CHAPTER v /A Prelude to the Study of a Unique Book

A Prelude to the Study of a Unique Book

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Our method of investigation concerning the source of the Qur’an and how it came to be preached by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has so far refrained from tackling the Qur’an in its nature and substance. All that we have done is to study the route it has come through.

We have found in the statements of its bearer, his moral values and discipline, his scientific means and sources, as well as his public and private circumstances much accumulating evidence confirming that no one on earth could be described as the author of the Qur’an. Its author is none other than God.

Our study so far has been external. It is perhaps satisfactory for a person who has learnt some of the circumstances of the Prophet’s life and manners.

Such a person should have at the same time a sound nature, recognising matters for what they really are and linking like with like in order to arrive at the right conclusions. Such a person will be satisfied with what we have said and accept the truth that the Qur’an is God’s revelation.

Yet many are those whose knowledge of the Prophet’s life is scanty. Such people do not accept the self-evident argument which the Qur’an provides for its author. With these we must move further to show them that by its very nature, the Qur’an cannot have been authored by a human being.

It has a very eloquent appeal confirming its being the message of the Almighty. If someone finds a copy of it left in the desert and reads it carefully, without having ever known anything about it, he would realise that it has no worldly origin and that it does not belong to any author on the face of the earth. It originates on high, and from on high it was sent down.

Wide ranging as human ability is, it remains within certain limits beyond which it cannot extend itself, while the power of the Creator is limitless. Everything that goes beyond the ability of mankind remains within God’s ability; there is no doubt of this.

There is no other situation. Examples of this fact abound. A man may be able to physically overcome another man or two men, or several men, but no single man can stand up to a whole army or nation. God causes the sun to rise in the east.

Can anyone cause it to rise in the west? Anyone of us can switch the light on and off at will. But can all mankind bring the sun out before its time, or hold it beyond its setting time, or switch off its light, or come out with a similar sun, even though they harness all their physical and mental powers to achieve that purpose?

They certainly cannot create as much as a fly, even if they were to join all their forces to that end. If a fly robs them of anything, they are unable even to rescue it from him. How can they produce something to match those superior objects in the great universe, when they cannot reach them with their hands or even with their missiles? All they can do is to look with admiration at these objects, make use of them and be influenced by them.

This total inability to come up with anything similar to God’s creation is an irrefutable proof that it is the work of no human being. It is this Divine quality that distinguishes the work of the Creator from anything that people can make which is the criterion we wish to apply to the Qur’an.

There are people, however, who remain as stubborn as a brick wall. Such are the ones who said to their prophets: “Whatever sign you may produce before us, with which you aim to cast a spell upon us, we shall not believe you.”

(7: 132.)

The Qur’anic description of such people goes like this: “Even if We were to send down angels to them, and if the dead were to speak to them, and even if We were to assemble before them, face to face, all the things [that can prove the truth], they would still not believe unless God so wills.” (6:111.)

There are others who are given to doubt. They cannot find their peace in a situation of certainty.

They say: “We think it is no more than an empty guess, and so we are by no means convinced.” (45: 32.)

“If We opened for the non-believers a gateway to heaven and they had ascended higher and higher, still they would surely say: ‘It is only our eyes that are spellbound! Indeed, we must have been bewitched.’” (15: 14-15.)

“If We had sent down to you a writing on paper, and they had touched it with their own hands, the disbelievers would still say, ‘This is clearly nothing but deception.’”

(6: 7.)

With neither group can we make any headway. Our counsel is of no benefit to them if God wishes to let them go astray. It is not in our power to make the deaf hear or the blind see.

Indeed, we cannot reach out to those who put their fingers in their ears so that they do not hear, or put their hands over their eyes so that they do not see the sun rising up in the middle of the sky. “If God wills to let anyone to be tempted to evil, you can be of no help to him against God’s will.” (5: 41.)

All we can do is set the argument clear to anyone who wishes to know the truth. We only indicate the way to those who wish to travel along.

We call on anyone who truly wishes to arrive at the truth to look with us at the Qur’an from any angle he chooses, its literary style, or the information it provides, or its impact on the history of the world, or from all these angles together.

He will then be free to look at it within the constraints of the period of time and social environment in which it appeared, or to assume that it appeared in the most advanced period in history. It is also the same to us if he takes into account the personality of the man who brought it or attributes the Qur’an to an imaginary personality that combines all the adeptness of the best literary talents, the authority of leaders, and the total sum of research made by the best scientists across all branches of science.

We will then ask him if he finds in the Qur’an anything less than a unique surpassing power, compared to which the strength of all scientists, leaders, poets and authors dwindle into insignificance. Besides, the world will come to its appointed end while the Qur’an’s glitter remains a source of admiration to all. Indeed, life may end before people can grasp its whole truth: “On the day when its final meaning is unfolded, those who had previously been oblivious to it will say: ‘The messengers of Our Lord have indeed told us the truth.’”

(7: 53.)

We will now embark on the study of these three aspects of the unique nature of the Qur’an and its surpassing excellence: the literary, the scientific, and the moral and social. We will concentrate more on its literary and linguistic excellence, because this is where the challenge was thrown to mankind in substance and detail.

Chapter VI

The Qur’an: A Literary Miracle

We seek clarification from anyone who has the slightest doubt that the Qur’an is a miraculous piece of linguistic and literary excellence.

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