The Miracles of the Quran

The Quran as a Precept and Discipline for Life

Despite constant research on and analysis of the language of the Qur'an by both scholars and philologists to find the underlying element which gives the Qur'an its unsurpassed meaning, it continues to elude them. This is because man's unconscious faculties seem to respond to Allah alone, regardless of any external factors, be they social, cultural, or psychological.

Because of the Qur'an's impact on such deep levels of consciousness, Muhammad's adversaries dreaded people listening to it, particularly the non-believers. Its influence on those who listened to it was so powerful that Walid ibn Mughirah, a staunch opponent of Muhammad (SAW), after listening to its recitation said: "It indeed overflows with sweet clarity; it is fruitful at its lowest and prodigious at its highest, and towers over all human diction."

This same soothing and overwhelming power of the Qur'an was experienced by 'Umar ibn al- Khattab before embracing Islam. Having learned that his father-in-law and sister had denounced their old religions and declared their allegiance to Muhammad (SAW) and the new faith, 'Umar rushed to their house filled with rage. However, arriving to hear the Qur'an being recited, his anger soon vanished and shortly afterwards he himself became a Muslim.

The spontaneous emotional change in Umar happened because the words of the Qur'an stirred deep within, bringing him calm. In the same way, the verses which cause the hearts of believers everywhere to throb with elation are equally able to produce the same effect in the heart of someone who has yet to believe in Allah.

There are within man inborn talents and faculties know only to Allah. He alone can reach them and cause them to respond to His words without the soul detecting their true nature. This divine ability of the Qur'an to remain appropriate to an infinite number of situations confounded Arabs and non- believing scholars alike. They tried to justify their failure to comprehend this miracle by accusing Muhammad (SAW) of sorcery. They claimed he had cast a spell on those tempted to listen to him, admitting that no human could produce diction appropriate to so many situations or could influence people's thoughts unhampered by their different aptitudes. If Muhammad (SAW) was a sorcerer and could cast a spell on those who listened to him recite the Qur'an, how as it that some listeners were influenced by the spell but not others? If the Qur'an was indeed Muhammad's own composition, why weren't Arab scholars and linguists able to rival the fields and the arts of diction, such scholars were in a superior position to Muhammad (SAW) who was know to be illiterate. What prevented them from exposing him if he was an impostor as they claimed? The answer is that the Qur'an is Allah's speech, and no man can compete with Him. To those opponents Allah says:

"It is not poet's speech- little is it that ye believe! Nor diviner's speech- little is it that ye remember!" (Al- Haqqah 69:41-2)

Even the answer is not without challenge, for poetry is governed by metre and other literary devices. The assumption that the language of the Qur'an was metrical verse in which the rules of poetry are observed was utterly false. The Arabs, more than any other people, knew this because of their superior skill in poetry. Their hypocrisy and denial of Allah were affirmed by Allah's saying to them, "Little is it that ye believe!"

Similarly, the allegation that the Qur'an was the language of a soothsayer is equally unfounded. Apart from the fact that a soothsayer, like anyone else, is prone to forgetfulness as the years go by, he may need to modify his speech to the needs of each new situation. Hence came Allah's remark "Little is it that ye remember!" Furthermore, a soothsayer's words burdened with conventions of speech which, no matter how elaborate, cannot apply to more than one situation by using the same words and referring to one thought. Another miraculous feature of the Qur'an is its superb use of both metrical composition and prose, in such exquisite harmony that the shift from one style to the other is barely perceptible. This intermingling of metrical and non- metrical composition is present throughout the whole of the Qur'an, as the following verses exemplify:

"Lo those who ward off (evil) are among gardens and watersprings. (And it is said unto them: Enter them in peace, secure. And we remove whatever rancor may be in their breasts. As brethren, face to face, (they rest) on couches raised. Toil cometh not unto them there, nor will they be expelled from thence... Announce (O Muhammad) unto My slaves that verily I am the Forgiving, the Merciful, and that My doom is the dolorous doom. And tell them of Abraham's guest. (How) when they came unto him, and said: Peace. He said: Lo! We are afraid of you." (Quran Al-Hijr 15:45-52)

When reading the original Arabic of the above verse the reader moves from metric composition to prose without experiencing the slightest change of style or mode.

The same mingling of metrical and non- metrical composition can be observed in the following verse from the Surah of Yusuf (12). In this chapter, the wife of the ruler al-'Aziz commands Joseph to come out and face the women, whom she has assembled,

"Come out unto them! And when they saw him they exalted him and cut their hands exclaiming: Allah blameless! This is not a human being. This is no other than some gracious angel. She said: This is he on whose account ye blamed me. I asked of him an evil act, but he proved continent, but if he do not my behest he verily shall be imprisoned, and verily shall be of those brought low." (Quran 12:31-32)

Although the original version of the phrase translated as: 'This is he on whose account ye blamed me' is indeed metrical diction in which the rules and technique of Arabic poetry are observed, it is almost impossible for the listener to detect the shift from one form to the other, nor does this exquisite mingling impinge on the fluidity of expression or impair its meaning.

The Qur'an is truly unique in its composition. It is neither prose nor verse, deriving its unique and inimitable eloquence and meaningfulness from the divine attributes and powers of its Maker. It is these same divine attributes which have set the Qur'an above emulation and given it its transcendental powers. When the non-believers failed to detract from the Qur'an's credibility or give sound justification for their antagonism to it, Allah's speech and message to mankind, they focused their attack on Muhammad instead. They contended that if Allah truly sought someone to serve Him as His Messenger to mankind He would have favored one of their highly esteemed dignitaries. They argued that Muhammad's illiteracy and humble status within the community, as well as his humility, made him ineligible for such a divine task. This rancorous and conniving strategy is revealed in the Surah al-Zukhruf (43) where Allah says:

"And now that the Truth has come unto them they say: This is mere magic, and lo! We are disbelievers therein. And they say: If only this Qur'an had been revealed to some great man of the two towns". (Quran Al-Zukhruf 43:30-31)

These verses show how jealous, resentful, and confused the idolaters were. Although they described the Qur'an as mere magic, they nevertheless wished that it had been revealed to one of their unbelieving dignitaries, knowing that such a favor would have given them a pretext to herald the view that Allah had no feud with their idols. It would then have been easy for them to distort the message to suit their own ends, to tighten their grip on the minds of their followers and to ensure their submissiveness while expanding their wealth and power. To accept the message and abide by its imperatives and the discipline of Allah however is to forfeit all this authority and corruption. This hidden trait is revealed in the Surah al-Qasas:

"And they say: If we were to follow the Guidance with thee we should be torn out of our land." (Quran 28:57)

The Meaning of the Muqatta'at Letters

By their resentment of Muhammad and in their defiance of Allah, the idolaters consciously unveiled their hidden belief in the truth of the message and its miraculous nature. The very choice of Muhammad (SAW) as the recipient of Allah's Message was itself miraculous. Still another miracle of the Qur'an can be found in the mysterious usage of the so-called Muqatta'at letters that occur in certain chapters.

The choice of Muhammad (SAW) as the Messenger of Allah was miraculous because he could neither read nor write. He had no knowledge of the skills of literature, yet he reached to mankind in a language that was unique in terms of its clarity, intelligibility and its inimitability. All these factors were clear indications to the Qur'an's divine origin. An illiterate can utter words and reproduce sentences, but to construct new ones is something which no illiterate has been known to do. Many of the passages revealed to Muhammad began with the letters of the Arabic alphabet, such as alif, lam, mim as a further challenge to the skeptics. Despite his illiteracy, Muhammad was able to pronounce those letters in which he had no education and which he had never previously heard spoken. If the Qur'an were of Muhammad's (SAW) own making, the pronunciation of the letters of the alphabet, which he had not learnt, would have been beyond his ability, for only a person who had learnt how to read and write could identify these letters and utter them correctly.


The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186

August 1993
Safar 1414
Reminder to
Our Readers
Letters to the Editor
The Charge of
the Sword
Alcohol - The
Deadly Disease
Cook's Corner
The Kid's Corner
Women in Islam
Why I Embraced Islam
Miracles of the Qur'an
Qur'anic Science
Stories of the Sahabah
Sayings of the Prophet
Death - Are
you Ready?
Book Review