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Books and Documents ( 31 Jul 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

The Quran: Test of Time and a Standing Challenge (Part I)



By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

2 August, 2013

For any book to claim that it is a revelation from God, it should stand the test of time. Previously, it was the age of miracles, then came the age of literature and poetry and today is the age of science and technology. God, according to the needs of the time, has sent His revelations. The Quran is the only holy book which stands the test of time. It is the only book which fulfils all the three criteria of being miraculous, of being the best literature in the Arabic language and it has numerous accurate signs about science.

First of all, the Quran is a miracle of miracles. According to Sir William Muir, who was one of the staunchest critics of Islam said “There is probably no other book in the world which has remained twelve centuries (now fourteen) with so pure a text”1. Almost a billion people read this book and millions have memorised it. The memorizers range from ages 6 and up; whether it is males or females, black or white, rich or poor, Arab or non-Arab.

There is not another book on the face of this earth which boasts of so many memorisers. If we take into account of the finest piece of literature in the world; Rig Veda, Old Testament and New Testament, Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Machiavelli, Sun Tzu etc- one may ask, how many people have memorized them? Hardly do we find just one individual.

It is rightly said about the miracle of the Quran that hypothetically if we were to lose all the books of the world by burning or throwing them under the seas, the only book which could be resurrected in the perfect order, word-for-word is the Quran. And amazingly there will not be any contradiction amongst the different resurrections.

According to Kenneth Craigg:

“This phenomenon of Qur’ānic recital means that the text has traversed the centuries in an unbroken living sequence of devotion. It cannot, therefore, be handled as an antiquarian thing, nor as a historical document out of a distant past. The fact of Hifdh (Qur’ānic Memorization) has made the Qur’ān a present possession through all the lapse of Muslim time and given it a human currency in every generation never allowing its relegation to a bare authority for reference alone.” 2

Secondly, Muslims and non-Muslims alike accept that the Quran is the finest piece of Arabic literature. Although there are a lot of critics who say that there are so many grammatical mistakes in the Quran. The point to be noted is that all Arabic grammar is taken from the Quran. It is the text book of grammar. In the different tribes of Arabia, the grammar keeps on changing, for example in one tribe the word is feminine, and in the other tribe the same word is masculine. In different tribes the gender keeps on changing and even the grammar keeps on changing.

The eloquence of the Quran is so high that it goes against the conventional use of grammar. On the internet and books we find ’11 Grammatical Mistakes in the Quran’, ’20 Grammatical Mistakes in the Quran’ etc. These books have not been written by Christian missionaries to malign the Quran. In fact these so called “mistakes” were pointed out by the Muslims. The Muslim scholars like Al Zamak Shari took out these “mistakes”.

They give examples to prove that the Quran has grammatical mistakes. For example, they say, the Quran says “the people of Lut (pbuh) rejected the messengers”, and “the people of Noah- they rejected the messengers”. Actually we know that there was only one messenger that was sent to these people, so they say that instead of “messengers”, “messenger” should have been used. But see the beauty of the Quran,  the Quran mentions “messengers” because we know that the basic message of all the messengers was the same- that there is One God. So the people when they rejected the message of Noah or Lut (pbut), these people indirectly rejected all the messengers.

Similarly another critic 3 says that the Quran says “Qun fa ya qun”, which means “be and it is”. But according to him, it should have been “Qun fa qana” i.e., “be and it was”. Yes “qun fa qana” is past tense; but “qun fa ya qun” is far superior- Allah – it was, it is and can do- encompassing the circle of time: past, present and even future.

There is also a great deal of grammatical shift in the Quran. According to Professor Abdel Haleem, the Quran uses grammatical shifts extensively, and this enhances the texts’ literary expression and achieves the communicative goal. For example:

“Verily, We have granted you al-Kawthar (literally “the most abundant good”, it also means a river in Paradise). Therefore pray to your Lord and sacrifice to (Him alone). Indeed, your enemy is the one cut off”. Ch 108: 1-3

In this chapter, we notice a change from the first person royal plural “We” to “your Lord”. This is neither a mistake nor is it an abrupt shift; it is calculated and signifies the close relationship between Allah and His Prophet. The use of “We” signifies the Greatness, the Mastery, the Power, the Authority and the Ability of Allah; whereas the use of “your Lord” is used to indicate and emphasize intimacy, closeness and love of Allah to His prophet.

 If one knows about the historical background under which this chapter was revealed the person will realize the importance of using the phrase “your Lord” to show that Muhammad (pbuh) is not alone, Allah is with him. The purpose of this chapter is also to console Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); according to Abdel Haleem, using intimate language enhances the psycholinguistic effect.

 (Part II will deal with the test of science and the Quranic challenge)

1.    Sir William Muir, Life of Mohamet, London, 1894, Vol.1, Introduction.

2.    Cragg, Kenneth - The Mind of the Qur’ān, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1973, p.26

3.    Arun Shourie is that critic