeds and when their trees bear fruit there shall be salvation and freedom for you and your people. Make the obedient believers aware of this fact.”
Thus after some time when the trees bore fruits Nuh prayed to Allah to fulfill His promise. Allah commanded him to plant the seeds of these trees once again and continue preaching to the people with sincerity and bear hardships if necessary. When Nuh conveyed this to the believers, three hundred of them apostatized and said,
“O, Nuh whatever you proclaim, if it had been the truth the promise of your Lord would not have proved to be false.”
Every time the trees bore fruits the Almighty would order them to plant the seeds again; and this happened several times and every time a group apostatized. In the end only seventy odd followers remained. The Almighty revealed to Nuh,
“Now the enlightened dawn of righteousness will appear from the darkened night of falsehood and pure truth will remain and the dust of blasphemy, infidelity and ingratitude due to the apostasy of the people will disappear. If I had destroyed the infidels, leaving alone the apostates My promise to the believers that I would cause them to inherit the earth would have applied to them too. And if I had granted them kingdom and caliphate the hidden hypocrisy and infidelity would have caused untold dissension among the people and instead of true faith the earth would have been in chaos.”
After this the Almighty ordered Nuh to build the Ark.
In another reliable tradition related from the same Imam it is mentioned that Nuh was commanded ten times to plant the seeds of dates and every time when the fruits ripened, his companions would come and demand the fulfillment of the promise and when they were told to plant the seeds again the companions would divide into three groups. One group would become apostate; another hypocrite and only one would remain firm on faith. So much so that when the people came to Nuh for the tenth time and said,
“O Prophet of Allah. You may delay the fulfillment of the promise as much as you wish. We believe that you have been sent by Allah and are the true Prophet. We do not doubt your Prophethood.”
At this Allah, saved them through the Ark and the rest were destroyed.3
According to an authentic tradition it is related from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq that Nuh accepted all the waters except the sulphur.4
It is related from Imam Al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn that Nuh invited all; the springs that did not accept his command were cursed. As a result, they became bitter and salty.
From an authentic report it is related from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq that Nuh boarded the ship on the first day of the month of Rajab and he ordered all those who were with him to fast on that day.
An authentic tradition mentions that a Syrian asked the explanation of the verse of Qur’an,
The day on which a man shall fly from his brother, And his mother and his father, And his spouse and his son (80:34-36)
—from the Commander of the faithful. He replied,
“On the Day of resurrection, one who will avoid his own son will be Nuh and Canaan.” The man inquired about the dimensions of Nuh’s Ark.
Imam said that the length of the ship was 800 hands, breath, 500 hands and height 80.5
It is mentioned in reliable tradition from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq that the length of the ship was 1200 hands, breadth 800 hands and height 80 hands. It circled the Holy Ka‘bah seven times. Trotted between the Safa and Marwa and then halted at mount Judi.
In another tradition, it is quoted from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Messenger of Allah said that ninety rooms were built for animals on the Ark.
It is quoted from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq that except for the Holy House of Ka‘bah the Almighty had submerged the whole earth in the deluge, and for this reason, it is named ‘al-Bayt al-’Atiq’, because it remained unsubmerged during the Great Deluge.
The narrator asked if it was lifted to the heaven. Imam replied, “No it did not come in contact with water. It rose around it.”
It is quoted from reliable sources that people asked Imam al-Ridha why the Almighty had submerged all the world in water while there were many innocent people, like children and insane men, upon it?
Imam replied, “There were no children because for forty years the women had been barren. Allah would never cause innocent people to perish by His wrath. He destroyed the people of Nuh because they had continuously refused to bring faith. The other remaining people perished because they were content with the denial of the disbelievers. One who is satisfied with some action, even though he may himself not perform it, is an accomplice.”
In another reliable tradition he says that the Almighty told Nuh that his son was not from his household. Like He said, Innahu amalun ghairu salih.6
It is mentioned from reliable sources that when Nuh descended from the ship Satan came and said, “You have done the greatest favor for me. You cursed the people and they all perished, thus you saved me the trouble of deviating them from the right path. In appreciation of your favor I inform you of two attributes, one is that you should never be jealous of anyone because whatever harm has come to me is due to jealousy. Secondly, never be greedy because whatever harm came to Adam was due to his greed.”
Reliable reporters state from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq that when Nuh cursed his people and they were destroyed, the Satan came to him and said, “You have done me a favor, I want to repay it.” Nuh said, “I hated to do you a favor, what was it?” Satan said, “You have done me a favor by cursing your people. Now there is no one left for me to deviate from the right path. I can rest in ease until the next century.”
Nuh asked him in what way he wished to repay the favor. Satan said, “Remember there are three situations when I find it very easy to gain control over a person, one: when he is angry, secondly, when there is arbitration between two parties and thirdly when a servant is alone with a woman.”
From reliable documents it is narrated from the Commander of the Faithful that when Nuh was loading the animals, the goat disobeyed and was thrashed. As a result, its tail came away and the private parts were exposed. The lamb took precedence in boarding the ship and Nuh patted its back and tail; therefore its tail grew long and covered its private parts.
Again from a reliable channel Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq is reported to have said that Najaf was the tallest of all the mountains of the world and the son of Nuh had referred to it when he said that he would take refuge upon it from the deluge. At that very moment Allah revealed to that mountain that some evil people are about to take refuge upon it. It was so frightened that it crashed and pulverized into soft sand. In its place, a river came into existence. This river was called Nae. Later that river dried and got the name of Nae- Jaf. Due to frequent usage, it changed to “Najaf”.
According to reliable narrators Imam al-Ridha said that when Nuh landed, his followers numbered eighty. He laid the foundation of a village and named it “the village of Thamaaneen”, that is the village of eighty people. Ibn Babawayh has related from Wahab that when Nuh boarded the ship the Almighty revealed to all the creatures, including animals, a state of calmness. At this they all became peaceful and did not harm each other. The lamb stayed with the wolf, cow with the lion, the sparrow would sit in the mouth of the snake. There was no quarrelling or screams for help. Neither abuses nor curses. Everyone was thoughtful of ones own soul. Allah had expelled the poison from every poisonous being until they disembarked from the ship. In the ship, there were a lot of rats. Allah revealed to Nuh to pat the lion. The lion sneezed and two cats, a male and a female emerged from its nasal openings. They attacked the rats and reduced their number. Then Nuh patted that elephant with his blessed hand. It sneezed and at these two pigs, a male and a female came out of the two nasal openings because of which the facial matter was eliminated.
A reliable tradition related from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq says that the people of Nuh complained to him about the pestilence of rats. Allah ordered the tiger and it sneezed. A cat fell out of its nose. When the people complained about waste matter Allah ordered the elephant. It sneezed, and pigs dropped out from its nose.
In another tradition he said that when Nuh wanted to board the wild ass onto the ship. It stopped because Satan was lodged between its two legs. Nuh said, ‘O Satan, enter!’ and hit the wild ass with a stick from the palm tree. The wild ass entered and so also the Satan. And he said, “I am teaching you two qualities. Nuh said, “I don’t want to speak to you.” Satan said, “Abstain from greed which forced out Adam from the Paradise and avoid jealousy which drove me out of the Paradise.” At this moment Allah revealed unto Nuh that even though he was accursed, what he said was true.”
From reliable chains of narrators it is related from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq that during the deluge of Nuh the water was fifteen hands high over every mountain and plain.
Another authentic tradition from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq says that when Nuh invited his people the children of Shith verified his call from the knowledge they had inherited from their ancestors. However, the descendants of Qabil refuted the claim of Nuh. They said, “We have heard whatever you say about your forefathers. Should we bring faith on you whn people lower than us have followed you?” By this they meant the descendants of Shith.
In a reliable tradition it is quoted from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir that according to the religious law of Nuh the worship of Allah should be with sincerity and with the belief in the unity of Godhead. And one should abandon the traditions of those who attributed likeness and partners to Allah. This is the nature on which Allah has created everyone. Allah took promise from Nuh and from all the Prophets to worship Him alone. He taught and made them aware of ritual prayers, prohibitions and obligations, exhorting people to do good and refrain from evil, permissible and unlawful acts. But there were no jurists and jurisdiction with regard to inheritance. Nuh was among them for nine hundred and fifty years and continued to preach the truth, but they continued to deny and rebel.
Upon this Nuh said, “O Allah! I give up! You take my revenge!”
Allah revealed to him that now no more people would bring faith. Hence, he should not feel offended because of their deeds. For this reason while cursing them, Nuh declared that the children born to them will be lewd and infidels.
Reliable chains of narrators quote Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq that Nuh and his people lived on the western part al-Kufah along the banks of Euphrates. Nuh was a carpenter by profession. Then Almighty Allah exalted him and made him a Prophet. He was instrumental in constructing the ship and set it afloat. He invited his people towards the religion of truth for nine hundred and fifty years, and they continued to laugh and mock him. When he was sure, they would never accept guidance he cursed them. Allah revealed to him to make a spacious boat soon. Nuh brought wood from the forest and started to build the boat in the mosque of al-Kufah. In the same mosque, the idols by the name of Yaoob, Yaooq and Tasrak were installed by the people.
A narrator enquired, “May I be sacrificed for you, in how many days did Nuh accomplish the task of building the ship?” He replied, “In two periods of time totaling eighty years.” The person further asked, “The Sunnis say that it was built in five hundred years?” He said, “It is not like this and how can it be like this while Allah said ‘wa Wahaina’ and ‘Wahee’ means ‘quick’.”
Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali said that the ship was covered from the top due to which one could not see the sun and the moon. Nuh had a couple of seeds. One of them shone during daytime and the other during the night. And from this, the prayer times were determined. Nuh had brought with him the blessed body of Adam. When he landed from the ship, he buried him in the basement of the minaret of the Mosque of Manaa.7
According to reliable traditions it is related from Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq that Nuh’s Ark was built in thirty years and in another tradition quoted from the same Imam it was built in 100 years.8
It is related from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir that menstruation is an impurity affecting women. During the time of Nuh women menstruated once a year. At that time, seven hundred women gave up veils and roamed the cities in make up, gaudy dresses and jewelry. They attended mixed gatherings and intermingled freely with men. Hence, Allah afflicted these evil women with menstruation every month. As a result, men drove them out of their houses. But after some time the sexual urge of men got the better of them and they took back the women. Other women, however, continued to have normal periods, once a year. The children of women of both types married with each other they became a homogenous group. Women who menstruated every month had cleaner blood and few male children. For this reason women menstruating once a year became rare.9
From reliable chains, it is quoted from Imam as-Sadiq that when Nuh disembarked, the water dried up and even dehydrated the bones of infidels. When Nuh saw the bones of his people he was distressed beyond limit. Allah revealed to him to eat black grapes to expel the grief.
In another tradition, it is quoted from the same Imam that Nuh stayed in the ship for seven days, and the ship circled the Ka‘bah and halted at Judi, in al-Kufah on the bank of Euphrates.10
It has come in authentic traditions that an illegitimate child is the worst of all creation. Nuh took dogs, pigs and all the animals on the ship, but he did not take any illegitimate born.
In reliable traditions the explanation of Allah’s saying: (They) did not bring faith on Nuh but a very few.” it is quoted from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir that only eight people brought faith.11
In authentic traditions, it is quoted from Imam as-Sadiq that the oven was inside the Mosque of al-Kufah, to the left side and faced the Kiblah. One day while he was busy building the ship, the wife of Nuh came to him and said that water is gushing out of the oven. Nuh came running and sealed it with a baked brick. The water stopped. When he completed the ship and placed everything, he removed the seal. Water gushed out. The river Euphrates and other springs also gushed in fury.
In a few authentic traditions it is quoted that when all the infidels were drowned Allah revealed to the earth, “O Earth, absorb your water.” The earth absorbed the water that had gushed out, but whatever had descended from the heavens remained on the Earth in form of oceans.
From authentic traditions it is quoted from Imam Musa Ibn Ja‘far that when Nuh boarded the ship and started sailing by the order of Allah, Allah revealed to the mountains, “I want to make my servant, Nuh stay on one of you.” Hearing this all the mountains raised their heads except for Mount Judi in Mosul. It remained humble and modest and said, “I am not worthy enough that Nuh’s Ark may berth upon me.” Allah appreciated the humility and designated the ship to halt on Mount Judi. Hence, when the ship touched, Mount Judi trembled, The people thought the ship might wreak and sink. Nuh looked out from a small window of the ship and said, “My Lord! Steady the boat!” And in some traditions it has come that he said, “O Sustainer do us a favor!”
In another reliable tradition it has come that Nuh took resort of the Holy right of Messenger of Allah, Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali, Fatimah al-Zahra’, Imam Al-Hasan, Imam al-Husayn and all the Imams and took them as his intercessors.
There is no controversy in all this. It is possible that all of this might have happened.
In an authentic tradition, it is quoted from Imam as-Sadiq that Nuh’s Ark touched Judi on the day of Navroz (21st March)
Sayyid Ibn Tawus has narrated from Muhammad Ibn Jarir Tabari that Allah exalted Nuh with Prophethood because he used to worship Allah in excess and used to seclude himself from the general public, and his height was three hundred and eight hands according to the standards of his times. His dress was woolen, whereas prior to him, the dress of Idris was made of deer skin. Nuh lived in the mountains. His staple diet consisted of grass. When he reached the age of four hundred and sixty years, Archangel Gabriel brought him the robe of Prophethood and said, “Why have you secluded yourself from the people?” He replied, “My people do not recognize Allah, therefore I have become aloof from them.” Archangel Gabriel said, “Wage holy war against them.” He replied, “I do not possess the might to confront them. And if they come to know that I am not on their religion, they would surely kill me.” Archangel Gabriel said, “If you get that might, will you wage a holy war against them?” He replied, “With much pleasure, I wish I had that might.” He inquired, “Who are you?” Archangel Gabriel raised a loud cry, and the mountains almost shattered. In response (to that cry), the angels and all the creatures of the earth replied, “Here we are! Here we are! O Messenger of Allah.” Nuh was filled with terror.
Archangel Gabriel said,” I am that person who lived with your two forefathers, Adam and Idris. The ever-forgiving Allah is sends His salutations and I have brought good tidings for you. Take this dress of patience and garment of staunch faith and the honorable robe of Prophethood and Messengership. And Allah orders that you marry Amoora daughter of Himran son of Idris because she would be the foremost to have faith in you. Nuh came to his people on the day of Aashoora. He used to carry a white (walking) stick, which informed him about the secret affairs of his people. This was a festive day and all of them had gathered before their idols. Nuh went to them and said, “Laa ilaaha illallaah (Meaning that there is no god but Allah.), and Adam was chosen by Allah, Idris is one exalted by Him. Ibrahim is His friend and Musa is one who spoke with Allah, and that ‘Isa was created by the means of the Holy Spirit and Muhammad al-Mustafa is the last of the Prophets and they are my witness on you that I have preached the divine message to you.” Hearing this, the idols trembled, fires in the fire temples were extinguished, and everyone was terrified. The leaders and oppressors asked him who he was. Nuh replied, “I am a servant of Allah and a son of His servant. He has sent me to you after appointing me His Prophet.” Saying this, he began to weep.
Then he said, “I warn you about the wrath of Allah.” When Amoora heard the words of Nuh, she immediately brought faith. Her father became angry and said, “A sentence of Nuh had such effect on you? I fear when the king comes to know about this he will kill you.” Amoora replied, “Father, where is your reason and intelligence? Nuh is a lonely, weak person and without being designated by Allah how can he raise a voice that has frightened you so much?” This had no effect on the father. He imprisoned Amoora for a year and starved her. Throughout the year people heard of her distress. When they released her, the people observed a great light in her and found her condition better than before. Everyone was surprised as to how she could remain alive for a year without any food and water. They inquired from her and she said that she had appealed to the Sustainer of Nuh and hence Nuh used to bring food for her miraculously.” Then Nuh married her and Sam was born. Nuh had two wives. One was infidel named Rabia, who perished in the storm; the other was faithful who remained with him on the Ark. Some traditionists have stated that the name of the faithful wife was Haikel.
In reliable traditions Amir al-Mu’minin wrote in his will to Imam Al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn, “After my demise when you bath and shroud me, raise my bier from rear; do not hold it from front, because from the angels will lift and at whatever place my bier is lowered you put it down. Then strike a pick-axe on the ground and a grave will appear which my father Nuh had made for me near his chest. The two sons acted according to the will and a tablet was found with an inscription in Syriac, “Bismillah hir Rahmaanir Raheem. This is grave was prepared by Nuh for the Successor of Muhammad al-Mustafa i.e... ‘Ali seven hundred years before the deluge.” There are many traditions indicating that Adam and Nuh are buried near the tomb of ‘Ali and that after reciting the Ziyarah of ‘Ali, the Ziyarahs of these Prophets should also be recited.
- 1. All these stated traditions are compatible with each other and it is possible that in accounting the age of Nuh the time period during when he was not attending to the religions affairs was not considered.
- 2. There is slight difference in the words of this invocation, which I have mentioned in the book of invocation of Behaarul-Anwaar (the author)
- 3. It is very difficult to reconcile the conflicting traditions. It is possible that some were mistaken or some traditions may have been registered because of Taqiyyah in accordance with the general traditions. Some of the events have been mentioned repeatedly. Likewise, it is possible that in respect to the arrival of the angels from the second or sixth heaven, both events have occurred. Similarly about the number of seventy odd followers it is possible that the children of Nuh have been taken into consideration. And that the delay in the fulfillment of promise may be because the promise was not an absolute one but that it was subject to some conditions. Or in fact, the delay was in the wrath of Allah and not in the promise. And that if someone promises punishment of someone and does not execute, it is not considered immoral. Rather it is a praiseworthy quality. And in these traditions, there may be signs in favor of the occultation of the 12th Imam and for the delay in the reappearance of that Imam, for the people of reason.
- 4. Sulphur water here means hot water that smells like sulphur.) water and bitter water.
- 5. The tradition quoted previously is more reliable. The difference in the breadth could be due to the hand as a unit.
- 6. There is difference of opinion between commentators, historians and the religious scholars whether he was actually the son of Nuh or that of his wife from her previous marriage, legitimate or illegitimate. It is well known amongst the Shi‘ah tradition that he was the son of Nuh and was legitimate. According to the first recitation, some have said that he had performed the indecent act and some have said that that he himself was the result of an indecent act and was not legitimate. The Shi‘ahs do not accept this meaning. From Imam al-Ri¤a and all the Imams there are many traditions quoting that what the Sunni say is wrong. He was Nuh’s son. It was due to the fact that he was an infidel and an evildoer that the Almighty had said that he was not from the household of Nuh And those who had obeyed Nuh were said to be from his household. Just as Prophet has said, “Whosoever follows me is from my household.”
- 7. In fact, after the deluge the body of Adam was buried in the city of Najaf as stated earlier. Perhaps this tradition is based on dissimulation.
- 8. The various traditions could be reconciled that some of them were stated in dissimulation to support the Sunni view. It is also possible that in some traditions the time taken for smoothing the wood is also included. In some, this period is excluded (period spent in acquiring wood, nails and other materials.) At that time Allah ordered him to take on the ship from every pairs that Adam had brought from the Paradise so that the children of Nuh after disembarking from the ship may live in comfort on the land just like the Almighty has said in the Holy Qur’an that “We sent descended eight pairs of quadruped for your two pairs of lambs, two pairs of goats, two pairs of camels and two pairs of cows. One pair each was domestic and the other was wild. Their hunting was permissible. Similarly, one pair of goats was domestic and the other wild. One pair of cows was domestic and the other wild. One pair of cows was domestic and the other from mountains. One pair of camels was Khurasani and the other Arabian. Likewise, birds were also from wild and domestic.
- 9. This characteristic (of becoming rare) appears to belong to women who have menstruation once a year, who do not exist any more. Their numbers kept on reducing and at last became non-existent. It is possible that the traditionalist has committed an error.
- 10. There is difference of opinion in respect of the time period that Nuh stayed in the ship. Some accept this tradition because it is the most reliable. Some however state that he stayed on the ship for one hundred and fifty days. A few have also stated the period to be six and five months respectively.
- 11. Perhaps apart from his sons and daughters only eight people brought faith and all together were eighty in number or one of these traditions is based on Taqiyyah.