It is commonly heard in talks that only between eighty (80) to eighty three (83) people accepted Islam in the time of Nabi Nuh (‘alayhis salam). Is there any proof for this statement?
In Surah Hud, Allah Ta’ala mentions, ‘And those who believed with him [Nuh ‘alayhis salam] were only a few.’ [Surah Hud, Verse: 40].
There is a difference of opinion regarding the exact number of believers who embarked the ark with Nuh (‘alayhis salam), with numbers ranging from seven (7) to eighty (80).
Under the commentary of this Verse, ‘Allamah Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) has cited a statement of Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (radiyallahu ‘anhuma) who mentioned that they were eighty (80) people who were on the ark with Nuh (‘alayhis salam). Imams Ibn Abi Hatim and Tabari (rahimahumallah) have recorded this narration of Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (radiyallahu ‘anhuma).
(Tafsir Tabari, Tafsir Ibn Abi Hatim and Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Surah: Hud, Verse: 40)
Imam Ibn Abi Hatim (rahimahullah) has recorded the statement of Ka’b Al Ahbar (rahimahullah) who said: “There were seventy two (72) believers at that time…”
(Tafsir Ibn Abi Hatim, Surah: Hud, Verse: 40)
Imam Tabari (rahimahullah) has recorded a statement A’amash (rahimahullah) who said, “They were seven (7) in total; among them Nuh (‘alayhis salam) and his three (3) sons.” He has also cited opinions of ten (10), besides their womenfolk and eighty (80).
(Tafsir Tabari, Surah: Hud, Verse: 40)
‘Allamah Qurtubi (rahimahullah) writes, ‘It has been mentioned in a narration [probably a Historical narration]: “There were eighty (80) people on board. Among them were Nuh (‘alayhis salam), his wife (not the wife who was punished), his three (3) sons and their wives. And this is the view of Qatadah, Hakam ibn ‘Utaybah, Ibn Jurayj and Muhammad ibn Ka’b (rahimahumullah)…”
(Tafsir Qurtubi; Al Jami’u Li Ahkamil Quran, Surah Hud, Verse: 40)
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar
This answer was collected from HadithAnswers.com. The answers were either answered or checked by Moulana Haroon Abasoomar (rahimahullah) who was a Shaykhul Hadith in South Africa, or by his son, Moulana Muhammad Abasoomer (hafizahullah), who is a Hadith specialist.