The Qur'an is the greatest and eternal miracle

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It is generally accepted that The Qur'an is the greatest and eternal miracle of The Prophet Muhammad. If it is, why?

The greatest and the eternal miracle of God’s Messenger is the Wise Qur’an, which itself encompasses hundreds of proofs of his Prophethood, and whose miraculousness of forty different aspects has been proved. Referring the reader to another treatise concerning the miraculousness of the Qur’an, we will here mention only a few significant points in this respect.

First point

Question

The miraculousness of the Qur’an lies mainly in its eloquence, which can be comprehended only by one discerning scholar out of a thousand. Should it not be however, the right of every class of people to grasp a glimpse of this miraculousness according to their capacity of understanding?

Answer

The Wise Qur’an has a different kind of miraculousness relating to each class of people. It indicates its miraculousness to each of them in a different, unique way. To the men of eloquence and rhetoric, it shows the miraculousness of its extraordinary eloquence; to poets and orators, it displays the miraculousness of its uniquely exalted style, one which cannot be imitated although it is liked by everyone. The passage of time cannot have any effect on its freshness, so it is always new. Its metrical and rhythmic prose and its verse have the greatest nobility and charm.

To soothsayers and foretellers, the Qur’an exhibits the aspect of its miraculousness which consists of the reports it gives concerning the Unseen. To historians and chroniclers, it shows its miraculousness by giving information about the nations of bygone ages, as well as the conditions and events of the future, of the intermediate world and of the Hereafter. To social and political scientists, it presents the miraculousness of its sacred principles which comprise the supreme Sacred Law of Islam. As for those who are engaged in the knowledge of God and Divine laws of nature, the Qur’an shows them the miraculousness of the sacred Divine truths that it contains. And to those following a spiritual way to sainthood, it manifests the profound, manifold meanings in its verses that rise in successive motions like waves of the sea. In short, the Qur’an shows its miraculousness of forty different aspects to every level of understanding or class of learning, by opening to each a different window. Even those masses who have only ears to give to the Qur’an and drive a very limited degree of meaning from it agree that the Qur’an never sounds like other books. Any ordinary person who listens to the Qur’an says, ‘This Qur’an is either below other books in degree–which is utterly impossible, and cannot be claimed even by its enemies–or above them all and therefore is a miracle.’ Now, we will explain the aspect of the miraculousness of the Qur’an which is perceived by that ordinary person who simply listens to the Qur’an.

The miraculous Qur’an emerged with a challenge to the whole world and stirred up in people two kinds of feelings:

  • in friends, a desire to imitate its style, to speak and write like their beloved Qur’an;
  • in enemies, a passion to criticize and dispute, to nullify its claim of miraculousness by competing with its style.

Under the influence of these two strong feelings, millions of books have been written in Arabic, and they are still at hand. Whoever listens to even the most eloquent and rhetorical of them will certainly say that the Qur’an does not sound like any of them at all. This means that the Qur’an is not of the same degree as them; it is either below them all–an utter impossibility claimed by no one, not even by Satan–or above all other books that have ever been written.

There is another miraculous aspect of the Wise Qur’an which it shows to the illiterate, namely that its recitation does not bore anyone. Any common illiterate man, even though he does not comprehend its meaning, would undoubtedly say when he listens to the Qur’an, ‘If I hear a most beautiful and most well-known couplet two or three times, it starts to bore me. But this is not the case for the Qur’an; the more I listen, the more pleasant it becomes. It cannot be the composition of man.’

The Qur’an has a miraculousness to show even to children trained in learning it by heart. Despite its many similar verses and passages that might cause confusion, the Qur’an is easily committed to memory by children who cannot retain for long even a single passage of other matter.

For even the ill and those lying on their death beds, who are disturbed by the slightest noise, the recitation and sound of the Qur’an becomes as sweet and comforting as the water of Zamzam, thus displaying another aspect of its miraculousness.

One of the almost forty classes of people to whom the Qur’an shows its miraculous qualities without depriving any of them, is those who can see but have no hearing and no means for learning. For instance, in the copy of the Qur’an written by the calligrapher Hafiz ‘Uthman, many related words are in a position to correspond to each other on different pages. If the sheets beneath the phrase their dog being the eighth are pierced in Sura al-Kahf (the Chapter of the Cave), with a slight deviation it will go through the word Qıtmir in Surah al-Fatir, thus giving the name of the dog. Similarly, the words mukhdarun and mukhdarin (they will be brought before us) in Sura al-Saffat correspond both to each other and to the one occurring in Surah Ya sin twice, one below the other. The word mathna (in pairs) occurs three times in the Qur’an; that the two of them correspond to each other one being at the beginning of Sura al-Fatir, the other towards the end of Sura Saba’ cannot be a mere coincidence. There are numerous examples of this kind in the Qur’an; in some cases, the same word occurs almost in the same place in five or six pages. I once saw a copy of the Qur’an in which were written in red ink similar passages facing each other on two facing pages. I then concluded that this was an indication of a different kind of miracle. Later I came to notice that there are many more passages on varying pages significantly facing each other. Since the verses and chapters of the Qur’an were arranged upon the instruction of the Prophet himself, upon him be peace, and the Qur’an was later copied through Divine inspiration, its design and calligraphy bear the indications of a kind of miracle. If, however, there are some slight, observed deviations, they are actually the results of human errors; were they arranged in the most proper manner, they could coincide perfectly.

Furthermore, on each of the suras (chapters) of great or medium length which were revealed in Madina, the word Allah is repeated in a very significant manner, five, six, seven, eight, nine, or eleven times on both sides of a sheet, or on the two facing pages, thus displaying a beautiful and significant numerical proportionate. (1,2,3)

Second point

As the art of magic was widespread at the time of the Prophet Moses, upon him be peace, the miracles with which he was endowed were of the same nature, and as the practice of medicine was in demand at the time of Jesus, upon him be peace, the miracles he worked were of the same kind. Similarly, when Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, was raised as a prophet, four crafts enjoyed popularity in the Arabian peninsula: first, eloquence and fluency in writing and speaking; second, poetry and oratory; third, soothsaying and divination; fourth, knowledge about the events of the past and about cosmology.

When the miraculous Qur’an came, it challenged the experts in these four fields.

  1. It brought the men of eloquence to their knees before it. They all listened to the Qur’an in total admiration.
  2. It shocked the poets and orators so that they bit their fingers in amazement. It caused them to bring down their most celebrated Seven Poems written in gold and hung on the wals of the Ka’ba.
  3. It silenced the soothsayers and magicians. By making them forget their knowledge of the Unseen and causing their jinn to be expelled from the heavens, it put an end to soothsaying.
  4. It saved from myths and fabrications those who had knowledge of the history of previous nations and of cosmological facts, and instructed them in the reality of past events and in illuminating facts of creation.

These four groups, as a result, went on their knees before the Qur’an in absolute astonishment and awe, and became its students. None of them ever made an attempt to challenge with even a chapter of it.

A possible question

How do we know that nobody has ever been able to dispute with the Qur’an, and that such a challenge is not possible at all?

Answer

Had it been possible to challenge the Qur’an, somebody would certainly have attempted to do it. Actually, such a challenge was directly needed by the opponents of the Qur’an, since, first of all, they felt their religion, life and properties in danger; they would all have thought themselves saved by any kind of challenge. So, had it ever been possible to challenge the Qur’an, they would certainly have tried it, and there were lots of unbelievers and hypocrites ready to advertise it widely, just as they spread all kinds of malicious propaganda against Islam. If they had succeeded with any kind of challenge, their success would have been recorded with exaggeration in the books of history. Now all the books of history are out in the open; none of them contains anything other than a few nonsensical lines of Musaylima al-Kadhdhab (the Liar), a false claimant to Prophethood. They never dared any challenge, although the Wise Qur’an challenged them continuously for twenty-three years in a way that provoked and annoyed them:

Come on, and produce a like of this Qur’an by means of an unlettered man like Muhammad, the Trustworthy! If you can not do that, let it not be an unlettered man, but the most knowledgeable and one well-versed in writing. If you cannot do that either, let it not be one person, but gather all your learned and eloquent ones to help each other; also invoke the aid of your gods and goddesses upon whom you rely. This too you cannot do; make use of all the books of the highest eloquence that have ever been written, and let all the unbelievers to come until Doomsday make use of your experiences in their attempt. Still you have not been able to score any success, try to produce the like of only ten chapters of the Qur’an, not of the whole of it. If you see that you are unable to match any ten chapters of the Qur’an truly and in all respects, then make a composition from baseless stories and imaginative tales to match only the metrical verse and eloquence of the Qur’an. Even this you cannot do, so bring about the equal of only one chapter. If you are still unsuccessful, let it not be a long one; suffice it to produce the like of any short one! Otherwise, your religion, your lives and properties, and your families will be at stake both in this world and in the Hereafter!

With these eight alternatives, the Qur’an has challenged and silenced men and jinn, not for twenty-three years, but for fourteen centuries. Nevertheless, those unbelievers who lived in the early days of Islam, instead of preferring the easiest way, that is, open challenge, chose the most dreadful way–to wage war, endangering their lives and properties and their families because challenging the Qur’an was absolutely impossible. Otherwise no man of wisdom, especially those of the Arabian peninsula of that time and especially those intelligent men of the Quraysh, would have had recourse to this most difficult way, if any literary man among them had been able to bring about the equal of a single chapter of the Qur’an and thereby save them from the attacks of the Qur’an.

In summary, as the famous Jahiz put it, since challenge by words was impossible, they had to resort to struggle by the sword.

Question

Some scholars of discernment have maintained that not a chapter of the Qur’an, nor a verse, nor a sentence, nor even a word of it is ever possible to be disputed; nor has anyone ever been able to do this. This judgment sounds exaggerated, and is too hard to accept. For there are many words produced by men, which have some resemblance to the Qur’an. So, how do you interpret this judgment?

Answer

There are two schools of opinion concerning the miraculousness of the Qur’an:

According to the prevailing opinion, the eloquence of the Qur’an and the virtues in its meaning are beyond human capacity.

The other opinion is that although it is within human capacity to challenge and compete with a chapter of the Qur’an, God Almighty prevented it as a miracle of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. For example, if a Prophet told a man, who is normally able to stand up, ‘You will not be able to stand up’, and the man could not then stand up, it would be considered a miracle of the Prophet. This school is called the school of ‘Sarfa’, from the viewpoint of which the All-Mighty prevented men and jinn from producing even a chapter of the Qur‘an. If He had not, men and jinn might have put up a challenge against one chapter. So, according to this view, the scholars who maintain that even a word of the Qur’an cannot be challenged are right in their opinion. For, prevented by the All-Mighty on account of the miraculousness of the Qur’an, they could not even open their mouths to offer a challenge; even if they had, they could not have uttered a word because God was preventing it.

In the view of the scholars belonging to the first school, there is, however, a subtle point that the words and verses of the Qur’an are all interrelated. Sometimes it occurs that a word is related to ten other occurrences, thus bearing ten relationships and providing ten instances of eloquence. In another book of mine entitled Isharat al-I’jaz (The Signs of Miraculousness), which is a key to the interpretation of the Qur’an, I showed some examples in this regard drawn from some passages of Sura al-Fatiha (the Opening Chapter) and from the initial verses of Sura al-Baqara.

In a well-ornamented palace, for example, to place a gem that is of the greatest importance in the decorative pattern, in the most suitable location on the wall is possible only after knowing the whole design. Likewise, to place the pupil of the eye in its correct location entails knowing all the function of the body and its complex organization, as well as its relationship with the function of the eye. In just the same way the foremost among men of exact science and profound truth have demonstrated numerous relationships between the words of the Qur’an and the manifold relationship each word has with some other verses and expressions. The scholars who have studied the mysteries of letters have gone even further, and proved that each letter of the Qur’an bears many inner meanings the explanation of which might cover pages. Since the Qur’an is the Word of the Creator of everything, each of its words may function as the core or heart of an ideal body around it made of hidden meanings, or as the seed of such an ideal tree. Thus, there might be among the words of men some similar to those of the Qur’an, but to place them properly taking into consideration of all such relationships as exist between the Qur’anic words calls for an all-comprehending knowledge.

Third point

Once a brief reflection on the miraculous nature of the Qur’an occurred to my heart. Now I will give below a translation of that reflection which was then expressed in Arabic:

Glory be to God Who Himself witnesses to His Oneness, and has disclosed the qualities of His grace, majesty and perfection through the Wise Qur’an, whose six sides are luminous; neither misgiving nor doubt can find a way into it. It is supported by God’s Throne of Sovereignty, from where it holds the light of revelation. It leads to the happiness of the two worlds, aiming at the light of Paradise and eternal bliss. Above it shines the seal of miraculousness, beneath it lie the pillars of proof and evidence, and inside it is pure guidance. It urges minds to seek to confirm it through warnings like Will they not comprehend and reflect? With the spiritual pleasures it bestows upon the heart, it makes the conscience testify to its miraculousness. From which side or corner, then, could the arrows of doubt invade such a miraculous Qur’an?

The miraculous Qur’an includes the content of the books of all the prophets, all the saints and the men of monotheism, of varying ways, temperaments and ages. That is to say, all those men of heart and intellect mentioned in their books the laws and fundamentals of the Qur’an in a way to show their affirmation of them, and became like the roots of the ‘celestial tree of the Qur’an’.

The Wise Qur’an is truly a revelation; the Majestic One Who revealed it demonstrated through the miracles He created at the hands of Muhammad, upon him be peace, that it is revelation; the Qur’an itself shows with its miraculousness that it has come from the Exalted Throne of God. Lastly, the anxiety that the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, to whom the Qur’an was revealed, showed at the beginning of the revelation, his half-conscious state when receiving revelation and the sincere respect and devotion he showed to the Qur’an more than any other–all prove that the Qur’an is revelation, derived from past eternity and entrusted to the Prophet, upon him be peace.

The Qur’an is obviously pure guidance, since unbelief, which is its opposite, is evidently misguidance. The Qur’an is of necessity the source of the light of belief, for the opposite of this light is certainly darkness.

The Qur’an is of a certainty the spring of truths, into which neither imagination nor superstition can find a way. The truthful world of Islam it shaped after its revelation, the well-founded law which it presented and the highest virtues that it manifested all give evidence that it is completely truthful in its dealings with the matters of the Unseen as with the matters of the visible world.

The Qur’an manifestly and undoubtedly shows the way to happiness in both worlds and guides man to it; whoever doubts this, it will suffice for him to read the Qur’an only once and heed what it says. The fruits of the Qur’an are perfect and life-giving, which demonstrates that it is deeply rooted in truth and true vigor, for the vigor of the fruit indicates the life of the tree. See, if you want an example, how many perfect, vigorous and luminous fruits it has yielded in each century, such as the men of sainthood, purity and profound learning.

The Qur’an is, through a conviction and intuition coming from countless different indications, so esteemed and sought after by men, jinn and the angels that when the Qur’an is recited, they gather around it like moths.

The Qur’an, besides being revelation, is also confirmed and fortified by rational proofs, as is unanimously agreed upon by the most profound men of logic. In fact, geniuses of philosophy such as Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes), and especially the most learned of theology have unanimously proved the truth of the fundamentals of the Qur’an with their particular methods of reasoning. The very nature of man, so long as it remains unspoiled, affirms the truth of the Qur’an, for the conscience can be satisfied and hearts can be at rest only through the light of the Qur’an.

The Qur’an is, manifestly and evidently, an everlasting miracle; it continually unfolds its miraculousness. It never fades or perishes like other kinds of miracle, nor does it age with the passage of time.

The Qur’an is so inclusive and comprehensive in its guidance that the Archangel Gabriel and a young child listen to it side by side, both deriving their lessons. A most brilliant philosopher like Ibn Sina sits before the Qur’an knee to knee with an ordinary reciter of it to receive its teaching; it might even sometimes occur that the ordinary reciter drives, by virtue of the purity and strength of his faith, more benefit than Ibn Sina.

The Qur’an provides such a penetrating insight through its guidance that the whole of the universe with all its aspects, like the pages of a book, can be seen and comprehended by means of it. Like a watch-maker who opens the watch in his hand and describes it down to the smallest part, the Qur’an expounds the universe with all its spheres and particles. Above all, it is such a glorious Qur’an that it announces, There is no deity but God, and declares the Oneness of God.

O God, make the Qur’an our companion in the world and our confident in the grave; our intercessor in the Hereafter and our light on the Bridge of Sirat; a veil and protection against Hellfire, a friend in Paradise, and a guide and a leader to all goodness. O God, illumine our hearts and graves with the light of faith and the Qur’an, and brighten the evidence of the Qur’an for the sake of him whom You sent down the Qur’an, upon him and his family be peace and blessings from the Compassionate and Solicitous One. Amen.

 

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