بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Al-Kitab says in 29:14 that Prophet Noah/Nooh A.S remained with his people for 1000 years except 50. Human beings normally don’t live that long on earth. Lets review some of other Ayas of Al-Kitab to understand the implications of this statement.
In Ayat 16:120 Ibraheem (A.S) is mentioned as an Ummat (nation/Era).
In 37:83, Ibrahim A.S is said to be of the same group as of Nooh A.S. If the group is implied for an Ummat, then this would mean that Nooh is also an Ummat.
In 11:8 the word ‘Ummat’ is used to mean time period/Era. This could imply that Ibrahim and Nooh’s apart from being individual human beings also represent Eras in which their influence prevailed. Ayat 25:37 informs about messengers in plural sent to the people of Nooh. So there were Messengers sent to the people of Nooh in an Era which is termed as Nooh’s Era.
29:14 وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ فَلَبِثَ فِيهِمْ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ إِلَّا خَمْسِينَ عَامًا فَأَخَذَهُمُ الطُّوفَانُ وَهُمْ ظَالِمُونَ
We sent Nooh/Noah to his people, and he remained among them a thousand years except fifty, thus the Deluge overtook them while they were unjust.
Al-Kitab uses different words for 1000 Years (Sana) and 50 years (Aam) in this Ayat. While normally people use both these words to mean ‘years’, there could be some technical difference in these two words e.g one of them means solar and the other lunar year.
The below Ayat states that Ibrahim A.S was an Ummat.
16:120 إِنَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ كَانَ أُمَّةً قَانِتًا لِّلَّهِ حَنِيفًا وَلَمْ يَكُ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
Ibrahim was indeed an Ummat, devoutly obedient to Allah, (and) true in Faith, and he was not of the Mushrikeen/associaters.
The below Ayas state that Ibrahim and Nooh were in the same group.
37:79-83 سَلَامٌ عَلَىٰ نُوحٍ فِي الْعَالَمِينَ إِنَّا كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ثُمَّ أَغْرَقْنَا الْآخَرِينَ وَإِنَّ مِن شِيعَتِهِ لَإِبْرَاهِيمَ
“Peace and salutation to Nooh in all Worlds!” Thus indeed do we reward those who do right. For he was one of our believing Servants. After that we drowned the others. Verily In his (Nooh/Noah’s) group was Ibrahim.
In the below Ayat the word ‘Ummat’ is used in the meaning of time period.
11:8 وَلَئِنْ أَخَّرْنَا عَنْهُمُ الْعَذَابَ إِلَىٰ أُمَّةٍ مَّعْدُودَةٍ لَّيَقُولُنَّ مَا يَحْبِسُهُ ۗ أَلَا يَوْمَ يَأْتِيهِمْ لَيْسَ مَصْرُوفًا عَنْهُمْ وَحَاقَ بِهِم مَّا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ
If We delay the penalty for them for a definite time period (term), they are sure to say, “What keeps it back?” Ah! On the day it (actually) reaches them, nothing will turn it away from them, and they will be completely encircled by that which they used to mock at!
The below Ayat mentions of messengers in plural sent to the nation of Nooh A.S.
25:37 وَقَوْمَ نُوحٍ لَّمَّا كَذَّبُوا الرُّسُلَ أَغْرَقْنَاهُمْ وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ لِلنَّاسِ آيَةً ۖ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا
And the people of Nooh/Noah,- when they rejected the Messengers, We drowned them, and We made them as a Sign for mankind; and We have prepared for (all) wrong-doers a grievous Penalty;-
As we know that normal life span of a person is not thousand year. This is not Allah’s Sunnat/practice to grant such long life span to human beings and Allah does not change his Sunnat/practice (17:77 ۖ وَلَا تَجِدُ لِسُنَّتِنَا تَحْوِيلًا). So a possible explanation would be that Nooh A.S in addition to being an individual, also represents an era of time approximately equal to a millennium. We get an indication of mention of nations associated with Prophet Nooh A.S in below Ayat, although actually only a few people were with Nooh as stated in Ayat 11:40.
11:48 قِيلَ يَا نُوحُ اهْبِطْ بِسَلَامٍ مِّنَّا وَبَرَكَاتٍ عَلَيْكَ وَعَلَىٰ أُمَمٍ مِّمَّن مَّعَكَ ۚ وَأُمَمٌ سَنُمَتِّعُهُمْ ثُمَّ يَمَسُّهُم مِّنَّا عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
It was said “O Noah! Come down (from the Ark) with peace from Us, and blessing on you and on some of the nations from those with you and (other) nations to whom We shall grant blessings, then a grievous penalty reach them from Us.”