Fada ‘ā rabbahu annī maghlūbun fantasir
Thereupon he invoked his Lord, ‘I have been overcome, so help [me]
(Sūrat al-Qamar, No.54, Āyat 10)
Prophet Nūh ‘alayhis salām has the distinction of being one of the Ulul ‘Azm Prophets who lived a long time and worked hard for his people. He used many strategies to persuade his people to turn towards the worship of One God:
– He asked them to think about Allah ‘azza wa-jall: What is the matter with you that you fear not the greatness of Allah? (Q 71:13)
– He reminded them of the blessings of Allah subahānahu wa-ta‘ālā on them and told them to be grateful: Do you not see how Allah has created the seven heavens, – one above another, and made the moon therein a light, and made the sun a lamp? (Q 71:15-16)
– He warned them of God’s displeasure: O my people! Surely I am a plain warner to you (Q 71:2)
– He told them of His forgiveness and blessings if they turned to Him: He will forgive you some of your faults and grant you a delay to an appointed term (Q 71:4).
– He spoke to them publicly and talked with individuals privately: I summoned them aloud, and again appealed to them publicly and confided with them privately (Q 71:8-9).
– He invited them to the truth tirelessly during night and day: My Lord, indeed I invited my community [to truth] night and day (Q 71:5).
But his people were stubborn and persistent in their old ways. The majority of them had become hard hearted and were unaffected by the teachings of Noah. They advised each other to adhere to their idols: Do not abandon your gods. Do not abandon Wadd, nor Suwā‘, nor Yaghūth, Ya‘ūq and Nasr (Q 71:23). They lobbied others to join them in their injustice and made the Prophet an object of ridicule. Prophet Nūh (a) describes their attitude thus: And whenever I have called them that You may forgive them, they put their fingers in their ears, cover themselves with their garments, and persist and are puffed up with pride (Q 71:7).
Nabī Nūh (a) felt overcome by their tyranny and opposition. Their dogged determination not to worship One God despite all his reasoning and advice made him realize that he could not succeed in changing them. They rejected his words, mocked him, persisted in their vices and sins, and flagrantly disobeyed all he told them. Noah was not defeated in the truth of his message but rather in the efforts he had put in to cause a reform. After hundreds of years of efforts he was disheartened. He had kept up hope all this time but now knew it would not work. He prayed to God, telling Him of how he felt, and asked for help. Allah (swt) answered his prayer by sending down the flood.
Imam al-Bāqir (a) says about this verse: Nūh remained among his people for a thousand years except fifty, and preached to them privately and in public. Then when they kept turning away and rejected him he said, ‘My Lord, I have been overcome, so help me’ (Tafsīr Nūr al-Thaqalayn, 5:177, H.8)
This verse tells us that in despair the only refuge is the Almighty God. When you have put in all your efforts and nothing works the solution is to turn to Allah ‘azza wa-jall and leave the matter in His hands. He will do with it as He thinks best. Belief in the Rububiyyat (Lordship) of Allah enables the believer to entrust Him with all things. Efforts and hard work are implemented through the help of Allah (swt) but ultimately the outcome lies in His hands. In the midst of severe hardship it is this belief that gives hope and strength. Let this verse inspire you when you are in the midst of relentless challenges in life.
Sources: ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh