Imagine you lived at the time of Noah and you were informed that there is going to be a massive flood coming that will wipe out everyone except for the individuals who join Noah on an ark that he built. Now there are a few options a person can take. One option is to consider that Noah is crazy and disregard his warnings, and from history, we know that these individuals did not survive. The second option is to accept the warnings, but rather than getting on the vessel he created you could decide to attempt to go to higher ground to try to avoid the flood. But as we know from the example of Noah’s son, that option was also futile.
But aside from just getting on Noah’s ark along with the believers, there is one other option that people could have tried to utilize. Individuals who may have taken heed of Noah’s warnings could have taken a look at Noah’s ark and started questioning why he built it that way. They could have pondered why Noah used that certain kind of wood. Or why Noah twisted the ropes that certain kind of way. They could have probably argued that Noah must have misunderstood what God was telling him. They will question Noah’s qualifications for being able to build a ship.
An experienced woodsman might have asked Noah some questions about his design decisions, and when Noah would tell him that this design was inspired by the Lord of the universe, the experienced woodsman may lose faith because from his point of view the design would have been better if the planks were arranged or cut in this other way.
Such ideas would spawn a number of people to decide to build their own ark. Some could take Noah’s design and make modifications, while others may decide to make a completely different design for an ark altogether. They would justify this stance by saying that it was Noah’s job to warn the people about the coming flood, but the responsibility of each person to find their own ark.
These new groups of competing shipbuilders would probably criticize those who were choosing to stick with Noah. They would have probably told these believers that they were worshiping Noah, that he was clearly wrong in some of his design decisions. And I can imagine this may have shaken up the faith of many believers causing some of them to join one of these other groups.
But there is one major flaw in this kind of thinking. The problem with such an approach is that the only design that God guaranteed that will absolutely withstand the flood and save all the believers on it was that of Noah’s ark. All other possible designs or groups who attempted to create another vessel would not have such a guarantee.
This is because Noah was chosen by God to take on this task, and God gave inspiration to Noah on what he needed to build. And God guaranteed Noah and those who joined Noah on this ark that they will survive the coming flood. No other ark or group of people had that guarantee. Does this mean that Noah’s ark couldn’t have been improved? That Noah’s ark was the best vessel that man will ever create? No, but that for the sake of the people at that time and place who received these warnings no other vessel could provide the assurances that God was guaranteeing for Noah and the believers who joined him on his ark.
Every messenger comes for their time and place. And consistently every community that receives their messenger criticizes them for certain aspects of their message. Their egos convince them that they know better and that their messenger was wrong in some regard or another. This has always been God’s system that when a messenger comes the vast majority will disbelieve in them, and of the ones who claim to believe we see that only a small subset truly accept all that he is commanding them. In the Quran we have the following example:
[2:246] Have you noted the leaders of Israel after Moses? They said to their prophet, “If you appoint a king to lead us, we will fight in the cause of GOD.” He said, “Is it your intention that, if fighting is decreed for you, you will not fight?” They said, “Why should we not fight in the cause of GOD, when we have been deprived of our homes, and our children?” Yet, when fighting was decreed for them, they turned away, except a few. GOD is aware of the transgressors.
[2:247] Their prophet said to them, “GOD has appointed Taloot (Saul) to be your king.” They said, “How can he have kingship over us when we are more worthy of kingship than he; he is not even rich?” He said, “GOD has chosen him over you, and has blessed him with an abundance in knowledge and in body.” GOD grants His kingship to whomever He wills. GOD is Bounteous, Omniscient.
[2:248] Their prophet said to them, “The sign of his kingship is that the Ark of the Covenant will be restored to you, bringing assurances from your Lord, and relics left by the people of Moses and the people of Aaron. It will be carried by the angels. This should be a convincing sign for you, if you are really believers.”
[2:249] When Saul took command of the troops, he said, “GOD is putting you to the test by means of a stream. Anyone who drinks from it does not belong with me—only those who do not taste it belong with me—unless it is just a single sip.” They drank from it, except a few of them. When he crossed it with those who believed, they said, “Now we lack the strength to face Goliath and his troops.” Those who were conscious of meeting GOD said, “Many a small army defeated a large army by GOD’s leave. GOD is with those who steadfastly persevere.”
[2:250] When they faced Goliath and his troops, they prayed, “Our Lord, grant us steadfastness, strengthen our foothold, and support us against the disbelieving people.”
[2:251] They defeated them by GOD’s leave, and David killed Goliath. GOD gave him kingship and wisdom, and taught him as He willed. If it were not for GOD’s support of some people against others, there would be chaos on earth. But GOD showers His grace upon the people. [2:252] These are GOD’s revelations. We recite them through you, truthfully, for you are one of the messengers.
From the above examples, we see that most of the people dropped out when they were commanded to fight. Then more dropped out when it was announced that Taloot (Saul) was appointed to be their king. Then even more dropped out when they were commanded to not drink from the stream except a single sip. Then despite all those that dropped out, even among the last remaining few believers who fulfilled all the previous asks of them only a small subset had the confidence in God that despite their not drinking from the stream that God was on their side and they would be victorious.
Ironically the people of the later generations always seem to criticize the people of the former generation for not obeying their messenger. Take for example Moses when he came to the Children of Israel the people fondly reflected on Joseph but criticized Moses. Then when Jesus came, the people doubted Jesus but had no problem accepting Moses. Then when Muhammad came the people demanded of Muhammad the same as was demanded of Jesus and Moses and criticized him as well when he didn’t deliver (10:20).
Similarly, we see these examples in the Quran and we may criticize the previous communities for not obeying their messenger. We always assume that if we were around at the time of the previous messengers we would have obeyed with the utmost certainty, but we are no different than the people of the past.
The messenger that God sent for our generation was the person by the name of Rashad Khalifa. As expected the vast majority of people have rejected him, but even among the ones who accept that he was a messenger most of those people criticize him and his understandings. They make the claim that while he was right about the major points, he was misinformed and failed in delivering the message he was supposed to on all the other topics he preached.
They often times ridicule those who utilize his translation of the Quran or understandings of the verses and themes of the Quran. They call us Rashadians and idol worshipers for following the messenger. But we are not following Rashad, but we are following the inspiration (wahi) that God revealed to Rashad regarding some of the information that has been embedded in the Quran that he was sharing with the people.
[42:51] No human being can communicate with GOD except through inspiration (wahi), or from behind a barrier, or by sending a messenger through whom He reveals (wahi) what He wills. He is the Most High, Most Wise.
Just like Noah was inspired how to build the watercraft and to the best of his ability attempted to manifest what God showed him, Rashad was also given divine inspiration (wahi) to some of the embedded meanings of the Quran so that he too could to the best of his ability explain these concepts to us as well. Following the messenger and his teachings on these concepts of the Quran is not blind faith. This is no different than getting on the ark with Noah when you validate that he was a messenger of God. And as we see in the Quran this is the function of the messenger.
[65:10] GOD has prepared for them severe retribution. Therefore, you shall reverence GOD, O you who possess intelligence and believed. GOD has sent down to you a message—[65:11] a messenger who recites to you GOD’s revelations, clearly, to lead those who believe and work righteousness out of the darkness into the light. Anyone who believes in GOD and leads a righteous life, He will admit him into gardens with flowing streams; they abide therein forever. GOD will generously reward him.
From the above verse we see that the function of the messenger is to bring those who believe out of darkness into the light. This means that despite believing without a messenger we could still be in darkness. Consider that today among those who believe in God alone and Quran alone how many variations are there in their understandings regarding the most basic foundations of our faith e.g. salat, zakat, hajj, sayem. That the purpose of the messenger is to show us how using the verses of the Quran we can come to the right conclusions regarding these matters.
Despite the majority rejecting Rashad Khalifa as a messenger, even among those claiming to accept that he was a messenger, they typically limit what they accept from him to only the points of worship God alone, follow the Quran alone, and that the Quran contains a mathematical structure based on the number 19. But when it comes to his translation of the Quran or his explanations to some of the themes of the Quran they reject it. They claim that it was not his responsibility to translate the Quran, that it was not his responsibility to explain these concepts from the Quran. And like the metaphor to Noah above, they want to build their own ark.
But like the example of Noah above, it was Noah’s sole responsibility to not only warn people of the coming flood but to build this ark that God inspired to him. That it was only by getting on this ark and joining Noah were the people guaranteed to be saved. Similarly, Rashad warned us of a coming reckoning and advised people to get on the metaphorical ark with him. Yet people are under the assumption that perhaps they can build a better ark themselves.
[5:19] O people of the scripture, our messenger has come to you, to explain things to you, after a period of time without messengers, lest you say, “We did not receive any preacher or warner.” A preacher and warner has now come to you. GOD is Omnipotent.
يَاأَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ عَلَىٰ فَتْرَةٍ مِنَ الرُّسُلِ أَنْ تَقُولُوا مَا جَاءَنَا مِنْ بَشِيرٍ وَلَا نَذِيرٍ فَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ بَشِيرٌ وَنَذِيرٌ وَاللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
History of Noah
[11:25] We sent Noah to his people, saying, “I come to you as a clear warner.
وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ إِنِّي لَكُمْ نَذِيرٌ مُبِينٌ
[11:26] “You shall not worship except GOD. I fear for you the retribution of a painful day.”
أَنْ لَا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا اللَّهَ إِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ أَلِيمٍ
[11:27] The leaders who disbelieved among his people said, “We see that you are no more than a human being like us, and we see that the first people to follow you are the worst among us. We see that you do not possess any advantage over us. Indeed, we think you are liars.”
فَقَالَ الْمَلَأُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ قَوْمِهِ مَا نَرَاكَ إِلَّا بَشَرًا مِثْلَنَا وَمَا نَرَاكَ اتَّبَعَكَ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ هُمْ أَرَاذِلُنَا بَادِيَ الرَّأْيِ وَمَا نَرَىٰ لَكُمْ عَلَيْنَا مِنْ فَضْلٍ بَلْ نَظُنُّكُمْ كَاذِبِينَ
[11:28] He said, “O my people, what if I have a solid proof from my Lord? What if He has blessed me out of His mercy, though you cannot see it? Are we going to force you to believe therein?
قَالَ يَاقَوْمِ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُ عَلَىٰ بَيِّنَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّي وَآتَانِي رَحْمَةً مِنْ عِنْدِهِ فَعُمِّيَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَنُلْزِمُكُمُوهَا وَأَنْتُمْ لَهَا كَارِهُونَ
[11:29] “O my people, I do not ask you for any money; my wage comes only from GOD. I am not dismissing those who believed; they will meet their Lord (and He alone will judge them). I see that you are ignorant people.
وَيَاقَوْمِ لَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مَالًا إِنْ أَجْرِيَ إِلَّا عَلَى اللَّهِ وَمَا أَنَا بِطَارِدِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّهُمْ مُلَاقُو رَبِّهِمْ وَلَٰكِنِّي أَرَاكُمْ قَوْمًا تَجْهَلُونَ
[11:30] “O my people, who can support me against GOD, if I dismiss them? Would you not take heed?
وَيَاقَوْمِ مَنْ يَنْصُرُنِي مِنَ اللَّهِ إِنْ طَرَدْتُهُمْ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ
[11:31] “I do not claim that I possess the treasures of GOD, nor do I know the future, nor do I claim to be an angel. Nor do I say to those despised by your eyes that GOD will not bestow any blessings upon them. GOD knows best what is in their innermost thoughts. (If I did this,) I would be a transgressor.”
وَلَا أَقُولُ لَكُمْ عِنْدِي خَزَائِنُ اللَّهِ وَلَا أَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ وَلَا أَقُولُ إِنِّي مَلَكٌ وَلَا أَقُولُ لِلَّذِينَ تَزْدَرِي أَعْيُنُكُمْ لَنْ يُؤْتِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ خَيْرًا اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا فِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ إِنِّي إِذًا لَمِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ
[11:32] They said, “O Noah, you have argued with us, and kept on arguing. We challenge you to bring the doom you threaten us with, if you are truthful.”
قَالُوا يَانُوحُ قَدْ جَادَلْتَنَا فَأَكْثَرْتَ جِدَالَنَا فَأْتِنَا بِمَا تَعِدُنَا إِنْ كُنْتَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ
[11:33] He said, “GOD is the One who brings it to you, if He so wills, then you cannot escape.
قَالَ إِنَّمَا يَأْتِيكُمْ بِهِ اللَّهُ إِنْ شَاءَ وَمَا أَنْتُمْ بِمُعْجِزِينَ
[11:34] “Even if I advised you, my advice cannot benefit you if it is GOD’s will to send you astray. He is your Lord, and to Him you will be returned.”
وَلَا يَنْفَعُكُمْ نُصْحِي إِنْ أَرَدْتُ أَنْ أَنْصَحَ لَكُمْ إِنْ كَانَ اللَّهُ يُرِيدُ أَنْ يُغْوِيَكُمْ هُوَ رَبُّكُمْ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ
[11:35] If they say, “He made up this story,” then say, “If I made it up, then I am responsible for my crime, and I am innocent of any crime you commit.”
أَمْ يَقُولُونَ افْتَرَاهُ قُلْ إِنِ افْتَرَيْتُهُ فَعَلَيَّ إِجْرَامِي وَأَنَا بَرِيءٌ مِمَّا تُجْرِمُونَ
[11:36] Noah was inspired: “No more of your people are going to believe, beyond those who already believe. Do not be saddened by their actions.
وَأُوحِيَ إِلَىٰ نُوحٍ أَنَّهُ لَنْ يُؤْمِنَ مِنْ قَوْمِكَ إِلَّا مَنْ قَدْ آمَنَ فَلَا تَبْتَئِسْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ
[11:37] “Build the ark under our watchful eyes, and with our inspiration, and do not implore Me on behalf of those who have transgressed; they are destined to drown.”
وَاصْنَعِ الْفُلْكَ بِأَعْيُنِنَا وَوَحْيِنَا وَلَا تُخَاطِبْنِي فِي الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا إِنَّهُمْ مُغْرَقُونَ
[11:38] While he was building the ark, whenever some of his people passed by him they laughed at him. He said, “You may be laughing at us, but we are laughing at you, just as you are laughing.
وَيَصْنَعُ الْفُلْكَ وَكُلَّمَا مَرَّ عَلَيْهِ مَلَأٌ مِنْ قَوْمِهِ سَخِرُوا مِنْهُ قَالَ إِنْ تَسْخَرُوا مِنَّا فَإِنَّا نَسْخَرُ مِنْكُمْ كَمَا تَسْخَرُونَ
[11:39] “You will surely find out who will suffer a shameful retribution, and incur an everlasting punishment.”
فَسَوْفَ تَعْلَمُونَ مَنْ يَأْتِيهِ عَذَابٌ يُخْزِيهِ وَيَحِلُّ عَلَيْهِ عَذَابٌ مُقِيمٌ
[11:40] When our judgment came, and the atmosphere boiled over, we said, “Carry on it a pair of each kind, together with your family, except those who are condemned. Carry with you those who have believed,” and only a few have believed with him.
حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَ أَمْرُنَا وَفَارَ التَّنُّورُ قُلْنَا احْمِلْ فِيهَا مِنْ كُلٍّ زَوْجَيْنِ اثْنَيْنِ وَأَهْلَكَ إِلَّا مَنْ سَبَقَ عَلَيْهِ الْقَوْلُ وَمَنْ آمَنَ وَمَا آمَنَ مَعَهُ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ
[11:41] He said, “Come on board. In the name of GOD shall be its sailing, and its mooring. My Lord is Forgiver, Most Merciful.”
وَقَالَ ارْكَبُوا فِيهَا بِسْمِ اللَّهِ مَجْرَاهَا وَمُرْسَاهَا إِنَّ رَبِّي لَغَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
[11:42] As it sailed with them in waves like hills, Noah called his son, who was isolated: “O my son, come ride with us; do not be with the disbelievers.”
وَهِيَ تَجْرِي بِهِمْ فِي مَوْجٍ كَالْجِبَالِ وَنَادَىٰ نُوحٌ ابْنَهُ وَكَانَ فِي مَعْزِلٍ يَابُنَيَّ ارْكَبْ مَعَنَا وَلَا تَكُنْ مَعَ الْكَافِرِينَ
[11:43] He said, “I will take refuge on top of a hill, to protect me from the water.” He said, “Nothing can protect anyone today from GOD’s judgment; only those worthy of His mercy (will be saved).” The waves separated them, and he was among those who drowned.
قَالَ سَآوِي إِلَىٰ جَبَلٍ يَعْصِمُنِي مِنَ الْمَاءِ قَالَ لَا عَاصِمَ الْيَوْمَ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ إِلَّا مَنْ رَحِمَ وَحَالَ بَيْنَهُمَا الْمَوْجُ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْمُغْرَقِينَ
[11:44] It was proclaimed: “O earth, swallow your water,” and “O sky, cease.” The water then subsided; the judgment was fulfilled. The ark finally rested on the hills of Judea.* It was then proclaimed: “The transgressors have perished.”
وَقِيلَ يَاأَرْضُ ابْلَعِي مَاءَكِ وَيَاسَمَاءُ أَقْلِعِي وَغِيضَ الْمَاءُ وَقُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ وَاسْتَوَتْ عَلَى الْجُودِيِّ وَقِيلَ بُعْدًا لِلْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ
[11:45] Noah implored his Lord: “My Lord, my son is a member of my family, and Your promise is the truth. You are the wisest of the wise.”
(١١:٤٥) وَنَادَىٰ نُوحٌ رَبَّهُ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنَّ ابْنِي مِنْ أَهْلِي وَإِنَّ وَعْدَكَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنْتَ أَحْكَمُ الْحَاكِمِينَ
[11:46] He said, “O Noah, he is not of your family. It is unrighteous to ask Me for something you do not know. I enlighten you, lest you be like the ignorant.”
قَالَ يَانُوحُ إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ إِنَّهُ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صَالِحٍ فَلَا تَسْأَلْنِ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنِّي أَعِظُكَ أَنْ تَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ
[11:47] He said, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You, lest I implore You again for something I do not know. Unless You forgive me, and have mercy on me, I will be with the losers.”
قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أَسْأَلَكَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِهِ عِلْمٌ وَإِلَّا تَغْفِرْ لِي وَتَرْحَمْنِي أَكُنْ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
[11:48] It was proclaimed: “O Noah, disembark, with peace and blessings upon you, and upon nations who will descend from your companions. As for the other nations descending from you, we will bless them for awhile, then commit them to painful retribution.”
قِيلَ يَانُوحُ اهْبِطْ بِسَلَامٍ مِنَّا وَبَرَكَاتٍ عَلَيْكَ وَعَلَىٰ أُمَمٍ مِمَّنْ مَعَكَ وَأُمَمٌ سَنُمَتِّعُهُمْ ثُمَّ يَمَسُّهُمْ مِنَّا عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
[11:49] This is news from the past that we reveal to you. You had no knowledge about them—neither you, nor your people—before this. Therefore, be patient. The ultimate victory belongs to the righteous.
تِلْكَ مِنْ أَنْبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهَا إِلَيْكَ مَا كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُهَا أَنْتَ وَلَا قَوْمُكَ مِنْ قَبْلِ هَٰذَا فَاصْبِرْ إِنَّ الْعَاقِبَةَ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ