What is the challenge of the Qur’an?
Well, traditionally – that is to say – qur’anically, the challenge was literary or perhaps one of orality, because the culture the Qur’an came into was a time where the poets were esteemed and would hold sparring verbal competitions like modern day spoken word slams and rap battles; spontaneity and immediacy was the order of the day.
However, putting the spontaneity aside to make things easier for the challengers, the Qur’an itself says, a number of times with slight differences of emphases each time, the following:
Ten Surah Challenge: ‘Or do they say, “He invented it”? Say, “Then bring ten surahs like it that have been invented and call upon [for assistance] whomever you can besides Allah, if you should be truthful.”‘ (Qur’an 11:13)
الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله
All praise is due to ALLAH and peace and blessing upon His Messenger
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the Name of ALLAH, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful
One Surah Challenge: ‘Or do they say [about the Prophet], “He invented it?” Say, “Then bring forth a surah like it and call upon [for assistance] whomever you can besides Allah, if you should be truthful.”‘ (Qur’an 10:38)
One Statement Challenge: ‘Then let them produce a statement like it, if they should be truthful.’ (Qur’an 52:34)
Conclusion: ‘Say, “If mankind and the jinn gathered in order to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they were to each other assistants.”‘ (Qur’an 17:88)
People have attempted, historically, to compose something to challenge the Qur’an, but the literary experts of Arabic till the present have thus far concluded these all to be failures. That’s a sign.
However, I would like to suggest that the range in this challenge could be extended to also include other variables that assist to simply confirm how much of a miracle this Qur’an actually is.
There are just too many proofs in its favour that demonstrate the Qur’an to be a miracle from Allah than against. Let’s consider this in a comparative way.
The 23 Point Challenge: “Is your revered book(s)…”:
- Claiming it is from the Divine?
- Sounding like its very words (i.e. the whole book) are from the Divine?
- Still intact (our current copy is the same as the original version)?
- Compiled in an impeccable way? (Evidence of rigour in its compilation)
- Showing no man-made tampering?
- Written in the original language of the prophet that delivered it?
- Delivered by an Unlettered Prophet?
- Consistent in its message, despite being written over 23 years?
- The first book of a culture and civilisation?
- In possession of more rhetorical devices that are new and unique than verses in the social milieu of its enunciation?
- Constructed in such a way so that no one has brought a verse like it?
- Creator of its own genre – there is nothing like it?
- In possession of some consistent but repeating, numerical patterns (despite being written over 23 years)?
- In possession of some scientific knowledge that was not known then?
- In possession of some predictions of what (historically) would happen – and it happened (i.e. prophecies)?
- Knowledgeable about historical details that could not have been known at the time?
- Easy to memorise?
- Memorised by so many people (i.e. the scale) – I mean, the whole book?
- Used as a source of law?
- A book of moral guidance?
- A healing (Shifa) – used for ruqiyya?
- A living miracle?
- One that has had a massive impact on a civilsation that it has positively affected others (i.e. to the extent that the cultural achievements of the Muslims (inspired by a Qur’anic mindedness) led to the subsequent Renaissance in the West)? We are talking about scale.
- Claiming it is from the Divine
- Sounding like its very words (i.e. the whole book) are from the Divine
The divine origin of God’s words ought to be at least demonstrated by how it actually sounds or reads. That is, if it sounds both majestic and sublime and also addresses the reader (or Prophet – or both) directly – that would seem, intuitively, to be right.
See Muhammad Tim Humble’s Journey to Islam at 0:19:01
- Still intact (our current copy is the same as the original version)
- Compiled in an impeccable way?
- Written in the original language of the prophet that delivered it
The Context: Given that we do not possess an intact original version from all the other sacred books of the religions up untill the Last Prophet (peace be upon him) – is a miraculous proof in favour of Islam. Not only do we possess the sacred book that scholars agree is the very same as the one revealed to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, but there is only the one version of it and – indeed – we possess it, word-for-word! How amazing is that!
The preservation method used to compile the Qur’an was rigorous, as opposed to the other sacred books. And the Qu’ran was revealed in Arabic, was compiled in Arabic and we still have it in Arabic.
See also The Qur’anic Versus
- Delivered by an Unlettered Prophet
No opponent in the Prophet’s life time, peace be upon him, ever challenged the idea in the Qur’an that the Prophet was the ‘Unlettered Prophet’ (Qur’an, al-A’raf 7:157) throughout the forty years that they were with him. This is a miraculous fact. It is plausible that there were other ‘unlettered prophets’ – for instance – in the Biblical or Vedic tradition. But this does not disqualify the *fact* that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was one.
See also the ‘Unlettered Prophet‘
Consistent Message Despite Timescale
- Consistent in its message despite being written over 23 years,
‘Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction.'(Qur’an 4:82)
The primacy of Tawheed and warning about the Day of Judgement are amongst the central topics that do not wane over the long years. Most of the other holy books have contradictions in them. For instance, the idea of an omnipotent God who is beaten by Jacob (peace be upon him) in the Old Testament and the idea of the three-persons-in-one God of the New Testament that differs from the conception of God in the Old Testament are some examples. There are others.
The Linguistic Miracle of the Qur’an: The Strongest Argument
- The first book of a culture and civilisation?
- In possession of more rhetorical devices that are new and unique than verses in the social milieu of its enunciation
- Constructed in such a way so that no one has brought a verse like it
- Creator of its own genre – there is nothing like it
“It has often been argued that the Qur’an is not only the first book, and the highest linguistic achievement, of the Arabic language, but that it is also Muhammad’s strongest argument against those who doubted his Message.” Source
- In possession of some scientific knowledge that was not known then
NOTE: We are not claiming the Qur’an is a scientific manual, but rather pointing out how some core concepts that modern science regards now as facts were not known at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) but was revealed nonetheless.
- In possession of some consistent but repeating, numerical patterns (despite being written over 23 years)
Try and explain this! And bear in mind that most of this analysis occurred after the invention of the computer…
- In possession of some predictions of what (historically) would happen – and it happened (i.e. prophecies)
- Knowledgeable about historical details that couldn’t have been known at the time
“The Quran mentions about the ark of Noah:
“The Ark came to rest upon Mount Judi.” [Noble Qur’an 11:44]
Recent archeological research has discovered a boat shaped object with exactly the same dimensions as those of the Ark on Mount Judi. The Bible claims that the Ark came to rest twenty miles away on the Mountains of Ararat. This is not possible, since these mountains are a recent geological formation, and did not exist at the time of Noah. The Quran also refers to the flood as a localized event, destroying only Noah’s people. The dates and time offered by the Bible for the flood, and its claim that it was a world wide cataclysm, has been proven false by all archeological evidence.
The Quran describes the ruler of Egypt being addressed as “King” in the time of Joseph, whilst Moses addresses the ruler as “Pharaoh”. This is a small but telling accuracy, for in the time of Joseph the rulers were from the Hykos Dynasty, and were Semites. They did not refer to themselves as “Pharaohs”. The term was used by the native Egyptian dynasties that supplanted the Hykos, in the time of Moses. The Bible again proves inaccurate on this point referring to both as “Pharaoh”. The Quran also correctly describes aspects of the ancient Egyptian religion, in particular the worship of Pharaoh as a god.
The Quran refers to the early followers of Jesus as “Nazarenes”. This is historically accurate. The word “Christian” was actually a nick name used by the Romans sometime after Jesus – Acts 11:26 “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”
The Quran makes reference to a city Iram, which Allah destroyed for its evil doings. Until recently there was no record of this city, and it was believed to be only a legend. In 1973, in North-Western Syria, the 4300 year old city of Ebla was excavated. On the cuneiform clay tablets, a record was found of all the cities with who they used to do business. Among them was Iram.
How and from where did Muhammed gather this information? If, as some claim, he took it from the Bible, how did he manage to correct the Bible’s mistakes?”
Taken from Abdur-Rahim Green’s article on the Authenticity of the Qur’an [scroll past the middle]
- Easy to memorise
- Memorised by so many people – I mean, the whole book
See also, ‘North African Traditional Qur’an Memorisation‘
A Book of Guidance
- Used as a source of law
“Shariah is an Arabic word that literally means a path to be followed, and also commonly refers to a path to water… There are two sources of Shariah: The Quran, which many Muslims consider to be the literal word of God; and the “Sunnah,” the divinely guided tradition of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad…”
Putting aside how authentically Shariah is applied in a total sense, “Professor Jan Michiel Otto of the Leiden University Law School in the Netherlands divides legal systems of Muslim countries into three categories: classical Shariah systems, secular systems, and mixed systems.
In countries with classical Shariah systems, Shariah has official status or a high degree of influence on the legal system, and covers family law, criminal law, and in some places, personal beliefs, including penalties for apostasy, blasphemy, and not praying. These countries include Egypt, Mauritania, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the Maldives, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and certain regions in Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates.
Mixed systems are the most common in Muslim-majority countries. Generally speaking, Shariah covers family law, while secular courts will cover everything else. Countries include: Algeria, Comoros, Djibouti, Gambia, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, and Syria.” Source
- A book of moral guidance
The Shariah – which is based on Qur’an and Sunnah, as above, also encompasses “a personal moral code.” Source
There’s probably no argument, here.
A Book of Healing
- A healing (Shifa) – used for ruqiyya
Not only are there some verses in the Qur’an that has ‘healing properties’ if believers recite them with conviction: See here. But there are many ayah (verses) of the Qur’an that is also used for ruqiyya too. See Ruqiyya Programme.
Impact of the Living Miracle
- A living miracle
- One that has had a massive impact on a civilsation that it has positively affected others (i.e. to the extent that the cultural achievements of the Muslims (inspired by a Qur’anic mindedness) led to the subsequent Renaissance in the West). We are talking about scale.
See also The Qur’an’s Impact on The World
And so, putting aside whether your revered book has to make a miss on one or two of these points, consider that this Qur’an ticks all of them!
So when you’re asking, ‘Just how is this Qur’an a miracle?’ This is how to qualify it as such in secular terms.
And if you’re a die-hard secularist (who always claims to follow the evidences, and) who rubbishes all and any alleged attestations to the Divine, indiscriminately, assuming dogmatically that they are all necessarily false and without adequate basis, and you’ve seen through these points (above) whilst thinking – ‘Yeah, well, it’s just luck, or co-incidences – or, this all can be humanly crafted…’ despite the implausibility of all of these things simultaneously being humanly crafted, given the time-scale and set against the Qur’anic challenge itself! Well… then… you need to ask: “Am I such a one as would ‘cover over’ the truth of what has clearly been demonstrated?” The fact is, there is no real rival when compared to *all* the other scared books. Surely, this is evidence enough!
سبحان ربك رب العزة عما يصفون وسلام على المرسلين والحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله محمد وعلى اله وصحبه أجمعين
Exalted be your Lord, the Lord of Glory, above what they attribute to Him, and peace be upon the Messengers, and all praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Universe. And the peace and blessing upon prophet Mohammed and his relatives and all his companions.