Did the Flood of Noah cover the whole world? Did the humankind continue from Hz. Nuh (Noah)?
Submitted by on Fri, 03/10/2014 - 10:56
Dear Brother / Sister,
Hz. Nuh lived in Kufa, which is in Iraq today. His nation also lived there. They went to extremes in disbelief and heresy. Allah Almighty assigned the duty of prophethood to Hz. Nuh so that he would save them from heresy and lead them to the true path. He was forty years old then. He called his people to the truth persistently. He asked them to believe in Allah. The struggle between belief and unbelief continued intensely. However, his nation insisted on being unbelievers and did not accept the truth.
Nuh addressed Allah Almighty as follows in the chapter of Nuh: "O my Lord! 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 thou mightest 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." (Nuh, 5, 6, 7)
The nation of Hz Nuh did not agree to believe in him and asked him to send the wrath he had warned them about. Finally, Hz. Nuh addressed his Lord as follows:, "I am one overcome: do Thou then help (me)!" (al-Qamar, 10) Then, he prayed,"O my Lord! Leave not of the Unbelievers, a single one on earth! For, if Thou dost leave (any of) them, they will but mislead Thy devotees, and they will breed none but wicked ungrateful ones." (Nuh, 26-27)
Then, Hz. Nuh built a ship as Allah Almighty instructed him. The number of the believers was eighty, including three of his sons. Those who believed in him went aboard the ship. They allowed a pair of all species of animals on board. The water gushing out of the ground and raining from the sky covered the earth and the earth was flooded. All of the people and animals except the ones on the ship died. After the deluge ended, the ship (Noah's Ark) rested on Mount Judi around Mosul.
There are different narrations whether the deluge covered the whole world or not. Some scholars hold the view that it covered the whole earth since the water went over high mountains. However, the view of the majority of the scholars is that the deluge covered the region where the nation of Hz. Noah lived, not the whole world. For, in terms of wisdom and reason, it should cover only the area where the nation of Hz. Nuh lived. As a matter of fact, the disasters that hit the nations of Lot, Ad and Thamud were observed only in the regions where those nations lived. According to the data that exist, interpretations and general view, the nation of Hz. Noah lived around the Lake of Lot and Mesopotamia. Therefore, it is possible that the deluge took place in the area that included those regions.
There are different views about from whose progeny the humankind continued after the deluge of Noah.
There are some verses regarding the issue. Two of them are as follows:
"And made his (Noah's) progeny to endure (on this earth)." (as-Saffat, 77)
"O ye that are sprung from those whom We carried (in the Ark) with Noah! (al-Isra, 3)
In some tafsir (exegesis) and history books, and in the Bible, it is stated that the humankind spread to the world from the sons of Nuh called Shem (Sam), Ham and Japhet (Yafas). According to this information, the progeny of the human beings who survived the deluge ended and only the progeny of Nuh continued in the world. There are two more views in tafsir books:
a) According to the view reported by Shawkani, what is meant by "Noah's progeny" are the believers that survived together with him. As a matter of fact, that are sprung from those carried (in the Ark) with Noah (17/3), and on some of the Peoples (who will spring) from those with Noah (11/48) are mentioned in the Quran. Accordingly, the progeny of those that survived together with Noah also continued.
b) The view that the deluge covered the whole world and hence nobody survived except those on Noah's Ark is common but Noah was not sent to the whole humankind like Hz. Muhammad; he was the prophet of only his own nation; then, according to those who hold the view that the information given about the deluge here and other verses, it is a regional deluge. They say the people who lived in the regions where the call of Noah did not reach also survived and their progeny continued. (see Elmalılı, Hak Dini; Diyanet, Kur’an Yolu)
Accordingly, the progeny of those other than the children of Noah also continued. What is meant by the progeny in the verse “And made his (Noah's) progeny to endure (on this earth)” is the progeny of those other than the unbelievers. For, it means the progeny of the unbelievers was drowned in the deluge. (Qurtubi, al-Jamiu li-Ahkami’l-Qur’an)
We will quote from the tafsir of Elmalılı related to his views whether anybody other than those on Noah's ark survived or not and from whom the progeny of humankind continued:
Though some scholars say, "All of those on Noah's Ark except Noah's three sons, Sam, Ham, Ya'fas and their wives died without leaving any children", we do not find this view appropriate due to the following verse: "The word came: "O Noah! Come down (from the Ark) with Peace from Us, and Blessings on thee and on some of the Peoples (who will spring) from those with thee." (Hud, 11/48) For what is meant by "those with thee" is "but only a few believed with him." (Hud, 11/40) Then, the reference here is probably those who were drowned rather than those on the Ark. However, it can be said that the progeny of those on the Ark was regarded as his progeny in terms of majority; and those who survived like that were regarded as his progeny; and he was named as second Adam.
Tabari says Arabs come from the children of Sam, the Sudanese from the children of Ham, Turks and others from the children of Yafas. After quoting the statement of Tabari in his book called "Bahr", Abu Hayyan writes as follows: Some scholars said, "Allah left the progeny of Noah eternal and lengthened his life. However, not all human beings come from his progeny. There are also some people among nations that do not come from him."Alusi writes as follows: "It looks as if this group does not say that the drowning in water is general. Noah prayed against the unbelievers but he was not sent to the whole humankind in the world. For, being universal in terms of prophethood is one of the properties of Hz. Muhammad (pbuh), the last prophet. It is also possible to say that it is general but to refer it to those who were drowned specifically. (Elmalılı, Hak Dini)
As for the issue whether the prayer of Noah as “O my Lord! Leave not of the Unbelievers, a single one on earth!", includes all of the unbelievers in the world, the world "ard" (earth) is sometimes used as the earth and the world and at other times as a certain piece of land/region:
What is meant by the word "ard" (land) in the following verse is Makkah: "Their purpose was to scare thee off the land, in order to expel thee" (al-Isra, 17/76) Therefore, this word is usually translated as "homeland" in the translations of the Quran.
In the following verse, the word "ard" (land) is used as the region of Hejaz (or Byzantine/Persian region): “The Roman Empire has been defeated―In a land close by”(Rum, 30/2).
Thus, if it is proved that the deluge of Noah was regional, it is permissible to accept the word ard (earth) as the region where his nation lived, not as the whole earth: "O my Lord! Leave not of the Unbelievers, a single one on earth!" (Nuh, 71/26) It is a controversial issue. The word ard can be interpreted as global or local in terms of the deluge.
We also advise you to read the following article:
When NOAH'S ARK is mentioned, some questions come to mind:
Did the deluge of Noah cover the whole world? How did Noah find the pairs of animals that he put on the Ark? Where did the Ark rest after the deluge?
The great heavenly books mention the incident of Noah. However, some interpretations and evaluations are made since there are not all details in those books. Some Christian researchers claim that the deluge covered the whole earth and that all species of living beings were allowed on the Ark.
Hz. Nuh is mentioned among great prophets in both the Quran and the Torah. He has an important place in the history of the humankind. After Hz. Adam, the humankind spread to the world again with the few people around Noah. The nation to which he was sent was hit by a big disaster known as "the Deluge of Noah".
The incidence of the deluge is mentioned in various chapters of the Quran:
"So We inspired him (with this message): "Construct the Ark within Our sight and under Our guidance: then when comes Our command and the fountains of the earth gush forth, take thou on board pairs of every species, male and female, and thy family― except those of them against whom the Word has already gone forth: and address Me not in favour of the wrongdoers; for they shall be drowned (in the Flood)." 1
Allah Almighty states that the Ark will be constructed with His help. Some tafsir scholars state that Jibril (Gabriel) helped Noah construct the Ark. 2
The gushing forth of the tannur (fountains of the earth), which is used as tandır in Turkish in the sense of oven dug in the ground can be interpreted as the time when the water gushed forth and also as the steam boiler of a ship, implying that it was a steam ship. 2
If it is considered that steam ships were started to be used around 1700's in the world, it can be said that Noah's Ark gives us important clues about the history of humankind.
Noah was ordered to take a pair of each species on board as soon as the fountains of the earth start to gush forth. Hz. Nuh probably took some animals that he would need during the voyage like chickens, sheep, goats, camels, cattle and horses. There is no need and time to take all species of the living beings, from the butterfly to the ant, from the snake to the mole.
It is stated that water gushed forth from the ground and it rained from the sky during the deluge:
"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. But We bore him on an (Ark) made of broad planks and caulked with palm-fibre."3
It is stated that the Ark rested on Mount Judi after the deluge:
"When the word went forth: "O earth! Swallow up thy water, and O sky! withhold (thy rain)!" and the water abated, and the matter was ended. The Ark rested on Mount Judi, and the word went forth: "Away with those who do wrong!"4
Judi is a mountain with a height of about 2000m in the southeast of Turkey around the city of Şırnak. It is also narrated Hz. Nuh guided people around Iraq and there is a mountain called Judi in Mosul, Jizra and Damascus, too and that the Ark is somewhere near those towns. 5
If the word Judi is regarded as an adjective instead of a proper noun, it means "fertile land"; it is stated that Noah prayed as follows: "O my Lord! Enable me to disembark with Thy blessing"6; therefore, the Ark may have rested on a place near fertile land. 7
It is stated in the Torah that the Ark rested on Mount Ararat (Ağrı). 8 It is not possible for Noah's Ark to be on Mount Ararat because the height of this mountain is 5165 m. How can people disembark the Ark there and live on that mountain, which is covered in ice all the time? It is virtually impossible to lead a normal life biologically on the top of Mount Ararat due to very low air pressure.
There is no definite information in the heavenly books about what part of the world Noah lived and where the deluge took place. The Quran states the following regarding the idols of the nation of Noah:
"And they have said (to each other) Abandon not your gods; abandon neither Wadd nor Suwa, neither Yaguth, nor Yauq, nor Nasr!"9
The idols with those names are seen in Arabia but they are local names symbolizing the moon and stars of Mesopotamian gods. Therefore, it is decreed that the nation of Noah may have lived in Mesopotamia. 10
It is stated in the Quran that the land of the nation of Noah, which was flooded, was inherited by the people of Ad and then by the people of Thamud; and it is stated that this place is the city of Iram:
"Call in remembrance that he made you inheritors after the people of Noah, and gave you a stature tall among the nations. Call in remembrance the benefits (ye have received) from Allah: that so Ye may prosper."11
It is stated that the people of Thamud settled in the same place after the people of Ad:
"And remember how He made you inheritors after the Ad people and gave you habitations in the land."12
"Seest thou not how thy Lord dealt with the `Ad (people)―Of the (city of) Iram, with lofty pillars, The like of which were not produced in (all) the land? And with the Thamud (people) who cut out (huge) rocks in the valley?”13
The city of Iram is also mentioned in the Torah. Therefore, it is highly probable that the nation of Noah lived in the city of Iram before the deluge. It is stated that this settlement is the center of Edom in the southwest of the Lake Lot. 14
It is generally accepted that Noah settled in the city of Ur in Mesopotamia together with the people near him. It is stated in the Quran that the number of the people with him was very few:
"..But only a few believed with him."15
In the Torah and Talmud, which is the second holy book of Judaism, it is stated that Noah is the great grandfather of Hz. Ibrahim (Abraham) and that Abraham lived with him in the city of Ur until he died. 16
In terms of wisdom and reason, the deluge of Noah should cover only the area where the nation of Hz. Nuh lived. As a matter of fact, the disasters that hit the nations of Lot, Ad and Thamud were observed only in the regions where those nations lived. According to the data that exist, interpretations and general view, the nation of Hz. Noah lived around the Lake of Lot and Mesopotamia. Therefore, it is possible that the deluge took place in the area that included those regions. There is no reasonable explanation showing that the deluge covered the whole earth.
There is no clear document about the time when Noah lived but it is stated that he might have lived in 22nd or 21st century BC based on the information in the Torah. 17 It is stated in the Torah that Ibrahim, who is Azar's son and Noah's grandson, was born 292 years after the deluge, grew up with his great-grandfather Noah and that Noah died when Ibrahim was 15. 18
Some researchers mention the year 2347 BC and others the year 2650 as the year when Noah's Ark rested on the mountain. 20 Acting upon what they say, it is possible to say that the deluge of Noah took place about 2500 years Before Christ.
In conclusion, it can be said that the deluge of Noah took place about 4500 years ago in and around the city of Iram, which is the center of today's Edom in the southwest of the Lake Lot; one female and one male from each species of animals that could be needed were taken to the Ark. After the deluge, the Ark rested on a mountain around Mesopotamia and the people of the Ark probably settled in the city of Ur in Mesopotamia together with Noah.
2-Bilmen, Ö.,N. Kur’an-ı Kerim’in Türkçe Meâli Alisi ve Tefsir. 1971, Vol. 5, p 143
4-Hud / 44;
5-Yıldırım, S. Kur’an-ı Kerim’in Türkçe Meâli, 1997;
6- al-Muminun /29;
7-Sarıkçıoğlu, E. Dinler Tarihi. Isparta, 2000, p. 65;
10-Höfner, M. Die Voislamische Religionen Arabiens. Stuttgart, 1970;
12-al-A’raf / 74;
13-al-Fajr / 6-9;
14-Davis, D.J.The Westminster Dictionary of The Bible. Philadelphia, 1944, p. 267;
15-Hud / 40;
16-The Torah, Genesis, XI,26; Talmud, 31 ff;
17-Bucaille, M. Tevrat, İnciller ve Kur’an. Translated by M.Ali Sönmez. Konya, 1979, p. 61;
18- The Torah, Genesis, 36,43; 1.Tarih l, 54;
19-Günel, A. Türkiye Süryanileri tarihi;
20-Sarıkçoğlu, E. Kur’an ve Arkeoloji Işığında Hz. Nuh ve Tufan Olayına Yeni bir Yaklaşım. İslam Araştırmaları Dergisi, Vol. 9, issue:1-4, 1996, p. 201.
Prof. Dr. Âdem Tatlı
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