Challenge of the Qur’an

What is the challenge of the Qur'an?

If somebody said “where is the miracle of Muhammad?” We can say here is his miracle. Here it is. And that is the Qur’an. Preserved because it is a message to all of humankind. So it had to be preserved. This was a necessity. So Allah on one hand chose an area in which his people, the original people to whom he was sent, who would then carry the message to the rest of the world, he chose an area which these people admired, loved, worshipped. And that was in literary eloquence. The Arabs loved literature. So much so that their most popular odes were written in gold tablets and hung on the Ka'aba, the central place of their worship. And they would have contests yearly, gathering in places like Taa'if where they would compete with each other in prose and poetry. They loved it. They didn’t have medicine. They were not known for magic. They didn’t have structures built, a built civilization. But they did love literature. So Allah gave Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) a miracle in the field of literature. A book written with the same letters that they wrote. Spoken with the same vowels and consonants that they spoke. But a book which was inimitable, which they could not imitate. A book whose magic was beyond their abilities. A book which captured their hearts.

Their response to it was that it had to be some form of magic. Why they couldn’t make one like it and why it seemed to just captivate them. That literary miracle was a miracle with a built in challenge. You find in the Qur’an, where Allah says there, a challenge to the people to whom the Prophet (ﷺ) was first sent and ultimately to humankind.

“Say! If humankind and the jinn, creatures from the invisible world, gathered together to produce a scripture like this Qur’an, they would not be able even if they helped each other.” [1]

This was the challenge. Produce a book like this one. Then that challenge was reduced. Reduced from a whole book to only 10 chapters. Allah says,

 “Or they say; he has made it up” in reference to the Qur’an “Say to them; create then, bring for us 10 chapters like it which are invented and call whoever you wish to help you besides Allah if you are truthful.”[2]

If your accusation that he made it up himself is true, then do something similar, produce 10 chapters. Not the whole book anymore! 10 chapters from the book similar. Then that challenge was reduced to one chapter where Allah says,

“Or they say he has made it up. Say to them; then bring a single chapter like it and call on whoever you wish for help besides Allah if you are truthful.”[3]

 And that challenge was repeated again a final time, twice now in the Qur'an,

“If you are in doubt about what we have revealed to my slave, then bring a single chapter like it and call your witnesses besides Allah if you are indeed truthful.”[4]

This was the challenge. Of course for the average person who reads the Qur’an, he or she reads it in translation. So they may not find it to be miraculous. If one reads it in English, the translation of the smallest chapter in the Qur’an, “qul huwallahu ahad[5] or “inna a’athainaka alkauthur[6], 3 verses. If one reads the translation in the best of translations, one would still feel in the end, I’m sure Shakespeare or Wordsworth or somebody like that of the great poets of the past, the English poets, they could have written something more eloquent.

References:

[1] [Qur’an 17:88]

[2] [Qur’an 11:13]

[3] [Qur’an 10:38]

[4] [Qur’an 2:23]

[5] [Qur’an: Chapter 112]

[6] [Qur’an: Chapter 108]

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