Prophet Nooh (Noah) was one of the prominent Prophets whom Allah Almighty sent to guide people to His Path – that of Monotheism. Ibn ‘Abbas narrated that Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) said: “The period between Adam and Nooh was ten centuries.” [Al-Bukhari]
Nooh was therefore born some one thousand years after Adam’s creation, or after he left the Garden of Eden. For many generations, the people of Nooh had been worshipping statues that they called gods. They believed that these gods would bring them good, protect them from evil and provide all their needs. They gave their idols names such as Wadd, Suwaa’, Yaghooth, Ya’ooq, and Nasr.
Allah Almighty revealed in the Noble Quran (what means): “And [the idolaters] said: ‘Never leave your gods and never leave Wadd, nor Suwaa’ or Yaghooth and Ya’ooq and Nasr [i.e., the names of their idols].” [Quran: 71:23] Originally, these were the names of good people who had lived among them. After their deaths, statues of them were erected to keep their memories alive. After some time, however, people began to worship these statues. Later generations did not even know why they had been erected; they only knew their parents had prayed to them. That is how idol worshipping developed. Since they had no understanding of Allah Almighty who would punish them for their evil deeds, they became cruel and immoral.
Ibn ‘Abbas explained: “Following the death of those righteous men, Satan inspired their people to erect statues in the places where they used to sit. They did this, but these statues were not worshiped until the coming generations deviated from the right way of life. Then they worshipped them as their idols.”
In his description of this story, Imam Ibn Jareer narrated: “There were righteous people who lived in the period between Adam and Nooh, may Allah exalt their mention, and who had followers who held them as models. After their death, their friends who used to emulate them said: ‘If we make statues of them, it will be more pleasing to us in our worship and will remind us of them.’ So they built statues of them and, after they had died and others came after them, Iblees (Satan) crept into their minds saying: ‘Your forefathers used to worship them, and through that worship they got rain.’ So they worshipped them.”
Imam Ibn Abu Hatim related the following story: “Wadd was a righteous man who was loved by his people. When he died, they withdrew to his grave in the land of Babylonia and were overwhelmed by sadness. When Iblees saw their sorrow caused by his death, he disguised himself in the form of a man saying: ‘I have seen your sorrow because of this man’s death; can I make a statue like him which could be put in your meeting place to make you remember him?’ They said: ‘Yes.’ So he made the statue like him. They put it in their meeting place in order to be reminded of him. When Iblees saw their interest in remembering him, he said: ‘Can I build a statue of him in the home of each one of you so that he would be in everyone’s house and you could thereby remember him?’ They agreed. Their children learned about and saw what they were doing. They also learned about their remembrance of him instead of Allah. So the first to be worshipped instead of Allah was Wadd, the idol which they named thus.”
The essence of this point is that every idol from those earlier mentioned was worshipped by a certain group of people. It was mentioned that people made pictures and, as the ages passed, they made these pictures into statues, so that their forms could be fully recognised; afterwards they were worshipped instead of Allah.
It was narrated that Umm Salamah and Umm Habeebah who were two of the wives of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) informed him (P.B.U.H.) about the church named ‘Maria’ that they had seen in the land of Abyssinia. They described its beauty and the pictures therein. He (P.B.U.H.) said: “Those are the people who build places of worship on the grave of every dead man who was righteous and then make therein those pictures. Those are the worst of creation in the sight of Allah.” [Al-Bukhari]
Worshipping anything other than Allah is a tragedy that results not only in the loss of freedom; its serious effect reaches man’s mind and destroys it as well. Almighty Allah created man and his mind with its purpose set on achieving knowledge, the most important of which is that Allah alone is the Creator and all the rest are worshippers (slaves). Therefore, disbelief in Allah, or polytheism, results in the loss of freedom, the destruction of the mind, and the absence of a noble target in life. By worshipping anything other than Allah, man becomes enslaved to Satan, who is himself a creature, and becomes harnessed to his own baser qualities.
Into that environment, Allah sent Nooh with His message to his people. Nooh was the only intellectual not caught in the whirlpool of man’s destruction which was caused by polytheism.
Allah, out of His Mercy, sent His messenger Nooh to guide his people. Nooh was an excellent speaker and a very patient man. He pointed out to his people the mysteries of life and the wonders of the universe. He pointed out how the night is regularly followed by the day and that the balance between these opposites was designed by Allah Almighty for our good. The night gives coolness and rest while the day gives warmth and awakens activity. The sun encourages growth, keeping all plants and animals alive, while the moon and stars assist in the reckoning of time, direction and seasons. He pointed out that the ownership of the heavens and the earth belongs only to the Divine Creator.
Therefore, he explained to this people, there cannot have been more than one deity. He clarified to them how the devil had deceived them for so long and that the time had come for this deceit to stop. Nooh spoke to them of Allah’s glorification of man, how He had created him and provided him with sustenance and the blessings of the mind. He told them that idol-worshipping was a suffocating injustice to the mind. He warned them not to worship anyone but Allah and described the terrible punishment Allah would mete out if they continued in their evil ways.
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