Allah says concerning Nuh that He sent him to his people commanding him to warn them of the punishment of Allah before it befell them. He was to tell them that if they would repent and turn to Allah, then the punishment would be lifted from them. Due to this Allah says,
("Warn your people before there comes to them a painful torment.'' He said: "O my people! Verily, I am a plain warner to you.'') meaning, clarity of the warning, making the matter apparent and clear.
(That you should worship Allah, and have Taqwa of Him,) meaning, `abandon those things that He has forbidden and avoid that which He has declared to be sinful.'
(and obey me,) `In that which I command you to do and that which I forbid you from.'
(He will forgive you of your sins) meaning, `if you do what I command you to do and you believe in what I have been sent with to you, then Allah will forgive you for your sins. '
(and respite you to an appointed term.) meaning, `He will extend your life span and protect you from the torment that He would have made befall you if you did not stay away from His prohibitions.' This Ayah is used as proof by those who say that obedience (to Allah), righteousness and maintaining the family ties truly increase the life span of a person. This is like that which has been reported in the Hadith,
(Maintaining the family ties increases the life span.) Concerning Allah's statement,
(Verily, the term of Allah when it comes, cannot be delayed, if you but know.) means, hasten to the obedience (of Allah) before the coming of His vengeance. For verily, if He commands that to happen, it cannot be repulsed or prevented. For He is the Great One Who compels everything, and He is the Almighty Whose might all of creation succumbs to.
(5. He said: O my Lord! Verily, I have called to my people night and day,) (6. But all my calling added nothing but to (their) flight.) (7. And verily, every time I called unto them that You might forgive them, they thrust their fingers into their ears, covered themselves up with their garments, and persisted, and magnified themselves in pride.) (8. Then verily, I called to them openly (aloud).) (9. Then verily, I proclaimed to them in public, and I have appealed to them in private.) (10. I said (to them): Ask forgiveness from your Lord, verily, He is Oft-Forgiving;) (11. He will send rain to you Midrar,) (12. And give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers.) (13. What is the matter with you, that you do not hope for any Waqar from Allah) (14. While He has created you (in) Atwar (stages).) (15. See you not how Allah has created the seven heavens in tiers) (16. And has made the moon a light therein, and made the sun a lamp) (17. And Allah has brought you forth from the (dust of) earth) (18. Afterwards He will return you into it (the earth), and bring you forth.) (19. And Allah has made for you the earth a wide expanse.) (20. That you may go about therein in broad roads.)
Allah tells about His servant and Messenger, Nuh, and that he complained to his Lord about the response he received from his people, and how he was patient with them for this long period of time -- which was nine hundred and fifty years. He complained due to his explaining and clarifying matters for them and his calling them to guidance and the straightest path. So he (Nuh) said,
(O my Lord! Verily, I have called to my people night and day,) meaning, `I did not abandon calling them night and day, carrying out Your command and in obedience to You.'
(But all my calling added nothing but to (their) flight.) meaning, `the more I called them to come to the truth, the more they fled from it and avoided it.'
(And verily, every time I called unto them that You might forgive them, they thrust their fingers into their ears, covered themselves up with their garments,) meaning, `they closed up their ears so that they could not hear what I was calling them to.' This is similar to what Allah said about the disbelievers of the Quraysh.
(And those who disbelieve say: "Listen not to this Qur'an, and make noise in the midst of its (recitation) that you may overcome.'') (41:26)
(covered themselves up with their garments,) Ibn Jarir recorded from Ibn `Abbas that he said, "They concealed themselves under false pretences from him so that he would not recognize them.'' Sa`id bin Jubayr and As-Suddi both said, "They covered their heads so that they could not hear what he was saying.''
(and persisted,) meaning, they continued in what they were upon of associating partners with Allah and great disbelief.
(and magnified themselves in pride.) meaning, they were turned away from following the truth and submitting to it.
(Then verily, I called to them openly.) meaning, openly among the people.
(Then verily, I proclaimed to them in public,) meaning, with open speech and a raised voice.
(and I have appealed to them in private.) meaning, in discussions with them. So he tried various types of propagation to be more effective with them.
(I said: Ask forgiveness from your Lord, verily, He is Oft-Forgiving;) meaning, `return to Him and turn away from what you are involved in. Repent to Him soon, for verily, He is Most Accepting of the repentance of those who turn to Him in repentance. He will accept repentance no matter what the sin is, even if it is disbelief and polytheism.' Thus, he said,
(I said: Ask forgiveness from your Lord, verily, He is Oft-Forgiving; He will send rain to you Midrar,) meaning, continuous rain. Thus, it is recommended to recite this Surah in the prayer for rain due to this Ayah. This has been reported from the Commander of the faithful, `Umar bin Al-Khattab. He ascended the Minbar to perform the prayer for rain, and he did not do more than seeking Allah's forgiveness and reciting the Ayat that mention seeking Allah's forgiveness. Among these Ayat:
(I said: Ask forgiveness from your Lord, verily, He is Oft-Forgiving; He will send rain to you Midrar,) Then he (`Umar) said, "Verily, I have sought rain with the keys of the sky which cause the rain to descend.'' Ibn `Abbas and others have said, "It (Midrar) means some of it (rain) following others.'' Concerning Allah's statement,
(And give you increase in wealth and children, and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers.) meaning, `if you repent to Allah, seek His forgiveness and obey Him, He will increase your provisions for you and provide you with water from the blessings of the sky. He will cause the blessings of the earth and crops to grow for you. He will increase your live stock animals for you and give you more wealth and children. This means that He will give you more wealth, more children and gardens with various types of fruits. He will cause rivers to flow among these gardens.' This is the position of the invitation with encouragement. Then He made it balanced for them by using intimidation. He said,
(What is the matter with you, that you do not hope for any Waqar from Allah) meaning, great majesty. This has been said by Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Ad-Dahhak. Ibn `Abbas said, "That you all do not magnify Allah in the proper manner that He deserves to be magnified. Meaning, you do not fear His punishment and His vengeance.''
(While He has created you (in) Atwar (stages).) It has been said that this means from a drop of sperm, then from a hanging clot, then from a lump of flesh. Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Qatadah, Yahya bin Rafi`, As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd, all said this. Concerning Allah's statement,
(See you not how Allah has created the seven heavens in tiers) meaning, one above another. Can this be comprehended simply by hearing it only or is it of the matters that actually can be perceived with the senses which are known about the movements (of the heavenly bodies) and the eclipses. It is known that they (the scholars) have many different opinions about these matters that we will not discuss here. The only intent here is that Allah
(Allah has created the seven heavens in tiers and has made the moon a light therein, and made the sun a lamp) meaning, He made a distinction between them (the sun and moon) in reference to their lighting. He made each one of them in a set manner with a distinct quality so that the night and day may be known. They (the night and day) are known by the rising and setting of the sun. He also determined fixed stations and positions for the moon, and He made its light vary so that sometimes it increases until it reaches a maximum, then it begins to decrease until it is completely veiled. This shows the passing of months and years. This is as Allah said,
(It is He Who made the sun a shining thing and the moon as a light and measured out for its stages that you might know the number of years and the reckoning. Allah did not create this but in truth. He explains the Ayat in detail for people who have knowledge.) (10:5) Concerning Allah's statement,
(And Allah has brought you forth from the (dust of) earth) This (Nabat) is a verbal noun (for emphasis) and its usage here is most excellent.
(Afterwards He will return you into it (the earth),) (71:18) meaning, when you die.
(And bring you forth.) meaning, on the Day of Judgment He will repeat your creation just as He first originated you.
(And Allah has made for you the earth a wide expanse.) meaning, He spread it out, leveled it, settled it, and stabilized it with firm and lofty mountains.
(That you may go about therein in broad roads.) meaning, He created it so that you may settle in it and travel in it wherever you wish, from its different sides, areas and regions. All of this is from what Nuh informed them of concerning Allah's power and His greatness in creating the heavens and the earth. It demonstrates the favor that He did for them by making both heavenly benefits and earthly benefits. For He is the Creator and the Sustainer Who made the heaven as a building and the earth as a bed, and He enlarged His provisions for His creatures. Therefore, He is the One Who it is obligatory to worship, and accept as One God. No one should be associated with Him as a partner, because He has no equal, peer, rival, coequal, mate, son, minister or advisor, rather He is the Most High, the Most Great.
(21. Nuh said: "My Lord! They have disobeyed me, and followed one whose wealth and children give him no increase but loss.'') (22. "And they have plotted a mighty plot.'') (23. "And they have said: `You shall not leave your gods, nor shall you leave Wadd, nor Suwa`, nor Yaghuth, and Ya`uq and Nasr.' '') (24. "And indeed they have led many astray. And (O Allah): `Grant no increase to the wrongdoers save error.''')
Allah says that Nuh turned to Allah to inform Allah - 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 children of the world. They were those who were heedless of the command of Allah and they possessed delights of wealth and children. However, these things (worldly benefits) were also for gradual punishment and temporary respite, not for honor or blessing. Thus, Allah says,
(and followed one whose wealth and children give him no increase but loss.) The meaning of Allah's statement,
(And they have plotted a mighty plot.) is that they plotted a deceptive plot for their followers tricking them into believing that they were following the truth and correct guidance. This is like what they will say to them on the Day of Judgement,
(Nay, but it was your plotting by night and day: when you ordered us to disbelieve in Allah and set up rivals to Him!) (34:33) For this reason He says here,
(And they have plotted a mighty plot. And they have said: `You shall not leave your gods, nor shall you leave Wadd, nor Suwa`, nor Yaghuth, and Ya`uq and Nasr.') These are the names of their idols which they used to worship besides Allah. Al-Bukhari recorded from Ibn `Abbas 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' worshipped 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 worshipped until after those people (the ones who built them) had died and the knowledge was lost. Then, those statues were later worshipped.'' This has also been similarly reported from `Ikrimah, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah and Ibn Ishaq. `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn `Abbas that he said, "These are statues that were worshipped in the time of Nuh.'' Ibn Jarir 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, Iblis 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) worshipped them.''
Allah then says,
(And indeed they have led many astray.) meaning, by the idols that they took for worship, they mislead a large number of people. For verily, the worship of those idols continued throughout many generations until our times today, among the Arabs, the non-Arabs and all the groups of the Children of Adam. Al-Khalil (Prophet Ibrahim) said in his supplication,
(And keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols."O my Lord! They have indeed led astray many among mankind...'') (14:35,36) Allah then says,
(Grant no increase to the wrongdoers save error.) This is a supplication from him (Nuh) against his people due to their rebellion, disbelief and obstinacy. This is just as Musa supplicated against Fir`awn 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.) (10:88) Verily, Allah responded to the supplication of both of these Prophets concerning their people and He drowned their nations due to their rejection of what he (that Prophet) had come with.
(25. Because of their sins they were drowned, then were made to enter the Fire. And they found none to help them instead of Allah.) (26. And Nuh said: "My Lord! Leave not one of the disbelievers on the earth Dayyar!'') (27. "If You leave them, they will mislead Your servants, and they will beget none but wicked disbelievers.'') (28. "My Lord! Forgive me, and my parents, and him who enters my home as a believer, and all the believing men and women. And to the wrongdoers grant You no increase but destruction!'') Allah says,
(Because of their sins) It also has been recited as; (خَطَايَاهُمْ) (their errors.)
(they were drowned,) meaning, for their numerous sins, rebellion, persistence in disbelief and opposition to their Messengers.
(they were drowned, then were made to enter the Fire.) meaning, they will be carried from the flood of the seas to the heat of the Fire.
(And they found none to help them instead of Allah.) meaning, they will have no helper, assistant, or savior who can rescue them from the punishment of Allah. This is similar to Allah's statement,
(This day there is no savior from the decree of Allah except him on whom He has mercy.) (11:43)
(And Nuh said: "My Lord! Leave not one of the disbelievers on the earth Dayyar!'') meaning, do not leave a single one of them on the face of the earth, not even a lone individual. This is a method of speaking that gives emphasis to the negation. Ad-Dahhak said, "Dayyar means one.'' As-Suddi said, "Dayyar is the one who stays in the home.'' So Allah answered his supplication and He destroyed all of those on the face of the earth who were disbelievers. He (Allah) even destroyed Nuh's (biological) son from his own loins, who separated himself from his father (Nuh). He (Nuh's son) said,
(I will betake myself to some mountain, it will save me from the water. Nuh said: "This day there is no savior from the decree of Allah except him on whom He has mercy.'' And waves came in between them, so he (the son) was among the drowned.) (11:43) Allah saved the people of the ship who believed with Nuh, and they were those whom Allah commanded Nuh to carry with him. Allah said,
(If You leave them, they will mislead Your servants,) meaning, `if You leave a single one of them they will lead your servants astray.' This refers to those whom He will create after them.
(and they will beget none but wicked disbelievers.) meaning, wicked in their deeds and disbelieving in their hearts. He (Nuh) said this due to what he knew about them since he remained among them for nine hundred and fifty years. Then he said,
(My Lord! Forgive me, and my parents, and him who enters my home as a believer,) Ad-Dahhak said, "This means, my Masjid.'' However, there is no harm in understanding the Ayah according to its apparent meaning, which would be that he (Nuh) supplicated for every person who entered his house who was a believer. Then he said,
(and all the believing men and women.) He supplicated for all of the believing men and women, and that includes those of them who were living and those of them who were dead. For this reason, it is recommended to supplicate like this, in following the example of Nuh, and that which has been reported in the narrations and well-known, legislated supplications. Then, he said,
(And to the wrongdoers, grant You no increase but destruction!) As-Suddi said, "But destruction.'' Mujahid said, "But loss.'' This means in both this life and in the Hereafter. This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Nuh. And all praise and thanks are due to Allah.