Surat Hud (The Prophet Hud) 11 Meccan – Ayats 123Section – Three – Ayats 25-39

And indeed We have Noah to his People (with a Mission) – (saying): “I have come to you with a Clear Warning”! (25) وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَى قَوْمِهِ إِنِّي لَكُمْ نَذِيرٌ مُبِينٌ (25)
“That you worship none but God! Verily, I fear for you the Torment/Penalty of a Grievous Day!” (26) أَنْ لَا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا اللَّهَ إِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْم أَلِيمٍ (26)
But the Chiefs of the Unbelievers among his people said:”we see (in) you nothing but a man like ourselves; nor do we see that any (of the ones) who followed you but the meanest among us; in (Our) judgment (they are) immature; nor we see in (all of) you any merit above us; in fact we –rather- think you are liars!” (27) فَقَالَ الْمَلَأُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ قَوْمِهِ مَا نَرَاكَ إِلَّا بَشَرًا مِثْلَنَا وَمَا نَرَاكَ اتَّبَعَكَ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ هُمْ أَرَاذِلُنَا بَادِيَ الرَّأْيِ وَمَا نَرَى لَكُمْ عَلَيْنَا مِنْ فَضْلٍ بَلْ نَظُنُّكُمْ كَاذِبِينَ (27)
He said:”O’ my People! Tell me; if I have a Clear Sign/Proof from my Lord, and that He has sent Mercy (Prophet-hood) to me from His own Presence, but that Mercy? Shall we compel you to accept it when you are averse to it? (28) قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُ عَلَى بَيِّنَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّي وَآَتَانِي رَحْمَةً مِنْ عِنْدِهِ فَعُمِّيَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَنُلْزِمُكُمُوهَا وَأَنْتُمْ لَهَا كَارِهُونَ (28)
“And O’ my People! I ask you for no wealth in return for it; my reward is from none but God. But I will not drive away (in contempt) those who believe. Verily, they are going to meet their Lord, but I see that you are the ignorant ones!” (29) وَيَا قَوْمِ لَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مَالًا إِنْ أَجْرِيَ إِلَّا عَلَى اللَّهِ وَمَا أَنَا بِطَارِدِ الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا إِنَّهُمْ مُلَاقُو رَبِّهِمْ وَلَكِنِّي أَرَاكُمْ قَوْمًا تَجْهَلُونَ (29)
“And O’ my People! Who would help me against God; if I drove them away? Will you not then take heed/give a thought?” (30) وَيَا قَوْمِ مَنْ يَنْصُرُنِي مِنَ اللَّهِ إِنْ طَرَدْتُهُمْ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ (30)
“And I do not say to you with me are the Treasures of God, nor that I do know what is hidden (unseen), nor claim to be an angel. Nor yet do I say –of those whom your eyes do despise- that God will not grant them/bestow (all) that is good on them. God knows best what is in their souls; if I did, I should –indeed- be a wrong-doer/transgressor.” (31) وَلَا أَقُولُ لَكُمْ عِنْدِي خَزَائِنُ اللَّهِ وَلَا أَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ وَلَا أَقُولُ إِنِّي مَلَكٌ وَلَا أَقُولُ لِلَّذِينَ تَزْدَرِي أَعْيُنُكُمْ لَنْ يُؤْتِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ خَيْرًا اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا فِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ إِنِّي إِذًا لَمِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ (31)
They said:”O’ Noah! You have disputed with us, and much you have prolonged the dispute with us; now bring upon us what you threaten us with, if you speak the truth!” (32) قَالُوا يَا نُوحُ قَدْ جَادَلْتَنَا فَأَكْثَرْتَ جِدَالَنَا فَأْتِنَا بِمَا تَعِدُنَا إِنْ كُنْتَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ (32)
He said:”Truly, only God will bring it (the punishment) on you –if He wills- and then you will not be able to frustrate- or escape it!” (33) قَالَ إِنَّمَا يَأْتِيكُمْ بِهِ اللَّهُ إِنْ شَاءَ وَمَا أَنْتُمْ بِمُعْجِزِينَ (33)
“And of not profit will be my counsel to you –the much I desire to give to you (good) counsel- if it be that God Wills to leave you astray. He is your Lord! And to Him you will return!” (34) وَلَا يَنْفَعُكُمْ نُصْحِي إِنْ أَرَدْتُ أَنْ أَنْصَحَ لَكُمْ إِنْ كَانَ اللَّهُ يُرِيدُ أَنْ يُغْوِيَكُمْ هُوَ رَبُّكُمْ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ (34)
Or do they (the Polytheistic Pagans of Mecca) say:”He (Muhammad PPBUH) has forged it!” Say:”If I had forged it, then upon me is my crimes and sins! But I am free and innocent from all the crimes and sins of which you are guilty of committing”. (35) أَمْ يَقُولُونَ افْتَرَاهُ قُلْ إِنِ افْتَرَيْتُهُ فَعَلَيَّ إِجْرَامِي وَأَنَا بَرِيءٌ مِمَّا تُجْرِمُونَ (35)
And it was revealed to Noah:”None of your people will believe except those who have believed already! So (you should) no longer grieve over their (evil) deeds!” (36) وَأُوحِيَ إِلَى نُوحٍ أَنَّهُ لَنْ يُؤْمِنَ مِنْ قَوْمِكَ إِلَّا مَنْ قَدْ آَمَنَ فَلَا تَبْتَئِسْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ (36)
“But construct an Ark under Our Eyes and Our Inspiration, and do not address Me (further) on behalf of those who are in sin; for they are about to be overwhelmed (surely will be drowned in the flood)”. (37) وَاصْنَعِ الْفُلْكَ بِأَعْيُنِنَا وَوَحْيِنَا وَلَا تُخَاطِبْنِي فِي الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا إِنَّهُمْ مُغْرَقُونَ (37)
Forthwith he starts constructing the Ark; and every time that the Chiefs of his People passed by him, they threw ridicule on him (Mockingly). He said:”If you ridicule us now (Mock at us), we –in our turn- can look down on you with ridicule/mocking likewise. (38) وَيَصْنَعُ الْفُلْكَ وَكُلَّمَا مَرَّ عَلَيْهِ مَلَأٌ مِنْ قَوْمِهِ سَخِرُوا مِنْهُ قَالَ إِنْ تَسْخَرُوا مِنَّا فَإِنَّا نَسْخَرُ مِنْكُمْ كَمَا تَسْخَرُونَ (38)
“Bust soon you will come to know who it is on whom will descend a Penalty that will cover him with shame and disgrace; and on whom will be unloosed a lasting Penalty/Torment!” (39) فَسَوْفَ تَعْلَمُونَ مَنْ يَأْتِيهِ عَذَابٌ يُخْزِيهِ وَيَحِلُّ عَلَيْهِ عَذَابٌ مُقِيمٌ (39)

Wahba Mahmoud Diyab


Noah [PBUH] walked righteously and humbly as in the sight of God. With unselfish love for his people he warned them and taught them. But they did flout and reject his Message with scorn and insults. God gave him directions to build an Ark against the impending food which was to purify the world from Sin and Unrighteousness. In it were saved Noah [PBUH] and those who believed. So were promised salvation and God’s Peace, and Blessings to the Righteous evermore.

(Verses 25-26)- Noah’s [PBUH] Mission was to a wicked world, plunged in sin. The mission had a double character -as in the mission of all men of God- it had to warn men against evil and call them to repentance, and it had to give them the glad-tidings of God’s Grace in case they turned back to God; it was a Guidance and Mercy.

(Verse 27)- The Unbelievers were impelled by three powerful human motives of evil to resist Grace: (1) jealousy of other men; they said:”Why! You are no better than ourselves!” half perceiving the Prophet’s superiority, and half ignoring it; (2) contempt of the weak and lowly, who are often better intellectually, normally, and spiritually; they said:”We cannot believe or do what these fellows, our inferiors in social rank, believe or do!” : (3) arrogance and self-sufficiency, which is a vice cognate to (2), looked at from a different angle; they said:”We are really better than the lot of you!” – Now the claim made on behalf of God’s Message attacked all these three attitudes. And all they could say against it was abuse it impatiently, and call it a lie.

(Verse 28)- Noah’s answer (like that of the Man of God who spoke in later ages in Mecca and Al-Medina) is a pattern of humility, gentleness, firmness, truth, and love for his own people. First, he meekly –not exultingly- inform them that he has got a Message from God. Secondly, he tells them that it is a Message of Mercy, even in its warning, though in their arrogance the Mercy may be hidden from them. Thirdly, he tells them plainly that there can be no compulsion in Religious; but will they not accept with goodwill what is for their own benefit? He pleads with them as one of their own.

(Verse 29)- The fourth point in Noah’s [PBUH] address meets their accusation that he was a liar, implying that he was serving some selfish end of his own; on the contrary – he says- he seeks no reward from them but will bear any insults they heap on him, for he looks to God rather than men. But, fifthly: if they insult the poor and needy who come to him in Faith, and think that he would send them away in order to attract the great ones of the land, he tells them plainly that they are mistaken. In fact –sixthly- he has no hesitation in telling the blunt truth that they are ignorant ones, and not the poor who came to seek God’s Truth!

(Verse 30)- But –seventhly- again he pleads –with as much earnestness as ever- that he is one of themselves, and just doing his truest duty. Would they have him do less? Indeed, would they not themselves see the Truth and come into the goodly company of Believers?

(Verse 31)- A/The eighth point that Noah [PBUH] urges is that he is not a mere vulgar soothsayer pretending to reveal secrets not worth knowing, nor an angel living in another world, with no ties to them. He is their real well-wisher, delivering a true Message from God. B/See Surat Al-An’am 6 verse 50. C/But Noah [PBUH] will not close his argument without defending the men of Faith, whom the Chiefs despise because they are lacking in worldly goods. He tells them plainly that God perhaps sees in them something in which they –the arrogant Chiefs- are lacking. Their spiritual faculties can only be appreciated truly by Him to Whom all the secrets of the spirit are open. But he –Noah PBUH- must declare boldly his own Faith, and this is the ninth point in his argument.

(Verse 32)-  To Noah’s address the worldly Chiefs give a characteristic reply. In its aggressive spirit it is the very antithesis of the gentle remonstrance of Noah. Because he had gently and patiently argued with them, they impatiently accuse his of “disputing with them” and “prolonging the dispute”. They are unable to deal with his points. So they arrogantly throw out their challenge, which is a compound of hectoring insolence, unreasoning skepticism, and biting irony. “You foretell disaster to us if we don’t mend our ways! Let us see you bring it on! Now, if you please! Or shall we have to call you a liar?”

(Verse 33)- To the blasphemous challenge addressed to Noah [PBUH] his only answer could be: “I never claimed that I could punish you. All punishment is in the hands of God, and He Knows best when His punishment will descend. But this I can tell you! His punishment is sure if you do not repent, and when it comes, you will not be able to ward it off!”

(Verse 34)- But Noah’s heart bleeds for his people. They are preparing their own undoing! All his efforts are to be in vain! Obstinate as they are, God’s Grace must be withdrawn, and then who can help them, and what use is any counsel? But again he will try to remind them of their Lord, and turn their faces to Him. For their ultimate return to His Judgment-Seat is certain, to answer for their conduct.

(Verse 35)- The fine narrative of dramatic power is here interrupted by a verse which shows that the story of Noah [PBUH] is also a Parable for the time and ministry of Muhammad [PPBUH] the Apostle. The wonderful force and aptness of the story cannot be denied. The enemy therefore turns and says: “Oh! But you invented it!” The answer is: “No! But it is God’s own Truth! You may be accustomed to dealing in falsehood, but I protest that I am free from such sins.” The place of this verse here corresponds to the place of verse 49 at the end of the next section. While understanding this verse to refer to Al-Mustapha [PPBUH], as most of the accepted commentators understand it, it is possible also –I think- to read it into the story of Noah [PBUH], for all Prophets have similar spiritual experiences.

(Verse 36)- The story of Noah [PBUH] is resumed. A point was reached, when it was clear that there was no hope of saving the sinners, who were counting their own destruction. It was to be a great Flood. So Noah was ordered to construct a great Ark or a Ship, not a sailing ship, but a heavy vessel to remain a float in the Flood, so that the righteous could be saved in it.

(Verse 37)- It was to be built under the special instructions of God, to serve the special purpose it was intended to serve.

(Verses 38-39)- A/The ridicule of the sinners –from their own point of view- was natural. Here was a preacher turned to carpenter! Here was a plain in the higher reaches of the Mesopotamian basin, drained by the majestic Tigris –over 800 to 900 miles from the sea (the Persian Gulf) in a straight line! Yet he talks of a flood like the Sea! All material civilizations pride themselves on their Public Works and their drainage schemes. And here was a fellow relying on God! But did not their narrow pride seem ridiculous also to the man of God? Here were men steeped in sin and insolence! And they pit themselves against the power and the promise of God! Truly a contemptible race is man! B/The Arabic Aorist may be construed either by the present tense or the future tense, and both make good sense here. Following Al-Zamakhshary, I construe in the present tense, because the future is so tragic for the sinners. For the time-being the worldly ones looked down on the Believers as they always do; but the Believers relied on God, and pitied their critics for knowing no better; – for their arrogance was really ridiculous.

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