The people listened to him in silence. His words were a shock to their stagnating minds, as it is a shock to a person who is asleep under a wall which is about to fall and who is vigorously awakened. This person may be alarmed and may even become angry although the aim was to save him.
Noah's people were divided into two groups after his warning. His words touched the hearts of the weak, the poor, and the miserable and soothed their wounds with its mercy. As for the rich, the strong, the mighty and the rulers, they looked upon the warning with cold distrust. They believed they would be better off if things stayed as they were. Therefore, they started their war of words against Noah.
The Disbelievers' Arguments
First they accused Noah of being only human like themselves. The chiefs of the disbelievers among his people said: "We see you but a man like ourselves."1 He, however, had never said anything other than that. He asserted that, indeed, he was only a human being: Allah had sent a human messenger because the earth was inhabited by humans. If it had been inhabited by angels Allah would have sent an angelic messenger.
The contest between the polytheists and Noah continued. The rulers had thought at first that Noah's call would soon fade on its own. When they found that his call attracted the poor, the helpless, and common laborers, they started to verbally attack and taunt him: 'You are only followed by the poor, the meek, and the worthless."
Allah the Almighty told us: And indeed We sent Noah to his people (and he said): "I have come to you as a plain warner, that you worship none but Allah, surely, I fear for you the torment of a painful Day." The chiefs of the disbelievers among his people said: "We see you but a man like ourselves, nor do we see any follow you but the meanest among us and they (too) followed you without thinking. And we do not see in you any merit above us, in fact, we think you are liars." Surah 11: 27
The Disbelievers Attempt to Bargain
Thus the conflict between Noah and the heads of his people intensified. The disbelievers tried to bargain: "Listen, Noah, if you want us to believe in you, then dismiss your believers. They are meek and poor, while we are elite and rich; no faith can include us both." Noah listened to the heathens of his community and realized they were being obstinate. However, he was gentle in his response. He explained to his people that he could not dismiss the believers, as they were not his guests but Allah's.
Noah appealed to them: "And 0 my people! I ask of you no wealth for it, my reward is from none but Allah. I am not going to drive away those who have believed. Surely, they are going to meet their Lord, but I see that you are a people that are ignorant. And 0 my people! Who will help me against Allah, if I drove them away? Will you not then give a thought? And I do not say to you that with me are the Treasures of Allah nor that I know the Ghaib (unseen); nor do I say I am an angel, and I do not say of those whom your eyes look down upon that Allah will not bestow any good on them. Allah knows what is in their inner-selves (as regards Belief etc.). In that case, I should, indeed be one of the Zalimeen (wrong-doers, oppressors, etc.). " Surah 11: 29-31
Noah refuted the arguments of the disbelievers with the noble knowledge of the prophets. It is the logic of intellect that rids itself of personal pride and interests.
The Disbelievers Remain Ignorant
The rulers were tired of Noah's arguments. Allah the Exalted related their attitude: They said: "0 Noah! You have disputed with us and much have you prolonged the dispute with us, now bring upon us what you threaten us with, if you are of the truthful." He said: "Only Allah will bring it (the punishment) on you, if He will, and then you will escape not. And my advice will not profit you, even if I wish to give you counsel, if Allah's Will is to keep you astray. He is your Lord! And to Him you shall return." Surah 7: 32-32
The battle continued; the arguments between the disbelievers and Noah became prolonged. When all the refutations of the disbelievers collapsed and they had no more to say, they began to be rude and insulted Allah's prophet: The leaders of his people said: "Verily, we see you in plain error. " Surah 7: 60
Noah responded in the manner of the prophets: "0 my people! There is no error in me, but I am a Messenger from the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)! I convey unto you the Messages of my Lord and give sincere advice to you. And I know from Allah what you know not. " Surah 7: 61-62
Noah continued appealing to his people to believe in Allah hour after hour, day after day, year after year. He admonished his people and called them to Allah day and night, in secret and openly. He gave them examples, explained Allah's signs and illustrated Allah's ability in the formation of His creatures. But whenever he called them to Allah, they ran away from him. Whenever he urged them to ask Allah to forgive them, they put their fingers in their ears and became too proud to listen to the truth.