Second Point: The Quran challenging the people of knowledge and understanding.
At the time of Moses (Upon whom be peace), it was magic that was prevalent, so his most important miracles resembled it. And at Jesus (Upon whom be peace)’s time, it was medicine that was prevalent and his miracles were mostly of that kind. Similarly, at the time of the Most Noble Prophet (Upon whom be blessings and peace), in the Arabian Peninsula four things were prevalent:
The First: Eloquence and rhetoric.
The Second: Poetry and oratory.
The Third: Soothsaying and divining matters of the Unseen.
The Fourth: Knowledge of past events and cosmology.
Thus, when the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition appeared, it challenged those with knowledge of these four fields.
Firstly, it made the men of rhetoric and eloquence bow before it; they all listened to it in astonishment.
Secondly, it filled the poets and orators with amazement, that is, those who spoke well and declaimed fine poetry, so that they bit their fingers in astonishment. It reduced to nothing the value of their finest poems written in gold, causing them to remove the famous ‘Seven Hanging Poems’, their pride and glory, from the walls of the Ka‘ba.
And it silenced the soothsayers and sorcerers, who gave news of the Unseen, and made them forget the knowledge they had received. It drove away the jinns, and put an end to soothsaying.
And it saved those with knowledge of the past and cosmology from superstition and falsehood, and instructed them in true facts and luminous knowledge.
Thus, these four groups bowed before the Qur’an in perfect wonder and veneration, becoming its students. At no time could any of them attempt to contest it.
I f i t i s a s k e d : How do we know that no one could dispute or contest it?
T h e A n s w e r : If it had been possible to dispute it, for sure someone would have attempted it. For their religion, their possessions, their lives, and their families had been put into peril. If they had disputed it, they would have been saved. If it had been possible, they were bound to contest it. And if they had done so, since the supporters, unbelievers, and dissemblers were many, and truly many, they were sure to have supported such a contest, and would have advertised it widely. Just as they spread everything that was against Islam. And if someone haddisputed the Qur’an and they had made it known to everyone, it would certainly have been recorded in the books of history in glittering terms. But all the histories and books are in evidence; apart from a few passages about Musaylima the Liar, there is nothing in any of them. Whereas for twenty-three years the All-Wise Qur’an continuously taunted and challenged them in a way that would increase their obduracy. It in effect said:
“Let someone unlettered like Muhammad the Trustworthy compose the like of the Qur’an. You can’t do it, so, come on, not an unlettered person, but someone very learned and literary. You can’t do that either. Rather than a single person, gather together all your scholars and men of eloquence, and let them assist one another, and the false gods on which you rely can also lend a hand. You won’t be able to do this either, so use the literary works of the past, and even call on those of the future to help you, and then compose the like of the Qur’an. And if you can’t do this, then do not compose all the Qur’an, but only ten Suras. Come on, you can’t manage ten which are truly like the Qur’an’s Suras, so put it together out of stories and fictitious tales; just produce the like of the word-order and eloquence. Don’t write a long Sura, just a short one. But if you can’t do this, your religion, lives, property, and families will all be in danger, both in this world and in the next!”
Thus, with these eight alternatives, the Wise Qur’an has challenged and silenced men and jinn, not for twenty-three years, but for one thousand three hundred. Nonetheless, in those early times, those unbelievers did not have recourse to the easiest way, dispute or contest, but chose the most fearsome way, that of war, putting their lives, possessions, and families into danger. That means, to dispute it was not possible.
And so, would not any intelligent person, particularly the people of Arabia at that time -and the Quraysh, who were very clever- have ensured that one of their literary men composed a Sura similar to one of the Qur’an’s and so be saved from the Qur’an’s attacks; would they have abandoned the short and easy way, cast all they possessed into peril, and travelled the way most fraught with difficulties?
I n S h o r t : As the famous Jahiz put it: “Dispute with words was not possible, so they were compelled to fight with the sword.”
I f i t i s a s k e d : Some learned scholars have said that not one of the Qur’an’s Suras, but not a single of its verses can be disputed, nor even a single sentence, nor a word, nor have they been disputed. But this appears to be exaggerated and the reason cannot accept it, for many of men’s words resemble those of the Qur’an. What is the reason for their saying this?
T h e A n s w e r : There are two schools of thought concerning the miraculousness of the Qur’an.
The prevailing and preferred school states that the subtle qualities of eloquence and meaning in the Qur’an are beyond human power.
The second, and less preferred, school states that it is within human ability to dispute one of the Qur’an’s Suras, but Almighty Allah has prevented this as a miracle of Muhammad (PBUH). Like a man may rise to his feet, but if a prophet tells him that he cannot and he is unable to, then it is a miracle. This opinion is called the Sarfa School. That is, Almighty Allah prevented men and jinn from successfully disputing a single of the Qur’an’s Suras. According to this school, scholars who state that a single of its words cannot be disputed, are correct. Because since on account of its miraculousness Almighty Allah prevented them, they could not so much as open their mouths to dispute it. And even if they had done so, they could not have uttered a word.
However, according to the first-mentioned prevalent and preferred school of thought, that statement of scholars has the following subtle aspect: the All-Wise Qur’an’s phrases and words look to one another. It sometimes happens that a single word looks to ten places; in it are ten relationships and ten fine points of eloquence. We have pointed out examples of some of these in the commentary called Isharat al-I‘jaz (Signs of Miraculousness,) in the phrases of Sura al-Fatiha and those of,
Alif. Lam. Mim. * This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt.1
For example, take a highly decorated palace; to situate in relation to all the decorations a stone which is like the central point of numerous, various decorations, is dependent on knowing the entire wall together with all its decorations. And to situate the pupil of the eye in a human head is dependent on knowing its relations with the whole body and all the body’s wondrous functions, together with the eye’s position in the face of those duties. In just the same way, the most advanced of the people of truth, have demonstrated numerous relationships in the Qur’an’s words and their aspects and connections with other verses and phrases. Scholars of the Hurufi School in particular, have gone further, explaining and demonstrating to their followers a page of hidden meanings in a single of the Qur’an’s letters.
Furthermore, since it is the speech of the Creator of all things, each of its words may be like a heart or seed. That is, a heart contained in an immaterial body formed of mysteries, or the seed of an immaterial tree.
Thus, words like those of the Qur’an, and even phrases or verses, may occur in man’s speech, but an all-encompassing knowledge is necessary to situate them exactly as they are in the Qur’an, taking into account the many relationships.
1. Qur’an, 2:1-2.
- First Aspect: The challenging of the Qur'an; no one being able to imitate it.
- First Point: The levels of people in understanding the miraculousness of the Quran.
- First Addendum: The miraculous aspects of the Qur’an and the proofs that it is the Word of Allah.
- Second Radiance: The continuing youth of the Qur'an in every age; its rules and laws are ageless; a comparison between the civilization of the Qur'an and human civilization.
- Ninth Principle: The explanation of matters that are regarded as exaggeration concerning riwayahs about the insignificance of the world and the reward for actions and merits of some of the chapters of the Qur'an.
- Third Section, which is the Third Booklet: About the word “Allah” (Lafzullah).
- First Glow: The comprehensiveness that contains a chapter in a verse and the Qur'an and the universe in a chapter.
- Third Point: It is about the wisdom behind Disjointed Letters (Huruf al-Muqatta’a), found at the beginning of some verses.
- A Flower of Emirdağ: The answer given to the objections for the repetitions in the Qur’an.
- Why are the literary arts that are present in Makkan (Makki) chapters not seen in Madinan (Madani) chapters?