Perished nations: Prophet Nuh(AS) and the great flood(Part 2/5)

Was the Flood a Local Disaster or was It Global?

Those who deny the reality of the Flood, support their stance with the assertion that a worldwide flood is impossible. However, their denial of any flood whatsoever is also directed as an argument for disbelief.

Yet the Qur’an was revealed by Allah and is the only unaltered Divine book. The Qur’an gives a very different account of the Flood than the Pentateuch and the other flood legends narrated in various cultures. The Pentateuch, the name given to the first five books of the Old Testament, says that the flood was cosmic and that it covered the whole world. Yet the Qur’an does not offer such as assertion, indeed on the contrary, the relevant verses imply that the Flood was regional and did not cover the whole world but only drowned Nuh’s (as) people who had been warned by Nuh (as) and so were punished.

When the Flood narrations of the Old Testament and the Qur’an are examined, this difference is plain. The Old Testament, which has been subject to so many alterations and additions throughout its history that it can truly be said that almost nothing of the original remains, describes how the Flood began as follows;

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis, 6:5-8)

However, in the Qur’an, it is clearly shown that it was not the whole world, but only Nuh’s (as) people who were destroyed. Just as Hud (as) was sent only to ‘Ad (Surah Hud: 50); Salih (as) was sent to Thamud (Surah Hud: 61) and all the other prophets prior to Muhammad (saas) were sent only to their own peoples, Nuh (as) was sent only to his people and the flood caused only Nuh’s (as) people to perish:

We sent Nuh to his people (with a mission): "I have come to you with a Clear Warning: That ye serve none but Allah: Verily I do fear for you the penalty of a grievous day." (Surah Hud: 25-26)

Those who perished were people who totally disregarded Prophet Nuh’s (as) proclamation of the message and persisted on rebellion. Relevant verses are explicit:

But they rejected him, and We delivered him, and those with him, in the Ark: but We overwhelmed in the flood those who rejected Our signs. They were indeed a blind people! (Surat al-A‘raf: 64)

But they denied him so We rescued him, and all those with him, in the Ark and We made them the successors and We drowned the people who denied Our Signs. See the final fate of those who were warned! (Surah Yunus: 73)

Besides, in the Qur’an, Allah remarks that He does not destroy a community unless a messenger has been sent to it. Destruction can only take place if a warner has already arrived among a particular people and the warner is belied. Allah states in the Qur’an:

Nor was thy Lord the one to destroy a population until He had sent to its centre a messenger, rehearsing to them Our Signs; nor are We going to destroy a population except when its members practice iniquity. (Surat al-Qasas: 59)

It is revealed in the Qur’an that Allah will not destroy people to whom He has not sent any messengers. As a warner, Nuh (as) had been sent only to his people. Therefore, Allah did not destroy the communities who had not been sent a warner, but only Nuh’s (as) people.

From these statements in the Qur’an, we can be certain that the Flood was a regional disaster, not a cosmic one. Excavations made in the archaeological region where the flood is supposed to have occurred - which we will examine below - show that the flood was not a cosmic event affecting the whole world, but a very broad catastrophe which affected a certain part of Mesopotamia.

Continues in series of next posts.