CHAPTER X / Planning the Whole Prior to Receiving the Parts

Planning the Whole Prior to Receiving the Parts

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Yet this has actually happened in the matter we are considering.

The man in our example is the Prophet (peace be upon him), who was never taught how to read and write.

The great city which he began to build ever since its first bricks were given to him is this perfect book, the Qur’an.

Ever since he received its early verses, he started to arrange its parts, confident that it would undoubtedly produce a complete and perfect whole.

The palaces, rooms and bricks in our example are the surahs, passages and verses of the Qur’an.

The unexpected events that brought the man in our example the rocks and metals that went into the building of palaces and villas are the world events,

social developments and religious and worldly problems that faced people time after time in their private or public affairs.

A believer would ask about these to learn what he should know. A non-believer would use them to argue and dispute.

In all these events Qur’anic revelations were given, a passage at a time, treating meanings that differed widely as would suit each case or occasion,

in different lengths, and with varying tones ranging from the very lenient to the stiff and very hard.

From these widely different passages, the sets known as surahs were formed, not on the basis of compatibility in each set...

but allowing any number of passages, addressing any questions to join any set.

The totally unusual method followed in raising those buildings of the city in our example, haphazardly using their constituent parts, which is the third factor that makes the task impossible rather than hard, is also seen clearly in the Qur’an.

The man who received its revelations did not wait until all its passages had been given to him.

Indeed, he did not wait for a single surah to be completed before deciding on its arrangement.

Whenever he received a passage or a single verse, he ordered that it should be placed in its particular slot in a well-defined position in its surah.

We should emphasise here that the revelation of verses and passages did not follow the order in which they occur in the Qur’an.

Many a surah was revealed, in whole or in parts, interspersed with the revelation of other passages in different surahs.

Many a verse is placed towards the end of a surah despite its being revealed much earlier than the parts preceding it, and vice versa.

Indeed, the revelation and arrangement of Qur’anic verses and passages were two separate matters following two different routes which hardly ever met.

This gives us a profoundly edifying aspect of the arrangement of this unique book.

If we look at each passage at the time of its revelation, and study the different aspects associated with its revelation:

its timing, the events leading to it and the needs it satisfies, we are certain to conclude that each was topical at its particular time of revelation.

Each one addressed a matter that happened to exist at a particular time.

One passage may be ordered to be placed at the outset of a surah of which no part has yet been revealed...

while a subsequent passage is placed within a surah the rest of which has long since been revealed.

When we consider such detailed instructions on the arrangement of passages and surahs we are bound to conclude that there is a complete and detailed plan assigning the position of each passage before they are all revealed.

Indeed the arrangement is made before the reasons leading to the revelation of any passage occur,

and even before the start of the preliminary causes of such events.

Nevertheless, this whole, meticulously detailed plan of distribution and arrangement was made with full resolve and determination.

Not a single verse or passage placed in a particular surah was later moved to a different one.

Nor was a verse placed at the beginning or the end of a surah ever re-assigned a different position in that same surah at a later stage.

Such are the plain facts about the arrangement of the Qur’an as it was revealed in separate verses, passages and surahs over a period of 23 years.

What does this tell us about its source?

Page III

An Arrangement Pointing Out the Author

When we consider carefully the timing of the revelation of the Qur’anic passages and surahs and their arrangement...