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Interpretation of Sura Hud - Verses 42-44

42. " So, it sailed with them amid waves like mountains. And Noah called out to his son and he was aloof: 'O my son! Embark with us and be not with the unbelievers. '"

Commentary

At long last, the final moment arrived and the Command for the punishment of this unruly nation was issued. Dark and ominous clouds darker than the darkest night covered the entire sky, massing on top of each other in an unprecedented manner. There was the terrible clap of thunder and the flash of lightning ceaselessly filled up the sky. They informed of a great disaster mounting in magnitude and terrible in character.

It started raining. The droplets grew bigger and bigger in size. The level of underground water rose and gushing fountains emerged everywhere.

The surface of the earth was soon turned into an ocean, and with the wind howling, mountain- like waves raged over this ocean, rising over each other, to come crashing down upon the surface of the stormy sea. Noah's Ark parted the mountain- like waves and made headway. The verse says:

" So, it sailed with them amid waves like mountains. And Noah called out to his son and he was aloof: ..."

Addressing his son, who was standing on the side and not far from him, Noah shouted:

"... 'O my son! Embark with us and be not with the unbelievers. "

However, his son's companionship and association with evil company had overtaken him to such an extent that his father's compassion against annihilation made no impact upon him.

43. " He said: 'I will take refuge in a mountain; it will save me from the water. ' Said he(Noah): 'Today, there is no protector from Allah's decree but( of whom)He has mercy. ' And the waves came between them, and he was among the drowned. "

Commentary

This obstinate and shortsighted son, thinking that he could escape Allah's anger, shouted implying that his father should not be worried about him. He would take to the mountain which could never be overtaken by flood- waters, and it would shelter him. The verse says:

" He said: 'I will take refuge in a mountain; it will save me from the water. ' ..."

Noah still did not despair. He advised his son once more, so as to lead him onto the True Path and overcome his son's shortsightedness and arrogance. He said to him that no power was able to save anyone from Allah's command. The only hope of being saved remained for him who was covered by Allah's blessing. The verse says:

"... Said he(Noah): 'Today, there is no protector from Allah's decree but(of whom)He has mercy. ' ..."

At this time, a wave, coming between them, overwhelmed his son, uprooting him as if he was a straw, and placed him among the drowned ones. The verse continues saying:

"... And the waves came between them, and he was among the drowned. "

The Educational implications of Noah's Flood

As we notice, the main aim of the Qur'an is to teach us lessons by recounting the didactic teachings of past history, from which one can draw the following inferences:

1- Purging the face of the earth: It is true that Allah is Compassionate and Kind. However, one must not forget that He is at the same time Wise. Whenever a nation becomes corrupt and does not answer the call of His messengers He judges it appropriate that that nation has no right to continue to live. Ultimately, their system will be overthrown through some natural or social revolutions.

This has not been confined to the Noah's nation, nor has it been confined to a particular time and place. As a result of the Divine Providence this has taken place throughout all ages and among all nations up to our time. The first and the second World Wars might be regarded as examples of such a purge.

2- Why Punishment was inflicted by a flood. It is true that a corrupt nation must be exterminated, but their means of annihilation can vary. The holy verses of the Qur'an provide evidence that punishments are commensurate with sins of the nations punished.

The Pharaoh relied on the River Nile which was the backbone of his power, and, interestingly, it became the source of his annihilation.

The People of Noah was an agricultural and a livestock- breeding nation. That ungodly nation had relied upon rainfall for everything, and ultimately that very nation was wiped out by rainfall.

If we notice that our contemporary fellow human beings are being devastated with their most modern arms and ammunitions, we must not be surprised, for the advanced industries which they relied upon for the exploitation of oppressed nations, would be eventually used for their own destruction.

3- Unreliable shelters of straw. It is usual for everyone to take shelter to something when in need. Some take refuge in their wealth, some find shelter in their position, some rely upon their bodily strength, and finally, some rely upon their power of thinking. However, as the above verses show, and as history has demonstrated for us, none of these can resist the command of the Almighty, and they will easily disappear just like a spider's web standing in the storms.

The ignorant and stiff- necked son of the prophet Noah committed the same fault. He thought that the mountains could protect him from Allah's Wrath. But, what a grave mistake! The sweep of a wave put an end to his life.

4- The Ark of Salvation. As it has been quoted from the blessed Prophet(p.b.u.h.) which is found in Shi'ah and Sunni books, the Prophet's family, which are the Imams and Ahl- ul- Bayt(a.s.), as well as the content of the school of Islam, have been designated as 'the Ark of Salvation'. That is, when tremendous changes occur in the mental, ideological, and social spheres of the Islamic community, the only means of salvation is to take refuge in the School of the Ahl- ul- Bayt(a.s.).

The tradition which talks about this 'Ark of Salvation', the tradition of/ safinah/(ship)has been generally accepted by the consensus of the Imamiah scholars and by more than 001 Sunni scholars as well. It has been narrated as follows: "Abouthar, the great companion of the Prophet(p.b.u.h.) , while holding the knob of the door of the Ka'bah, said with a loud voice: 'O you people! I heard the Prophet(p.b.u.h.) saying with my own ears, that the Prophet(p.b.u.h.) said 'The similitude of my Ahl- ul- Bayt(family)is like Noah's Ark; he who embarks upon it is rescued, and he who distances himself ?from it, will perish. ' Certainly, other great personalities at the dawn of Islam like Abou Sa'id Khedri, Ibn Abbas, Abdullah- Ibn Zubayr, and Anas Ibn- Malik have also quoted this tradition of the Prophet(p.b.u.h.) which has been mentioned in the known books of the Ahl al Sunna. 29

If we place this sequential 'Hadith"(tradition)alongside another sequential 'Hadith' which says: "The Muslims will be divided into 37 sects, out of which only one will be saved, " it would become evident that the Prophet(p.b.u.h.) himself considered this sect to be the one that follows the Ahl- ul- Bayt,(a. s.)and where he says 'He who embarks upon it will be saved, ' he means the same term/ najiyah/(saved).

44. " And it was said: 'O earth! Swallow down your water, and O sky! Withhold(your rain)! ' And the water abated, and the matter was ended, and it(the Ark)rested on the(Mount)Judi, and it was said: 'Away with the unjust people! '"

Commentary

The End of an Adventure

Noah left the ship up to Allah to take the rudder in His own hands. The waves had taken the ship in an undesignated direction. It has been quoted that the ship drifted for six months, passing by various places, including Mecca and the area surrounding the House of the Ka'ba.

Eventually, the decree ending the punishment and the return of the earth to its original state was issued. This verse explains the details and the conditions as well as the ensuing consequences in a concise, and at the same time, extraordinarily beautiful and eloquent manner in a few sentences. The earth was commanded to absorb all its water and the sky was ordered to stop raining; the water subsisted and the work was accomplished. The verse says:

" And it was said: 'O earth! Swallow down your water, and O sky! Withhold(your rain)! ' And the water abated, and the matter was ended, ..."

The ship came to rest on the slopes of Mount Judi, which is a famous mountain near Mosul and it was at this time that it was proclaimed that off with the oppressors! The verse says:

"... and it (the Ark)rested on the(Mount)Judi, and it was said: 'Away with the unjust people! '"

According to a number of Arab men of knowledge this verse is counted as the most eloquent and the most fluent of the Qur'anic verses. According to the narrations and the books of Islamic history it is said that some unbelievers of the Quraysh, starting a campaign against the Qur'an, decided to fabricate verses like those of the Holy Book. Their supporters provided them with the best food and drink for forty days including the kernel of a particular type of wheat, mutton, and old wine, so that their minds would be free of every kind of anxiety in order to compose the verses. However, when they arrived at the above verse, they were so moved by it that they gazed at one another in surprise, saying: "These are words unsurpassed and unequalled by all means, and they do not resemble those made by human beings. " Saying this, they abandoned their decision and dispersed in despair.

Notes:

(29) Refer to Tabari's Al Mu'jam al Kabir, Hakim Neyshabouri in Al- Mustadrak, Ibn- Kathir in his Commentaries; Suyuti's Tarikh- ul- Khulafa; Ibn Qutayba's Uyoun- ul Akhbar; Tabari's Zakha`ir- ul 'Uqba, Khatib ul Baghdadi in Tarikh ul Baghdad, Abou Na'im in Hilyat ul 'Auliya'; Ibn Abil Hadid in Sharh Nahj ul Balaqah, 'Alousi in Rouh ul Ma'ani; and other detailed books which have been mentioned in Ih qaq ul H aqq(vol. 9)from P. 270 onwards. See also Nafahat ul Azhar fi Khulasah 'Abaqat ul Anwar, Part 4 P. 370.

Adopted from the book : "The Light of the Holy Qur'an; Interpretation of Surah Hud" by : "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani and a Group of Muslim Scholars"

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