Age of Prophet Noah (A.S)

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 teachings 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 ayahs 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 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 spans 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 Nooh! 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 shall reach them from Us.”

Notes:

5:19  يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ عَلَىٰ فَتْرَةٍ مِّنَ الرُّسُلِ أَن تَقُولُوا مَا جَاءَنَا مِن بَشِيرٍ وَلَا نَذِيرٍ ۖ فَقَدْ جَاءَكُم بَشِيرٌ وَنَذِيرٌ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

O People of the Book! Our messenger has come to you. He makes clear to you the time interval of the messengers , lest you should say. “no bringer of glad tidings and no warner came to us”. Now has come to you a bringer of glad tidings and a warner. And Allah has power over all things.

Ayat 7:160 gives information about Allah dividing Bani Israeel in 12 groups/Ummats  ( وَقَطَّعْنَاهُمُ اثْنَتَيْ عَشْرَةَ أَسْبَاطًا أُمَمًا  ). Ayat 5:18 informs about establishing 12 leaders in Bani Israeel. It could be that the span of an ummat is recognized by its leader’s name, e.g Nooh’s Ummat span was 950 years so people living during that time period would be known as Nooh’s ummat. Similarly there would be span of ummat of Ibrahim A.S, and other leaders e.g prophet Hood, Salih, Shoaib, Suleiman A.S etc, whose exact time spans are not given. These time periods may not correspond with the generally understood time periods of these messengers as per history books or bible. For example, in order to recognize the ummat of prophet Suleiman, we will have to see how Quran describes that time period. Also, please see the post regarding Bani Israeel to understand this term as defined in Quran (https://topicsfromquran.com/2018/09/29/israeel-and-bani-israeel/)

5:18  وَلَقَدْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَبَعَثْنَا مِنْهُمُ اثْنَيْ عَشَرَ نَقِيبًا ۖ وَقَالَ اللَّهُ إِنِّي مَعَكُمْ ۖ لَئِنْ أَقَمْتُمُ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَيْتُمُ الزَّكَاةَ وَآمَنتُم بِرُسُلِي وَعَزَّرْتُمُوهُمْ وَأَقْرَضْتُمُ اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا لَّأُكَفِّرَنَّ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَلَأُدْخِلَنَّكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ۚ فَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ مِنكُمْ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَاءَ السَّبِيلِ

Allah did take a covenant from the Children of Israel, and We appointed twelve captains among them. And Allah said. “I am with you. If you establish salat, give zakat/justification, believe in my messengers, honour and assist them, and loan to Allah a beautiful loan, verily I will cover from you your evils, and admit you to gardens with rivers flowing beneath; but if any of you, after this, covered/rejected faith, he has truly wandered away from the way.”