One word defines it all. It is that moment in time when even breathing becomes difficult. Everything that once was, is not. And everything that will be, is unclear. It’s when your trust has been broken, your emotions shattered, and your mindset has become scattered. With each painful breath you know that if you take this one, you’ll have to take another. You don’t even want to get better because the process of getting better and facing the situation that got you in this position in the first place is more painful than even the sorrow you are feeling now. One word. Defeat. One of the greatest examples of a man who experienced defeat was the Prophet Noah.
Allah commanded Noah `alayhi assalam (peace be upon him) to go to his people and call them to the right path. As an obedient slave and someone whose passion and life lied in working towards Allah’s cause, he did it. He went out to his people, those whom he had been living along side for so long, and called them to the way of Allah:
He said “Ya Qawmi,” my people, “I am a clear warner for you.” (Qur’an, 71:2)
From this we see that this was not just any group of people; they were people who were near and dear to his heart. He associated himself with this group. He tried to convince them:
“Worship Allah, fear Him and obey me.” (71:3)
He tried to entice them with hopes of reward and remind them that their abode here in this life was quite temporary.
“Allah will forgive you of your sins and delay you for a specified term. Indeed, the time set by Allah, when it comes, will not be delayed, if only you knew.” (71:4)
One can only imagine the sense of urgency that Noah (as) felt and the emotional effects of having those whom he associated himself with, turn their backs to him. However they did not simply turn their backs on him, they went further than that. Allah says concerning them in the Qur’an,
“The people of Noah denied before them, and they denied our servant and said, ‘A madman,’ and he was repelled.” (54:9)
They called him names; they attempted to degrade this righteous servant of Allah, trying to break him emotionally and psychologically. He was frustrated with their emotional schemes and tactics. His description of the reactions they had towards his clear intended warnings is no less than heart breaking.
“He said, “My Lord, indeed I invited my people [to truth] night and day.” (71:5)
There was not a moment in which he did not try to guide them to the right path. What was their response to his relentless efforts?
“And indeed, every time I invited them that You may forgive them, they put their fingers in their ears, covered themselves with their garments, persisted, and were arrogant with [great] arrogance.” (71:7)
Even after all this torment, Noah (as) didn’t give up.
He says that he invited them publically, and when this failed he tried convincing them secretly. Noah (as) didn’t want to even leave a crack for Shaytan to slip through. Any opportunity that could have been seized was taken. After years and years of putting forth his best foot only to have it stomped on by the ones whom he once loved, Noah (as) felt defeat.
But the question is: what did he do? Did he cower into a cave and simply cry himself to sleep thinking, “Why me?” Did he decide to conform and live with the insecurities of his people? No. Rather he looked up to the heavens, to the One whom he knew had all the power with Him, and he called out with words that put the aching heart at peace.
“So he invoked his Lord, ‘Indeed, I am overpowered, so help.’” (54:10)
The answer to Nuh’s du`a’ came from the sky – drawing out the story that we all know as “Noah’s Ark.”
A lesson to be learned from this righteous and beloved Prophet is that when the world and those people who are in it push you to your knees – you are in the perfect position to pray.