Ayaat 21-24 ― Prophet Nuh Complains about His People’s Response
Before we begin studying the tafseer of these ayaat one thing that should be kept in mind is that Prophet Nuh ‘alayhi salaam did not turn to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala complaining about his people at once. It took him nine hundred and fifty years of preaching and patience before he gave up. Therefore, in da’wah work patience and perseverance is the key. If you want to work for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then you need to bring in a lot of forbearance.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says that Prophet Nuh turned to Him to inform Him–the All Knowing from Whom nothing escapes-that he presented the clear call, as mentioned previously, and the comprehensive invitation in various ways. He called them sometimes by encouragement and sometimes by intimidating warnings. Yet, they disobeyed him, opposed him, denied him and followed the chiefs of the world. They were those who were heedless of the command of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and they possessed delights of wealth and children. However, these worldly delights were also for gradual punishment and temporary respite, not for honor or blessing.
“And they have plotted a mighty plot,” (71: 22) means that the chiefs of Prophet Nuh’s people plotted a deceptive plot for their followers tricking them into believing that they were following the truth and correct guidance. To dissuade them from following Prophet Nuh their leaders said,
“We see you but a man like ourselves, nor do we see any follow you but the meanest among us and they (too) followed you without thinking. And we do not see in you any merit above us, in fact we think you are liars,” [Surah Hud: 27].
“He is no more than a human being like you, he seeks to make himself superior to you. Had Allah willed, He surely could have sent down angels; never did we hear such a thing among our fathers of old. He is only a man in whom is madness, so wait for him a while,” [Surah al-Mu’minoon: 24-25].
The things that they said about Prophet Nuh were similar to those said about Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam by the Quraysh chiefs.
“And they have said, ‘You shall not leave your gods, nor shall you leave Wadd, nor Suwa’, nor Yaghuth, nor Ya’uq, nor Nasr,’” (71: 23) these are the names of their idols that they used to worship besides Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Only those names of the gods have been mentioned that later wound up among the Arabs. Bukhari recorded from Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu that he said, “The idols that were among the people of Nuh wound up among the Arabs afterwards. In reference to Wadd, it became the idol of the people of Kalb in the area of Dawmat al-Jandal. Suwa’ became the idol of the people of Hudhayl. Yaghuth became the idol of the people of Murad, then the people of Bani Ghutayf at al-Juruf in the area of Saba’ worshiped it after them. Ya’uq became the idol of the people of Hamdan. Nasr became the idol of the people of Himyar for the family of Dhu Kala’. These idols were all named after righteous men from the people of Nuh. Then when these men died, Shaytan inspired his (Nuh’s) people to erect statues in honor of them at their gathering places where they used to come and sit, and to name these statues after these men (with their names). So they did this (as Shaytan suggested), but these statues were not worshiped until after those people (the ones who built them) had died and the knowledge was lost. Then, those statues were later worshipped.”
Ibn Jareer recorded from Muhammad bin Qays that he said concerning Yaghuth, Ya’uq and Nasr, “They were righteous people between the time of Adam and Nuh, and they had followers who used to adhere to their guidance. Then, when they died, their companions who used to follow them said, ‘If we make images of them, it will increase our desire to perform worship when we remember them.’ So they made images of them. Then, when those people died and other people came after them, Iblees approached them and said, ‘They (your predecessors) used to worship these statues and they were granted rain by their worship of them.’ Thus, they (the latter people) worshiped them.”
This is one reason why people worship is forbidden and disliked in Islam. We raise our teachers and scholars to such high levels that we almost begin worshiping them. We cannot hear a bad word about them and anyone who disagrees with their teachings is our enemy. This is also the reason why photography or preserving pictures for memory is disliked in Islam. It paves the way to shirk. There have been incidences where people talk to their dead through pictures, or people have hung up pictures of their saints and scholars in their homes and make du’a to them.
“And indeed they have led many astray,” (71: 24) means by the idols that they took for worship they misled a large number of people. For the worship of these idols continued throughout many generations.
As a result of their refutation Prophet Nuh ‘alayhi salaam eventually invoked his curse against his people, “Grant no increase to the Zalimoon save error,” (71: 24). This is just as Prophet Musa ‘alayhi salaam supplicated against Fir’awn [Pharaoh] and his chiefs in his statement, “Our Lord! Destroy their wealth, and harden their hearts so that they will not believe until they see the painful torment,” [Surah Yunus: 88]. Prophet Nuh’s curse was in conformity with Divine Will, as it was revealed to him, “None of your people will believe except those who have believed already. So be not sad because of what they used to do,” [Surah Hud: 36]. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala responded to the supplication of both of these Prophets concerning their people and He drowned their nations due to their numerous sins, rebellion, persistence in disbelief and opposition to their Messengers.
“Because of their sins they were drowned, then were made to enter the Fire,” (71: 24) drowning was not their end but after death their souls were immediately subjected to the punishment of the Fire. This ayah is of those ayaat which prove the punishment of barzakh [the intermediary stage between death and Resurrection]. “…and they found none to help them instead of Allah,” (71: 24) meaning none of the gods whom they looked upon as their supporters and helpers came to their rescue. This in fact was a warning to the people of Makkah as if to say: If you too are subjected to the torment of Allah, these gods on whom you have placed all your reliance will avail you absolutely nothing. No helper, assistance or savior can rescue them from the punishment of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Ayaat 25-28 ― Prophet Nuh’s Supplication against His People
Prophet Nuh asked Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to not leave a single soul on earth because they will further mislead other people and give birth to wicked and disbelieving ones. He said this because he had lived among them for nine hundred and fifty years and knew them well. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala answered his prayer and destroyed all who were unbelievers including Prophet Nuh’s biological son who refused to accept the Message that his father had brought.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala saved the people of the ship who believed with Nuh ‘alayhi salaam, and they were those whom Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala had commanded him to carry with him.
Prophet Nuh supplicated for his and his parents’ forgiveness and everyone who entered his house. He also prayed for the believing men and women. Ibn Katheer writes that this includes those of them who were living and those of them who were dead. Here, we learn another tip. When we are making du’a sometimes in our anger we pray against someone and leave out to ask any goodness from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Prophet Nuh ‘alayhi salaam was angry at his people because he tried a lot to help them save themselves but they were rebellious. Out of despair he prayed against them but he did not forget the righteous believing servants of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala as well as his own parents. How often do we make du’a for others and especially our parents?
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala guide us in our matters and if He chooses us for His work, may He grant us the necessary wisdom and forbearance, aameen.
DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Surah Nuh