The Miracle that the Qur’an Is
The Qur’an is a mu`jizah in several senses. One of them is literary. That is, from the literary point of view, it is a mu`jizah.
Now, what is a mu`jizah? Miracle is not the correct translation. Mu`jizh is more than a miracle. And the Qur’an is more than a mu`jizah.
Mu`jizah is a thing or act that cannot be imitated or reproduced by any – not even by the one who produced it in the first place.
When a mu`jizah appeared at the hands of Prophet Muhammad, he could not repeat the event at will. To elaborate, once he made everyone of the several dozens of men around him drink from a bowl of milk. Everyone drank out of it, and there still remained milk in it after they had all drunk to their fill. It emptied when he himself drank out of. That was a mu`jizah. The Prophet himself could not repeat it at will, whenever he wished, or, if somebody made a demand, or, if the circumstances required it. He depended entirely on Allah to bestow the mu`jizah, and on His command, it came out of him. When Allah did not give him the power to produce the same mu`jizah, he could not, so that on many occasions, especially during Jihad-journeys, his Companions went hungry but he could not feed them or give them a cup of milk. He could not predict as to when and what kind of mu`jizah he could perform; because they were from Allah.
These mu`jizahs are even now produced by Allah for the people to take lessons from, repent, have faith in Him, turn to Him in obedience, and worship Him alone. For example, in a widely reported case, a boy was drowned in an icy lake in a wintry season. He was recovered after several hours. His body had turned into a stone. He wasn’t breathing and his heart wasn’t beating. He was merely a lump of ice. But when warmed gradually in a hospital, he began to breathe, and his heart began to beat. This is a mu`jizah. Only Allah can perform it. If the scientists threw a boy into an icy lake, they would be charged with murder because if brought out after a few hours, the boy will be found dead.
In another recent incident, another mu`jizah came to light. We know that if an aircraft crash lands, a few will definitely be injured even if none dies and, even if no part of the aircraft is damaged. The jolts, bumps, and rattles are enough to hurt many. If the aircraft body is damaged, a few sitting in the area of damage could die.
So what shall we say to an aircraft with 131 passengers, crash landing on an airport in bad whether splitting into three? In any experiment, say with mannequins, the death toll is predictable in dozens, if not more.
So, what shall we say when a Colombian passenger plane crash lands in bad whether, splits into three, one portion completely coming off the mother body somewhere from its one-third, but not a single man dead? The word they use, as every newspaper reporting the incident of 16th Aug. 2010 used, is “miracle.” But it was not a miracle. It was a mu`jizah, which only Allah’s Power could have produced. No trial of three splits at the time of landing will ensure that no life is lost.
The Qur’an is a mu`jizah bestowed on the Prophet. It is mu`jizah of the supreme kind. One of the aspects, out of several, is that it cannot be equaled in its linguistic excellence. Its rhetoric, eloquence, power of appeal, influence on the heart and mind, style and content, rhyme and rhythm are of such quality as to make it incomparable to any other literature, ever produced by humans in their entire history, in any language.
Now, what is possible for one man is possible for another. What is not possible for one man is possible for a group of people. What is not possible at one time is possible at another. What is not possible in 10 years, is possible in 1000 years. The excellence of a past performance is not only imitated, but also bettered in later times.
The Qur’an announced its challenge, several times within it, challenging that the humans and jinnkind produce, if not the whole of the Qur’an, then, at lease one chapter. Its smallest chapter is in 3 verses that can be written in one line.
From the time the challenge was heard, the Makkan Quraysh, masters of the language, should have jumped on it. Why take all the trouble to reject the Prophet, denounce him as a magician, fight wars with him, lose the wars, and then, ultimately, subdue themselves? Why not simply answer the challenge?
They did. It was one of their renowned poets Labid b. Rabi`ah who took the initiative. He wrote a few lines in reply to the challenge and hung them by the door of the Ka`bah for everyone to bear witness. Makkah was in uproar. The pillar of Islamic faith, Muhammad’s main deception, had been demolsished. Qur’anic challenge had been answered. Literate folks elbowed each other to have a look, and read out for the illiterate.
Then, one of the Muslims wrote down a few lines from the Qur’an, and hung it by the side of the passage hung by Labid. The news spread, bringing down curious locals as well as the visitors that had been attracted by Labid’s efforts. But the crowds thinned down in quiet acknowledgement of Labid’s limitations. A comparison between the poem and the Qur’anic passage was out of the question. It was pointless to begin at all.
Interestingly, when Labid got over his inner resistance and embraced the Islamic faith, `Umar in his time asked him to recite some of his poetry. Labid began to recite Surah al-Baqarah, the second chapter of the Qur’an. `Umar interrupted to say that this was not what he had asked for. Labid replied, “After embracing Islam, I have stopped composing poetry.”
There were others during the Prophet’s time who claimed that revelations similar to the Qur’an came to them. Musaylimah, the false Prophet of Yamamah (of the Najd area), was one of them. He produced the following as revelation given him:
والمبذرات زرعا، والحاصدات حصدا، والذاريات قمحا، والطاحنات طحنا، والعاجنات عجنا، والخابزات خبزا، والثاردات ثردا، واللاقمات لقما، إهالة وسمنا … لقد فضلتم على أهل الوبر، وما سبقكم أهل المدر، ريفكم فامنعوه، والمعتر فآووه والباغي فناوئوه …
“I swear by the seeders, seeding; the reapers reaping; the scatterers (scattering) wheat; the grinders grinding; the kneaders (kneading) dough; the pudding-makers (making) pudding; the morsel-takers (taking morsels) either with cheese or ghee … You have been given preference over the bedouins; not overtaken by the village-dwellers; so prevent your countryside; as for the destitute, give him refuge; and as for the rebel, keep him at bay …”
Such was the revelation of the prophet, justifying the title given him as “the Liar.” He produced a few other revelations, of quality that will further irritate the reader.
Another attempt was made by an Islamic poet Al-Mutanabbi (d. 354 AH). He was so named (mutanabbi = claimant of prophethood) because when he began to compose some very good poetry at a young age, he thought he must be as gifted as a prophet, and, therefore, could as well produce his own Qur’an. He had a huge following in north-central Arabia, whom he enchanted with his compositions and whose applause encouraged him to the folly. The following is attributed to him as revelation received by him:
والنجم السيار، والفلك الدوار، والليل والنهار، إن الكافر لفي أخطار. إمض على سنتك، وقف أثر من قبلك من المرسلين، فإن الله قامع بك زيغ من ألحد في دينه، وضل عن سبيله
“(I swear) by the moving star; and the spherical heaven; by the night and day .. Surely, the unbeliever is in dangers. Remain on your ways, but stop at the signs of the Messengers of the past; for, Allah is going to destroy through you the deviation of he who perverts His religion, and has lost the way.”
The above belongs to a class of writing known as “Saj`” in Arabic, produced in abundance by hundreds of Arabs before and after Islam, pagans as well as Muslims. This class of writing has nothing to be compared with the Qur’an. When recited aloud, it sounds scary, as if the words of a witch. Anyone who would have heard some of it, would like some Qur’an to be recited to him thereafter to get over the queasy feeling and set the disturbed soul at ease.
Sometime later, therefore, Mutanabbi realized his folly and withdrew his claim to prophethood.
Yet another claimant was the poet Abul A`laa al-Ma`arri (d. 449 AH). He too composed verses (in a book called: Al-Fusul wa al-Ghaayaat) to challenge the Qur’an. The following is an example of his composition:
أقسم بخالق الخيل، والريح الهابة بليل، بين الشرط مطلع سُهَيل، إن الكافر لطويل الويل، وإن العمر لمكفوف الذيل، تَعَدَّ مدارج السيل، وطالع التوبة من قبَيل، تنج وما إخالك بناج.
I swear by the creator of horses; and the fearful nightly winds, like the star visible between the camels: Surely, the unbeliever will suffer a long torture, and that one’s age is blind at the edge. Cross over the flood paths and reach out repentance from its source and succeed – although I do not see you succeeding.
It can be observed that he fails on both the fronts: literary as well as content. He said many similar things that demanded a great stretch of the imagination to dig out the meaning. It was pointed out to him that his production lacked grace. His reply was, ‘Give it 400 years of recitation in a pulpit.’ (He said 400 years because he came 400 years after the Qur’an). However, he has had 1000 years but the humanity prefers to ignore him and a reciter of his outpourings near a pulpit will be pointed at with fingers as someone struck by an ailment of the mind.
Interestingly, while there have been hundreds of translations of the Qur’an by disbelievers in it, none has translated any of the false Qur’anic passages spread over the Arabic literature.
There must have been many more attempts to imitate the Qur’an, but history does not seem to have recorded very many attempts. From the first ever Latin translation of the Qur’an until the translations of the 21st century, hundreds of disbelieving translators of the Qur’an have been angered by the challenge that they cannot avoid coming across while attempting the translation. But they have had to chew and swallow their anger. None of them produced his own original writing to challenge the Qur’an; although, at the same time, they would not acknowledge that the Qur’anic equal cannot be produced (except for a recent translator [A.J. Arberry] who had the courage to say that, ‘the Qur’an is inimitable’).
A few others have acknowledged the beauty of the Qur’an, but never admitting its inimitable quality. For example,
“The question is often asked why a book of such singular composition should hold such sway over the millions of the Moslem world. In reply two reasons may be given: first, the beautiful rhythm, and often sweet cadences of the original language, which like some enchanting song hold multitudes with rapt attention who understand scarcely a word they hear; secondly, there is a vast amount of truth contained in the book…
(Islam and Christianity in India and the Far East by Elwood Morris Wherry. Fleming. H Revell Company, 1907. Page 25-26).
At all events, humans are not such as to accept defeat, even at the hands of God. Even after a century of trials, they keep trying. The Internet now offers space for everyone piping a crazy tune. Some compositions of unknown authors, but of known Websites are circulated. E.g.,
الصم (1) قل يا أيها المسلمون إنكم لفي ضلال بعيد (2) إن الذين كفروا بالله ومسيحه لهم في الآخرة نار حهنم وعذاب شديد (3) وجوه يومئذ صاغرة مكفهرة تلتمس عفو الله والله يفعل ما يريد (4) يوم يقول الرحمان يا عبادي قد أنعمت على الذين من قبلكم بالهدى منزلا في التوراة والإنجيل (5) فما كان لكم أن تكفروا بما أنزلت وتضلوا سواء السبيل (6) قالوا ربنا ما ضللنا أنفسنا بل أضلنا من ادعي أنه من المرسلين (7) وإذ قال الله يا محمد أغويت عبادي وجعلتهم من الكافرين (8) قال ربي إنما أغواني الشيطان إنه كان لبني آدم أعظم المفسدين (9)
(1) Alif Lam Saad Meem. (2) Say, “O Muslims, you are in a distant error. (3) Surely those who disbelieved in Allah and His Messiah, for them is in the Hereafter the Fire of Jahannum and severe chastisement. (4) Some faces that day will be small, cloudy, seeking the Lord’s forgiveness, and Allah does what He will. (5) The day the Rahman will say, ‘O my slaves, I surely favored those before you with guidance sent down in the Torah and the Injeel. (6) It was not for you to disbelieve in what I sent down, and lose the straight path. (7) They said, ‘We did not misguide ourselves but he misguided us who claimed that he is of the sent ones.’ (8) When Allah said, ‘O Muhammad, you misguided My slaves and made them disbelievers.’ (9) He said, ‘My Lord, Satan misguided me. He is for Adam’s son a major corrupter’…”
As easily noticeable to anyone who knows Arabic, the above is an absurd effort to imitate the Qur’an.
- The Qur’anic texts are half in prose, half in poetry, yet with rhythmic waves. The above imitation is school dropout’s prose, with no poetical quality, and no cadence.
- The text is jingled; like a steel chain dumped on the ground in a heap and then stretched in every direction. One feels he is reading it from within a horse-cart through a countryside road, with the realization at the back of the mind that the incongruity is because you miss some words due to the jilts and jolts.
- It has a grammatical error at the point highlighted in blue (verse 7). The intransitive has been used in the sense of transitive.
- The word saaghirah (verse 4) is never used – even in laymen’s Arabic – in the allegorical sense, but always in the literal, physical sense. In the usage as here, it means, “they will appear with faces reduced in size and dimensions,” which is an absurd idea. “Small faces,” is entirely English, never deployed in Arabic.
- In verse 8, the word “min” is redundant in this kind of construction. In fact, grammatically, the whole sentence has a question mark before it.
- It has non-artistic abrupt breaks in themes, while the Qur’an slides smoothly from one theme to another within a short passage, providing the connection at the sub-conscious level.
- The passage entirely lacks aesthetic quality. It is a crude piece, product of a crude mind. No magazine of repute would like to reprint it except as an example of an absurd piece of writing.
- While re-reads of the Qur’anic passages sheds new meanings, the imitating passage increases in repulsiveness.
- The idea running through the text is stupid. It is addressing the Muslims. So, it was revealed to someone after Muhammad, peace be upon him. Who is that someone?
- It is no imitation. It is an example of stealing Qur’anic words and phrases (highlighted in pink), and re-setting them in complete sentences with a word or two thrown in between. Even the words Tawrah and Injeel are borrowed from the Qur’an. These words do not exist in any other language except in the Arabic of the Qur’an.
The Americans would not be left behind. They are the leaders, except that, in this case, leaders in stupidity. They have produced their own Scripture called, “The True Furqan” published – fittingly – by Wine Press, released in 1999. Says the (Journal) Baptist Press: “No literary document has surfaced in 1400 years to challenge the Qur’an in style or substance like The True Furqan.”
We used a strong word above: “stupidity,” and have offered the Baptist evaluation as proof. It will be noticed how the Baptist Press condemns all previous attempts to imitate the Qur’an as failures by saying: “No literary document has surfaced in 1400 years…”
So, first comes the admission (i.e., so long, the Qur’an has not been imitated) and then comes the assertion concerning their own production. According to Dr. Michael Brown, no less than Professor of Semitic Languages, this newest attempt is “… a better Qur’an, written in beautiful and grammatically clear Arabic and forceful English …” (If you spotted his students, you could sigh).
So, the True Furqan is a better Qur’an. But one of their own propaganda tool, a journal called The Middle East, (published from Washington since 1947, run and edited primarily by Jews and Christians), assesses that this ‘better Qur’an’ is, “poor in quality and ridiculous in content” and “a pathetic attempt to distort the Qur’anic teaching by reproducing what looks like Qur’anic verses.”
So, the Baptist Press and the editors of the journal Middle East may settle the matter between themselves.
The True Furqan claims to be a Revelation, but does not reveal the name of the prophet to whom it was revealed. Even the two revelation scribes hide themselves behind two pseudonyms.
Another unfortunate thing is that there was no co-ordination between the two scribes and the translator, for, the original says something, the translation another. It is obvious that the scribes, not knowing Arabic, must have used one of those computer softwares that do instant verbal translation into any language with the click of a mouse.
As for the translator, perhaps finding the original inadequate (he is a debater with Islamic scholars in his free time), wrote his own Revelation in English, and called it a translation of the True Furqan. It is not.
Now, we may look into one or two examples. The reader may summon good amount of patience.
The opening chapter is called “Al-Fatiha.” It starts with an invocative prayer as follows:
بسم الآب الكلمة الروح الإله الواحد الأوحد
In the name of the Father, the Word, the Holy Spirit, the One and only True God
The above invocatory prayer is supposed to be equivalent of “bismillah” of the Qur’an. Following errors exist in the original and its translation:
- The word “aab ( آب )” is not Arabic. It is Persian meaning “water.” The word in English for “father” is “ab ( أب ),” whose plural is “aabaa’ ( آبآء)” and not “aab.”
- The word, “holy ( القدس )” is not there in the original.
- The word for “True ( الحق )” is not there in the original, neither directly, nor by implication.
- General comment: Before composing this invocatory prayer, the trinity of two scribes and one translator should have spoken to any idiot in the street whether USA should have one or 3 Presidents at a time, with equal powers.
The following are the first two lines of the Opening Chapter and the translation by the third of the three:
1) هوذا الفرقان الحق نوحيه فبلغه للضالين من عبادنا وللناس كافة ولا تخش القوم المعتدين
2) مهيمن يحطم سيف الظلم بكف العدل ويهدي الظالمين.
- Behold, this is the authentic True Furqan which We inspire, declare it to whomever has gone astray from Our people, and do not fear anyone who may retaliate against this proclamation.
- It is a victorious True Furqan, which shall bring to naught the sword of injustice, with the palm of justice, blazing a straight path for those who repent from having gone astray.
The text and the translation have the following errors:
Verse no. 1:
- The first word “hua dha ( هوذا ) has the first connotation of “there he is” and not “behold.” The right word for “behold” is “alaa ( ألا ).”
- The word “authentic” is not there in the Arabic version.
- The word “declare” is incorrect translation of the word “balligh-hu ( بلغه ). It should be “pronounce it,” or, “take it to.”
- The word “whomever” does not exist in the Arabic original.
- The words (وللناس كافة ) have not been translated.
- The words “who may retaliate” are wrong translation of ( المعتدين ), which should be actually translated as “the transgressors.”
- The words “against this proclamation” do not exist in the original.
Verse no. 2:
- The words “True Furqan” are not there in the original.
- The correct translation of the word (يحطم ) is not “bring to naught,” but it should be, “break, shatter” etc.
- What has been translated as “blazing” should actually be translated as “guiding.”
- The words for “a straight path” are not there in the original.
- The words “those who repent” are not there in the original.
- The word “zaalimeen” means “wrong-doers” or “transgressors” and not “having gone astray,” for which the correct word is “Dhaallin ( الضالين ).
We do not have the energy to go to the third verse, let alone thousands of verses with tens of thousands of errors.
An Egyptian paper says that the True Furqan was ordered prepared by the former President of the USA, George Bush, and then the job of defending the Christian faith was offloaded to the Jews of Israel. If that is untrue, then, our opinion is that instead of trying to manufacture The True Furqan themselves, the Americans should have outsourced it to the Chinese. They would have saved them from monumental blunders.
What exactly is the challenge? It is to produce the same substance as of any passage of the Qur’an, with all the literary qualities that are attributable to it: powerful, profound, persuasive, engaging, soothing, reasonable, outstanding, brief in words, elaborate in meaning, sweet to hear, lifting the soul, easy to memorize, half in prose, half in poetry, filled with cadence and eloquence – all to the supreme degree – with the text in palpable rhythm. In simpler words, the imitation should be, in the words of the German philosopher Goethe, considered “the most important thinker of the Western culture”:
“As often as we approach the Quran, it always proves repulsive anew; gradually, however, it attracts, it astonishes, and, in the end forces admiration.”
For example, a Qur’anic verse says,
And who can do greater wrong than he who fastened a lie upon Allah, or said, ‘It has been revealed to me,’ while nothing has been revealed to him? Or who said, ‘I can reveal the like of what Allah has revealed?’ If you could but see the wrong‑doers in the agonies of death, angels stretching their hands (saying), ‘Yield up your souls. Today you shall be delivered a chastisement of humiliation because of the untruth you were fastening upon Allah and waxing proud against His signs.’ (Ch. 6, v. 93)
Now, the challenge is to produce a similar verse, consisting of the same substance as above, but in literary construction different from that of the Qur’an.