Did Prophet Nuh’s People Exile Him?
Brief description of the dubiety
In Surah al-Qamar, verse 9 it is mentioned that Prophet Nuh was driven out of his town by his own people. On the other hand, in Surah Hud, verse 38 it is mentioned that when Prophet Nuh was building his ark, whenever the noblemen of his people would pass by him, they would mock him. If he had been driven out of his town by his own people, then the noblemen of his people would not have been passing by him, and that means that these two verses seem to be incompatible with each other.
Detailed description of the dubiety
The verse in which it mentions that Prophet Nuh was driven out and exiled
In Surah al-Qamar, Allah mentions that: “The people of Nuh impugned before him. So they impugned Our servant and said, ‘A crazy man,’ and he was reviled.” In this verse, it says that Prophet Nuh’s people rejected him, called him crazy and exiled him.
The verse in which it mentions that Prophet Nuh’s people passed by him
In Surah Hud, verse 38 Allah says: “As he was building the ark, whenever the elders of his people passed by him, they would ridicule him. He said, ‘If you ridicule us today, we shall ridicule you [tomorrow] just as you ridicule us [now].’” This verse states that when Prophet Nuh was building his ark, whenever the noblemen of his people would pass by him, they would mock him.
In the verse of Surah al-Qamar, it mentions that Prophet Nuh had been exiled from his people; but in the verse of Surah Hud, it has been mentioned that when he was building the ark, the noblemen of his people mocked him when they passed by him. So how is it possible that Prophet Nuh’s people could have exiled him, but still pass by him and mock him? It is not possible that he could have been driven out by his people, yet still be building his ark among them and be mocked by them as well..
A summarized response
By referring to dictionaries and assessing the literal meaning of the word ‘uzdujira’ in the Surah al-Qamar, verse 9 it is brought to light that there is no reference to Prophet Nuh being exiled, but rather it only refers to him being prevented by his people from propagating his message. In conclusion, there is no kind of contradiction between the this verse of Surah al-Qamar and the verse of Surah Hud, because when a person pays attention to the meaning of the word ‘uzdujira’ one will realize that Prophet Nuh was not exiled and there is no dispute between the mentioned verses.
A detailed response
Review of the literal meaning of ‘uzdujira’
By referring to dictionaries, it is brought to light that the word ‘uzdujira’ does not refer to exile which would lead to a contradiction between the verses, but rather, it means prevention and ban. The root word ‘zajara’ means ‘to stop or prevent’ and its verb is brought in the two forms of zajara and azdajara.  Even if this word gave the meaning of driving someone out, it does not include the meaning of exile. Rather, it would mean losing one’s position among the masses and social acceptance. In other words, if someone used ‘uzdujira’ to say that a person was driven out, even then it would not mean physically driving out which is the same as exile, but rather it is a non-physical kind of driving out which is like a social boycott.
Prophet Nuh was not exiled
With due attention to the introduction which discusses the literal definition of ‘uzdujira,’ the meaning of Surah al-Qamar, verse 9 becomes clear. According to this verse, Prophet Nuh had reached a stage where the people did not want to listen to him and even addressed him as crazy. Therefore, even though this Prophet was among his people, they did not interact with him, and as the Quran says they even boycotted him and drove him out. As the word ‘uzdujira’ never gives the meaning of exile, this Prophet was not exiled. Rather, the people were inattentive towards him and did not pay attention to his words.
As we said, in the dictionaries, the word ‘uzdujira’ means ‘being prevented from something.’ The people of Prophet Nuh prevented him from propagating his message and harassed him in whichever way they could. It is mentioned in Surah al-Shuara, verse 116 that they threatened him with stoning, “They said, ‘Nuh, if you do not desist, then you will certainly be stoned to death.’” Sometimes, they accused him of insanity which was mentioned in Surah al-Qamar, verse 9. All of this was done to prevent the propagation of the religion, and to prevent his success in this path.  Therefore, these verses are not contradictory because he had not been exiled by his people, and therefore they were still able to pass by him.
The inhabitants of a village said regarding their headman, “He no longer has a place in this village,” and elsewhere they said, “I saw the headman on his way home.” These two sentences are not contradictory because the first sentence does not reject the physical presence of the headman, but rather it is a metaphor to imply that no one believes his words in the village and no one obeys him anymore, but this is not contradictory to what they said about seeing him.
In the verses analyzed above, it is the same in regards to Prophet Nuh. He was there physically among his people, but they no longer obeyed or accepted him, and so when they passed by him, they ridiculed and mocked him as a sign of their disrespect towards him.
- Lisan al-Arab, Volume 4, Page 318
- Tafseer Nemunah, Volume 23, Page 30