Par Excellence - Islam - Topics

Understanding IslamIntroduction to IslamSome Basic InformationMuslim BeliefsAbout The Qur'aan IAbout The Qur'aan IIHistory of Muhammed (pbuh)History of ProphetsSermons of Muhammed (pbuh)40 AhadithSome Prominent MuslimsThe Holy Qur'aan
Source of Information: The Islamic Scholar Professional CD-ROM

Par Excellence - Islam - List of Topics In Selected Reference

About The Qur'aan I


Click on the arrow or topic to show detail.

bullet

1. THE CLAIM TO REVELATION

bullet

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (in whom God's Blessings and Peace abide!) was unlettered, not knowing how to read and write, because he had received no formal education in any degree from anyone. The historical testimony in this respect is complete and thorough, even as the Qur'anic Revelation contains the proclamation addressed to him and meant to emphasise to his opponents the Divine source of the profound Wisdom that was flowing from his sacred lips:

"And thou (O Muhammad!) didst not recite any book before this (i.e. knew not how to read), nor wast thou (able) to transcribe one with thy right hand (i.e. knew not the art of writing). Otherwise, indeed, those who talk baseless things (against thine Divine Mission) could have (some excuse for having) doubted (the revealed character of the Qur'an)." (xxxix:48).

The Holy Prophet's sole teacher was God, and no one else:
"... and Allah has revealed to thee (O Muhammad!) the Book and the. Wisdom, and has taught thee what thou knewest not; and Allah's Grace unto thee is immense". (Iv: 113).

Thus, the Holy Qur'an is not the product of the Holy Prophet's speculation and thinking. Rather, every word of that Book is the Word of God which was communicated to him through the process of Revelation:

"(This is) the revelation of the Book (i.e. the Qur'an) in which there is no (ground for) doubt,---(a Book) from the Lord of the Worlds. Will they say: 'he has forged it'? Nay, it is the Truth from thy Lord .... " (xxxii :2).

"Blessed is He (i.e. Allah) Who sent down the Criterion (i.e., the Qur'an) to His servant (Muhammad), that he may be a Warner to all the creatures." (xxv: l).

"Say (O Muhammad!): The (Qur'an) has been sent down by Him Who knows the Mystery (that is) in the heavens and the earth .... " (xxv :6).

"But Allah bears witness that what He has revealed to thee (O Muhammad!) He has revealed from His (own) Knowledge: and the angels bear witness (also); but enough is Allah for a witness." (iv :166)

Indeed, the Holy Qur'an calls itself the "Speech of God" (ix:6) and the "most excellent Discourse" "sent down gradually by Allah" (xxxix:23), communicated to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be on him!) not as mere ‘inspiration’ but as the "Arabic Qur'an" (xii: 2) - as Recitation "in plain Arabic language" (xxiv: 195), through the process of Prophetic Revelation (xlii:7, etc.) which was the same as in the case of the previous Divine Messengers from Adam to Jesus (Peace be upon them!) (xlii :3), and which descended upon the "heart" of the Holy Prophet not metaphorically but literally namely, in the form of language in which it was subsequently transcribed by the Scribes.

Being the revealed Word of God, it imparts knowledge which is immune from all possibilities of doubt (ii:2), all types of crookedness (xvii:1), every form of discrepancy (iv:82), and the faintest taint of evil (xxvi:210). On the positive side, it is the embodiment of Truth and Balanced Thought together with the Balanced Way of Life (xlii:17); it is Blessed (with Holiness) (vi:155); it is the Light that is Manifest (iv:174), whose function is to lead forth humanity from the spiritual and moral darkness into the light of the achievement of human destiny (xiv:1); it is the Healing which cures the very basis of spiritual and moral ailments (x:57); it is Mercy and Glad Tidings to those who follow it faithfully (xvi:89); and it is the Criterion which distinguishes clearly the right from the wrong, the good from the evil, the true from the false (ii:185); it is the Guide for all humanity (ii:185), which imparts detailed and comprehensive guidance in all matters wherein human reason can possibly fail in any measure and in any manner (vi:14, xvi:89); and, imparting new knowledge as it does (ii:151), it emphasises that all unbiased persons dedicated to knowledge are bound to uphold its truth at the time of its revelation (xxxiv:6), and to attest it, in later ages, as the horizons of human knowledge expand further and further (xli:53).

bullet

2. THE PHENOMENON OF PROPHETIC REVELATION

bullet

The Prophetic Revelation has nothing to do with the natural mental processes that relate to the human brain. It does not consist even of intuitional flashes like those experienced by certain eminent scientists and thinkers in respect of the discoveries of certain facts of knowledge. It is not just an inspiration of notions and ideas. Namely, it is not merely an 'internal' and subjective fact with no 'external' and objective dimension. Rather, it is a concrete objective phenomenon - though, of course, supernatural or metaphysical in character. It is 'God's Speech' communicated at the highest level.

Of course, God's Speech (kalam) is not of the same nature as the human speech. For, God is Transcendent in His Being, and so in the nature of His Attributes (xxx:27). That does not imply, however, the impossibility of communication between Him and His creatures. Rather, to the contrary. Because, it is He Who alone is the Fountainhead: not only of existence but also of guidance for every particle of the cosmos: - as the One Who 'encompasses all things' (xli:54), and Who is, in the case of Man, 'closer to him than his jugular vein' (l:16).

God's Speech is communicated to different things in Creation in the form suitable to their function, the goal being the guidance of those things (viii:12; xvi:68; xli:12; xcix :5). Human beings, not belonging to the category of the Prophets and Messengers, have also been the beneficiaries of this Divine blessing in the form of a subjective guidance in terms of inspiration (v:iii; xx:38; xxviii:7). In their case, however, it was purely a personal affair.

It appears as if the higher the calibre and the function of anything in the cosmos, the higher, in the sense of more explicit, is the form of manifestation or expression for God's Speech, and the lower the calibre of anything the less its capability to accommodate that manifestation of the Divine Speech which relates to a higher level. Thus the Speech of God may express itself to an inorganic object or a plant in the form of 'sensation' appropriate to it, to an animal in the form of inner 'perception', to a human being not falling under the category of a Prophet and a Messenger in the form of-'conception'. But in the case of those human beings who were chosen by God to be His Prophets and Messengers, and whose function consequently was, not to obtain stray guidance for themselves, but to be the recipients of a full-fledged philosophy of life and a comprehensive code of practical guidance for establishing the Divine Order in the life of humanity, reason leads us to the truth that the Speech of God should have expressed itself through the highest medium--the medium of language, and not through implicit and vague media of inner 'sensation', 'perception' and 'conception'. Thus, although none of the human languages is the 'language of God', the Speech of God has expressed or manifested itself in all the human languages through the Divinely-inspired Teachers who arose in all the communities of the world, in one era or the other, since the time of the Holy Prophet Adam to the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad--who came as the last and the final - (May God's Blessings be on all of them!) (xiv:4). There is nothing, in fact, in literal Revelation to the Divine Messengers that may discount it philosophically or scientifically as impossible or even as improbable, provided we do not reduce that phenomenon to the category of the natural phenomena.

bullet

3. MODES OF COMMUNICATION OF GODS SPEECH TO HUMAN BEINGS

bullet

To understand the implication further of what we have said: The word wahy has been employed by the Holy Qur'an with reference to inanimate as well as animate objects; and, among animate objects, to animals as well as human beings. Then, among human beings, it has been used for communication with the non-prophets, namely, merely righteous persons, as well as for the Prophets and Messengers of God. And it has also been used in connection with the mutual communication between good as well as evil-minded persons. As such, it covers different levels of meaning like: creation of an impression,
suggestion of an idea, inspiration, revelation - direct and indirect, expressive of different modes of the basic underlying concept of 'communication ‘lying concept of 'communication'.

However, the concept of 'speech' emerges in the Qur’an explicitly in respect of God's communication with the human beings in verse 51 of chapter xlii, which we shall shortly quote.

The same verse also leads us to the meaning of the wahy as direct 'Inspiration by God. Elsewhere, however, the entire revelation of the Qur'an, which took place through the medium of the messenger-angel (xxvi:193; etc.), has been affirmed to have taken place through the process of wahy (xii:3; etc.). Then the employment of the word, in xlii:52, in respect of the multi-modal communication of God with the Holy Prophet (Peace be on him!) gives its most comprehensive scope of meaning. Hence, as it relates to human beings, God’s wahy to a merely righteous person - a non-prophet, should be taken to signify 'suggestion or creation of an idea; while as ‘Prophetic Revelation' - which, in its ultimate aim, relates to the guidance of humanity at large in a divinely-initiator struggle --it should be accepted as standing for absolutely clear 'Inspiration' and literal 'Revelation'.

With these preliminary observations, we may turn to the Qur'an for the different dynamic modes of Divine communication with the human beings. It says:
"And it is not possible (or, fitting) for a human being (in his earthly constitution) that Allah should speak to him otherwise than by wahy (--implying direct communication by Allah, which, in the case of a non-prophet righteous person, is in the form of the suggestion or infusion of some idea, and, in the case of a Prophet and a Messenger of Allah, is in terms of absolutely clear Inspiration), or from behind a veil (--implying direct communication by Allah to His Prophet and Messenger, to the exclusion of other categories of human beings: a communication wherein a Voice is heard, as happened in the case of Moses at Sinai), or (that) he sends a messenger (in the person of an angel to act as intermediary and) to reveal by His Command whatsoever He wills. Verily, He is Exalted, Wise". (xlii:51).

bullet

4. MODES OF DIVINE COMMUNICATION WITH THE HOLY PROPHET (PEACE BE ON HIM)

bullet

The above-quoted verse is followed immediately by the following:
"And thus (i.e. in the comprehensive manner covered in the 'different modes of Divine communication presented in verse 51) have We, by Our Command, sent unto thee (O Muhammad) the Inspiration. Thou knewest not (before the establishment of Divine communication) what the Scripture was, nor what the Faith ........ "(xlii:52).

Accordingly, God's communication with the Holy Prophet (Peace be on him!) was normally in three ways: (i) direct communication in the form of what has been termed in verse 51 as wahy; (ii) direct communication 'from behind the veil'; (iii) indirect communication through an intermediary messenger-angel.

The third being the sole mode of communication employed in respect of the revelation of the Qur'an, as we shall shortly notice, the other two modes must be taken to relate to the domain of general communication. Indeed, the Holy Prophet (Peace be on him!), being firmly and absolutely established as 'abd in the state of harmony with God (vi:162; etc.) and thus in absolute intimacy with, and under the loving care of, God (lii:48: etc.), his communication with God and God's communication with him was frequent--the communication from God not confined to the revelation of the Qur'an.

The above-mentioned modes of communication relate, however, to the Holy Prophet's life in respect of his earthly constitution, in which he normally stayed except----so far as our knowledge goes--on the occasion of Me'raj (Ascension), which can be understood only in terms of a transcendental transformation of his personality by God. Hence, God's communication with him on that occasion should be classed as belonging to a mode different and distinct from the modes mentioned in xlii:52. The reference in the Holy Qur'an stands thus:
"By the Star when it goes down, your Companion (Muhammad) does not err, nor is misled; nor does he speak (aught) of (his own) Desire (or, ratiocination). It is naught but Revelation that is revealed (to him). He has taught by One Mighty in Power, endued with Wisdom; so he attained completion in knowledge:, while he was in the highest horizon (during his Me'raj or Ascension). Then he (----existing on that occasion, as deducible, in the transcendental dimension of existence--) approached and came closer (to Allah, in the transcendental dimension), and it was a distance (in terms of transcendental dimension) of but two bow-lengths or nearer (--- implying idiomatically extreme nearness---). Thus He (i.e., Allah) revealed to His Devotee (Muhammad) what He revealed. The (Prophet's) heart lied not in what he saw (it being the direct Vision of, and communication from, Allah)". (liii:1-11)

[Note:- Some scholars who subscribe to no adequate notion either of the nature of human personality or of the dimensions of the personality of a Messenger of God--whose view of religious verities is, for all practical purposes, either 'for realistic' or 'naturalistic'--consider it necessary to explain away or minimise every super-natural, or metaphysical, element in the Holy Prophet's personality. As such, they deny that the Holy Prophet (Peace be on him) was blessed with the vision of God in his Me'raj, saying that the person whom he saw was the angel Jibreel (Gabriel). As for the Hadith literature, both the views - viz., 'vision of God and 'vision of Jibreel' - are deducible. But, as regards the Qur'an, it affirms the 'vision of God' in the transcendental dimension of existence, i.e., life in Heaven, even for the true follower of the Messengers of God--not to speak of the Messengers of God themselves. The view reported to have been put forward by Lady Ayesha should be taken to relate basically to the impossibility of seeing God with the physical vision; and as such, it is an absolutely correct view. The Holy Prophet's Me'raj was, however, an event of unique nature in which it should be accepted that his sacred personality had been transformed by God from the physical to the transcendental dimension of existence - the same dimension in which his true followers who, in their status, are simply non-entities as compared with his status as God's greatest Messenger, will exist in Heaven, and will, therefore, become capable of being blessed with the vision of God lxxv:22, 23)].

Reverting to xlii:52, it was not at all necessary for the Holy Qur'an, after explicitly affirming all the three modes of Divine communication mentioned in xlii:51, to pin-point each occasion and each guidance as it came to the Holy Prophet (Peace be on him!) from God through the respective modes. Such information can be relevantly sought in the Hadith literature, although even there we cannot expect absolute accuracy in respect of reporting, nor a detailed specification of occasions and modes, basically because of the personal and secret nature of Divine communication. However, that being the only way open to us, we may obtain from there whatever information is in conformity with the Qur'an.

There is a consensus of historical reports that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be on him!) grew up as superbly-normal in mental, physical and moral health and beauty, but abnormally devoted to truthfulness, thoughtfulness, and sympathy for and service to fellow-beings. He passed the greater part of his youth, right from infancy, in the 'lap of Nature', away from the city-life of Mecca, where he was born. As a grown-up young man, he had the occasion to undertake long journeys in the 'environment of Nature' when he crossed time and again, in connection with commerce, the desolate desert vastnesses of Arabia. He was born in a community of idol-worshippers; but he had never to do anything with any idol even unconsciously. He had the mental grace and the personal beauty of the Holy Prophet Abraham (Peace be on him!), from whom he had descended through the Holy Prophet Ishmael (Peace be on him). But his family had lost the teaching of Abraham and Ishmael, and had preserved only its history.

His contact with the transcendental Reality started crystallising when he began to see true dreams - earns in which he appears to have seen future events, which happened as he had seen them, or hidden things of this world, which were exactly what he had seen during his sleep, or hidden realities of the transcendental world. As this spiritual state continued, his love for solitude increased until, in the very prime of his youth, in spite of his marriage with his beloved wife Khadija (which took place at me age of twenty-five), he began retiring to the wilderness, where, totally cut off from human, animal and even plant life, he would stay engaged in meditation, in the Cave of Hira. which, even to this day possesses the majesty of the 'Void'. This retreat to the of Hira continued to repeat itself until, at the age of forty, on the 12th of Rabi' al-Awwal, the pitch darkness of the night inside the Cave and the death-like stillness of the surrounding wilderness was shattered when the Light from God descended (iv:173) and the arch-angel Jibreel, the holy and trustworthy spirit from God, appeared before him and asked him to read, which request was made twice, each time the angel pressing him in his embrace to activise more and more the transcendental dimension of his personality, to which each time the same reply came, i.e., "I do not know how to read". Then the angel recited to him the first revelation of the Qur'an, which reads: "Read! (or recite, or proclaim) in the Name of thy Lord and Cherisher Who created (everything in the universe)--created man out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Read! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful, - He Who taught (the preservation, cultivation and promotion of knowledge) through the Pen, - taught man that which he knew not". (xcvi:1-5). Thereby the Holy Prophet acquired those verses in his memory and returned home highly excited by that most abnormal experience.

Thus came the first revelation of the Qur'an, which was the forerunner for all those others that came down over a period of twenty-three years--the actual period of the Holy Prophet's ministry--and constitute, together with that first one, the Qur'an as it was completed and as we have it today.

Thus also commenced the period of the Holy Prophet's life in which not only the communication through the messenger-angel but also other modes of Divine communication blessed him very frequently.

The classical Islamic scholars have listed certain modes of Revelation on the basis of Hadith literature, with slight differences among themselves. Thus, Suyuti has mentioned five (Al-Itqan, vol. I, p. 440, and Ibn Qayyim has listed seven (Zad al-Ma'ad, vol. I, pp. 24, 25). However, keeping strictly within the bounds prescribed by the Qur'anic testimony, as demanded by the nature of the present book, we will not go beyond the basic implications of the three modes mentioned in the holy book - which actually reduce themselves to two, viz., "direct communication by God' and 'communication by God through the messenger-angel'.

We need not bring testimony from the Hadith literature in respect of the revelations that constitute the Qur'an, because the holy book itself has explicitly stated the mode of its revelation as consisting in Divine communication through the messenger-angel, Jibreel:

"Verily this is a Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds: The Trusted Spirit (i.e., Jibreel) has brought it down upon thy heart (O Muhammad!) that thou mayest be of the warners, in plain Arabic language." (xxvi:192-195).

"So verily I call to witness the Planets that recede, moving swiftly (and) hiding themselves: and the Night as it dissipates (gradually melting away in the Day); and the Dawn as it breathes away tee darkness; --verily it is a Word (brought) by a messenger honoured (i.e., Jibreel), endued with Power (so that no devilish force can obstruct the path of this powerful messenger), with rank before the Lord of the Throne (i.e., Allah), with authority there (i.e., in the heavens), faithful to his trust. And (O people!) your Companion (Muhammad) is not one possessed (as the calumniators say). Without doubt be beheld him
(i.e., Jibreel) at the Clear Horizon. And he (i.e. Muhammad) is not a with-holder of (the knowledge of) the Unseen (which has been bestowed on him by Allah)." (lxxxi:5-24).

"Say (O Muhammad!): the Holy Spirit (i.e., angel Jibreel) has brought down the revelation (of the Qur'an) from thy Lord in Truth..." (xvi:102).

Here two important facts may be noted: (i) although even the dreams of a Prophet are fully meaningful and explicit and are grounded in absolute truth, all the Qur'anic revelations came to the Holy Prophet in the state of waking,----on which fact the authorities are unanimous, according to Kitab al-Tibyan (p. 2I); (ii) the messenger-angel seems to have been employed by God for the Qur'anic revelations for ensuring their reception by the Holy Prophet (Peace be on him!) in absolute exactitude of language, the Qur'an being meant to be a book of guidance for humanity for all time.

In respect of Divine communication through the messenger-angel, however, occasions besides those relating to the revelation of the Messages that constitute the Qur'an have also been reported in the Hadith literature, wherein the angel's role emerges as very important. For instance, we know that Jibreel was commissioned by God to rehearse the Holy Qur'an with the Holy Prophet every year during the nights of the month of Ramadan (Bukhari: Sahih; Babs:Kaifa Kana bada al-Wahy and Zikr al-Mala'ikah), and to communicate to him the method of the five daily obligatory Prayers (Bukhari: Sahih; Bab: Zikr al-Mala'ikah).

In connection with angel Jibreel, we also come across a Hadith which is to the effect that, in answer to an enquiry, the Holy Prophet (Peace be on him!) said:
"At times the angel (Jibreel) assumes the human form for me and speaks to me, and I retain (in my memory) what he says."

What was the exact nature of the appearance of the angel in human form, referred to here, cannot be known to us. However, we find it in the Hadith literature to have occurred on a good number of occasions, and, among them, it also happened a number of times that even the Holy Prophet's Companions saw that angel.

Coming to the mode of Divine communication 'from behind a veil': Such a phenomenon has been reported in the following Hadith:
"(Lady) Ayesha (wife of the Holy Prophet) reported that. Harith ibn Hisham enquired from Allah's Messenger: 'How does the Revelation come to you, O Allah's Messenger?'. To that he replied: 'It comes to me at times in the likeness of an echoing sound of a bell, and that is (the mode) most severe on me; then it is cut off from me, and I definitely remember thereafter what the (Communicator from behind the 'veil') has spoken"

For a clear understanding of the implication of the above Hadith, we have to go to the Qur'anic testimony, which relates to the affirmation of Divine communication 'from behind a veil' with the Holy Prophet (Peace be on him!) (xlii:51, 52), on the one hand, and which states that phenomenon in actual terms in respect of certain other Divine Messengers, on the other. For instance, in the case of the Holy Prophet Abraham (Peace be on him!): "We called unto him: O Abraham! Thou hast already fulfilled the vision "(xxxvii:104, 105). Again, in the case Of the Holy Prophet Moses (Peace be on him!): "And when Moses came to Our appointed tryst and his Lord had spoken to him, he said: My Lord! Show me (Thyself), that I may gaze upon Thee .... "(vii:143).
Besides the modes, we come across another aspect of Divine communication also in the Hadith literature. namely, the external ultra-natural symptoms noticed by the Holy Prophet's Companions and reported by them. In that connection, we may first state what Lady Ayesha (Allah be pleased with her!) is said to have reported:

"Indeed, I saw him while the Revelation came down on him on a very cold day; then, at the expiry of it (i.e., the state of the communication of Revelation), sweat poured forth from his forehead."

Going to other reports, we find that the Holy Prophet (Peace be on him!) attained such a profound state of submergence of his consciousness in the Divine Revelation that those who saw him in that state felt as if his soul had departed from this world (Kanz al-Ummal, vol. iv p. 30), and Imam Bukhari reports in his Sahih that the rosy white colour of his face would change into intense red and his breathing would become louder (Babs: Ghusl al-Khulaq and Nazal al-Qur'an bi Lisan-i-Quraish). Al-Hakim narrates the report from Abu Hurairah that at the time when the Holy Prophet received the Revelation,
it was impossible for anyone to fix his gaze at his holy face (Al-Mustadrak, vol. ii, p. 222). This report implies the establishment of a halo of indescribable majesty and supernatural character around his face--in fact, around his entire personality. Imam Ahmad relates in his Musnad on the authority of Abdullah ibn 'Amru that: "Sura al-Ma'idah was revealed to Allah's Messenger while he was riding on a she-camel, which showed expressly her inability to bear (the weight she experienced in physical terms to an extent that) he had to alight (from its back)" (vol. ii, p. 176). This fact is corroborated in several other reports also. Zaid ibn Thabit relates that: "...then Allah, the Possessor of Blessedness and the Most High, sent down on His Messenger (Muhammad) a Revelation. At that time (I was sitting so close to him by his side that) his folded leg covered my folded leg, whereby I experienced such a heavy load as to give me the feeling) that my folded leg would be crushed to pieces". (Bukhari: Sahih, Kitab al-Tafsir).

As to the manifestation of physical effects on the Holy Prophet's personality, Ibn Khaldun, the founder of Sociology and of Philosophy of History, observes in his world-renowned Muqaddimah, in connection with his scholarly philosophical discourse on the nature of Prophetic Revelation, that a transformation of the Holy Prophet's personality from the human plane to-the angelic plane took place on all such occasions (pp. 98, 99).

However, the phenomenon of 'severity' became toned down to lighter and lighter as time passed; as we find, for instance, in Imam Ahmad's Musnad in connection with the revelation of sura Al-Kauthar (vol. iii, p. 102).

That the Holy Qur'an is based on literal Inspiration in the form of Prophetic Revelation and is not the result of the Holy Prophet's own intellectual or spiritual awakening as a seer is borne out also by the mode of the projection of its teachings, wherein dearly it is God Who addresses humankind, including the Holy Prophet, and not the Holy Prophet himself.

Again, anyone who undertakes a comparative study of the language of the Holy Qur'an and the language of the Hadith literature, which consists of the utterances of the Holy Prophet on his own behalf, can easily notice the clear difference in the style of expression in both.

Still again, the challenges thrown by the Holy Qur'an to the disbelievers in its divine status, as in x:38, xi:13, xvii:88 and lii:34, bear out that the holy book emphatically affirms about itself that it is the Word of God and not a produce of the Holy Prophet's mental effort.

Going into external factors further: Arabic is probably the richest language in respect of its vocabulary, which means for our present purpose that if the very words of the Holy Qur'an had not been regarded as revealed with the immutable divine sanction behind them, the verses, as they were revealed from time to time during a long period, would have easily and naturally undergone changes at least through the interplay of synonyms;--while it is a well-attested fact that the addition or elimination of such an unimportant word as 'and', for which there is in Arabic only a single letter, was not permitted and could not take place.

Then, entering into internal evidence again: The Holy Prophet's entire: attitude towards the revelations that he received belies any assumption as to those revelations being mere 'inspirations' that were projected by him in his own words. For instance, let us consider the verses wherein he has been commanded by God thus: "Move not thy tongue concerning the (Qur'an) to make haste therewith (in fear of not remembering exactly the text that was revealed). Verily upon Us is the collecting thereof (in thy mind) and the reciting thereof (exactly as it is revealed to thee). Wherefore when we recite it follow thou the recital thereof. And thereafter verily upon Us (i.e., under Our guidance) is the expounding thereof" (lxxv: 16-19). Movement of the tongue relates to the anxiety of remembering the words that he had heard and not thoughts that could have been infused in his mind through inspiration.

Before closing this discussion, it is very necessary to emphasise most vehemently that the nature of Revelation- in fact, of entire prophetic experience, is such that it is incommunicable to and incomprehensible for a non-prophet. Hence, it would be the greatest mistake to view it in terms of the natural laws that relate to the general or basic human level.

bullet

5. THE PROCESS OF COMPILATION: INTERNAL EVIDENCE

bullet

Although the Qur'an was revealed piece-meal; the fact that its Message was meant to be presented to humanity in the form of a book--that it was to be al-Kitab, or, the Book--projected itself in the very first revelation wherein God mentioned explicitly the role of the Pen in human history. Indeed, we find the Qur'an characterising itself as a book even in the Meccan period of its revelation. Thus, we come across the verses: "Praise be to Allah, Who has sent down unto His Servant (Muhammad) the Book "(xviii:1) "(This is) a revelation from (Allah) the Compassionate, the Merciful - a Book whereof the verses are detailed...."(xli:2,3). "By (this) luminous Book! verily We have made it an Arabic Qur'an that haply ye may reflect." (xliii:2,3). "A Messenger (Muhammad) from Allah rehearsing (unto them) Writs (suhuf) kept pure (from every type of corruption and falsehood and holy, wherein are discourses (kutub) eternal." (xcviii :2,3).

Then, in the portion revealed at Medina the emphasis on the Qur'an as to its being a Book comes before us again. For instance: "This is the Book wherein there is no (ground for) doubt." (ii:2). "....(the Prophet) teaches them the Book and the Wisdom..."(lxii:2). Moreover, we come across the following objection raised by the opponents: "They say: (These are) tales of the ancients which he (i.e., Muhammad) has caused to be written" (xxv: 5). This objection too affirms explicitly that whatever portion of the Qur’an in had been revealed upto that time existed in written form.

All this means that writing down the revelations according to some arrangement was the law that was followed, which means that the Qur'an must have been put into writing from the beginning of its revelation to the end according to some principle,--- and that writing and compilation should have been executed not merely on palm leaves and shoulder-bones and pieces of wood and stone but also, and that basically, on paper, or, at least, on parchment, through which alone the form of a 'book' could have emerged after properly arranging and putting together uniform pieces of paper or parchment. Indeed, the incontrovertible truth is that the Qur'an grew up as a
book from the beginning--growing in its contents with the progress in revelation, and was used as such by the Muslims even at Mecca. Historical facts confirm this fully, as we shall now see.

bullet

6. THE PROCESS OF COMPILATION: EXTERNAL EVIDENCE

bullet

Soon after the commencement of the Revelation, the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him!) made definite arrangements for the preservation of the revealed Messages m writing. Among those who were entrusted with this task, and whose numbers increased as the numbers of the adherents of Islam increased, - the first one was Abu Bakr the Companion par excellence, the wise and the truthful (al-Siddiq), the first adult man to embrace Islam--and that soon after the coming of the first revelation, and one of the respected elders of Mecca. Besides him we find the names of several other personalities mentioned in the historical records as the Holy Prophet's Scribes, who served as such at Mecca and Medina. The famous Traditionist, Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, has given a list of thirty-eight in the biography of the Holy Prophet entitled: 'Uyun al-Athar (vol. ii, pp. 315, 316). The author of al-Sirah al-Halabiyyah affirms a list of twenty Scribes, whose names he has selected from variant traditions wherein the number has gone as high as forty-two, this number having been recorded by al-Kattani (al-Tartib al-Idariyah, vol. i, pp. 116-124; Moroccan edition). A critical examination of all the records places the number at twenty-eight, the list including the names of the first four caliphs, namely, Abu Bakr, Omar, Uthman and Ali, and of Mu'awiyah - the fifth head of the Islamic State after the Holy Prophet's demise, and of Zubair ibn al-Awam, Abdullah ibn Masud, Ubayy ibn Ka'ab, Zaid ibn Thabit, Khalid ibn Walid (the famous General), 'Amru ibn al-'As (later on the governor of Egypt) and Abdullah ibn 'Amru ibn al-'As.

Thus the task of writing down every revelation as it came was instituted by the Holy Prophet in a very organised and systematic form. Uthman, the third righteous caliph of Islam, and one of the earliest converts to the faith, bears testimony to it in these words: "Whenever some revelation came down on him (i.e., the Prophet), he would call upon some of those who had been appointed to write." (Tirmizi: Jame', vol. ii, p. 134). This fact is corroborated by Imam Bukhari and others. For instance, Bukhari's Sahih reports: "Zaid ibn Thabit said that the Prophet dictated to him (the verse:) 'Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the Cause of Allah .... "(vol. iii, p. 761). Or, the more comprehensive information contained in the Hadith recorded by Ibn Abi Daud and reported by Sulaiman, the grandson of Zaid ibn Tiaabit, on the authority of his father Kharija: "...(Zaid said:) I was a neighbour of God's Messenger. So, whenever any revelation came (to him), it was his practice to call me, whereat I used to write down the revelation (at his dictation)." (Kitab al-Musahef, p. 3). Darimi's Sunan (p. 68) projects the fact that it was not always one person but, probably as a rule, several persons who wrote the revelations, singly but in a joint session, as the Holy Prophet dictated to them. In this connection, the Hadith runs like this: "Abdullah ibn 'Amru said: 'while we (the party of Scribes) were engaged in writing in the presence of God's Messenger...."

The Holy Prophet did not only dictate the revelations to the Scribes, but also asked them, after they had inscribed, to recite to him what they had written, for correcting any mistake they might have committed. We read in Majma' al-Zawa'id (vol. I, p. 60) that "Zaid ibn Thabit said: ‘....whenever I had finished (writing down the revelation dictated to me), he (i.e., God's Messenger) asked me to read it out, and accordingly I would recite to him. Then, if there was a mistake, he corrected it. Then he gave it out to the people (for making copies for their use and for memorisation by them)’." (Cf. Fath al-Mughith, p. 250).

This much about the fact that every revelation was written down as it came. with the utmost care and by several Scribes at a time. Now comes the problem relating to the organisation of the discrete revelations into chapters (suras) as it is to be found in the Qur'an since the Holy Prophet's time,--- only certain chapters having been revealed complete on single occasions. The verdict of history in this respect is that the Holy Prophet himself used to instruct on each occasion concerning the sequence of insertion in a particular chapter of a particular verse or set of verses revealed on a particular occasion; and fix case a new chapter was to begin with a particular revelation, the Scribe or Scribes were instructed by him accordingly. Thus, for instance, it has been stated in Imam Tirmizi's Jame' (vol. ii, p. 134): "He (i.e. God's Messenger) used to instruct (the Scribes) to place such and such verses in the chapter where such and such had been stated". In this way did all the chapters of the Holy Qur'an---and they are One Hundred and Fourteen in number---came into existence under the Holy Prophet's instruction and under Divine Guidance as communicated to him continuously. (Majma' al-Zawa'id, vol. vii, p. 157; Al-Itqan, vol. i, p. 62. Also refer: Imam Ahmad's Musnad).

Now, the chapters in themselves are parts of the Qur'an. By putting them together under a certain principle of arrangement, the Holy Qur'an assumed the form of a book. The question is: Who gave the existing arrangement in respect of chapters. Here, again, the verdict of history is that this was done by no one else than the Holy Prophet himself. The recorded evidences in this respect are:

(i) Abu Da'ud has recorded the Hadith in which Hudhaifah informs us that "he saw the Prophet (serially) reciting in the prayer at night the chapters al-Baqarah, Al-i-'Imran, Al-Nisa', Al Ma’idah and al-An'am." (Sunan, vol. i, p. 128). Now, the order of the chapters stated in Hadith is the same as it has existed in the Qur'an all through; which shows that the arrangement of all the chapters must have been fixed by the Holy Prophet (Peace be on him!) himself, it being inconceivable that he arranged only the above-mentioned five and left out the rest.
(ii) In Imam Tirmizi's Jame' (vol. ii, pp. 118,119) there is a Hadith which says: "A man enquired: 'O God's Messenger! which action is most liked by God?' He replied: '(the action of) of him who finishes a journey and goes on a journey'." Dirmi has added to this Hadith, in his Sunan (p. 41), the following: "It was asked as to what was the meaning of finishing a journey and undertaking another. (To this) he replied: 'A possessor of the Qur'an recites it from its beginning to its end, and when he finishes, he returns to the beginning (to finish it again), (making it his routine that) whenever he finishes the journey (of reading and studying the Qur'an from beginning to end), he begins the same journey (afresh)'." Here, the very notions of a beginning and an ending for the reading of the Qur'an as a book imply the existence of the arrangement of chapters.

The Hadith narrated by Imam Tirmizi (Jame', vol. Ii, p. 118), wherein the enquiry submitted by Abdullah ibn 'Amru to the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him!) in respect of the number of days that was advisable for him to fix for reading the Qur'an from the beginning to the end is similar to the above as regards the logical conclusion to which it leads.

Imam Ahmad has recorded in his Musnad a Hadith which has a direct bearing on the problem of the arrangement of chapters. Therein, Aus ibn Abi Aus Hudhaifa al-Thaqafi reports that he was a member of a delegation of the Banu Thaqif tribe that had come to the Holy Prophet at Medina, and that the Holy Prophet used to visit the delegation every night after the 'Isha prayer; then, it so happened one night that the Holy Prophet was late in coming to them and, on enquiry as to the cause of the delay, he told them: "I had missed the hizb (i.e., a definite portion of the Qur'an fixed for recitation) meant for today; and I disliked that I should come out without finishing that (task)". "Then", Aus adds, "we enquired from the Companions of God's Messenger in respect of ahzab (plural of hizb) of the Qur'an (namely, in what manner did they recite the Qur'an divided into a number of parts: ahzab). To that they replied that they recited according to this division): three chapters beginning with chapter: al-Baqarah) (on the first day of the week), (the following) five chapters (on the second day), (the following) seven chapters (on the third day), (the following) nine chapters (on the fourth day), (the following) eleven chapters (on the fifth day), (the following) thirteen chapters (on the sixth day), and from the chapter named Qaf (numbering 50 in the Qur'an) to the end of the Qur'an (on the seventh day)." (vol. iv, p. 343). This detail corroborates the arrangement of chapters in the Qur'an as it is today, as Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani emphasises in Fath al-Bari, vol. ix, p. 39.

(iv) We learn from Bukhari's Sahih (vol. iii, p. 141) that a rehearsal of the entire up-to-date Qur'an was done the Holy Prophet in collaboration with angel Gabreel, every year during the month of Ramadan, it having taken place twice in the Ramadan immediately preceding the Holy Prophet's demise. It is evident that any such thing was impossible to happen if the Qur'an had been unarranged at any stage; which means that even the arrangement of its chapters in their serial order was taking place under the Holy Prophet’s guidance from the very beginning according to the Divine Plan.

(v) The greatest proof of the fact that the arrangement of the chapters, even as that of the verses, took place under the instruction of the Holy Prophet, who as a result bequeathed the Qur'an to humanity exactly in its present form and contents, consists of the following truths: (a) the Qur'an is not only a Book of Guidance but also a book for recital for all Muslims. As such, one of the fondest pursuit of the Holy Prophet's Companions was its recital to their utmost capacity. It was obligatory for every Muslim to recite it in the daily prayers; but every Muslim's devotion to it was of such magnitude that he or she tried to go as far beyond the obligatory recitation as possible. All that would have been impossible. However, if the Qur'an had not existed from the very beginning as a book thoroughly arranged and perfectly organised internally. (b) If the Qur'an had not been perfected in every aspect before the Holy Prophet's demise, variations at least in respect of the arrangement of its chapters would have unavoidably taken place.. But no such thing has happened. (c) Muslim scholars have differed among themselves on different issues, the differences even assuming sometimes what may be termed as 'sectarian dimensions, and the races and peoples who have been joining the fold of Islam during the past fourteen centuries came with different backgrounds. But the Qur'an has remained what it always was since its completion in the Holy Prophet's time. It means that all Muslims have accepted from the very beginning, and always, that not only its meaning -structure but also its word-structure, and that not only its contents but also its form - which consists of the arrangement of its verses and chapters, is divinely-ordained and exists as perfected and completed under the direct instruction of the Holy Prophet (God's choicest Blessings be with him!).

Says Ibn Hazm, the versatile Islamic scholar of the fifth century of the Hijri era: "He who says that the arrangement of the verses and the chapters (of the Qur'an) is not Divine through His Prophet, he is ignorant and a fabricator Had the people arranged (the verses and the chapters) themselves, they could not have avoided one of the (following) three methods (of arrangement: (i) either according to the order of revelation; (ii) or, they would have given priority to the longer chapters, placing the shorter ones after them; (iii) or, vice versa (i.e., from shorter to longer chapters). But because that is not the case, it (the present arrangement) is certainly through the Prophet's own instruction which could not have clashed with the Divine Order. (In fact) no alternative remains except this." (Kitab al-Fas1, vol. iv, p. 221).

bullet

7. THE PROGRESS OF PRESERVATION AND PROPAGATION

bullet

The arrangements instituted by the. Holy Prophet (Peace be. on him) were perfect not only in respect the communication of Qur'anic revelations but also concerning their preservation.

In this connection, it should be noted that although paper and parchment were not available in abundance, important literary work was preserved through writing on parchment or on paper. The concept of writing on parchment or paper has been dearly projected in the Qur'an itself when It says: "If We (i.e., God) had sent unto thee writing (O Muhammad!) a book (or, a writing) on paper (or parchment) so that they could touch it with or their hands..." (vi:7).

Supplies of paper, and even of parchment, being very limited, the initial writing of the revelations was very naturally executed by using other writing materials of those days, e.g., flat bones, chiselled stems of palm-leaves and wooden or stone tablets. But, once this initial work had been executed, the writing of the revelations, in accordance with their arrangement dictated to the Scribes by the Holy Prophet, on proper pieces of paper or parchment, which were seemingly in the form of the leaves of a book, was undertaken without fail. The evidence in this respect is explicit. For instance, al-Hakim has recorded the testimony of no less an authority than Zaid ibn Thabit, under the heading of "Compilation of the Qur'an during the time of God's Messenger", thus: "He said: 'We (the Scribes) used to compile the Qur'an from the (records of revelations made on) ruqa' (i.e., pieces of paper or of parchment)." (Al-Mustadrak, vol. ii, p. 611).

In this way grew up quite a good number of copies of the Holy Qur'an under the direct instruction and super-vision of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him!). Then, the copies compiled by the Scribes were handed over to other Companions. as we have already noted, so that they copied them out in order to possess their own copies for reading. as well as memorisation. The copies compiled by the Scribes as well as the others continued to grow in content with the progress in revelation until they were declared to be complete by the Holy Prophet, who proclaimed in clear terms: "I am leaving in your midst a thing which (in terms of its importance) is such that you will never fall into error so long as you hold to it firmly: and it is the Book of God (i.e. the Qur'an)". (Abu Da'ud: Sunan, vol. 1, p.264)

When we attend to the problem of the number of copies of the Qur'an that existed during the Holy Prophet's time and look into the statements contained in Bukhari's Sahih (vol. iii, p. 143), Muslim's Sahih (vol. ii, p. 252), Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (vol. vii, p. 243), Isti'ah vol. ii, p. 565), Usud al-Ghabah (vol. ii, p. 286), Ibn Sa'ad's Tabaqat (vol. ii, p. 112), etc., we become sure of the existence of at least fifteen copies. Then, when we consider the number of the Scribes appointed by the Holy Prophet, the number of copies goes further up. Again: when we consider the total situation in the Muslim community of the Holy Prophet's time with reference to widespread activity of recitation and memorisation, we are compelled to consider the number of copies as still higher.

After the demise of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him!), the number of copies multiplied by leaps and bounds under the compulsion of the law of demand and supply, so much so that before the commencement of the caliphate of Uthman thousands upon thousands of copies had come into existence. Ibn Hazm bears testimony to it thus: "When the Prophet passed away, Islam had already spread in the whole (Arabian) peninsula from the Red Sea to the (southern) coast of Yemen and from the Persian Gulf to Euphrates. There were innumerable townships and villages inside the peninsula where all the inhabitants had declared allegiance to Islam and had constructed the mosques. There was no town, village, or quarter, where the Qur'an was not recited at the mosques during prayers. Children and male and female adults, all, learnt it, and it was also copied out in writing. After the Prophet's period, Abu Bakr ruled as Caliph for 21 years the recitation grew more and more. There was no town where the copies of the Qur’an were not available. After that, Omar became the Caliph and conquered the length and breadth of Persia and the whole of Syria and Egypt. In those countries also there was no inhabited place where mosques were not built and new copies of the Qur'an were not made. The leaders of congregational prayers recited it, and the children all over the east and the west (of the Islamic empire) learnt it. This period lasted for ten years and some months. When Omar died at least one hundred-thousand copies of the Qur'an must have been in existence". (Kitab al- Fasl, vol. ii, p. 781.

Since then upto this day, the number of copies that have gone into circulation is beyond all possibility of counting, But the text of the Holy Qur'an has not suffered even the slightest deviation and variation. Truly had it been proclaimed by God at the time of its revelation: "We have, without doubt, sent down the Message (i.e., the Qur'an), and We are assuredly the guardian thereof xv:9).

It is necessary. to observe here that the Qur'an was propagated by the Holy Prophet not only in written form but also orally, he being not merely the deliverer of the Divine Message but also its Teacher par excellence (lxii :2); and the Muslims were asked by him not only to read the holy book but also to memorise it. In this way a double process of preserving the purity of the text of the Holy Qur'an came to exist, and a perfect system of teaching it originated with the Holy Prophet himself.

Thus we find Bukhari reporting about Abdullah ibn Mas'ud that he said: "I learnt directly from the mouth of God's Messenger about 79 chapters." (Sahih, vol. ii, p. 141)., The same Companion also reported, according to Muslims Sahib (vol. 1, p. ,121), that: "God's Messenger asked me to recite the Qur'an before him. Thereupon I enquired: 'Should I recite to you while it has been revealed to you?’ He replied: 'I like to hear it recited by others'. So I recited the chapter al-Nisa'."

Thus were the Companions trained by the Holy Prophet as licensed teachers of the Qur'an for the masses and they performed this function, under appointment from him, with utmost diligence. Just by way of examples: Miftah aI-Sa'dah (vol. 1, p. 349) reports: "Abu 'Aliyah said: I recited the Qur'an to Omar four times"; and, according to Dhahabi's Tabaqat al-Qurra' (p. 606): "When Abu Darda would finish his morning prayer, he would set his students in batches of ten. Once he counted them, and they were more than fixteen hundred."

The system of teaching that developed had the memorisation of the Qur'an as its vital part, and a continuous chain of licensed and authorised teachers grew, and has continued to grow from generation to generation, not only to propagate the text of the Qur'an but also to preserve its purity, in which connection a whole science has developed; and the uniform oral as well as written transmission down the centuries through successive generations of Qur'anic teachers belonging to divers races and countries, has crowned the Holy Qur'an with the merit of tawatur (unbroken transmission with absolute uniformity) to a degree of glory where even the slightest possibility of doubt in respect of the purity of its text is totally eliminated.

That is the only reason why even those hostile western scholars, for whom the highest virtue is to revile Islam on the flimsiest grounds, had to bow their heads in humility when confronted with the problem of the authenticity of the Qur'an and had to grudgingly admit the purity of its text--scholars, such as: Palmer (The Qur'an - English Translation; Introduction, p. Lix); Wherry (Commentary on the Kuran, i, p. 349); Snouck Hurgronje (Mohammedanism, p. 18); William Muir (Life of Mohammad, Introduction, p. xxiii); Philip K. Hitti (History of the Arabs, p. 123); and Torrey (Jewish Foundation of Islam, p. 2). To quote just the last reference: "The Koran was his (i.e; Muhammad's) own creation; and it lies before us practically uncharted from the form which he himself gave it." Had the blinding fire of antagonism to Islam not burned in the heart of Torry in the manner it did, he could have spoken at least in the tone of Boswdworth Smith, who said: "In the Koran we have, beyond all reasonable doubt, the exact words of Mohammad without subtraction and
without addition". (Mohammad and Mohammadanism, p. 22). And it is not only Bosworth Smith who says so, but many others. For instance, F.F. Arbuthnot has confessed that: "....complete text of the Koran .... has remained the same, without any change or alteration by enthusiasts, translators, or interpolators, upto the pre sent time. It is to be regretted that the same cannot be said of all the books of the Old and New Testaments." (The Construction of the Bible and the Koran, p.5).

bullet

8. THE QURAN AS THE ONLY AUTHENTIC REVEALED BOOK IN THE WORLD

bullet

Absolute authenticity in respect of the purity of its text forms the Holy Qur'an's distinctive claim - a claim in which it stands unique among all the sacred books of the world: those based on the concept of Divine Revelation and others that are not. Among the former, the Jewish and Christian scriptures stand out most prominently.

As to the Jewish sacred books, from where Christianity derives its base, the reformed Judaism of today has forsaken completely the age-old claim; which is the very foundation of the Jewish faith, namely, the claim relating to their status as divinely-revealed books, as also their authenticity), as records of the teachings of Jewish Prophets. According to the Jewish Encyclopaedia, the emphasis on divine origin has given way to the admission of, the human origin of the Holy Scriptures", with all their holiness and infallibility shattered, so much so that "the ancient view of a literal dictation by God must be surrendered". Also, "the prophet and the sacred writer were under the influence of the Divine Spirit while revealing by word or pen...(but) the human element in them was not extinguished, and consequently, in regard to their statements, their knowledge, and the form of their communication, they could only have acted as children of their age" (vol. vi. pp. 608-609).

This ugly situation has emerged for Judaism basically because the Message of God preached and taught by the Jewish Prophets (God bless them all!) was lost, in respect of its original purity, by the Jewish people long ago under the strains and stresses of historical circumstances. What remained was an adulterated and corrupted form of religious teaching and incorrect history, and on that Judaism has been fed ever since. As a result, we find today Jewish scholarship between the devil and the deep sea in respect of the authenticity of the Jewish religion. While "the ancients regarded the whole mass of the national religious writings as equally holy", the moderns have denied completely God’s authorship of any Jewish sacred book. "That the real authority of the Bible is intrinsic rather than prescriptive", says Joseph (Judaism as Creed and Life), "becomes clear as soon as we think of the circumstances in which the Scriptural canon was formed. The decision by which certain books were included in the Bible and others excluded, was a purely human decision. The great teachers sat in judgement upon the claims of various works, and decided upon those claims by the light of reasons--in other words, by the internal merits of the works themselves'. Nor was the decision always easy. The fate of some books, like Ecclesiastes, and Centicles and Esther, was, we learn, trembling in the balance even as late as the third century of the present era. The Bible, being the work of godly men, necessarily contains both a Divine and a human element. But since everything human is imperfect, we must not expect to find an absolutely perfect representation of Divine truth even in God's Books .... Some of the Biblical stories are clearly legends .... The Pentateuch is the work not of one hand but of many hands .... Similar views prevail among scholars with regard to other books of the Bible" (pp.. 18, 20, 22, 23, 24). Modern scholarship, which has given birth to reformed Judaism, supports the above views of Joseph unanimously. For instant: with respect to the infallibility of the Jewish scripture and sites authenticity as the Word of God, Vellentine's One Volume Jewish Encyclopaedia tells us:"Jewish tradition ... does not hesitate to admit later elaboration and revision of certain books in the Bible .... As an unimpeachable source of history and chronology the Bible is often disappointing, exhibiting statements and data which seem either vague or contradictory, or else fail to agree with what is known of contemporary oriental history and chronology." (pp. 93, 95).

As to the Christian version: "With the advance in the technique of textual criticism during the course of the last generation, with a more searching analysis of the matter of the text, and with the use of the comparative method in evaluating the tradition embodied in the narrative, it has become even more patently evident that orthodox opinion in regard to the authenticity of the Bible cannot be maintained." One has only to go through the findings of the official representatives of Christianity, as recorded in the Encyclopaedia Biblica, to discover the impeachment of the authenticity of the Old and the New Testaments by the Christendom of today. In the words of one of the best Biblical apologists, who wrote for the 'Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (vol. vii, p. 263): "It is now a common-place of Biblical learning that God has been at no pains to prevent errors of history and knowledge and defects in the text and its transmission from finding an entrance into the sacred pages of His Written Word" Rev. Bosworth Smith, who seems to be more frank, is more rational in his confession. Comparing the confirmed claim of the Qur'an to absolute authenticity with the baseless orthodox Christian claim concerning the Bible, he says: "The Bible in particular makes no such claim. The Bible is the work of a large number of poets, prophets, statesmen, and lawgivers, extending over a vast period of time, and incorporates with itself other and earlier, and often conflicting documents". (Mohammad and Mohammadanism, p. 19).

It may be observed here in passing that it is not only the so-called 'revealed' religions but also the 'unrevealed' ones that suffer from inauthenticity with regard to .their sacred texts. Although our present discussion does not directly relate to unrevealed religions owing to their different basis, we may with advantage refer to one such major religion, namely, Buddhism, to reveal the situation on that side. To quote just one authority: "The truth is that the oldest stratum of the existing scriptures (of Buddhism) can only be reached by uncertain inference and conjecture....I confess that I do not know what the 'original gospel' of Buddhism was .... Buddhism is a body of traditions in which few names stand out, and in which fewer dates are precisely known. It is indeed most exasperating when we try to apply our current ideas of historical criticism."

To revert to the scriptures which claim to be revealed, the following verdict of an English scholar is final: "The truth of the message is intimately connected with the authenticity of the record, and a critical theory which assails the one assails the other".'

With this verdict--and the principle on which it is based is incontrovertible--Judaism and Christianity, both, are ruled out; while the absolute authenticity of the Qur’an proves the genuineness of its Message, and here the judgement emerges in all its grandeur that if Divine Revelation alone is the true and valid basis for Religion, then the Holy Qur'an alone gives us the true Religion--the Religion revealed by the Creator and Sovereign of the universe and man.

bullet

9. THE STYLE AND STRUCTURE OF THE QURAN: INTONATION:

bullet

No other scripture possesses that exquisite and majestic charm of melody that the Holy Qur'an has. An English scholar and orientalist of repute bears testimony to this fact when he says:" the Glorious Qur'an, that inimitable symphony the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy."

bullet

10. THE STYLE AND STRUCTURE OF THE QURAN: DICTION

bullet

As regards diction: The Arabic language itself, which is the language of the Qur'an, is an extremely rich language--a fact attested unanimously by all the Arabcists of the world, Muslim as well as non-Muslim. Over and above that, there is the style employed in the Qur'an. whose depths in the dimension of meaning and heights in respect of grandeur are simply immeasurable by human genius - a fact which has given to language of the Qur'an the status of "the purest Arabic" and "the standard of the Arabic tongue" - all that in a miraculous form. "When-ever Muhammad was asked a miracle as a proof of the authenticity of his mission", says the French scholar Paul Casanova, "he quoted the composition of the Qur'an and its incomparable excellence as proof of its Divine origin. And, in fact, even for those who are non-Muslims nothing is more marvellous than its language which with such a prehensible plenitude and grasping sonority with its simple audition ravished with admiration those primitive peoples so fond of eloquence. The ampleness of its syllables with a grandiose cadence and with a remarkable rhythm have been of much moment in the conversion of the most hostile and the most sceptical.." And the American scholar, Harry Gaylord Dorman, says: "It (Qur'an) is an ever-present miracle witnessing to itself and to Muhammad, the Prophet of God. Its miraculous quality resides partly in its style, so perfect and lofty that neither men nor jinn could produce a single chapter to compare with its briefest chapter, and partly in its content of teachings, prophecies about the future, and amazingly accurate information such as the illiterate Muhammad could never have gathered of his own accord."

It is correct to say that the miraculous quality of the Qur’an resides only partly in its literary aspect. Its emphasis on this aspect was, however, necessitated by the arrogance of the Arabs of those days who were proud of their high attainment in literary skill. Thus the challenge was posed to them on their own terms, when the Holy Qur'an proclaimed: "Or do they say: 'he has forged it'? Say: 'Bring ye then ten suras forged, like thereunto, and call (to your aid) whomsoever ye can, other. than Allah! - if ye speak the truth'.' (xi :13). "Say (O Muhammad!): 'If the whole of mankind and jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support". (xvii: 88). It is difficult to translate any book written in any language. Much more so the Qur'an, whose miraculous language simply defies translation. All honest translators are unanimous in this behalf. "The Qur'an", says Marmaduke Pickthall, "cannot be translated. That is the belief of old-fashioned Sheykhs and the view of the present writer." "Of all the great works," writes Abdul Majid Daryabadi, "the Holy Qur'an is perhaps the least translatable. Arabic is not at all easy to translate into a language so widely and radically differing from it in structure and genius as English, unless it be with the aid of loose periphrasis and.lax paraphrase. Even so the fire of the original is quenched, its vivacious perspicuity is lost, and the so-called literal translation looks rugged and dreary. That the language of the Arabs abounds in nuances and both the noun and the verb are extremely flexible, is a fact well known to every student of that tongue. The difficulty is increased hundred-fold when one has to render into English, with any degree of accuracy and precision, a work so rich in meaning, so pithy in expression, so vigorous in style and so subtle in implications as the Holy Qur'an. 'To reproduce even partially its exotic beauty, wonderful grandeur and magical vivacity without sacrificing the requirements of the English idiom and usage, is the despair of the translator and an ideal impossible of attainment. The result is that every fresh attempt at translating the Holy Writ brings home, m varying degrees, the truth of the old saying that nothing is so unlike an original as its copy." According to Eduard Montet, "...the Coran (Qur'an) .... its grandeur of form is so sublime that no translation into any European language can allow us to appreciate it." confessed:
Even a Christian clergyman has confessed "The Qur’an in its original Arabic dress has a seductive beauty and charm of its own. Couched in concise and exalted style, its brief sentences, often rhymed, possess an expressive force and explosive energy which it is extremely difficult to convey by literal word for word translation."

The Qur'anic narration is so unique in its style, and so different from the writings of the world's seers and sages, that those who are accustomed only to read human literary productions based on commonplace logical sequence and on the finitude in which human thought expresses itself-the finitude of human perception and conception having its own finite, and hence more intelligible and more crystallised, sequential emphasis---are likely to discover that their minds do not grasp truly the transcendental logic of the Qur'anic narration as it flows majestically, starting at sura al-Fatiha and ending at sura al-Nas.

A non-Muslim translator of the Holy Qur'an views this problem in his own light and tenders the following advice to the readers of translations: "In the first place, the Western reader must get rid of the assumption that the Koran is more or less like the Old Testament. The misapprehension is natural enough, when the first casual glance picks out the names of Adam. Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Jonah, Joseph, Jacob, Job: the Biblical style of the popular translations does not furnish exactly a corrective. Misled by these early impressions, the reader makes the fatal mistake of trying to take it too much at once; he opens at a likely place, the beginning of a sura, and is lulled into suspicion by the familiar layout of chapter and verse: he finishes the first aura and goes on to several more; he is bewildered by the rapid and seemingly illogical changes of subject, and he quickly wearies of the frequent repeatitions of themes and formulas The Koran, like the poetry which it resembles in so many ways, is best sampled a little at a time: and that little deserves and needs meditation ..... He (the reader) will become gradually familiar with the Koran's claim to be a, confirmation of earlier scriptures. He will observe how the Koran assumes a knowledge of the contents of those scriptures, and only later expands the individual narratives into something like connected stories. He now follows step by step the gradual unfolding of the full prophetic powers; and when he comes to the polemic and the legislation he is readier to receive and understand them ... the uninitiated enquirer... is screened from it by the double veil of a printed page and a foreign idiom. Yes, a foreign idiom, for the Koran is God's revelation in Arabic, and the emotive and evocative qualities of the original disappear almost totally in the skilfullest translation. When appreciation rests upon these foundations, the charges of wearisome repetition and jumbled confusion become meaningless. Truth cannot be dimmed by being frequently stated, but only gains in clarity and convincingness at every repetition ...."

bullet

11. THE STYLE AND STRUCTURE OF THE QURAN: THOUGHT

bullet

The Qur'an says about itself that it was sent down during the month of Ramadan (ii:185), in the Night of Power (xcvii:1), its primary and eternal existence being in a Tablet Preserved (lxxxv:21, 22), "in the Mother of the Book in Our (i.e., God's) Presence, high (in dignity), full of wisdom" (xliii:4).

The question is: Does the coming down of the Qur'an in the Night of Power imply the commencement of revelation to the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him!), or its revelation to him in its entirety on that single occasion, or its descent from the 'Tablet Preserved' in some other dimension?

As to the first, we have already recorded in the fore-going that the first revelation came to the Holy Prophet on the 12th of Rabi' al-Awwal, that being the fact to which a critical study of all the relevant reports leads us.

Taking up the second alternative: It is denied by the Qur'an. We are told therein: "And (this is) a Recitation (lit., Qur'an) that We have divided (into parts from time to time), that thou (O Muhammad!) mayest recite it to humankind at intervals, and We have revealed it (to thee) by (successive) revelation." (xvii:106).

Thus we are left only with the third alternative, and here we get to the correct answer. Abdullah ibn Abbas, whose authority in respect of the problems relating to the Qur’an has been held in very high esteem all through Islamic history, is reported by different authorities, like Nasal, Baihaqi, al-Hakim, al-Tibrani and al-Bazzar, to have held that the entire Qur'an, as we have it today, came down in the Night of Power from the "Divine Presence" "to the nether heaven" (i.e., the heaven nearest to the earth), where in the "House of Power, Honour and Glory (bait al-'izzat)", it dwelt, like the stars, by the order of God, and from where its portions carne to the Holy Prophet (Peace be on him!) as occasions arose, even "as the stars fall from heaven", under the Decree of God, - whereafter the revelations were arranged, under Divine guidance, by the Holy Prophet, through his Scribes, in accordance with the original eternal Qur'an and not in their chronological sequence. The Commentator Ibn Kathir has concurred with this view in his Tafsir (vol. iv, p. 529), while the famous Suyuti proclaims, quoting al-Qurtubi, thus: "The consensus of learned verdict is to the effect that the Qur'an came down all at one time from the 'Tablet Preserved' to the 'House of Power, Honour and Glory' in the nether heaven." (Al-Itqan. vol, 1 p. 40).

The report of lbn Abbas directs our attention to sura Ha Mim (xli), which begins with the claim of the Qur'an as a revealed book; then, after reference to those who contested its divine origin and the Divine Messengership of the bearer or its Message, speaks of the bounties of God as manifested in the earth and of the wahy of God to the seven firmaments in respect of the assignment of their duty and command, - thereafter emphasising: "And We adorned the nether heaven with lights, and rendered it inviolable. Such is the Decree of (Him) the Exalted in Might, Full of Knowledge" (verse 12). Maybe, the reference in the adornment of the nether heaven with fights and the establishment of inviolability, is concerned not only with the physical phenomenon as the human beings know it but also with the spiritual phenomenon so explicitly spoken of by Ibn Abbas.

Anyhow, the main point to be noted is that the Qur'an we possess today existed in 'Divine Presence' eternally as a 'Book' and that, although it was revealed piece-meal as occasions arose, the Holy Prophet (Peace be on him!), arranged it in accordance with the eternal arrangement as revealed to him. It may be emphasised that unless that fact is accepted the style of the Qur'an cannot be properly understood.

Now, a collection of haphazard statements cannot be genuinely named as a book. There should be a sequence and a system inherent in it, which alone bestows that status properly. Thus, because the Qur'an insisted upon designating itself as a Book, much before it acquired the book-form with the ending of the Revelation, there must be present in it some definite type of sequence. And that it does possess.

In fact, there are two types of sequences enshrined in the Holy Qur'an: one sequence relating to the chronological order of revelations, the other relating to the order in which the revealed messages were arranged.

The chronological sequence guides us, not only in respect of the commencement and progress of the Holy Prophet's mission, but also about the future technique concerning the reform and development of human communities, and of individuals, on the Islamic pattern. Hence Islamic scholars took the greatest pains in preserving the knowledge of chronological sequence as best as they could.

What light we receive through the consideration of chronological sequence may be illustrated here very briefly by way of example. The first revelation that came to the Holy Prophet (Peace be on him!) and formed, thus, the starting point for his mission, consisted of the first five verses of the sura named al-'Alaq (xcvi). Now, the basic problem projected in those verses is that of the conflict of Faith and Reason and the solution thereof. The immense importance of this problem in human history in respect of the establishment of peace and harmony between religion, on the one hand, and philosophy and science, on the other, cannot be over-estimated, especially when we consider that the Holy Prophet stood at the helm ,of the modern era of scientific advancement-- of which he himself was to be the inaugurator, while his basic role was to establish Religion on sound footing as God Himself had revealed it before him from time to time. Hence, placing the human knowledge cultivated through the pen in the embrace of a dynamic Faith in God, as those verses do, it was only logical and natural that they should have been revealed first. Moreover, the importance given there to the cultivation of knowledge lend to those verses pre-eminence in view of the fact that it was the Holy Prophet's mission to "teach new knowledge" (ii:151).

Then, the first verses that were revealed after the short suspense in Revelation, i.e., lxxxiv: 1-5, reflect in essence the five Pillars of Islam, as we find them mentioned in the Hadith, the first two verses reflecting the Divine Messengership of Muhammad (Peace be on him!); the third verse reflecting the belief in God; the fourth reflecting the concept of purity, for which prayer, compulsory charity and pilgrimage, have been prescribed as Pillars of Islam; the fifth verse reflecting fasting (among the Pillars) in respect of the elimination of impurities--- spiritual, moral and physical.

Thereafter, we come to the following verses which, by general consent of the authorities, are accepted as having been revealed in the first year of the Call, forming thus a part of the very earliest revelations: "And what will make thee comprehend what the uphill road (of virtue) is: (It is:) the setting free of a slave; or the giving of food in a day of privation to the orphan with claims of relationship, or to the indigent (down) in the dust; and to be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, (constancy and self-restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion" (xc:12-17). The emphasis in these verses on the abolition of slavery, which had been one of the greatest curses of the pre-Islamic civilisations, on service to fellow-beings, and on the cultivation of a serene personality, has an importance in understanding the approach of Islam to human problems and its system of priorities in respect of the role of religion.

As regards the arrangemental sequence, the Holy Qur'an contains two levels of understanding like Nature, it being the Book of the Religion of Ideal Human Nature (al-Dm al-Fitrat) authored by the Author of Nature.

The two levels that relate to the understanding of Nature are: the common-sense level and the probe-level. Human common-sense feels the existence of a system--an order, and witnesses the beauty and the grandeur of the starry heavens, the luminous moon and the blazing sun, the majestic mountains, the enchanting landscapes, and many other parts of Nature besides. It is, however, the scientists who, through their probe into the depths of the mysteries of Nature, define the systems though not unerringly in every detail----and discover the facts that exist below the surface, revealing the knowledge progressively as they attain level after level.

The two levels that relate to the understanding of the Holy Qur'an are: (i) the level of religious consciousness, which is embraced by unperverted human common-sense; (ii) the level of theoretic consciousness, which necessitates probe and research below the surface of the Qur'anic text. The logic of religious consciousness is the instrument for acquiring understanding at the first level; while the logic of theoretic consciousness serves the other level.

The logic of religious consciousness witnesses in the Holy Qur'an the sequence and the concordance as grounded in the demands of Religion. The logic of theoretic consciousness observes the sequence and inter-relatedness as grounded in the requirements of theoretic Reason.

The Holy Qur'an has come to guide all human beings, including the common men and women, and not merely the scholars; and its primary function is: (i) religious and not speculative; (ii) development of human personality and the social order on the basis of Religion, and not speculation in terms of the deduction and induction of Reason; (iii) exhortation for guidance on the basis of the absolute Knowledge and Wisdom of God and in the form of direct and categorical statements of the Truth, and not the presentation for academic interest of any imperfect findings of the struggling human mind which, if it is to succeed in its labours in any measure, has perforce to proceed within the framework of certain fixed categories and under a certain 'system'.

Thus the primary level of sequence in the Holy Qur'an is that of the logic of religious consciousness, and in that respect there exists perfect and multi-dimensional sequence from the beginning to the end, - a sequence that has been demonstrated by the classical commentators. Indeed, even a cursory glance at the Qur'anic text bears out this fact: For instance, the very starting point of the Holy Qur'an is: "In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful" - the quest for God being the highest quest, nay, the very basic quest, of religious consciousness. Then it continues to speak of God, together with the emphasis on His relation with the universe and man: "Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful, Ruler of the Day of Judgement" (i:1-3). Then, because man seeks God primarily in the perspective of his needs, the 4th verse is: "Thee (alone) do we worship; and Thine aid (alone) we seek." Then the dimensions, positive and negative, of the Path that leads to the fulfilment of human destiny, have been crisply projected in verses 5-7: "Show us the Straight Path, the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace; not (the path) of those whose portion is Wrath nor of those who stray." The first chapter ends here, and the second chapter begins. There, the opening verse forms the response to the prayer contained in the first chapter, with the words "A. L..M. This is the Book; in it is guidance, with no dubiousness, for the godfearing: who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer and spend out of what We have provided for them; and who believe in the Revelation sent to thee (O Muhammad!), and before thy time, and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter. They are on the right path, guided by their Lord, and they shall prosper" (ii:1-5). Here the basic qualifications of the Acceptors of the Truth, or, the Pursuers of the Straight Path, mentioned in !he first chapter, have been referred to immediately after that comes the reference to the Rejectors of the Truth, and then of those who swing between Truth and Falsehood, i.e., the Hypocrites,-- and so on the narration proceeds. Similarly, when we look at the last portion of the Holy Qur'an, we find that, after its multi-dimensional elaboration of the Straight Path, it enters into certain very Important and relevant topics. Picking up the last one dozen chapters for the illustration of sequence, the picture that emerges in respect of one dimension of sequence is that, having taught the Islamic Way of Life in detail, the Holy Qur'an renders advice to the Muslims with regard to their status as the promoters of the mission for which Islam came. -In this perspective, chapter 103 deals with the principles of the rise and fall of nations, - providing to the Muslims certain positive dimensions of the basic emphasis; chapters 104 and 105 project the fatal consequences attendant upon the evils of love of wealth and lust for power; chapter 106 recalls the principles of devotion to God and trust in His Providence as opposed to indulgence in worldly aggrandisement; chapter 107 emphasises that lack of the spirit of human fellowship constitutes the very denial of religion and Divine Judgement; chapter 108 emphasises that the Holy Prophet, who is the highest embodiment of service to others based on love for God, is the recipient of unlimited Divine favours--thus indirectly inviting the Muslims to a life of service to fellowbeings and devotion to God in conformity with the Ideal that the Holy Prophet's life presents; chapter 109 highlights toleration, with devotion t6 Islam, as the virtue to be pursued, in combination with the virtues emphasised positively and negatively in the preceding chapters just mentioned, by the Muslims in then world-mission relating to the establishment of all that is good for humanity and the elimination of all that is evil; chapter 110 directs to the assurance of the triumph of Truth and emphasises the spirit of humility and godliness that should be observed in victory; chapter 111 reflects the inevitability of destruction of the forces of evil; chapter 112 lifts up into the appreciation of God concerning such of His Attributes as are basic for faith in Him, establishment of a dynamic and living relation with Him being the goal towards which entire Islamic activity is directed; chapters 113 and 114, which are the last two, teach the principle that, with all the positive technique taught by the Holy Qur'an for the pursuit of godliness, a Muslim should ever remain vigilant against the impact of even the slightest evil, - thus to ensure his progress on the path of godliness and the attainment of the final goal, namely. Complete harmony with God.

Here we must record one of the miracles relating to the holy book, to which our attention has been drawn thus:
"Allah has revealed (from time to time) the most excellent Message in the form of a Book, consistent with itself and conformable in its various parts, repeating (its teaching in various aspects) ....... ' (xxxix:23).

The Holy Qur'an was revealed in portions during a long period of well-nigh twenty-three years, wherein the Holy Prophet's life passed through very complicated and varied circumstances, and events of very different types took place. Indeed, the situation remained throughout such as to invite discrepancies in the Holy Prophet's conduct and in the projection of principles by him. Had the Holy Qur'an been a product of the Holy Prophet's mind, it was bound to have registered numerous inconsistencies, and those 'inconsistencies were bound to have been present in it because its piecemeal revelation was recorded once for all on all the occasions of revelation and was preserved as such. But under the circumstances that we have noted, the presence of consistency in it is a definite and miraculous proof of the truth of its revelation, as well as of its preservation, by God.

Now, besides consistency, the conformability of the Holy Qur'an in its various parts, as mentioned in the above verse, brings us to the logic of theoretic consciousness, which, too, is inherent in the holy book, even as the logic of religious consciousness is enshrined therein. The conformability, however, signifies, in the estimation of the best Qur'anic authorities, not only uniformity of teaching but also the principle that all the verses of the holy book are inter-related as parts of an intelligible system--whereby the existence of a system of meaning in the Holy Qur'an is positively established, as also the technique of the exposition of that system. The present work is a humble attempt towards the presentation of that system, and the author hopes that he has accomplished that task,--of course, in accordance with his limitations, and not in accordance with the greatness of the Holy Qur'an.

The fulfilment of the demands of theoretic consciousness, is contained so richly and so emphatically in the Qur'anic Guidance that even non-Muslim scholar, who are naturally devoid of the eye of faith, could not fail to notice it. As examples of this appreciation, we may quote the judgement of two Western scholars.

Eduard Montet observes:
"Islam is a religion that is essentially rationalistic in the widest sense of this term, considered etymologically and historically. The definition of rationalism as a term that bases religious beliefs on principal furnished by the reason, applies to it exactly. it is true that Muhammad, who was an enthusiast and possessed also the ardour of faith and the fire of conviction, the precious quality that he transmitted to so many of his disciples, brought forward his reform as a revelation, but this kind of revelation is only one form of exposition, and his religion has all the marks of a collection of doctrines founded on the data of reason .... A Creed so precise, so stripped of all theological complexities and consequently so accessible to the ordinary understanding might be expected to possess and does indeed possess a. marvellous power of winning its way into the consciences of men.

Dr. A. Bertherand remarks:
"'To seek knowledge is a duty for every Muslim man and woman'. 'Seek knowledge even though it be in China'. 'The savants are the heirs of the Prophets'. These profound words of the great reformer (Muhammad) are an indisputable contradiction to those who seek and exert themselves in putting the responsibility of the intellectual degradation of Muslims upon the spirit of the Qur'an. Let them read and meditate upon this great Book and they will find in it, at every passage, a constant attack upon idolatry and materialism; they will read that the Prophet incessantly called the attention and. the meditation of his people to the splendid marvels, to the mysterious phenomenon of creation. The incredulous, sceptical and unbelieving may convince themselves that the importance of this Book and its doctrine was not to throw back, eventually, the intellectual and moral faculties of a whole people. On the contrary, those who have followed its counsels have been, as we have described in the course of this study, the creators of a civilisation which is astounding, unto this day."