بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The sun was high in the horizon, its light glinting at the top of the tress in a small wood. The birds were quiet, seeking the shelter of the trees against the heat of the day. And in the silence the only sound being heard was the banging of a hammer on wood.
The chiefs and their companions were returning from an errand when they passed the small wood. Their eyes lit up at the prospect of some fun to break the monotony of the day. They entered the clump of the trees from where came the sounds of hammering.
“Alright Nuh? Still busy with your ship?” One of the chiefs’ young son cried out at the old man in the clearing. His old face showed signs of tiredness but his hands were busy hammering a piece of wood. They were all used to the old man Nuh. He was there when their fathers were young and he was there when their grandfathers were young. They were used to the old man as a part of their lives but they didn’t take him seriously. After all he had been warning of a punishment coming to them for 950 years.
“Where is this ship going to sail? In the sand?” Another jest came.
The chief shook his head from side to side “We told you Nuh, if you will hang out with riff-raff like these, it’s going to rub on you.” He said pointing towards the old man’s handful of helpers who were all carpenters, black-smiths and such. “Here you are, an old man from a respectable family, deceiving yourself.”
The old man did not look up. Still intent on his work he replied:
If you ridicule us, then we will ridicule you just as you ridicule. And you are going to know who will get a punishment that will disgrace him (on earth) and upon whom will descend an enduring punishment (in the Hereafter). [Hud:38–39]
The chiefs and their men laughed. One of the youngsters said in a loud whisper “The old man has gone gaga. Why, even his own son and wife do not believe in him.” At these words pain shot through the old eyes. Satisfied with this parting shot, they retreated. Slowly the sounds of their laughing and jesting died away. The old man was still bent on his handiwork. In the silence the only sound that could be heard was a hammer banging away……
This is the scene my mind conjures up as I read the story of Nuh AS. And this is what Allah SWT wants all of us to do. When telling the story of previous nations and Messengers, Quran adopts a language of story-telling. So, for example, rather than saying “Nuh was making the boat and the chiefs came to jest at him.”, Allah says “And Nuh IS making the ship….” Allah wants us to enter the time and space of that event. He wants us to feel the emotions, to taste the fear, to rejoice at the joy of these Anbiyaa and their followers. Only then will we be able to relate to and follow the foot-prints of these great human beings.
Then we will remember Nuh (AS) when people ridicule us, as we prepare for a day which, as yet, is nowhere in sight. When they call us a fool as we decline that shady business deal, as we lose our job because of the beard, as we lose the contract because we refused to shake hands with na-mahram person, as we lose money when we do not rent our property to the liquor store, as we choose to stay single until we find a pious spouse, as we lose our friends because we are not interested in gossip or celebrities.
And then we will learn that while jesters jest, we should carry on doing what Allah has commanded us to do like Nuh AS did.
And when calamities hit us and practicing upon the Deen is like a red hot coal in hand, we will remember Nuh (AS) and his ship, the rain pouring down on it in torrents, the waves under it as high as mountains and the darkness engulfing it only pierced by terrifying lightning. And we learn that no matter its slippery deck, that fragile vessel was the only place in the whole universe which offered refuge from Allah’s wrath and where Allah’s mercy for His servants materialized.
And when we think we can no longer face the storm, we will remember Nuh’s (AS) ark, safely resting on mount Judi, the sun spilling through its battered windows, the birds once again chirping around it, flowers blossoming and animals singing the praises of Allah while Nuh (AS) and his followers prostrated in gratitude.
So until I find my Judi, I sail in the fragile vessel of my Imaan, in a world full of darkness and confusion, putting all my trust in Allah and saying as Nuh said:
In the Name of Allah will be its (moving) course and its (resting) anchorage. [Hud: 41]