Allah said in surah al-Nisaa’:
إِنَّا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ كَمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ نُوحٍ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ مِن بَعْدِهِ ۚ وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ وَعِيسَىٰ وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُونُسَ وَهَارُونَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ ۚ وَآتَيْنَا دَاوُودَ زَبُورًا
Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], as We revealed to Nuh and the prophets after him. And we revealed to Ibrahim, Ismaa’eel, Ishaaq, Ya’qub, al-Asbaat, ‘Eesaa, Ayyub, Yunus, Haaroon, and Sulaiman, and to Dawud We gave the Zabur. [4:163]
In part of his commentary on this ayah, Imam al-Baghawi made the following point:
وأنزل : ( إنا أوحينا إليك كما أوحينا إلى نوح والنبيين من بعده ) فذكر عدة من الرسل الذين أوحى إليهم ، وبدأ بذكر نوح عليه السلام لأنه كان أبا البشر مثل آدم عليه السلام ، قال الله تعالى : ” وجعلنا ذريته هم الباقين ” ( الصافات – 77 ) ولأنه أول نبي من أنبياء الشريعة ، وأول نذير على الشرك ، وأول من عذبت أمته لردهم دعوته ، وأهلك أهل الأرض بدعائه وكان أطول الأنبياء [ ص: 311 ] عمرا وجعلت معجزته في نفسه ، لأنه عمر ألف سنة فلم تسقط له سن ولم تشب له شعرة ولم تنتقص له قوة ، ولم يصبر نبي على أذى قومه ما صبر هو على طول عمره . ـ
إِنَّا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ كَمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ نُوحٍ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ مِن بَعْدِهِ
Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], as We revealed to Nuh and the prophets after him… [4:163]
So He mentioned a number of the messenger to whom He gave divine revelation and He began by mentioning Nuh (‘alaih al-salaam) because he was a father to mankind, similar to Adam (‘alaih al-salaam). Allah said [regarding Nuh]:
وَجَعَلْنَا ذُرِّيَّتَهُ هُمُ الْبَاقِينَ
And We made his descendants those remaining (on the earth) [37:77]
And He also began with him because he was the first of the prophets to come with a divine legislation, the first warner against al-shirk, the first whose nation was punished for their rejection of his call, and the people of the earth were destroyed due to his supplication.
And Nuh also had the longest lifespan of the prophets – so the miracle that he was given was in regards to himself, for he lived for one thousand years but the years did not wear him down nor did his hair turn gray nor did his strength diminish. And no prophet patiently endured the harms of his people as he did patiently persevere during his long lifespan.
[Ma’aalim al-Tanzil (a.k.a. Tafsir al-Baghawi) 2/311-312]
See also: The story of Nuh and his son
See also: Prophet Nuh’s response to his people