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The Holy Qur’an is our celestial Book and the eternal miracle of our Holy Prophet. This Divine Book was revealed to the Holy Prophet over a period of 23 years. The Holy Qur’an besides being a revealed Book and manifestation of the miracle- producing power of the Holy Prophet has had a deeper and greater role than of the staff of Prophet Musa and the breath of Prophet Isa. The Holy Prophet used to recite the verses of the Holy Qur’an to the people. Their magnetic power on many occasions drew many a man to Islam. Such incidents are innumerable in Islamic history.
The Holy Qur’an is a collection of 114 chapters which consist of 6205 verses comprising about 78,000 words.
The fact that Muslims from the early days of Islam till the present day have been taking an unprecedented interest in the Holy Qur’an, shows their devotion to it. In the lifetime of the Holy Prophet the Holy Qur’an was preserved in writing by a number of persons especially appointed by him and known as the scribes of revelation. Besides, most of the Muslims irrespective of their sex and age were keen to memorize the whole or a part of the Holy Qur’an. They recited it in their prayers and considered it a meritorious act to recite it even when they were not offering prayers. They really enjoyed its recitation.
Great Interest of Muslims in the Holy Qur’an
Under the impact of their ardent love for their revealed Book the Muslims in every age have rendered some service to the Holy Qur’an corresponding with their intellectual and practical potentialities. They memorized it. They acquired special training on reading it. properly and uttering every letter of it. through proper organs. They wrote commentaries on it and compiled special books explaining the meaning of every word of it. They counted its verses, its words and even its letters. They explored its meaning and applied results to the legal, moral, social, philosophical, and scientific questions. They adorned their speeches and writings by quoting the verses of the Holy Qur’an. The inscriptions of high merit, Mosaics and Qashani tiles inscribed with beautifully drawn and illuminated lines and letters contained the Qur’anic verses. The Muslims taught the Holy Qur’an to their children before giving them any other education. They compiled Arabic grammar and Arabic dictionaries to facilitate the understanding of the Holy Qur’an. They were inspired by it to develop the art of rhetoric.
The devotion of Muslims to the Holy Qur’an was the source of the origin of a number of sciences and literary arts which would not have come into being if it did exist.
Inimitability of the Holy Qur’an
The Holy Qur’an is an everlasting miracle of the last Prophet. From the very beginning of its revelation in Makkah which began, with small surahs, the Holy Prophet formally threw a challenge to the idolaters. He claimed that the Holy Qur’an was not his work. It was the work of Allah and neither he nor any other human being could produce a like of it. He said that if they did not believe him, they could make an attempt to produce the like of it, and for that purpose could seek the help of anybody they liked. But they should know beforehand that they would never succeed in such an attempt even if all the human beings and jinn joined hands together with them. The opponents of the Holy Prophet neither during his lifetime nor during any subsequent period of the past 1400 years, have been able to respond to this challenge. The only thing that the opponents of Islam of the Holy Prophet’s time could do was that they asserted that the Holy Qur’an was a piece of magic. This accusation was in itself an admission of the super-naturalness of the Holy Qur’an and of their inability to emulate it.
The die-hard opponents of the Holy Prophet had no scruples. They were so desperate that they left no stone unturned in order to harm and weaken his position. But the only thing they were unable to do was that which was proposed by the Holy Prophet himself and expressly by the Holy Qur’an The Holy Qur’an had asked them to produce the like of at least one surah of it even if that be a one-line surah like Surah al-Tawhhid or Surah al- Kawthar.
Various Aspects of the Inimitability of the Holy Qur’an
Here we propose to refer to some aspects of the miraculous-ness or super naturalness of the Holy Qur’an. On the whole the inimitability of the holy Qur’an has two aspects: one of them pertains to its words and the other to its contents.
The inimitability of its words is due to its beautiful and artistic diction, and the inimitability of its contents is due to their high intellectual and scientific value. Each of these two aspects, especially the second one again in its turn has several aspects. Latterly certain Egyptian and Iranian scholars have claimed that one of the aspects of the inimitability of the Holy Qur’an is that its letters and words have been so arranged that its verses from a special type of ascending curve.
Wording of the Holy Qur’an
The Holy Qur’an has its own style, which is different from that of both poetry and prose. It is not poetry because it is neither rhymed, nor has it a metrical rhythm. Moreover, poetry entails a sort of imagery called poetic fancy. It is interwoven with exaggeration which amounts to telling a lie. The Holy Qur’an has no poetic imagery nor fanciful similes and metaphors. At the same time it is no ordinary prose, for it is characterized by a kind of harmonious flow and cadence not found in any other prose work. The Muslims have always recited the Holy Qur’an with a particular harmonic tune.
There are religious instructions to the effect that the Holy Qur’an should be recited in a melodious voice. The Holy Imams sometimes recited the Holy Qur’an in their houses so melodiously that the passers-by stopped in the street to listen to their recitation. No other piece of prose can be melodized in the same way as the Holy Qur’an. Its sound –effect is compatible with its spiritual value and is different from hat of music. Since the invention of radio no other spiritual speech has been found comparable with the Holy Qur’an in its sweet melodious effect. In addition to the Muslim countries the non- Muslim countries also have included the recitation of the Holy Qur’an in their radio programmes on account of its sweet sound and beauty. It is astonishing that the beauty of the Holy Qur’an has surpassed the limits of time and place. Many of the beautiful speeches are appreciated only during a particular period of time and with a change in taste they lose their value and effect. Some of them are appreciated only by certain nations having a particular taste and a particular cultural background. But the beauty of the Holy Qur’an is unique. It is not peculiar to any particular time, race or culture.
All those who are conversant with the diction of the Holy Qur’an, find it conforming to their individual taste. The more the time passes and the more the various nations get acquainted with the Holy Qur’an, the more they are fascinated by its charming beauty.
A. Inability of opponents against the Qur’an, during history
The biased Jews, Christians and the followers of certain other religions over the past fourteen centuries have in various ways offered resistance to the Holy Qur’an with a view to weaken its position. They alleged that alteration had taken place in it. they tried to create doubts about various matters concerning it and they resorted to so many other machinations and tricks, but they never thought of seeking the help of their writers and men of letters to respond to the challenge of the Holy Qur’an and produce at least a small surah like it.
In the history of Islam there appeared a large number of people known as zindinqa or heretics. Some of them were extraordinarily intelligent. They in various ways criticized the religion generally and the Holy Qur’an particularly. Some of them enjoyed a great command of the Arabic language. They tried to contest the superiority of the Holy Qur’an, but all that they could do was that they proved their own lowliness and the granduer of the Holy Qur’an. In this connection history has related the stories of Ibn Rawandi, Abul Ala al-Mu’arri and Abut Tayyib al- Mutanabbi. It was they who wanted to show that they were able to emulate the Holy Qur’an and could prove that it was a human work. There arose many pretenders who claimed to be Prophets. They produced utterances about which they claimed that they were revealed to them by Allah just like the Holy Qur’an. Tulayhah, Musylimah and Sajah belong to this category. They again could prove only the geanduer of the Holy Qur’an and their own lowliness.
B. The difference between the sayings of the Quran and the religions leaders’
It is astonishing that the sayings of the Holy Prophet himself on whose tongue the Holy Qur’an flowed, are dissimilar to the Holy Qur’an. A very large number of the sayings of the Holy Prophet, including his sermons, invocations, maxims and orders have come down to us. Their language is apt and flawless, but it is no way similar to that of the Holy Qur’an. This clearly proves that the sayings of the Holy prophet and the Holy Qur’an have originated from two different sources.
Imam Ali’s contact with the Holy Qur’an began when he was only 10 years old. In other words, he was 10 years of age when the first verses of the Holy Qur’an were revealed to the Holy Prophet. He received them as zealously as a thirsty person would receive pure water. Till the last moments of the Holy prophet’s life he headed the scribes of revelation. He knew the Holy Qur’an by heart and recited it regularly. At night his most favourite act of worship was the recitation of the Holy Qur’an. In these circumstance if it had been possible to emulate the style of the Holy Qur’an, Imam Ali with his unrivalled eloquence would certainly have done so. Influenced by the style of the Holy Qur’an as he was, his sermons would have taken the form of the Qur’anic verses. But as we know, his style is quite different from that of the Holy Qur’an.
When Imam Ali in his eloquent sermons quotes averse of the Holy Qur’an, it always has a distinctive look and shines like an extraordinarily bright star among other stars.
C. Incomparable arrangement and eloquency of the Qur’an
The Holy Qur’an has not used the themes which are usually selected by the human beings in order to display their rhetorical skill, such as self-glorification, panegyric, satire, elegy, love- songs and description of natural scenery. The Holy Qur’an has not dealt with any of these themes. Its subjects are all spiritual, such as Monotheism, Resurrection, Prophet hood, ethical duties, rules of law, religious exhortations and moral stories. However, its diction is remarkably superb and extremely beautiful, in every case.
The arrangement of the words in the Holy Qur’an is matchless. Nobody can change the position of a single word without damaging its beauty nor can anybody produce a like of it. In this respect the Holy Qur’an is comparable to a beautiful building in which no alteration can be made, nor can anybody construct a building better than it or like it. The style of the Holy Qur’an is unprecedented and will ever remain unrivalled. In spite of the challenge of the Holy Qur’an, no one has ever been able to rival or emulate it.
The challenge of the Holy Qur’an is still valid and will ever remain so. Even now the faithful Muslims invite the people the world over to take part in the competition suggested by the Holy Qur’an. They say that if the like of the Holy Qur’an was produced, they would give up their faith. They are sure that such a thing cannot happen and would never happen.