LESSON THIRY-TWO: THE MIRCULOUS NATURE OF THE QUR’AN
The Qur'an as a Miracle
The Noble Qur’an is the only Divine Book that openly and confidently claims that none can bring a book of the same calibre. It asserts that if all mankind and jinn work together to produce a book like it, they will certainly fail. Furthermore not only would they fail in producing a book like it, but they would not even have the ability to produce the like of a single verse.
The challenge in the Qur’an to produce something similar to it, and the inability of the people to do so, is considered as one of the proofs for the prophethood of the Prophet of Islam (s) and also the Divine nature of this Holy Book.
Therefore there should be no doubt over whether this Book is a miracle; the Messenger himself introduces it as an eternal miracle and everlasting proof of his prophecy.
From the initial outset of his mission the Prophet faced numerous problems from those near and far from him, who tried their best to destroy the message of Islam. In their failed attempts they ultimately decided to kill the Prophet. Their plot however was divinely exposed, and the Prophet and his companions migrated to the city of Medina.
After his migration, the Prophet spent his life engaged in battles against the disbelievers. Indeed from that time until today the hypocrites and enemies of Islam are trying to erase the message of Islam.
The contemporary world regards Islam as the greatest threat and are doing what they can financially, technologically and politically to combat the spread of Islam.
However these great nations with all their resources have failed to compose a verse of the like contained within the Holy Qur’an. Had they been able to, they could have utilised their paramount technology of propaganda and broadcasting to the world and been successful in their mission. This method would also have been the most simple, effective and inexpensive. On this basis every intellectual who is in search of the truth can, by focusing upon the above-mentioned points reach the certainty that the Qur’an is an exceptional and inimitable Book. As no-one has managed to produce even the like of the smallest verse; the Qur’an unquestionably has the substantiality of being a miracle. From this angle it can be determined as the best argument for claiming the truth of the Prophet’s message, and the authenticity of the pure religion of Islam.
This Book is the greatest of all bounties for human society, as it has been revealed with its eternal miraculous nature. The realisation of this proof does not require any intellectual activity or specialisation in knowledge, as it is understandable and acceptable by all individuals.
The miraculous aspects of the Qur’an
By now we have an overall understanding of the Noble Qur’an; that it is the speech of God and is miraculous in its nature. We will now expand on some of its miraculous aspects.
a. Its eloquence and rhetoric
The foremost miracle of the Qur’an is its eloquence and rhetoric (expressiveness).
God the Supreme has utilised the best method, most beautiful words, and rhythmical composition for explaining his objective on every level. The selection of these words and their exquisite combination, which is harmonious with the exalted and deep meanings, is only viable to someone who has extended knowledge of all the particularities of the words and their precise meanings and relationships with their opposites. In addition they must have the ability to understand all the dimensions of the word, and with the consideration of the indispensability of time and space select the best words and style for expressing themselves. This art of knowledge is not possible unless it comes through Divine intuition and revelation.
The rhythmical beauty and the angelic nature are evident for all individuals, and the artistic eloquence and rhetoric for those with knowledge of the Arabic language is clear. However to discern that the Qur’an is a miracle regarding its eloquence and rhetoric, requires a philologist - an expert who is specialised in the distinctive arts of speech and is therefore able to compare the Qur’an with different eloquent and rhetorical speeches in order to realise its proficiency. Such was the work of those proficient Arabic poets, who were highly skilled in this art at the time of the descent of the Qur’an.
Divine wisdom and generosity requires that the miracle of every Prophet should be according to the art and science of that period, in order that the sublimity of the miracle is understood. The tenth Imam (a) was asked by Ibn Sikkiyah, “Why has God the Supreme bestowed Prophet Moses (a) with the miracle of transforming a staff into a snake, and Prophet Jesus (a) with the miracle of curing the sick, and the Prophet of Islam (s) with the miracle of the Noble Qur’an?” The Imam (a) replied:
“The art in the era of Prophet Moses (a) was sorcery, therefore God bestowed him with a miracle that resembled sorcery and magic. At the time of Prophet Jesus (a) the artistry was medicinal and hence he was provided by the miracle of curing the sick, in order that its miraculous aspect was known. However during the time of the Prophet of Islam (s), the art was oratorical and centred around poetry, hence the Qur’an was revealed in the best and most beautiful style so that its miraculous nature would be recognised.” Bari, one of the greatest philologists, as was Walid ibn Mughayrah, ’Utbat ibn Rabī’ah and Tafyl ibn Omar, has all born witness upon the eloquence and rhetoric found in the Qur’an. After almost a century had passed, Ibn Abi al-’Awjā’, Ibn al- Muqaffa’, Abu-Shaker al-Dysani, and ’Abdul Mālik al-Basri decided to take up the challenge of the Qur’an. They worked for a year and a half, but failed to accomplish anything remotely resembling such eloquent beauty. Whilst they were engaged in a meeting discussing their work, in the Masjid al-Harām, Imam Sadiq (a) walked by and recited the following verse:“Say, ‘Should all humans and jinn rally to bring the like of this Qur’an, they will not bring the like of it, even if they assisted one another”(al-Isrā’:88)
b. The illiteracy of its Messenger
The Noble Qur’an is a Book, which within its small voluminous capacity encompasses the many different sciences, aswell as rules pertaining to society and individuals. The investigation of each particular issue requires a group of experts in order to arrive at an understanding of its meaning and unveiling of its realities.
However a complete and perfect understanding of it is only possible through someone who has Divine knowledge and is appointed by God.
This great Book includes the finest and greatest of all sciences, the most significant and excellent prescription of morals, the ultimate equitable and determined cannons on rights and judgement, the wisest practices for worship and sociological rules, the best and most beneficial counsels and lessons, precise historical educational points, and the most constructive ways of teaching and training. In short, the Qur’an simply contains all of the principles that are required by man to attain felicity in this world and the next.
To bring forth such knowledge and reality in such an arrangement is far beyond the possibility of a common man. Nevertheless, it is astonishing that this great Book has been revealed through an individual who was unlettered (never taught), and who had never placed a pen upon paper and was brought-up in an atmosphere, which was far removed from civilization and culture. It is also surprising that during the period of his forty years (before being nominated as a Prophet) no-one ever heard his speech in any way resembling the revelation, which he brought. During the period of his apostleship his speech differed aswell to the revelation he proclaimed. The revelation had a strange harmony and eloquence compared to his speech, and this was noticeable by all men.
The Noble Qur’an mentions:“You did not use to recite any scripture before it, nor did you write it with your right hand, for then the impugners would have been skeptical”(al-‘Ankabūt:48) In another place it mentions:
“Say, ‘Had Allah [so] wished, I would not have recited it to you, nor would He have made it known to you, for I have dwelled among you for a lifetime before it. Do you not apply reason?’ ” (Yūnus:16). And:“And if you are in doubt concerning what We have sent down to Our servant, then bring a sūrah like it” (al-Baqarah:23) This verse indicates the miraculous aspect of the Qur’an, as there seems a significant possibility that the pronoun of ‘like-it’ (mithl) returns to ‘Our servant’ (’abdinā).
One might form the conclusion that this Book is the work created by the collaboration of various groups of experts, but it could never be assumed that such a work would be uttered from the lips of an unlettered man.
Therefore, the coming of this book with all the proficiency mentioned from an individual who received no formal education is in itself self-evidently miraculous.
c. Its harmony and lack of contradiction
The Noble Qur’an is a Book that has been revealed over the duration of the twenty- three years of apostleship of the Holy Prophet. This was a tumultuous period, yet these inconceivable circumstances and transformations had no effect upon the method and miraculous nature of the Qur’an. The harmony and proportionality of the Qur’an from the point of
view of its form and meaning is also another aspect of its miraculous nature and has been indicated in the very Qur’an itself:
“Do they not contemplate the Qur’an? Had it been from [someone] other than Allah, they would have surely found much discrepancy in it” (al-Nisā’:82) In explanation of the above, it can be said that every human being goes through two different types of transformation. The first is that gradually his knowledge increases which reflects in his speech, and naturally this gives rise to distinction and contradiction in his thought and understanding (which can clearly be defined in his life span).
The second type of transformation is due to the different incidents that take place during one’s life. They become the very reason for the initiation of psychological, emotional and sentimental conditions, which lead to hope, sadness, happiness, peacefulness, and absurdity. It is these factors, which bring about changes in his thought, understanding and speech. When these conditions mature they create contradictions, and in reality the difference of speech is due to the transformations in psychological conditions.
If it is assumed for a moment that the Noble Qur’an is the creation of the Holy Prophet (s), who has been regarded to have gone through transformations with the consideration of the different outward and inward conditions of his life, then these transformations, which the Prophet (s) has been through, must be reflected in the Book he has brought. However no such evidence can be found in the Qur’an.
Hence we will conclude that the harmony and lack of contradiction in the contents of the Qur’an represents its miraculous nature. It also indicates that this honourable Book is the source of the eternal knowledge of God the Supreme.
Explain how the Qur’an proclaims itself to be a miracle.
Provide an overall proof for the miraculous nature of the Qur’an.
Is it possible to imagine that someone who could have produced a Book like the Qur’an is unknown?
Explain the miraculous nature of the eloquent and rhetoric aspects of the Qur’an.
Explain the importance of the relationship between the Qur’an and its unlettered Messenger.
How does the lack of contradiction in the Qur’an reinforce it being a miracle?