Response To Claims Made Against The Eloquence Of The Qur’an

Introduction

This article was written to examine the language of the Qur’an and the circumstances surrounding it, in reference to its supernatural eloquence. We will also at the same time scrutinize a posting by a Christian apologist, Pete Nash — or otherwise known as Kip Rider, which attacks the eloquence claim of the Qur’an and see whether it stands up to the examination.

The Miraculous Eloquence of The Qur’an

Mr. Pete Nash alias Kip Rider expounds his claims as follows:

    Unlike the Bible, which is full of miracles that many different witnesses saw over a period of thousands of years, the Qur’an is not such a book. Muhammad claimed that the Qur’an itself, was a miracle. Most Muslims believe that it was the only miracle that Muhammad offered as proof of his claims to be a prophet. There are several reasons given by Muslims as to why they consider the Qur’an to be a miracle. One of the main reasons is the Qur’an’s “unique literary style”. We are told that the Qur’an has an eloquence about it that no other book even approaches. It’s beauty is unsurpassed say the Muslim apologists. It is that aspect of the Quran that I want to briefly address. Is it the work of art that the Muslims claim? Is it linguistically superior to all other books? Also, is eloquence a valid test to prove the divine inspiration of a book?

He then tries to answer his last question by saying:

    If the Qur’an is eloquent (and I’m not saying that it is), it would only prove that Muhammad was a gifted person. It would not prove that the Qur’an originated from God. If eloquence were a valid test for divine inspiration, then one could make the case that Mozart’s symphonies were divinely inspired. Or how about Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey”. Or Shakespeare’s works, such as “Romeo and Juliet”. No one would claim that these works, as eloquent as they are, were divinely inspired. The people that wrote them were just very talented. So, eloquence is a poor indicator of divine inspiration.

We would not address the claims of “one thousand and one” miracles of the Bible, since this is not the issue of this article and irrelevant, and therefore we will go straight to the gist of the matter, i.e. the supernatural eloquence of the Qur’an. To argue that eloquence is not the proof of divine inspiration, i.e. that is, there are other works of so-called “equal” eloquence such as Homer and Shakesphere, reflects a deep ignorance of the Arabic and the subject matter by the writer. We should keep in mind that during pre-Islamic Arabia, the Arabs were well-known for their supremacy in language. So proud and haughty were the Arabs of their language that they refer to other races as عُجْم (ajam), or dumb. As Philip K. Hitti observes:

No people in the world, perhaps, manifest such enthusiastic admiration for literary expression and are so moved by the word, spoken or written, as the Arabs. Hardly any language seems capable of exercising over the minds of its users such irresistible influence as Arabic.1

Huston Smith comments, in reference to the above observation made by Philip K. Hitti, that:

It is not difficult to surmise why this is so. Nomads are prohibited by their transient way of life from developing visual art. Their architecture is restricted to flapping tents, their crafts to the few pots and fabrics they can carry with them. With life one long process of packing and unpacking, one is not likely to accumulate a museum. Blocked on the visual side by the need to keep gear light, the nomad’s art took a verbal turn. “Wisdom,” says a famous adage, “has alightened on three things: the brain of the Franks, the hands of the Chinese, and the tongue of the Arabs.”2

When the Qur’an was first recited, the Quraysh immediately recognized it to be of great speech and eloquence, but were trying to make excuses to hide the fact. Ibn Ishaq recounts the incident of their consultation with al-Walid b. al-Mughira in his book Sirat Rasul Allah as follows:

A number of the Quraysh came to al-Walid b. al-Mughira, who was a man of some standing and he addressed them in these words: ‘The time of the fair has come round again and representatives of the Arabs will come to you and they will have heard about this fellow of yours, so agre upon one opinion without dispute so that none will give the lie to the other’. They replied, ‘You give us your opinion about him.’ He said, ‘No, you speak and I will listen.’ They said, ‘He is a kahin.’ He said, ‘By God, he is not that, for he has not the unintelligent murmuring and rhymed speech of the kahin.’ ‘Then he is possessed,’ they said. ‘No, he is not that,’ he said, ‘we have seen possessed ones and here is no choking, spasmodic movements and whispering.’ ‘Then he is a poet,’ they said. ‘No, he is not a poet, for we know poetry in all its forms and metres.’ ‘Then he is a sorcerer.’ ‘No, we have seen sorcerors and their sorcery, and here is no spitting and no knots.’3

So what is the miracle of the Qur’an, exactly? As recognised by the Arabs quoted above, Abdur Raheem Green mentions that:

    These are the sixteen al-Bihar (literally “The Seas”, so called because of the way the poem moves, according to its rhythmic patterns): at-Tawil, al-Bassit, al-Wafir, al-Kamil, ar-Rajs, al-Khafaf, al-Hazaj, al-Muttakarib, al-Munsarih, al-Muktatab, al-Muktadarak, al-Madad, al-Mujtath, al-Ramel, al-Khabab and as-Saria’. So the challenge is to produce in Arabic, three lines, that do not fall into one of these sixteen Bihar, that is not rhyming prose, nor like the speech of soothsayers, and not normal speech, that it should contain at least a comprehensible meaning and rhetoric, i.e. not gobbledygook.
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The team at Islamic Awareness brilliantly explains the Arabic language and the Arab speech, as follows:

To begin with, the Arabic language and Arab speech are divided into two branches. One of them is rhymed poetry. It is a speech with metre and rhyme, which means every line of it ends upon a definite letter, which is called the ‘rhyme’. This rhymed poetry is again divided into metres or what is called as al-Bihar, literally meaning ‘The Seas’. This is so called because of the way the poetry moves according to the rhythmic patterns. There are sixteen al-Bihar viz; at-Tawil, al-Bassit, al-Wafir, al-Kamil, ar-Rajs, al-Khafaf, al-Hazaj, al-Muttakarib, al-Munsarih, al-Muktatab, al-Muktadarak, al-Madad, al-Mujtath, al-Ramel, al-Khabab and as-Saria’. Each one rhymes differently. For metres of Arabic poetry please see please see Lyall’s book Translations Of Ancient Arabian Poetry, Chiefly Pre-Islamic. He discusses al-Kamil, al-Wafir, al-Hajaz, at-Tawil, al-Bassit, al-Khafaf and al-Madad briefly. The other branch of Arabic speech is prose, that is non-metrical speech. The prose may be a rhymed prose. Rhymed prose consists of cola ending on the same rhyme throughout, or of sentences rhymed in pairs. This is called “rhymed prose” or saj. Prose may also be straight prose (mursal). In straight prose, the speech goes on and is not divided in cola, but is continued straight through without any divisions, either of rhyme or of anything else. Prose is employed in sermons and prayers and in speeches intended to encourage or frighten the masses. One of the most famous speeches involving saj is that of Hajjaj bin Yusuf in his first deputation in Iraq in post-Islamic and Quss bin Sa’idah in pre-Islamic times.

Indeed, it is clear that:

The Qur’an is not verse, but it is rhythmic. The rhythm of some verses resemble the regularity of saj, and both are rhymed, while some verses have a similarity to Rajaz in its vigour and rapidity. But it was recognized by Quraysh critics to belong to neither one nor the other category.4

The Orientalists’ View Of The Qur’an: What Do They Really Say?

Next, we read that the poster has claimed that:

    Is the Qur’an even an eloquent book to begin with? Not everyone thinks so. In fact, most people of the Western world agree with Carlyle who said this of the Qur’an: “It is as toilsome reading as I ever undertook, a wearisome, confused jumble, crude, incondite. Nothing but a sense of duty could carry any European through the Koran.” I am in complete agreement with Carlyle in this regard. It is only with extreme effort that I can work my way through the Qur’an. It is a poorly written, confused, and completely boring book.

We would argue that the above quote as cited from Carlyle is not only deceptive, but taken out of its original context. Carlyle indeed said the above, but it was not meant to be a criticism on the literary style of the Arabic Qur’an. On the contrary, Carlyle was stating his opinion about the English translation of the Qur’anic text, specifically by George Sale. We reproduce the whole context of the quote cited by the poster, which is as follows:

We also can read the Koran; our Translation of it, by Sale, is known to be a very fair one. I must say, it is as toilsome reading as I ever undertook. A wearisome confused jumble, crude, incondite; endless iterations, long-windedness, entanglement; most crude, incondite;–insupportable stupidity, in short! Nothing but a sense of duty could carry any European through the Koran. We read in it, as we might in the State-Paper Office, unreadable masses of lumber, that perhaps we may get some glimpses of a remarkable man. It is true we have it under disadvantages: the Arabs see more method in it than we. Mahomet’s followers found the Koran lying all in fractions, as it had been written down at first promulgation; much of it, they say, on shoulder-blades of mutton, flung pell-mell into a chest: and they published it, without any discoverable order as to time or otherwise;–merely trying, as would seem, and this not very strictly, to put the longest chapters first. The real beginning of it, in that way, lies almost at the end: for the earliest portions were the shortest. Read in its historical sequence it perhaps would not be so bad. Much of it, too, they say, is rhythmic; a kind of wild chanting song, in the original. This may be a great point; much perhaps has been lost in the Translation here. Yet with every allowance, one feels it difficult to see how any mortal ever could consider this Koran as a Book written in Heaven, too good for the Earth; as a well-written book, or indeed as a book at all; and not a bewildered rhapsody; written, so far as writing goes, as badly as almost any book ever was! So much for national discrepancies, and the standard of taste.

Yet I should say, it was not unintelligible how the Arabs might so love it. When once you get this confused coil of a Koran fairly off your hands, and have it behind you at a distance, the essential type of it begins to disclose itself; and in this there is a merit quite other than the literary one. If a book come from the heart, it will contrive to reach other hearts; all art and author-craft are of small amount to that. One would say the primary character of the Koran is this of its genuineness, of its being a bona-fide book. Prideaux, I know, and others have represented it as a mere bundle of juggleries; chapter after chapter got up to excuse and varnish the author’s successive sins, forward his ambitions and quackeries: but really it is time to dismiss all that. I do not assert Mahomet’s continual sincerity: who is continually sincere? But I confess I can make nothing of the critic, in these times, who would accuse him of deceit pretense; of conscious deceit generally, or perhaps at all;–still more, of living in a mere element of conscious deceit, and writing this Koran as a forger and juggler would have done! Every candid eye, I think, will read the Koran far otherwise than so. It is the confused ferment of a great rude human soul; rude, untutored, that cannot even read; but fervent, earnest, struggling vehemently to utter itself in words. With a kind of breathless intensity he strives to utter himself; the thoughts crowd on him pell-mell: for very multitude of things to say, he can get nothing said. The meaning that is in him shapes itself into no form of composition, is stated in no sequence, method, or coherence;–they are not shaped at all, these thoughts of his; flung out unshaped, as they struggle and tumble there, in their chaotic inarticulate state. We said “stupid:” yet natural stupidity is by no means the character of Mahomet’s Book; it is natural uncultivation rather. The man has not studied speaking; in the haste and pressure of continual fighting, has not time to mature himself into fit speech. The panting breathless haste and vehemence of a man struggling in the thick of battle for life and salvation; this is the mood he is in! A headlong haste; for very magnitude of meaning, he cannot get himself articulated into words. The successive utterances of a soul in that mood, colored by the various vicissitudes of three-and-twenty years; now well uttered, now worse: this is the Koran.5

Carlyle admitted that his observations were limited by the English translation, and is not and indictment of the Arabic Qur’an. Since no Muslim would claim that the translations of the Qur’an is the Qur’an itself and certainly has no bearing on the literary eloquence of the text, we accuse the poster of deliberately misquoting Carlyle’s statement and, by taking it out of its original context, tries to apply it to the Arabic instead.

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In truth, Carlyle did have an admiration of the Qur’an, despite his complaining about the “confusion” of its translation.

E. H. Palmer, as early as 1880, recognized the unique style of the Qur’an. He writes in the Introduction to his translation of the Qur’an, that:

…the best of Arab writers has never succeeded in producing anything equal in merit to the Qur’an itself is not surprising. In the first place, they have agreed before-hand that it is unapproachable, and they have adopted its style as the perfect standard; any deviation from it therefore must of necessity be a defect. Again, with them this style is not spontaneous as with Muhammad and his contemporaries, but is as artificial as though Englishmen should still continue to follow Chaucer as their model, in spite of the changes which their language has undergone. With the Prophet, the style was natural, and the words were those in every-day ordinary life, while with the later Arabic authors the style is imitative and the ancient words are introduced as a literary embellishment. The natural consequence is that their attempts look laboured and unreal by the side of his impromptu and forcible eloquence.6

The famous Arabist from University of Oxford, H.A.R. Gibb was open upon about the style of the Qur’an. In his words:

…the Meccans still demanded of him a miracle, and with remarkable boldness and self confidence Mohammad appealed as a supreme confirmation of his mission to the Koran itself. Like all Arabs they were the connoisseurs of language and rhetoric. Well, then if the Koran were his own composition other men could rival it. Let them produce ten verses like it. If they could not (and it is obvious that they could not), then let them accept the Koran as an outstanding evident miracle.7

And in some other place, talking about the Prophet(P) and the Qur’an, he states that:

Though, to be sure, the question of the literary merit is one not to be judged on a priori grounds but in relation to the genius of Arabic language; and no man in fifteen hundred years has ever played on that deep-toned instrument with such power, such boldness, and such range of emotional effect as Mohammad did.8

As a literary monument the Koran thus stands by itself, a production unique to the Arabic literature, having neither forerunners nor successors in its own idiom. Muslims of all ages are united in proclaiming the inimitability not only of its contents but also of its style….. and in forcing the High Arabic idiom into the expression of new ranges of thought the Koran develops a bold and strikingly effective rhetorical prose in which all the resources of syntactical modulation are exploited with great freedom and originality.9

On the influence of the Qur’an on Arabic literature, Gibb says that:

The influence of the Koran on the development of Arabic Literature has been incalculable, and exerted in many directions. Its ideas, its language, its rhymes pervade all subsequent literary works in greater or lesser measure. Its specific linguistic features were not emulated, either in the chancery prose of the next century or in the later prose writings, but it was at least partly due to the flexibility imparted by the Koran to the High Arabic idiom that the former could be so rapidly developed and adjusted to the new needs of the imperial government and an expanding society.10

As the Qur’an itself says:

“And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Sura like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (If there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true. But if ye cannot- and of a surety ye cannot- then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones,- which is prepared for those who reject Faith.”11

The above quotes cited easily speak for themselves. Thus, within the Arabic literature — either poetry or prose — there is nothing comparable to the Qur’an. Muslims throughout the centuries are unanimous upon its eloquence and inimitability.

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“Subjective Judgement” And The Bible

Our poster also claims that:

    To use common American language, it is just a very “bad read”. If Muslim apologists want to prove the divine inspiration of the Qur’an, they would be wise to stay away from the “eloquence” test. The Qur’an fails that test miserably. Now, some may argue that the eloquence of the Qur’an is purely a subjective judgement. That’s a valid point.

The “valid point” can easily be disproved by asking the question: if the language of the Qur’an was purely a subjective point, why were the pagan Arabs willing to accuse the Prophet(P) of being possessed, or making magic or of being a soothsayer, instead? Anyone who reads the arguments of the pagan Arabs against the Prophet(P) could easily see that they had to resort to ad hominem, argument against the man. They were clearly unable to explain the language of the Qur’an according to the rhymed speeches they were familiar with. And these were the same people who labelled other non-Arabs as “ajam”, as had been stated earlier. The argument for the miracle of the eloquence of the Qur’an is certainly not “subjective”, and neither do the pagan Arabs think so. Had it been an “utterly subjective criterion” as insinuated, they would have used the charge against the Qur’an already, and that would have been the end of the matter.

Now we move on to the next topic: what about the Bible? How is its language compared to the Qur’an? Comparing the stylistic perfection of the Qur’an versus stylistic imperfection of the Bible, von Grunebaum states that

In contrast to the stylistic perfection of the Kur’an with the stylistic imperfections of the older Scriptures the Muslim theologian found himself unknowingly and on purely postulative grounds in agreement with long line of Christian thinkers whose outlook on the Biblical text is best summed up in Nietzsche’s brash dictum that the Holy Ghost wrote bad Greek.12

Futher, he elaborates the position of Western theologians on the canonization process and composition of the Bible, as follows:

The knowledge of the Western theologian that the Biblical books were redacted by different writers and that they were, in many cases, accessible to him only in (inspired) translation facilitated admission of formal imperfections in Scripture and there with lessened the compulsive insistence on its stylistic authority. Christian teaching, leaving the inspired writer, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, free in matters of style, has provided no motivation to seek an exact correlation between the revealed text on the one hand and grammar and rhetoric on the other. It thereby relieved the theologian and the critic from searching for a harmony between two stylistic worlds, which at best would yield an ahistoric concept of literary perfection and at worst would prevent anything resembling textual and substantive criticism of Revelation…. In Christianity, besides, the apology for the “low” style of the Bible is merely a part of educational problem – what to do with secular erudition within Christianity; whereas in Islam, the central position of the Kur’an, as the focal point and justification of grammatical and literary studies, was theoretically at least, never contested within the believing community.13

That pretty much sums up the Bible, its stylistic perfection (or the lack of it!) and the position of Western theologians.

Conclusions

It is clear that far from being an “utterly subjective criterion”, the language of the Qur’an surpasses any known Arabic poetry in regards to its eloquence. And this is even testified to by the Orientalists cited above. If anyone were to argue against the evidence by simply making excuses or dismissing it as a “subjective” criterion, it will be obvious that the accuser, in the light of the evidences presented above, would only reflect their “opinion” of not only deep ignorance regarding the subject matter, but also prejudice. As the poster who made the allegations aptly says:

    My opinion of the Qur’an, is after all, only my opinion.

which, we may add, does not count for much. And that sums up the matter quite well!

Cite this article as: Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi, "Response To Claims Made Against The Eloquence Of The Qur’an," in Bismika Allahuma, October 14, 2005, last accessed June 9, 2018, https://www.bismikaallahuma.org/quran/response-claims-eloquence-quran/

Footnotes

  1. Philip K. Hitti, History of the Arabs, 10th edition (Macmillan Press, 1970), p. 90. Partially cited by Huston Smith, The Religions Of Man (Harper & Row, 1958), p. 204 []
  2. Huston Smith, ibid., p. 204 []
  3. A. Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, 1978, Oxford University Press, p. 121 []
  4. A F L Beeston, T M Johnstone, R B Serjeant and G R Smith (Editors), Arabic Literature To The End Of The Ummayad Period, (Cambridge University Press: 1983) pp. 34. []
  5. Thomas Carlyle, Heroes and Hero Worship, Project Gutenberg‘s E-Text []
  6. E. H. Palmer (Tr.), The Qur’an, 1900, Part I, Oxford at Clarendon Press, pp. lv. []
  7. H. A. R. Gibb, Islam: A Historical Survey, 1980, Oxford University Press, pp. 28. []
  8. ibid., pp. 25..
    []
  9. H A R Gibb, Arabic Literature: An Introduction, 1963, Oxford at Clarendon Press, pp. 36.
    []
  10. ibid., pp. 37 []
  11. Qur’an, 2:23-24 []
  12. B Lewis, V L Menage, Ch. Pellat & J Schacht (Editors), Encyclopedia Of Islam (New Edition), 1971, Volume III, E J Brill (Leiden) & Luzac & Co. (London), pp. 1020 (Under I’djaz) []
  13. ibid. []

6 Comments

  1. Muhammad is not a prophet of the Judeo-Christian God. Islam’s Allah is not the professed God of the Jews & Christians. Meaning, the Qur’an does not reference the same God of Judeo-Christian Scripture. However, Christian Scripture may indeed reference the same God as the Old Testament.

    [Snip plagiarism from http://www.answeringmuslims.co.....icide.html Don’t you have any opinion of your own apart from regurgitating trash?]

  2. Jesus is the communicable Eternal Word that entered a human vessel, and so effected/imparted saving grace unto humanity in this lifetime – a scandal, that believers can actually be saved in this life, instead of only a hopeful redemption in the next.

    The Word is akin to Knowledge, or a living Message, that bears & contains divine merits, i.e. the activity of God. God does not depart Eternity, however, His self-knowledge can; hence Revelation. In Christ, a human body was preserved for the agency of Grace, and God’s knowledge (Word) was imparted upon (adjoined to) that body. In other words, thru Jesus (incarnate), God directly reveals Himself and acts among creation.

    In God’s conception of mankind, God (from an eternal standpoint) knew that redemption was intimately part of creation; only His substance (grace) can effect salvation, or actually remove sin, instead of earthly ordinances and practices (i.e. the law). Church Fathers rightly discerned two natures co-existing side by side, having divinity & humanity un-meshed; humanity did not detract from divinity, and vice-versa.

    In Jesus’ divinity, He served as the agent of the Father’s will to impart grace in this lifetime. Jesus’ divinity preceded the Incarnation. God’s self-knowledge (and plan of redemption) contains God & His merits. In other words, God’s knowledge of Himself (and actions) reflect God, i.e. God’s knowledge is as real & living as He is. Nevertheless, God’s conception of self is “generated” or “produced” and therefore serves Him; hence Jesus serving the Father throughout earthly ministry.

    In Jesus’ humanity, the Holy Spirit was present without stain (Jesus never committed sin); hence the Virgin Birth (preservation), which extends the eternal effect of the Immaculate Conception, and bodily victories against temptation to sin, or denial of the Holy Spirit (perseverance). Jesus’ body was therefore unobstructed (unblemished) for expiation of sin. God does not depart Eternity, however, He wills to directly commune with the hearts & minds (spirits) of believers, who dwell outside Eternity.

    God, acting in this way, frees from the law those who testify to the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit testifies to the Passion (death & resurrection) of Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ bodily sacrifice, humanity’s shedding of human blood is expiated for, eternally. In other words, Christ (more than) fulfilled the law, and was Lord of the Sabbath (where Revelation informed, and gave purpose to, the Sabbath), so Christ gifts followers with the Holy Spirit. In the Holy Spirit, believers have full (unobstructed) communion with God via Trinitarian faith. This is humanity’s return to Paradise, a state of
    grace that preceded the puncture of sin.

  3. I have a question,is it possiable to write something in arabic that makes sense that dosen’t use the 16 al-bihar,saj,or mursal? And if no,why? Also why is the arabic language restricted to these forms of writing. I appreciate any answers thank you.

    Your brother in islam,

    Shadi.

  4. The latest non muslim attempt to meet the challenge of the quran is the true furqan. It miserably fails to meet the challenge of the quran. This is because this book has been written in rhymed prose or what is known in arabic as Saj. The quran is not written in Saj, even though a few ignorant non muslims force the quran into this category.

  5. Assalamu ‘alaykum brothers and sisters and greetings to anyone reading this.

    I would like to add another quick comment. Many people in the past did try to meet the challenge of the Quran only to fail. Some of these works are still present today, which the missionaries try to present in challenge to the Quran. For a thorough analysis of these so-called verses ‘meeting the challenge’ please read http://www.islamic-awareness.o.....1.html#Muk, http://www.islamic-awareness.o...../Quss.html and http://www.islamic-awareness.o.....rgery.html. These provide an in-depth analysis and prove that not only do these so-called surahs fail, but fail miserably. You may also want to see http://www.theinimitablequran......lenge.html for a short history on this.

    Apart from this many missionaries present the works on surahlikeit.com and islam-exposed.org. In these websites are attempts at meeting the challenge. In surahlike it.com, you will find some short chapters written in Arabic while the islam-exposed.org website is actually the online version of the ‘True Furqan’, which is a fairly large book written to try and meet the challenge of the Quran. These attempts to put it lightly are pathetic. Many people have commented on these so-called chapters including Shaykh Hamza, who said:

    ‘You posted the following sites:

    http://www.islam-exposed.org
    surahlikeit.com

    I have already dealt with these. They are just simple rhymed prose examples of Arabic that contain no complex linguistic features, they fail to have as many rhetorical devices as the Quran, they are not linguistically sensitive which means any word can be replaced and the meaning will not be altered, they have no complex cohesive structures, they do not employ consonance as the Quran does etc etc the list can go on. As I said any Arabic nursery rhyme can be a challenge to the Quran if you do not scratch the surface and start to think. I thought you were a “free thinker”. If you still believe that these so called challenges are valid, then prove to me they have complex linguistic structures (examples below). Just simply posting two sites up does not prove anything. You have to give me an analysis. Stop standing on the shoulders of “giants”! Use your mind.’

    Notice that all these so-called chapters on surahlikeit.com and islam-exposed.org use particular techniques common to the Arabic language and they all fit into a particular category of the Arabic language. If you read the post above, it is already known that the style and pattern of the Quran is such that it does not fit the 16 Al-Bihar, does not fit prose (saj and mursal), does not fit kahin nor does it fit normal speech. In fact it is unique in that it cannot be categorized into any known form of the Arabic language. These so-called chapters trying to meet the challenge clearly do fit into particlar known techniques of the Arabic language and so in that respect alone (and in many other ways) fail. In particular, the book, ‘The True Furqan’ is written in the style of saj (rhymed prose). Some people have tried to meet the challenge by trying to plagiarise parts of the Quran and inserting words here and there. However, every surah in the Quran is linguitically sensitive and has semantic cohesion. As a result they fail miserably. The team at caliphate.org have commented on this:

    ‘In recent times we have seen the cheap attempts of Christian missionaries who claim they have something better than the Qur’an. What they have is translations of the Bible or stories adapted from the Bible. One quick look at their texts indicates the feeble nature of their attempts; they are written mimicking the style of the Qur’an but always falling short. The Qur’an said bring something like it, not plagiarise its style in a substandard manner. So it’s no wonder no-one studies their works as a piece of literature let alone something which is distinguished for its literary qualities.’

    Shaykh Hamza has commented on the challenge of the Quran: ‘When the best of Arab poets, rhetoricians, linguists etc., of a linguistically homogenous community of the time failed [to produce a surah like that of the Quran], the layman Muslim wonders how a bilingual/bicultural individual can succeed in reproducing an equivalent “Quran”. The task is so frustrating. My list will exhibit this fact’

    I end this article by praising Allah subhanahu Wa Ta’ala and sending salutations on the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad sallal lahu alaihi wa salam and his family and companions.

    And Allah knows best.

  6. Assalamu ‘alaykum brothers and sisters and greetings to anyone reading this.

    The miracle of the Quran is not a subjective phonomenon. Allah challenges people to produce a surah like that of the Quran. As explained by Abdur Rahim Green in the above article Arabic language consists of: 1. Normal speech; 2. Prose, which can be divided into saj and mursal; 3. Poetry, which consists of the 16 Al-Bihar and 4. Kahin, or the speech of soothsayers. Each of these language techniques are different and specific. If you take any Arabic poem, you will find that it fits into one of the categories of the Al-Bihar. Similarly, any peice of Arabic literature follows a particular known technique. Indeed, it is interesting to know that ALL the pre-Islam and post-Islamic poetry collected by Louis Cheikho falls in the above sixteen metres or al-Bihar. The only text in Arabic that fits neither of the four categories (poetry, prose, normal speech or kahin) is the Quran. Thus one aspect of the challenge is to produce a surah, that does not fit into the pattern of the 16 metres of Al-Bihar (poetry), does not fit the pattern of prose (saj and mursal), does not fit the pattern of kahin (the speech of soothsayers) and is not normal speech. At the same time it must meet the other attributes that every surah in the Quran has inclusing rhyme, rhythm, rhetorical devices, phonetics and sound (which is decribed as an ‘inimitable symphony’ by Picktall and other leading linguists), force and eloquence to name just a few. Thus, the challenge of the Quran certainly is NOT subjective; rather it is objective. More aspects of the challenge are mentioned by Hamza Tzortzis:

    ”Let me also highlight that the challenge is not based on subjective or aesthetic criteria. I will give you some examples: Does the Quran have the greatest use of rhetorical devices? Yes or No? Does the Quran employ consonance unlike any other text? Yes or No? Does the Quran have numerical symmetry? Yes or No? Does the Quran have syntatico-rhetorical infertilisation? Yes or No? Does the Quran employ grammatical shift in a logical and structured manner and in a frequency unlike any other text? Yes or No? Is the Quran a sensitive genre, if a particle or word is changed the semantic cohesion of the passage changes? Yes or No? – Do you get my point. All the comments about beauty of style are subjective. The Quranic challenge is objective. I repeat – the Quran does the above (and more) or not? Simple. ”

    What Shaykh Hamza mentions in the above quote are just some other aspects of the challenge, which the surah in answering the challenge of the Quran must meet.

    The team at Caliphate.co.uk have also written on the subject:

    ”Eloquence, beauty, rhetoric, structure, rhythm, rhyme, grammar, clarity, depth. These are some of the attributes sought for in Arabic poetry, prose and rhymed prose. These were the then three existent styles of artistic expression in Arabic. Also amongst the attributes superlatives are sought in are the number of words used to convey [less is superior] and their depth, coherence, consistency, symmetry and force. It was impossible for the poets to write verses in Arabic that peaked in each and every considered category all at once. Inevitably quality in on or a few attributes would be at the expense of quality in some of the others. This is a normal rule of any language. The Qur’an when it arrived produced a fourth category of its own. In each and every sura the very highest level of every attribute was achieved all at once. The Qur’an was renowned for its ability to covey an extraordinary depth of meaning in just a few words. All while maintaining excellence in all characteristics of the language. It was in a league of its own, a league no man could produce even one small piece of in the same style. As a further example in Arabic there are sixteen forms of poetry, sixteen al-Bihar , literally “seas” so-called because of the way the poem moves, according to a rhythm. In Arabic poetry each one is more suited to one or a few of the above mentioned characteristics at the expense of the others. The Qur’an achieved an unparalleled excellence throughout in all considerations. Thus it transcended any of the Bihar , any prose or rhymed prose. This is why the Arabs were shaken by what they heard, and many converted upon hearing the spoken words. For them it was akin to seeing the moon split into two.”

    In regards to the issue of whether other woks such as Shakespeare are inimitable, Shaykh Hamza has written:

    ”The following is a frequent comment by many who research into the inimitability of the Qur’anic discourse:

    “Now, if you want inimitable style you should read Shakespeare. This genius wrote in a unique style that set new standards in language.” Now let us take Shakespear as an example. It has been suggested that the inimitability of the Quan is necessarily unique, for great english poets like shakespear, Chaucer, or great poets in any language tend to have distinctly unique styles, which set them apart from their contemporaries. However, if, for example, some leading poet of today were to make an indepth study of Shakespears style in old ink and on old paper, then claim that he had discovered a lost poem of Shakespears, the literary world would probably accept this claim, even after careful study. Thus even the greatest of poets could be imitated, no matter how unique his style was, just like the famous painters have been imitated. In FACT some English scholars consider much of what has been attributed to Shakespear to have been written by his contemporary Christopher Marlowe!”

    I would just like to also add that to that it is true that some English scholars consider Shakespeare’s work to be the work of others. Some scholars consider a lot of Shakespeare’s work to actually be the work of the following people:

    Christopher Marlowe
    Sir Francis Bacon
    Edward de Vere
    Sir Henry Neville
    William Stanley
    Sir Edward Dyer

    And there are more! So, Shakespeare’s and other authors writings may be good, but they aren’t inimitable like the Quran is.

    Anyone intersted may visit:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....authorship

    Works, which are considered to be great are written in known styles and can therefore be imitated. This is not the case with the Quran. The style of the Quran is unique unlike any other peice of literature. Take an honest look at any other peice of literature and you will come to this same conclusion.

    Shaykh Hamza states: ”Other scriptures have claimed to be “beautiful” works or “literary masterpieces” such as the Great Poet Vemana. Now if we analyse such works we can see that they are in the form of known linguistic styles such as the Aata Veladhi metre. The Quran differs as it is in an unknown form within a sound grammatical structure. And yet no one can replicate its intricate linguistic structures and the abundance of rhetorical devices etc. Other pieces of literature can be amaziing and may have great aesthetic effects, but they are not inimitable. If one man can do it, so can another. This is not the case with the Quranic discourse.”

    Another issues raised is discussed by Shaykh Hamza:

    ”A point was raised that stated “why does God want to show the detailed linguistic structures, that are too complicated to understand?”. The miraculous nature of the Quranic language is actually the most effective way to prove its divinity. If a text had scientific miracles, one could say in the future science may change (as it has changed throughout the years), also – if a text stated that there were miracles 2000 years ago, then one could say that this is history and could have not happened. The list can go on. With the language miracle this is different, it is based upon known rules and unchanging set of tools i.e. letters, words etc. So with the challenge there is no chance of raising these type of questions. Furthermore the Quran directs mankind to think and the challenge is open and general so this indicates that the reality of the text, content, meaning etc should be analysed. Thinkers should not want things on a plate. They should actually go out and scratch the surface and find out if things are true. And as a result of my independent research I have come to the conclusion that the Quran is a unique and sensitive genre that can not be imitated. Rational deduction suggests only the Creator could have produced the Quran. This is realised from the reality of the text and the historical circumstances i.e. it was revealed over a 23 year period.”

    Please visit these fantastic websites for a detailed explanation of the objective challenge of the Quran: http://www.theinimitablequran.com, http://www.islamic-awareness.o...../ijaz.html, http://www.caliphate.co.uk/beliefs/proofquran.htm.

    Many great books have also been written on the topic, but most of them are currently in non-English languages. You may want to read: ‘The Qur’an: an Eternal Challenge’ by Abdullah Muhammad Draz
    for example.

    I end this article by praising Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala and sending salutations on the Prophet of Allah, Muhammad sallalahu alaihi wa salam and his family and companions.

    And Allah knows best.

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