Disclaimer: This work is built on the understanding that the flood was a `global` event and as such all the points made are in relation to such an understanding. While the reader may disagree with the findings, the article is being presented for its thought provoking content.

The story of Noah and the Great Flood is a tale that has been repeated and retold by various cultures and various religious denomination spanning the length and breadth of the planet Earth. At its core is the story of how God was so angered with humankind that He instructed Noah to build a great ship with which to carry a pair of each animal and then He sent a flood to wipe clean the Earth and begin anew...

This article will attempt to construct the details of this event from the Quran while linking such events with their respective counterparts in archeology and science.

Noah Sent to Warn.

After God had created Adam and settled him and his mate on the plains of the Earth, generations of people sprang forth and multiplied until these generations lost the path of the One God and lived lives filled with evil. 

It was then that God decided to send a warner to the people through the prophet Noah...The details of what transpired have been recorded as follows:

"We have sent Noah to his people: `Warn your people before a painful retribution comes to them.` He said: `My people, I am to you a clear warner. That you shall serve God and be aware of Him and obey. He shall forgive your sins and delay you to a predetermined time. When God’s time comes, then it cannot be delayed, if you know.`" (71:1-4)

Noah warned and warned...But alas, you cannot make the deaf hear nor the blind see:

"He said: `My Lord, I have called on my people night and day. But my calling only drove them away! And every time I called on them so that You may forgive them, they put their fingers in their ears and they covered their heads with their outer garments and they insisted, and they became greatly arrogant. Then I called to them openly. Then I announced to them, and I spoke to them in secret. And I said: Seek forgiveness from your Lord, for He was forgiving. He sends the clouds upon you constantly. And He provides you with money and children, and He makes for you gardens, and He makes for you rivers. Why do you not seek God humbly. While He created you in stages? Did you not see how God created seven skies in layers? And He made the moon to illuminate in them, and He made the sun to be a lit flame? And God made you grow from the Earth like plants. Then He returns you to it, and He brings you out totally? And God made the land for you as a plain. So that you may seek in it ways and paths?`" (71:5-20)

And, as is an obvious human reaction to the warnings of the messengers, Noah was ridiculed and rejected:

"Noah said: `My Lord, they have disobeyed me and have followed whose money and children only increased him in loss.` And they plotted a great plotting. And they said: `Do not abandon your gods. Do not abandon Destroyer, nor Night Group, nor Helper and Deterrer and Eagle.` And they have misguided many, but We only increase the wicked in misguidance." (71:21-24)

Noah Ordered to Prepare the Ark for Himself, Believers, and Animals.

While he was still preaching to his people (and most were rejecting his preaching), Noah was instructed by the Almighty to construct an ark with which he was to carry his family, the believers, and a pair of every animal to be saved from the destruction when it came.

"So We inspired him: `Construct the Ship under Our eyes and Our inspiration. Then, when Our command comes and the volcano erupts, then you shall take on the Ship two from every pair, and your family; except for those of them upon whom the word has come. And do not address Me regarding those who have done wrong, for they will be drowned.`" (23:27)

The Flood was Sent.

As a result of the rejection and transgression of the people, God caused a cataclysmic event that made the Earth bring forth its water and drowned all the rejecters:

"They denied him (Noah), so We saved him and those with him in the Ship, and We made them to succeed each other, and We drowned those who denied Our revelations. So see how was the punishment of those who were warned!" (10:73)

"And the people of Noah, when they denied the messengers We drowned them, and We made them a lesson for mankind. And We have prepared for the wicked a painful retribution." (25:37)

Issues / Findings

While the story of the flood is quite straightforward, there are many issues/questions that present themselves and require a focused analysis.

The Flood Was Global.

While many have speculated that the flood was limited to a specific island or geographic region (mainly for logistic difficulty), the narration of the Quran tells us that the flood was indeed a global event for two main reasons:

1. Noah Prayed for the Complete Annihilation of all Mankind on Earth (not a specific people or region).

"And Noah said: `My Lord, do not leave on the Earth any of the rejecters at all. If you are to leave them, then they will misguide Your servants and they will only give birth to a wicked rejecter.`" (71:26-27)

Noah prayed for the Lord to `wipe clean the entire Earth` (not a village or geographic region)...And his prayer was indeed accepted and answered:

"And Noah when he called out before that, thus We responded to him, and We saved him and his family from the great distress. And We granted him victory against the people that denied Our revelations. They were a people of evil, so We drowned them all." (21:76-77)

2. God Ordered Noah to Carry a Pair of Every Animal.

"So We inspired him: `Construct the Ship under Our eyes and Our inspiration. Then, when Our command comes and the volcano erupts, then you shall take on the Ship two from every pair, and your family; except for those of them upon whom the word has come. And do not address Me regarding those who have done wrong, for they will be drowned.`" (23:27)

What puts an end to any debate on the flood being local or global is the command Noah was given to carry each pair of animals with him – a command never given to any other prophet (e.g. Lot, Aad, Thamud, etc.) even though their towns/villages were completely annihilated by the Almighty.

Evidence of the Flood?

What creates the doubt in modern scientific minds of a global flood is the so called “lack of evidence” – people are quick to point out that many species of trees can be traced back to tens of thousands of years, which proves that the flood was a myth or at least a “local” event.

The question that needs to be asked is not "where" is the evidence but "when" is the evidence`?

If we are looking to the evidence of a few thousand years, then we may indeed agree that there is no solid evidence of a global catastrophe, however, if we extend our horizon beyond that to tens and even hundreds of thousands of years, then we find that the entire story takes on a new form.

Scientific discoveries have now concluded that our species have been around for at least 6 million years (see “Millennium Man” skeleton discovery in Kenya) – and that “Modern Man”  has been around for at least 100,000 years (evidenced by tools, burial rituals, and artifacts – see Qafzeh IX cave findings).

More so, the evidence of a cataclysmic disaster which wiped out nearly all life on Earth is found in the substance that we all use on a daily basis and take for granted – oil.

Oil is the result of a sudden and massive pile-up of plant and animal bodies, all deposited on top of each other in hollow deposits as if by the effect of massive waves – this mass of matter, covered by tons of mud and sediment, is what has converted into the unique black gold we know as “oil”.

While science estimates that this process of converting dead tissue to oil can take tens of millions of years, it must be noted that this assumption is based on the process occurring “naturally” and does not take into effect the possibility a “sudden death” where millions of tons of animals and plants are swept away at once and buried under tons of sediment and debris – as would be the case from a global flood. If a massive global flood is the catalyst, then the notion of “millions” of years can be compacted into “thousands” of years.  

Different Human Races.

Another obvious fact that has been overlooked by most is the different races within humanity. The Africans, the Indians, the Chinese, the Europeans, etc.

While we are all beautiful in our differences, the reason we are different is directly related to the geography of the regions we live in. The Africans developed dark skin, curly dark hair, and wide noses to deal with the sun and the heat that they are exposed to. The Europeans developed light skin, blond hair, and thin noses to deal with the cold and lack of sunshine in their region.

The above genetic changes do not occur over hundreds or even tens of thousands of years, but they occur over perhaps hundreds of thousands of years of slight genetic evolution so that the offspring is always stronger and more adaptable to the climate and regions he or she is living in.   

What Caused the Great Flood?

The reasons behind a sudden global flood and mass extinction of most life on Earth, and the possible conversion of these life masses into oil, is open to speculation, however, the Qur’an as usual lends us assistance in understanding the events of our past:

"So, when Our command came and the volcano erupted. We said: `Carry in it two from every pair, and your family; except those against whom the word has been issued; and whoever believed.` But those who believed with him were few." (11:40)

The Quran tells us that the great flood was caused primarily by lava gushing forth from a volcano. It is very likely that this volcano was underwater (the Quran uses the words `faar altanoor` which is literally: `the oven boiled`) causing the sea water to turn to steam and this producing tidal waves as well as torrential rains.

Volcano erupts underwater near Solomon Islands, boils ocean (2002)

The cause of an underwater volcano is unknown, but it is not unfathomable to speculate that a massive asteroid, crashing into the sea, would penetrate the thin crust beneath the ocean releasing massive amounts of lava that would immediately react with the water – boiling it into steam, and causing mountain high waves.
 

The Remains of the Ark.

"We carried him on a craft made of slabs and mortar. It ran under Our watchful eyes; a reward for one who was rejected. And We have left it as a sign. Do any of you wish to learn?" (54:13-15)

The Quran tells us that the ark has been left as a sign from the Almighty. This now becomes an undisputed fact that the ark, or parts thereof (no matter how old) remain intact in fulfillment of the promise of the Almighty.

Some important observations which will help identify the ark can be seen as follows:

  • The ark being sought is at least tens of thousands of years old;
  • The ark is most likely made of stone slabs (Alwah in Arabic - Quran 7:14) which would ensure its survivability (or part thereof) until today;
  • The ark was built on land and came to rest on land, which most likely means that its hull is flat in structure to give it stability in rising and landing;
  • The ark came to rest on low flat land - a plateau (Istawat in Arabic - Quran 11:44) which is logical as it would need to unload hundreds of thousands of animals in safety;
  • The size of the ark would need to exceed that of any aircraft carrier;
  • The ark was most likely powered by some energy or ionization process (Mashhoon in Arabic - Quran 26:119).

One further clue we can gain from the Quran regarding the location of this great sign is a name/description of such plateau being given as "Judi" (the exact meaning is not clear at this stage).

"And it was said: 'O land, swallow your water, and O sky, cease.' And the water was diminished, and the matter concluded. And it came to rest (istawat) on the Judi, and it was said: 'Away with the wicked people.'” (11:44)

Only time will tell.

 


By Layth Al-Shaiban (laytth@hotmail.com)