وَ اصۡنَعِ الۡفُلۡکَ بِاَعۡیُنِنَا وَ وَحۡیِنَا وَ لَا تُخَاطِبۡنِیۡ فِی الَّذِیۡنَ ظَلَمُوۡا ۚ اِنَّہُمۡ مُّغۡرَقُوۡنَ ﴿۳۸﴾
وَٱصۡنَعِ ٱلۡفُلۡكَ بِأَعۡيُنِنَا وَوَحۡيِنَا وَلَا تُخَٰطِبۡنِي فِي ٱلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوٓاْ إِنَّهُم مُّغۡرَقُونَ
b. 23:28. (close)
1314. A‘yun is the plural of ‘Ain which means, eye; look or view; inmates of a house; protection (Lane). (close)
a. 23:28. (close)
1419. Important Words:
باعیننا (under Our eyes). اعین is the plural of عین which has a large variety of meanings. Among other things it means: (1) the eye; (2) look or view, as the Quran says ولتصنع علی عینی i.e. that thou mightest be reared in my view; (3) the people or inmates of a house or dwelling, as they say مابھاعین i.e. there is no one in it (the house); (4) brothers from the same father and mother; (5) one’s protection and honour, as the Arabs say انت علی عینی i.e. thou art entitled to be honoured and protected by me (Lane).
In view of one of the meanings of the word عین the expression باعیننا may mean "with the help of the people of Our house." The people of Noah’s house have been spoken of as "the people of Our house," because those who are near and dear to a Prophet are also dear to God. Noah was bidden to build an ark with the aid of the people of God’s spiritual house (for spiritually the followers of a Prophet belong to God’s own house).
Taking the word عین in the sense of one’s "protection" or "honour," the sentence would mean, "Make thou the Ark under Our protection," meaning that Noah’s adversaries would jeer and mock at the building of the Ark, but he should pay no heed to their mockery, for he would be protected and honoured by God.
The verse may also allude to two kinds of arks, the physical ark which was to be built by Noah with the help of his followers, and the spiritual ark i.e. the ark of righteousness which God had bestowed on Noah’s followers through him. Truly speaking, it is only the spiritual ark that can help to save a person from the punishment of God.
The words, address not Me concerning the wrongdoers, also show that Noah’s prayer for the destruction of his people mentioned in 71:27, 28 was not offered by him at his own initiative, for when he himself was praying for the destruction of the wrongdoers, there was no occasion for God to order him not to pray for their deliverance. (close)
وَ یَصۡنَعُ الۡفُلۡکَ ۟ وَ کُلَّمَا مَرَّ عَلَیۡہِ مَلَاٌ مِّنۡ قَوۡمِہٖ سَخِرُوۡا مِنۡہُ ؕ قَالَ اِنۡ تَسۡخَرُوۡا مِنَّا فَاِنَّا نَسۡخَرُ مِنۡکُمۡ کَمَا تَسۡخَرُوۡنَ ﴿ؕ۳۹﴾
وَيَصۡنَعُ ٱلۡفُلۡكَ وَكُلَّمَا مَرَّ عَلَيۡهِ مَلَأٞ مِّن قَوۡمِهِۦ سَخِرُواْ مِنۡهُۚ قَالَ إِن تَسۡخَرُواْ مِنَّا فَإِنَّا نَسۡخَرُ مِنكُمۡ كَمَا تَسۡخَرُونَ
Messengers of God are always mocked at because they bring teachings which the people of their time are not prepared to accept. But these people never pause to consider that if heavenly Messengers were not entrusted with extraordinary work, there would be no need for God to send Messengers. It is only because man, in spite of his intellectual attainments, cannot rid himself of his manifold troubles and because the cure which, with the help of his experience and knowledge, he devises brings him no relief that God sends His Messengers for his guidance and deliverance, and as the remedy which they suggest is out of the ordinary, it naturally appears strange to him and he begins to ridicule and mock at it. But despite this jeering and ridicule, Divine Messengers and their followers succeed in attaining their goal, while their opponents make fools of themselves and incur God’s displeasure.
For the meaning of the expression, we shall mock at you, see note on 2:16. (close)
فَسَوۡفَ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ۙ مَنۡ یَّاۡتِیۡہِ عَذَابٌ یُّخۡزِیۡہِ وَ یَحِلُّ عَلَیۡہِ عَذَابٌ مُّقِیۡمٌ ﴿۴۰﴾
فَسَوۡفَ تَعۡلَمُونَ مَن يَأۡتِيهِ عَذَابٞ يُخۡزِيهِ وَيَحِلُّ عَلَيۡهِ عَذَابٞ مُّقِيمٌ
a. 11:94; 39:40, 41. (close)
a. 11:94; 39:40-41. (close)
Punishments are of various kinds. There are some misfortunes which excite pity for their victims, while others, besides causing pain, bring their victims into disgrace and also serve as a warning to others. Such was the punishment which overtook the people of Noah, for it constituted a disgrace and an humiliation which is remembered to this day.
The words, a lasting punishment, signify a punishment which will not end with the present life but will continue in the life to come.
Scoffers are here told by Noah that their scoffing can do him no harm nor can it bring him into disgrace. Therefore he does not feel humiliated on account of their mockery, but it is they who have a real cause to feel humiliated, for they are about to be overtaken by a punishment which will not end in this life but will continue in the life to come and will be attended by a lasting disgrace. (close)
حَتّٰۤی اِذَا جَآءَ اَمۡرُنَا وَ فَارَ التَّنُّوۡرُ ۙ قُلۡنَا احۡمِلۡ فِیۡہَا مِنۡ کُلٍّ زَوۡجَیۡنِ اثۡنَیۡنِ وَ اَہۡلَکَ اِلَّا مَنۡ سَبَقَ عَلَیۡہِ الۡقَوۡلُ وَ مَنۡ اٰمَنَ ؕ وَ مَاۤ اٰمَنَ مَعَہٗۤ اِلَّا قَلِیۡلٌ ﴿۴۱﴾
حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا جَآءَ أَمۡرُنَا وَفَارَ ٱلتَّنُّورُ قُلۡنَا ٱحۡمِلۡ فِيهَا مِن كُلّٖ زَوۡجَيۡنِ ٱثۡنَيۡنِ وَأَهۡلَكَ إِلَّا مَن سَبَقَ عَلَيۡهِ ٱلۡقَوۡلُ وَمَنۡ ءَامَنَۚ وَمَآ ءَامَنَ مَعَهُۥٓ إِلَّا قَلِيلٞ
b. 23:28; 54:13. (close)
1315. The Deluge was not merely due to the gushing forth of the water from springs. But, as is clear from 54:12, 13, its real cause was the bursting of the clouds. Rain fell in torrents and there was water everywhere and, as generally happens during heavy rain, water also began to gush forth from the depths of the earth, and springs and fountains began to sprout, and thus water, both from the heavens and the earth, flooded the whole land. Noah lived in a mountainous country where springs were found in large numbers. (close)
c. 23:28. (close)
1316. The words 'of every kind' do not here mean all the animals, but all such animals as were needed by Noah. Surely, the Ark was not big enough to carry a pair of all kinds of animals found in the world. The addition of the word 'two' also shows that as many animals were to be taken as were absolutely necessary. (close)
b. 23:28; 54:13. (close)
1422. Important Words:
فار (gushed forth). They say فارت القدر the kettle boiled or estuated. فارت نفسه means, his stomach heaved; or he became agitated by a tendency to vomit. فار الماء means, the water gushed forth and flowed. فار العرق means, the vein became excited and flowed forth with blood (Lane & Aqrab).
تنور (fountains of the earth) is derived from the root تنر and means, a sort of fire-place or oven in which bread is baked; the surface of the ground; the highest part of the earth; any place from which water pours forth, i.e. a fountain etc.; a place where the water of a valley collects; the shining of the dawn (Lane).
It should be remembered that the punishment which overtook the people of Noah was not merely due to the gushing forth of the water from a spring. But, as is clear from other passages of the Quran, the real source of the Deluge were the clouds. Rain fell in such abundance that there was water everywhere and as sometimes happens during heavy rain, water also began to gush forth from the depths of the earth, and springs and fountains began to sprout, and thus water, both from the heavens and the earth, flooded the whole land. In 54:12, 13, we read, Then We opened the gates of heaven with water pouring down; and We caused the earth to gush forth with springs; so the waters met for the purpose that had been decreed. Similarly v. 45 below also speaks of water from both the heavens and the earth. In fact, it appears from the Quran that Noah lived in a mountainous country where springs were found in abundance, for in v. 44 Noah’s son is represented as saying, I shall soon betake myself to a mountain which will shelter me from the water, which shows that Noah lived at the foot of a mountain. Obviously when floods were rising fast on all sides, his son could not think of going to a far off mountain and taking shelter there.
The word کل (all) does not here mean all the animals of the earth. It only means all such animals as Noah needed. It has been similarly used in a restricted sense in other verses of the Quran as well. For instance, in 27:24, which speaks of the Queen of Sheba, we read, "She has been given everything." But all commentators are agreed in holding that by "everything" is here meant all that the Queen of Sheba needed and not everything in the literal sense of the word. If she had possessed "everything" in the literal sense of the word, she would have had in her possession everything existing in the world and Solomon dared not have said to her ambassador, Go back to them, for we shall surely come to them with hosts, against which they will have no power, and we shall drive them out from there in disgrace, and they will feel abased (27:38). Moreover, the Ark certainly was not big enough to carry a pair of all kinds of animals found in the world. The addition of the word "two" also shows that it was meant that as few animals were to be taken as were absolutely necessary.
The words, except those against whom the word has already gone forth, do not mean "except those of whom thou hast been informed," but "except those against whom God’s judgement has already been passed." (close)
وَ قَالَ ارۡکَبُوۡا فِیۡہَا بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ مَجۡؔرٖٮہَا وَ مُرۡسٰٮہَا ؕ اِنَّ رَبِّیۡ لَغَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۴۲﴾
۞وَقَالَ ٱرۡكَبُواْ فِيهَا بِسۡمِ ٱللَّهِ مَجۡرٜىٰهَا وَمُرۡسَىٰهَآۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي لَغَفُورٞ رَّحِيمٞ
وَ ہِیَ تَجۡرِیۡ بِہِمۡ فِیۡ مَوۡجٍ کَالۡجِبَالِ ۟ وَ نَادٰی نُوۡحُ ۣ ابۡنَہٗ وَ کَانَ فِیۡ مَعۡزِلٍ یّٰـبُنَیَّ ارۡکَبۡ مَّعَنَا وَ لَا تَکُنۡ مَّعَ الۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ ﴿۴۳﴾
وَهِيَ تَجۡرِي بِهِمۡ فِي مَوۡجٖ كَٱلۡجِبَالِ وَنَادَىٰ نُوحٌ ٱبۡنَهُۥ وَكَانَ فِي مَعۡزِلٖ يَٰبُنَيَّ ٱرۡكَب مَّعَنَا وَلَا تَكُن مَّعَ ٱلۡكَٰفِرِينَ
Commentators differ as to whether the person referred to in this verse as Noah’s son was his real son or only a near relative. According to some, he was his stepson. Ibn Mas‘ud, Ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Ikrimah, Ad-Dahhak, Ibn Jubair and many other commentators, however, are inclined to view that he was Noah’s own son. But discussion of this subject seems to be super-fluous and unnecessary.
Christian annotators have question-ed the authenticity of this incident on the ground that it does not agree with the Biblical account. But the authenticity of the Bible itself as a historical record is open to doubt and it is unreasonable to accept or reject an incident on its authority alone. (close)
قَالَ سَاٰوِیۡۤ اِلٰی جَبَلٍ یَّعۡصِمُنِیۡ مِنَ الۡمَآءِ ؕ قَالَ لَا عَاصِمَ الۡیَوۡمَ مِنۡ اَمۡرِ اللّٰہِ اِلَّا مَنۡ رَّحِمَ ۚ وَ حَالَ بَیۡنَہُمَا الۡمَوۡجُ فَکَانَ مِنَ الۡمُغۡرَقِیۡنَ ﴿۴۴﴾
قَالَ سَـَٔاوِيٓ إِلَىٰ جَبَلٖ يَعۡصِمُنِي مِنَ ٱلۡمَآءِۚ قَالَ لَا عَاصِمَ ٱلۡيَوۡمَ مِنۡ أَمۡرِ ٱللَّهِ إِلَّا مَن رَّحِمَۚ وَحَالَ بَيۡنَهُمَا ٱلۡمَوۡجُ فَكَانَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُغۡرَقِينَ
1317. The verse shows that the place where Noah lived was surrounded by mountains. The word Jabal used as a common noun points to the fact that there was a chain of mountains on one of which Noah’s son might have sought shelter. In fact, the place appears to have been a valley with mountains rising on all sides. That such a place should become quickly flooded with heavy rain is not extraordinary. (close)
1424. Important Words:
ساوی (I shall betake myself). آوی is derived from اوی. They say اوی الیه i.e. he betook himself to or repaired or resorted to it; he betook himself to it or repaired to it for lodging, covert or refuge. اوی الی البیت means, he took up his abode in the house; he lodged or dwelt in it. The Quranic expression, اذ اوی الفتیة الی الکھف means, when the young men betook themselves to the cave for refuge. ماوی means, a place to which one repairs for lodging, covert or refuge (Lane).
The verse shows that the place where Noah lived was surrounded by mountains. This is why his son said that he would take shelter in a mountain. The word جبل (a mountain) used as a common noun points to the fact that there was a chain of mountains on one of which Noah’s son wished to take shelter. In fact, the place appears to have been a valley with mountains rising on all sides. That such a place should become quickly flooded with heavy rain is not extraordinary.
The words, which will shelter me from the water, show how bigoted men shut their eyes to stark realities to the last. The flood is rising, but Noah’s son still entertains doubt about the truth of his father’s Message.
The expression, And the wave came in between the two, is intended to hint that God spared Noah the pain of seeing his son being drowned before his eyes. He was drowned behind the screen of a high wave. (close)
وَ قِیۡلَ یٰۤاَرۡضُ ابۡلَعِیۡ مَآءَکِ وَ یٰسَمَآءُ اَقۡلِعِیۡ وَ غِیۡضَ الۡمَآءُ وَ قُضِیَ الۡاَمۡرُ وَ اسۡتَوَتۡ عَلَی الۡجُوۡدِیِّ وَ قِیۡلَ بُعۡدًا لِّلۡقَوۡمِ الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۴۵﴾
وَقِيلَ يَـٰٓأَرۡضُ ٱبۡلَعِي مَآءَكِ وَيَٰسَمَآءُ أَقۡلِعِي وَغِيضَ ٱلۡمَآءُ وَقُضِيَ ٱلۡأَمۡرُ وَٱسۡتَوَتۡ عَلَى ٱلۡجُودِيِّۖ وَقِيلَ بُعۡدٗا لِّلۡقَوۡمِ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
1317A. The mountain Al-Judi is, according to Yaqutul-Hamwi, a long chain of mountains on the eastern side of the Tigris in the province of Mosul (Mu‘jam). According to Sale, "Al-Judi is one of those mountains which divide Armenia on the south from Mesopotamia and that part of Assyria which is inhabited by the Curds, from whom the mountain took the name of Cardu or Gardu, but the Greeks turned it into Gordyoei … The tradition which affirms the Ark to have rested on these mountains must have been very ancient, since it is the tradition of the Chaldeans themselves (Berosus apud Joseph. Antiq...). The relics of the Ark were also to be seen here in the time of Epiphanius... and we are told, the Emperor Heraclius went from the town of Thamanin up to the mountain Al-Judi and saw the place of the Ark. There was also formerly a famous monastery, called the 'Monastery of the Ark.' Upon some of these mountains the Nestorians used to celebrate a feast-day on the spot where they supposed the Ark had rested; but in 776 A.D. that monastery was destroyed by lightning" (Sale, pp. 179, 180)... 'Judi (Djudi) is a lofty mountain mass in the district of Bohtan, about 25 miles N.E. of Jaziratu ibn-e-‘Omar in 37°,30´ N.Lat.. It owes its fame to the Mesopotamian tradition, which identifies it, and not Mount Ararat, the mountain on which Noah’s Ark rested... Older exegesis identified the mountain now called Judi, or according to Christian authorities the mountains of Gordyene, as the apobaterion of Noah' (Enc. of Islam. vol. I. P. 1059). Babylonian traditions also place the mount Al-Judi in Armenia (Jew. Enc. under "Ararat"), and the Bible admits that Babylon was the place where the descendants of Noah lived (Gen. 11:9). (close)
1425. Important Words:
اقلعی (cease raining) is derived from قلع i.e. he displaced or uprooted. اقلع means, it (rain) left off; it cleared away. یاسماء اقلعیmeans, O sky, cease raining. اقلع عنه means, he or it left him; he abstained or desisted from it. They say أقلعت الحمی عن فلان i.e. the fever passed away or left such a one (Lane & Aqrab).
بعدا (curse) is the noun-infinitive from بعد which means, he or it was or became distant, remote, or aloof; he went or withdrew himself to a distance; he alienated; it perished. They say لا تعبد و ان بعدت عنی i.e. mayest thou not perish, though thou be distant from me. The Arabs say ابعدہ الله i.e. may God alienate him, or estrange him from good or prosperity; or may God curse him. بعد means, distance or remoteness; remoteness from probability or correctness i.e. improbability or strangeness; perdition or death; judgement and prudence; curse, execration or malediction. They say, بعدا له i.e. may he be cursed, or may God alienate him from good (Lane & Aqrab).
The verse makes it clear that water not only came out from the "fountains of the earth" (v. 41) but it also fell from the sky (i.e. the clouds) and thus both combined to deluge the land.
The mountain al-Judi is, according to Yaqut al-Hamwi, a long chain of mountains on the eastern side of the Tigris in the province of Mosul (Mu‘jam). According to Sale, "al-Judi is one of those mountains which divide Armenia on the south from Mesopotamia and that part of Assyria which is inhabited by the Curds, from whom the mountain took the name of Cardu or Gardu, but the Greeks turned it into Gordyaei...The tradition which affirms the ark to have rested on these mountains must have been very ancient, since it is the tradition of the Chaldeans themselves (Berosus, apud Joseph. Antiq.). To confirm it, we are told that the remainders of the ark were to be seen on the Gordyaean mountains. Berosus and Abydenus both declare that there was such a report in their time…The relics of the ark were also to be seen here in the time of Epiphanius and we are told the Emperor Heraclius went from the town of Thamanin up to the mountain al-Judi and saw the place of the ark. There was also formerly a famous monastery, called the monastery of the ark, upon some of these mountains where the Nestorians used to celebrate a feast-day on the spot where they supposed the ark rested; but in 776 A.D. that monastery was destroyed by lightning" (Sale, pp. 179, 180).
Again, "Judi (Djudi) is a lofty mountain mass in the district of Bohtan, about 25 miles N.E. of Jazirat ibn ‘Omar in 37°, 30΄ N. Lat…It owes its fame to the Mesopotamian tradition, which identifies it, and not Mount Ararat, with the mountain on which Noah’s ark rested. It is practically certain from a large number of Armenian and other writers that, down to the 10th century, Mt. Ararat was in no way connected with the Deluge. Ancient Armenian tradition certainly knows nothing of a mountain on which the ark rested; and when one is mentioned in later Armenian literature, this is clearly due to the gradually increasing influence of the Bible which makes the ark rest on the mountains (or a mountain) of Ararat. The highest and best known mountain there is Masik…The tradition that Masik was the mountain on which the Ark rested, only begins to find a place in Armenian literature in the 11th and 12th centuries. Older exegesis identified the mountain now called Judi, or according to Christian authorities the mountains of Gordyene, as the apobaterion of Noah (Enc. of Islam. Vol. 1, p. 1059).
Babylonian traditions also place the mount al-Judi in Armenia (Jew. Enc. under Ararat) and the Bible admits that Babylon was the place where the descendants of Noah lived (Gen. 11:9). (close)
وَ نَادٰی نُوۡحٌ رَّبَّہٗ فَقَالَ رَبِّ اِنَّ ابۡنِیۡ مِنۡ اَہۡلِیۡ وَ اِنَّ وَعۡدَکَ الۡحَقُّ وَ اَنۡتَ اَحۡکَمُ الۡحٰکِمِیۡنَ ﴿۴۶﴾
وَنَادَىٰ نُوحٞ رَّبَّهُۥ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنَّ ٱبۡنِي مِنۡ أَهۡلِي وَإِنَّ وَعۡدَكَ ٱلۡحَقُّ وَأَنتَ أَحۡكَمُ ٱلۡحَٰكِمِينَ
This verse beautifully illustrates how the Prophets maintain a highly respectful attitude to God even under very hard trials. Noah had, by an error of judgement, thought that all the members of his family would be saved from the flood, but when he saw that his son was going to be drowned, he made his supplication to God in a most respectful way, appealing to Him in the name of His promise about the safety of his family. He was, however, careful to add that if his son was drowned, he would not think that God’s promise was false but that he himself had misunderstood the Divine Words, for God’s promise was ever true and His judgement always just. (close)
قَالَ یٰنُوۡحُ اِنَّہٗ لَیۡسَ مِنۡ اَہۡلِکَ ۚ اِنَّہٗ عَمَلٌ غَیۡرُ صَالِحٍ ٭۫ۖ فَلَا تَسۡـَٔلۡنِ مَا لَـیۡسَ لَکَ بِہٖ عِلۡمٌ ؕ اِنِّیۡۤ اَعِظُکَ اَنۡ تَکُوۡنَ مِنَ الۡجٰہِلِیۡنَ ﴿۴۷﴾
قَالَ يَٰنُوحُ إِنَّهُۥ لَيۡسَ مِنۡ أَهۡلِكَۖ إِنَّهُۥ عَمَلٌ غَيۡرُ صَٰلِحٖۖ فَلَا تَسۡـَٔلۡنِ مَا لَيۡسَ لَكَ بِهِۦ عِلۡمٌۖ إِنِّيٓ أَعِظُكَ أَن تَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡجَٰهِلِينَ
1318. According to this verse only those persons were considered members of Noah’s family who had established true relationship with God through him. The pronoun hu in inna-hu may also refer to Noah’s prayer for his unrighteous son which act of his was Ghairu Salih i.e. out of place. (close)
1319. ‘Amalun (lit. a deed) here means Dhu ‘Amalin, i.e. the doer of a deed. The use of the infinitive as active participle when an intensified sense is intended is in harmony with Arabic idiom. See also 2:178, where Birr (lit. righteousness) means a righteous person. An Arab poet says of his she-camel: Innama hiya Iqbalun wa Idbaru, i.e. she is so restless that she has become the very act of moving forward and backward, meaning the embodiment thereof. (close)
1427. Important Words:
عمل (man of conduct) generally signifies work, deed or action; a motion of the whole or of a portion of the body or even of the mind; the utterance of a saying. The word عمل (lit. deed) may also mean ذوعمل i.e. the doer of a deed, which construction is permissible in the Arabic language when an intensified sense is intended (Lane & Muhit).
In a brief sentence, viz. he is surely not of thy family, God disclosed a great truth to Noah.
What He meant was that when He promised to save his family, He did not mean all members of the family, but only such of them as were righteous and believed in him, because, truly speaking, only those persons were members of his family who had established a true relationship with God through him.
The Quranic words انه عمل غیر صالح rendered here as, he is indeed a man of unrighteous conduct, are capable of two interpretations. First, they may refer to the prayer of Noah. In that case, the clause would mean that this act of his, i.e. his prayer for his son, was غیر صالح i.e. out of place, the word صالح meaning "suitable, meet or proper." By using these words with regard to Noah’s prayer, God meant to point out that as He had already pronounced His judgement and the hour of punishment had actually arrived, so the time for prayer had passed.
Secondly, the clause may refer to Noah’s son. In that case, the word عمل (lit. deed) would be taken as meaning ذوعمل(the doer of a deed). This usage of the word is quite in harmony with Arabic idiom, according to which the infinitive is sometimes used in place of the active participle to impart emphasis. An Arab poet describing the restlessness of a she-camel who had lost her young ones says:انما ھی اقبال و ادبار i.e. "She is so restless that she has become the very act of moving forward and backward," meaning the embodiment thereof. According to this meaning of the word عمل the clause would mean that the reason why his son was not considered as belonging to his family was that he was a man of unrighteous conduct.
The words, ask not of Me, may mean either asking for a favour in prayer or simply inquiring. Taking the words in the former sense, the verse would mean that one should not pray for a matter of whose benefit one is not certain, for in such a case a man cannot know whether what he is praying for will prove a blessing or a curse. In such cases one should pray to God only generally to grant what is good in His sight. There are, however, certain matters about the goodness of which there can be no doubt, e.g. the pleasure of God or the welfare of the life to come. For such matters one can pray without qualification. The prayer of Noah for his son belonged to the former category. He did not know how his son would behave if he were saved. It was possible, nay it was most probable, that if he had been saved, the cause of religion would have materially suffered through him.
If the word "ask" be taken in the sense of "inquire," the verse would mean that Noah was not to inquire about a matter which was beyond his power to comprehend or the disclosure of which was not considered proper. The words مالیس لك به علم do not, in this case, mean "that of which thou hast no knowledge," for man always inquires about matters which he does not know. The words would therefore mean "that which thou canst not know," either because they are beyond thy comprehension or because they cannot be disclosed to thee.
God’s reply to Noah given in the words, he is indeed a man of unrighteous conduct, shows that Noah was not aware of the misdeeds of his son, and the reason why Noah was advised to abstain from asking questions about his son was that such questions were calculated to expose the latter’s misdeeds, which was inconsistent with the God’s attribute of mercy as well as with His attribute of covering up or screening the faults of His creatures. Extraordinary are the ways of God! On the one hand He decreed that Noah’s son should be drowned, and on the other His mercy drew a veil over his misdeeds.
The clause, I advise thee lest thou become one of the ignorant, refers to Noah’s prayer to God to save his son, who was a member of his family and was apparently included among those whom God had promised to save, and means: "You, being the bearer of the Word of God, must in future ponder over every aspect of the Divine revelation received by you and should not act unknowingly." In other words, the seeming indefiniteness of the prophecy was cited to serve the purpose of a warning to Noah, who was asked to learn a lesson from it and to remember that prophecies bear more than one meaning and that their true significance becomes known only when they are actually fulfilled.
It may be asked why, whereas Noah refers to a "promise" of God (see the preceding verse), actually there is no mention of a Divinepromise here. In this connection it may be noted that the words ارکبوھا بسم الله i.e. Embark therein in the name of Allah…(v. 42) did imply a Divine promise, because sometimes a commandment is tantamount to an undertaking. When God directed Noah to make his people enter the Ark, the direction implied a promise by God to save those who entered it. Similarly, the words, except those against whom the word has already gone forth (v. 41), also point to a promise having been made by God. If the above-quoted words contained only a command-ment and implied no promise, the names of excepted persons should have been revealed to Noah so that these could have been refused entrance. The fact that the names of the excepted persons were not disclosed shows that all those who went into the Ark were meant to be saved. (close)