The Greatest Flood in Human History
After almost a millennium of trying to spread the message of Allah, Nuh AS was entrusted with the final task of building an ark – one of a size never seen by mankind previously. The instructions on the structure and dimensions were divinely inspired by Allah – in short, Nuh AS had no idea what he was building and why, but he obeyed the commandment of Allah.
The construction of the ark by Nuh AS gave the disbelievers additional fodder to jeer and ridicule him. It was unfeasible to the disbelievers that a vessel, much less of such gigantic proportions, would have been of any use to anyone. Meanwhile, as irrational as it seemed to build a ship on dry land, Nuh AS knew that the qadr of Allah was coming, and against all opposition and mockery, continued to build it in line with the specifications commanded by Allah. He did not know what was coming, but he only obeyed the commands of Allah.
Part of the opposition came from his own household. His wife, who was also the mother of all his children, perhaps embarrassed by her husband's actions, sided with the disbelievers in making fun of him. His own son was also a disbeliever, although some reports mention that he kept his disbelief secret until the time came to board the ark. Emotionally, these could not have been easy times for Nuh AS, to be rejected and reviled by his own community and close family, especially when his only alleged crime was to lead people away from falsehood and towards the path of righteousness.
Nuh AS told the disbelievers: "If you ridicule us now, we shall jeer you likewise." (11:38), meaning that while the disbelievers laughed at Nuh AS for expecting a flood of such magnitude, it would be Nuh AS and the believers who would have the last laugh when the ark carried them to safety.
The ark was designed to survive the battering of the mighty flood that would soon be unleashed upon Nuh's AS community. Made of planks and tar, it had three decks. The lowest deck was designated for animals and cattle, the middle for humans, and the upper deck for birds.
When the time came, Nuh AS loaded the ark with a pair of every kind of animal, male and female, so that the species would survive. Also to board the ark were the smattering of believers, which included members of Nuh's AS family. All but one (and in some reports, two, including his wife) of Nuh's AS family, boarded the ship.
A Double Betrayal
Soon, the world was drowning. Quite literally, as boiling and steaming water gushed from the earth while the sky opened, lashing down rain. The level of the water rose swiftly, flooding everything in sight. Waves crashed thunderously and swept away anything that was not anchored firmly to the ground. The downpour caused devastation of a magnitude never witnessed on earth before or since. This was no ordinary rain, but a manifestation of the wrath of Allah.
Even in the face of such bedlam, panic and catastrophe, the disbelievers refused to accept that the anger and punishment of Allah had descended upon them. Even as the tips of the trees disappeared under the angry roar of water and currents swept people to their watery graves, they still stubbornly refused to seek repentance, arrogantly announcing that they could find shelter in higher plains. Their stubbornness was bigger than the churning waves, which were as high as mountains. They were too arrogant to realize that no altitude could protect them against Allah's imminent punishment.
The ark was a representation of physical and spiritual safety, hence it was ordained that there was no place for the disbelievers in it. One such disbeliever was Nuh's AS son. The only safe passage would have been to join his father in the protection of the ark, but in his spiritual arrogance and blindness, he renounced everything that Nuh AS stood for, and united with the community of disbelievers towards their own destruction.
And Nuh called up to his son who had kept himself at a distance: 'O my son! Embark with us, and do not be with the disbelievers.' His son said: 'I will betake myself to the mountain that will protect me from the water.' Nuh said: 'There is no protector today from Allah's punishment, except that He should have mercy.' And the waves came between them, and he was among the drowned." (11:42 – 11:43)
We can only imagine Nuh's AS horror as he watched his own child choose death and disbelieve over life and salvation. We can only visualise the distress and grief that Nuh AS must have felt as he saw his son, forever out of reach in this life and the hereafter, for the last time.
As parental instinct would naturally dictate, Nuh AS urgently appealed to Allah not to drown his son. After all, Allah had promised him that He will save his family, and surely his son was one of his family?
"And Nuh called to his Lord and said, 'My Lord, indeed my son is of my family; and indeed, Your promise is true; and You are the most just of judges!" He [Allah] said, "O Nuh, indeed he is not of your family; indeed, he is [one whose] work was other than righteous, so ask Me not for that about which you have no knowledge. Indeed, I advise you, lest you be among the ignorant." (11:45-46)
Allah's decision was final, and given its unequivocal terms, Nuh AS had no option but to accept His decree.
Also among the betrayers was Nuh's AS own wife. She did not betray him through adultery - wives of Prophets and Messengers are divinely protected from committing adultery. The betrayal was of another kind – betrayal of the faith of Allah, and the disloyalty to her husband when he attempted to establish the message of Allah. She perished in the flood together with the other disbelievers, all of whom are cursed by Allah and doomed for eternity.
A New Generation
The rain continued until the last of the disbelievers drowned. "And then it was said: 'O earth! Swallow your water, and O sky! Cease your rain.' And the water abated and the Command was fulfilled, and the ark came to rest upon Mount Judi, and it was said: 'Away with those who do wrong!'" (11:44)
The survivors set foot on dry land and a new generation of humankind was born. All of them believers, for all the non-believers of that time had been totally obliterated. Led by our father Nabi Nuh AS, who, like any other human being, had experienced grief and sorrow intimately, and who, despite being one of the most honoured Prophets and Messengers that walked on this earth, understood the pain of loss and betrayal from his closest family.
Before long, deviation occurred again, some say in the community of giants. Click here to read more.