The Sign of Noah’s Ark

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Al-Quran informs us that the ark of prophet Nooh (a.s) has been made, an ayat/sign for the worlds (آيَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ). It means that the majority of people of the world should have seen this sign or know about it. It is another matter that they don’t realize what it is, even when they see it.

29:14-15 وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ فَلَبِثَ فِيهِمْ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ إِلَّا خَمْسِينَ عَامًا فَأَخَذَهُمُ الطُّوفَانُ وَهُمْ ظَالِمُونَ فَأَنجَيْنَاهُ وَأَصْحَابَ السَّفِينَةِ وَجَعَلْنَاهَا آيَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ

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. But We saved him and the companions of the Ark, and We made the (Ark) a sign for all the worlds!
The Noah’s ark is a sign for all the world. Its not hidden from people’s eyes. Majority of the people of the world should have seen it either in person or remotely e.g in pictures if it is really such an ayat/sign as stated in Al-Quran.

Quran informs us about the nation of prophet Nooh (a.s). Prophet Nooh stayed and preached the message of the Lord for a long time, i.e serve Him alone and not to associate any with the Lord. However majority of his people did not believe in him despite prophet’s best efforts. Eventually the prophet was convinced that none of his people will accept the message except for those few who were already with him in faith. Then the prophet prayed to God to flush out the unbelievers from his land as they were only acting as distractors to the message of Allah. Allah ordained him to build an ark which was to sustain him and those with him from the flood which was ordained to overtake this land. Subsequently, a lot of water was released from the sky and the earth which cleansed the rejecters from this land. Prophet Nooh was instructed to prepare for bracing the flood waters. He prepared an ark with physical materials. This ark was made as per Allah’s guidance. He also gathered all necessary provisions for sustenance till the flood water recede. Subsequent to the flood, the land was cleansed of rejecters and the ark was made an ayat/sign for all eternity for the mankind.
In this post we will see what was the land of prophet Nooh (a.s), whether the flood was local to his land or global and what is the sign of the ark, left for posterity.

71-1-2 إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ أَنْ أَنذِرْ قَوْمَكَ مِن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِيَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ إِنِّي لَكُمْ نَذِيرٌ مُّبِينٌ

We sent Nooh to his people, “Warn your people before there comes to them a grievous penalty.” He said, “O my people! I am to you a warner, clear and open.

71:5-10 قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي دَعَوْتُ قَوْمِي لَيْلًا وَنَهَارًا فَلَمْ يَزِدْهُمْ دُعَائِي إِلَّا فِرَارًاوَإِنِّي كُلَّمَا دَعَوْتُهُمْ لِتَغْفِرَ لَهُمْ جَعَلُوا أَصَابِعَهُمْ فِي آذَانِهِمْ وَاسْتَغْشَوْا ثِيَابَهُمْ وَأَصَرُّوا وَاسْتَكْبَرُوا اسْتِكْبَارًا ثُمَّ إِنِّي دَعَوْتُهُمْ جِهَارًا ثُمَّ إِنِّي أَعْلَنتُ لَهُمْ وَأَسْرَرْتُ لَهُمْ إِسْرَارًا فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا

He said. “O my Lord! I called upon my people night and day. “But my call only increases (their) flight. Every time I called to them, that You (Allah) may forgive them, they thrust their fingers into their ears, covered themselves up with their garments and they increased in obstinacy and arrogance. Then I called to them openly. Then I addressed them in public and secretly in private. Thus I said, ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord; for He is Most-Forgiving’.

71:26-28 وَقَالَ نُوحٌ رَّبِّ لَا تَذَرْ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ مِنَ الْكَافِرِينَ دَيَّارًا إِنَّكَ إِن تَذَرْهُمْ يُضِلُّوا عِبَادَكَ وَلَا يَلِدُوا إِلَّا فَاجِرًا كَفَّارًا رَّبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيَّ وَلِمَن دَخَلَ بَيْتِيَ مُؤْمِنًا وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَلَا تَزِدِ الظَّالِمِينَ إِلَّا تَبَارًا

And Nooh, said. “O my Lord! leave not of the unbelievers, on the land! For, if You leave them, they will but mislead your servants, and they will breed none but wicked ungrateful ones. O my Lord! Forgive me and my parents and the believing men and believing women who enter my house, and do not increase the wrongdoers except in perdition”

Was Noah’s flood Global or local?

The flood was limited to the nation of Nooh as evident in the below ayahs.

25:37 وَقَوْمَ نُوحٍ لَّمَّا كَذَّبُوا الرُّسُلَ أَغْرَقْنَاهُمْ وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ لِلنَّاسِ آيَةً ۖ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا

And the nation of Nooh,- 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.
Only those people were drowned who rejected the ayahs of Allah.

10:73 فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَنَجَّيْنَاهُ وَمَن مَّعَهُ فِي الْفُلْكِ وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ خَلَائِفَ وَأَغْرَقْنَا الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۖ فَانظُرْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُنذَرِينَ

They rejected Him, but We delivered him, and those with him, in the Ark, and We made them inherit (the land) while We overwhelmed those who rejected Our signs. Thus see what was the end of those who were warned (but heeded not)!

The land in above ayat should mean a specific land not the whole earth. The subsequent ayahs will tell us which specific land is being talked about i.e the Holy land of Haram in Makkah. Till this day we see that this land has been made devoid of apparent unbelievers i.e unbelievers are not allowed to enter this Holy land. Therefore we can deduce that the reference of removal of rejecters by flood does not mean global flooding but means flushing out rejecters from the Holy land.

If you pay attention to a structure called ‘Hateem’ near Kaaba, you will notice that it is shaped as an arc or boat. It is a sign for all the people and open for the world to see.  From an aerial view when people do Tawaf around Kaaba, Hateem, gives the visual of a boat floating on waves of water.

Image result for hateem pictures

Image result for hateem kaaba animated gif

11:41 وَقَالَ ارْكَبُوا فِيهَا بِسْمِ اللَّهِ مَجْرَاهَا وَمُرْسَاهَا ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

So he said. “Embark on the Ark, it’s moving and staying is with the name of Allah! For my Lord is, be sure, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!”
People go round doing Tawaf of Kaaba reciting the name of Allah.

11:42-44 وَهِيَ تَجْرِي بِهِمْ فِي مَوْجٍ كَالْجِبَالِ وَنَادَىٰ نُوحٌ ابْنَهُ وَكَانَ فِي مَعْزِلٍ يَا بُنَيَّ ارْكَب مَّعَنَا وَلَا تَكُن مَّعَ الْكَافِرِينَ قَالَ سَآوِي إِلَىٰ جَبَلٍ يَعْصِمُنِي مِنَ الْمَاءِ ۚ قَالَ لَا عَاصِمَ الْيَوْمَ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ إِلَّا مَن رَّحِمَ ۚ وَحَالَ بَيْنَهُمَا الْمَوْجُ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْمُغْرَقِينَ

So the ark floated with them on the waves (towering) like mountains, and Nooh called out to his son, who had separated himself “O my son! embark with us, and be not with the unbelievers!” The son replied, “I will take shelter in a mountain which will save me from the water.” Nooh said. “This day nothing can save, from the command of Allah, any but those on whom He has mercy! “And the waves came between them, and the son was among those overwhelmed.

When there are huge no. of people, the visual appears like the boat is floating on big waves of water.

36:41 وَآيَةٌ لَّهُمْ أَنَّا حَمَلْنَا ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ فِي الْفُلْكِ الْمَشْحُونِ

And a sign for them is that We made their progeny embark in the loaded ark;

Image result for hateem kaaba animated gif
Prophet Nooh was instructed to prepare for bracing the flood waters. He prepared an ark with physical materials. This ark was made per Allah’s guidance. He also gathered all necessary provisions in terms of two pairs of all items for sustenance till the flood water recede.

23:27-30 فَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْهِ أَنِ اصْنَعِ الْفُلْكَ بِأَعْيُنِنَا وَوَحْيِنَا فَإِذَا جَاءَ أَمْرُنَا وَفَارَ التَّنُّورُ ۙ فَاسْلُكْ فِيهَا مِن كُلٍّ زَوْجَيْنِ اثْنَيْنِ وَأَهْلَكَ إِلَّا مَن سَبَقَ عَلَيْهِ الْقَوْلُ مِنْهُمْ ۖ وَلَا تُخَاطِبْنِي فِي الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا ۖ إِنَّهُم مُّغْرَقُونَ فَإِذَا اسْتَوَيْتَ أَنتَ وَمَن مَّعَكَ عَلَى الْفُلْكِ فَقُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي نَجَّانَا مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ وَقُل رَّبِّ أَنزِلْنِي مُنزَلًا مُّبَارَكًا وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ الْمُنزِلِينَ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ وَإِن كُنَّا لَمُبْتَلِينَ

So We inspired him (Nooh): “Construct the ark within Our sight and under Our guidance: then when comes Our command, and the fountain gushes forth, take on board all of two pairs (as provisions), and your near ones- except those against whom the word has already gone forth: And address Me not in favour of the wrong-doers; for they shall be drowned. And when you and those with you are settled on the ark, then say. “Praise be to Allah, who has saved us from the unjust people”. And say. “O my Lord! enable me to disembark with your blessing, for You are the best to enable (us) to disembark”. Verily in this there are signs and We do do take trials.
The ark was made with the guidance of Allah. The particular shape of Hateem causes the Tawaf around Kaaba to be in elliptical shape like all celestial objects which orbit around their centers. The Sha’air (شَعَائِرِ)/signs of this place i.e the house of Allah, Hateem, Saffa, Marwa and the well of Zamzam are all structures with location and shapes in accordance with divine wisdom.

11:39 وَيَصْنَعُ الْفُلْكَ وَكُلَّمَا مَرَّ عَلَيْهِ مَلَأٌ مِّن قَوْمِهِ سَخِرُوا مِنْهُ ۚ قَالَ إِن تَسْخَرُوا مِنَّا فَإِنَّا نَسْخَرُ مِنكُمْ كَمَا تَسْخَرُونَ

He (Nooh) was constructing the ark, every time that the chiefs of his people passed by him, they threw ridicule on him. He said. “you ridicule us (now), then (later on) we will be ridiculing you likewise!
Possible scenario of the event that happened at prophet Nooh’s time could be that, when the appointed time came, Allah caused torrential rains and flooding in the valley of Makkah. Kaaba is located at the low land of the valley of Makkah. The huge rainfall and the water gushing forth from the ground would flow towards Kaaba and gather there. The Ark made by Prophet Nooh A.S should be an ark big enough so that the people with him could stay safely on it. This flooding would last long enough to flush the rejecters from the Holy land. 
Also, considering allegorically, when the earth is filled with evil temptation as if being released from the skies and earth and people feel they may be overwhelmed by the enormity of evil temptations around them, then the refuge for them is the House of the Lord.

54:10-15 فَدَعَا رَبَّهُ أَنِّي مَغْلُوبٌ فَانتَصِرْ فَفَتَحْنَا أَبْوَابَ السَّمَاءِ بِمَاءٍ مُّنْهَمِرٍ وَفَجَّرْنَا الْأَرْضَ عُيُونًا فَالْتَقَى الْمَاءُ عَلَىٰ أَمْرٍ قَدْ قُدِرَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُ عَلَىٰ ذَاتِ أَلْوَاحٍ وَدُسُرٍ تَجْرِي بِأَعْيُنِنَا جَزَاءً لِّمَن كَانَ كُفِرَ وَلَقَد تَّرَكْنَاهَا آيَةً فَهَلْ مِن مُّدَّكِرٍ

Then he called upon his Lord. “I have been overcome, thus You help me. So We opened the gates of heaven, with water pouring forth. And We caused the earth to gush forth with springs, so the waters met (and rose) to the extent decreed. We bore him on an (Ark) made of tablets and nails. It floats under our eyes (and care). a recompense to one who rejects. And We have left this as a sign, then is there any that will remember?

After the rejecters were flushed out of the Holy land the water receded and the Ark rested at placed named ‘Judi’ in Quran. The sign of this ark is left for all eternity in the shape of Hateem at this place. When people do Tawaf around Kaaba, an aerial view of ‘Hateem’ looks like a boat floating on waves of water. The present ‘Hateem’ is left as a sign of the actual ark for posterity.

11:44 وَقِيلَ يَا أَرْضُ ابْلَعِي مَاءَكِ وَيَا سَمَاءُ أَقْلِعِي وَغِيضَ الْمَاءُ وَقُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ وَاسْتَوَتْ عَلَى الْجُودِيِّ ۖ وَقِيلَ بُعْدًا لِّلْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ

And was said “O earth! swallow up your water, and O sky! withhold!” and the water abated, and the matter was settled and (the Ark) rested on Al- Judi, and was said “Away with the unjusts!”
Prophet Nooh and his companions were made the Khalifas/Vicegerent of the Holy land (10:73).

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 will reach them from Us.”

Notes:

1- Almost all celestial bodies rotate in the same direction i.e anti-clockwise direction elliptically, as ‘tawaf’ around the house of the Lord.

Geek Answers: Why do all planets rotate and orbit in the same direction?

The word أَرْضُ‘/Ard’ used in The Quran 71:26 related to not leaving rejectors on earth, should mean ground/land and not necessarily mean whole of Earth. Examples of usage of ‘Ard’ for Land in Quran are given below:

7:110 …he wants to drive you out from your land

7:137 We let the people who were oppressed inherit the east and the west of the land which We have blessed…

12:9 “Kill Joseph or cast him to a land

12:80 …I will not leave the land until my father permits me…

14:13 …We will expel you from our land

20:57 He said: “Have you come to us to take us out of our land

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.”