Discover Islam: Basic Concepts: Qur'an






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Qur’ân, A Miracle...

The Qur’ân is truly a living miracle. The very fact of its form and existence as described in the previous sections is miraculous. Going deeper into it, however, one finds amazing characteristics from every vantage point.

… In Language

The Arabs of the 6th and 7th centuries C.E. were masters of language. Eloquence and rhetoric were their lifeblood. The liveliness that marked their gatherings, the gaiety of their fairs, and the virtues of which they boasted all found their expression through poetry and literature. They were so proud of their literary accomplishments that they contemptuously dubbed all the other peoples of the world as “’Ajam” or “Dumb.” It was in this atmosphere that there appeared on the scene an unlettered person, Muhammad . He presented before them an oration, and declared it to be the Word of Allâh, because,

If mankind and the jinn were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur’ân, they could never produce the like thereof, even if they backed up one another.[1]

Such a proclamation was no ordinary thing. It came from a person who had never learned anything from the renowned poets and scholars of the time, had never recited even a single piece of poetry in their congregations, and never attended the company of soothsayers. And far from composing any poetry himself, he did not even remember the verses of other poets. This proclamation, repeated several times in the Qur’ân, was therefore the greatest challenge to their literary prowess, and at the same time also a fatal stab at their polytheist creed and beliefs. Yet a hush fell over the whole galaxy of these stirring orators and fiery poets. Not a soul stepped forward to accept this challenge of producing the like of the Qur’ân. They tortured the Prophet , called him insane, sorcerer, poet and soothsayer, but failed utterly in composing even a few sentences the like of the Qur’ânic verses. To this day, as well, the challenge has remained unmet, although many throughout history, even in the modern day, have made feeble attempts to do so.[2]

… In Prophecies

Among other things, the Qur’ân contains prophecies of future events, many of which have come to pass. We reproduce here a discussion of one such prophecy which was fulfilled within the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad .

While the Prophet  was still in Makkah after having been commissioned to prophethood and was being subjected to all sorts of persecutions by the idolaters of Makkah, exactly at the same time the two great powers of Rome and Persia were repeatedly beaten and vanquished and suffering a horrible loss in men and material. At last the Romans were so utterly exhausted that, far from being in a position to launch a counter-attack, they could not even take a firm stand anywhere. This situation was a matter of jubilation for the pagans of Arabia, as they identified the Persians, for their being fire-worshippers, with themselves and the Romans, as the “people of the Book,” with the Muslims. The dominance of the Persians, in their eyes, presaged their own victory and defeat of the Muslims. It was under these circumstances that these initial verses of the chapter called ar-Rűm (“The Romans”) were revealed:

…The Romans have been defeated, in the land close by. And after (this) defeat of theirs, they will soon be victorious within a few years. To Allâh belongs the command before and after and on that day the Believers will rejoice in Allâh’s help[3]

For those who were aware of the military situation concerning the Romans and Persians this prediction was absolutely incredible. Hence a chieftain of the Quraysh, Ubayy bin Khalaf had a bet with Sayyiduna Abű Bakr  that he would give him ten camels if the Romans emerged victories within three years, otherwise Abű Bakr would give him an equal number of camels. Betting at that time was not yet prohibited so Abű Bakr agreed. When Abű Bakr told the Prophet  of this bet, he said that the Qur’ân had used the word “bid’ sinîn” (“few years”) and in Arabic the word bid applies to a number between three and nine; hence he (Abű Bakr) should extend the time limit to nine years and increase the number of camels. Consequently, Abű Bakr had the bet increased to nine years for a hundred camels instead of ten even though there were no apparent signs of the fulfillment of the prediction. In fact, the Persians kept marching forwards until they reached the city walls of the Roman capitol, Constantinople. The renowned historian Edward Gibbon has commented on this prediction thus:

“When this prophesy was made no prediction could be more unbelievable because the initial twelve years of Heraclius were evidently declaring an end to the Roman Empire.” [Fall of the Roman Empire, v.5, p.73-74]

But exactly seven years after his first defeat, the Roman emperor sallied forth from the capitol and inflicted crushing defeats on the Persians at several places, and after that the Roman armies were victorious everywhere.

Meanwhile a large number of Muslims had migrated to Madînah and their wars with the idolaters of Makkah had already begun, and the day on which 313 ill-equipped Muslims were beating back at the battlefield of Badr one thousand heavily-armed warriors of the Makkans, came the news that the Romans had defeated the Persians, and it was then realised that the Qur’ânic verse, “on that day the Believers will rejoice in Allâh’s help” was meant to denote the twin happiness of the Romans’ victory as well as their own victory at Badr.[4]


… In Science and History

Apart from prophecies, the Qur’ân has pointed out many scientific and historical facts which were not only unknown at that time but could not even be imagined given the development of civilization. Entire books have been written (by both Muslims and non-Muslims) confirming the correspondence of scientific discoveries to the truths expressed in the Qur’ân.[5] Again, we suffice here with two examples:

The Qur’ân has stated that as Fir’awn (Pharoah) was drowning in the sea he confessed faith orally just to save his life. In response, Allâh said:

What! Now? And indeed before this you did rebel and were of the corrupt. So this day We shall rescue you with your body that you may be a sign to those who come after you.[6]

At the time of revelation of this verse, and even centuries afterwards, nobody knew that the body of Fir’awn is still preserved, but it has been discovered only recently and is preserved in the museum of Cairo.

The Qur’ân has stated, “And of everything We have created pairs that you may take heed.[7] When this verse was revealed the general conception was that male and female pairs existed only among human beings and animals or in some vegetation. But with the advancement of science the Qur'ânic reality is becoming manifest that male and female pairs exist in everything. It is a different matter that somewhere they are termed as male and female, and somewhere as positive and negative, or as electron and proton, or neutron and positron. In another verse, the Qur’ân has also clarified that the occurrence in pairs in many other things is still not known to people. It says,

Glorified be He Who created pairs of all things which the earth grows, and of themselves, and of that which they know not.[8]


… A Miracle For Us!

Looking back through history, it has been observed that prophets were sent with miracles that reflected the society and knowledge of the people they were sent to. Thus, Műsâ (Moses - ) was sent with a staff that truly turned into a snake, baffling the trickster magicians of the Pharoah. ‘Îsâ (Jesus - ) was given the power to cure disease and give life to the dead, stupefying the Jewish doctors who felt proud of their limited knowledge of healing and who had begun to disregard and deny the supernatural powers of God.

Similarly the Qur’ân was an immediate miracle for the Arabs so many years ago in that it challenged and far surpassed their limits of their literary expression. Unlike the miracles of previous prophets, however, which only had applicability to a limited time, to this day the Qur’ân, the Final Testament given to the Last and Final Prophet, is still a relevant miracle for humanity and will remain so as long as the world exists. We live in an age of science and technology, of knowledge, logic, and reason. Yet with all the human advancement in every sphere of life, the principles of the Qur’ân are neither proven wrong nor have they become “out-of-date.” This is really the great miracle of Qur’ân that despite so much effort, by those sympathetic to the Book and otherwise, it has proven itself a timeless, universal message for mankind, relevant to every facet of our life—be it politics, economics, ethics, science, literature, arts or entertainment. In fact, (non-Muslim) scholars have gone so far as to admit that the entire “Western” civilization today, thriving from the “rebirth of humanity” (i.e. the “Renaissance”), would not have been so had it not been for the message brought by Muhammad . As the celebrated English writer, Robert Briffault, says in The Making of Humanity:-

The ideas of freedom for all human beings, of human brotherhood, of the equality of all men before the law of democratic government, by consultation and universal suffrage, the ideas that inspired the French Revolution and the Declaration of Rights, that guided the framing of the American Constitution and inflamed the struggle for independence in the Latin-American countries were not inventions of the West. They find their ultimate inspiration and source in the Holy Quran. They are the quintessence of what the intelligentsia of medieval Europe acquired from Islam over a period of centuries through the various societies that developed in Europe in the wake of the Crusades in imitation of the brotherhood associations of Islam. It is highly probably that but for the Arabs modern European civilization would never have arisen at all, it is absolutely certain that but for them it would never have assumed that character which has enabled it to transcend all previous phases of evolution.”



[1] Qur’ân 17:88.

[2] Approach to the Qur'ânic Sciences 260-262.

[3] Qur’ân 30:2-4.

[4] Approach to the Qur'ânic Sciences 282-284.

[5] For example, Scientific Miracles of the Glorious Qur’ân by a contemporary Muslim scholar, Muhammad Sami Muhammad Ali (Syria, 1997) and the famous Bible, Qur’ân and Science by a French non-Muslim, Maurice Bucaille. The former describes “miracles of the Qur’ân in astronomy, oceanography, meteorology, geophysics, creation of man, medicine, psychology, general health, nutrition, history, nuclear science, means of transport, zoology, and mathematics.”

[6] Qur’ân 10:91-92.

[7] Qur’ân 51:49.

[8] Qur’ân 36:36.



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Last modified 08/12/05 09:45 AM - Connecticut Council of Masajid, Inc.