Was Noah Driven Out?
Ansar Al 'Adl
The allegation is as follows:
Was Noah driven out? "Before them *the people of Noah* rejected (their messenger): They rejected Our servant and said, 'Here is One possessed!' And he was driven out." [Sura 54:9] Now, if he is driven out [expelled from their country] how come they can scoff at him while he is buiding the ark since we read "Forthwith he (starts) constructing the Ark: Every time that the Chiefs of *his people* passed by him, they threw ridicule on him." [Sura 11:38] He cannot be both: Driven out and near enough that they can regularly pass by.
Verses in question:
54:9 Before them the People of Noah rejected (their apostle): they rejected Our servant, and said, "Here is one possessed!", and he was driven out.
11:38 Forthwith he (starts) constructing the Ark: Every time that the chiefs of his people passed by him, they threw ridicule on him. He said: "If ye ridicule us now, we (in our turn) can look down on you with ridicule likewise!
1. The misunderstanding has arisen because the critic based his entire allegation on the interpretation presented in a single translation (Yusuf Ali). But the arabic word wazdujir has more meanings than just "and he was driven out". Consider the following translations:
Pickthall Translation: The folk of Noah denied before them, yea, they denied Our slave and said: A madman; and he was repulsed.
A. J. Arberry Translation: The people of Noah cried lies before them; they cried lies to Our servant, and said, 'A man possessed!' And he was rejected.
Daryabadi Translation: There belied before them the people of Nuh. So they belied Our bondman Nuh and said: `a madman;' and moreover he was reproven.
Muhsin Khan Translation: The people of Nuh (Noah) denied (their Messenger) before them, they rejected Our slave, and said: "A madman!" and he was insolently rebuked and threatened.
Muhammad Asad Translation: [Long] before those [who now deny resurrection] did Noah's people call it a lie; and they gave the lie to Our servant and said, "Mad is he!" - and he was repulsed
The more common interpretation immediately extinguishes the contradiction.
2. Even if Prophet Noah was driven out [of his home/neighbourhood], this does not mean that there would have been no interactions with the people of his nation. It is reasonable to believe that he could have been driven to the outskirts of the city, where he began to build the ark in the desert. Whenever travellers passing by on the roads would see them they would ridicule them. This is similar to the Boycott against the family of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when his tribe moved out into the outskirts of Makkah. In fact, in many societies, someone may be drivcen out of their homes and forced to live on the streets, but that does not mean that they are driven out of civilization all together.
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