By Jehangir A. Merchant
Prophets are the messengers of Allah who came from time to time to guide mankind to the way of Allah, the path of righteousness. Amongst the many who came as guides and warners to the people, Prophet Noah (Alaihisalam)  was one of them. He lived long before the time of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (Salallahu alaihi wasalam), the last of the prophets. 
God appointed Noah as the prophet for his people, so as to guide them to the right path and turn them away from their evil ways. The Holy Qur’an tells us the story of Prophet Noah and his people in a number of suras , namely sura 57 (Nuh), sura 11 (Hud), and sura 23 (al-Mu’minun), and many ayats  therein. It tells us of the strong faith which the Prophet had in Almighty God and about the final destruction of those who ignored the Divine Message.
Commanding Prophet Noah to warn his people, God said:
“Warn your people before there comes upon them a grievous penalty.” – Holy Qur’an, 57:61
Obeying the command of God, Prophet Noah went to his people and said:
“I have come to you with a clear warning that you worship none but God. Verily I fear for you the penalty of a grievous day.” — Holy Qur’an, 11:25-26
The chiefs fearing they would lose their power and authority over the people they ruled, did not approve of what Prophet Noah was preaching and sought to detract the people from the True Path. They argued with the Prophet saying:
“We see nothing special in you except as a man like ourselves. Nor do we see any who have followed you but those who are the meanest amongst us and immature in judgment. Nor do we see in you any excellence over us; in fact we think you are a liar.” — Holy Qur’an, 11:27
Prophet Noah was not perturbed by their derogatory remarks and continued his divine mission purposefully. He called upon his people in a very polite and loving manner to mend their ways. He also warned them of the grievous consequences which would follow if they continued to worship the false gods and lead an immoral life. Assuring them that he was not seeking any wealth or power or favours from them, he said:
“And O my people! I ask you for no wealth in return: my reward is from none but God.” — Holy Qur’an, 11:29
But the chiefs continued to hinder Prophet Noah in his mission by instigating doubts about Noah. They would say to the people:
“He is no more than a man like yourselves. His wish is to assert superiority over you. If God had wished (to send messengers), He could have sent down Angels. Never did we hear such a thing (as he says), among our ancestors of old.” — Holy Qur’an, 23:24. 
The chiefs would then turn in anger towards the Prophet and challenge him arrogantly:
“O Noah! Indeed you have disputed with us and you have prolonged the dispute: now bring upon us what you have threatened us with, if you are of the Truthful Ones.” — Holy Qur’an, 11:32
Prophet Noah would then remind them that it was not in his but God’s power to punish them for their evil ways.
“Truly God will bring it on you if He wills, – and then, you will not be able to frustrate it.” — Holy Qur’an, 11:33
But all his warnings, his good advices and counsels seemed to fall on deaf ears. Except for a very few who had followed his guidance, others continued to worship the idols of stone with different names as attested in the following verse:
“And they have said (to each other) ‘Abandon not your gods: abandon neither Wadd nor Suwa, neither Yaguth nor Yauq, nor Nasr.” — Holy Qur’an, 71:23
Prophet Noah re-doubled his efforts but all to no avail. He would then cry out to his Lord:
“O my Lord! I have called to my people by night and by day, but my call only (increases their) flight (from the True Path). And every time I have called to them, that You may forgive them, they have thrust their fingers into their ears, covered themselves up with their garments, grown obstinate and given themselves up to arrogance. So, I have called to them aloud: further I have spoken to them in public and secretly in private.” — Holy Qur’an, 71:5-9
As the people became more obstinate and refused to accept God’s message accusing Prophet Noah of falsehood, God decided to bring down His punishment upon the unbelievers. To Prophet Noah, God commanded:
“Construct the Ark within Our sight and under Our guidance. Then when comes Our command, and the fountains of the earth gush forth, take on board pairs of every species, male and female, and your people except those of them against whom the Word has already been issued: and address Me not in respect of those who are unjust; for verily they shall be drowned (in the flood).” — Holy Qur’an, 23:27
As commanded, Prophet Noah now set upon the task of building the Ark with the help of the small group of believers. The sight of Prophet Noah and his men constructing the Ark seemed to amuse the chiefs and unbelievers. They did not realise the seriousness of the situation but only laughed and jeered.
“Whenever the chiefs of his people passed by him, they mocked at him…” — Holy Qur’an, 11:38
Prophet Noah would now answer back to their mocking comments in a very bold and straight-forward manner:
“…If you ridicule us now, verily we too shall mock at you, even as you mock (at us). But soon will you know who it is on whom will descend a penalty which will cover them with shame and upon whom will fall a lasting penalty.” — Holy Qur’an, 11:38-39
When the Ark was completed, Prophet Noah took with him his family and the believers, and a pair of every creature that was found on the land around him. Now God’s warning to the people that He would send floods upon them came to pass.
“At length, behold! there came our Command, and the fountains of the earth gushed forth.” — Holy Qur’an, 11:40
The flood waters began to rise. Believers who had so far suffered at the hands of the chiefs and idol worshippers found themselves safe in Noah’s Ark. They offered their prayers and prostration to Almighty God as thanksgiving for the Mercy He had bestowed upon them. The unbelievers who had ignored God’s guidance were in a grievous state. All was lost to them. The heavy downpour of rain, the strong winds, the deafening thunder and the blinding lightning created confusion in their minds and fear in their hearts. They ran helter-skelter in search for safety. They climbed the roof-tops and the trees but nothing could save them now as the waters rose higher and higher.
Amongst the unbelievers was Prophet Noah’s own son, and he too was desperately trying to save himself from the flood waters. Prophet Noah’s Ark with all aboard was sailing safely on the waters and just when the Prophet saw his son he called out to him and said:
‘O my son! embark with us and be not with the unbelievers’. The son replied: ‘I will betake myself to some mountain, it will save me from the flood’. And Noah said: ‘This day nothing can save you from what God has decreed, for only those on whom He has Mercy will be saved’. And the waves came between them and the son was among the drowned ones.” — Holy Qur’an, 11:42-43
Finally, when all the unbelievers were drowned in the flood, God commanded:
“O Earth! swallow up your water, and O Sky! withhold your rain! and the water abated and the matter was ended. The Ark rested on Mount Judi.”  — Holy Qur’an, 11:44
As the ark rested on Mount Judi, Prophet Noah prayed:
“O my Lord! enable me to disembark with Your Blessings, for You are the Best of all to enable us to disembark.” — Holy Qur’an, 23:29
This story from the Holy Qur’an is as a sign from God to the whole of humanity living in different times. It reminds us of the great powers of God. This is not to say that God only possesses the powers to destroy and punish; more so, it tells us of God’s Infinite Love, Care and Mercy He has for all mankind, for it is He Who sends His Guidance to every race and every people.
“And there never was a people, without a Warner, having lived among them.” — Holy Qur’an, Sura Al-Fatir, 35:24
According to Shia Imami Ismaili tradition and belief, material and spiritual well-being and peace lie in obedience to the Imam-e-Zaman, who is the Noah’s Ark as related in a famous tradition of the Holy Prophet (SAWS):
“The People of my Family are like Noah’s Ark; Whoever boards the Ark is saved, Whoever stays away is carried off by the waves.” 
Date article posted: October 4, 2011
 Alaihisalam (abbreviation AS) means ‘Peace be upon him’. Salallahu alaihi wasalam (abbreviation SAWS or SAS) means ‘God’s blessings and peace be upon him’.
 Our Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was the last in the line of the Prophets. There will be no prophet after him and he is therefore called Khatam al-nabiyyin – the Seal of the Prophets. The Holy Qur’an says: “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men but he is the Apostle of God and the Seal of the Prophets, and God has full knowledge of all things’ (33:40, Sura Al-Ahzab).
 Sura means ‘Chapter’. There are 114 chapters in the Holy Qur’an.
 Ayat means ‘Verse’. Each Quranic chapter contains a number of verses. The total number of verses in the Holy Qur’an is 6240, or including the 113 ‘Bismillahi-r-Rahmanir-Rahim’ with which the chapters open, 6353. Every chapter except the ninth opens with the ‘Bismillah’. There also exists a slight difference in the numbering of verses. Kufah readers count them 6329, Basrah 6204, Syria 6225, Mecca 6219, Medina 6211. But this is a difference of computation only, some readers marking the end of a verse where others do not.
 The wrong doers who never wanted to desist from evil and give up their false worship always questioned as to why Angels were not sent to them as Messengers. They would ask: “What sort of an apostle is this, who eats food and walks though the streets’? Why has not an angel been sent down to give admonition with him’? (Holy Qur’an, 25:7, Sura Al-Furqan).
The Arabs during the time of Prophet Muhammad brought forward the same argument and God commanded our Holy Prophet to answer: “If there were settled on earth, angels walking about in peace and quiet, We should certainly have sent for them an Angel for an apostle down from the heavens” (17:95, Sura Bani-Israel).
Because men inhabit this earth it is only natural that Prophets who bring God’s message to Mankind are also men and not angels.
 Jabal (Mount) Judi is situated in the modern Turkish district of Bohtan. The great mountain mass of the Ararat Plateau dominates the district. This mountain system “is unique in the Old World in containing great sheets of water that are bitter lakes without outlets, Lake Van and Lake Urumiya being the chief.” (Encyclopaedia Brittanica). Such would be the very region for a stupendous deluge if the usual scanty rainfall were to be changed into a very heavy downpour. The region has many local traditions connected with Noah and the flood.
 The Divine Guide in Early Shi’ism by Mohamad Ali Amir-Moezzi, page 125, published by the State University of New York, 1994.
About the author: This is a revised version of Alwaez Rai Jehangir Merchant’s original article which was published in Ilm magazine, July 1976, under his pen-name Jami. He edited and wrote extensively for the flagship UK Ismaili magazine. Alwaez Jehangir served the Ismailia Association (now the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board, ITREB) in Mozambique, Tanzania and the UK from 1954 until 1992. He is now retired and lives in Vancouver, BC, with his wife Alwaeza Maleksultan, who served the same institution for as many years.
For articles by Alwaez Jehangir on this Website please click:
1. The Establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate
2. Ghadir-Khumm and the Two Weighty Matters (includes author’s detailed profile)
3. The Parable of Moses and Khidr in the Holy Qur’an
4. Text and Explanation of “Eji Shah Islamshah Amne Maliya”
5. A Translation of Pir Sadardin’s Ginan “Jem Jem Jugatsu Preet Kareva”
6. The Frontispiece of the Ismaili Jamatkhana in Mashhad, Iran
1. Top: Mughal miniature reproduced with the permission of the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. http://www.asia.si.edu
2. Centre: Miniature from Hafiz-i Abru’s Majma al-tawarikh, courtesy The David Collection, Copenhagen, Denmark. www.davidmus.dk/en
3. Bottom: Noah’s mausoleum in Azerbaijan from Wikipedia.
For more artwork from the David Collection on this Website, please click: Literary Reading: Fatimid Coins at the David Museum in Copenhagen, Part I
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