Perished nations: Prophet Nuh(AS) and the great flood(Part 3/5)

Were all the Animals Taken on Board?

The interpreters of the Bible believe that Nuh (as) took all animal species on earth on board the Ark and that animals were saved from extinction thanks to Nuh (as). According to this belief, a pair of every animal species on earth were brought together and put on board.

Those who defend this assertion doubtless have to face serious difficulties in many respects. The question of how the animal species taken aboard were fed, how they were housed on the Ark, or how they were isolated from each other are impossible to answer. Moreover, the question remains: how were animals from different continents brought together - mammals in the poles, kangaroos in Australia or the bison peculiar to America?

Moreover, there follow more questions as to how very dangerous animals - venomous ones like snakes, scorpions and wild animals - were caught and how they could be sustained away from their natural habitats until the flood abated.

These are the accounts in the distorted Old Testament which cannot be answered. In the Qur’an, there is no statement implying that all the animal species on earth were taken on board. As we have noted before, the Flood took place in a certain region. Therefore, the animals taken on board could only have been those living in the region where Nuh’s (as) people resided.

However, it is evident that it is impossible even to collect all the animal species living in that region. It is difficult to think of Nuh (as) and a few number of believers besides him (Surah Hud: 40) going in all directions and setting out to collect two each of hundreds of animal species in their surroundings. It is even more highly improbable for them to have collected specimens of the insect species living in their region, and, moreover, to discriminate the males from the females! This is the reason why it is more probable that the animals collected were those that could easily be caught and sustained, and were, therefore, domestic animals especially useful to man. The Prophet Nuh (as) was most likely to have taken on board such animals as cows, sheep, horses, poultry, camels and the like, because these were the primary animals that would have been needed for establishing a new life in a region which would have lost a great deal of its livestock because of the Flood.

Here the important point is that Allah’s command to Nuh (as) to collect the animals may be directed to the collecting of the animals required for the new life to be established after the Flood rather than to protecting the genus of animals. Since the flood was regional, the extinction of animal species could not have been a possibility. It is most likely that after the flood, animals from other regions would have migrated to that area in the course of time, and re-populated the region with its old liveliness. What was important was the life to be established in the region right after the flood, and the animals gathered would have been collected basically for this purpose.

How High Did the Waters Rise?

Another debate around the Flood is whether the waters rose high enough to cover the mountains. As acknowledged, the Qur’an informs us that the Ark came to rest on "al-Judi" after the flood. The word "Judi" is generally referred to as a specific mountain site, whereas the word appears to mean "high setting or hill" in Arabic. Therefore it should not be forgotten that in the Qur’an, "Judi" could have been used not as a name for a specific mountain site but to indicate that the Ark had come to rest on a high site. Besides, the aforementioned meaning of the word "Judi" may also show that the waters had reached a certain height, but not as high as mountaintop level. That is to say that the flood most probably did not engulf the whole earth and all the mountains as described in the Old Testament, but only covered a certain region.

Continued in the series on net posts.