Allah does not speak to each person individually or tell each one to do this or do that. The angels are a race just like mankind. It is possible to see them and hear what they say, if Allah wills. But the angels do not speak to each person individually either, or tell each one to do this or do that.
Only Allah can choose the person who will receive His message to give to the people. Allah wanted to send a messenger to the people who could speak to them and counsel them. Allah chose to send the children of Adam a man from among themselves to speak to them and give them good counsel.
Man or Angel?
Allah wanted this messenger to be a man and to be one of the people. That way they would recognize him and understand what he said.
If the messenger had been an angel, the people might say, ‘What has he got to do with us? He is an angel and we are mortals! We eat and drink and we have wives and children. How can we worship Allah?‘
But if the messenger were a man, he could answer, ‘I eat and drink; I have a wife and children. But I worship Allah. Why don’t you worship Allah?‘
If the messenger had been an angel, the people might say to him, ‘You do not get hungry or thirsty. You do not get ill or die. So you can worship Allah and remember Him always!‘ But if the messenger were a man, he could answer, ‘I am just like you. I get hungry and thirsty. I get ill and will die. But I worship Allah and remember Him. So why don’t you worship Allah? Why don’t you remember Him?‘ In this way the people would not be able to make up excuses.
Noah, the Messenger
Noah was a pious and generous man; he was intelligent and forbearing, compassionate and sincere. He was truthful and trustworthy and known for giving good counsel, Allah revealed to Noah, “Warn your people before a painful punishment comes to them.” (Nuh 71:1) So Noah stood up among his people and told them, “I am a faithful messenger to you”. (Ash-Shu`araa’ 26:107)
What Answer Did His People Give to Him?
When Noah began to say to his people, “I am a faithful messenger to you“ (Ash-Shu`araa’ 26:107) some of them answered back, ‘When did this man become a Prophet?’
Yesterday he was one of us and today he says, ”I am Allah’s messenger to you”!‘ Noah’s friends said, ‘This man used to play with us when we were young and he sat with us every day. When did he become a Prophet? Was it during the day or the night?‘
The rich and proud said, ‘Couldn’t Allah find anyone except him? Has everyone else died? Couldn’t He find anyone except a poor man from among the common people?‘
The ignorant ones said to each other: “This is only a man like yourselves, if Allah had willed, He would have sent down angels. We have never heard of this among our fathers, the ancients.” (Al-Mu’minun 23:24)
Some of the people said that Noah only wanted to become a leader, a man of power and position among them, by saying he was the messenger of Allah.
Noah and His People
People had got used to thinking that worshipping idols was the truth and a sensible thing to do. They thought that anyone who did not worship idols was foolish. They would say, ‘Our fathers worshipped idols, so why doesn’t this man worship them?‘
Noah thought that their fathers were in the wrong and unwise and that Adam, who was the father of the fathers, did not worship idols. He worshipped Allah alone.
Noah thought that the people were in the wrong and foolish when they worshipped stones and did not worship Allah Who had created them.
Noah stood up among his people, saying in his loudest voice, “O my people! Worship Allah! You have no god but Him. Truly I fear for you the punishment of a dreadful day.
The Council of his people said, ‘We see that you are in clear error.’
He said, ‘My people, there is no error in me. But I am a messenger from the Lord of all the worlds. I convey to you the messages of my Lord and I give you good advice, for I know from Allah what you do not know.” (Al-A`raf 7:59-62)
‘The Lowliest Follow You’
Noah tried hard to make his people abandon idols and worship Allah alone. But only a few of those people who worked with their hands and ate lawful food, lawfully earned, believed in him.
The rich were too proud of being rich to believe. Their pride kept them from listening to Noah. Their property and children distracted them from thinking about the next world. They would say, ‘We are nobles and those people are lowly. When Noah called them to Allah, they answered, ”How should we believe you when the lowliest follow you?” ( Ash-Shu`araa’ 26:111)
They asked Noah to drive the poor away. Noah refused and said, “I cannot drive away the believers. My door is not a king’s door. I am only a clear warner.” (Ash-Shu`araa’ 26:114, 115)
Noah knew that those poor people were sincere believers and that Allah would be angry if he drove them away. Against the anger of Allah, no-one would be able to help him. Noah said, “My people, who could deliver me from Allah If I drive them away.”( Hud 11:30)
The Argument of the Rich
The rich said to the people: ‘Listen to us. What Noah is calling you to is not true. It is not good. Why? Because we are the first to sample every good thing. We have every sort of good food, every sort of beautiful clothes. We set the fashion and people follow us. We have seen that we do not want for any good thing, and nobody out-does us in anything in the city.‘
They said about the poor people who had believed in Noah: ‘If there had been any good in this religion, it would have come to us before these paupers.’
If it had been any good, they would not be before us in attaining it. (Al-Ahqaf 46:11)
Noah went on calling his people and trying hard to counsel them.
He said, ’Q my people! I am a clear warner to you, saying ‘Worship Allah and fear Him and obey me that He may forgive you your sins and defer you to a specified term. When Allah’s term comes, it cannot be deferred, if you only knew.”’ (Nuh 71 2-4)
Allah kept the rain from them and was angry with them. Their harvests were small and they had few children.
Noah told them: ‘My people! If you believe, Allah will be pleased with you and remove this punishment.’
Then, when Allah sent the rain to them and blessed their crops and children, Noah called his people and said to them: ‘Don’t you recognize Allah? These are the signs of Allah all around you. Can’t you see them? Can’t you see the heavens and the earth? Can’t you see the sun and the moon? Who created the heavens? Who placed the moon in them as a light and made the sun a lamp? He created you and laid the earth as a carpet for you.’
But the people of Noah would not understand and would not believe. When Noah called them to Allah, they put their fingers in their ears. Now, how can anyone who does not hear a message understand it? How can anyone who does not want to hear, hear?
To be continued…
The article is an excerpt from the author’s Stories of the Prophets, UK Islamic Academy publications.