Children enjoy hearing the story of Noah’s Pudding and of course eating it! Because Jews, Christians, Quakers and Baha’is all recognise the Prophet Noah (peace be upon Him), sharing Noah’s Pudding with them can be a great way of celebrating what people of different faiths have in common. But primarily these activities are recommended to you as a way of initiating sharing, interaction and dialogue with people around you, whatever they believe and whoever they are. Even the characteristics of the pudding itself make it well suited to use in dialogue.
Noah’s Pudding is made from an oddment of ingredients that you would not usually expect to mix well together. In fact they make a most appetising dessert. The variety of ingredients of different shapes, tastes and textures can be likened to people. In Noah’s Pudding, the mixing of different ingredients results in a delicious explosion of flavours.
So too, when diverse communities come together something good can come about from their interaction and conversation. Appropriately, while they all contribute to a single delicious pudding, the ingredients in Noah’s Pudding retain their own individual tastes and textures. Similarly, dialogue events are about bringing different people together around shared values and aspirations without denying their individual characteristics, their distinctive “flavours”.
Although this is a Muslim tradition, you do not need to be a Muslim to use this as a means of dialogue and engagement. Non-Muslim community groups have also prepared and distributed Noah’s Pudding and organised Noah’s Pudding events.
The Story of Noah’s Pudding in Muslim Tradition
In the Qur’an we read the story of Prophet Noah and the Ark.1 The account is not at all dissimilar to the one that Christians and Jews may know from the book of Genesis in the Old Testament and the Torah. Prophet Noah is sent to warn his people to abandon their wicked ways and avoid God’s punishment. They will not listen and mock him as he begins to build the ark as instructed by God. Prophet Noah takes in pairs of animals, male and female, and supplies of food. The flood waters rise and Prophet Noah, members of his family and the few who believe his words are saved from drowning. After the flood the Ark comes to rest on the mountain Al-Jūdī 2 on the day of Ashurah 3. God sends Prophet Noah and his companions out of the Ark with blessings to flourish and multiply.
Muslim tradition tells that as the waters began to recede, Prophet Noah and his family gathered up all of the food remaining on the Ark and made a delicious meal out of it. In remembrance of Prophet Noah and as a thanksgiving to God, the people of Anatolia and other Muslims have made it a custom to prepare Noah’s Pudding, traditionally known as ‘Ashurah,’ on this day and share it with neighbours and friends. The story of Noah’s Pudding and the custom of preparing such a pudding and sharing this with neighbours and friends is Muslim tradition and not a religious practice. However, it is a pleasant custom that is most useful for bringing people together around a commonly known story. Whether one believes in Prophet Noah or not, most will have heard of the story of the Great Flood.