Divine Authorship Of The Qur’an
This article covers the Arguments For The Divine Authorship Of The Qur’an.
- When we study the Qur’an’s words, styles, and meanings even superficially, we notice immediately that it is unique. So, in rank and worth it is either below—even Satan cannot claim this, nor does he conceive of it—or above all other books. Since it is above, it must be the Word of God.
- The Qur’an declares:
You (O Muhammad) were not a reader of any Scripture before it, nor did you write (such a Scripture) with your right hand, for then those who follow falsehood might (have a right) to doubt it (29:48).
Moreover, it is undeniable that Prophet Muhammad was unlettered and that the Qur’an has presented an open-ended and eternal challenge to humanity:
If you are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down onto Our servant (Muhammad), produce a chapter of the like thereof, and call your witnesses, supporters, who are apart from God, if you are truthful (2:23).
No one has ever met this challenge successfully.
- The Revelation spanned 23 years. How is it that such a book, which deals with Divine truth, metaphysics, religious beliefs and worship, prayer, law and morality, the afterlife, psychology, sociology, epistemology, history, scientific facts, and the principles of a happy life, never contradicts itself? In fact, it openly declares that it contains no contradictions and is therefore a Divine Book:
Will they not then ponder on the Qur’an? If it had been from other than God they would have found therein much contradiction and incongruity (4:82).
- The Qur’an is a literary masterpiece that cannot be duplicated. Its styles and eloquence, even its actual sentences, words, and letters form a miraculous harmony. With respect to rhythm, music, and even geometric proportions, mathematical measures, and repetition, each is in its exact place and perfectly interwoven and interrelated with others.
- Eloquence, poetry, and oratory enjoyed great prestige in pre-Islamic Arabia. Poetry competitions were held regularly, and winning poems were written in gold and hung on the Ka’ba’s walls. The unlettered Prophet had never been heard to say even a couple lines of poetry. However, the Qur’an he brought eventually forced all known experts to surrender.
Even the unbelievers were captivated by it. Nevertheless, to stop Islam from spreading, they said it was magical and should not be listened to. But when poets such as Hansa and Lebid converted and then abandoned poetry out of respect for and awe of the Qur’an’s styles and eloquence, the unbelievers had to confess: “If we call it a piece of poetry, it is not. If we designate it a piece of rhymed prose, it is not. If we describe it as the word of a soothsayer, it is not.” At times, they could not help listening to the Prophet’s recitation secretly at night, but they could not overcome their arrogance long enough to believe in its Divine origin.
- Despite the high level of poetry, Arabic’s vocabulary was too primitive to express metaphysical ideas or scientific, religious, and philosophical concepts adequately. Islam, using the words and expressions of a simple desert people, made Arabic so rich and complex that it became the language of the most magnificent civilization, one that made many entirely original contributions to scientific, religious, metaphysical, literary, economic, juridical, social, and political areas. How could an unlettered person launch a philological revolution that has no parallel in human history?
- Despite its apparent simplicity, the Qur’an has many levels of meaning. It illuminates the way for poets, musicians, and orators, as well as for sociologists, psychologists, scientists, economists, and jurists. Founders of true spiritual orders and schools of law and conduct found in it all the principles needed to guide their adherents. The Qur’an shows everyone how to solve their problems and fulfill their spiritual quests. Can any other book accomplish this?
- However beautiful and interesting a book is, we read it at most two or three times and then put it aside forever. Billions of Muslims, on the other hand, have recited portions of the Qur’an during their five daily prayers for the last fourteen centuries. Many have recited it completely once a year, and sometimes even once or twice a month. The more we recite it, the more we benefit from it and the more desire we feel to recite it. People never get tired of its wording, meaning, and content, and it never loses any of its originality and freshness. As time passes, it breathes new truths and meanings into minds and souls, thereby increasing their activity and liveliness.
- The Qur’an describes all our physical and spiritual aspects, and contains principles to solve all social, economic, juridical, political, and administrative problems regardless of time or place. Furthermore, it satisfies the mind and spirit simultaneously, and guarantees happiness in both worlds.
No one, no matter how intelligent, can establish rules to solve all potential problems. Even the best system must be revised at least every 50 years. More importantly, no system can promise eternal happiness, for their principles are restricted to this transient human life, which is infinitely short when compared to the afterlife.
In contrast, no Qur’anic principle has become obsolete or needs revision. For example, it states that wealth should not circulate only among the rich (59:7); that government offices should be entrusted to competent, qualified persons, and that absolute justice should rule in public administration and all disputes (4:58); that people can only have what they strive for (53:39); and that whoever kills a person unjustly is the same as one who would kill all humanity (5:32). These and many other principles (e.g., prohibiting usury, gambling, alcohol, and extramarital sexual relations; enjoining prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and good conduct) are strengthened through love and awareness of God, the promise of an eternal happy life, and the fear of punishment in Hell.
The Qur’an also unveils the mystery of humanity, creation, and the universe. The Qur’an, humanity, and the universe are the three “books” that make the Creator known to us, and are three expressions of the same truth. Therefore, the One Who created humanity and the universe also revealed the Qur’an.
- You cannot find people who do exactly what they ask others to do, or whose deeds reflect them exactly. However, the Qur’an is identical with Prophet Muhammad, and is the embodiment of him in words, just as he is the embodiment of the Qur’an in belief and conduct. They are two expressions of the same truth. When asked about her husband’s conduct, ‘A’isha replied: “Don’t you read the Qur’an? His conduct was the Qur’an.” This clearly shows that the Qur’an and Muhammad are the works of God Almighty.
- Authors are usually so influenced by their surroundings that it is almost impossible for them to become detached. By contrast, even though revealed in parts on certain occasions, the Qur’an is as equally universal and objective when dealing with particular issues as it is exact and precise when dealing with universal matters. It uses precise expressions even while describing the beginning of creation and the end of time, and humanity’s creation and life in the other world. Just as it sometimes draws universal conclusions from particular events, it sometimes goes from universal principles to particular events. This typical Qur’anic style cannot be found in any human work and is, therefore, another sign of its Divine origin.
- No author has ever written a book in his or her field that is as accurate as the Qur’an is in such varied fields as religion and law, sociology and psychology, eschatology and morality, history and literature, and so on. The Qur’an also contains the principles of all branches of knowledge, either in summary or in detail, and not even one piece of this knowledge has ever been contradicted. What more is needed to prove its Divine origin?
- Can any author claim that his or her work is absolutely correct and will remain so forever? Scientific conclusions change constantly. The Torah and Gospels undergo continuous alteration. Even a superficial study of Bibles published in different times and languages shows these alterations. Yet the Qur’an’s truths retain their freshness or, in the words of Said Nursi, “as time grows older, the Qur’an grows ever younger.” No mistake or contradiction has ever been found in it, and ever since the beginning of its revelation it has remained unchanged and displayed its uniqueness. It continues, even now, to conquer new hearts and reveal its hidden unlimited treasures, to bloom like a heavenly rose with countless petals.
- Based on your knowledge and reputation for honesty, can you speak on behalf of the president, the prime minister, and all other ministers; of associations for writers, lawyers, and workers; and of the board of university lecturers and scientists? Can you claim to represent them as perfectly as each would want you to? Can you legislate for all the affairs of the country? This is just what the Prophet achieved through the Qur’an. How can you claim that an unlettered person, who was totally apolitical until he was 40, could achieve such results without Divine inspiration and support?
- The Prophet is admonished in the Qur’an. If he were its author, would he give such a noticeable place to the grave slander against his wife? Would he not hide the revelation ordering him to marry Zaynab (discussed above), rather than publicize it, if it did not come from God? ‘A’isha said later that if the Prophet could have concealed any part of the Qur’an, he would have concealed this.
His uncle Abu Talib, who raised him since he was 8 and protected him for 10 years after his declaration of Prophethood, never embraced Islam. The Prophet loved his uncle deeply and desired his conversion, but was told that:
You guide not whom you love, but God guides whom He wills. He is best aware of those who are guided (28:56).
If he were the Qur’an’s author, he could have claimed that Abu Talib had embraced Islam.
- Many verses begin with “They ask you” and continue with “Say (in answer).” These were revealed to answer questions asked by Muslims and non-Muslims, especially the Jews of Madina, about allowed or prohibited matters, the distribution of war gainings, (astrological) mansions of the moon, Judgment Day, Dhul-Qarnayn (an ancient believing king who made great conquests in Asia and Africa), the spirit, and so on. One without an all-encompassing knowledge cannot answer such questions. But his answers satisfied everybody. This shows that he was taught by God, the All-Knowing.
- The Prophet was very austere and shunned worldly gain, fame, rulership, wealth, and pleasure. Also, he endured great hardship and persecution. To claim that he invented the Qur’an means that Muhammad the Trustworthy, as he was commonly known, was the greatest liar and cheat history has ever known. Why would he falsely claim Prophethood and expose himself and his family to severe deprivation and persecution? Such an accusation, as well as that of saying that he wrote the Qur’an, are totally groundless and lack evidence.
- The Jews and Christians were very strong opponents. Eventually, he had to fight the Jews of Madina several times and expel them. Despite this, the Qur’an mentions Prophet Moses about 50 times and Jesus many times; it mentions Muhammad’s name only four times. Why should a person who falsely claims Prophethood mention the Prophets of his opponents? Can there be any reason other than jealousy, prejudice, selfishness, and other negative emotions for denying Muhammad’s Prophethood?
- The Qur’an also refers to certain facts of creation only recently established by modern scientific methods. How, except for Divine authorship, could the Qur’an be correct on matters which the people listening to it had no idea? For example, if the Qur’an were a regular book, could it have contained:
Do not the unbelievers realize that the heavens and the earth were one unit of creation before we split them asunder? (21:30).
Whether the Qur’an refers explicitly or implicitly to scientific facts, and the exact relationship between the Qur’an and modern science, are matters of considerable controversy among Muslim intellectuals. Therefore, we will discuss this subject at some length.
By M. Fethullah Gulen