Quran (القرآن) and Quran Tafsir with Islamic Scholar Ali Gomaa (على جمعة): The Miracles of Muhammad and the Miracle of the Quran (Quran 6:7-9)
I have been studying chapter 6 of the Qur’an: The Cattle (Al-An’am). I have been learning from Ali Gomaa; a leading Islamic scholar – the second highest Sunni authority in Egypt. This is episode 14.
Ali Gomaa continues to discuss in this episode Quran 6:7 and the miracle of the Quran,
YUSUF ALI: If We had sent unto thee a written (message) on parchment, so that they could touch it with their hands, the Unbelievers would have been sure to say: “This is nothing but obvious magic!”
PICKTHAL: Had we sent down unto thee (Muhammad) (actual) writing upon parchment, so that they could feel it with their hands, those who disbelieve would have said: This is naught else than mere magic.
SHAKIR: And if We had sent to you a writing on a paper, then they had touched it with their hands, certainly those who disbelieve would have said: This is nothing but clear enchantment.
Sheikh Ali Gomaa’s Teaching About Quran 6:7-9:
The Miracle of the Quran
Ali Gomaa continues, “The miracle of the message is the Qur’an. It is also one of the miracles of the prophet. Now, there are the prophet’s miracles which are exclusive to his time and supernatural. People believe it as he is amongst them. There is also the message’s miracle that exceeds time, place, people and conditions, it will last till the Day of Judgment. This is why people compile books about the Miracles of the Qur’an as it is a base of calling to Islam. It is a unique book; not like any other. Its miraculousness springs from its uniqueness. There has been never a book for an author, a poet, a wise man, a politician, or a war leader to last all these ages, it is a special book. It is the only book on earth that is preserved, it is the only book that has not been interpolated, as no one has ever managed to imitate this book. People’s trials throughout ages to interpolate it proved that, everything happens with Allah’s will and that He’s the One Who preserves the book, this book is revealed from Him many tried to imitate it but they all failed.”
“Starting from Musailama “the liar” who wrote one or two lines, ending with Bairam Altonesy, the poet who tried to imitate the verses of the Qur’an, but he regretted what he had done afterwards. He wept asking people not to tell about what he tried to do but some of those who publish his works told about this. Thus, he repudiated this mistake to Allah and got rid of his sin and those who told about it, got the guilt of that sin relating his trials to imitate the Noble Qur’an.”
The Inimitable Quran
“These imitations happened throughout history. Mustafa Sadek al-Rafe’i mentioned seven of these imitations that lasted till this day, but they all failed. And it was proven that this book is sent down from Allah and that it is unique in its dignity, place, and value and that it will remain like this as it is the words of Allah. “Surely We’ve been sending down the Remembrance, and surely We are indeed Preservers of it.”
“And they said, “Why is not an angel sent down to him?”! And (yet), if We had sent down an Angel, the matter would be settled at once, and no respite would be granted them.”
Gomaa says, “This is among of what the disbelievers said as a kind of mocking, it was not a real request the disbelievers asked for sending the Qur’an down in a book of paper. Allah clarified that even if Qur’an was sent in a book of paper and they touched it with their hands, “the disbelievers would say, this is not but obvious magic.”
Angels and the Quran
“They had yet another request, that is, to see the angel who talks to the Prophet (SAWS)1Abbreviation for the Arabic phrase transliterated, Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. This phrase is used after references to Muhammad and his titles. It means May Allah bless him and grant him peace.. Prophecy demands contacting the angel, hearing his words. An angel has three conditions:
- First, seeing him in the shape it is created with without hearing him.
- Second, hearing a voice without seeing him.
- Third, hearing a voice and seeing him in the shape it is created with.
- And fourth, which is the complement, hearing his voice and seeing him in another shape but the one it is created with.
“These are the four kinds and conditions that, in three of them an angel appears the same as it is created, and in one in which it does not.”
The Miracle of the Quran and the Quran in Translation
Gerd Puin is an authority on Quranic historical orthography, the study and scholarly interpretation of ancient manuscripts, and a specialist in Arabic paleography. He does not believe the Quran is a miracle; in fact, he wrote,
“a fifth of the Qur’anic text is just incomprehensible…If the Qur’an is not comprehensible, if it can’t even be understood in Arabic, then it’s not translatable into any language” (Gerd R. Puin, Wikipedia)
This raises several problems:
- Ali Gomaa says the Quran is inimitable. Other non-Islamic experts say about 20% of the Quran is incomprehensible.
- If Gerd Puin is right about parts of the Quran being incomprehensible, then it seems that the Quran hasn’t been preserved in its entirety. What good are words and sentences if their meaning has been lost?
- Ali Gomaa claims that Islam is a universal religion; however, the Classical Arabic of the Quran is not spoken or understood by the overwhelming majority of people in the world (including Muslims). How is this universal? (see some of the further questions that are raised in my post on the Arabic Language of the Quran).
Now, many Muslims might say that Gerd Puin is an enemy of Islam. But if the Quran were a miracle, then even the enemies of Islam would have to grant that the book is inimitable. This is one of the interesting things about Moses and Jesus. Even their enemies could not deny the miracles and signs they did (Exodus 8:16-19; John 11:47).
Different people have given different assessments of the Quran. There are many positive assessments, and there are many mixed and negative assessments. The following are taken from the Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an:
Positive assessments of the Quran, style of the Quran, grammar of the Quran
- Muslim translator of the Qurʾan, Marmaduke Pickthall, a British convert to Islam, described the Qur’an as an “inimitable symphony, the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy.”
- George Sale, a non-Muslim English translator of the Quran thought that: “The style of the Koran is generally beautiful and fluent, especially where it imitates the prophetic manner and scripture phrases. It is concise and often obscure, adorned with bold figures after the eastern taste, enlivened with florid and sententious expressions, and in many places, especially when the majesty and attributes of God are described, sublime and magnificent.”
- The Austrian J. von Hammer-Purgstall stated, “The Koran is not only the law book of Islam, but also a masterpiece of Arabic poetic art. Only the high magic of the language could give to the speech of Abdallah’s son the stamp of the speech of God”.
- F.J. Steingass said the Quran is “[…] 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.”
Negative assessments of the Quran, Quranic style, and grammar of the Quran
- Richard Bell remarked that, for a long time, occidental scholars called attention to “the grammatical unevennesses and interruption of sense which occur in the Quran.”
- The Quranic scholar and Semitist Theodor Nöldeke qualified the quranic language as: “drawling, dull and prosaic.” Elsewhere Nöldeke said the Quran, “aesthetically considered, is by no means a first-rate performance.”
- Jakob Barth was struck by “the disruptions of the relations” in the surahs.
- The Iraqi English Semitist A. Mingana thought that the style of the Quran “suffers from the disabilities that always characterize a first attempt in a new literary language which is under the influence of an older and more fixed literature.”
- R.A. Nicholson, a specialist in Arabic literature and Sufism observed, “The preposterous arrangment of the Koran […] is mainly responsible for the opinion held by European readers that it is obscure, tiresome, uninteresting; a farrago of long-winded narratives and prosaic exhortations,quite unworthy to be named in the same breath with the Prophetical Books of the Old Testament.”
The alleged miracle of the Noble Quran is not rooted in observable history
I do not know classical Arabic, but even if I were to learn it there would be no guarantee that I would see the miracle of its heavenly origin. In fact, the above article on the Language and Style of the Quran says, “Read with eyes other than those of faith, quranic style is generally not assessed as being particularly clear…” I understand this to be an indication that claims Muslims make about the miraculous sign of the Quran are rooted in subjectivity and not objectivity. The miracle of the Quran is not rooted in observation.
The Bible is a book for all nations that can be translated into other languages
The Bible is a book for all nations that can be translated into other languages. I urge you to read the Bible, and if you are a Muslim who believes in the importance of rational dialogue, then I invite you to read, study, and interact with my other arguments in, Is the Qur’an the Word of God.
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|↥1||Abbreviation for the Arabic phrase transliterated, Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. This phrase is used after references to Muhammad and his titles. It means May Allah bless him and grant him peace.|