Random Thoughts and Notes – Nos. 276-300

276.        Of note: There are certain narrations mentioning that Ibn Mas’ud (RAA) had doubts about the Muawidhatayn being part of the Qur’an, or that ‘Ubay Ibn Ka’b (RAA) thought certain Du’as were actually part of the Qur’an, and a few other things of similar signification. We say these are solitary narrations, and such types of narrations cannot be used as proof in the field of determining what the Qur’an is or is not. This confuses many people among the lay Muslims, but if they understand what is the criteria for Qur’anic studies and what establishes a proof in this field, then there is no reason for such doubts to be held by any person.

And the reason for this is that we have the Qur’an transmitted from a Companion like Ibn Mas’ud or ‘Ubay ibn Ka’b (RAA): If in their formal teaching to their students (and also, those that came in a mass transmitted manner), the Muawidhatayn are not part of what they taught, or the Qunnot Du’as were added, then this is considered as evidence. Otherwise, it cannot be taken as evidence since a solitary narration cannot overcome what has been mass transmitted, and this has to do with the level of certitude that one gains based on the number of chains for any information. Besides, we do accept the existence of different readings, some of them mass transmitted, some of them only famous, some of them rare, and each has their own level of certitude.

Some things are mentioned among the possibilities in this regard, such that it may be that ‘Ubay (RAA) simply wrote this Du’a on the marginalia of his Mushaf so that it would not be forgotten by him; in the case of Ibn Mas’ud (RAA), there may be many reasons that he may not have explicitly written these Chapters in his Mushaf, or it may be that the narrator who narrated this matter became confused. Besides, the Masaahif of many of the Companions had their own peculiar traits, arrangements, additions, etc.

This is why with respect to all the texts of Islam, we take the book along with what the teacher says as proper evidence, and we do not take what is written in the book ‘standalone’ as necessarily being a proof. When this is the case with respect to a book that any Shaykh or Allaamah may have written, then what about the Qur’an itself, which is the most important book for Muslims by far? Of course, someone who is totally unfamiliar with the weight of the Qur’an among Muslims may just use whatever means of ‘historical-based’ criticism he knows of, but this is totally unacceptable when it comes to the Qur’an.

277.        If we were to suppose that the Qur’an was composed by the Prophet ﷺ, there would definitely have been serious attempts to meet its challenge. And one of the big reasons is that the various speeches and writings of only one person do not differ a lot; and we know that while the Prophet ﷺ was given eloquence as is manifest in the Ahaadeeth, this was not something that was outside of the order and types of speech known to the Arabs at that time. So had the Qur’an been a mere fabrication, its linguistic rank and its linguistic status would not have been that much different from that of the Ahaadeeth.

One more thing is that fabricating Ahaadeeth has unfortunately been around within Islamic history, and had the Qur’an been fabricated, even these fabricated Ahaadeeth would have had rhetorical qualities similar to that of the Qur’an, while the truth of the matter is not so.

278.        A relevant point is that the Qur’an is a standalone decisive proof, in the sense that not only does it combine the message and the proof of the Messenger who brought it ﷺ, but it also needs no further miracle or sign to ‘prove’ its decisiveness. In this sense, it is like the visible miracles: If one’s senses were in normal working condition and he was able to witness the miracles at the hands of the earlier Prophets (Alayhim as-Salaam), this would be a necessary and sufficient reason for him to accept the truth of that Prophet or Messenger. And the same is the case with those who have reached the level of proficiency in Arabic, such as those at the dawn of the Qur’anic revelation.

Yes, today we live in a very different time, when being skeptical about every single thing, even the decisiveness of what one sees directly is considered a pillar of certain ‘schools of philosophy’, but when we consider the way in which the Message was and has always been presented by Allah the Exalted, it is always given so that the lowest rung of society (both economically but more importantly, intellectually) can understand the force of the proof. Going into the fine details of the philosophy behind sensory data versus rational data has its place in Islam, but it cannot deny the fact that even the common appreciation of miraculous sensory signs cannot be endlessly talked about with presentations, refutations, counter-refutations, and so on and so forth.

In one sense though, it hypothetically can be talked about endlessly, but Allah will not consider the one who rejected the solid proof as standing on solid ground on the Day of Judgment, since there is a limit for dialectical discussions, beyond which it is not really a serious discussion anymore, but more like a discussion for the sake of continuing a discussion, without a firm goal and end-game.

279.        People say that “if only” we could have more proper scientists in the Muslim Ummah, we could start mounting a serious challenge against the Western-led worldview that is now dominant. I do not know everything about this issue, but to me at least, the matter seems more complex than this: From one side, a large proportion of Muslims seek to turn to a profession that gives them the best immediate economic return, even if their contribution to society is minimal or even negative; and interestingly this is how many people are brought up from childhood. This will undoubtedly have an impact, since the demanding work of trying to build up an intellectual and material defense for the Ummah will leave most of its proponents in somewhat difficult material conditions for large swathes of their lives (or at least it will leave them in less than optimal conditions). Thus, a dislike towards personal sacrifice for the sake of the community and for a larger vision that may not be actualized within one’s own lifetime definitely does play a role.

Also, given the large Muslim population, we do have a good number of formal scientists, formal scholars in the ‘secular’ fields, all who could definitely be of use in the endeavor described. And there are also a sizable number of formal scholars in the Islamic tradition, so numbers are not really the problem as I see it (I know it may be said that “true ‘Ulamaa” are lacking nowadays, but even if we take this to be true, there are many people who have reached some higher stage in their studies and knowledge, and we cannot desecrate or trivialize those who have reached a certain level).

Rather, what happens is that each side is at times unrestrictedly talking down to the other side, as in a condescending manner – the scholars and ‘Ulamaa being suspicious of the secular-educated Muslims, and the secular-educated Muslims feeling that the ‘Ulamaa know absolutely nothing, that the opinions of traditional scholars are not worth anything at all in the “real world”.

To be honest, it is difficult for me as an individual to give a solution to this conundrum, but I think all reasonable people can see that while this divide remains, the Muslim Ummah, as an Ummah, cannot really rise to any notable level, and that this is exactly how the current Western-inspired worldview prefers matters to remain- since secularism is the dominant force, then ‘religion’ and ‘religious scholars’ are pushed to one side as ‘signs of an anomaly’ rather than true parts of the Ummah and part of the effort needed to reignite the honor of the Islamic nation.

280.        Some may say that my statements in a previous post concerning free but hateful speech and how it compares to the selling of rotten goods or the establishment of a fraudulent business really have no correlation with one another.  I suppose the objection is that no one would actually wish to sell defective goods or services, as people’s minds have gone way beyond the possibility of considering such things – the secular moral way has apparently shown the correct way to action.

However, I disagree. People still seem to be extremely lax in their ‘moral compass’, regardless of how this is defined, and many people refrain from committing acts that they would have otherwise engaged in simply because they do not know how to circumvent the laws.

And one important question becomes that, if there were no laws prohibiting the selling of fraudulent commodities and services but rather ‘freedom’ in this regard, would there not be a section from among the people who would purposefully advertise and try to sell defective goods and services, simply to show that they have the “freedom” to do so? It seems that the answer is in the affirmative, and there is no stopping human nature in and of itself from trying to push the boundaries of what it can do.

Just as an anecdotal piece of evidence in this respect, I happened to come across the following article, which mentions the results of a survey where one in four Wall Street employees confided that they would engage in insider trading if they could get away with it. Even though the poll was unscientific, one cannot negate the effects that such thinking can have on the wider material and non-material culture of a land.

And in Islam we would say that the reason for this is that the ego and whatever is connected to the ego does not have an “off” switch, it simply wants more and more, until and unless it is made to fall into line with the Divine Truth. The additional thing in an Islamic land is that this extends crucially into matters related to the other-wordly salvation of the Muslims as well, not only to their earthly well-being.

281.        I normally do not say much about what happens in my Masjid, but one really annoying thing I have noticed is how relatively older children are simply running around and distracting every single person who wishes to concentrate in his prayer, not only in the courtyard of the Masjid, but even in the main prayer hall itself. How can it be that ‘children’ of about 10 years of age can come to blows in the Masjid itself, sometimes even during the main Jama’ah?

I do not know for sure, but this just seems like the manifestation of a communal heedlessness. Because these are not little children of 2, 3, or 4 years old who do not understand what a Masjid is and what people should do there. Rather they are quite grown-up kids – sometimes even clearly above the age of discernment- and they are acting much worse than what would be expected from 3 or 4 year-old children.

I mean, if we want to even fantasize about defeating our enemies, how do we think this will occur when the already grown-up future of this Ummah takes the main area Masjid as a playground, as a place to talk about Messi and Ronaldo, as a place to curse, or talk about their video games? Seriously, if any of us sees something like this in our own Masaajids, at least we can talk about it. I know the prevailing wisdom is that a 10, 12, or 14 year old boy is quite grown up, and he is indeed grown up, but something has gone wrong at home, or at school, or in the streets, by means of which these boys are really in a state of mind quite different from what Islam envisages for such boys close to or past the stage of puberty.

This is perhaps one reason why in this day and age, you see certain men joining the prayers, and they have no idea how they should pray in congregation, what they are to do if they are late, and other simple rules of congregational prayer. And these are people who are living in a Muslim country, and have reached even 25, 30 or 35 years of age. And, they are not women either, where one could make an excuse that perhaps they just followed a ruling that they could not go to the Masjid, so now they are weak in this aspect of their Fiqh. Anyway, let us hope, supplicate, and take certain practical steps so that this situation is improved, because otherwise we are going to be in even more serious problems in a generation or two.

282.        Sometimes we lose sight of the enormous importance that studying the Qur’an, in terms of its miraculousness, really has for the establishment of the truth of Islam, since most of us who are born Muslims take it for granted, or do not think much about it. But it is a foundational matter that has to be unearthed as much as we possibly can. This is the implied point made by Al-Baaqilani (RA), and it was valid then as it is now. Of course, books have been written about this before his time and after his time, but if we delve into the issue generation after generation, we are bound to find new things, and it is not a topic that will be exhausted.

And one implication in here is that if the people from among the Muslim Ummah turn complacent in their treatment of the fundamentals of the religion (that is, they do not study it, try to understand it and also try to understand how it relates to their contemporary settings), then obviously what will happen is that the non-Muslims will take the leadership in studying Islam, and we cannot expect good things to come out of this.

Yes, there may be a few non-Muslims who come into the fold of Islam after they may have been against it or neutral towards it, but obviously these are the exceptions to the rule. And yes, there were many new people being born in different places throughout the Islamic world who would go on to become authorities in the different branches of Islam, but this was at a time when Islam had lots of power in the land, and the Islamic polity was either respected, its ideology followed, or at least it gave rise to apprehensions in the hearts of anyone who may have hoped to do something against Islam.

Allah knows best, but nowadays we cannot sit back and just hope that ‘legends will be born’ for each and every Islamic discipline, especially when so many people even within Islamic nations (implicitly at least) do not pay respect to the disciplines and feel upset or even angry with the conclusions of such Islamic disciplines. Anyway, this is another topic, but I thought it important to mention here briefly, since it does have a relationship to why we do not have a profusion of Muslim scholars and a profusion of respectable and vibrant debate among the best minds of the Ummah as to how we should present and practice Islam in this age of trouble.

So one lesson that perhaps I am repeating but which is mentioned or at least implied in many books is that those who have the ability to compose some book should set their priorities straight. Yes, it is good for people to know intricate details about grammar and morphology in certain cases if and when necessary, but for people to know the great linguistic miracle of the Qur’an is obviously a much higher aim and goal than the former aim. And based on this, our resources (like time and money) should be allocated.

283.        Al-Baaqilaani (RA) mentions something that was occurring in his time, which was that the people saw there were very few helpers or let us say people who were involved in the subject matter of the miraculousness of the Qur’an [and those who were involved gave relatively weak “products” in this respect], to the point that some of them basically converted to other ideologies. He mentions the ‘Baraahima’, that is the priest-caste Hindus, and perhaps he is mentioning the Hindus specifically since they do not have the concept of Prophethood to begin with. And it can be seen how such a situation would take place, because if one is unsure about the Prophethood of Allah’s chosen Prophets and Messengers (Alayhim as-Salaam), he will most likely gravitate towards positions that are very much in contradiction to the very essence of revelation-based religions such as Islam; not that conversion to Judaism or Christianity is good since that is not the case, but it seems that not even the Abrahamic faiths would seem ‘sufficient’ for such people.

Of course, if that was truly the case during his time, then we can imagine what the situation is today, when the very concept of God is being ridiculed left and right, and the weak ones from amongst the humans see the very existence of Allah as a hindrance to their supposed ‘freedoms’ and ‘liberties’. Only Allah can save us from the catastrophes facing us in this day and age.

284.        There is one criticism as well, that certain people who may have been at a rank to write about this topic gave excuses to avoid getting involved in this matter, such as saying that the prerequisite arts required to speak about this matter could not be mastered by them. But Al-Baaqilani (RA) seems to imply that even if such was the case, then there should still be some introductory work at least that may serve as a springboard for future research. And of course, whenever there is a deficiency in any endeavor, it is best to at least start doing some preliminary work, even if it ultimately requires serious long-term research; because at the end, the path towards giving better responses or making the decisive proofs known to all may not be completed by the precursor or ‘father’ of the revitalization movement for the science, but it still would serve, at the very least, as a path that may be used for those who come at a later time.

285.        There are certain prerequisites in order for the one who is contemplating the topic of the miracle of the Qur’an to be able to obtain benefits from it. Of course, one of these is the knowledge of the Arabic language, but the knowledge of the Usool of Islam is also important, as is the knowledge of the methods used by the theologian scholars.

286.        As I have mentioned a number of times and is repeated here in the work, the Qur’an is the main miracle given to the Prophet ﷺ, even as we acknowledge the existence of a good number of ‘visual’ miracles that occurred during his ﷺ time – but all of these visual miracles were like “assistant miracles” to the miracle of the Qur’an.

We can easily perceive that the visual miracles were manifested at specific times to specific people and for specific purposes. Some of these incidents have been mass transmitted down to our time. There are other incidents that have been narrated on a less prominent scale (originally, that is, the narrations in and of themselves), yet they were divulged among the masses, and no one among the masses has disavowed them or refused to acknowledge their occurrence, and thus, it takes the signification of mass-transmitted reports, even if the narrations themselves do not reach this level. And there are other incidents whose reports have only reached the status of solitary narrations.

However, the evidence of the Qur’an is a universal miracle for all the responsible creatures, and its time ‘limit’ is until the Day of Judgment. Also, its efficacy is up until the end of Earthly time, and this is also a big difference between the Qur’anic evidence and the evidence derived from the visual-only miracles.

287.        One important point brought up again is that the fact of knowing the linguistic miracle of the Qur’an is tied to the incapacitation of the first people who heard the Qur’an from bringing something similar to it, and that this is enough for subsequent time periods. What is implicit in this is that there was a decline in the level of Arabic proficiency even amongst the Arabs themselves, and this has continued down to our present time. I know that many people may object to this conceptualization of matters, saying that such is not a given, especially since languages evolve, and that perhaps computers may be developed either now or in the future and come up with something amazing.

But from what I know, this last argument is quite weak, and a very big reason for its weakness is that it totally ignores the human factor in bringing about changes to any given language. One can obviously bring a computer of any type, but for it to actually give a result in book format that can motivate people (whether due to linguistic traits or any other thing) to follow a “new religion”, and that this “new religion” will take over large swathes of the Earth within a couple of generations is out of reach [even if someone doesn’t know the exact challenge of the Qur’an, or does not even know that the Qur’an challenges humanity].

With regards to the first possible objection, we say that it is hypothetically possible in the abstract for a (large) number of people to come up with a highly eloquent language, or for the well-known languages of today to take up highly eloquent forms in the future. But from the trends we see nowadays, if anything, more and more languages are dying out, and the speakers of many other tongues are basically migrating to the well-known languages (at least in a formal setting), since this latter group is the avenue for incorporating their fluent speakers into the larger world economy (among other factors). Again, this would not negate the hypothetical possibility mentioned above, but we are simply pointing out its implausibility and how the situation today is the complete opposite of what some of our opponents say.

288.        There is mention by al-Baaqilaani (RA) of a number of Verses giving credence to the position that the Qur’an is the main miracle in Islam, such as Verse 14:1. In here Allah mentions that He has sent this Book to take people out of darkness and into light, and such would not be possible unless the Book were an indubitable proof [that is, a miracle]. Or in Verse 9:6, where Allah has commanded for those disbelievers who request protection to be protected until they hear the Qur’an – and here also, the main message of Islam is conveyed by their hearing the Qur’an; their hearing of the Qur’an would not have been considered as a ‘standalone’ proof except if it were a miracle, an indubitable proof.

We also have the Verses in the last section of Surah Ash-Shu’araa (Verses 26: 192-195); in here Allah mentions the Qur’an as the revelation in the Arabic idiom given to the Prophet ﷺ so that he may become one of the warners – and obviously this is very clear in that his becoming a warner is dependent on the revelation he has received from Allah the Exalted.

Another example is from the first few Verses of Surah Ghaafir (Chapter 40), where Allah informs us that arguing about His Revealed Verses is disbelief. This would not be disbelief unless the proof is such that it cannot be denied.

And there are actually more Verses that are presented, in just showing that the disbelievers of previous nations argued with their Messengers concerning the indubitable signs presented to them, and what the consequence of all this was for them. So the point al-Baaqilaani (RA) is making here is that the Qur’an is the absolute Hujjah (proof) for the Arabs and for all humanity, and we are definitely not to argue against it.

The next discussion is about Surah Fussilat (Chapter 41) which also begins with the Muqata’at letters, and it mentions at the very beginning that the Qur’an has been revealed in the Arabic language for a people who know… had the decisive proof not been included in the Qur’an itself, it would not have made any difference whether the Book was detailed or not, or whether it was in Arabic or in some other language. Also, when Allah mentions their turning away, it shows the decisiveness of the Qur’an, for if the proof was not in the Qur’an, their turning away would not have harmed them to the degree mentioned. In this chapter, towards the latter Verses, we see again the declaration about the relevance of the Qur’an having been revealed in Arabic, and that had it been in another language, the message would have been completely unclear to the Arabs.

And in Surah Al-‘Ankabuut Verses 50-51 this is reinforced, as the Qur’an is mentioned in such a manner as it becomes clear that it is the sufficient sign so that people will believe if they are indeed inclined towards the truth; and that the Qur’an takes the place (in terms of decisiveness) of the miracles of the previous Prophets.

289.        We see that the Qur’an is the message plus the miracle confirming the message (as we have noted before). In this sense (of its decisiveness as a proof), it is as if the person were hearing the Eternal Speech of Allah; and we know that when Musa (Alayhi Salaam) heard the Speech of Allah, he knew that it was indeed the Speech of Allah, and there was no doubt for him in this case [There are some theological subtleties that may need to be addressed, but yes, as far as the story of Musa (Alayhi Salaam) and what occurred to him in the Mount Tur with the first encounter he had with Allah the Exalted, we can learn many lessons concerning the decisiveness of that as a proof for Musa (Alayhi Salaam), and how it relates to the Qur’an as an undeniable proof for all of humanity].

290.        The establishment of the Qur’an’s miracle is preceded by confirming that the Qur’an we have with us at present is the same Qur’an that was revealed to and recited by the Prophet ﷺ in his time; and this is known through the Mutawaatir (mass-transmitted) recitation [details have been skipped since it is not the topic of discussion at present].

291.        It is said by the Twelver Shias that we are like the pagans of old, who would blindly reject the truth even though the Hujjah (i.e. the proof) is right in front us, in our books and the narrations contained therein. I say the situation is quite different: If we are talking about the pagan Arabs, it is obvious they had no firm book and no firm Hadeeth collections at all; if we are talking about Christians and Jews, their books had been changed and played around with, and the end result in this case was more confusion and doubt.

But when we talk about Islam, one has to be careful about saying that only vague blindness is being followed, for we have texts that are decisive in their content, decisive in their meaning. Then we have other texts, decisive in their content, probabilistic in their meaning, and so on as we go through the ranks of our texts. The point in here is that we have a well-known and well-applied methodology for establishing our texts and the level of certainty one can have in the texts, as well as the significations that one may or may not extract from these texts.

To reduce everything to mere blindness, or to a desire to hide the truth is, to say the very least, not a smart way to engage with us, since the collection and establishment of our texts took place very soon after the passing of the Prophet ﷺ, not after many centuries like was the case of Christians and Jews, or never, as was the case with pagan Arabs and members of other religions. So this is something that we must keep in mind by necessity, and I doubt that any intelligible discussion can be had if we do not agree with respect to methodology.

What happens is that certain sectarianists wish to reach a certain conclusion, come what may, and this is extremely difficult to incorporate within the greater body of a sober discussion concerning how we should approach the texts in the abstract. Thus, rather than a discussion about the abstract rules, we are not only coming down to conclusions, but down to a very specific body of conclusions that we do not accept (of course, since the method for reaching these conclusions was not accepted, nay, was not even discussed).

292.        There is an important lesson in the Verses mentioning the impossibility of any from among the Creation to bring something like the Qur’an. This is one of the signs of Allah’s Oneness and Dissimilarity from all Created beings (because the disparity between the Qur’an and all other speech/writing is analogous to the difference between the Creator and the creation). The relevance of this is, there are certain people who say that only after knowing about Allah’s Existence, can we begin to speak about the Qur’an being Allah’s Revelation to mankind and His Speech. But if someone truly understands firsthand that the Qur’an is a Miracle, he would know that the Being capable of it is altogether dissimilar from the creatures, and this would be his way of agreeing with the Islamic position both in its concept of Allah and in what it says about the Qur’an.

What I can say is that yes, this is obviously one way, and we cannot say this is an invalid method of presenting Islam to the people, since it might be that with certain people one bypasses the “theological proofs” with regards to Allah’s Existence, and they may get convinced directly by the Qur’an, or by some other evidence in favor of Islam. The only thing in here is that the person entering Islam should of necessity have a correct understanding of Allah, and not simply an emotionally-based assent without proper knowledge of all the essential facets of Islam.

293.        Al-Baaqilani (RA) handles the question of the passing down of the Qur’an in another way: We see that the poems of certain famous poets have been memorized and preserved meticulously, even though their area of application is related only to the Arabic language. What about the Qur’an then, whose areas of application are multiple, including its recitation in prayers, Sharia laws, modes of recitation, rhetoric, and so on? So it does not occur to us, by application of this ‘indirect method’, that the Muslims would be so negligent of the Holy Revelation, while absolutely everything of their lives revolves around it.

294.        One sign for all who ask how the miracle of the Qur’an was known is: Part of the injunctions of the Qur’an and of Islam in general were concerning the permissibility of fighting the disbelieving pagan Arabs, and this was in fact revealed a relatively long time after the arrival of Islam, and its application continued for a number of years afterwards. Now, if it was within the capacity of the Arabs at that time to bring something like the Qur’an, they would have definitely done it at that time itself, since it is much easier (according to the dictates of normal cases) to compose something rather than go through the trouble of fighting war after war, of having to leave one’s land or having to give up one’s goods and relatives as spoils of war. But in spite of all this, when the ‘normal’ way is not followed, then one has to seriously consider a supernatural explanation, since the normal/natural route was not pursued even while the die-hard opponents of Islam were under such dire circumstances.

In addition to this point, we see that for those who are living the “easy life of enjoyment” Islam is quite hard for them, since it calls for redistribution of wealth, for the performance of prayers, for leaving one’s family and friends if they will not accept one’s adoption of Islam, and many other issues that are obviously difficult for most people, whether in the past or in the present, to follow through on, if they do not have a very strong commitment to follow the truth. Anyway, this is another very important point as to why the pagan Arabs or the eloquent pagan Arabs would have tried their best to take up the Qur’an’s challenge if they could have done so, since the challenge is “relatively easy” so as to say in comparison with all the troubles they had to actually go through in their attempts to eliminate Islam. Thus, we cannot conceive of the people who had this much level of proficiency in their language and a corresponding contentious nature, to totally ignore the challenge of the Qur’an, except if a supernatural explanation is sought after.

Also, the paths towards the elimination of Islam were many, yet all of them failed. This is obviously another miracle to the credit of Islam and to the credit of what appeared at the hands of the Prophet ﷺ; and this is clear, because no one expects a religion which has so much going against it after 10 or 11 years of its initial inception to have such a spectacular turnaround in the next 11 or 12 years and beyond, except if there is an amazing reason to explain such a reality.

295.        The disbelievers did try different ways of weakening the Qur’an and Islam, placing their own types of “challenges”, such as their own requests for miracles, or for the angels to come out in the open, and so forth. We are not talking about the appropriateness of such challenges but about the desire of the opponents of Islam in trying to weaken it by means of whatever they could do.

296.        Another important point is that the Arabs at that time would openly brag about any competitions they had with one another with respect to ‘poetry competitions’. This further shows that having these sorts of ‘linguistic-based battles’ was very much a part of their nature, and this makes their ‘shyness’ towards the Qur’an and towards directly opposing the Qur’an on its own terms all the more in need of a supernatural explanation.

In fact, what is mentioned is that the nature of the Arabs with regards to acknowledging any work of supreme eloquence and of then trying to imitate it was so innate in their disposition that the (explicit) challenge was not even (hypothetically) necessary in the exact way mentioned in the Qur’an. That is, it was not necessary for the challenge of coming up with something like the Qur’an to have been explicitly mentioned therein so many times in order for the Arabs to know the great status of the Qur’an, and that the challenge was already presented to them, even if they happened to not have come across the specific Verses enunciating this challenge.

Also, if the situation was as easy as some of our opponents say, then given their knowledge, they would have not had so much difficulty in trying to pin down exactly what the Qur’an was in terms of its ‘type’, since as we know, this was one of the issues that truly confounded them, as they could not establish within themselves what type of composition the Qur’an was, so that they could move on to contradict it or oppose it intellectually and on its own terms.

297.        Those who embraced Islam at the beginning did so not only by ‘Taqleed’ of the Prophet ﷺ, but rather, they had ‘Baseerah’, that is, clear knowledge about the issue which led to certainty.

298.        The person who has reached the heights of Arabic eloquence would know after listening to the Qur’an that he is unable to produce something like unto it, and he would know that other people like him (we can call them his ‘peers’) are likewise unable to bring forth something like the Qur’an – so this is the way in which the miraculousness of the Qur’an is established for those who are experts in the field. But for the Arab who has reached only a “middle” level of proficiency in Arabic eloquence, or for the non-Arab, he has to find out that the experts could not come up with something like the Qur’an, so as a natural consequence, those who are lower than the experts will be even less capable of imitating the Qur’an.

299.        It might be said that if the pagan Arabs all knew the miracle of the Qur’an, then why did not all of them convert to Islam at once? Al-Baaqilani (RA) mentions that their doubts were diverse, in terms of the Existence of the Creator, or of the Oneness of Allah, or about the existence of the post of Prophethood, and he gives some examples in this regard as well.

In addition to this, I say there is the emotional and spiritual aspect as well, which is that the miracle is at most akin to the purely intellectual proofs, the only difference being that the miracle takes place within the limited temporal Universe, so its certainty is tied up with the certainty of the witnesses about how the amazing event compares to normal events, when combined with the claim to Prophethood from part of the Prophet (Alayhi as-Salaam) in question.

And the important thing in here is that even purely rational proofs (those proofs that have no chance of being other than what we present them) are many a times rejected by people, for a variety of reasons that do not even putatively have anything to do with reasoning or logic whatsoever.

300.        Some may ask that is it not possible for someone who can put together two beautiful words to simply bring another word into his composition, then another and another, until he is able to reach the minimum limit of infallibility as per the Qur’an – and since (according to this line of thinking) such is hypothetically possible, is it not proper to say that a type of Sarfa (supernatural incapacitation) has taken place with regards to the Qur’an, as opposed to any amazing qualities being contained in the Qur’an itself?

The answer is that, even if we set aside the issue of the Qur’an, it is very difficult to imagine this principle in action in the real world: If it was true, then everyone can coincidentally say one or two praiseworthy words, and due to the application of the above hypothesis, everyone would be a great orator, poet, novelist, etc. But we know that this is simply not the way things are, and the supposition above is definitely incorrect.

Also, we know that the pre-Islamic Jaahili Arabs were not challenged (or to use this person’s claim, ‘incapacitated’) to produce something like the Qur’an – yet we do not find a composition like the Qur’an in their annals. So when we observe that the case of those before the revelation is similar to those who came after the revelation, we see that the theory of ‘Sarfa’ is incorrect. Besides, just assuming the theory is correct, and the text of the Qur’an is not miraculous in and of itself, the incapacitation would then be the miraculous thing– so a compelling miracle would exist all the same.