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Nuh's preaching to His People, and Their Response

Here Allah tells us about His servant and Messenger Nuh (peace be upon him) who was the first Messenger sent by Allah to the people of earth after they started to worship idols. Allah sent him to forbid that and to warn people of the consequences of idol worship. But his people belied him and continued their evil practice of worshipping idols besides Allah. Allah revealed that their disbelieving in him was akin to disbelieving in all the Messengers, So Allah said:

﴿ كَذَّبَتۡ قَوۡمُ نُوحٍ ٱلۡمُرۡسَلِينَ إِذۡ قَالَ لَهُمۡ أَخُوهُمۡ نُوحٌ أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ

(The people of Nuh belied the Messengers. When their brother Nuh said to them: "Will you not have Taqwa'') meaning, `do you not fear Allah when you worship others instead of Him'

﴿ إِنِّى لَكُمۡ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ۬

(I am a trustworthy Messenger to you.) means, `I am the Messenger of Allah to you, faithfully fulfilling the mission with which Allah has sent me. I convey the Messages of my Lord to you, and I do not add anything to them or take anything away from them.

﴿ فَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ وَمَآ أَسۡـَٔلُكُمۡ عَلَيۡهِ مِنۡ أَجۡرٍ‌ۖ

(So have Taqwa of Allah, and obey me. No reward do I ask of you for it;) means, `I do not want any payment for the advice I give you; I will save my reward for it with Allah. '

﴿ فَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ

(So have Taqwa of Allah, and obey me.) `It is clear to you that I am telling the truth and that I am faithfully fulfilling the mission with which Allah has entrusted me.'

﴿ قَالُوٓاْ أَنُؤۡمِنُ لَكَ وَٱتَّبَعَكَ ٱلۡأَرۡذَلُونَ قَالَ وَمَا عِلۡمِى بِمَا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ إِنۡ حِسَابُہُمۡ إِلَّا عَلَىٰ رَبِّى‌ۖ لَوۡ تَشۡعُرُونَ وَمَآ أَنَا۟ بِطَارِدِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ إِنۡ أَنَا۟ إِلَّا نَذِيرٌ۬ مُّبِينٌ۬

(111. They said: "Shall we believe in you, when the inferior follow you'') (112. He said: "And what knowledge have I of what they used to do'') (113. "Their account is only with my Lord, if you could (but) know.'') (114. "And I am not going to drive away the believers.'') (115. "I am only a plain warner.'')

The Demand of the People of Nuh and His Response

They said: "We do not believe in you, and we will not follow you and become equal to the meanest of the people, who follow you and believe in you, and they are the lowest among us.''

﴿ قَالُوٓاْ أَنُؤۡمِنُ لَكَ وَٱتَّبَعَكَ ٱلۡأَرۡذَلُونَ قَالَ وَمَا عِلۡمِى بِمَا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ

(They said: "Shall we believe in you, when the inferior follow you'' He said: "And what knowledge have I of what they used to do'') meaning, `what does it have to do with me if they follow me No matter what they used to do before, I do not have to check on them and examine their background; all I have to do is accept it if they believe in me; whatever is in their hearts is for Allah to know.'

﴿ إِنۡ حِسَابُہُمۡ إِلَّا عَلَىٰ رَبِّى‌ۖ لَوۡ تَشۡعُرُونَ وَمَآ أَنَا۟ بِطَارِدِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ

(Their account is only with my Lord, if you could (but) know. And I am not going to drive away the believers.) It seems that they asked him to drive these people away, then they would follow him, but he refused to do that, and said:

﴿ وَمَآ أَنَا۟ بِطَارِدِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ إِنۡ أَنَا۟ إِلَّا نَذِيرٌ۬ مُّبِينٌ۬

(And I am not going to drive away the believers. I am only a plain warner.) meaning, `I have been sent as a warner, and whoever obeys me and follows me and believes in me, then he belongs to me and I to him, whether he is noble or common, upper-class or lower-class.'

﴿ قَالُواْ لَٮِٕن لَّمۡ تَنتَهِ يَـٰنُوحُ لَتَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلۡمَرۡجُومِينَ قَالَ رَبِّ إِنَّ قَوۡمِى كَذَّبُونِ فَٱفۡتَحۡ بَيۡنِى وَبَيۡنَهُمۡ فَتۡحً۬ا وَنَجِّنِى وَمَن مَّعِىَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ فَأَنجَيۡنَـٰهُ وَمَن مَّعَهُ ۥ فِى ٱلۡفُلۡكِ ٱلۡمَشۡحُونِ ثُمَّ أَغۡرَقۡنَا بَعۡدُ ٱلۡبَاقِينَ إِنَّ فِى ذَٲلِكَ لَأَيَةً۬‌ۖ وَمَا كَانَ أَكۡثَرُهُم مُّؤۡمِنِينَ وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَهُوَ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ

(116. They said: "If you cease not, O Nuh you will surely be among those stoned.'') (117. He said: "My Lord! Verily, my people have denied me.'') (118. "Therefore judge You between me and them, and save me and those of the believers who are with me.'') (119. And We saved him and those with him in the laden ship.) (120. Then We drowned the rest thereafter.) (121. Verily, in this is indeed a sign, yet most of them are not believers.) (122. And verily your Lord, He is indeed the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful.)

His People's Threat, Nuh's Prayer against Them, and Their Destruction

Nuh stayed among his people for a long time, calling them to Allah night and day, in secret and openly. The more he repeated his call to them, the more determined were they to cling to their extreme disbelief and resist his call. In the end, they said:

﴿ لَٮِٕن لَّمۡ تَنتَهِ يَـٰنُوحُ لَتَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلۡمَرۡجُومِينَ

(If you cease not, O Nuh you will surely be among those stoned.) meaning, `if you do not stop calling us to your religion,'

﴿ لَتَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلۡمَرۡجُومِينَ

(you will surely be among those stoned.) meaning, `we will stone you.' At that point, he prayed against them, and Allah responded to his prayer. Nuh said:

﴿ رَبِّ إِنَّ قَوۡمِى كَذَّبُونِ فَٱفۡتَحۡ بَيۡنِى وَبَيۡنَهُمۡ فَتۡحً۬ا

(My Lord! Verily, my people have denied me. Therefore judge You between me and them.) This is like the Ayah:

﴿ فَدَعَا رَبَّهُ ۥۤ أَنِّى مَغۡلُوبٌ۬ فَٱنتَصِرۡ

(Then he invoked his Lord (saying): "I have been overcome, so help (me)!'')(54:10) And Allah says here:

﴿ فَأَنجَيۡنَـٰهُ وَمَن مَّعَهُ ۥ فِى ٱلۡفُلۡكِ ٱلۡمَشۡحُونِ ثُمَّ أَغۡرَقۡنَا بَعۡدُ ٱلۡبَاقِينَ

(And We saved him and those with him in the laden ship. Then We drowned the rest thereafter.) The "laden ship'' is one that is filled with cargo and the couples, one pair from every species, that were carried in it. This Ayah means: `We saved Nuh and all of those who followed him, and We drowned those who disbelieved in him and went against his commands, all of them.'

﴿ إِنَّ فِى ذَٲلِكَ لَأَيَةً۬‌ۖ وَمَا ڪَانَ أَكۡثَرُهُم مُّؤۡمِنِينَ وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَهُوَ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ

(Verily, in this is indeed a sign, yet most of them are not believers. And verily your Lord, He is indeed the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful.)

﴿ كَذَّبَتۡ عَادٌ ٱلۡمُرۡسَلِينَ إِذۡ قَالَ لَهُمۡ أَخُوهُمۡ هُودٌ أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ إِنِّى لَكُمۡ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ۬ فَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ وَمَآ أَسۡـَٔلُكُمۡ عَلَيۡهِ مِنۡ أَجۡرٍ‌ۖ إِنۡ أَجۡرِىَ إِلَّا عَلَىٰ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ أَتَبۡنُونَ بِكُلِّ رِيعٍ ءَايَةً۬ تَعۡبَثُونَ
﴿ وَتَتَّخِذُونَ مَصَانِعَ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَخۡلُدُونَ وَإِذَا بَطَشۡتُم بَطَشۡتُمۡ جَبَّارِينَ فَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَمَدَّكُم بِمَا تَعۡلَمُونَ أَمَدَّكُم بِأَنۡعَـٰمٍ۬ وَبَنِينَ وَجَنَّـٰتٍ۬ وَعُيُونٍ إِنِّىٓ أَخَافُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ عَذَابَ يَوۡمٍ عَظِيمٍ۬

(123. `Ad denied the Messengers.) (124. When their brother Hud said to them: "Will you not have Taqwa'') (125. "Verily, I am a trustworthy Messenger to you.'') (126. "So, have Taqwa of Allah, and obey me.'') (127. "No reward do I ask of you for it; my reward is only from the Lord of all that exists.'') (128. "Do you build on every Ri` an Ayah for your amusement'') (129. "And do you get for yourselves Masani` as if you will live therein forever'') (130. "And when you seize (somebody), seize you (him) as tyrants'') (131. "So have Taqwa of Allah, and obey me.'') (132. "And have Taqwa of Him, fear Him Who has aided you with all (good things) that you know.'') (133. "He has aided you with cattle and children.'') (134. "And gardens and springs.'') (135. "Verily, I fear for you the torment of a Great Day.'')

Hud's preaching to His People `Ad

Here Allah tells us about His servant and Messenger Hud, when he called his people `Ad. His people used to live in the Ahqaf, curved sand-hills near Hadramawt, on the borders of Yemen. They lived after the time of Nuh, as Allah says in Surat Al-A`raf:

﴿ وَٱذۡڪُرُوٓاْ إِذۡ جَعَلَكُمۡ خُلَفَآءَ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ قَوۡمِ نُوحٍ۬ وَزَادَكُمۡ فِى ٱلۡخَلۡقِ بَصۜۡطَةً۬‌ۖ

(And remember that He made you successors after the people of Nuh and increased you amply in stature) (7:69). This refers to the fact that they were physically strong and well-built, and very violent, and very tall; they had also been given a great deal of provisions, wealth, gardens, rivers, sons, crops and fruits. Yet despite all of that, they worshipped others besides Allah. So Allah sent Hud, one of their own, as a Messenger bringing them good news and delivering warnings. He called them to worship Allah alone, and he warned them of Allah's wrath and punishment if they were to go against him and treating him harshly. He said to them, as Nuh had said to his people:

﴿ أَتَبۡنُونَ بِكُلِّ رِيعٍ ءَايَةً۬ تَعۡبَثُونَ

(Do you build on every Ri` an Ayah for your amusement) The scholars of Tafsir differed over the meaning of the word Ri`. In brief, they said that it refers to an elevated location at a well-known crossroads, where they would build a huge, dazzling, sturdy structure, this is why he said:

﴿ أَتَبۡنُونَ بِكُلِّ رِيعٍ ءَايَةً۬

(Do you build on every Ri` an Ayah) i.e., a well-known landmark,

﴿ تَعۡبَثُونَ

(for your amusement) meaning, `you are only doing that for the purpose of frivolity, not because you need it, but for fun and to show off your strength.' So their Prophet (peace be upon him) denounced them for doing that, because it was a waste of time and exhausted people's bodies for no purpose, and kept them busy with something that was of no benefit in this world or the next. He said:

﴿ وَتَتَّخِذُونَ مَصَانِعَ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَخۡلُدُونَ

(And do you get for yourselves Masani` as if you will live therein forever) Mujahid said, "This means fortresses built up strong and high and structures that are built to last.''

﴿ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَخۡلُدُونَ

(as if you will live therein forever) means, `so that you may stay there forever, but that is not going to happen, because they will eventually cease to be, just as happened in the case of those who came before you.'

﴿ وَإِذَا بَطَشۡتُم بَطَشۡتُمۡ جَبَّارِينَ

(And when you seize (somebody), seize you (him) as tyrants) They are described as being strong, violent and tyrannical.

﴿ فَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ

(So, have Taqwa of Allah, and obey me.) `Worship your Lord and obey your Messenger.' Then Hud began reminding them of the blessings that Allah had bestowed upon them. He said:

﴿ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَمَدَّكُم بِمَا تَعۡلَمُونَ أَمَدَّكُم بِأَنۡعَـٰمٍ۬ وَبَنِينَ وَجَنَّـٰتٍ۬ وَعُيُونٍ إِنِّىٓ أَخَافُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ عَذَابَ يَوۡمٍ عَظِيمٍ۬

(And have Taqwa of Him, Who has aided you with all that you know. He has aided you with cattle and children, and gardens and springs. Verily, I fear for you the torment of a Great Day.) meaning, `if you disbelieve and oppose (your Prophet).' So he called them to Allah with words of encouragement and words of warning, but it was to no avail.

﴿ قَالُواْ سَوَآءٌ عَلَيۡنَآ أَوَعَظۡتَ أَمۡ لَمۡ تَكُن مِّنَ ٱلۡوَٲعِظِينَ إِنۡ هَـٰذَآ إِلَّا خُلُقُ ٱلۡأَوَّلِينَ وَمَا نَحۡنُ بِمُعَذَّبِينَ
﴿ فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَأَهۡلَكۡنَـٰهُمۡ‌ۗ إِنَّ فِى ذَٲلِكَ لَأَيَةً۬‌ۖ وَمَا كَانَ أَكۡثَرُهُم مُّؤۡمِنِينَ وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَهُوَ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ

(136. They said: "It is the same to us whether you preach or be not of those who preach.'') (137. "This is no other than Khuluq of the ancients,'') (138. "And we are not going to be punished.'') (139. So they denied him, and We destroyed them. Verily, in this is indeed a sign, yet most of them are not believers.) (140. And verily your Lord, He is indeed the Almighty, the Most Merciful.)