The Greatest Flood in Human History
Lesson for us – We Cannot Guide Who We Want
The manner of Allah's punishment used a simple element – water. We have become arrogant, thinking that we are capable of reining in the forces of nature, but as the story demonstrates, the elements can be used as Allah's tools of retribution. If that happens, no human being can prevent the inevitable catastrophe that follows. Until today, when there is a natural disaster, we see people, homeless, destroyed and bewildered that their technological advancements were powerless to halt the forces of Allah. Do we want to be like the people of Nuh AS, who trusted the heights of the mountains to save them instead of the might of Allah?
Another lesson is that while we have to educate our children in the Islamic path, the outcome is not in our hands. Allah will determine the destiny of individuals, for everybody has been created differently for a wisdom that only Allah knows. The same seed can generate opposite personalities – we have observed this from Habeel and Qabeel.
It is the duty of the parents to create the correct environment and Islamic education, to feed them in the halal way, and to generate role models for their children to learn from. However, once that duty has been fulfilled, the job is done. Nuh AS carried out his duty, but despite being one of the greatest Messengers on earth, he was powerless to prevent his own wife and son from becoming of the disbelievers. This was his trial, as is the trial of many among us whose family members and friends stray from Islam. Our duty is to try our best, but if our efforts are futile, we have to march on and continue our own personal journey to Allah, without letting our misplaced emotional ties to them hold us back. The journey can be a lonely one, as it is done on a wholly individual level. After all, we will die alone and we will face Allah alone.
Can we tell Allah that we did not complete our journey to Him because we were waiting for our family to join us?
Do we imagine that Nuh AS was immune from hurt when his son became a disbeliever and when Allah told him that his son was among the people of jahannam (hellfire)? Do we think our situation is unique or that our ability to persuade our loved ones is greater than Nuh's AS ability to persuade his?
When we try to invite our spouses, family and friends towards Allah, we have to accept that Allah is the only one who can open their hearts to the truth and determine their spiritual outcome, to whom He wants and in the manner He wants. We cannot break down the doors to their closed hearts, for only Allah has the key.
As demonstrated, Nuh AS felt natural fatherly love for his son, yet, the true family structure in Islam is not based on the bond of blood, but on the bond of faith in Allah. Because his son disbelieved, he could not be considered as being of Nuh's AS family.
Families of Prophets and Messengers are not automatically Muslim, the message has to be accepted by them individually. It is not always the case that their entire families follow the message, and similarly, it is not always the case that our families will all be believers. If, despite our efforts to persuade and guide them, they are stuck in their disbelief and erroneous ways, don't be stuck with them. Don't wait for them, and don't let them hold you back from your journey towards Allah or fulfilling your covenant with Allah.
Guidance is from Allah - our husbands, wives, children and family are an amanah (trust), and while we can try to lead and educate, we cannot change hearts. We cannot inherit, buy or give Allah's guidance to those we love, even if we wanted to. Don't underestimate the Sunnah and wisdom of Allah.
Finally, the exact nature of Nuh's AS wife's betrayal is not conclusively documented, but it is also hinted that she had revealed the private details of their household. But the lesson is that whatever goes on within the sanctity of the family home should not be spread to anyone else. Both husband and wife are prohibited from relaying private details of the household to anyone, unless there is an urgent need, for example, to prevent a crime.
We end with a chilling reminder:
"Allah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were under two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them, so those prophets did not avail them from Allah at all, and it was said, 'Enter the Fire with those who enter.'" (Al Qur'an 66:10)