Bible Study on Noah with Muslims

Quranic passages about Noah
Surah 11

25. We sent Noah to his people (with a mission): "I have come to you with a Clear Warning:

26. "That ye serve none but Allah. Verily I do fear for you the penalty of a grievous day."

27. But the chiefs of the Unbelievers among his people said: "We see (in) thee nothing but a man like ourselves: Nor do we see that any follow thee but the meanest among us, in judgment immature: Nor do we see in you (all) any merit above us: in fact we thing ye are liars!"

28. He said: "O my people! See ye if (it be that) I have a Clear Sign from my Lord, and that He hath sent Mercy unto me from His own presence, but that the Mercy hath been obscured from your sight? shall we compel you to accept it when ye are averse to it?

29. "And O my people! I ask you for no wealth in return: my reward is from none but Allah. But I will not drive away (in contempt) those who believe: for verily they are to meet their Lord, and ye I see are the ignorant ones!

30. "And O my people! who would help me against Allah if I drove them away? Will ye not then take heed?

31. "I tell you not that with me are the treasures of Allah, nor do I know what is hidden, nor claim I to be an angel. Nor yet do I say, of those whom your eyes do despise that Allah will not grant them (all) that is good: Allah knoweth best what is in their souls: I should, if I did, indeed be a wrong-doer."

32. They said: "O Noah! thou hast disputed with us, and (much) hast thou prolonged the dispute with us: now bring upon us what thou threatenest us with, if thou speakest the truth!?"

33. He said: "Truly, Allah will bring it on you if He wills,- and then, ye will not be able to frustrate it!

34. "Of no profit will be my counsel to you, much as I desire to give you (good) counsel, if it be that Allah willeth to leave you astray: He is your Lord! and to Him will ye return!"

35. Or do they say, "He has forged it"? Say: "If I had forged it, on me were my sin! and I am free of the sins of which ye are guilty!

36. It was revealed to Noah: "None of thy people will believe except those who have believed already! So grieve no longer over their (evil) deeds.

37. "But construct an Ark under Our eyes and Our inspiration, and address Me no (further) on behalf of those who are in sin: for they are about to be overwhelmed (in the Flood)."

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!

39. "But soon will ye know who it is on whom will descend a penalty that will cover them with shame,- on whom will be unloosed a penalty lasting:"

40. At length, behold! there came Our command, and the fountains of the earth gushed forth! We said: "Embark therein, of each kind two, male and female, and your family - except those against whom the word has already gone forth,- and the Believers." but only a few believed with him.

41. So he said: "Embark ye on the Ark, In the name of Allah, whether it move or be at rest! For my Lord is, be sure, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!"

42. So the Ark floated with them on the waves (towering) like mountains, and Noah called out to his son, who had separated himself (from the rest): "O my son! embark with us, and be not with the unbelievers!"

43. The son replied: "I will betake myself to some mountain: it will save me from the water." Noah said: "This day nothing can save, from the command of Allah, any but those on whom He hath mercy! "And the waves came between them, and the son was among those overwhelmed in the Flood.

44. Then the word went forth: "O earth! swallow up thy water, and O sky! Withhold (thy rain)!" and the water abated, and the matter was ended. The Ark rested on Mount Judi, and the word went forth: "Away with those who do wrong!"

45. And Noah called upon his Lord, and said: "O my Lord! surely my son is of my family! and Thy promise is true, and Thou art the justest of Judges!"

46. He said: "O Noah! He is not of thy family: For his conduct is unrighteous. So ask not of Me that of which thou hast no knowledge! I give thee counsel, lest thou act like the ignorant!"

47. Noah said: "O my Lord! I do seek refuge with Thee, lest I ask Thee for that of which I have no knowledge. And unless thou forgive me and have Mercy on me, I should indeed be lost!"

48. The word came: "O Noah! Come down (from the Ark) with peace from Us, and blessing on thee and on some of the peoples (who will spring) from those with thee: but (there will be other) peoples to whom We shall grant their pleasures (for a time), but in the end will a grievous penalty reach them from Us."

Surah 54

13. But We bore him on an (Ark) made of broad planks and caulked with palm- fibre:

Other Qur'anic passages that talk about Noah: sura 7:59-64; 23:23-30; 26:105-122; 37:75-82; 54:9-15; and sura 71:1-28 which is the sura of Nuh.

What the Bible teaches about Noah

The Biblical account of Noah can be found in Genesis 6 – 9.

Difference between Biblical and Quranic account of Noah

Noah escaped the flood, but his son drowned (Sura 11:42-46) according to the Quran narrative, but he (Noah) escaped with his wife, three sons and their wives (Genesis 6:7,18) in the Bible.

So the Ark floated with them on the waves (towering) like mountains, and Noah called out to his son, who had separated himself (from the rest): "O my son! Embark with us, and be not with the unbelievers!" The son replied: "I will betake myself to some mountain: it will save me from the water." Noah said: "This day nothing can save, from the command of Allah, any but those on whom He hath mercy!" And the waves came between them, and the son was among those overwhelmed in the Flood. -- Sura 11:42-43


What can we learn about the story of Noah

Lessosn on salvation
Noah’s faith saved him

From Noah, we learn the fundamentals of Christianity. Just as Noah accepted by faith that a flood would come and the ark would protect him, we are saved by having faith that Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. Jesus is our ark, our salvation, and our protection.

(Heb 11:7 NIV)  By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Jesus, the only door to salvation

How many doors did God command Noah to make in the boat which would be a refuge to all who wanted to escape the judgment of the flood? Only one door. Anyone who wanted to escape the flood had to go through the one door of the boat. Whoever entered through the door was saved. Whoever did not enter through the door perished!

(Gen 6:16 NIV)  Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.

Similarly, concerning the Day of Judgment, the Holy Scriptures confirm to us that God has opened only one door of salvation for the children of Adam. The Messiah Himself is the Door that can admit people into eternal life.

(John 10:9 KJV)  I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

(John 14:6 NIV)  Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The significance of blood

We do not find any definite divine sanction for eating flesh until after the flood in Noah's time. Previous to that, God had given men for food green herbs and the fruit of trees.

(Gen 1:29 NIV)  Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

But after the flood He sanctioned the use of flesh also, but blood is forbidden.

(Gen 9:3-4 NIV)  Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. {4} "But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.

Explain to your Muslim friend the significance of blood. The eating of blood is also prohibited in Islam.

Surah 5:3. Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah. That which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety….  But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

We can point out to our Muslim friends that there are also similarities between Islam and Old Testament teaching on the prohibition against eating blood. While the Quran is silent on why the eating of blood is prohibited, the Bible tells us why.

(Lev 17:12 NIV)  Therefore I say to the Israelites, "None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood."

(Gen 9:3-4 NIV)  Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. {4} "But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.

Conversation pointer: Do you know why the Quran forbids the consumption of blood? Do you know that Christians are also forbidden to consume blood?

The Bible tells us why we cannot consume blood.

(Lev 17:11, 14 NIV)  For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life.  14…That is why I have said to the Israelites, "You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off."

Blood represents life and when the people of God sacrificed the life of the animals on the altar as atonement for their sins, the blood of the animal is shed.

(Lev 16:6, 14 NIV)  Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. 14 He is to take some of the bull's blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover.

This animal sacrifice as an atonement for sin is only a temporary measure. Because Jesus came and provided Himself as a permanent sacrifice to atone for our sins. Jesus said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mat 26:28 NIV)

Noah sacrificed clean animals unto the Lord

Did you hear what Noah first did after he left the ark? He sacrificed some innocent animals, burning them on an altar he built. God had not abolished His law which stated: "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin." (Heb. 9:22)

While the great flood destroyed most of the sinners from off the face of the earth, it did not destroy the root of sin that remained in the hearts of the children of Adam. That is why Noah and his descendants had to continue offering to God sacrifices for sin. As we have seen, such animal sacrifices were the foundation of the way of salvation that God had decreed. The sacrifices that our ancestors slaughtered in early times, symbolized the Redeemer who was to come and shed His own blood to pay the debt of sin for Adam's descendants. That is why, when Noah left the ark, the first thing he did was to shed animal blood, thus showing his children and grandchildren that the laws of God had not changed-that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23) and "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin." (Heb. 9:22)

Thus, the Scriptures say:

(Gen 8:21 NIV)  The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

The sacrifice of innocent animals point to the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the perfectly holy Son of God, who gave His life as a redeeming sacrifice.

(Eph 5:2 NIV)  and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Lesson on man’s condition

Man’s heart is indeed sinful.

(Gen 6:5 NIV)  The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.

Even Noah, the man of God, was not able to lead a perfect life. The Bible records an incident of Noah’s sin of drunkenness to remind us that EVERYBODY needs God as their Savior.

(Gen 9:20-27 NIV)  Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. {21} When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. {22} Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers outside. {23} But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father's nakedness. {24} When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, {25} he said, "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers." {26} He also said, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. {27} May God extend the territory of Japheth ; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave."

The Bible does not spare us the accounts of man’s sins, even those of great Biblical characters like Noah. His embarrassing incident is a strong reminder to us about the dangers of excessive drinking.

(Prov 20:1 NIV)  Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Side issue:

Why curse Canaan (the son of Ham) why not curse Ham directly? Also, why curse only one of the four sons of Ham and not all of them."

Noah's response is a prophecy. Noah said verse 25 near the very end of his life when the prophetic spirit came upon him. This assumption is strengthened by his death immediately after. Verse 25, "Cursed be Canaan", is a prophecy that was fulfilled with the destruction of the Canaanites.

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Lesson on God’s character

In the Quranic passages, Noah warns his people, they disbelieve in his message and God sends the flood to destroy the unbelievers. Period. We are not told anything about how any of this, whether the peoples' sinfulness or the judgment of God, affects God himself.

The Bible on the other hand presents us with a God who is grieved because of the sinfulness of His creation. Because God loves us so much, our sin fills Him with grief and pain.

The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth - men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air - for I am grieved that I have made them."

The God of the Quran is an impersonal God who punishes us if we disobey Him. The God of the Bible is a personal God who feels for us.

The miracle of the ark

(Gen 6:14-15 NIV)  So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. {15} This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.

The Ark had a ratio (length x width x height) of 30 x 5 x 3. According to ship-builders, this ratio represents an advanced knowledge of ship-building since it is the optimum design for stability in rough seas. The Ark, as designed by God, was virtually impossible to capsize! It would have to have been tilted over 90 degrees in order to capsize.

The Quranic account of the ark was not detailed. It does not tell us its dimensions.

Can the story of Noah be true?
Evidence of a worldwide flood

Sea originating fossils have been found at high altitudes of every continent.

Geologist classify rock formations by the type of rock they contain. A layer of the same type of rock is called a stratum. Many scientists believe that certain types of stratum originated in certain time periods such as the Eocene, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of time. There are many places on the earth where the order of these strata in reversed. Examples of this are the Matterhorn and Mythen peaks in the Alps. The order of the strata has been completely reversed in respect to the earth around it. Though many explanations have been offered for this phenomenon, the catastrophic effects of a flood as described in the Bible is still the best explanation.

Sedimentary deposits cover large parts of the earth. These are the type of deposits that result from movement of water. The last 3,000 feet of Mount Everest are made of sedimentary rock and crushed shells.

Volcanic rocks are found interbedded with sedimentary rocks of all supposed geologic ages. This correlates with the Biblical implication that the "fountains of the great deep" poured out their contents throughout the flood (Genesis 8:2).

More than 250 cultures worldwide have Flood traditions that are similar to the Biblical account.  This cannot be dismissed as coincidence. 

Contradictions in the story?

(Gen 6:19 NIV)  You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.

(Gen 7:2-3 NIV)  Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, {3} and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.

Critics looking for a contradiction here have overlooked the fact, that in Chapter 8:20 these extra animals were used as follows:

(Gen 8:20 NIV)  Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.

Can all the animals fit in?

Assuming the ancient cubit to have been only 17.5 inches (the smallest suggested by an authority), the ark could have carried as many as 125,000 sheep-sized animals. Since there are not more than about 25,000 species of land animals known (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians), either living or extinct, and since the average size of such animals is certainly much less than that of a sheep, it is obvious that all the animals could easily have been stored in less than half the capacity of Noah's ark, each pair in appropriate "rooms".