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The Holy Qur'an
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What They Say About the Quran
Humanity has received divine guidance through two channels: the
word of Allah and the prophets who were chosen by Him to
communicate His will to humanity These channels have always
functioned together, and if one is ignored or neglected, the will of
Allah cannot be known with any degree of accuracy. The Hindus
neglected their prophets and focused all of their attention on their
books, which proved to be only word puzzles that eventually were no
longer understood by the people. Similarly the Christians,
disregarding the Bible, attached importance only to the person of
Jesus Christ and eventually deified him. This resulted in the loss of t
he very essence of tawhid (monotheism) contained in the Bible.
As a matter of fact, the main scriptures revealed before the Qur'an
i.e., the Old Testament and the New Testament, acquired book form
long after the days of the prophets. Moreover, the New Testament
was not recorded in the language spoken by Jesus Christ, believed to
be Aramaic, but in Greek. This was because the early Christians made
no serious effort to preserve their revelation during the lifetime of
their prophet. The Old and New Testaments, which together form the
Christian Bible, now consist of translations of various individuals'
accounts of the original revelations as well as the additions and
deletions made by the faithful.
The Qur'an, as the last revealed book of God, is extant in its original
form. Allah Himself guaranteed its preservation. The entire Qur'an
was recorded in written form during the lifetime of the Prophet
Muhammad (PBUH) on pieces of palm leaves, parchments, bones, and
other suitable surfaces. Moreover, there were tens of thousands of
his followers who memorized the whole Qur'an, and the Prophet
himself used to recite it to the angel Gabriel once a year and twice
when he was about to die.
After the Prophet's death, Abu Bakr, the first caliph, oversaw the
collection of the Qur'an into one volume by the Prophet's scribe, Zaid
Ibn Thabit. This volume remained with Abu Bakr who, when he was
about to die, entrusted it to his successor, Umar Ibn al Khattab who,
in turn, passed it on to Hafsa, the Prophet's wife. It was from this.original copy that Uthman, the third caliph, prepared several other
copies and sent them to different Muslim territories.
The Qur'an was preserved so meticulously because it was to be the
book of guidance for all humanity forever. Thus it does not address
only the Arabs, even though it was revealed in their language. It
speaks to man as a human being: "O Man! What has seduced you
from your Lord?" The practical nature of the Qur'anic teachings is
established by the examples of the Prophet and of pious Muslims
The Qur'an instructions are aimed at the general welfare of man and
are based on possibilities within his reach. Its wisdom is conclusive
in all of its venous dimensions. It does not condemn or torture the
flesh, nor does it neglect the soul. It does not humanize God nor does
it deify man. Everything is carefully placed where it belongs in the
total scheme of creation.
Those scholars who allege that Muhammad wrote the Qur'an claim
something that is not humanly possible. Could anyone living in the
sixth century CE. utter such scientific truths as the Qur'an contains?
Could he describe the evolution of the embryo inside the uterus so
accurately that it matches the description given by modern science?
Secondly, is it logical to believe that the Prophet, who, until the age
of forty, was known far and wide for his honesty and integrity,
began all of a sudden to write a book that is without equal in literary
merit and that could not be surpassed by the whole legion of the
Arab poets and orators of the highest caliber?
And lastly, is it justified to say that Muhammad (PBUH), who was
known to his people as al-Amin (The trustworthy) and who is still
admired by non-Muslim scholars for his honesty and integrity, came
forth with a false claim and on that falsehood trained thousands of
individuals of character, integrity, and honesty who were able to
establish the best human society that the world has ever known?
Surely, any sincere and unbiased searcher of truth will come to
believe that the Qur'an is the revealed book of Allah.
Without necessarily agreeing completely with their statements, we
would like to quote some of the opinions of important non-Muslim
scholars who have studied the Qur'an. Such comments show that the
non Muslim world is taking a more serious view of the Qur'an and.that it is beginning to appreciate its truth. We appeal to all people
who are seeking spiritual truth to study the Qur'an in light of the
aforementioned points. Cast your preconceived notions aside and
listen to what these people have to say....
However often we turn to it [the Qur'an], at first disgusting us each
time afresh, it soon attracts, astounds, and in the end enforces our
reverence... Its style, in accordance with its contents and aim, is
stern, grand, terrible - ever and anon truly sublime. Thus this book
will go on exercising through all ages a most potent influence.
- Goethe, quoted in T P Hughes' Dictionary of Islam, p 526.
The Koran admittedly occupies an important position among the
great religious books of the world. Though the youngest of the epoch-making
works belonging to this class of literature, it yields to hardly
any in the wonderful effect which it has produced on large masses of
men. It has created an all but new phase of human thought and a
fresh type of character. It first transformed a number of
heterogeneous desert tribes of the Arabian peninsula into a nation of
heroes, and then proceeded to create the vast politico-religious
organizations of the Muhammadan world which are one of the great
forces with which Europe and the East have to reckon today
- G. Margoliouth,
Introduction to M. Rodwell's
The Koran, New York Every man's Library, 1977, p. Vll.'
A work, then, which calls forth so powerful and seemingly
incompatible emotions even in the distant reader distant as to time,
and still more so as to mental development - a work which not only
conquers the repugnance with which he may begin its perusal, but
changes this adverse feeling into astonishment and admiration, such
a work must be a wonderful production of the human mind indeed
and a problem of the highest interest to every thoughtful observer of
the destinies of mankind.
- Dr. Steingass,
quoted in T. P. Hughes' Dictionary of Islam, pp. 526-7.
The above observation makes the hypothesis advanced by those who
see Muhammad as the author of the Qur'an untenable. How could a
man, from being illiterate, become the most important author, in
terms of literary merits, in the whole of Arabic literature? How could
he then pronounce truths of a scientific nature that no other human
being could possibly have developed at that time, and all this
without once making the slightest error in his pronouncement on the
- Maurice Bucaille,
The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, 1978, p 125.
Here, therefore, its meets as a literary production should perhaps not
be measured by some preconceived maxims of subjective and
aesthetic taste, but by the effects which it produced in Muhammad's
contemporaries and fellow countrymen. If it spoke so powerfully and
convincingly to the hearts of his hearers as to weld hitherto
centrifugal and antagonistic elements into one compact and well
organized body. animated by ideas far beyond those which had until
now ruled the Arabian mind, then its eloquence was perfect, simply
because it created a civilized nation out of savage tribes, and shot a
fresh woof into the old warp of history.
- Dr Steingass, quoted in Hughes' Dictionary of Islam, p. 528.
In making the present attempt to improve on the performance of my
predecessors, and to produce something which might be accepted as
echoing however faintly the sublime rhetoric of the Arabic Koran, I
have been at pain to study the intricate and richly varied rhythms
which-apart from the message itself-constitute the Koran's
undeniable claim to rank amongst the greatest literary masterpieces
of mankind ... This very characteristic feature-"that inimitable
symphony" as the believing Pickthall described his Holy Book, "the
very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy"-has been
almost totally ignored by previous translators; it is therefore not
surprising that what they have wrought sounds dull and net indeed
in comparison with the splendidly decorated original.
- Arthur J Arberry, The Koran Interpreted London: Oxford University Press, 1964,p.X.
A totally objective examination [of the Qur'an] in the light of modern
knowledge leads us to recognize the agreement between the two, as
has been already noted on repeated occasions. It makes us deem it
quite unthinkable for a man of Muhammad's time to have been the
author of such statements, on account of the state of knowledge in
his day Such considerations are part of what gives the Qur'anic
revelation its unique place, and forces the impartial scientist to admit
his inability to provide an explanation which calls solely upon
WAMY Series on Islam No. 2