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Appendix A: The Preaching Mission of Noah (sws)
Dr. Shehzad Saleem

The various stages of the Prophet Noah’s preaching mission are very compactly set forth in a brief sūrah of the Qur’ān: Sūrah Nūh. A short analysis of it follows:

a. The Propagation Phase

Noah (sws) began his preaching by warning his nation about the basic truths. The underlined words in clear simple terms state the three-point agenda which formed the crux of Noah’s message. These three points are, in fact, the basis of propagation and preaching of all the Prophets of Allah. Noah (sws) explicitly told his nation that they would be given a certain amount of time to mend their ways. If they do not do so, they would be destroyed:

إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَى قَوْمِهِ أَنْ أَنذِرْ قَوْمَكَ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يَأْتِيَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ قَالَ يَاقَوْمِ إِنِّي لَكُمْ نَذِيرٌ مُبِينٌ أَنْ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاتَّقُوهُ وَأَطِيْعُوْنِ يَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ مِنْ ذُنُوبِكُمْ وَيُؤَخِّرْكُمْ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى إِنَّ أَجَلَ اللَّهِ إِذَا جَاءَ لَا يُؤَخَّرُ لَوْ كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (٧١ :١-٤)

[O Prophet! just as We have sent forth you], We had sent forth Noah as a Rasūl to his people [with the directive]: ‘Warn your people before there comes to them a grievous penalty’. He said: ‘O my People! I am to you a warner, clear and open. [I call upon you] to serve Allah and remain within the limits set by him and obey me. [I inform you that as a result of this] the Almighty shall forgive your [previous] sins, and shall give you respite till an appointed time. Verily, the time appointed by Allah, when it comes, cannot be put off. Would that you understood this!’ (71:1-4)

The Prophets of Allah invest all their time and effort in trying to warn their people of the punishment which they would encounter if they do not mend their ways. In this regard, the Prophet Noah (sws) had the distinction of warning his people for an extremely long period: almost a millennium. His earnest calls should have melted their hearts and stirred their souls had they responded properly. However, the more he called them, the more they ran away from him. The following verses portray the reaction of the leaders of Noah’s people and spells out the basic reason for their denial: pride and arrogance:

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي دَعَوْتُ قَوْمِي لَيْلًا وَنَهَارًا فَلَمْ يَزِدْهُمْ دُعَائِي إِلَّا فِرَارًا وَإِنِّي كُلَّمَا دَعَوْتُهُمْ لِتَغْفِرَ لَهُمْ جَعَلُوا أَصَابِعَهُمْ فِي آذَانِهِمْ وَاسْتَغْشَوْا ثِيَابَهُمْ وَأَصَرُّوا وَاسْتَكْبَرُوا اسْتِكْبَارًا  (٧١ :٥-٧)

[He kept on calling them to this message but they did not pay any heed until at last] he said: ‘O Lord! day and night I have called my people but my calls have only added to their aversion. And whenever I called upon them [to show repentance] so that You [O Lord!] may forgive them, they thrust their fingers in their ears and drew their cloaks over them and persisted in their denial and bore themselves with insolent pride’. (71:5-7)

The sūrah goes on to show that after sometime Noah (sws), seeing the denial of his people, augmented his crusade and launched an extensive effort to beseech his nation: for a true preacher does not get frustrated at the obstinacy of his people; in fact the more they evade his calls the more he increases his pitch and the more hostility they show to him the more gracious he becomes:

ثُمَّ إِنِّي دَعَوْتُهُمْ جِهَارًا ثُمَّ إِنِّي أَعْلَنتُ لَهُمْ وَأَسْرَرْتُ لَهُمْ إِسْرَارًا فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا يُرْسِلْ السَّمَاءَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِدْرَارًا وَيُمْدِدْكُمْ بِأَمْوَالٍ وَبَنِينَ وَيَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ وَيَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ أَنْهَارًا (٧١ :٨-١٢)

Then I openly called them and then appealed to them in public and beseeched them in private: ‘Seek forgiveness from your Lord’ I said. ‘Indeed, He is ever Forgiving. [As a consequence] He shall send down on you abundant rain from the heavens and shall strengthen you with wealth and sons and shall make for you gardens and shall bring forth for you springs of water’. (71:8-12)

Once the truth had been unveiled to his addressees, they were scolded and reprimanded that their fate is at hand. It can be seen from the following verses that the earnest pleadings of Noah (sws) have given way to stern words of rebuke. A nation is often misled by its wealth and riches in the time of respite allotted to it by the Almighty according to His laws. They consider this period of reprieve as eternal and often cite it as a testimony of their own rectitude. The people of Noah (sws) too had become deeply engrossed in their misdeeds. The sūrah prods them that they must not misunderstand the purpose of the freedom given to them by Allah’s majesty and grace; they must be mindful of the precious time they are losing and if they continue to be indifferent, the Almighty shall decide their fate once and for all. The verses state the reason why must these people, who consider the Day of Judgement as something unlikely, remain mindful of His grace and majesty mentioned in the previous verse: if the Almighty has shown such a profound display of His Power and Grandeur in creating man, He can easily create him a second time:

مَا لَكُمْ لَا تَرْجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارًا وَقَدْ خَلَقَكُمْ أَطْوَارًا أَلَمْ تَرَوْا كَيْفَ خَلَقَ اللَّهُ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ طِبَاقًا وَجَعَلَ الْقَمَرَ فِيهِنَّ نُورًا وَجَعَلَ الشَّمْسَ سِرَاجًا وَاللَّهُ أَنْبَتَكُمْ مِنْ الْأَرْضِ نَبَاتًا ثُمَّ يُعِيدُكُمْ فِيهَا وَيُخْرِجُكُمْ إِخْرَاجًا وَاللَّهُ جَعَلَ لَكُمْ الْأَرْضَ بِسَاطًا لِتَسْلُكُوا مِنْهَا سُبُلًا فِجَاجًا (٧١ :١٣-٢٠)

What has come upon you that you do not fear the Majesty of your Lord, for He has made you in gradual stages in various moulds. [We said]: ‘See you not how God has made seven heavens one above the other? And made the moon a light therein and the sun a lamp? And Allah has grown you from the earth in such an elaborate way and to the earth He will return you and then He will suddenly bring you forth from it without any effort. And Allah has spread out the earth for you as a spreading that you may walk in its spacious passes [that lie between the mountains]. (71:13-20)

b. The Acquittal Phase

As soon as Noah’s propagation mission reached its culmination, he announced his acquittal from his people. He dissociated himself from them so that they could be punished:

قَالَ نُوحٌ رَبِّ إِنَّهُمْ عَصَوْنِي وَاتَّبَعُوا مَنْ لَمْ يَزِدْهُ مَالُهُ وَوَلَدُهُ إِلَّا خَسَارًا وَمَكَرُوا مَكْرًا كُبَّارًا وَقَالُوا لَا تَذَرُنَّ آلِهَتَكُمْ وَلَا تَذَرُنَّ وَدًّا وَلَا سُوَاعًا وَلَا يَغُوثَ وَيَعُوقَ وَنَسْرًا وَقَدْ أَضَلُّوا كَثِيرًا وَلَا تَزِدْ الظَّالِمِينَ إِلَّا ضَلَالًا (٧١ :١٥-٢٤)

Noah said: ‘O Lord! they have disobeyed me and followed those [leaders of theirs] whose wealth and children only added to their ruin and they contrived great schemes and said: “Abandon not these Gods of yours whatsoever and abandon not [this] Wadd nor Suwā‘; and neither Yagūth nor Ya‘ūq nor Nasr.” And [in this manner] they misled many. And [now, O Lord!] only increase these wrong-doers in further error’. (71:15-24)

c. The Judgement Phase

In the final phase, his nation’s fate was decided and they were wiped out:

مِمَّا خَطِيئَاتِهِمْ أُغْرِقُوا فَأُدْخِلُوا نَارًا فَلَمْ يَجِدُوا لَهُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ أَنْصَارًا (٧١ :٢٥)

And because of their misdeeds they were drowned and then were cast into a great Fire. Then they found none to help them against Allah.  (71:25)

The verses also refer to the punishment of the Hereafter encountered by them wherein they will be cast in Hell. The punishment of the next world has been stated in the past tense to show its certainty.

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