What can you practically learn from Prophet Noah today? An incredible yet intricate linguistic nuance highlights a fascinating lesson from the story of Noah a.s in the Qur’an.
In Suratul Isra’ Aayah no. 3, Nooh (Noah) a.s is desribed by Allah as: “إِنَّهُ ۥ كَانَ عَبۡدً۬ا شَكُورً۬ا” *Rough translation: “No doubt about it, he was a Grateful slave”
The general word for ‘Grateful’ in Arabic is ‘Shaakiran’; ‘someone who shows gratitude’, but Allah says “Shakoor” instead.
The question is why? The use of the word “Shakoor”, as opposed to ‘Shaakir’, which the Qur’an does , has two implications;
1. It makes him extremely, excessively grateful. (known as Mubaalaghah in linguistics)
2. It makes it a constant, at every occasion he is grateful.
“Shakoor” combines two qualities. He is constantly grateful, and each time, he demonstrates the most extreme form of gratitude.
So why is this so fascinating?
If you study the life of Nooh a.s in the entire Qur’an, all you find are problems.
All this man, this prophet goes through is resistance, insults, humiliation, betrayal from his own family, From his own wife, his own son . . . It is said that, he would go out to preach the oneness of Allah, a mob would then come out and literally knock him out cold in the middle of the street. He would wake up and immediately continue his call, and again the mob would return and knock him out. Daily this would happen. It’s as if the only way he rested, was when he was beaten so much that he would be totally knocked out. Only to then wake up again and again to continue his God-given mission. Such was his life.
And he doesn’t go through all this for only a day or two, or a few weeks, a few months, for a few years, not even for a regular life span. but for 950 years!
You would expect that Allah would describe Nooh a.s, as ‘Someone who was patient’
But you don’t see that, ‘Patient’ isn’t enough. Allah does not describe him that way.
When we face problems, we think to ourselves. “I should be grateful in these times”, but the thing is, we could be a little grateful and think about Allah’s favours, but you’re not going to be extremely grateful.
You’re going to barely be grateful because in the midst of severe hardships, you’re not thinking about being grateful, but more about patience.
You try not to think about the problem, but rather about the positive side when you are in a negative daunting situation.
As close to impossible as it is, as hard as it is to do that, even if you try to squeeze out some gratitude, it would be like;
“Yeah you’re right! I should try to look at the bright side I guess! AlHamdulillah”
It’s not going to be an extreme form of gratitude, it’ll be a bare minimum kind of gratitude.
But for Nooh a.s , to go through what he goes through, for years upon years, with no support, no sign of any hope, a lost cause. . . Allah describes Nooh a.s as:
“A slave who was extremely, excessively grateful at every turn, and he was this way constantly!”
What an amazing compliment to Nooh a.s which is captured just in the word “Shakoor”. In just one word we get this profound insightful lesson, a guidance from the life and attitude of Nooh a.s.
And yet, when you read the translation it simply says, “He was a grateful slave”, you just don’t get any more than that.
But in reality, there’s so much more in the Arabic that could never be found, and is lost in translation.