Noah in Islam
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|Resting place||Tomb of Noah|
|Other names||Nûḥ ibn Lamech ibn Methuselah|
|Years active||950 years|
|Known for||Noah's Ark|
|Children||Shem, Ham, Yam and Japheth|
Nûh ibn Lamech ibn Methuselah (Arabic: نوح, translit. Nūḥ), known as Noah in the Old Testament, is recognized in Islam as a prophet and apostle of God (Arabic: الله Allāh). He is an important figure in Islamic tradition, as he is one of the earliest prophets sent by God to mankind. According to Islam, Noah's mission was to save a wicked world, plunged in depravity and sin. God charged Noah with the duty of preaching to his people to make them abandon idolatry and to worship only the One Creator and to live good and pure lives. Although he preached the Message of God with zeal, his people refused to mend their ways, leading to his building of the Ark and the Deluge, the Great Flood in which all the evil people of his time perished. Noah's preaching and prophet-hood spanned 950 years according to Quran.
| Part of a series on Islam
Noah's mission had a double character: he had to warn his people, asking them to call for repentance and, at the same time, he had to preach about God's mercy and forgiveness, promising them the glad tidings God would provide if they led righteous lives. References to Noah are scattered throughout the Qur'an, and there is even an entire sura carrying his name, Noah.
- 1 Background
- 2 Historical narrative in Islam
- 3 Praise of Noah in the Quran
- 4 The story of Noah, as told by Quranic verses
- 5 Noah's family
- 6 Comparative mythology
- 7 Tomb of Noah
- 8 References to Noah in the Quran
- 9 See also
- 10 References
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Little is known of Noah's personal history before his call to prophecy. However, Ibn Kathir records him to have been the son of Lamech and grandson of Methuselah, one of the patriarchs from the Generations of Adam. Noah was neither the leader of the tribe nor a very rich man but, even before being called to prophecy, he worshiped God faithfully and was, in the words of the Qur'an, "a devotee most grateful".
According to Islam, he was a prophet, sent to warn mankind of that region and his people to change their ways. He conveyed the message for over 950 years.
For Muslims, Noah was married to a woman whose name is not mentioned in the Quran. Some Islamic historians such as Al-Tabari have suggested that the name of Noah's wife was Umzrah bint Barakil but this cannot be confirmed. Most Muslims simply call her by her biblical name Naamah. Islamic scholars agree that Noah had four sons whose names were Ham, Shem, Yam and Japheth. According to the Quran, one of Noah's sons was a disbeliever who refused to come aboard the Ark, instead preferring to climb a mountain, where he drowned. It is agreed among most Islamic scholars that Yam was the one who drowned; the other three remained believers.
The Quran states that Noah's wife was not a believer with him so she did not join him; neither did one of Noah's sons (Yam), who was secretly a disbeliever but had pretended faith in front of Noah. The sons of Noah are not expressly mentioned in the Qur'an, except for the fact that one of the sons was among the people who did not follow his own father, not among the believers and thus was washed away in the flood. Also the Qur'an indicates a great calamity, enough to have destroyed Noah's people, but to have saved him and his generations to come.
Historical narrative in Islam
Islamic literature recounts that in the Generations of Adam, many men and women continued to follow Adam's original teachings, worshiping God alone and remaining righteous. Among Adam's descendants there were many brave and pious men, greatly loved and revered by their respective communities. Exegesis goes on to narrate that, upon the death of these elders, people felt enormous grief and some felt prompted to make statues of these people in remembrance of them. Then, gradually, through the generations many forgot what such statues were for and began to worship them, (as the shaytan (satan) slowly deceived each generation) along with many other idols. In order to guide the people, God appointed Noah with the duty of being the next prophet to humanity.
According to Islamic belief, Noah began preaching to his people both verbally and by example. He would praise God consistently and he urged his people to do the same, warning his tribe of the punishment they would face if they did not mend their ignorant ways. The Qur'an states that Noah repeatedly told his people:
"O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. Indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a tremendous Day!" [al-Quran, 7:59]
Early on, a few were moved by Noah's words but the powerful and wealthy members of the tribe refused to hear his call. The unbelievers at the time were impelled to rebel by various evil motives. Firstly, they were extremely envious and jealous of men superior to them in any way. Secondly, the people were ignorant of the weak and lowly, who were frequently superior intellectually, morally and spiritually. As a result of their ignorance, they were arrogant and mocked all who they felt were inferior to them. Saying,"Are we to believe you, when those who follow you are the most abject of people?" Noah responded: "Their judgment rests only with my Lord, if you could perceive." When Noah preached the faith of God to them, all they did was revile the messenger, abuse the message and call the whole warning a lie. He then went on to explain the Message in greater depth, ensuring them that it was not a message of destruction but it was a message with the mercy from God, and that their acts would lead to destruction if they did not accept the faith. He questioned them, asking why they would not accept what would benefit them in the near future. Noah went onto further, and told his community that he asked of no reward from them, telling them his only reward would be from God. But his people threatened him with being stoned.
As time passed, Noah became firmer in his preaching. When the unbelievers began insulting those who accepted God's message, believing that Noah would send those faithful away to attract the wealthy unbelievers, Noah revealed that they - the arrogant and ignorant rich - were the wicked and sinful ones. His people accused him of being soothsayer or diviner. Noah declared that he was by no means a mere fortune-teller, pretending to reveal secrets which are not worth revealing. Noah also denied accusations claiming Noah was an angel, always maintaining that he was a human messenger. When the people refused to acknowledge their sinfulness Noah told them that it was not Noah, but God that would punish them - however God pleased.
The Quran states that Noah prayed to God, telling Him that his preaching only made his people disbelieve further. Noah told God how they had closed their minds to accepting the message, so that the light of the truth should not affect their thinking. Noah told God how he had used all the resources of the classical preacher, conveying the message both in public places and with individuals in private. Noah spoke of how he had told the people the rewards they would receive if they became righteous, namely that God would supply plentiful rain as a blessing, and that God would also guarantee them an increase in children and wealth.
Building of the Ark
According to the quran, one day, Noah received a revelation from God, in which he was told that no one would believe the message now aside from those who have already submitted to God. Noah's frustration at the defiance of his people led him to ask God to not leave even one sinner upon earth. Although there is no proof that God accepted his prayer (as there is many examples of accepted prayers, such as in case of Yunus, Lut (Lot), Suleyman (Solomon) etc., even Noah's prayer in some other shape was accepted), God decreed that a terrible flood would come (and yet, Qur'an doesn't say it came to cover whole Earth) and He ordered Noah to build a ship (Safina) which would save him and the believers from this dreadful calamity. Ever obedient to God's instructions, Noah went out in search of material with which to build the vessel. When Noah began building the Ark, the people who saw him at work laughed at him even more than before. Their conclusion was that he was surely a madman – they could not find any other reason why a man would build a huge vessel when no sea or river was nearby. Although Noah was now very old, the aged patriarch continued to work tirelessly until, at last, the Ship was finished.
Praise of Noah in the Quran
|Lineage of several prophets
according to Islamic tradition
|Dotted lines indicate multiple generations|
Noah is praised by God in the Quran, which shows his great status amongst the prophets. In sura 17 (Al-Isra), ayah 3, God states: "Verily he was a devotee most grateful." Also, from the Qur'an which states:
(In the days of old), Noah cried to Us, and We are the best to hear prayer.
And We delivered him and his people from the Great Calamity,
And made his progeny to endure (on this earth);
And We left (this blessing) for him among generations to come in later times:"Peace and salutation to Noah among the nations!"
The story of Noah, as told by Quranic verses
The Quran states that Noah was inspired by God, like other prophets such as Ibrāhīm (Abraham), Ismā'īl (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Ya'qub (Jacob), Isa (Jesus), Ilyas‘ (Elijah), Ayub (Job), Harun (Aaron), Yunus (Jonah), Daud (David) and Muhammad (Mohammed), and that he was a faithful messenger. Noah had firm belief in the oneness of God, and preached Islam (literally "submission," meaning submission to God).
He continuously warned the people of the painful doom that was coming and asked them to accept one God instead of worshipping idols such as Wadd, Suwa', Yaghuth, Ya'uq and Nasr. He called the people to serve God, and said that nobody but God could save them. He said that the time of the deluge was appointed and could not be delayed, and that the people had to submit to God.
God commanded Noah to build a ship, the Ark, and as he was building it, the chieftains passed him and mocked him. Upon its completion, the ship is said to be loaded with pairs of every animal available that time, and Noah's household, and a group of believers who did submit to God. The people who denied the message of Noah, including one of his own sons, drowned. The final resting place of the ship was referred to as "Al-Jūdiyy" (Arabic: الـجُـودِيّ) or a "Munzalanm-Mubārakan" (Arabic: مُـنْـزَلًا مُّـبَـارَكًا, literally "Place-of-Landing Blessed"). Noah is called a grateful servant. Both Noah and Abraham were taught the prophethood and the scripture.
Noah's wife (Naamah) is referred to in the Qur'an as an evil woman. When God emphasizes upon the notion that everyone is for themselves on the Day of Judgement and that marital relations will not be to your aid when the judgement takes place, the Qur'an says:
Allah sets forth, for an example to the Unbelievers, the wife of Noah and the wife of Lut: they were (respectively) under two of our righteous servants, but they were false to their (husbands), and they profited nothing before Allah on their account, but were told: "Enter ye the Fire along with (others) that enter!
In contrast, the wife of the Pharaoh of the Exodus, Asiya, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, are referred to as among the best of women. This adds to the notion that, on the Last Day, everyone will be judged according to their own deeds.
Flood myths appear in many societies worldwide and many of the details of the Islamic myth are shared with other Middle Eastern societies.
The Noah story of the Pentateuch is almost identical to a flood story contained in the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, composed about 2500 BC. The few variations including the number of days of the deluge, the order of the birds, and the name of the mountain on which the ark rests. The flood story in Genesis 6–8 matches the Gilgamesh flood myth so closely that University of London professor Andrew R. George believes "few doubt that [it] derives from a Mesopotamian account." What is particularly noticeable is the way the Genesis flood story follows the Gilgamesh flood tale "point by point and in the same order", even when the story permits other alternatives.
The earliest written flood myth is found in the Mesopotamian Epic of Atrahasis and Epic of Gilgamesh texts. "These mythologies are the source of such features of the biblical Flood story as the building and provisioning of the ark, its flotation, and the subsidence of the waters, as well as the part played by the human protagonist." The Encyclopedia Judaica adds that there is a strong suggestion that
an intermediate agent was active. The people most likely to have fulfilled this role are the Hurrians, whose territory included the city of Haran, where the Patriarch Abraham had his roots. The Hurrians inherited the Flood story from Babylonia.
The encyclopedia mentions another similarity between the stories: Noah is the tenth patriarch and Berossus notes that "the hero of the great flood was Babylonia’s tenth antediluvian king." However, there is a discrepancy in the ages of the heroes. For the Mesopotamian antecedents, "the reigns of the antediluvian kings range from 18,600 to nearly 65,000 years." In the Bible, the lifespans "fall far short of the briefest reign mentioned in the related Mesopotamian texts." Also the name of the hero differs between the traditions: "The earliest Mesopotamian flood account, written in the Sumerian language, calls the deluge hero Ziusudra."
Gilgamesh's historical reign is believed to have been approximately 2700 BC, shortly before the earliest known written stories. The discovery of artifacts associated with Aga and Enmebaragesi of Kish, two other kings named in the stories, has lent credibility to the historical existence of Gilgamesh.
The earliest Sumerian Gilgamesh poems date from as early as the Third dynasty of Ur (2100–2000 BC). One of these poems mentions Gilgamesh's journey to meet the flood hero, as well as a short version of the flood story. The earliest Akkadian versions of the unified epic are dated to ca. 2000–1500 BC. Due to the fragmentary nature of these Old Babylonian versions, it is unclear whether they included an expanded account of the flood myth; although one fragment definitely includes the story of Gilgamesh’s journey to meet Utnapishtim. The "standard" Akkadian version included a long version of the flood story and was edited by Sin-liqe-unninni sometime between 1300 and 1000 BC. Utnapishtim, a character in The Epic of Gilgamesh, tells the story of a flood very similar to that of Noah. In this story, the gods are enraged by the noise that man has raised from the earth. To quiet them they decide to send a great flood to silence mankind. Various correlations between the stories of Noah and Utnapishtim (the flood, the construction of the ark, the salvation of animals, and the release of birds following the flood) have led to this story being seen as the inspiration for the story of Noah. However, his role in Gilgamesh is to provide the secret of everlasting life to the hero, who promptly falls asleep before Utnapishtim gives him the secret of life.
Noah has often been compared to Deucalion, the son of Prometheus and Pronoia in Greek mythology. Like Noah, Deucalion is warned of the flood (by Zeus and Poseidon); he builds an ark and staffs it with creatures – and when he completes his voyage, gives thanks and takes advice from the gods on how to repopulate the Earth. Deucalion also sends a pigeon to find out about the situation of the world and the bird returns with an olive branch. Deucalion, in some versions of the myth, also becomes the inventor of wine, like Noah. Philo and Justin equate Deucalion with Noah, and Josephus used the story of Deucalion as evidence that the flood actually occurred and that, therefore, Noah existed.
A story involving Lord Vishnu and King Manu is found in the Hindu chronicle Matsya Purana. Lord Vishnu in his 'matsya' (fish) avatar ordered the virtuous king Manu to construct a huge boat with animal and plant specimens of all forms, to escape the Great Deluge, and finally when the water receded,the great boat was found atop the Malaya Mountains. Encyclopædia Britannica notes that "Manu combines the characteristics of the Hebrew Bible figures of Noah, who preserved life from extinction in a great flood, and Adam, the first man", which view is reflected in several other works. Indologist David Dean Shulman writes that borrowing between the myths of Manu and Noah "cannot be ruled out". For Krishna Mohan Banerjee, the names "Noah" and "Manu" "had the same etymological root: 'Manu' must have been the Indo-Aryan ideal of Noah." Philologist and founder of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, William Jones, "identifies Manu with Noah", along with whom, "the seven sages can be identified with the eight people aboard the Ark." Furthermore, researcher Klaus Klostermaier reports a Muslim writer who "identifies Brahma with Abraham .... and Manu with Noah." Others, however, would say that "the story is thoroughly Indian" and the "boat is not the equivalent of Noah's Ark, though it is still the symbol of salvation" According to Purana Manu's story occur before 28 chaturyuga in the present Manvantara which is the 7th Manvantara. This amounts to 120 million years ago.
Tomb of Noah
There are several sites that are claimed to be the Tomb of Noah:
- Noah’s Mausoleum (Islam), Nakhichevan, exclave of Azerbaijan west of Armenia.
- Imam Ali Mosque (Shia Islam), Najaf, Iraq
- Karak Nuh, Lebanon
- Cizre, Turkey
References to Noah in the Quran
- As one of the first messengers: 4:163, 6:84, 11:25, 26:107, 29:14, 37:75, 57:26, 71:1–2, 71:5
- Noah's preaching: 4:163, 7:59, 7:61–64, 10:71–72, 11:25–26, 11:28–31, 11:42, 23:23, 26:105–106, 26:108, 26:110, 71:1–3, 71:8–20
- Challenges for Noah: 7:60–61, 10:71, 11:27, 11:32, 14:9, 23:24–26, 25:37, 26:105, 26:111–113, 26:116–118, 38:12, 40:5, 50:12, 53:52, 54:9–10, 66:10, 71:6–7, 71:21–24, 71:26–27
- "The Thankful" Noah: 17:3
- Noah's wishes granted: 21:76–77, 26:119, 37:75, 54:11–12
- God destroyed Noah's people: 7:64, 9:70, 10:73, 11:37, 11:43–44, 11:89, 23:27, 25:37, 26:120, 29:14, 37:82, 40:31, 51:46, 53:52, 54:11–12, 71:25
- Noah was saved on the Ark: 7:64, 10:73, 11:37–38, 11:40–44, 11:48, 23:27–29, 26:119, 29:15, 37:76, 54:13–15, 69:11
- Appraisal for Noah: 17:3, 37:78–81, 66:10
- Searches for Noah's Ark, sometimes referred to as arkeology
- Muhammad in Islam
- Epic of Gilgamesh
- Seven Laws of Noah
- Biblical narratives and the Qur'an
- Legends and the Qur'an
- Prophets of Islam
- Stories of The Prophets
- Noah's Ark, the vessel in the Genesis flood narrative
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- Stories of the Prophets, Ibn Kathir, Noah
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- What does the Qur'an say about the age of Prophet Nuh? Islam Stack Exchange. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
- Quran 71:1–28
- Qur'an 17:3
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- Surat As-Saffat Quran 37:75-77
- Lives of the Prophets, Leila Azzam, Noah and The Ark
- Qur'an 7:59
- Quran 11:27
- Qur'an 26:111
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- Qur'an 26:116
- Quran 11:29
- Quran 11:31
- Quran 71:6
- Quran 71:7
- Quran 71:9
- Quran 71:11
- Quran 71:12
- Qur'an 11:36
- Qur'an 71:26
- Qur'an 21:87
- Qur'an 26:168
- Qur'an 38:35
- Qur'an 54:10
- Lives of the Prophets, Leila Azzam, Noah and the Ark
- Quran 17:3
- Quran 37:75–79
- Quran 3:33
- Quran 4:163, Quran 26:105–107
- Quran 11:25, Quran 29:14, Quran 71:1–5
- Quran 23:23
- Quran 7:59–64, Quran 11:26, Quran 26:105–110
- Quran 11:35–41
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- Quran 11:44
- Quran 23:23–30
- Quran 57:26
- Quran 66:10 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)
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