of the Quran
By Mumin Salih
QURAN is believed by Muslims to be God's word to man, and is ˜revealed’ and
written in Arabic. Muslims also believe that the Quran, as we know it today, is
the same as was revealed 1400 years ago. Almost all Muslims know some of its
verses by heart, which they recite during their five daily prayers. Some of them
even know the entire Quran by heart. At the time of ‘revelation’ of
the Quran, the Arabs had such a great linguistic mastery of Arabic that one may
argue that such talent was probably the only kind of art they perfected. Today,
many will still consider the pre-Islamic Arabic literature and poetry to be the
the Quran is a truly a language-miracle, then we can say with certainty that it
is not ‘revealed’ to mankind in general, and not even
to the Arabs in particular. This is because all non-Arabic speaking nations
cannot read/understand the Quran; therefore, they are not in a position to
appreciate the claimed language-miracle. This is equally true to the majority of
today’s Arabs, simply because they themselves lack the necessary command of classic
Arabic in which the Quran was ‘revealed’.
is interesting to note that Muslims of all nationalities talks about how the
Quran is a language-miracle, while all what they can do is to recite some verses
without even understanding the meaning of these verses. On the other hand, there
are many Christian Arab writers whose knowledge in classic Arabic is beyond
doubt, but they do not feel that the Quran contains any miracles at all!
of myself, I always felt guilty when I read the Quran because every time I read
the Quran, get a strange feeling that this book can never be divine, after all.
This is not because of the many scientific errors it contains (we can always
twist the Arabic language to accommodate those, as we often do) but because of
the poor language style of the book. Considering only the language style, I can
say there are some verses or a few entire suras
in the Quran which are very nicely written, some are average and some are poor.
That was how I found the Quran to be. My only explanation for this assessment of
the Quran is that, while I previously always thought the Quran to be infallible,
perfect words of Allah, but after carefully comprehending it, found
no perfection in it. Even though I found in the Quran repetitious,
contradictory and grammatically incorrect, I blamed myself for this, instead the
Quran, for, I thought it must be I who is wrong, since Quran could never contain
any error in it.
who will judge if the Quran is a language-miracle or not? Muslim scholars will
automatically claim that it is a miracle, while others will certainly disagree.
The mere fact that we have reached this opposing situation is in itself evidence
that the Quran is not a miracle. A miracle should be clear to every human being,
regardless of his or her languages, literacy or intelligence. Everyone—without
any exception, must agree on the claim of Quran’s perfection.
for the argument’s sake let us go back in history and see how the early Arabs
thought of the Quran. Mohammed spent 13 years preaching Islam in his hometown
with very limited success. During this period, only few dozens accepted his
call, many of them were Muhammad’s close friends and relatives. He used to go
to the famous Okaz market, just outside
, to preach Islam, but failed to make much impression on his listeners. Okaz
fair was a very popular festival for the Arabs. All poets gathered there to
narrate their latest poems and advertise their literary work. Mohammed was there
competing with them to recite not his latest poems but Allah’s latest
revelations to him. The Arabs, however, were more interested to listen to
those Arabs felt there was a miracle in what Mohammed was saying, they would
have certainly stayed and listened to him intently, but they turned their backs
and went away. Are we to believe that Allah’s work was unable to win a
competition with those human poets?
argue that the people of
were not convinced because they just did not want to be convinced, not because
the Quran is not convincing. Their evidence is that the Arabs of
(the tribes of Aws and Khazraj ) were easily convinced and
converted to Islam even before Mohammed arrived at their city. But this is a
clear evidence that the two competing Arab tribes of
made their decision to accept Mohammed and Islam for political reasons only and
nothing else. Most of those Arabs did not see Mohammed or had even heard of the
Quran. They converted to Islam simply because their leaders made a deal with
Mohammed to accept to Islam and support him as a neutral third party, to put an
end to their long-going confrontations with each other.
us move back a few centuries and observe how the Arabs thought of the Quran
during the height of the Islamic empire. I shall mention the two most famous
poets in Arabic history. The first was Al Mutanabi, who is widely claimed
to be the best Arabic poet ever. At some stage,
he himself claimed to be a prophet, because he thought he could make a book
which would be similar to the Quran. He was given this name because of this
claim. When Al Mutanabi realized the danger on his life, he repented and
cancelled his plans for his book. The other famous poet was Abu Alaa Al Maari,
a Syrian blind poet who even denounced religions altogether. Of course, none of
these two poets thought that the Quran contained any miracles.
might be many factors that made ordinary Muslims believe the claimed miracles in
the Quran. Because the Quran can be read only in Arabic, it was left to the
Arabs to make the judgment about the Quranic language and style. Those Arabs are
usually Muslim clerics whose starting point is to assume the miracle then bend
every rule and logic to fit their logic around it. In this way they have turned
the entire concept of logical-thinking upside down and from back to front.
Meaningless words, repetitions and contradictions have all became parts of a
divine miracle! What helped them to maintain this attitude over centuries is
that other language experts like the Christians or the freethinkers were too
polite to make any comments. However, their silence and non-conversion to Islam