The Miraculous Nature of the Qur'an

The following are quotations from Ali Dashti, Twenty Three Years: A study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, Allen and Unwin, London, 1985.

"Among the Moslem scholars of the early period, before bigotry and hyperbole prevailed, were some such as Ebrahim on-Nazzam who openly acknowledged that the arrangement and syntax of the Qor'an are not miraculous and that work of equal or greater value could be produced by other God-fearing persons." (p. 48)

"It is widely held that the blind Syrian poet Abu'l-`Ala ol-Ma'arri (368/979-450/1058) wrote his Ketab ol-fosul wa' l-ghayat, of which a part survives, in imitation of the Qor'an." (p. 48)

"The Qor'an contains sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid of commentaries; foreign words, unfamiliar Arabic words, and words used with other than the normal meaning; adjectives and verbs inflected without observance of the concords of gender and number; illogically and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referent; and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from the subjects. These and other such aberrations in the language have given scope to critics who deny the Qor'an's eloquence. The problem also occupied the minds of devout Moslems. It forced the commentators to search for explanations and was probably one of the causes of disagreement over readings." (p. 48, 49)

"To sum up, more than one hundred Qor'anic aberrations from the normal rules and structure of Arabic have been noted. Needless to say, the commentators strove to find explanations and justifications of these irregularities. Among them was the great commentator and philologist Mahmud oz-Zamakhshari (467/1075-538/1144), of whom a Moorish author wrote: `This grammar-obsessed pedant has committed a shocking error. Our task is not to make the readings conform to Arabic grammar, but to take the whole of the Qor'an as it is and make Arabic grammar conform to the Qor'an.'" (p. 50)

"In the field of moral teachings, however, the Qor'an cannot be considered miraculous. Mohammad reiterated principles which mankind had already conceived in earlier centuries and many places. Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster, Socrates, Moses, and Jesus had said similar things." (p. 54)

"Neither the Qor'an's eloquence nor its moral and legal precepts are miraculous. The Qor'an is miraculous because it enabled Mohammad, single-handedly and despite poverty and illiteracy, to overcome his people's resistance and found a lasting religion because it moved wild men to obedience and imposed its bringer's will on them." (p. 57)

The whole book will be of interest, especially to Muslims who are concerned with "both values and problems which Islam presents to modern Muslims." (p. ix)

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