PROPHET NOAH

Allah tells us the following in the Holy Qur'an:
We have surely sent Noah to his people, so he said: 0 people! Worship Allah; you have no god other than Him; surely I fear for you the chastisement of a grievous Day. The chiefs of his people said: Most surely we see you in clear error. He said: 0 people! There is no error in me, but I am an apostle from the Lord of the worlds. I deliver to you the messages of my Lord, and I offer you good advice, and I know from Allah what you, do not know. What?! Do you wonder that a reminder has come to you from your Lord through a man from among you so that he may warn you, and so that you may guard (yourselves against evil), and so that mercy may be shown to you?! But they called him a liar, so We delivered him and those with him in the ark, and We drowned those who rejected Our communications; surely they were blind people. (Qur'an, 7:59-64)

His full name is Noah son of Lamuch son of Methulach (or Enoch, prophet Idris) son of Yared son of Mahalalel son of Kenan son of Anoosh son of Sheth (Seth) son of Adam, father of mankind. He was born one hundred and twenty-six years after Adam's death according to Jarir al-Tabari and others.' How many sons did Noah have? They were Ham, Sam (or Shem), Japheth (Yafith), Yam (who is called by the People of the Book Canan and must not be confused with Canaan (Ken'an) the Arab whose descendants constituted a majority in Palestine/ by the year 1177 B.C after the outbreak of the Ma'rab

'al-Majlisi, Bihiir al-Anwiir, Vol. 11, p. 287. 2When the Greeks invaded Palestine in 449 B.C, they gave these Cananite Arabs who dwelt along the Mediterranean coast of Syria a new name: "Phoenicians" which means "people who work in the Tyrean purple," a dye extracted from trees and used then to paint ships. Phoenicians' Arab Semitic ancestors, as we are told on p. 25 of Vol. 1 of the sixth edition of Civilization: Past & Present (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1987 [1407 AH.]), had migrated from Arabia early in the third millenium B.C 248

Dam of Yemen),' and Abir. Which of these was the one who preferred to seek refuge on top of a mountain rather than respond to his father's call to join them in the ark? He was, according to most accounts, Yam. This means that Yam, or Canaan, did not leave any descendants because he drowned. Did Noah hav= any daughters at all? No names are provided for us by anthropologists and historians for Noah's daughters, conceding, however, that all the four daughters-in-law of Noah, including Yam's widow, were on board the ark. If you trace the life-span of each of his ancestors, you will have an idea about the time in history during which he lived. A chronology of his ancestors is available in Volume One of Tabari's Tiirikh, The chronology provided in the Book of Matthew (of the Old Testament) is, in our view, quite inaccurate. For example, it suggests that Noah lived for nine hundred and fifty years, whereas the Holy Qur'an tells us that that was only the period during which Noah was preaching to his people. It neither includes the years he lived before inviting his people to mend their ways nor those he lived after the flood. In Arabic, Noah's name means: he wails, laments, bemoans, mourns, weeps over others. Noah wept over his people's sins for the entire period during which he was admonishing them to renounce their evil ways, abandon idol worship, and accept Allah as their Lord, a period of nine hundred and fifty years as the Holy Qur'an tells us in verse 14 of Surat al-"Ankabut:
And certainly We sent Noah to his people, so he remained among them a thousand years save fifty years. And the deluge overtook them while they were unjust. (Qur'an, 29:14)

lMarab came later in history to be the city capital of the Second Kingdom of Saba' (Sheba) which lasted from 650 to 115 B.C. The First Kingdom of Sheba ruled about one thousand years before the birth of Christ. Balqees, or Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba, came to be the wife of prophet Solomon the Wise who, according to scholars of the Bible, ruled from 970 - 935 B.C. Balqees was an Arab, a descendant of Saba' son of Ka'b son of Zayd son of Himyar son of Yashjub son of Ya'rub son of Joktan (or Jochtan, as Qahtan, one of the fathers of the Arab nation, is called by Western scolars). Balqees is most often referred to as "Himyari," a descendant of Himyar. A large percentage of today's Yemenites are descendants of Himyar.

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Another meaning of his name is: one who nahha, isolated, dissociated, or cleared himself from certain people; Noah cleared himself and his small band of believers from the rest of his people who disbelieved in his message. "Noah" is not his name but his attribute; it is an adjective, not a noun. What was, then, Noah's real name? A man from Syria once asked the Commander of the Faithful Imam "Ali about Noah's name. The Imam told the inquirer that Noah's name was al-Sakan, and that he was called Noah because he wept over his people for nine hundred and fifty years. 1 Imam J a'fer al-Sadiq was asked the same question, whereupon he said, "Noah's (real) name was Abd al-Ghaffar; he was called Noah because he mourned himself. "2The same Imam was asked the same question on a different occasion, as Sa'Id ibn Janah, one of his companions, narrated. The Imam said, "Noah's name was Abd al-Malik; he was called Noah because he wept for five hundred years.'? On yet another occasion, the Imam was asked the same question, and it was then that he gave Noah's name as "Abd al-A'Ia", Why did the Imam thus give more than one name for Noah? Shaikh al-Saduq answers this question by saying, "Narrations with regard to Noah's name agree, not disagree, with one another, and they all convey that his name meant: a servant of Allah; so, he is the servant of al-Ghaffar (the oftForgiving One), of al-Malik (the King), of al-A'Ia (the most High).II4 According to Wahab, al-Saduq has indicated that Noah was a carpenter; his tanned face was thin and long, his eyes were large, his legs were thin but his thighs were huge, and so was his body in general. He is described by al-Saduq as having been quite tall with a large belly, a long beard, and broad shoulders. He was very forceful when angry or when rebuking his people. When Allah chose him to convey His message to the people, he was eight hundred and fifty years old. After the flood, he continued to live for seven hundred years; hence, he lived a total of two thousand and five hundred years.

IThis is recorded on p. 435, Vol. 4, of al-Tibrisi's exegesis Mujma'
al-Bayiin

fi Tafsir al-Qur'an.

2Refer to p. 21 of cflal al-Shariii',

3lbid., p. 21. 4lbid.
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"Ali ibn Ahmed quotes al-Asadi quoting Sahl quoting Abd al-Azeem al-Hasani saying, as we are told by Shaikh al-Saduq, "I heard (Irnam) "Ali ibn Muhammed aVAskari saying that Noah lived for two thousand and five hundred years." For three hundred years, during which Noah was admonishing his people, the latter used to bring their young sons to show them Noah and to warn them against listening to him. A father would say to his son: "Son! If you survive me, do not obey this madman."

Where did Noah Live?
One thousand years, according to p. 122, Vol. 1, of Tabari's Tarikh, separate the time between our father Adam and prophet Noah, a period during which all people followed one and the same creed, and all were on the right track of Islam by the token of the Our'anic verse saying,
(All) people used to be a single nation; so Allah raised prophets as bearers of glad tidings and as warners, and He revealed with them the Book with the truth, so that it might judge between people in that in which they differed. (Qur'an, 2:213)

Ibn 'Abbas is quoted in the same reference cited above saying, "Between Noah and Adam, peace be upon them, there was a time period of ten generations during which people followed the right creed. Then they differed among themselves, so Allah sent His prophets to them to bring them glad tidings and to warn them." He then continued to say that this is the meaning of the verse saying, "(All) people used to be a single nation ..." cited above. Noah's long life-span should not surprise anybody. Abu Abdullah Imam Ja'fer alSadiq is quoted by reporters of traditions and biographers as having said, "Noah's people used to live (at least) three hundred years each."! Noah was the first of Ulul-fAzm prophets, and the first to warn people against a sure calamity. During his time, people were committing many different types of immoralities the like of which had never been seen before. These included wine drinking, distraction

Kamdl al-Deen wa Bihar al-Anwiir,

lThis statement and the chain of its narrators are recorded on p. 289 of Itmam al-Ni'ma, and it is quoted on p. 289, Vol. 11, of

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-from worshipping Allah, debauchery, and idol worship.

Noah and Idol Worship
The names of the most renown idols worshipped by Noah's people are listed in the Holy Qur'an in verses such as these:
Noah said: Lord! Surely they have disobeyed me and followed one whose wealth and children have increased only his loss. And they have planned a great plan. And they say: By no mans should you leave your gods, nor should you leave Wudd, nor Suwa, nor Yaghuth, nor Yauq, nor Nasr. (Qur'an, 71:21-23)

In these verses, Noah complains to the Almighty against his people who preferred to disobey him and, instead, obeyed the wealthy among them. According to al-Qummi's Tafsir, a number of pious and popular believers before the time of Noah died, so people grieved for them a great deal. Assuming a human form, Eblis brought them images of those popular and righteous individuals which they happily took to decorate their places of public meetings with. When winter came, they brought those images indoors. Another generation came and Eblis came again to say to them, "These are gods which your fathers used to worship," so they worshipped them, and a great number of them strayed, hence Noah's supplication to the Almighty to drown them. Idol worship, then, dates back as far as the time of Noah, a practice which continued throughout Arabia till the advent of Islam in the sixth century A.D. According to the author of AI-Du" alManthoor, who is quoted by al-Bukhari and is referred to by alTabatabai in his Tafsir al-Mizan.' Ibn "Abbas said, "The idols and statues which. the people of Noah used to worship came to be worshipped by the Arabs thereafter." Wudd, one of those idols, came to be worshipped by Banu Kalb who were residing at Dawmat alJandal; Suwa" became the god of Banu Huthayl; Yaghuth became the god of Banu Murad then of Banu Ghateef who lived near Saba' (Sheba, Yemen). Banu Hamadan came to worship Ya'ooq, while Nasr was the god of Himyar (ancestors of Queen Balqees who married prophet Solomon). These idols were drowned in the flood, and these Arab tribes carved new ones modelled after them depending on their

'Refer to pp. 38-39, Vol. 20, of Tafsir al-Mizan. 252

.......••

knowledge of such idols, the knowledge which was orally transmitted from one generation to another since the time of the flood and from those who survived it.

Noah's Ark
Scholars differ with regard to the number of those who accompanied Noah in the ark. Ibn "Abbas says that they, including their women, were eighty in number. Imarn al-Sadiq, Abu Abdullah Ja'fer ibn Muhammed, is quoted in Rawdat al-Kiifi as having said, "Noah built his ark by hand at the place where Kufa's mosque now stands. He had to bring wood from a distance till he finished it." Then the Imam turned to his left, pointed to Ibn al-Hakeem's house and added, "The Euphrates used to flow there." Having said so, he turned to one of his companions, al-Mufaddal, and said, "0 Mufaddal! It was there that the idols of Noah's people were placed: Yaghuth, Ya'ooq, and Nasr."l This means that Noah lived in the southern part of today's Iraq. A testimony to this fact exists in the famous Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient Babylonian version of the story of the flood written in Akkadian, the language then used in northern Babylonia. This epic was unearthed by Western archaeologists excavating at Nineveh in the library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal who ruled from 668 to 627 B.C. Five short poems written in Sumeriarr' (the language used in southern Babylonia) making reference to this epic were rendered by some anthropologists to the second millennium BvC. lames Trager, author of The People's Chronology, however, places the Gilgamesh epic in the third, not the second, millennium. Gilgamesh was king of Erech (Uruk), today's town of al-Warka'. In this epic, reference is made to one man who survived the flood. His name in Sumerian is Utnapishtim. In the Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East, we read the following: A later tradition made Ubar-tutu the father of Ziusudra (or Ut-

lIbid., p. 39. urbe Sumerians developed a cuneiform script alphabet of 600 simplified signs. Earlier, they had developed a written language using thousands of picture signs, or ideograms. The Gilgamesh legend and the new Sumerian alphabet are both based on those ideograms.

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napishtim), the Babylonian Noah. Ut-napishtim, according to the Epic of Gilgamesh, built a boat on the advice of the god Enki and thus survived the deluge that had been sent by the gods to destroy humankind.'

Two conclusions concern us from researching the Babylonian Gilgamesh epic; they are: 1) the time of the flood must have taken place at least shortly before the third millennium B.C, that is to say, probably 3200 or 3500 B.C, although in the chronological table provided in Cradle of Civilization by Samuel Noah Kramer and the editors of Time-Life Books, the earliest settlements by farmers in Babylon are dated 5000 B.C whereas the Gilgamesh epic is given the approximate date of 2600 B.C; 2) Utnapishtim could be the Sumerian equivalent of the hero of our story: prophet Noah. Babylonian languages, according to the New Webster's Dictionary.' are Semitic'. The Babylonians were descendants of Sam son of Noah. Cradle of Civilizations tells us that
From the land of Akkad came the name Akkadian given to the Semitic language that came into common use in Mesopotamia.'

What Language Did Noah Speak?
The answer to this question poses a very serious challenge to any researcher. One is tempted to believe that Noah spoke some type of Arabic simply because his name or, rather, characteristic, is derived from nawh or niyiih which means in Arabic: crying or mourning. Our father's name Adam is derived from the Arabic adeem al-ard, that is, an earthly composite. Yet if you carefully study the traditions quoted

'Michael Roaf, Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East (Oxford, England: Musterlin House, 1990 [1410 A.H.]), p. 84. urhe edition consulted is the large Deluxe Encyclopedic Edition published in 1984 (1404 AH.) by the Delar Publishing Company, Inc. 3Louis al-Ma'Iuf, the Lebanese Jesuit author of the Arabic-Arabic dictionary Al-Munjid (published in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1973 (1393 AH.) by Dar el-Mashriq), however, classifies them as non-Semitic. "Samuel Noah Kramer and The Editors of Time-Life Books, Cradle of Civilization (New York: Time, Inc.), pp. 38-39.

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in al-Majlisi's encyclopedia titled Bihiir al-Anwdr, you will come across references to Noah speaking Syriac (eastern Aramaic). But Syriac neither existed in the fourth nor in the third millennium before Christ, nor was it spoken by the Babylonians; rather, it was the language developed by their offspring the Chaldeans (or Caldeans), also known as the neo-Babylonians. They inhabited Chaldea,' southern Babylonia. In the fifth century B.c., they controlled all of Babylonia, establishing the Chaldean or neo- Babylonian empire. Their most famous king, Nebuchadnezzar, who took control in 604 B.c., conquered Jerusalem after having defeated the Egyptians in Syria. He destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BiC. and carried several thousand Je}Vs captive to Babylonia. One of the descendants of those captives was the hero of next Chapter's story: Abraham.' It was from Chaldea that both Arabic and Hebrew languages descended. Chaldean regions such as Bit-Yakin (Bayt al-Yaqin) never changed their Arabic names ever since. Merodach-baladan (as he is called in the Bible) or Mardukapla-iddina Il, as he was called in Chaldean, was chief of Bit-Yakin and came to be the ruler of Babylon.' The language spoken by Noah could not have been Syriac. Aramaic, one of the Syriac dialects, was the language spoken by Jesus Christ, a language which still exists and is spoken even today by a small number of Syrian Christians.

Noah's Character and Conduct
No other prophet was named as such after him, and he was named so because of the extent of his grieving; he was the first of the prophets who have brought the Shari'a; he was the first caller sent by

'This name is derived from settlers known as the Kaldu tribes. Ancient Greek and Hebrew use the name Chaldea to designate Babylonia.
~is should not mislead the reader into thinking that Abraham, peace be upon him, was a Jew. The descendants of Ya'qub, Jacob, who is also called Israel, are called "Israelites," and these are classified by non-Muslims as "Jews." In Islam, all prophets of God, from Adam (as) tc Muhammed (P). including. of course, Abraham (as), are considered as Muslims. Verse 67 of Surat Ali "Imran (Ch. 3, Family of "Imran) reads: "Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian but an upright man, a Muslim, and he was not one of the polytheists." 3Michael Roaf, Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia, p. 182. 255

Allah Almighty; he was the first to warn against polytheism; he was the first to be persecuted by his nation because of rejecting his call; he caused all the inhabitants of the earth to perish because of his supplication. It is said that Allah Almighty inspired him after the flood, "1have created My creation and ordered them to obey Me, but they opted to go against My will, so My Wrath descended upon them, and 1 caused even those who did not disobey me to be tormented just as those who did, and I have caused all My creation to suffer because of the sins of the descendants of Adam. I have sworn by My Own Self that I shall never torment anyone among My creation in this same way [by flood], but I shall grant authority to various nations from among My servants, then I shall reward them according to their deeds when they are assembled to Me." Noah lived longer than any other prophet. He is referred to as the eldest among the prophets and the wise man among the messengers. His miracle is in his own self because he lived very long without losing a tooth or his strength weakening. No other messenger exerted as much effort in delivering the message as he had. He used to call upon his people night and day, openly and secretly, and no other prophet received from his people as much beating, chiding, and all types of harm and rudeness as he did. For these reasons, the Almighty has said, "And the people of Noah before; surely they were a transgressing people" (Qur'an, 51:46). He is also considered next only to the Chosen One Muhammed, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, with regard to the covenant and the inspiration; Allah Almighty has said, "And We took from the prophets their covenant, and from you, and from Noah" (Qur'an, 33:7). The Almighty has also said, "Surely We have revealed to you as We revealed to Noah and to the prophets after him" (Qur'an, 4:163). In as far as resurrection is concerned, Noah is the first person for whom the earth shall open up on the Day of Judgment, only after Muhammed, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny. The Almighty had given him the ark and taught him how to make it; He protected it and its cargo and permitted him to sail over the water, and He even called him a grateful servant of His: "... the offspring of those whom We carried with Noah; surely he was a grateful servant" (Qur'an, 17:3). The Almighty honoured him with security and bliss, saying, "0 Noah! Descend with peace from Us and blessings on you and on the people from among those with you" 256

(Qur'an, 11:48). Muhammed ibn Ka'b al-Qarzi has said, "Every believing man and woman had entered into that peace and remained therein till the Day of Judgment. Noah made his offspring the only survivors; therefore, he is the first of humans and the origin of the human race." Al-Hasan has quoted Samrah ibn J andab saying that the Messenger of Allah has said, "Three sons were born for Noah: Sam, Ham and Yafith (Japeth). Sam is the father of all Arabs, Persians, and Romans. Ham is the father of all the Black people. Yafith is the father of all the Turks, Gag and Magog." When Noah and his offspring descended from the ark, he divided the earth among his three sons. He gave to Sam the center of the earth, where Jerusalem, the Nile, the Tigris and the Euphrates, Sehon and Jehon are, which is the area between Qaysoon up to the east of the Nile, and between the flow of the south up to the flow of the north. To Ham he gave the area west of the Nile and the lands between the flow of the southern wind and beyond it up to Sehon to the flow of the west wind. To Yafithhe gave the area from Qaysoon and beyond it up to the foothills of Saba'. This is the explanation of the verse saying, "And We made his offspring the survivors, and We perpetuated to him (praise) among the later generations. Peace and salutation to Noah among the nations. Thus do We surely reward the doers of good. Surely he was of Our believing servants" (Qur'an, 37:77-81).

Noah in the Holy Qur'an
In addition to the verses cited above, the Holy Qur'an records the following supplications of Noah:
Lord! I seek refuge in You against asking You for that of which I have no knowledge, and if You do not forgive me and have mercy on me, I will surely be among the losers. (Qur'an, 11:47) And certainly We sent Noah to his people, and he said: 0 my people! Worship Alliih; you have no god other than Him; will you not then guard (yourselves against evil)? And the chiefs of those who disbelieved from among his people said: He is nothing but a mortal like yourselves who desires to have superiority over you, and had Alliih pleased, He could certainly have sent down angels. We have not heard of this among our fathers of yore: he is only a madman; so bear with him for some time. He

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said: 0 Lord! Help me against their calling me a liar. So We revealed to him, saying: Make the ark before Our eyes and (according to) Our revelation, and when Our command is given and the valley overflows, take into it of every kind a pair, two, and your followers, except those among them against whom the word has already gone forth, and do not speak to Me in respect of the unjust; surely they shall be drowned. And when you are firmly seated, you and those with you, in the ark, say: All praise is due to Alliih Who delivered us from the unjust people. And say: 0 Lord! Cause me to disembark a blessed disembarking, and You are the best to cause a disembarking. Most surely there are signs in this, and most surely We are ever trying (men). (Qur'an, 23:23-30) And Noah said: Lord! Do not leave upon the earth any dweller from among the unbelievers, for if You leave them, they will surely lead Your servants astray and will not beget any but immoral, ungrateful (offspring); Lord! Forgive me and my parents and whoever enters my house believing, and the believing men and women, and do not increase the unjust in aught but destruction! (Qur'an, 71:26-28) He said: Lord! Surely my people charge me of telling a lie! Therefore judge between me and them with a ljust) judgment, and deliver me and the believers with me. So We delivered him and those with him in the laden ark, then We drowned the rest afterwards. Most surely there is a sign in this, but most of them do not believe. And most sureLyyour Lord is the Mighty, the Merciful. (Qur'an, 26:117-122)

What is "al-Tannoor"? Reference to al-tannoor exists in 11:40 which states: "When Our command came and water came forth from the tannoor, We said: Carry in it two of all things, a pair, and your own family, except those against whom' the word has already gone forth, and those who believe." According to most people, al-tannoor means the earth's surface; so, the meaning would be: "and the earth gushed out from all its parts, so much so that even the tannoor, the surface of the earth, gushed forth with water." Ibn Atheer, on p. 95 of his book Qasas alAnbiyii', quotes Imam "Aliibn Abu Talib saying, "The meaning of altannor is daybreak and the light-bringing dawn, that is, its aurora and light." The verse in question will then mean: It is then that you should carry in it two pairs of everything." The story of Noah should teach everyone that no matter how long it takes, the end of those who do not worship the Almighty will be 258


truly tragic. Those who attribute a son to Him, those who remember Him maybe once a week or only on certain occasions, and those who shun Him altogether..., will all sooner or later come to realize that there is a price for being on earth, a purpose, a mission to fulfill, and that their God did not create them then forget about them. He will hold them responsible for each and every word they uttered, for each and every deed they did. And His reckoning will not be easy at all...

INVOCATION BY NOAH
These invocations are cited from the Holy Qur'an:
Lord! I seek refuge in You against asking You for that of whjch I have no knowledge; and if You do not forgive me and have mercy on me, I will surely be among the losers. (Qur'an, 11:47) And certainly We sent Noah to his people, and he said: 0 my people! Worship Allah; you have no god other than Him; will you not then guard (yourselves against evil)? And the chiefs of those who disbelieved from among his people said: He is nothing but a mortal like yourselves who desires that he may have superiority over you, and had Allah pleased, He could certainly have sent down angels. We have not heard of this among our father of yore: he is only a madman; so bear with him for some time. He said: 0 my Lord! Help me against their calling me a liar. So We revealed to him, saying: Make the ark before Our eyes and (according to) Our revelation, and when Our command is given and the valley overflows, take into it of every kind a pair, two, and your followers, except those among them against whom the word has gone forth, and do not speak to Me in respect of those who are unjust; surely they shall be drowned. And when you are firmly seated, you and those with you, in the ark, say: All praise is due to Allah Who delivered us from the unjust people. And say: 0 Lord! Cause me to disembark a blessed disembarking, and You are the best to cause a disembarking. Most surely there are signs in this, and most surely We are ever trying (men). (Qur'an, 23:23-30) And Noah said: Lord! Do not leave upon the earth any dweller from among the unbelievers, for if You leave them, they will surely lead Your servants astray and will not beget any but immoral, ungrateful

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(offspring); Lord! Forgive me and my parents and whoever enters my house believing, and the believing men and women, and do not increase the unjust in aught but destruction! (Qur'an, 71:26-28) He said: Lord! Surely my people charge me of telling a lie! Therefore judge between me and them with a (just) judgment, and deliver me and those who are with me of the believers. So We delivered him and those with him in the laden ark, then We drowned the rest afterwards. Most surely there is a sign in this, but most of them do not believe. And most surely your Lord is the Mighty, the Merciful. (Qur'an, 26:117-122)

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