THE HOLY QURAN : Verses of Revelation and High Rhetoric
The Holy Quran is neither poetry, nor a work of prose with rhymes. It is on it's own as an unprecedented and divine text. For this reason, the Arabs were awestruck by the Quran since such a written work was unprecedented; they were left with no other choice but to claim that the Quran was magic.
To date, poets and men of letters have been amazed by the verses and the meanings in the Quran and are left without recourse, unable to utter a single word equivalent to one single verse of the Quran. It is concise and to the point, and its rhetoric does not resemble that of any person. If a single word were to be removed or added, the perfection of the eloquence of the Quran would be destroyed.
There are two elements to the conciseness of the Holy Quran, both of which rely on revelation: its verse and its meaning.
The most apparent evidence of the miraculous status of the Quran is its lofty rhetoric. Allah defies all the masters of rhetoric in His divine book in such a way that this challenge encompasses all times and places and no one is able to utter a word that is equivalent to that of the Holy Quran. Those who have attempted to do so have always failed. As this has not been done until now, it must be impossible to do so at any time. (The verses which prove the statements of this issue are Al-Baqarah 23-24, Al-Isra 88, Al-Hud 13-14, Al-Yunus, 38)
It should be noted that the rhetorical challenge of the Quran was directed towards those who had the utmost eloquence in the Arabic language.
The Prophet Muhammad was illiterate
Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) could neither read nor write. The fact that tales of preceding prophets and events in societies and people far from his milieu were depicted accurately in the Quran is thus nothing less than a miracle.
The Quraishis knew that Muhammad was illiterate. How could he possibly have learned the historical accounts and incidents related to previous societies and prophets? This had to be divine revelation itself.
"And thou wast not (able) to recite a Book before this (Book came), nor art thou (able) to transcribe it with thy right hand: In that case, indeed, would the talkers of vanities have doubted." (Al-Ankabut, 48)
Prophet Muhammad not only spoke of incidents related to previous prophets and societies, but he also informed people of incidents that were to happen in the future.
The most important of these incidents occurred when Muhammad informed the people that the fire-worshipping Persians, who had defeated the Byzantines, would be defeated in a short period of time and that the Byzantine State would become triumphant. At that time such a thing was considered a remote possibility; however, incidents turned out as Allah had foretold in the Quran and in less than ten years the Byzantines were triumphant over the Persians:
"Alif Lam Mim. The Roman Empire has been defeated- In a land close by; but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious- Within a few years. With Allah is the Decision, in the past and in the Future: on that Day shall the Believers rejoice- With the help of Allah. He helps whom He will, and He is exalted in might, most merciful. " (Ar-Rum, 1-5)
Allah announced that His Prophet would conquer Mecca
According to an account, before heading to Hudaybiyah, the Prophet (pbuh) had a dream in which he and his Companions shaved their heads and entered Mecca in victory; later he told his Companions about this dream. They were very pleased when they heard this. Finally they set out on the campaign to Hudaybiyah, but after an initial defeat, they returned in disappointment. Some hypocrites also started to spread negative rumor about the incident. In response to this, Allah informed people on the conquest to come by reference to the conquest of Khaybar a year ago.
"Truly did Allah fulfill the vision for His Messenger. Ye shall enter the Sacred Mosque, if Allah wills, with minds secure, heads shaved, hair cut short, and without fear. For He knew what ye knew not, and He granted, besides this, a speedy victory."(Al-Fath, 27 )
Many religious beliefs, practices and moral issues that were unknown to the Arabs are described in the Quran.
The Arabs were unaware of the tenets of monotheism, the need to believe in angels, prophesies, the Day of Judgment, Heaven and Hell in return for worldly deeds and provisions related to laws, halal and haram, the codes of conduct for ensuring human happiness, the spirit of brotherhood and helping one another, justice and fear of Allah, or their duties towards their families and society. The Prophet would read the revelations related to these rules, essential to the lives of humans, and would convey them to society. He was illiterate. He knew neither jurisprudence, sociology, psychology nor had he acquired education on subjects related to philosophy, ethics and prophesies. That he counseled on such matters proved that his prophethood was revealed unto him alone from the divine treasure.
Many verses of the Quran encompass intellectual truths.
Even this century scientists have been amazed by the fact that the Quran contains depictions of the universe, sky, earth, stars, planets, the formation of night and day, the physical, mental and spiritual phases of the creation of human beings, explanations and descriptions related to plants, animals and insects, as well as comprehensive and clear explanations of everything that exists within the universe, such as clouds, rain, storms, mountains, trees, rivers and seas. When the Quran was revealed, people did not possess such knowledge and for a long time they were unable to perceive the truth of these descriptions. However, as science developed throughout this and the last century, people have managed to understand the truths stated in the Quran.
Although fourteen centuries have passed since the revelation of the Quran, no discrepancy, error or corruption has been observed in its doctrines, meanings or issues.
The Quran constitutes a unity, not only in terms of diction, but also in terms of meaning and judgments. The words of human beings are not always the same in terms of elegance or accuracy. These words change in accordance with the mood of the writer or the speaker, or according to the conditions in which they occur. However, the diction and style of the Quran has an unprecedented beauty and accuracy from beginning to end. Although the meanings, judgments and messages of these words mention almost everything in the universe, from genesis to eternity, they show an absolute consistency, correctness and harmony. If one just finds these points and contemplates on them this is enough to understand that the Quran is not a manmade book, but that it was sent by Allah.
"Do they not consider the Quran (with care)? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy." (An-Nisaa, 82).
There are many aspects of conciseness in the Quran and they can be summarized in general under these two headings:
- The Quran is addressed to all people: the fact that 1, 400 years ago the Quran mentioned events that had not been heard of before, that these events occurred just as depicted in the Quran, that it mentions ancient tribes, and that it presents a general but unique legal system which can be applied to all people in all places at all times is a miracle; remember that Prophet Muhammad was illiterate and could not read or write. It is known that Prophet Muhammad did not take any lessons from scholars or tutors and he did not study law or politics. In view of this, it would be impossible for such an illiterate person to have formed this unique legal system by himself; it is a system that has divine wisdom inherent in it and is presented in the most wonderful Arabian rhetoric and coherence. Thus, the conciseness and miraculousness of the Holy Quran is without a doubt.
- The conciseness of the Quran is addressed to the Arabs: The divine language of the Quran is unique. The Quran has a rhetoric and coherence which is attention-grabbing, mesmerizing and superior.
Although the Quran, which has a unique style and a wide and deep treasure of meaning, has been read repeatedly for centuries, the Arab masters of rhetoric and coherence have not been able to write a similar text to date.
The miracle of splitting the moon into two parts
This great miracle of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is mentioned in the Quran: "The Hour (of Judgment) is nigh, and the moon is cleft asunder." (Al-Qamar, 1). In addition to this, Abdullah ibn Mas'ud reported that Prophet Muhammad split the moon.
According to some hadiths (sayings of Prophet), a group of polytheists asked Prophet Muhammad to split the moon into two to prove his prophethood. He turned to Allah and requested that this miracle occur. The moon was immediately split into two by the power and with the permission of Allah. One part was seen on Mount Hira, and the other part was seen right in front of the Prophet.
The Miraj is another of the great miracles of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). In Surat Al-Isra and Al-Najm, the Prophet's miraculous night journey to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and his ascension to Sidrat Al-Muntaha (the last boundary where the knowledge of creations ends and beyond which no one can pass) are mentioned.
In the first verse of Surat Al-Isra, the Prophet's miraculous journey is mentioned in the following words:
"Glory to ((Allah)) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things)." (Al-Isra, 1).
The Messenger of Allah was brought to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem) from Mecca in a matter of seconds. Ibn Kathir states that at least twenty-five people from the Companions told accounts of the incidence of the Miraj, and this number could be as great as forty-five. According to information in 26 hadiths, while Prophet Muhammad was sleeping in the house of his cousin Ummuhani bint Abu Taleb, Gabriel came and took him to the Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa on an animal called Buraq. There are many details in hadiths about what the Prophet saw during the Miraj.
Some of the information in the Quran is about the ascension of Prophet Muhammad to the Sidrat al-Muntaha:
"For indeed he saw him at a second descent, Near the Lote-tree beyond which none may pass: Near it is the Garden of Abode. Behold, the Lote-tree was shrouded (in mystery unspeakable!) (His) sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong! For truly did he see, of the Signs of his Lord, the Greatest! (An-Najm, 13-18).
The protection of the last Prophet
Like all the other prophets, the truths conveyed to people by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) led him to become subject to various torments and slander and he had to face much cynicism. Many different slanders were directed towards him and he lived under oppression and the threats of death from non-believers for many years.
Despite all these difficulties, the fact that Prophet Muhammad continued his struggle without coming to any physical harm is one of his most important miracles. This was promised in the following verse; "And Allah will defend thee from men (who mean mischief." (Al-Maida, 67)
Allah always protected the Prophet and he continued to convey his mission until the very end. This amazing truth exists both in the Quran and in the hadiths related to the words of the Prophet. (His protection from the polytheists inside the cave, the non-believers' failure to kill Him, the illusion that the Islamic armies consisted of much greater numbers during battles...)
The acceptance of the Prophet's prayers
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) revealed many miracles to his companions. One of these miracles is the fact that his prayers were accepted by Allah. There are many accounts in the hadiths related to this issue. Among these are the prayers he said in order to change the qiblah (the direction of prayer), the acceptance of his prayer for rain, and the fact that his prayers were realized when he prayed for a companion.
SOME OF THE MIRACLES MENTIONED IN THE SOURCES
Water flowing from the Prophet's fingers
We are told by the companions that water flowed and gushed through Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)'s fingers. Abdullah ibn Masud said the following: "While we regard these amazing aspects of his as a bounty, you consider him to be frightening. Once we were beside the Prophet and we had only a little water left. He said, ‘Find me some water.' They found a bucket in which there was hardly any water. He put his hands into the water and commanded as follows: ‘Come to the sacred water, fertility comes from Allah.' I saw the water gushing through the fingers of the Prophet." (Fathul-Bari, 3579)
Jabir ibn Abdullah said: "When the trench (during the Battle of the Trenches) was dug, I saw that the Prophet was extremely hungry. So I returned to my wife and asked, "Have you got anything to eat?" We had a domestic animal which I then slaughtered, and my wife ground the barley and finished around the time I finished my task.
Then I cut the meat into pieces and put it in an earthenware cooking pot, and returned to the Prophet. I went to him and said to him, "O Allah's Prophet! I have slaughtered an animal of ours, and we had some barley bread. So please come, you and another person along with you." The Prophet announced, "Let us go." The Prophet said to me, "Don't remove your earthenware meat pot from the fireplace or bake your dough until I come." So I went home and the Prophet came too, leading other people. He said: "Keep on taking out scoops from your earthenware pot, and do not remove it from the fireplace." They were one thousand people who ate with us, and by Allah they all ate, and when they left, our earthenware pot was still bubbling full of meat as if it had not decreased any, and our bread was still being baked as if nothing had been taken from it. (Bukhâri, 4/90, 5/138; Muslim: 13/216)
Umm Sulaym's Jar
An account by Anas's mother states: "We had a sheep. I would collect the buttermilk from it and put it into an earthenware jar. Eventually the jar was filled. I gave the jar to Zaynab, my servant, and told her to take it to the Prophet for him to eat."
The girl took the jar to the Prophet and the jar was returned after being emptied into another container. The girl brought the jar back to house. She hung the jar on the wall because Umm Sulaym was not at home. When Umm Sulaym returned home, she realized that the jar was hanging and it was full of buttermilk and it was dripping on the floor. She said to servant girl: "I told you to take this jar to the Prophet!" The girl answered: "I took the jar to the Prophet. If you don't believe me, than let's go to his home together."
Umm Sulaym went to the Prophet's home with the servant girl and said to him: "O Prophet; I sent you a jar full of butter with this girl." The Prophet answered: "Yes, the girl brought the jar."
Umm Sulaym said, puzzled: "I swear by Allah Who sent you as a prophet with His Religion and Mercy that the jar was filled with butter when it was returned. It was even overflowing." In response to this Prophet Muhammad said: "Are you surprised? Allah feeds you as He feeds His prophet." (Bukhâri, 4/251 - 5/62; Muslim, 17/145; Ahmad b. Hanbal's Musned: 5/204)
Throughout history, people have requested miracles from the messengers that had been sent to them to help them to believe. Allah supported some prophets with miracles and enabled them to perform these miracles.
The miracles of the last Prophet were also the results of Allah's assistance and grace. Miracles are proofs that strengthen the faith of the believers and which invite the nonbelievers to faith.
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