Prophet Nuh was born approximately 10 centuries after Prophet Adam was created. He is one of the 5 prophets who have been accorded the highest status by Allah (SWT) from among all the Prophets sent to humanity. They are known as the most resolute, and consist of Prophet Mohammed (SAW), Prophet Ibrahim (AS), Prophet Nuh (AS), Prophet Musa (AS) and Prophet Issa (AS).
He is mentioned in 20 surahs (chapters) in the Quran. An entire surah, (Nuh Ch:71) is also dedicated to him, relating how the prophet called his community to guidance.
Prophet Nuh (AS) was sent to a people, who for centuries had practised polytheism (shirk), worshipping idol statues. Their idols had been named Waddan, Suwaan, Yaghutha, Yaauga and Nasran, after pious men of previous generations. When these men died, Satan misled the people into erecting statues in order to remember and honour them. Iblis then deceived the succeeding generations, telling them their forefathers used to worship the statues, as they had brought gifts such as rain. Prostrating to these idols was the first shirk. Over time, the following generations forgot why the statues were built, and knew only that their parents prayed to them, and continued this tradition.
It was into this environment that Prophet Nuh (AS) began to call upon the people to return to the worship of one God. The Quran says Prophet Nuh (AS) lived for over 950 years, and spent most of his life preaching this message. In all those years, very few believed in his message.He was a good orator and very patient with the people. However his message was rejected time and again by the rulers and the overwhelming majority of the community. Only a few of the poor and most disadvantaged became his followers.
Initially he would discuss and try to reason with the community, but as time went by, they began to rebuke, mock and avoid him. They would place their fingers in their ears to avoid listening to him, calling him insane or possessed. They began to taunt him, asking when God would send forth a punishment for their sins. Eventually, they threatened him with death if he did not desist from his message.
Finally, after 950 years of patiently preaching monotheism, Prophet Nuh asked Allah (SWT) to destroy the disbelievers. Allah (SWT) responds to his request and instructs the Prophet to begin building an ark far away from the sea, using His instructions, and to await His sign of a great flood to come.
Prophet Nuh (AS) began to construct the ark, working day and night, even as the people continued to mock his efforts at building the ship so far away from the sea. This took many years but eventually he completed the ark and waited patiently. Allah (SWT) finally sent him the sign, of his oven overflowing with water. It was time to enter the ark with the believers and a male & female pair of every type of animal, bird and insect.
He assembled all the believers and animals, took them aboard and sealed the ark, as the people in the community continued to laugh at him.
Thereafter rain poured from the skies in previously unseen quantities. Water from the earth also rose with the ocean floors lifting, and for the first time, earth was entirely submerged. The ark sailed on waves as high as mountains and finally, as the flood subsided, eventually came to rest on Mt Judi.
The Prophet’s wife and one of his sons were not among the believers and didn’t enter the ark. They were drowned with all the disbelievers.
Prophet Nuh was then summoned from the ark by Allah (SWT), and came out with the believers, releasing all the animals. There was a day of fasting following the disembarkation to give thanks to God for being saved from the flood.
Upon his deathbed, Prophet Nuh advised his son to worship only Allah, and passed away.