Sura 27 of the Quran is entitled The Ant (Al-Naml). In this Sura we read the following passage regarding Solomon’s exchange with an ant:
[27:15] We endowed David and Solomon with knowledge, and they said, “Praise GOD for blessing us more than many of His believing servants.” [27:16] Solomon was David’s heir. He said, “O people, we have been endowed with understanding the language of the birds, and all kinds of things have been bestowed upon us. This is indeed a real blessing.” [27:17] Mobilized in the service of Solomon were his obedient soldiers of jinns and humans, as well as the birds; all at his disposal.
[27:18] When they approached the valley of the ants, one ant said, “O you ants, go into your homes, lest you get crushed by Solomon and his soldiers, without perceiving.” [27:19] He smiled and laughed at her statement, and said, “My Lord, direct me to be appreciative of the blessings You have bestowed upon me and my parents, and to do the righteous works that please You. Admit me by Your mercy into the company of Your righteous servants.”
At first glance, such an exchange might appear to be more suited in the land of science fiction and not what one would expect in a Holy Scripture that is from God. But it is passages like this that provide assurances to believers that the Quran has been untampered since its revelation over 1400 years ago.
For generations individuals probably struggled to comprehend how ants could communicate in such sophisticated manner let alone how a human being would ever be able to understand such communication. Even to date, people use this passage in an attempt to discredit the Quran. But despite the pushback and ridicule these verses have stayed intact and now with advancements in science and the understanding of ant communication we can have the final laugh.
Edward Osborne Wilson, usually cited as E. O. Wilson, is an American biologist, naturalist, and writer. His biological specialty is myrmecology, the study of ants, on which he is considered the world’s leading expert. On June 14, 2009, E.O. Wilson sat down for an interview at the World Science Festival to discuss ant communication. Below are some of his comments from the interview:
“We humans are highly unusual we communicate by audio and visual, but ants don’t do that. Some of them have eyes big enough to see, but they don’t use them very much at all to signal back and forth. What they do is they let out smells, and they offer substances on their bodies. And they have many kinds of glands, from where their mouths open all the way to the end of their bodies. And these glands open to the outside so when an ant wants to say something you know like: “watch out danger” or “come here I have something important” or “follow me out the end of the trail I just laid there’s food out there” or “there’s an enemy out there.” They let out a particular substance that has that signal in it.”
When he was asked how many different words do ants have, he continues by saying:
“Ten to twenty. They can say things like, “lookout danger.” They can say things like, “I’m a soldier” or they can say things like, “I’m a member of the such-and-such colony sniff are you a fellow member.”
Based on this information let’s take another look at the verse and specific comment from the ant:
[27:18] When they approached the valley of the ants, one ant said, “O you ants, go into your homes, lest you get crushed by Solomon and his soldiers, without perceiving.”
From the above comments from E.O. Wilson, we see that ants do communicate to their colony to look out for danger, and that they also possess the vocabulary to identify known colonies like that of the army of Solomon. Therefore, not only is this passage from the Quran possible based on what we now understand about ants, but it appears to be typical ant behavior. Additionally, as the communication signal is transmitted as a scent, as opposed to audibly, it further indicates how Solomon was able to decipher this comment from the ant.
As if that isn’t amazing enough, there is another scientific fact that is embedded inside this verse. In Arabic every word is either masculine or feminine. In the English translation of 27:18 when it states: “one ant said,… ” the Arabic for this expression is “قَالَتْ نَمْلَةٌ” this is the feminine form for both words “she said” and “ant”. The literal translation for this statement would be “she the female ant said”. The reason this is significant is because all worker ants are female, so it only makes sense that the one ant who made this statement was also female.
All this further confirms the authenticity of the Quran as a scripture from God. That despite being revealed during the dark ages of Arabia it has so much embedded scientific knowledge that it has taken mankind 1400 years to fully appreciate just this one single verse.
The Quran distinguishes between ayat (signs), kitab (scripture), and wahi (inspiration). Below is a summary of these differences:
Ayat are signs that come from God, and are perfect, but are not limited to text or something that can be written. God calls the nine miracles He gave to Moses ayat (17:101). God tells Zachariah that his inability to speak for three days concerning the birth of John was an ayat (3:41). God also calls the verses of the Quran ayat (11:1).
[11:1] A.L.R. This is a scripture whose verses (ayat) have been perfected, then elucidated. It comes from a Most Wise, Most Cognizant.
Kitab are specific form of ayat that can be written down as scripture. Kitab, like ayat, are also perfect, but while ayat can apply to signs beyond information that can be written, kitab is limited to specific words that God gives only to prophets. Nowhere in the Quran will we see kitab given to messengers. Kitab are 100% intact from when the prophet receives it to when they disseminate it to mankind. The prophets have no choice or ability to change the information given to them in the form of kitab. They must deliver it exactly as it was given to them.
[19:30] (The infant spoke and) said, "I am a servant of GOD. He has given me the scripture (kitab), and has appointed me a prophet.
Wahi is inspiration given from God. Wahi is given to both prophets and messengers. Wahi can be any information that is inspired to a prophet or messenger. Wahi that is not kitab or ayat is for the prophet or messenger who received the wahi to decide for themselves how best to pass this knowledge to the people. If the words that the messenger speak are to be dictated by God, then the wahi would be ayat or kitab.
Take for example Noah, God inspired Noah to build the ship under His watchful eye with His inspiration (wahi).
[11:36] Noah was inspired (wahi): "No more of your people are going to believe, beyond those who already believe. Do not be saddened by their actions. [11:37] "Build the ark under our watchful eyes, and with our inspiration (wahi),and do not implore Me on behalf of those who have transgressed; they are destined to drown."
Does this mean that the ark was infallible? That the logs and ropes (54:13) were perfect in every way? While the basic structure was perfect for the purpose it was meant to serve, this does not mean that all the details were without flaw. This is the difference between wahi that is kitab or ayat and wahi that is not. We see a similar example with God inspiring the bee.
[16:68] And your Lord inspired (wa-awḥā) the bee: build homes in mountains and trees, and in (the hives) they build for you.
Again, this does not mean that every honeycomb and hive that a bee builds is perfect, but the overall design is perfect per the function that God intended.
The only entity that is infallible is God. The Quran is full of examples of mistakes that the prophets and messengers made, but their delivery of the message is always perfect.
We learn from the Quran that the sole duty of a messenger is the clear delivery of the message.
[16:82] If they still turn away, then your sole mission is the clear delivery (of the message).
[5:92] You shall obey GOD, and you shall obey the messenger, and beware. If you turn away, then know that the sole duty of our messenger is to deliver the message efficiently.
[5:99] The sole duty of the messenger is to deliver the message, and GOD knows everything you declare and everything you conceal.
[24:54] Say, "Obey GOD, and obey the messenger." If they refuse, then he is responsible for his obligations, and you are responsible for your obligations. If you obey him, you will be guided. The sole duty of the messenger is to deliver (the message).
God informs us until a messenger delivers what was revealed to them they have not delivered the message. Therefore, until something is complete it cannot be fully critiqued.
[5:67] O you messenger, deliver what is revealed to you from your Lord - until you do, you have not delivered His message - and GOD will protect you from the people. GOD does not guide the disbelieving people.
God warns us if they deviate from the revelations given to them they would have been severely punished and would have had the revelations stopped being sent to them.
[69:44] Had he uttered any other teachings. [69:45] We would have punished him. [69:46] We would have stopped the revelations to him. [69:47] None of you could have helped him. [69:48] This is a reminder for the righteous.
[17:73] They almost diverted you from the revelations we have given you. They wanted you to fabricate something else, in order to consider you a friend. [17:74] If it were not that we strengthened you, you almost leaned towards them just a little bit. [17:75] Had you done that, we would have doubled the retribution for you in this life, and after death, and you would have found no one to help you against us. [17:76] They almost banished you from the land to get rid of you, so they could revert as soon as you left. [17:77] This has been consistently the case with all the messengers that we sent before you, and you will find that our system never changes.
Therefore, did the prophets and messengers make mistakes? Absolutely, but the mistakes were never in regards to the delivery of the message, the perfection of the scripture, or the revelation of ayat. The mistakes were always in their own shortcomings, but if their shortcomings ever contradicted the message of God, God always pointed this out for us to learn from.
[38:24] He said, "He is being unfair to you by asking to combine your sheep with his. Most people who combine their properties treat each other unfairly, except those who believe and work righteousness, and these are so few." Afterwards, David wondered if he made the right judgment. He thought that we were testing him. He then implored his Lord for forgiveness, bowed down, and repented. [38:25] We forgave him in this matter. We have granted him a position of honor with us, and a beautiful abode. [38:26] O David, we have made you a ruler on earth. Therefore, you shall judge among the people equitably, and do not follow your personal opinion, lest it diverts you from the way of GOD. Surely, those who stray off the way of GOD incur severe retribution for forgetting the Day of Reckoning.
[9:43] GOD has pardoned you (Muhammad): why did you give them permission (to stay behind), before you could distinguish those who are truthful from the liars?
[80:1] He (Muhammad) frowned and turned away. [80:2] When the blind man came to him. [80:3] How do you know? He may purify himself. [80:4] Or he may take heed, and benefit from the message. [80:5] As for the rich man. [80:6] You gave him your attention. [80:7] Even though you could not guarantee his salvation. [80:8] The one who came to you eagerly. [80:9] And is really reverent. [80:10] You ignored him.
[33:37] Recall that you said to the one who was blessed by GOD, and blessed by you, "Keep your wife and reverence GOD," and you hid inside yourself what GOD wished to proclaim. Thus, you feared the people, when you were supposed to fear only GOD. When Zeid was completely through with his wife, we had you marry her, in order to establish the precedent that a man can marry the divorced wife of his adopted son. GOD's commands shall be done.
[60:4] A good example has been set for you by Abraham and those with him. They said to their people, "We disown you and the idols that you worship besides GOD. We denounce you, and you will see nothing from us except animosity and hatred until you believe in GOD ALONE." However, a mistake was committed by Abraham when he said to his father, "I will pray for your forgiveness, but I possess no power to protect you from GOD." "Our Lord, we trust in You, and submit to You; to You is the final destiny.
Now regarding specifically Rashad Khalifa, if we accept that he was a rasool (messenger) of God, then this means that he did not receive a kitab, and that he did receive ayat and wahi. Since Rashad was a messenger, he did not receive kitab, but he did receive ayat (signs/proofs/miracles) and wahi (inspiration/instructions). Because of this the ayat he received are perfect e.g. the mathematical miracle of the Quran, and his wahi that were not ayat are to be accepted to serve the overall function, but are not infallible like that of ayat or kitab are.
From this we can conclude the following:
Any ayat he received must have been perfect
The overall message regarding any wahi that he was commissioned to deliver to the people must have been correct per God’s system
If he did anything during his delivery that could have been reflected in contrast to the message, God would have corrected and pointed this out for us
The example of Noah and his ark serves as a model for this. Was Noah’s ark perfect? Some people might have been able to critique the integrity of his ropes and logs, but the overall structure and function of the log were perfect in delivering the believers.
So when we are dealing with wahi that is not ayat or kitab we cannot treat it as infallible and scrutinize it as if every detail is perfect, but we are to accept that the overall structure as sound and trust in God’s system that it will provide us the salvation we need to make it to Paradise in the Hereafter.
Therefore when Rashad conveyed what God commissioned to deliver through His inspiration to him, we would be wrong to disregard the core of what he was commissioned to teach us about the Quran, and we would also be wrong if we treat each of his words as gospel.
[17:77] This has been consistently the case with all the messengers that we sent before you, and you will find that our system never changes.
Out of all primate babies, the human baby is the most defenseless. This is due to how underdeveloped human infants are in comparison. By one estimation a human fetus would have to undergo a gestation period of 18 to 21 months instead of the usual nine to be born at a neurological and cognitive development stage to match that of a newborn chimpanzee.
Additionally, non-human primates can also regulate their own body temperature and have a grasp reflex that can support their own body weight, neither of which a human infant is capable of achieving.
The Quran discusses this fact in the following verse about the physical development of a human:
[30:54] GOD is the One who created you weak, then granted you after the weakness strength, then substituted after the strength weakness and gray hair. He creates whatever He wills. He is the Omniscient, the Omnipotent.
Upon first glance, it may appear that God is the one who created the human being weak, but we realize this is not the case by taking a look at the Arabic.
As we see the first expression is in reference to God, when it states:
GOD wishes to lighten your burden,
يُرِيدُ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ أَنْ يُخَفِّفَ عَنْكُمْ
But the second statement is not in reference to God, but to the human being himself.
…for the human being is created weak.
وَخُلِقَ الْإِنْسَانُ ضَعِيفًا
So what did the human being do that weakened his creation?
When we made a decision to question God’s absolute authority prior to our arrival here on Earth, this impacted our creation. When we did this we tarnished our soul with sin. So when we came to this world we all came bearing sin.
This becomes more apparent when we consider that the previous statement in the verse informs us that God wants to redeem us by lightening our burden, the sin by which we carry when we are born. But it is our stubbornness and arrogance that we chose that limits our ability to have God lighten our burden. Therefore, it is our decision that is causing our weakness and not God.
[33:72] We have offered the responsibility (freedom of choice) to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they refused to bear it, and were afraid of it. But the human being accepted it; he was transgressing, ignorant.
This is the reason we are informed that God created us in the best design, then we turned into the lowliest of the lowly when we failed to heed God’s warning an opted into carrying this responsibility.
[95:4] We created man in the best design. [95:5] Then turned him into the lowliest of the lowly.
As stated in the previous article, this design is in reference to our spiritual design and not our physical design.
It is interesting how many people’s critique of the Quran can be so incredibly shallow. The Quran is the greatest text in all of human history, yet the detractors attempt to discredit it by extrapolating the most surface level interpretation.
God warns us repeatedly of such false and lazy analysis of the Quran.
[6:112] We have permitted the enemies of every prophet—human and jinn devils—to inspire in each other fancy words, in order to deceive. Had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. You shall disregard them and their fabrications. [6:113] This is to let the minds of those who do not believe in the Hereafter listen to such fabrications, and accept them, and thus expose their real convictions.
[6:114] Shall I seek other than GOD as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed? Those who received the scripture recognize that it has been revealed from your Lord, truthfully. You shall not harbor any doubt.
[6:115] The word of your Lord is complete, in truth and justice. Nothing shall abrogate His words. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient. [6:116] If you obey the majority of people on earth, they will divert you from the path of GOD. They follow only conjecture; they only guess. [6:117] Your Lord is fully aware of those who stray off His path, and He is fully aware of those who are guided.
The Quran is 6346 verses, and not just a single verse. If we are to look at only a single verse in isolation it is very possible we can extrapolate the complete wrong message from the text. Therefore, it is essential that in order for an interpretation of a verse to be considered valid that it should not form any contradictions between other verses.
What individuals like the one in the tweet above attempt to do is to portray a completely wrong narrative based on an over extrapolation of a single verse. Such understandings if we take them from surface value inevitably will lead people astray.
The Quran in no uncertain terms utilizes the non-aggression principle, where individuals are allowed to defend themselves but they are not allowed to be the aggressors in any situation. These rules are clearly spelled out in the following verses in addition to numerous other verses in the Quran.
Rules of War
[2:190] You may fight in the cause of GOD against those who attack you, but do not aggress. GOD does not love the aggressors. [2:191] You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict them whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Mosque (Masjid), unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers. [2:192] If they refrain, then GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful. [2:193] You may also fight them to eliminate oppression, and to worship GOD freely. If they refrain, you shall not aggress; aggression is permitted only against the aggressors.[2:194] During the Sacred Months, aggression may be met by an equivalent response. If they attack you, you may retaliate by inflicting an equitable retribution. You shall observe GOD and know that GOD is with the righteous.
From the above verses we see that God is setting the parameters for when a believer is allowed to fight and take a life. That it must be done in self-defense and that under no circumstances is a follower of the Quran allowed to be the aggressor.
Then when we contrast this with 4:89 we realize that this is in the context of war and that any interpreatiom cannot contradict the commandments in other verses, like the ones stated in 2:190 – 194.
[4:89] They wish that you disbelieve as they have disbelieved, then you become equal. Do not consider them friends, unless they mobilize along with you in the cause of GOD. If they turn against you, you shall fight them, and you may kill them when you encounter them in war. You shall not accept them as friends, or allies.
Additionally, when we read the following verses in 4:90-91, it further clarifies that the context of 4:89 is for the times of war, and echos the same sentiments as stated in 2:190-194.
[4:90] Exempted are those who join people with whom you have signed a peace treaty, and those who come to you wishing not to fight you, nor fight their relatives. Had GOD willed, He could have permitted them to fight against you. Therefore, if they leave you alone, refrain from fighting you, and offer you peace, then GOD gives you no excuse to fight them. [4:91] You will find others who wish to make peace with you, and also with their people. However, as soon as war erupts, they fight against you. Unless these people leave you alone, offer you peace, and stop fighting you, you may fight them when you encounter them (in war). Against these, we give you a clear authorization.
Again we see from these verses that the non-aggression principle is utilized, where fighting is only permitted against aggressors, and under no circumstances is a follower of the Quran allowed to be the aggressor.
There are obviously more verses on this topic, but this analysis is meant to provide a general framework for a proper way to go about when analyzing the Quran, and the importance of making sure when we attempt to interpret its meanings that we do not form contradictions between verses. If a contradiction is formed then it is a clear indicator that our understanding is incorrect and that it requires more refining.
Originally a star consists of predominately hydrogen and helium, but as the star’s mass increases the heat and pressure causes new elements to form through fusion. From Hydrogen and Helium the star then forms Carbon, Oxygen, Neon, Magnesium, Silicon in this particular order, until finally the mass and pressure are so great that iron is fused inside the core of the star.
Within a fraction of a second that iron being fused within the star’s core, the star will spectacularly combust in one of the most violent events in the universe called a supernova. This catastrophic explosion ejects most of the star’s mass into the universe.
Pending on the initial mass of the star, the remnants of a supernova will form a neutron star or black hole. A black hole is when the star’s remaining density is so great that the the it implodes upon itself puncturing a hole in the fabric of space-time. Once a black hole is formed the gravitational field is so strong that not even light is capable of leaving its event horizon.
Sura 57 of the Quran is entitled Iron. In verse 25 of this sura we read:
[57:25] We sent our messengers supported by clear proofs, and we sent down to them the scripture and the law, that the people may uphold justice. And we sent down the iron, wherein there is strength, and many benefits for the people. All this in order for GOD to distinguish those who would support Him and His messengers, on faith. GOD is Powerful, Almighty.
But this verse does not appear to describe the specific role that iron plays in causing a supernova or the formation of a black hole. To see this representation we need to go to verse 16 of Sura 57:
[57:16] Is it not time for those who believed to open up their hearts for GOD’s message, and the truth that is revealed herein? They should not be like the followers of previous scriptures whose hearts became hardened with time and, consequently, many of them turned wicked.
The concept of a hardened heart ( فَقَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ ) can be found in the following verse that further enhances the message of the above verse. To put this verse in context, 2:74 comes after God provides the numerous examples He gave to the Children of Israel for them to redeem themselves.
[2:74] Despite this, your hearts hardened like rocks, or even harder. For there are rocks from which rivers gush out. Others crack and release gentle streams, and other rocks cringe out of reverence for GOD. GOD is never unaware of anything you do.
In this verse God describes that their hearts “cringe” the Arabic for this word is يَهْبِطُ which literally means to go down or fall down. This is the same word used in describing Adam’s fall from Paradise:
[2:38] We said, “Go down therefrom, all of you. When guidance comes to you from Me, those who follow My guidance will have no fear, nor will they grieve.
So there are three outcomes to a person’s heart upon witnessing God’s miracles and mercy through the opportunity for redemption:
Some hearts gush out from reverence for God.
Other hearts crack and release a gentle stream eventually opening up to God’s mercy.
But the heart’s of disbelievers under such massive pressure fall down and collapse upon themselves, like a blackhole.
Therefore, the hearts of disbelievers, just like a black hole, collapse upon themselves and thus stop emitting light. And on the Day of Judgement when this becomes apparent to them they will beg for light in a vain from the believers in an effort to attempt to fuel their survival. This is why we see in the previous verses the following statements made by these disbelievers on the Day of Judgement to the believers regarding their light.
The Worst Losers
[57:13] On that day, the hypocrite men and women will say to those who believed, “Please allow us to absorb some of your light.” It will be said, “Go back behind you, and seek light.” A barrier will be set up between them, whose gate separates mercy on the inner side, from retribution on the outer side.
[57:14] They will call upon them, “Were we not with you?” They will answer, “Yes, but you cheated your souls, hesitated, doubted, and became misled by wishful thinking, until GOD’s judgment came. You were diverted from GOD by illusions. [57:15] “Therefore, today no ransom can be taken from you, nor from those who disbelieved. Your abode is the fire; it is your lord, and miserable abode.”
Deterioration of Religion
[57:16] Is it not time for those who believed to open up their hearts for GOD’s message, and the truth that is revealed herein? They should not be like the followers of previous scriptures whose hearts became hardened with time and, consequently, many of them turned wicked.
This is in contrast to the believers whose hearts burst with light from accepting God’s message and making sure that their life here on Earth is founded on the basis of righteousness.
The Great Triumph
[57:12] The day will come when you see the believing men and women with their lights radiating ahead of them and to their right. Good news is yours that, on that day, you will have gardens with flowing streams. You will abide therein forever. This is the great triumph.
People often point to historic laws that either intentionally or unintentionally negatively impacted black Americans as signs of systematic racism in our country today. I would make the following two counterpoints to why I see this argument as fundamentally flawed.
(1) The fact that these laws were overturned years ago is evidence that American society today is not systematically racist.
(2) Regarding the lasting effects of these policies, as proof for systematic racism, I would make the following argument:
We can always blame our circumstances based on past injustices, but it is an ineffective strategy to better ourselves. This kind of mentality creates a population that is despondent and believes that there is nothing they can do to improve their situation e.g victim mentality.
Therefore, I would argue that it is the mentality towards the bad policies that existed in the past that is the root of the problem, and not the lasting effects of the old overturned policies.
Proof of this is the millions of immigrants who have come to the US during this time with less education, money, skills, status let alone knowledge of the language or culture in America yet they are able to consistently move up the socioeconomic ladder irrespective of race or ethnicity.
Why is it that immigrants who start off in a much more precarious position in America are consistently able to become the upper echelon of society? For all intents and purposes, if there were systematic racism then people who are immigrants to the US (like Nigerian-Americans) should be just as much negatively impacted if not more so than American citizens who do not have this extra baggage.
In every population, there are two kinds of people. One group of people believe that if they work hard they can better their situation. The other group of people believes that their lives are dependent on the structural problems that they have little control over.
My problem with arguments like this is that they put a disproportionate amount of the blame on external factors that they have little control over and not nearly enough emphasis on personal decisions that they have 100% control over.
The assumption from this verse is the belief that one can be intoxicated as long as they are not intoxicated, despite the fact that this is not what the verse states. The verse only states not to perform your Salat while you are intoxicated, and doesn’t indicate that when someone is not doing their Salat they can be intoxicated. In order to come to this understanding, they have to over extrapolate what the verse states.
The Quran is not a single verse. It is an accumulation of 6234 verses. If we read a verse in isolation and formulate an understanding that contradicts another verse, then it is proof that our understanding needs to be refined.
This is what we see when we read the following verse which warns us warns against taking a single verse in isolation to form an understanding that contradicts other verses of the Quran:
[4:44] Have you noted those who received a portion of the scripture, and how they choose to stray, and wish that you stray from the path?
The verse that clearly informs us that intoxicants are prohibited according to the Quran is the following:
[5:90] O you who believe, intoxicants, and gambling, and the altars of idols, and the games of chance are abominations of the devil; you shall avoid them, that you may succeed.
[5:91] The devil wants to provoke animosity and hatred among you through intoxicants and gambling, and to distract you from remembering GOD, and from observing the Contact Prayers (Salat). Will you then refrain?
This verse uses some of the strongest injunction against intoxicant. Firstly, it calls intoxicants an “abomination of the devil”, and secondly notice that it doesn’t simply say “do not consume intoxicants” it actually commands us to avoid them.
Here is the word for word breakdown of the verse:
God used similar language to Adam and Eve in Paradise when He told them not to approach the tree.
[2:35] We said, “O Adam, live with your wife in Paradise, and eat therefrom generously, as you please, but do not approach this tree, lest you sin.”
But while 2:35 uses the term تَقْرَبَا which translates to “you [both] go near”, 5:90 uses the term فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ which translates to “then avoid it you [all]”. Therefore, it can be argued that the injunction in 5:90 for us towards alcohol is even stronger than the commandment in 2:35 for Adam and Eve and the tree. This is because it can be interpreted that the command to avoid something is more severe than a command not to approaching something.
Prior to the flood, Noah was informed by God that anyone who didn’t believe up until that point was not going to believe and therefore should be considered as part of the ones who were destined to be drowned.
[11:36] Noah was inspired: “No more of your people are going to believe, beyond those who already believe. Do not be saddened by their actions.
Despite this Noah still attempted to convince his son to join him on the watercraft, even though his son’s destiny was already determined by God.
[11:42] As it sailed with them in waves like hills, Noah called his son, who was isolated: “O my son, come ride with us; do not be with the disbelievers.” [11:43] He said, “I will take refuge on top of a hill, to protect me from the water.” He said, “Nothing can protect anyone today from GOD’s judgment; only those worthy of His mercy (will be saved).” The waves separated them, and he was among those who drowned.
Even though there was nothing Noah could do to alter the situation as the outcome was already determined by God, Noah still implored God for forgiveness for his son after he perished with the disbelievers.
[11:45] Noah implored his Lord: “My Lord, my son is a member of my family, and Your promise is the truth. You are the wisest of the wise.”
Then in return God gave Noah the following response in 11:46:
The response that God gave Noah in 11:46, showed that God identified someone was at fault from this request, but when we read most translations, it appears the translators believe that this fault rested with Noah’s son as opposed to Noah who made the request.
Yusuf Ali: [11:46] 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!”
Pickthal: [11:46] He said: O Noah! Lo! he is not of thy household; lo! he is of evil conduct, so ask not of Me that whereof thou hast no knowledge. I admonish thee lest thou be among the ignorant.
Shakir: [11:46] He said: O Nuh! surely he is not of your family; surely he is (the doer of) other than good deeds, therefore ask not of Me that of which you have no knowledge; surely I admonish you lest you may be of the ignorant
Sher Ali: [11:46] Allah said, `O Noah, he is surely not of thy family; he is indeed a man of unrighteous conduct. So do not ask of ME that, of which thou hast no knowledge, I admonish thee lest thou be one of the ignorant.’
The way the translators above according 11:46 believe that God reprimanded Noah because his son was not righteous, but let’s look at the Arabic to see if this is correct.
The expression that is in question is the following:
إِنَّهُ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صَالِحٍ
This can be understood one of two ways. The first way is “Indeed his work/deed is other than righteous” where إِنَّهُ can be in reference to Noah’s son as the translators above have described. But the challenge with this understanding is that the word for deed/work “عَمَلٌ” is singular and not plural.
Therefore, God is reprimanding a single deed in this verse, which would better correspond with the original supplication of Noah when he asked God to forgive his son.
Additionally, this understanding makes more sense as the following sentence God tells Noah: