Date :Tuesday, November 26th, 2019 | Time : 02:51 |ID: 124564 | Print

A New Philosophical Perspective on the Miracle of the Qur’an

SHAFAQNA – Many accounts have been made to justify the Quran as a miracle with regards to its literacy. With the multitude of works on the topic of Quran, there has not been a concise explanation with regards to why the Quran is actually a miracle, using current Quranic research and applying the concise concept of miracles to the challenge of the Quran. Drawing on this new formulation of a miracle, we can achieve a more cogent argument that encapsulates the Miracle of the Quran in its entirety.

The author of the Quran claims his work is revelation from God; in return the author boldly confronts his sceptics by setting a falsification challenge. The Qur’an challenges humanity to attempt to match the reality of the Qur’anic text, the smallest chapter (Surah) to be exact. Failure to do so would inductively lead the individual taking up the challenge to accept the divine authorship of the Quran.

“And if you are in doubt about which We have revealed to Our Servant then bring one chapter like it”[1].

The author asks humanity to take up the challenge of producing one chapter like it as evidence of its divine authorship, which implies that if this cannot be achieved one can infer that the Quran is not of human but of a supernatural endeavour.

If the Quran is a miracle, then what are the certus parbus for the challenge of the Quran? The Arabic language has 28 letters and a finite number of grammatical rules.

The finite letters and grammatical rules allow any expression in the Arabic language to either fall into the literacy forms prose or poetry.

Poetry as a mode of expression uses metrical speech. That is to say that it employs strict rhythmical patterns. The rhyme in Arabic poetry is due to its rhythmical divisions called Al Bihar, which means the seas in Arabic. There are sixteen unique rhythmical divisions in the Arabic language they are at-Tawl, al-Bassit, al-Wafir, al-Kamil, ar-Rajs, al-Khafif, al-Hazaj, al-Muttakarib, al-Munsarih, al-Muktatab, al-Muktadarak, al-Madid, al-Mujtath, al-Ramel, al-Khabab and as-Saria. A literary analysis of any arabic poem will conclude that it adheres to or is based upon one of these rhythmical patterns.[2]

Arabic prose can be termed non-metrical speech, meaning that it does not have a rhythmical pattern like poetry as mentioned above. Arabic prose has two divisions; they are Saj which is rhymed prose and Mursal which is straight prose. Saj rhythmical quality is irregularly employed making it distinct from Al bihar.[3] Mursal can be defined as a literary form that is continued straight throughout without any divisions, either of rhyme or of anything else, its function is for everyday spoken language. [4]

Recent studies by contemporary Arabic scholars have described the Quranic mode of expression as a unique literary form. Although some of the verses can be described as one of the al-bihar, the totality of a chapter cannot be matched to any given division.

Kristina Nelson writes

Although some of the lines of the Quran may be scanned according to the Classical Arabic metres*, these are not as characteristic of Quranic syllabic rhythmic patterns as are the abrupt or progressive shifts in rhythmic patterns and length of line, and the shifts between regular and irregular patterns.[5]

To understand how the Quran achieves this, is to view the Quranic text as a unique fusion or intermingling of metrical and non-metrical speech, thus creating a unique literary form that does not fit into any division of the al- bihar or Mursal. Non Muslim Arabic scholars have recognised this unique literary form and proclaimed that the Quranic literary form is to be viewed as original, going so far, in some cases, as to label it inimitable.

The best of Arab writers have never succeeded in producing equal in merit to the Quran itself.[6]

The challenge was taken up during Muhammeds lifetime, and the surviving specimens of emulation do nothing to undermine the Qurans claim to inimitability; neither do the crude parodies put out by later writers, among them eminent authors, who viewed, who feigned to rival the unique beauty of the Muslim scriptures[7]

The Quran is unapproachable as regards convincing power, eloquence, and even composition[8]

From the literary point of view, the Koran is regarded as a specimen of purest Arabic..It has been said that in some cases grammarians have adopted their rules to agree with certain phases and expressions used in it, and that thought several attempts have been made to produce a work equal to it as far as elegant writing is concerned none has succeeded. [9]

So there has been no opportunity for any forgery or pious fraud in the Quran, which distinguishes it from all other important religious works.It, is exceedingly strange that this illiterate person should have composed the best book in the language. [10]

Whenever Muhammed was asked a miracle, as proof of the authenticity of his mission, he quoted the composition of the Quran and its incomparable excellence as proof of its Divine origin. And, in fact, even for those who are non-Muslims nothing is more marvellous that its language, which with such a comparable plenitude and a grasping sonority with simple audition ravished with admiration those primitive peoples so fond of eloquence. The ampleness of its syllables with grades cadence and with a remarkable rhythm have been much movement in the conversion of the most hostile and the most sceptic[11]

Not only is the literary form of the Quran viewed as unique, but its uniqueness is reaffirmed by the combination of inimitable stylistic form with coherence of the overall message. Some might argue that the challenge can never be achieved because it is based upon a subjective criterion, that the author has set a challenge which is based upon aesthetic appreciation. It is equivalent to an artists challenge to match his work of art with a more objectively beautiful piece of work. As beauty is ultimately a subjective matter, this could never be achieved. If the Quran were to set a challenge of this nature then its critics would be right in that no amount of Arabic could ultimately disprove the Quran. Although there have been many studies on the depth and beauty of the Quranic text, the author of the Quran is not asking to match its beauty. Rather, where the author says bring one chapter like it. , it is clear from what has been mentioned earlier, that the challenge is in reference to the structure of the language or literary form. This then would make the challenge an objective one, as its objectivity can be identified in the difference between prose and poetry literary forms.

The Quranic literary form lies outside the productive capacity of the Arabic language.

The 28 letters and finite grammatical rules are the conditions (ceteris paribus) of the productive capacity of the Arabic language. The productive capacity of the Quran produces Arabic prose (saj or mursal) and poetry (Al Bihar). All pre-Quranic text and post-Quranic texts fall within these classifications of the Arabic language.

The Quranic mode of expression does not fall into the given categories of the Arabic language. This suggests that the inimitable mode of expression lies outside the productive capacity of the Arabic language. The Quran functions in a unique literary form and as a result, has proven inimitable for 1400 years. Hence, there are good reasons to believe that, although the Quran appears naturalistically impossible, given the capacity of the Arabic language, a Supernatural explanation appears most reasonable.

We may present the basic argument in summary as follows:

1. Prose and poetry are inside the productive capacity of Arabic language

2. The Quranic literary form is unique and does not fit into the known divisions of Arabic language

3. Therefore the Quran outside the productive capacity of Arabic language.

Given the truth of the three premises, the conclusion (4) necessarily follows.

Adam Deen

[1] chapter 2 verse 23 the Qur’an

[2] Louis Cheikho, Shuara’ ‘al-Nasraniyah, 1890-1891, Beirut.

[3] A literary form with some emphasis on rhythm and rhyme, but distinct from poetry. Saj is not really as sophisticated as poetry, but has been employed by Arab poets, and is the best known of the pre-Islamic Arab prosodies. It is distinct from poetry in its lack of metre, i.e. it has not consistent rhythmical pattern, and it shares with poetry the element of rhyme, though in many cases some what irregularly employed.A. Von Deffer. 2003 (Revised Ed. 1994). Ulum al-Quran: An Introduction to the Sciences of the Quran. The Islamic Foundation, p. 75

[4] Ibid.

[5] Kristina Nelson. 1985 (2nd Print 2002). The Art of Reciting the Quran. The American University in Cairo Press, p. 10

[6] E H Palmer (Tr.), The Qur’an, 1900, Part I, Oxford at Clarendon Press, p. lv.

[7] A.J Arberry : The Holy Koran (translation p27-8)

[8] Dr Hertwig Hirschield : New researches into the composition and exegesis of the Quran p8-9)

[9] F.F Arbuthnot- The construction of the Bible and Koran

[10] Basanta Coomar Bose-Mohamedanism

[11] Paul Casanova-LEnseignement de LArabe au College de France

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