Many times, we read the Quran and find ourselves in an ocean, unaware of where the current is taking us. One of the most important things to understand when one approaches it, is that it is not written according to the mandates of human logic or order – but rather it is according to the Divine Will of the Creator
There are many people who have no faith in the Qur'an despite claiming to be faithful believers. They spend their lives clinging to delusions and live with contradictions and deficiencies, refusing to adopt the Qur'an as their guide. Yet, only the Qur'an provides a lifetime of true knowledge for every person and contains the secrets of God's creation in its truest and purest form. Any piece of information not based on the Qur'an is in contradiction, and therefore is a deception and an illusion. Therefore, those who do not adhere to the Qur'an live in a state of delusion. In the hereafter they will be condemned to eternal punishment.
The reader also encounters abrupt transitions between one subject matter and another. Audience and speaker constantly change as the message is directed now to one and now to another group of people. There is no trace of familiar division into chapters and sections. Likewise, the treatment of different subjects is unique. If a historical subject is raised, the narrative does not follow the pattern familiar in historical accounts. In discussions of philosophical or metaphysical questions, we miss the familiar expressions and terminology of formal logic and philosophy. Cultural and political matters, or questions pertaining to man’s social and economic life, are discussed in a way very different from that usual in works of social sciences. Juristic principles and legal injunctions are elucidated, but quite differently from the manner of conventional works. When we come across an ethical instruction, we find its form differs entirely from anything to be found elsewhere in the literature of ethics.
The reader may find all this so foreign that his notion of what a book should be that he may become so confused as to feel that the Qur’an is a piece of disorganized, incoherent and unsystematic writing, comprising nothing but a disjointed conglomeration of comments of varying lengths put together arbitrarily. Hostile critics use this as a basis for their criticism, while those more favorably inclined resort to far-fetched explanations, or else conclude that the Qur’an consists of unrelated pieces, thus making it amenable to all kinds of interpretations, even interpretations quite opposed to the intent of God Who revealed the Book.
He then spends the rest of this brilliant small book, answering and explaining the wonder of this question and showing that these characteristics described above are a source of beauty and perfection of The Quran and demonstrate a coherence far beyond human capability:
In the Qur'an, along with prayers, commands, prohibitions and high moral standards, God communicates many secrets to mankind. These are truly important secrets, and an attentive eye can witness these throughout his life. No other source than the Qur'an holds these secrets. The Qur'an is the unique source of secrets that those people, no matter how intelligent, literate or astute they are, could never hope to find anywhere else.
Anyone who has not read it, should make sure he/she does.
That some people cannot see while others have a grasp of some hidden messages in the Qur'an is another secret created by God. Those who do not seek these secrets revealed in the Qur'an, live in distress and difficulty. Ironically, they never know the cause of their distress. Those who learn about these secrets of the Qur'an, on the other hand, lead an easy, joyful life.
That is because the Qur'an is clear, easy and straightforward enough to be understood by anyone. In the Qur'an, God states the following:
(23) وَإِن كُنتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِّمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُواْ بِسُورَةٍ مِّن مِّثْلِهِ وَادْعُواْ شُهَدَاءكُم مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
(24) فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُواْ وَلَن تَفْعَلُواْ فَاتَّقُواْ النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ
23. "And if you are in doubt of what We have sent down to Our (faithful) Servant (Muhammad), then bring forth one Sura the like thereof, and call your witnesses other than Allah, if you are truthful."
24. "And if you do not do so, and you will never do it, then fear the Fire whose fuel is People and Stones, prepared for the infidels."
After Allah (s.w.t.) explains the state of the hypocrite and disbelievers, and, through the creation of the heaven and the earth, sending down rain and growing plants on the ground, proves the existence of the Creator and Cherisher of the universe, He begins to validate the rightfulness of the Holy Qur'an and the truthfulness of His Messenger.
In order to show everyone the miraculousness of the Qur'an with clear evidence,according to one's portion of wit and understanding, that the Qur'an will be an argument for all, Allah confirms the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and the authenticity of the Holy Qur'an by suggesting a challenge, a direct confrontation, not only to all the contemporaries of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) but also to men in all ages. " And if you are in doubt of what We have sent down to Our (faithful) Servant (Muhammad),..."
It addresses all the rejectors, with a concrete test, saying that if you imagine that the Qur'an, which has been sent down from Pure Holiness to the chosen servant of Allah in the form of statements and with the combination of ordinary alphabetical letters, is not from Him and it is the word of a human, then since outwardly you are in the same state from the point of being a human as the Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h.) is, you should be able to produce a Sura like that of the Qur'an and call your own witnesses that are like you, the disbelievers of the Qur'an. You would compare your evidence with one of the Suras of the Qur'an, even if it be a small one such as Sura Kauthar and the like. If those two were similar in comparison in all their qualities, merits and privileges, you could rightfully reject the legitimacy of the Qur'an.
The disbelievers and pagan Arabs, who were the masters of literature and eloquence, refrained from accepting this challenge despite their pride and haughtiness in eloquence and avoided the competition. Therefore, inevitably, they turned the literary contest into a bloody battle. Thus, getting killed was easier for them than being disgraced and defeated in a literary contest. The Arab literature became helpless and meagre against the challenge of the Qur'an. Neither those who lived at the time of the Qur'an's revelation, nor the people born in the centuries after that could bring anything like this Holy Book, or could do anything against it, inspite of trying with their utmost strength. They were thus forced to retreat after exerting utmost efforts.
Why is the Holy Qur'an a Miracle and How ?
Being complete true revelation, the Qur'an is itself a miracle. As it is authentically known and also was mentioned in the above, at the time of the Qur'an's revelation the literary talent and eloquence of Arabs were at their peak, yet the miraculousness of the Qur'an is not confined to its inimitable literary excellence and eloquence. It stands on its own innumerous different merits some of which are beyond the reach of the complete conception of the literary geniuses of the Arab world. It has such a rhetorical capacity and linguistic excellence that is able to express different views and knowledge in a manner that is understood and appreciated by every rational human being of any standard and accomplishment of all the ages. Then everybody in any time, once provided with the opportunity to become acquainted with the Holy Qur'an, which offers information by which all of his/her arguments will be completed, he/she can find himself or herself convinced by it. Such extensive knowledge and such power of expression is beyond the limitations of human ability. Even of the literate Arab people, as were previously referred to, especially at the time of the Qur'an's revelation when the literature of the Arabic language had reached its climax, none dared to bring a Sura similar to even its shortest one. This very single point is the smallest miraculous aspect of the Qur'an.
There is no doubt that if the Qur'an were the word of a human and the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), himself, who was known to the world as an illiterate one, had produced it, they would bring many Qur'ans like it and would prove that this is not the word of Allah revealed to him (p.b.u.h.). In that condition, the enemies of Islam would maintain their works which would be available everywhere and in any ages so that they could publish and distribute them, even now, to defame the one genuine Qur'an, but there is none.
Apart from its inimitable literary excellence, the Holy Qur'an with its other names such as 'Furqan' and 'Tibyan' referring to the abilities it has, presents to the human world definite prophecies fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled, and long after. It contains some facts about endowments in nature which the human knowledge of science as it progresses will have to understand, for its further advancement. The perfectness of such nature, naturally, will be the last word with regard to the ideas, religious and social laws, sciences, and many many other things that it contains and will remain for ever, until the Hereafter.
This universality of the truth expressed in the idea and beauty and the attractive force of the language is so divine that, as we said before, it is beyond the reach of the expressive power of any limited being. It is in this regard that the Holy Qur'an claims to be not only the word of Allah, inimitable, but the Final Word in respect to truth and justice the better or even the like of it is impossible to be produced by any one.
However, it is true to say simply and shortly that the Holy Qur'an is a miracle with respect to its contents which is the source of all knowledge and science, as it itself says : " Say : If the sea were ink (wherewith to write out) for the words of my Lord, the sea would surely be consumed before the words of my Lord are exhausted, though We were to bring the like of that (sea) to add thereto for its aid", (Sura Al-Kahf, No. 18, verse 109).
Thus, this verse, by itself, is a vital piece of evidence regarding the correctness of the above stated claim. (1)
Why do Prophets Need Miracles ?
We know that the Divine mission of prophethood is a great rank endowed upon some of the purified distingished members of the human race. Since the purpose of prophethood is the comprehensive guidance ruling over the body and spirit of individuals, and society, toward perfection and the laying down of a legal system and social order for mankind, the assumption of responsibility involved is necessarily heavy and taxing. So, it requires great capacity and energy. Allah, therefore, bestows the position of prophethood on those who have the ability and capacity to receive and follow through the light of revelation. This unique privilege and speciality of prophets is also shown in their miracles, which all of them had. And, to prevent some false, deceitful impostors from claiming the position, it is necessary that, besides the revelation, the real ones should have sufficient evidence to bear testimony to the truth of their declaration and prove the claim that they are sent by Allah. That is, a prophet should utter such words and exhibit such deeds which could not be uttered or performed by any natural means within the power of a finite being, such as : restoring the dead to life again, communicating with animals and inanimate bodies, and the likes of them. These supernatural events are termed as miracles.
The prophet who has a miracle should introduce it to people and invite them to challenge with it. If they can produce none similar to that, thus, by the means of his miracle, he proves the truthfulness of his declaration.
The Holy Qur'an,
The Everlasting Miracle of the Prophet of Islam(p.b.u.h.)!
Amongst the miracles issued by the Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h.), the Qur'an is the best remaining evidence of his rightfulness. We know, of course, that, according to what the leading scholars of Islam have said, he (p.b.u.h.) had about 4440 miracles. But the Qur'an is a Book beyond the thoughts and mind of a mortal being. None has been able to bring one similar to it yet. It is a great heavenly miracle.
The reason that amongst all the miracles of the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) the Qur'an has been chosen as the greatest remaining evidence of legitimacy of the Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h.) is that it is a miracle which is 'expressive', 'everlasting', 'world-wide', and 'spiritual'.
Each of the former prophets (a.s.) had to accompany his miracle to prove its inimitability when he used to invite his opponents for challenging and bringing the like of it. In fact, his miracle or miracles could not express themselves and it was the explanations of the prophet that would complete them. This statement is also true for all the miracles of the Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h.) except the Holy Qur'an.
The Qur'an is a clear miracle which need not be introduced. It invites others to itself, demands the rejecters to challenge it while it defeats them, condemns them, and it always stands victorious. That is why it, after passing centuries, viz., since the departure of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) up to the present, has been continuing its invitation the same as it did during his lifetime (p.b.u.h). It is both religion and miracle; law, and the document of the law.
The Holy Qur'an, Global and Eternal
The reputation of the Holy Qur'an cleft the bonds of time and distance and influenced beyond them. The miracles of the prophets before the Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h.), and even his own miracles save the Qur'an, happened in a special period of time, at a definite place and for a specific group of people. For example : the utterances of the holy little child of Virgin Mary, and raising the dead by Jesus (a.s.) were done at some definite times and places before the eyes of some particular people. And we know that regarding the things that depend on time and place, the farther we move away from them correlatively the weaker they become. This is one of the properties of affairs related to time.
But, the Holy Qur'an does not depend on time and place. Its brilliance and authority that illuminated the darkness of Arabia fourteen centuries ago continues unwaveringly to shine with its original splendor. Besides that, the passing of time, the advancement of science and the development of information have made it possible for us to understand it and take its advantages even more than the nations of former ages did. It is evident that what time and place cannot influence will continue to be everywhere in the world for eternity. It is also clear that a world-wide everlasting religion should have a world-wide everlasting document of legitimacy in its possession.
Then we can discuss the Holy Qur'an :
from the point of modern science;
and the scientific explorations;
and the rotation of the Earth;
and reproduction in the plant kingdom;
and general reproduction in all the particles of the world;
and general gravity;
and the surrendering of the Sun and the Moon;
and the secrets of the creation of mountains;
and the advent of the world;
and the existence of life on other planets;
and the winds, the pollinator of plants;
and the question of the roundness of the Earth; (2)
And many other scientific facts and knowledge about the world can be found in the Holy Qur'an, too.
O Mankind! A clear proof has come to you from your Lord. We have sent down a Clear Light to you. As for those who believe in God and hold fast to Him, He will admit them into mercy and favor from Him and will guide them to Him on a straight path. (Surat an-Nisa': 174-175)
We will explore one of these examples of the Quran swiftly changing subject, and witness the beauty that lies in its secrets. Let us look at Surah Qiyaamah:
I do call to witness the Day of Standing (Resurrection Day)
And I do call to witness the self-reproaching spirit
Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones?
Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers.
But man wishes to do wrong (even) in the time in front of him.
He questions: “When is the Day of Resurrection?”
At length, when the sight is dazed,
And the moon is buried in darkness.
And the sun and moon are joined together,-
That Day will Man say: “Where is the refuge?”
By no means! (There is) No place of safety!
With your Lord alone shall on that day be the place of rest.
That Day will Man be told (all) that he put forward, and all that he put back.
Nay, man will be evidence against himself,
Though he puts forth his excuses.
Move not thy tongue concerning the (Qur’an) to make haste therewith.
It is for Us to collect it and to recite it:
But when We have recited it, follow thou its recital
Nay more, it is for Us to explain its meaning (and make it clear):
Nay, (ye men!) but ye love the fleeting life,
And leave alone the Hereafter.
Some faces, that Day, will beam (in brightness and beauty);-
Looking towards their Lord;
And some faces, that Day, will be sad and dismal,
In the thought that some back-breaking calamity was about to be inflicted on them;
Yea, when (the soul) reaches to the collar-bone (in its exit),
And there will be a cry, “Who is a magician (to restore him)?”
And he will conclude that it was (the Time) of Parting;
And one leg will be joined with another:
That Day the Drive will be (all) to thy Lord!
So he gave nothing in charity, nor did he pray!-
But on the contrary, he rejected Truth and turned away!
Then did he stalk to his family in full conceit!
Woe to thee, (O men!), yea, woe!
Again, Woe to thee, (O men!), yea, woe!
Does man think that he will be left uncontrolled, (without purpose)?
Was he not a drop of sperm emitted (in lowly form)?
Then did he become a leech-like clot; then did ((Allah)) make and fashion (him) in due proportion.
And of him He made two sexes, male and female.
Has not He, (the same), the power to give life to the dead?
Notice verses 16-19 which I have bolded. These verses are being addressed directly to the Prophet (saw). And when one looks at them, one finds that they have seemingly no relation whatsoever to the verses before or the verses after.
However, when we read the tafsir of the Surah, we realize that something amazing is happening here. Allah (swt) is describing to us the state of the Day of Judgment.
I do call to witness the Day of Standing. And I do call to witness the self-reproaching spirit. Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers. (1-4)
Such Absolute Power. Such Quwwah! Allah is taking the Day as an object of Witness! Then, he establishes to the deniers of the Day that not only will he assemble the bones of human beings to resurrect them, he will reassemble the very tips of his fingers, the most unique outward part of the human body – so unique we use it in criminal and court cases. Allah has established to the universe His ability to gather that which is ungatherable, and assemble it, and cause it to stand (note the name of the Surah – Qiyaamah!) and be established.
As our Lord continues to tell us about this Day, He ceases in the middle and changes the subject:
Move not thy tongue concerning the (Qur’an) to make haste therewith. It is for Us to collect it and to recite it: But when We have recited it, follow thou its recital. Nay more, it is for Us to explain its meaning (and make it clear): (16-19)
We would ask, why these words to the Prophet here? Why during this image? For this, there is a fact about how the Prophet used to receive revelation. Why in the middle of an eloquent description of the despair of the rebel against God on the Day of Judgment, would He suddenly place a direct address to the Prophet concerning the revelation…and then..suddenly, switch back into talking about the Day of Judgement? This is an example of what Maulana Maududi wrote about when he said the Quran…SEEMS like it is not coherent.
In order to understand this, it is important to know a fact about how the Prophet would react to revelation. He would be so worried, so concerned, that he would forget a verse, a word, a vowel, that as the Angel Jibraaeel (Gabriel) would recite the latest revelation to him, he (saw) would repeat it immediately, word for word, trying to quickly memorize it. You know, when you are on the phone and the other person is giving you another phone number which you need to dial as soon as you hang up? You start to quickly recite it so that it stays in your memory long enough for you to dial. Such concern the Prophet (saw), that he would quickly, hastily begin his Hifdh of the verse as Jibraeel is giving him the revelation.
According to the tafsir, to comfort the Prophet (saw) about this – Allah (swt) is in effect telling him - Just as I can gather the billions of human beings, assemble them, and reconstruct the very tips of their fingers and order them to stand on the Day of Judgment – I shall take care of ensuring that this Quran is assembled, gathered, and made firm in your heart and that even its explanation is clear to you. So do not worry so much that you become stressed and repeat it like this. But listen to it as it is revealed unto you. I am powerful enough to gather all creation and humanity, and I can indeed gather the words of My book in your heart and establish it there for you. So do not be worried or afraid of losing it.
Then, the Surah continues on, picking up from where it left off, and finishing the picture of the Day of Qiyaamah. How beautiful the secrets of the Quran are. How Allah (swt) is calming, comforting, his beloved Messenger (saw) even in the midst of a picture that until the verse about faces of joy, is generally quite scary and should cause a believer to tremble out of fear and humility.
Imam Busiri said in his Burdah:
La haa ma’aanin ka mawj il bahri fi madadin
Wa fawqa jawharihi fil husni wa al qiyami
For it (the Quran) are meanings that are like the waves of the ocean, each one helping and supporting the next wave
Its meanings are far greater than the pearls of the ocean in their beauty and their greatness
And Allah knows best.