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The authenticity of Zurarah's reports

Mansur Bakhtiari

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Bismillahir rahmanir raheem

salam alaikom wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

allahumma salli ala muhammad wa aale muhammad wa ajjil farajahum wa al'ana adaihum

Now, I know I posted this topic before, however I want to use a new format for this. I'm going to do this in the style that shiapen.com uses, because its easy to read and understand. I debated this topic with a sunni brother about 2 weeks ago, and these points are raised frequently by sunni's debating Shia hadith methodology.

The Imam cursed Zurarah

If you want to see the ahadith quoted by brother @Islamic Salvation, which I will quote at the end. Anyways, the ahadith is Sahih, however Shia scholars have said this hadith was Taqiyya. I will divide this accusation into two parts. 1. Sahih ahadith which are in praise of Zurarah, and 2. The necessity and logic behind using Taqiyya during the rule of Al Mansur.

1. Ahadith praising Zurarah

Among the ahadith that praise Zurarah, is one letter, also quoted by Islamic Salvation, which explains exactly the ijtihad used by our scholars in their explanation in saying the cursing was done in the pretext of taqiyya

[17/172] Rijal al . Kashshi-: Hamduwayh From . B by Muhammad. Isa from Yunus from Abdallah b. Zurara AND Muhammad b. Qulawayh and al-Husayn b. al-Hasan from Sa`d from Harun b . al-Hasan b. Mahbub from Muhammad b. Abdallah b. Zurara and his [Zurara's] two sons al-Hasan and al-Husayn from Abdallah b. Zurara WHO COMPLETE by said : by Abu Abdillah peace be upon him said to me: convey my salutations of peace to your father and say to him: Verily, I only defame you as a way of defending you, for the masses and the enemy hasten to whomever we draw near and praise his station so as to cause harm to the one we love and bring close. They accuse such a one because of our love for him and his closeness and intimacy with us, and they consider causing him harm and even killing him as justified. On the other hand, they praise every one whom we fault even if his affair is not praiseworthy. Thus, I fault you because you have become notorious as a result of your association with us and your inclination towards us, which have caused you to become blamable in the eyes of the people and your works to be looked upon unfavourably, all this because of your love for us and your inclination towards us. So I wished to fault you so that   they can praise your religious stand as a result of my denigrating and diminishing you, and this becomes a way of warding off their evil from you.

there are even more sahih ahadith praising him.

 

حمدويه قال حدثني محمد بن عيسى بن عبيد ويعقوب بن يزيد عن ابن ابي عمير عن ابي العباس البقباق عني ابي عبد الله عليه السلام قال: أربعة أحب الناس إلى أحياءا وأمواتا ، بريد بن معاوية العجلي ، وزرارة بن اعين ، ومحمد بن مسلم ، وأبوجعفر الأحول ، أحب الناس إلي أحياءا وأمواتا
Imam Jaffar al-Sadiq said: ‘Four people are the most lovable to me during their lives and after their deaths. Buraid bin Mu’awyia al-Ejli, Zurara bin Ayun, Muhammad bin Muslim and Abu Jaffar al-Ahwal, they are the most lovable people to me during their lives and after their deaths.’

Graded as Sahih by Sayed al Khoei in Mu’ajam Rijal al Hadith

 

So we can obviously see that he was loved by the Imam's. And now onto the validity of his ahadith. That can be based on two things. 1. His reputation among the people and 2. The words of our 6th Imam (as).

1. 

Rijal al Tusi Volume 1 Page 123

وروي أن زرارة كان وسيما جسيما أبيض. وكان يخرج إلى الجمعة وعلى رأسه برنس أسود، وبين عينيه سجادة، وفي يده عصا، فيقوم له الناس سماطين ينظرون اليه لحسن هيئته، فربما رجع عن طريقه، وكان خصما جدلا لا يقوم أحد -

It is narrated that Zurarah (ra) was handsome and white, and when he went out on Friday with a burnus (hooded cloak) on his head and a prostration mark between his eyes, and in his hand a stick, and people who would give him gifts just to look at him [sic] and there was no competition against him (meaning nobody was of his rank.

 

sorry if translation is incorrect


Zurarah (ra) was not only loved by the Imams (as), but by all the people around him, who recognized him as an honorable man. It even says there was no competition for him. Others paled in comparison to him, so who is more trustworthy to rely on for narrations than him?

This speaks for itself. There was NOBODY who was similar in rank to Zurarah (ra). That is one good reason to accept his narrarations as Sahih, Then of course, the clear testification of the Imam (as), that without him the prophetic traditions would be lost. 

Rijal al Kashi
Jami bin Daraj said: ‘I heard Abu Abdullah Úáíå ÇáÓáÇã saying ‘Give glad tidings to the humble ones of Paradise, Buraid bin Abi Mu’awyia al-Ejli, Abu Basir Laith bin al-Bakhtari al-Muradi, Muhammad bin Muslim and Zurara, four pious and faithful to Allah in (the matters of) Halal and Haram, without them the prophetic traditions would have been
lost’’

So now we know that obviously the narrations of Zurarah should be valued greatly. He was recognized as truthful and trustworthy by the infalliable Imam (as). But here is the next point which was raised by the brother.

Why would the Imam need to perform Taqiyya?

 

The oppression and the harassment that happened towards imam ja3far ÑÍãå Çááøå did not happen until towards the end of his lifetime.. The problem with me accepting whether his narrations were done in taqiyyah or done in truthfulness is that it is mainly guess work at best. obviously in much of his time under Abassid rule he was not oppressed as he was known as a great teacher and was known to have taught many many people including Abu Hanifa Malik ibn Anas and Wasil ibn Ata. how do we know when he said these things and how do we actually know what was done with taqiyyah or not? that is the point we can't really know at the end of the day which has created a big problem for shia scholars and it comes down to guess work. Taqiyyah to the shia was not only limited to "preserving the life of the imam and his shia" rather shia scholars applied it to just about anything as in this example: from as-Sadiq: “Ismail (as) died at 130 years of age”. Al Majlisi said: This news is considered Taqiyya. Source: “Bihar al Anwar” 12/113

 

I have no problem if someone did taqiyyah in order to save themselves and their students, the problem is when you want me to take them as an infallible imam that I must follow him and whose word is law. I view Imam Ja3far ÑÍãå Çááøå as an exceptionally pious and brilliant friend of Allah filled with wisdom and spiritual insight but still a fallible human who I am not obligated to take my religion from

Now the issue is whether or not oppression of the Imam (as) happened during his earlier days. All of what I am saying can be traced to an Al Islam. The murderous nature of the ruler of that time, Al Mansur, was well known. 

 

Masa’ibush Shia Volume 5 Page 93

About al-Mansur’s cruel nature, Allama Abdur Rabbah reports, “When al-Mansur sat in his court, the executioners will bring row upon row of people and behead them so mush so that the blood used to flow in the court and splatter on to al-Mansur’s cloak. Al-Mansur then ordered his chaplain to preach to him. When the chaplain preached, al-Mansur used to sit with his head bowed down as if he were ashamed, but in no time another group of persons would be brought and beheaded as before.”

This was the nature of the Abbasid ruler. He would not hesitate to slaughter any of his enemies, and the Shia were definitely among his enemies. Even when the Imam (as) was teaching his students in Medina, he was treated with suspicion, was summoned by Al Mansur who had the intention of killing him, and he wasn't even allowed to travel out of Medina in some cases. That's actually when the Imam's (as) started having Wakeel's, or representatives. The oppression of the Imam occured throughout his lifetime, meaning he would have to perform Taqiyya to save himself and his students. And to be more specific on why he would have to perform taqiyya in regards to Zurarah:

 

Rijal Sayed Bahrul Uloom:

Sayyid Bahr al-‘Ulum states that the family of A‘yan, of which Zurarah was a scion, was the largest Shi‘i family of Kufa.

Zurarah (ra) was of the largest Shia family of Kufa, which makes him a high-profile target for the government, especially given his staunch support for the Ahlulbait (as). The Imam (as) obviously had knowledge of this and took the protect measures to protect Zurarah (ra) and his family. Sunnis for some reason can not get their heads around this even when their own scholars like Abu Hanifa approve of Taqiyya when done to save lives.

 

Sources

https://www.al-islam.org/the-hidden-truth-about-karbala-ak-ahmed/part-c-persecution-shia-abbasid-kings

 

 



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      Preference of Ḥafṣ Over Other Readings
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      Not Preferring any Reading Over Another
      In a majority of cases ‘Allāmah does not prefer one reading over another. Instead, he reiterates that both recitals are correct and justifiable. This also implies that ‘Allāmah does not restrict himself to the recitation of Ḥafṣ in his commentary simply because it happens to be a popular reading or go out of his way to invalidate other recitations simply because they aren’t popular. In fact, it shows that ‘Allāmah considered other recitations to be just as valid and strong as the recitation of Ḥafṣ.
      As an example, in (2:37) فَتَلَقَّىٰ آدَمُ مِن رَّبِّهِ كَلِمَاتٍ  Ibn Kathīr recites Ādam in a state of naṣb and Kalimāt in a state of raf’, while Ibn ‘Āmir recites it the opposite way. ‘Allāmah cites both recitations and does not prefer one over another and says that the meaning will remain the same in either case.[12]
      In (2:126) قَالَ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَأُمَتِّعُهُ قَلِيلًا, the word umatti’uhu which is on the paradigm of taf’īl, has also been recited as umti’uhu on the paradigm of if’āl. Since both tamtī’ and imtā’ have the same meaning, he refrains from preferring one over the other.[13]
      In (26:36) قَالُوا أَرْجِهْ وَأَخَاهُ, the word arjih أرْجِهْ has been recited as 1) arji’hu أرْجِئهُ with a hamzahbetween the jīm and the pronoun hā and with a ḍammah on the hā, 2) the people of Medīna and Kisāī and Khalaf recited it as arjihi أرْجِهِ without a hamzah and with a kasra on the hā, and 3) Āṣim and Ḥamzah recited it as arjih أرْجِهْ without a hamzah, but with a sukūn on the hā.
      After mentioning all the different recitations for this word, ‘Allāmah says that the first two recitations are more eloquent than the third recitation which happens to be the popular one, although all three recitations have the same meaning.[14]
      In other situations, we find ‘Allāmah not commenting on the different readings at all. Perhaps this was done simply to point the reader to the fact that there exists another recitation that is equally strong and justifiable as Ḥafṣ’. Or perhaps he may have felt that the recitation of Ḥafṣ in a particular verse was not as strong, but did not find enough reason to prefer any of the other recitations over it either. For example, in (2:283) وَلَمْ تَجِدُوا كَاتِبًا فَرِهَانٌ مَّقْبُوضَةٌ he says that the word rihān in this verse has also been pronounced as ruhun which is the plural for rahn. Both words have the same meaning and ‘Allāmah refrains from commenting on them any further.[15]
      In some cases, even though ‘Allāmah has not preferred any recitation over another, he has made use of the difference in reading to expand on the meaning of the verse. Regarding verse (2:219) يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ ۖ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ he writes that the word kabīr (great) has also been recited as kathīr (a lot). When explaining the harms of alcohol and gambling he says that their harms are both great and a lot.[16]
      When it comes to the numerous reports in which a recitation has been attributed to one of the Imāms (a), ‘Allāmah takes the same approach as he does with the other readings. If these traditions and the readings do not meet the criteria for acceptance, they are not to be taken. He writes that the Shī’a do not consider rare readings to be probative, even if they are attributed to the Imāms.[17] When it comes to traditions that attribute a certain way of reading to the Imāms (a), he divides these set of traditions into two, narrations that are specifically a reading of a verse, and narrations that are exegetical.
      Narrations that are specifically a reading of a verse are traditions that are in line with the text of the Qurānic codex and rules of grammar. The readings of the text themselves are then either in accordance with one of the famous readings or against them. Traditions in which these readings are not the same as any of the famous readings are either those in which either the vowel placement is different or the letters of a word is different or something similar to that extent. In these cases, ‘Allāmah treats these readings like the rest of the famous recitations and puts them to the same standard of scrutiny before preferring one over another.
      As an example, in (13:31) أَفَلَمْ يَيْأَسِ, the famous recitation is a fa lam yay’as, but it has been reported that Imām ‘Alī (a), Ibn ‘Abbās, ‘Alī b. al-Ḥusayn (a), Zayd b. ‘Alī, Ja’far b. Muḥammad (a), Ibn Abī Malīkah and Abū Yazīd al-Madanī all recited it as a fa lam yatabayyan. However, ‘Allāmah says that the famous and accepted recitation is a fa lam yay’as.[18]
      In a subsequent post, we will look at the role of these different readings and how ‘Allāmah used them to either defend his own interpretation or at times allow multiple meanings for a given verse.
      Footnotes
      [1] Al-Mīzān, vol. 7, pg. 271
      [2] Ibid, vol. 2, pg. 322
      [3] Ṭabrasī, Majma’ al-Bayān, vol. 2, pg. 642
      [4] Al-Mīzān, vol. 2, pg. 375
      [5] Ṭabrasī, vol. 5, pg. 151
      [6] Al-Mīzān, vol. 10, pg. 49
      [7] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 204
      [8] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 33 and 142
      [9] Ibid, vol. 9, pg. 150
      [10] Ibid, vol. 18, pg. 408
      [11] Ibid, vol. 15, pg. 360
      [12] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 204
      [13] Ibid, vol. 1, pg. 426
      [14] Ibid, vol. 15, pg. 382
      [15] Ibid, vol. 2, pg. 668
      [16] Ibid, vol. 2, pg. 289
      [17] Ibid, vol. 4, pg. 476
      [18] Ibid, vol. 11, pg. 505
    • By starlight in Light Beams
         0
      Part II A Detailed Description of the Method and Way of Godward Wayfaring
      My notes on the book's content. I had to reformat and reduce the size of file to meet the specifications of the forum. Hopefully this image will be readable after zooming.

    • By starlight in Light Beams
         0
      My notes on the book's content
      Here is the link to the book   https://www.al-islam.org/al-tawhid/vol13-no4/lubb-al-lubab-short-treatise-wayfaring-s-m-husayn-husayni
      PART I A Brief Description of the Realms Preceding the World of Khulus


       
       
       
       
       
       
    • By Qa'im in Imamology
         5
      Allah has placed important symbols in our religion that we must seek to understand.
      The word "hijab" appears seven times in the Quran. In 7:46, the hijab is a "barrier" that divides Paradise from the Fire. In 19:16-17, Mary "secludes" herself from her family to devote herself to God in solitude. In 33:53, a "screen" protects the Prophet's wives from onlookers. In 41:5, a "barrier" prevents the disbelievers from heartfelt belief. In 42:51, a "veil" prevents Allah from being seen by those He reveals to. In 17:45, a "partition" prevents the disbelievers from comprehending the Quran. In 38:32, a "curtain" prevents Solomon from seeking his prescribed prayers.
      The Quran never refers to the Muslim headdress as a hijab. In our traditional literature, the garment is instead referred to as a khimar, a jilbab, or a kisa'. So this begs the question: what is a hijab in Islamic terminology? A hijab primarily is a barrier that prevents or protects one thing from another. It can be both physical (like a curtain) or metaphysical. A physical hijab may be a simple covering that prevents unwanted access to an object or a person - much like the curtain that would prevent strange men from seeing the Prophet's wives. A metaphysical hijab could be an attitude that a person has - like Mary's seclusion from her people, or like the "social hijab" that prevents unnecessary mixing between men and women. But a metaphysical hijab can also be a boundary that Allah has set between two things.
      The precious pearl hides inside the oyster's mysterious shell. In all instances, the hijab protects something of value from those who have not demonstrated a sincerity to it. It prevents both intentional and accidental harm from coming to the object of value. Only those who have demonstrated a sincerity to the gem beyond the barrier can access its excellence. For example, faith, which is a precious light of Paradise ( الايمان في الجنة ), can only be attained by those who seek it and are open to its reception. If one is insincere to faith, a barrier will be put up to protect it from him, preventing him from its understanding and its benefits. Furthermore, inner understandings of the Quran cannot be attained by a cursory reading of it - the esoteric can only be gained by deep reflection and devotion. Through this hijab, God protects the most priceless secrets from the misunderstanding and misuse of those who seek to abuse them.
      Likewise, even the hijab (both physical and social) of a woman from a stranger protects her from complete objectification. The only ones that can access her feminine energy, her motherhood, her personality, and her physical beauty are (1) her direct relatives, or (2) a man who has sought her expressed consent, the permission of her guardian, and has devoted himself to her sustenance. Once that sincerity is established, the barriers are gradually removed, one after the other, and the sincere man becomes overwhelmed at her marvel.
      The hijab is a Sunna of Allah. It is something that He Himself has enacted, both upon Himself and upon others. Allah has been inclined to put veils in His creation and His religion (الله ستار يحب الستر). He has also created veils for Himself - He created seven veils of light between Himself and the creation ( إن الله خلق السماوات سبعاً والأرضين سبعاً والحجب سبعاً ). This light is said to inspire the creation with His greatness, His guidance, and His love ( لما اسري بي إلى السماء بلغ بي جبرئيل مكانا لم يطأه قط جبرئيل فكشف له فأراه الله من نور عظمته ما أحب ). The purpose of these veils is twofold: (1) to prevent His recognition and His presence from the insincere disbelievers, and (2) to manifest His signs to those who recognize Him. Allah's veils are the epitome example for veiling in Islam - they both prevent and inspire. All other hijabs are a symbol of His ultimate and primordial hijab - a hijab is to be beautiful, inspiring guidance and awe, but also purposeful in providing the security of an object or an idea.
      Allah's essence is a mystery. It cannot be compared to anything, and it is contrary to all that comes to mind. The divine mystery of God's nature is called "the secret" (al-sir) in our literature. One of the roles of the Guide is to protect this secret from corruption - meaning, to prevent the people from generating a polytheistic understandings of Allah's nature. The Guide goes through extra trouble to make sure that God's mystery is kept with distance to prevent it from being defiled. Pure monotheism is their priority.
      At the same time, Allah has one more very important luminous hijab: the Prophet Muhammad (s). In al-Kafi, the Prophet is called the hijab of Allah ( محمد حجاب الله تبارك وتعالى ), and the same is said in Tafsir al-`Ayashi ( بمحمد صلى الله عليه وآله تطمئن وهو ذكر الله وحجابه ). This is because the Prophet is the ultimate guardian of Allah's essence, protecting monotheistic theology from any and all corruption. Indeed, the Prophet was raised beyond all of Allah's other veils of light during the mi`raj ( فلمّا اُسرى بالنبيّ ( صلّى الله عليه وآله ) فكان من ربّه كقاب قوسين أو أدنى رفع له حجاب من حجبه فكبّر رسول الل ), and was brought closer to Allah than any other creation. The Prophet also fulfills the other function of God's light hijabs, which is to guide and to inspire the creation to God. Everything about his form and his personality has been made for us to approach Allah and understand His attributes better. He is called "the Reminder" (al-Dhikr) because he is the ultimate proof of Allah and His most luminous light. It is not a coincidence that the Ahl al-Kisa' are the "People of the Cloak" - they are a sacred and primordial union that simultaneously protect the hidden and manifest the wisdom of God.
      Likewise, Lady Fatima put extra veils between her and those who had oppressed her - she wrapped her scarf around her head, covered herself in her cloak, surrounded herself with her family, stepped on the ends of her dress, and placed a curtain before her and the Caliphal elites ( لما أجمع أبوبكر وعمر على منع فاطمة عليها السلام فدكا و بلغها ذلك لاثت خمارها على رأسها و اشتملت بجلبابها وأقبلت في لمةٍ من حفدتها ونساء قومها تطأ ذيولها ما تخرم مشيتها مشية رسول الله ( ص ) حتى دخلت على أبي بكر وهو في حشد من المهاجرين والأنصار وغيرهم فنيطت دونها ملاءة فجلست ).
      It is important that we do not just relegate this beautiful concept of hijab to a headdress. A headdress without the intention and practice of hijab is just another piece of cloth. But a modest dress can be a small part of a larger, more meaningful dynamic. We are to carry out the hijab in all of our practices: we cover our good deeds, we protect our family members from insincere people, we protect the secrets of Ahl al-Bayt from their enemies, we recognize that the hidden intentions are more important than the apparent actions, we seek the esoteric understandings of our religion, and we recognize the limits in both theology and in society.
      May Allah plant the needed humility in the garden of our hearts, so that the veil of occultation is lifted between us and our Imam for a nourishing relationship with him.
    • By Ibn al-Hussain in Just Another Muslim Blogger
         0
      Miraculousness of the Qurān – Doctrine of al-Ṣarfah – A Historical Overview (Part 6)
      Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-doctrine-of-al-ṣarfah-a-historical-overview-part-6/
      In our previous post, we went over a brief description of the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah. In this post, we want to see what critiques were established against this doctrine by Muslim scholars. I will summarize some of the major arguments against the doctrine and leave out some of the rebuttals which I felt were repetitive and were essentially saying the same thing as another argument. As you will come to realize, some of these rebuttals are impressive and proponents of al-Ṣarfah would need to respond to them accordingly, but some other rebuttals have blatant flaws in them or are based on presumptions that not all proponents of al-Ṣarfah even accepted. Though, I will not be discussing the strength or weakness of any of these rebuttals and will leave it up to the reader to further investigate and contemplate over this very crucial discussion.
      Scholars have listed out a wide range of critiques on the doctrine, some list up to 12 rebuttals, others 7, and some only 1 or 2. The nature of these rebuttals also depends on who they are being addressed to. As mentioned in the previous post, there are multiple definitions and interpretations of the doctrine itself, so even though some rebuttals may be applicable to all interpretations, many others may only be targetting a specific definition or even a specific proponent of the doctrine. In this post I have sufficed with 8 critiques, combining some of the rebuttals I felt were essentially saying the same thing.
      Rebuttals
      1. If the miracle of the Qurān was something external to it, rather than internal, then God would not have challenged the Arabs to bring something like it. Instead, God would have informed them that He has forcibly prevented them from bringing anything like it.
      2. al-Khaṭṭābī[1] (d. 388 AH / 998 CE) and some others argue that even though theoretically speaking the view of al-Ṣarfah sounds valid, its greatest problem is that it goes against the apparent meaning of some of the verses of the Qurān. One of the main verses cited is:
      قُل لَّئِنِ اجْتَمَعَتِ الْإِنسُ وَالْجِنُّ عَلَىٰ أَن يَأْتُوا بِمِثْلِ هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ لَا يَأْتُونَ بِمِثْلِهِ وَلَوْ كَانَ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ ظَهِيرًا
      [17:88] Say, “If mankind and the jinn gathered in order to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they were to each other assistants.”
      These scholars argue that this verse cannot be understood correctly if one were to believe in al-Ṣarfah – which is an external barrier. The challenge in this verse is related to an act that has been described as being exhaustive and a task that requires a lot of effort. Such is the extent of this effort that all of mankind and the jinn would need to gather together to even begin fulfilling it. Despite that, they will fail at it. This implies that the miracle of the Qurān is something internal to it because the notion of al-Ṣarfah – at least one understanding of it – implies that humans have been externally prevented from bringing anything like the Qurān and there is no real motivation or effort required to attempt to bring anything like it.
      There are other verses in the Qurān that are also cited by different scholars to argue that the miracle of it is innate to it. For example:
      وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَا تَسْمَعُوا لِهَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ وَالْغَوْا فِيهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَغْلِبُونَ
      [41:26] And those who disbelieve say, “Do not listen to this Qur’an and speak noisily during [the recitation of] it that perhaps you will overcome.”
      This verse implies that the disbelievers knew the words of the Qurān itself had something miraculous about it, or else they would not have asked others to not listen to it or interrupt its recitation. This is as far as its impact on the disbelievers is concerned. However, in another verse we see that the verses of the Qurān also impacted the believers:
      اللَّهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُّتَشَابِهًا مَّثَانِيَ تَقْشَعِرُّ مِنْهُ جُلُودُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ ثُمَّ تَلِينُ جُلُودُهُمْ وَقُلُوبُهُمْ إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُدَى اللَّهِ يَهْدِي بِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ هَادٍ
      [39:23] Allah has sent down the best statement: a consistent Book wherein is reiteration. The skins shiver therefrom of those who fear their Lord; then their skins and their hearts relax at the remembrance of Allah. That is the guidance of Allah by which He guides whom He wills. And one whom Allah leaves astray – for him there is no guide.
      3. ‘Abdul Qāhir al-Jurjānī[2] (d. 471 AH), Zarkashī (d. 794 AH) in his al-Burhān and Suyūtī[3] (d. 911 AH) all argue that if the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah was true, then as time passes by, people would learn the ability to bring something like the Qurān. As such, it would no longer remain a miracle. This is all the while there is a theological consensus by Muslims that the Qurān is an eternal miracle.
      Note that one of the presumptions of this rebuttal is that the challenge to bring something like the Qurān has been understood to be limited to the time of the Prophet (p) himself.
      4. Those who say that al-Ṣarfah is the notion of God preventing the Arabs from acquiring knowledge required to bring something like the Qurān, then a question remains as to why we do not find any historical reports of Arabs complaining about their lack of knowledge regarding these matters, or why did none of the eloquent ones at the time of the Prophet (p) even attempt to bring anything like it – albeit failed attempts?
      5. ‘Abdul Qāhir al-Jurjānī claims that if the doctrine of al-Ṣarfah was correct, then why do we find the Arabs themselves astonished and confused by the eloquence and clarity of the Qurān.[4] This matter is unanimously agreed upon by the historians and numerous historical reports exist describing the shocking state of some of the disbelievers, such as Walīd b. Mughīrah and ‘Utbah b. Rabī’ah, when they heard some of the verses being recited. If the verses were not miraculous, even if they were highly eloquent, this should not have been a reason for them to be shocked and astonished to such a degree, since the Arabs were already well accustomed to highly eloquent speech before the revelation of the Qurān.
      If the miracle of the Qurān was that their knowledge had been taken away from them, then their astonishment should have been concerning the fact that previously they the ability to produce speech similar to the Qurān, but after its revelation, they were unable to do so.
      6. In the previous post, we mentioned that one of Sayyid al-Murtaḍa’s justification for al-Ṣarfah was that the verses of the Qurān are merely a combination of letters and words, something every human is inherently capable of doing. If someone is not able to bring something like the Qurān, it only means that people do not have enough knowledge do so, not that the order of the words itself is miraculous.
      ‘Allāmah Ṭabāṭabāī summarizes this argument in his Tafsīr al-Mīzān[5] and then begins a lengthy response to it. I will quote just two excerpts from his response and the readers can refer to the complete rebuttal in the English translation of al-Mīzān available online. He writes:
      It is a fallacious argument that as the language is a product of human ingenuity, it can never reach a level which would be beyond the grasp or ability of human beings; language, being a product, cannot be more powerful than its producer. The fallacy lies in the fact that what has been invented by man is simple words for particular meanings. But this congruity of the words with their meanings does not teach the man how to arrange those words, how to plan, draft and deliver a talk in the best possible way — in a way that the talk reflects the beauty of the meaning as it is in the mind, and the meaning in its turn becomes a mirror of the reality, remains in complete agreement with the fact. It requires a dexterity in the art of eloquence, an adroitness in elocution; also it depends on sharp intelligence and comprehensive knowledge so that the speaker may be fully cognizant of all aspects of the subject matter. It is this skill and knowledge that differs from man to man, and creates difference between talk and talk in their respective perfection and beauty.

      To come back to the main objection: Accepted that language has been made by men. But it does not mean that there cannot be found a piece of literature that is beyond the reach of the very men who made the language. Otherwise, we would have to say that a sword-maker must be the bravest of all the swordsmen, the inventor of chess or lute must be the most accomplished chess-master or lutanist!
      Āyatullah Jawādī Āmulī in volume 1 of his thematical exegesis[6] offers a similar critique to Sayyid al-Murtaḍa. To summarize his argument, he says that eloquence and clarity of speech is based on three pillars, namely, one’s relative knowledge with respect to what exists, the ability to produce words and use them to signify their specific meanings, and thirdly to be able to use those words collectively in an appropriate fashion to convey a meaning to someone. Humans have complete control over the second pillar, but their command over the first and third pillar is limited. This is because the realities are too many to enumerate and most humans possess only some knowledge regarding them, while others – like the infallibles – may possess all knowledge about them. As for what words should be used and how they should be used, then this goes back to human experience and one’s taste of the language. It does not exist for everyone because it is linked to the domain of the practical intellect and humans are highly different from one another in this regard. This is similar to the skill of writing poetry, which some are excellent in, while others have no ability to write anything poetic.
      So even if humans coined words for different meanings, these are to be considered tools by which eloquent speech can be produced. It by no means necessitates that they themselves can also produce the highest level of eloquence or that eloquence cannot reach a level of miraculousness.
      7.  The doctrine of al-Ṣarfah suggests that the Qurān challenged the people to bring something like it, but if they ever intended to do so, an external barrier would prevent them from it. However, this implies that if a person does not intend to go head-to-head with the Qurān and is not intending on taking on the Qurānic challenge, then there is nothing stopping them from bringing something like the Qurān. This is because the external barrier is for those who intend on challenging the Qurānic miracle.
      Of course, this rebuttal will only work for those proponents of al-Ṣarfah who believe that the external barrier is limited to those who consciously intend on taking on the Qurānic challenge.
      8. From a Shī’ī perspective, one argument against al-Ṣarfah is seeing what the infallible Imāms (a) after the Prophet (p) have said about the Qurān. Some traditions very clearly signify that the miracle of the Qurān was internal to it and not an external barrier. The Imāms never seem to have alluded to the book’s miraculous aspect being that which the proponents of al-Ṣarfah claim. Rather if there is any mention of the Qurānic miracle and its accompanying challenge, their words always seem to imply that it was something innate to it. One such tradition is in volume 1 of Uṣūl al-Kāfī, ḥadīth #20:
      Al-Ḥusayn b. Muḥammad narrated from Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Sayyārī from Abū Ya’qūb al-Baghdādī who said:
      Ibn Sikkīt asked Abū al-Ḥasan (al-Kāẓim), ‘Why did Allah send Mūsa b. ‘Imrān (a) with a miracle that appeared through his staff, his hand and through tools of magic, and He sent ‘Īsa with the miracle that appeared through tools of medicine, and He sent Muḥammad (p) with means of speech and sermons?’
      Abū al-Ḥasan (a) replied: ‘When Allah sent forth Mūsa (a), magic was popular amongst the people. So he brought something against them from Allah which they did not have the capacity to counter. He was given that by which he invalidated their magic and established the truth against them.
      Allah sent ‘Īsa (a) at a time when serious illnesses existed amongst the people and they needed medical treatment. So he brought something for them from Allah which the people did not have. He was given the ability to bring the dead back to life, cure the sick and the lepers by the permission of Allah and thus, establish the truth against them.
      Allah sent Muḥammad (p) at a time when oratory and speech were popular amongst the people – and I think he said poetry as well.[7] From the good advice and wisdom that he brought to them from Allah, he invalidated their words and established the truth against them.’
      Ibn al-Sikkīt said, ‘I swear by Allah I have never seen anyone like you. What is the proof amongst people today to establish the truth?’ The Imam replied, ‘It is the intellect. Through it, one recognizes those who speak the truth regarding Allah, and thus affirms them, and through it, one recognizes those who lie regarding Allah, and thus negates them.” Ibn al-Sikkīt then said, “This by Allah is the answer.”
      This tradition implies that the Qurānic miracle was similar to the miracles brought by the previous Prophets (p) as far as it was related to what was popular at the time. Given that eloquent oratory and poetry was a praised skill during the time of the Prophet (p), the Qurān – being the Prophet’s (p) miracle – was related to that and demonstrated its miracle through the very language the Arabs would pride themselves in.
      From next post onwards, we will start going through significant and influential scholarly figures and expound on their views regarding the miraculousness of the Qurān. We will begin from 4th-century hijrī and proceed from there.
      Footnotes
      [1] Bayān I’jāz al-Qurān, published under the work Thalāth Rasāil fī I’jāz al-Qurān
      [2] Dalāil al-I’jāz, pg. 156
      [3] Al-Itqān fī ‘Ulūm al-Qurān, vol. 4, pg. 8
      [4] Dalāil al-I’jāz, pg. 390-391
      [5] For the English translation, see vol. 1, pgs. 127-133
      [6] Tafsīr Mawḍū’ī, vol. 1, pg. 165 – available online here: http://www.portal.esra.ir
      [7] The narrator adds this phrase
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