37:71 Thus, indeed, most of the people of old went astray before them.
The metaphorical “saying” that follows is in tune with many other Qur’anic passages which speak of even inanimate objects as “praising God”, e.g., “The seven heavens extol His limitless glory and the earth, and all that they contain” (17:44), or “We caused the mountains to join David in extolling Our glory” (21:79), or “O you mountains! Sing with him the praise of God!” (34:10); similarly, even the shadows of material things are spoken of as “prostrating themselves before God”‘(16:48).
37:72 Although, verily, We had sent warners unto them.
Lit., “a reminder (dhikr) from those of old”: see note 27 on verses 69-70 above. Most of the commentators assume that the term dhikr connotes here, as so often in the Qur’an, a “divine writ”. In my opinion, however, it is far more probable – because more in tune with the context – that in this case, it signifies an ancestral tradition bearing on the (to them astonishing) message of God’s oneness and uniqueness as promulgated by the Qur’an.
37:73 And behold what happened in the end to those that had been warned [to no avail]!
i.e., as people who are bent on deceiving themselves. In this context, the verb basura (lit., “he saw” or “became seeing”) is used topically, in the sense of “seeing mentally” or “gaining insight”.
37:74 Except, for God’s true servants, [most people are apt to go astray].
i.e., they will realize the truth as well as the suffering which its rejection entails: obviously a reference to the Day of Judgment.
37:75 And, indeed, [it was, for this reason, that] Noah cried unto Us – and how excellent was Our response.
This is an allusion to the sarcastic demand of the people who refused to regard the Qur’an as a divine revelation, to be punished forthwith “if this be indeed the truth from God” (see 8:32 and the corresponding note).
37:76 For We saved him and his household from that calamity.
Lit., “when it alights in their courtyard, evil [or “hapless”] is the morning of those …”, etc. In ancient Arabic usage, the idiomatic phrase “chastisement [or “suffering”] has alighted (nazala) in so-and-so’s courtyard” denotes it is coming down upon, or befalling, the person or persons concerned (Tabari). Similarly, the “morning” (sabah) is a metonym for “awakening”.
37:77 And caused his offspring to endure [on earth].
37:78 And We left him thus to be remembered among later generations.
37:79 “Peace be upon Noah throughout all the worlds!”
37:80 Verily, thus do We reward the doers of good.