Extract from Sheikh Nazim's discourse on 'Love is the Water of Life'
Everyone knows the story of Noah, peace be upon him. He is one of the five greatest prophets of God. He called on his people day and night for years, asking them to leave their evildoing, to repent and return to love of God and His worship and to abstain from wrong. His people rejected him repeatedly and scoffed at him. As much as he preached they rejected his teachings.
However he was patient and continued to preach to them. They never let up in their mockery of him. So it continued for years and years, and Noah was persistent and patient. He did not tire of calling his people to truth and goodness, and they in turn did not tire of scoffing at him. This continued for decades, a century, two centuries, and Noah was patient and persistent. Three centuries, four, five...
After nine centuries of non-stop preaching accompanied by endless mockery and rejection, Noah reached his limit. Finally he asked God to punish his people and to send a flood upon them and not leave a single one of them alive. As he was a prophet of God, God was obliged to answer his prayer. We know what came to pass.
Once some time after having been saved from the flood, the Lord addressed Noah saying, "O my servant, I am asking you to go and with your utmost care make for Me forty clay jugs." As he was an obedient servant and a great prophet, Noah immediately went about complying with this order. He gathered the finest clay he could find and spent days and nights laboring with love to create 40 beautiful clay jugs.
After so much effort, the Lord then addressed Noah again saying: "O my servant, now that you have made these forty jugs, go outside and take each one and throw it down upon the rocks." Noah, an obedient servant, had no choice but to obey. He took the jugs which he had spent so much effort in making, and one-by-one smashed them against the rocks.
Then the Lord addressed Noah, saying: "Oh Noah, you made forty clay jugs, and it was odious to you to break them. Do you think that it was a pleasure for Me to kill all of My servants, even though they were unbelievers?"
Then Noah began to cry and wail. So proverbial was his wailing that "Nuh" came to mean "wail" in Arabic.