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04. Noah (Heb. נוֹחַ, nōaḥ) and his sons and successors and associated sacred books



Noah  (Heb. , נוֹחַ nōaḥ) = Ar. / Per = نُوحْ  and his sons and successors and associated sacred books.

Stephen Lambden UC Merced

Revised from Ph D thesis 1980s-2002.

04. Noah =  Heb. , nōaḥ) = Ar. / Per =  نُوحْ  Nūḥ, A Rasul (Messenger of God) or Mursal (sent Messenger) and a Nabi (Prophet).

Noah (fl. [trad.] fl. 3000 BCE??) the biblical son of Lamech who in both the Bible and the Q. is reckoned to have lived at least 950 years (Gen. 9:29; Q. 29:13-14) and to have survived the flood along with his family (Q. x 43 in 28 suras). As an prototype of Muhammad and one blessed with waḥy (divine inspiration, Q. 11:36) the legend of Noah and the associated story of the all-encompassing "flood" and salvific "ark", is important in the Q., one sura of which is named after Noah himself (Q. 71 [title]). He is mentioned 43 times in 28 suras of the Q. his story being repeated around ten times.
The Noah story is frequently told in Qiṣaṣ al-anbiyā’ and other post-qur’ānic literatures.

Babi-Baha'i Interpretations of the story of Noah and the Ark

Little concrete information about Noah, the maẓhar-i ilāhī is given by the Bāb or Baha'-Allah though motifs deriving from his story are frequent in many primary texts. Much utilized is the Islamicate motif of the "Ark" of salvation providing refuge from the "flood" or "storms" of ungodliness. See Baha'-Allah, KI: 5f/ trans. 7-8; Surat al-Aḥsāb; AQA 4:ADD; K. Badī`, 214 (mss.); cf. Buck, 1999: 114f.51

Important rewritten exegetical accounts of the story of Noah are found in the Qayyum al-asma' of the Bāb and in Baha'-Allah’s Surat al-Nuṣḥ (‘ Sūra of the Counsel’, 244-6). Early on the Bāb understood the "Ark" to be the salvific "Ark of the messianic Dhikr" (safīnat al-dhikr), the refuge of the eschatological ahl al-bayt, the truly believing "people of the House" (of Shī`īsm as proto-Bābism, QA 82:333). In the QA and elsewhere the Bāb also used the motif of "the crimson-coloured and ruby arks" (sufunan min yāqūta al-raṭba al-ḥamrā’, QA 57:226) assigned to the "people of bahā’" whom Baha'-Allah subsequently identified as his followers, the Bahā’īs (lit.`characterized with radiance’).
Baha'-Allah also frequently and in a number of different ways glossed the term "Ark"  as, for example, the "Ark of the Spirit" (safīnat al-rūḥ) in his Lawh-i Bahā’ where he also speaks of the "Ark" motif as being his eternal religion:

Say: O people! Embark on the Ark of Eternity (safīnat al-baqā’) which traverseth the crimson sea…" (L. Bahā’, 72 ; cf. L.Ruh, L.Tuqa)

In 1949 SE*’s secretary explained that for Bahā’īs the story of Noah’s "Ark" and the "Flood" are "both symbolical" (LG: 509 No. 1716).

For Shī`īs the issue of the length of Noah’s lifetime went beyond scriptural norms (over 950 years). This in part in connection with their desire to justify going to extreme lengths for the ghayba (occultation) of the hidden, messianic Qā’im. Several symbolic Bahā’ī interpretations of Noah’s longevity also exist especially in view of Baha'-Allah’s mentioning the figure 950 years in his K. īqān (KI:6/7–> 4.2).