The Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) had left his progeny in a state of social and moral health but gradually they began to forget the teachings of Allah. They adopted the wrong path and indulged in corruption and depravity. They became mean, evil-doers and greedy. They cheated and hurt one another. They began to worship idols and forgot to pray to Almighty Allah. The entire society had been split up into different sections and this state of affairs had given birth to oppression and injustice.
The Advent of Prophet Nuh:
Under these circumstances Allah, the Most Merciful, wanted the people to be good again. He sent Nuh as His apostle for the reclamation of the depraved humanity dwelling in that part of the earth which is called 'Iraq in the present era. Those people believed in Allah but they associated other gods with Allah, the Supreme. The priests of these deities exercised great control over all affairs. The people offered sacrifices in the name of their deities to please them. They spent the money lavishly and thus their condition became miserable. The Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) like other prophets was sincere, pious, patient and trustworthy. He was strong in his will and determination. Angel Gabriel (Jibra'il) conveyed him the teachings from Allah. He was commanded to reform the people who had been led astray by the Satan. He kept on preaching the faith of Allah and directed the people to pray to One God. He advised them to refrain from doing evil deeds. The Holy Qur'an affirms his endeavours to reform his people in the following Verses:
"He (Nuh) said: 0' my people! serve Allah. There is no god other than Him. If you refuse, verily I fear for you chastisement of a grievous day. The Chiefs of his people said: Most certainly we perceive you in clear error. He said: O' my people! There is no error in me but I am an Apostle from the lord of the worlds. I deliver to you the message of my Lord and I counsel you right (7: 59,60)
Again in the following Verses the Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) warned his people by declaring:
"O' my people! Surely I am a plain warner to you bidding you to serve Allah and be mindful of your duty to Him, and obey me so that He may forgive your faults." (71:2-4)
The Prophet Nuh was opposed:
Most of the people did not believe in the Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him). They made fun of him and ridiculed him as a mad man. Whenever he tried to convey the message of Allah to them, they began to thrust their fingers into their ears. They persisted in their infidelity and proudly disdained his counsel to do good deeds. The people were so stubborn under the influence of their priests that they paid no heed to the message of Allah and their aversion rapidly increased. At last in sheer disgust the Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) had to cry out:
"My Lord! Leave not upon land any dweller from among the disbelievers. For surely if You leave them, they will lead astray Your servants and will not beget any but immoral ungrateful offspring.
My Lord! Forgive me and my parents and him who enters my house believing, and the believing males and females and do not increase the unjust in aught but destruction." (71: 26-28)
Preparation of an Ark:
Consequently Almighty Allah answered the prayer of Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) by asking him to build an ark (a very big boat). The Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) knew that Allah planned to drown all those sinners who had rejected His Commandments. He began to build the ark with the help of his followers. They went on working constantly from dawn to dusk. When the boat began to take shape, the disbelievers made fun of them. The transgressors thought that the Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) and his followers were becoming crazy and were losing their balance of mind. The Holy Qur'an says:
"And he began to build the ark and whenever the chiefs among his people passed by him, they deride him but he said: Though you scoff at us now, we will scoff at you in Hereafter." (11:38)
When the big ark was completed, the sky became cloudy. It started to rain in torrents. The streams became bulging with water. The Valleys were in the grip of food. There was water everywhere. The lightning was frightening and the thunder made the hearts pound fast. Every one was scared and worried except the Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) and his Followers. The Holy Qur'an gives the description of this terrible deluge in the following Verses:
"So We opened the gates of the heavens with water pouring down and We caused the earth to gush forth its springs, so the water of the heavens and the earth gathered together according to measure already ordained." (54: 11, 12)
The Prophet Nuh (peace be upon trim) called on his family and followers to embark the boat. They came rushing to the ark. There was a special place in the boat for all the animates including human beings and their animals. The ark sailed amid waves like mountains while the streams of water were rising fast and filling many houses with water through the windows and the doors. Many houses collapsed and dashed to the ground. Some of them tried to swim but in vain. They were in a pathetic condition but they deserved it. The son of Nuh was separated from him because he was an evil-doer. The Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) prayed to his Lord and said:
"Surely, my son belongs to my family and Your promise is true. Allah said: Surely, he is not of your family. He is of evil conduct, therefore ask not of Me that of which you have no knowledge." (11:45, 46)
In the meantime the water rose higher and higher. The whole area was under the sway of flood and all the disbelievers were drowned. The Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) and his followers were safe and sound in the ark which was floating without any obstruction of huge waves. Finally the rain stopped and the water abated. The sky became clear.
The Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) and his believers sheltered in a safe place. They built new houses and worked hard in the fields. The next generation which sprang up from the survived believers included God-fearing persons. They worshipped one God and acted according to His teachings. The Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) lived for about 950 years. After this dreadful destruction the people abstained from committing sins for sometime. Afterwards they began to be loose in their actions.
37 And as in the days of Noe, so shall also the coming of the Son of man ['Isa ben Maryam] be.
1. If the Father, then, does not exercise judgment, [it follows] that judgment does not belong to Him, or that He consents to all those actions which take place; and if He does not judge, all persons will be equal, and accounted in the same condition. The advent of Christ will therefore be without an object, yea, absurd, inasmuch as [in that case] He exercises no judicial power. For "He came to divide a man against his father, and the daughter against the mother, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law; "235 and when two are in one bed, to take the one, and to leave the other; and of two women grinding at the mill, to take one and leave the other:236 [also] at the time of the end, to order the reapers to collect first the tares together, and bind them in bundles, and burn them with unquenchable fire, but to gather up the wheat into the barn;237 and to call the lambs into the kingdom prepared for them, but to send the goats into everlasting fire, which has been prepared by His Father for the devil and his angels.238 And why is this? Has the Word come for the ruin and for the resurrection of many? For the ruin, certainly, of those who do not believe Him, to whom also He has threatened a greater damnation in the judgment-day than that of Sodom and Gomorrah;239 but for the resurrection of believers, and those who do the will of His Father in heaven. If then the advent of the Son comes indeed alike to all, but is for the purpose of judging, and separating the believing from the unbelieving, since, as those who believe do His will agreeably to their own choice, and as, [also] agreeably to their own choice, the disobedient do not consent to His doctrine; it is manifest that His Father has made all in a like condition, each person having a choice of his own, and a free understanding; and that He has regard to all things, and exercises a providence over all, "making His sun to rise upon the evil and on the good, and sending rain upon the just and unjust."240
Chapter XXIX.-All Things Have Been Created for the Service of Man. The Deceits, Wickedness, and Apostate Power of Antichrist. This Was Prefigured at the Deluge, as Afterwards by the Persecution of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
1. In the previous books I have set forth the causes for which God permitted these things to be made, and have pointed out that all such have been created for the benefit of that human nature which is saved, ripening for immortality that which is [possessed] of its own free will and its own power, and preparing and rendering it more adapted for eternal subjection to God. And therefore the creation is suited to [the wants of] man; for man was not made for its sake, but creation for the sake of man. Those nations however, who did not of themselves raise up their eyes unto heaven, nor returned thanks to their Maker, nor wished to behold the light of truth, but who were like blind mice concealed in the depths of ignorance, the word justly reckons "as waste water from a sink, and as the turning-weight of a balance-in fact, as nothing; "250 so far useful and serviceable to the just, as stubble conduces towards the growth of the wheat, and its straw, by means of combustion, serves for working gold. And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this [the resurrection of the just at the Parousia of Christ is referred to - not any secret rapture, secret rapture is heresy], it is said, "There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be."251 For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which, when they overcome they are crowned with incorruption. [This great tribulation precedes the Resurrection.]
2. And there is therefore in this beast, when he comes, a recapitulation made of all sorts of iniquity and of every deceit, in order that all apostate power, flowing into and being shut up in him, may be sent into the furnace of fire. Fittingly, therefore, shall his name possess the number six hundred and sixty-six, since he sums up in his own person all the commixture of wickedness which took place previous to the deluge, due to the apostasy of the angels. For Noah was six hundred years old when the deluge came upon the earth, sweeping away the rebellious world, for the sake of that most infamous generation which lived in the times of Noah. And [Antichrist] also sums up every error of devised idols since the flood, together with the slaying of the prophets and the cutting off of the just. For that image which was set up by Nebuchadnezzar had indeed a height of sixty cubits, while the breadth was six cubits; on account of which Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, when they did not worship it, were cast into a furnace of fire, pointing out prophetically, by what happened to them, the wrath against the righteous which shall arise towards the [time of the] end. For that image, taken as a whole, was a prefiguring of this man's coming, decreeing that he should undoubtedly himself alone be worshipped by all men. Thus, then, the six hundred years of Noah, in whose time the deluge occurred because of the apostasy, and the number of the cubits of the image for which these just men were sent into the fiery furnace, do indicate the number of the name of that man in whom is concentrated the whole apostasy of six thousand years, and unrighteousness, and wickedness, and false prophecy, and deception; for which things' sake a cataclysm of fire shall also come [upon the earth].