The Qur’aan as a Miracle of the Prophet Muĥammad (صل الله عليه وسلم)

The miracles of the Prophet (صل الله عليه وسلم) are many, but the most obvious is the Qur’aan itself. This book has been preserved to the last letter, without any perversions or alterations for some 1400 years. This is extraordinary, because no other book has been maintained in this way in human history. It is also a miracle, however, because the Prophet Muhammad’s (صل الله عليه وسلم) message stated that this was to be so:

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

Meaning: “Aļļaah has revealed this remembrance that is the Qur’aan, and He protects it.” (Al-Ĥijr, 9). This statement shows extraordinary knowledge of the future, and it is joined with the challenge and claim of prophethood, thus meeting the criteria for a miracle. It is a challenge, because the enemies of the religion would attempt to prove this statement wrong. The fact that they have not been able to do so strengthens the miracle further, because it shows that the Creator really is protecting the book.

The Qur’aan is narrated collaboratively from masses to masses from the time of the Prophet (صل الله عليه وسلم). It is an oral tradition from day one, and written copies are used as an aid only. When the Prophet (صل الله عليه وسلم) passed away he had several thousand followers, and many of them had memorized the entire Quran, and as a group of individuals they had memorized the Qur’aan hundreds of times over. This mass narration is the one we have today, and it is what protects the Qur’aan from alteration by the will of Aļļaah. Anything that does not reach this level of solid narration is simply rejected. Why? Because the Qur’aan was well known and taught in public everywhere already in the time of the Prophet himself, who encouraged his thousands of enthusiastic followers to spread, publicize and memorize every letter of it. They firmly believed this to be the revealed book of the Creator Himself, and to be negligent in its careful preservation, memorization and distribution was unthinkable. Then this spread and enthusiasm only spread and continued from generation to generation, and even today there are millions of people who have memorized it cover to cover. Accordingly, the idea that an individual or a handful of individuals should know something of it that no one else did is rejected by default. In addition, the eloquence of the Qur’aan is greater than other things written or said in Arabic, which makes it recognizable and distinct. This adds to the preservation attained by the mass narration.

Another miracle is the challenge to those who disbelieve in Prophet Muhammad  (صل الله عليه وسلم), to compose a Suurah like any of its 114 Suurahs[1]:

وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِنْ مِثْلِهِ

Meaning: “If you are in doubt about what Aļļaah has revealed to the Prophet  (صل الله عليه وسلم), then bring a Suurah like any of its Suurahs in eloquence, if you can, but you will not be able.” (Al-Baqarah, 23)

To understand the significance of this challenge, one must keep in mind that eloquence was a central part of Arab culture at the time. The Arabs prided themselves in their excellence as poets and public speakers, and rivalry in eloquence was an integral part of their culture. One-upmanship in poetic brilliance between rivaling tribes and individuals was a daily affair. As in any human endeavor, however, no record performance lasted forever; eventually someone would at least reach an equivalent level. The challenge of the Qur’aan then, was not unfamiliar to the Arabs. The only thing new was their realization that no one could meet it; to the extent that they were left speechless and unable to even make a serious try.

The Qur’aan first challenged these people to come up with anything like it in eloquence, but they failed, then anything like 10 of its suurahs, but again they failed, then like any 1 of its suurahs, some of which are just a few words, and once again they failed. The Prophet’s opponents saw these challenges as their opportunity to make him lose support, and they were the rich, the powerful and the eloquent. They were all of the Arabs facing a tiny minority of Muslims at that time. Despite their enormous number, however, their reputation for being the champions of eloquence, their extreme enmity to Islam, and their absolute refusal to swear allegiance to anything but their tribe out of extreme bigotry, they could not do it. This is very apparent historical fact, because they resorted to meeting the challenge of words with the blades of their swords, and putting their lives at stake. If they could have met the challenge with words, they certainly would have preferred that, and if they had met the challenge, then this would have been a known historical fact, because the motives to spread such news were and are still in abundance among non-Muslims. Accordingly, the lack of anyone ever meeting this challenge could not have been because they did not care about it, or that the news of it did not reach us. It has now been more than 1400 years, and the challenge still stands.

This miracle is further strengthened by the fact that Prophet Muĥammad  (صل الله عليه وسلم)  was unlettered and never took part in composing any poetry. Moreover, he told his opponents that no one would ever be able to match the eloquence of the Qur’aan, not now and not in the future. Being of great intelligence, he would never have made such a challenge had he not known this by revelation. Had he not had such a revelation it would have been foolish to make such a challenge.

The Qur’aan also contains many statements about things the Prophet  (صل الله عليه وسلم) could not have known through ordinary means. An example is the description of what would happen to the breathing of a person if lifted up into the atmosphere:

فَمَنْ يُرِدِ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَهدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلإِسْلامِ وَمَنْ يُرِدْ أَنْ يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاءِ

Meaning: “Whoever Allah has willed to guide, He will open his heart to accept Islaam, and whoever He has willed misguidance for, He will make his chest tight and narrow, as if he is ascending up in the sky.” (Al-Anˆaam, 125)

In addition to the above, consider also that the Prophet r did not read and had not travelled except two short trips, and never went to anything like a school or been present in circles of knowledge and science. He remained like that for the first forty years of his life; in the town of Makkah, a place without scholars or science, or even educational books. Then suddenly, at the age of forty, he brings the Qur’aan, a book that contains an abundance of wisdom and knowledge, and is of great eloquence by anyone’s standard. This is something completely extraordinary, because a book like that does not appear from the hands of a person that is without background in research, reading or studies of any kind. Accordingly, it must have been by revelation and guidance from Aļļaah that he brought it.

 


[1] The Qur’aan is divided into what is known as Suurahs, not chapters. They vary in length between a few words to several pages.

21 Responses to The Qur’aan as a Miracle of the Prophet Muĥammad (صل الله عليه وسلم)

  1. Abdullah says:

    Assalamu alaykum, would it not be appropriate to say the revival of Islam as opposed to “the beginning”? So as to clear the misconception of someone thinking the Prophet Muhammad founded the Religion.

    • Waˆalaykumussalaam,

      No, I think that would be very confusing here, but I have changed the expression to avoid the issue altogether. If by “religion” the belief in Allaah, the Prophets, the Hereafter and so on is meant, things that cannot change with time, then all prophets taught the same thing, otherwise they would be contradicting each other, and someone would be wrong, and this is impossible, because prophets never lie. So they all, including Jesus, teach that Aļļaah is One, and does not have a son or a partner, and so on.

      However, if what is meant is the legal system of prohibitions and obligations, etc. then that of the Prophet Muĥammad is unique. For example, he ordered 5 prayers a day, while Jesus ordered only 2. These orders can change, and there is no problem with that, because Allaah can order whomsoever He wills with whatsoever whenever.

      That being said, the term “beginning of Islam”, is commonly used, and it is not meant that the Prophet brought a new belief. What is meant is the call of the Prophet Muĥammad to Islam, or the like.

  2. AMIR says:

    uu said “these orders can change, and there is no problem with that, because Allaah can order whomsoever He wills with whatsoever whenever.”
    but Allah orders with his speech and speech is not willed (e.g kun)

    • He has willed for this person to be accountable for so and so, and ordered him by His speech. The Quranic “kun fa yakuun” is a figure of speech meaning that nothing is difficult for Allaah.

  3. A non-Muslim said that if “good” and “bad” are merely descriptive states of what Allah has ordered, then “good” and “bad” have no meaning of themselves, especially since there is abrogation of previous Shariahs, and what was “good” before could be “bad” now, and viceversa.

    From my side, I would respond that indeed we are not discussing with the non-Muslim merely to make him accept a few things of the Shariah such as for example, the acceptibility of polygyny, but we want him to enter Islam, which requires a more thorough study. However, many of the non-Muslims still wish to know that how can we “prove” that what Allah orders for us is for our best benefit, and that Allah can only order “good” for us… so I wanted to know what is the best angle to take in this issue, since it comes up so many times.

  4. Ayman says:

    Assalamulaikum Shaykh,

    I was under the impression that belief in Allah entails objective morality (i.e. moral truths existing independent of our subjective notions). Thus, would it be more appropriate to say that although moral truths do not change (i.e. a human murdering an innocent Muslim/believer would always be wrong), circumstances do change?

    Meaning, each circumstance (or if they can be categorized and grouped) will be dealt with a specific and unique way, and one’s conduct will correspond to those situations. So, although moral truths don’t change (and really just correspond to circumstances), how we respond and conduct ourselves may change due to changing situations.

    An example would be the permissibility of eating pork in the absence of any food or water when one fears starvation. And, in contrast, the prohibition of cannibalism under any situation.

    Thank you and Salaam!

    Ayman

    • The moral truths are indeed independent of subjective notions, so how would you know what is “innocent” and that murder of such a hypothetical person would be morally wrong? It is either going to be subjective, based on a feeling of what is right or wrong, or based on revelation. Only by revelation can it be objective. Yes, we feel naturally that murder of a baby, for example, is wrong, but this is because Allaah has created such feelings in us as a mercy. Such feelings, however, still need revealed backup to be objectively established. Only then will we know that our feeling was right. The idea that right and wrong can be objectively established without revelation is the idea of the philosophers and the Muˆtazilites. They defend this idea with emotional rhetoric. When we feel that we know that something is wrong, it is because Allaah has created this feeling in us, that is all, and we will only know that it was right after knowing revealed affirmation of it.

      • Ayman says:

        Assalamulaikum,

        Thanks for the answer. Yes, this was exactly my view, as even Atheist’s could attempt to use the Mu^tazilites argument. However, in their case, there would still be no objective basis for saying what is right or wrong. Some psychopaths “feel” that mass murder is OK, and by the reasoning that our subjective “feeling” determines moral truths, their could only be chaos.

        Also, it seems like even though we instinctually act in certain ways, we can also act against those ways. And without Allah’s existence and revelation setting an objective standard for these values, there is no objective reason not to behave as we please.

        Thanks again!

        Ayman

  5. Ayman says:

    “And without Allah’s existence..”

    Meaning, that although this is an impossibility, an ideology or viewpoint holds that their is no God cannot establish moral truths, but only a subjective understanding of how we “ought to behave”.

  6. Mobeesha says:

    assalamu-alaikum shaykh,
    So based upon your last reply about what is right and wrong must be based upon revelation – how do we tie this in with the Sunni kalamic concept that whatever is known to be flaw (naqs) for humans is considered to be muhal for Allah? Meaning, is the mutakallimeen’s use of the word “naqs” in this context referring to all those naqaa’is that are known to be naqaa’is based upon humans’ “feelings”, “reason”, or solely based upon whatever He has Revealed as being a naqs. More specifically, how exactly do we define “naqs” in this context? Does naqs – qubh?

  7. YASIR says:

    IS To prepare a kalaam-E-LAFZI like quran impossible intrinsically or contigently.

  8. kamran says:

    salam
    sidi i wanted to know, what the Ulama have said regards the greatest
    na’ima (blessing) from Allah Azza wa jall for a mu’min and a kafir, is
    it the Best of creation sallallahualayhiwasalam, or the Qur’an
    al-Majid or Iman?

    • The greatest pleasure in Heaven will be to see Aļļaah without Him being in a place, direction, distance or having a shape.

      Al-Bukħaariy and Muslim narrated that the Prophet looked at the full moon and said:

      “إنكم سترون ربكم كما ترون هذا لا تضامون في رؤيته”

      Which may be translated as: “Verily you will see your Lord (without Him having a form, distance, rays or being in a direction or place, and you will have no doubt about what you are seeing), just as you (have no doubt when you) see the full moon.” The seeing is not related to form, distance, direction or place. We know this from the unequivocal proofs that Aļļaah does not resemble anything that has a beginning.

      A more subtle proof that can be mentioned for additional benefit, is that Ibraahiim said, as stated in the Qur’aan :

      “لا أُحِبُّ الأَفِلِينَ”

      “I don’t like those that go away,” when he saw the stars disappear, to show that they don’t deserve to be worshiped. The Creator, therefore, is not attributed with movement, and that means He is not in a place. After all, if something is in a place then it can move, and if not, it would be pathetically weak.

      In addition, Aļļaah said in the Qur’aan :

      “لا تُدْرِكُهُ الأَبْصَارُ”

      Which could be translated to mean: “the sights do not capture Him”. This indicates that He is not physical, because anything physical can be captured by sight. That is, if someone said, “He is in a place and is seen,” then this contradicts the aayah, because this would mean that sight could capture Him. However, if one says, “He is seen, but He is not in a place,” then one has escaped this contradiction. The proof that “seeing” has a much wider meaning is that the word ”I see” can be used about dreams or understanding, whereas “my sight captured” cannot.
      The leader of the Sunni Muslims of his generation Abuu Bakr Al-Baaqillaaniy said in his book Al-Insaaf about Aļļaah: “He is known, but not fully (known, i.e. with complete knowledge of Him – because only Allaah has perfect knowledge). (He is) seen, but not captured by sight.”

  9. souphienne says:

    Bismillah wassalam’aleykum Shaykh,

    I think that one of the norms broken by the Qur’an in term of eloquence is the level of quality available to the arabs in their litterature.i.e. the Qur’an is a text in arabic breaking the norms in term of eloquence and composition, norms which are limiting other arabic litterature available to humanity in term of eloquence and composition.
    To be clear here is an analogy, the fire burns->all arabic (linguistic…) productions available on earth cannot go beyond a certain level of eloquence.
    the fire is fresh for Ibrahim (‘aleyhi assalam)->the Qur’an is far beyond the level of eloquence normally possible(jaiz ‘adati) for any other arabic text available on earth,or to the arabs.

    Do you agree Shaykh?

    This is something I ve deduced from this statement from Kitab As Shifa from Qadi ‘iyad:

    I think also that it is more clear than the norm you ve alluded to:

    “As in any human endeavor, however, no record performance lasted forever; eventually someone would at least reach an equivalent level. ”

    Souphienne

    • wa3alaykumussalaam,

      I agree that “the Qur’an is far beyond the level of eloquence normally possible for any other arabic text available on earth, or to the arabs”. The rest of your question is not very clear to me.

      • souphienne says:

        Bismillah wassalam’aleykum Shaykh,

        What I am saying is that “this level of eloquence normally possible for any other text” is specified by Allah just as Allah has specified that the fire burns.
        And I am saying that when Allah has manifested through the Prophet (Sal Allah ‘aleyhi wassalam) a Qur’an in arabic whose level of eloquence is far beyond the level of eloquence specified by Allah for human productions (i.e. the norm in this field of human endeavor) there is a breaking of norm just like there is a breaking of norm when the fire doesn’t burn for Ibrahim (‘aleyhi assalam).
        Do you agree?

        Also when you say:
        “As in any human endeavor, however, no record performance lasted forever; eventually someone would at least reach an equivalent level. ”
        It makes me uncomfortable as it is like to say that the current world record in
        long jump will necessarily be beaten one day…I mean we can’t really be sure…I don’t feel like this is the norm “no matter what”…It’s just personnaly I can’t use this to establish my faith rationnaly.What I have said above seems stronger and definitive to me…

        wassalam,
        Souphienne.

      • wa3alaykumussalaam,,

        I see what you mean now. You mean that the miracle of the Qur’aan proves that everything happens by the will of Allaah, because it shows that He created the norms of eloquence. Yes, this is absolutely right. That is what I meant when I said, “The challenge of the Qur’aan then, was not unfamiliar to the Arabs. The only thing new was their realization that no one could meet it; to the extent that

          they were left speechless and unable to even make a serious try

        .”

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