Noah/Nuh and the great flood

In both the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’an, Noah is instructed by God to build a ship, which allows a few members of humankind and two, a pair, s of each species of animals to survive the great flood.

There are subtle differences between the two versions of this story.

In the Bible, God is portrayed as extremely disappointed in humankind. Only Noah is worthy in his eyes. Noah and his family go on board and are saved, along with each species of animal. Animals are important, especially the dove, which Noah lets loose to see if the flood is receding. It returns with an olive branch, an image used widely to represent peace. When they stepped on dry land once again, God concludes a covenant with Noah and all living creatures that such an all-destructive flood will never happen again. The rainbow is the symbol of that covenant.

In the Qur’an, it is Noah/Nuh who is disappointed in his people. He tries to warn them of the approaching disaster, but they make fun of him. God tells him to build a ship, but that again brings ridicule upon his head. In his anger Noah asks God to destroy all unbelievers, a thing he will later regret. When the storm comes he is only allowed to bring other believers on board. Being one of Noah’s relatives is no guarantee for survival. His unbelieving wife drowns. The Qur’an compares Noah’s wife to the wife of Lut. Both women meet disaster, in spite of their husbands’ fame and piety. The idea expressed here is that each individual is responsible for the consequences of his or her own choice.

The same holds for Noah’s obstinate son, who took refuge in the mountains. The scene in which Noah takes leave of his son, begging God to spare him, is very moving. His son drowns.

However, the Qur’an story ends on a positive note as does its biblical counterpart. Nuh is called a prophet and his issue is blessed

In the Qur’an, surah 17 is named after Noah, but he also figures in other surahs. The Bible story of Noah is found in Genesis.


God plans destruction

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in his heart.

So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.

And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh is come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Genesis 6: 5-7, 11-13

Except Noah

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. Noah was a just man…

Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:8-9

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he…became heir of the righteousness… Hebrews 11:7

But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away.Matthew 24:37-39

How to build the ark

And God said to Noah… “Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. “

“And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. “

“You shall make a window for the ark…and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second and third decks.” Genesis 6: 13-16

The animals came two by two

“And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.

“Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.”… two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. Genesis 6:19-21,7:9

The flood
“And, behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.” Genesis 6:17

And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were upon the earth. And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.

Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth, and moved about on the surface of the waters… And all flesh died that moved on the earth… All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit life…died.

So He destroyed all living things…Genesis 7: 10, 12, 17-19, 21-22

The dove
…Noah opened the window of the ark… and… He… sent out…a dove, to see if the waters had receded from the face of the ground. …Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. Genesis 8:6,8,11

Noah’s family saved

Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive. Genesis 7:23

…Noah, and Noah’s sons …and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark. Genesis 7:13

Disembark with your family!

Then God spoke to Noah, saying,

“Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” Genesis 8:16-17

The rainbow, a promise

And God said: “I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth… when I bring a cloud over the earth…the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant…the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.

This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud.While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.” Genesis 9:12-15; 8:22


Noah warns his people
We sent Noah to his People (with the Command): “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: That you should worship Allah, fear Him and obey me: So He may forgive you your sins and give you respite for a stated Term:

…Ask forgiveness from your Lord; for He is Oft-Forgiving; He will…give you increase in wealth and sons; and bestow on you gardens and bestow on you rivers…What is the matter with you, that you do not place your hope for kindness and long-suffering in Allah?

Noah said: “O my Lord! Do not leave of the Unbelievers, a single one on earth! For, if You leave… them, they will but mislead Your devotees…” 71 Noah, 1-4, 10-13, 26

Warnings in vain

The leaders of his people said: “Ah! we see you evidently wandering (in mind).”

…they rejected him…7 The Heights,60,64

He said: “O my Lord!… I have spoken to them in public and secretly in private…

I have called to my People night and day: But my call only increases (their) flight (from the Right).

“And every time I have called to them, that You might forgive them, they have (only) thrust their fingers into their ears, covered themselves up with their garments, grown obstinate, and given themselves up to arrogance. 71 Noah, 5-7

Noah, construct an Ark!
It was revealed to Noah: “None of your People will believe except those who have believed already! So grieve no longer over their (evil) deeds. But construct an Ark under Our eyes and Our inspiration, and address Me no (further) on behalf of those who are in sin: for they are about to be overwhelmed (in the Flood).”

Forthwith he (starts) constructing the Ark: every time that the Chiefs of his People passed by him, they threw ridicule on him. 11 Hud, 36-38

Two of each, male and female
At length, behold! There came Our Command… We said: “Embark therein, of each kind two, male and female, and your family – except those (his son and wife ed.) against whom the Word has already gone forth – and the Believers.”

But only a few believed with him. So he said: “You embark on the Ark, In the name of Allah, whether it move or be at rest! For my Lord is, be sure, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!” 11 Hud, 40-41

Water from earth and heaven
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.

54 The Moon, 11-12
…but the Deluge overwhelmed them (Noah’s people ed.) while they (persisted in) sin. 29 The Spider, 14
…We delivered him, and those with him, in the Ark: but We overwhelmed in the Flood those who rejected Our Signs. They were indeed a blind people! 7 The Heights, 64

But We bore him on an (Ark) made of broad planks and caulked with palm-fiber: She floats under our eyes (and care): recompense to one who had been rejected (with scorn)! 54 The Moon, 13-14

Noah’s wife and son lost

Allah sets forth, for an example to the Unbelievers, the wife of Noah and the wife of Lut: they were… under two of our righteous Servants, but they were false to their (husbands), and …were told: ”You enter the Fire along with (others) that enter!” 66 The Holding, 10
So the Ark floated with them on the waves (towering) like mountains, and Noah called out to his son, who had separated himself (from the rest): “O my son! Embark with us, and be not with the Unbelievers!”

The son replied: “I will betake myself to some mountain: it will save me from the water…”

…And the waves came between them, and the son was among those overwhelmed in the Flood. And Noah called upon his Lord, and said: “O my Lord! Surely my son is of my family!…”

He (Allah ed.) said: “O Noah! He is not of your family: for his conduct is unrighteous.” 11 Hud, 42-43,45-46

Noah leaves the ark
The word came:

“O Noah! come down (from the Ark) with Peace from Us, and Blessing on you and on some of the Peoples (who will spring) from those with you…11 Hud, 48

Noah blessed
(In the days of old), Noah cried to Us, and We are the best to hear prayer.

And We delivered him and his people from the Great Calamity, And made his progeny to endure (on this earth);

And We left (this blessing) for him among generations to come in later times:

“Peace and salutations to Noah among the nations!” Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. 37 The Saffat, 75-80