Waseem162 reacted to starlight for a blog entry, Duties incumbent on Body Parts
The narrations below are part of a long tradition which I started yesterday https://www.shiachat.com/forum/blogs/entry/413-faith-assigned-to-the-face-and-heart-of-humans/
I wanted to post the whole narration in three parts and finish it tomorrow but it's Shab e Jumah (friday night) here today and as I was reading Dua Kumayl I came across some lines which I will mention at the end which made me post all of it on Shab e Jumah as the narration goes so well with this dua of friday night.
Allah has made incumbent upon the tongue to speak and express that to which the heart has contracted and attested. Allah, Glorified and Exalted be His name, has said: 'you shall speak good words to people' - 2:83 and 'Say, '' we believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our God and your God is One, and to Him do we submit" ' - 29:46 So this is the duty that Allah has made incumbent upon the tongue.
As for the duty that He has made incumbent upon the ears, it is to refrain from listening t0 that which Allah has forbidden, and to abstain from Allah's prohibitions that are unlawful and from listening to what Allah has abased, and,regarding this, Allah has said: 'And indeed He has revealed to you in the Book that when you hear Allah's communications being disbelieved and mocked, do not sit with such people until they enter into some other discourse' - 4:140
and then He excludes listening to such discourse owing to forgetfulness and heedlessness, saying: 'And if the Shaytan causes you to forget,then do not sit after recollection with the unjust people' -6:68
and He has said: 'Therefore give good news to My servants, those who listen to the word and follow the best of it;those are they whom Allah has guided and those it is who are the men of understanding' - 39:17,18
And: Successful indeed are the believers, who are humble in their prayers, and who keep aloof from vain talk, and who are givers of the poor rate - 23:1-4
and: 'When they hear idle talk they turn aside form it' - 28:55
and : 'When they pass by vain talk, they pass by it nobly' - 25:72
This is the portion of faith that Allah has made incumbent upon the ears,that they should not listen to what is not permissible, and this is their duty.
And He has enjoined that the eyes should not look at anything that Allah has forbidden, and that they should turn away from unlawful things that Allah has prohibited them to look at, and this is their duty in acquiring faith.
And regarding this Allah has said: 'And say to the believing men that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts' - 24:30
and He has said: 'And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts' - 24:31 that is from anybody looking at them, and to cast down their gazes from looking at other's private parts.
All the other verses of the Quran referring to guarding one's private parts imply guarding them from fornication;however,these two verses specifically imply guarding them from being looked at.
Allah has mentioned all the duties that are incumbent upon the heart, the eyes and the tongue in one verse, saying: 'And you did not use to veil yourselves lest your ears and your eyes and your skins should bear witness against you' - 41:22 Skins here mean private parts and thighs.
And He has said: 'And do not follow that of which you have no knowledge;surely the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these shall be questioned about that' - 17:36
This is the duty that Allah has made incumbent upon the eyes - to lower the gaze, and this is their portion for acquiring faith.
And on the hands he has charged that they should not be used to strike anything unlawfully, and that they must be used to strike only that which Allah has ordered.He has also ordained for them to give charity, and to bring reconciliation between near kin, and to strive in the way of Allah, and to be purified for prayer(salat), as He has said: 'O you who believe!When you rise up for prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles' - 5:6
and: 'So when you encounter in battle those who disbelieve, then smite their necks until you have overcome them,then make them prisoners,and afterwards either set them free as a favour, or let them ransom themselves until the war ends' - 47:4
This is what Allah has made incumbent upon hands, as in striking in action for them.
And he has charged that the legs should not be use to walk towards any transgression of Allah's laws, and He has made incumbent upon them to walk to what pleases Allah, Mighty and Exalted, as He has said: 'And do not go about in the land exultingly, for indeed you cannot cut through the earth nor reach the mountain in height'- 17:37
and: 'And pursue the right course in your going about, and lower your voice;surely the most hateful of voices is the braying of the donkey' - 31:19.
Regarding the hands and the feet testifying against themselves and those who had control of them(i,e the people), for having wasted their limbs in doing other than that which Allah had commanded, He says: 'On that day We will set a seal upon their mouths, and their hands shall speak to Us, and their feet shall bear witness of what they had earned' - 36:65.
This is what Allah has enjoined on both the hands and the feet, and it is their portion of faith. al-Kafi,V.2, p.28,no.1.
And finally the lines from the beautiful Dua e Kumayl which I talked about earlier.
O Allah, my Master and my Lord!
أَتُرَاكَ مُعَذِّبِي بِنَارِكَ بَعْدَ تَوْحِيدِكَ
Canst You see Yourself tormenting me with Your fire after I have professed Your Unity
وَبَعْدَ مَا انْطَوَى عَلَيْهِ قَلْبِي مِن مَّعْرِفَتِكَ
And after the knowledge of You my heart has embraced,
وَلَهِجَ بِهِ لِسَانِي مِنْ ذِكْرِكَ
And the remembrance of You my tongue has constantly mentioned
وَاعْتَقَدَهُ ضَمِيرِي مِنْ حُبِّكَ
And the love of You to which my mind has clung,
وَبَعْدَ صِدْقِ اعْتِرَافِي وَدُعَائِي خَاضِعاً لِّرُبُوبِيَّتِكَ
And after the sincerity of my confession and my supplication, humble before Your lordship?
هَيْهَاتَ أَنتَ أَكْرَمُ مِنْ أَن تُضَيِّعَ مَن رَّبَّيْتَهُ
Far be it from You! You art more generous than that You shouldst squander him whom You hast nurtured,
أَوْ تُبْعِدَ مَنْ أَدْنَيْتَهُ
Or banish him whom You hast brought nigh,
أَوْ تُشَرِّدَ مَنْ آوَيْتَهُ
Or drive away him whom You hast given an abode
أَوْ تُسْلِّمَ إِلىَ الْبلاءِ مَن كَفَيْتَهُ وَرَحِمْتَهُ
Or submit to tribulation him whom You hast spared and shown mercy.
وَلَيْتَ شِعْرِي يَا سَيِّدِي وَإِلَهِي وَمَوْلاي
Would that I knew, my Master, My God and my Protector,
أَتُسَلِّطُ النَّارَ عَلَى وُجُوهٍ خَرَّتْ لِعَظَمَتِكَ سَاجِدَةً
Whether You wilt give the Fire dominion over faces fallen down prostrate before Your Tremendousness,
وَّعَلَى أَلْسُنٍ نَّطَقَتْ بِتَوْحِيدِكَ صَادِقَةً وَّبِشُكْرِكَ مَادِحَةً
And over tongues voicing sincerely the profession of Your Unity and giving thanks to You in praise,
وَّعَلَى قُلُوبٍ اعْتَرَفَتْ بِإِلَهِيَّتِكَ مُحَقِّقَةً
And over hearts acknowledging Your Divinity through verification,
وَّعَلَى ضَمَائِرَ حَوَتْ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ بِكَ حَتَّى صَارَتْ خَاشِعَةً
And over minds encompassing knowledge of You until they have become humble
وَّعَلَى جَواِرحَ سَعَتْ إِلَى أَوْطَانِ تَعَبُّدِكَ طَائِعَةً وَّأَشَارَتْ بِاسْتِغْفَارِكَ مُذْعِنَةً
And over bodily members speeding to the places of Your worship in obedience and beckoning for Your forgiveness in submission.
مَّا هَكَذَا الظَّنُّ بِكَ وَلا أُخْبِرْنَا بِفَضْلِكَ عَنكَ
No such opinion is held of You! Nor has such been reported - thanks to Your bounty — concerning You,
يَا كَرِيمُ، يَا رَبِّ
O All-generous! My Lord,
May Allahسُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى keep us all guided on the right path.
Waseem162 reacted to Ibn al-Hussain for a blog entry, Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 3)
Miraculousness of the Qurān – A Historical Overview (Part 3)
Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-a-historical-overview-part-3/
Semantic – Philological
Most Muslim scholars agree that the Qurān was not revealed in the Arabic language without any wisdom.
[26:193-195] This is indeed [a Book] sent down by the Lord of all the worlds, brought down by the Trustworthy Spirit upon your heart (so that you may be one of the warners), in a clear Arabic language.
[16:103] We certainly know that they say, ‘It is only a human that instructs him.’ The language of him to whom they refer is non-Arabic, while this is a clear Arabic language.
These verses seem to show that the Qurān was revealed in Arabic for the mere fact that it is a clear language whose vocabulary is able to convey very precise meanings. From 2nd century hijrī Muslim scholars began exerting all their efforts in trying to understand the language of the Qurān, the words employed in it, the grammatical principles and foundations upon which the chapters were formed and so on. A semantic and philological approach to the Qurān thus looks at the style of the Qurān from the perspective of its vocabulary and the way these words are organized and used in their compound form, in order to attest to its miraculous nature.
An exhaustive list of scholars who took on this approach would be too long for this post, but we will go through the opinions of a few proponents anyways. One of the earliest works written expounding on this approach is Majāz al-Qurān by Abū ‘Ubaydah Ma’mar b. al-Muthanna (d. 210 AH / 825 CE). One of his motives for writing the book was because someone questioned him regarding the verse:
[37:65] Its spathes are as if they were devils’ heads
The questioner insisted that the figurative use in this verse was not something the Arabs were familiar with. In response, Abū ‘Ubaydah cites a line of poetry from Imru’ al-Qays to show that the Qurānic style was in fact in line with what was considered correct and known in the Arabic language. In his work he cites numerous examples of metaphors used in the Qurān and in the general Arabic language – poetry or otherwise – to show that there is little difference between their usage. The book served almost like a textbook for both Arabs and non-Arabs to facilitate their understanding of the Qurān.
Ibn Qutaybah (d. 276 AH / 889 CE) was a 3rd century hijrī scholar who in his work Tawīl Mushkil al-Qurān goes on to explain the usage of various words and metaphors in the Qurān. As a philologist, what made the Qurān stand out for him was its composition. In his work, he dedicates a decent portion to discussing the difficult verses of the Qurān, something Abū ‘Ubaydah often referred to as metaphors. Ibn Qutaybah defines these metaphors and figurative verses to be the ways and methods of speech and the modes of handling it. He compares the language of the Qurān with a speech given by an Arab preacher, who delivers a talk in a variety of ways, depending on the place, occasion and audience. The metaphors in the Qurān, however, are superior to those of any human speaker, since the Quran not only has more methods of speech, but it also often uses them all simultaneously.These methods range from metaphors, inversions, ellipsis, abbreviations, repetitions, pleonasms, metonyms, allusions, idioms and so on. This would essentially render the Quranic text untranslatable according to Ibn Qutaybah, because the non-Arabs lack the variety of methods that the Arabic language has at its disposal.
He doesn’t just stop there, but even discusses cases where the Qurān addresses a single person with a plural pronoun, or multiple people with singular pronouns, uses a constrained and restricted word to mean something general or uses a general word to mean something constrained and restricted. He argues all of these usages exist in the Arabic language and the Arabs were known to speak in this manner.
Abū Sulaymān Ḥamd b. Ibrahīm al-Khaṭṭābī al-Bustī (d. 388 AH / 998 CE) in his Bayān I’jāz al-Qurān is another scholar who was of the view that the key to understanding the miracle of the Qurān was to recognize its coherence, as well as its linguistic & phonetic order system. He argues that the Qurān is a miracle because it uses clear words in the most beautiful of manners, in order to convey the most precise meanings. If a word in a verse were to be replaced with another word that would generally be considered a synonym by laymen, the coherence of the whole verse would be ruined or at the very least its eloquence will be diminished.
The root cause of this approach can be found in criticism against taking a strictly philological approach to explaining what the Qurānic miracle is. Furthermore, relatively recent discussions in literary criticism raised in the West also pushed some Muslim scholars to look at the Qurān through perspectives that were often not considered in the past. As discussions in linguistics and the general arts developed, a lot of the explanations given by those who were proponents of the philological approach were not convincing enough for all linguists. One of the criticisms laid against the previous approach was its high dependency on the apparent form of the Qurān, while not addressing its immense use of artistic imagery and its psychological effects on the listener.
Amongst classical scholars, very few scholars approached the Qurān through this perspective, and even those who did allude to it in some parts of their works were not necessarily trying to establish the miraculous nature of the Qurān to it. For example al-Rummānī (d. 384 AH / 994 CE) in his al-Nukat fi I’jāz al-Qurān, Abū Hilāl al-‘Askarī (d. 395 AH / 1005 CE) in his al-Ṣanā’atayn, and Ibn Abī al-Aṣba’ (d. 654 AH / 1256 CE) in his Badī’ al-Qurān and Taḥrīr al-Taḥbīr were some scholars who alluded to this aspect of the Qurān in certain areas of their works.
One of the prominent scholars who brought this approach to light was Sayyid Quṭb al-Dīn (d. 1966 CE), in two of his works, namely al-Taṣwīr al-Fann fi al-Qurān and Mashāhid al-Qiyāmah fi al-Qurān. In these works, Quṭb tried to bring out the aesthetics, imagination, and as well as the elegance of the Qurān’s storytelling, with its deep psychological dimensions. Dr. Ṣubḥi al-Ṣāliḥ (d. 1986 CE) in his Mabāḥith fī ‘Ulūm al-Qurān also expounds on this dimension and considers it an independent factor in determining the miraculousness of the book.
The famous professor ‘Āisha ‘Abd al-Raḥmān (d. 1998) – who wrote under the pen name Bint al-Shāṭi – in her al-I’jāz al-Bayānī lil-Qurān, Bakrī Shaykh Amīn in his al-Ta’bīr al-Fannī fi al-Qurān, Ḥanafī Muḥammad Sharaf in his I’jāz al-Qurān al-Bayānī bayn al-Naẓariyyah wa al-Taṭbīq, ‘Umar al-Salāmī in his al-I’jāz al-Fannī, Muḥammad ‘Abdullah Darrāz in his al-Naba al-‘Aẓīm and Fāḍil al-Sāmarāī in his al-Ta’bīr al-Qurānī all write regarding this dimension of the Qurān that expand on its imagery and symbolism.
All aforementioned proponents of this approach believe that the miracle of the Qurān is in its artistic imagery and that is what astonished the Arabs of the time and left them speechless. Some of these individuals and their works will be dealt with in more detail in future posts. In the next post, we will look into the rational-intellectual approach and an approach that considers the miracle of the Qurān to be in its elucidation.
 A small number of contemporary Muslim scholars, who also often happen to be reformists, will argue that the Qurān is in Arabic simply because it was revealed in Arabia. Otherwise, there is nothing special about the language itself – they claim – and as a matter of fact if the verses were to be revealed in, let’s say Greece in the Greek language, it may even have been more precise.
 Abu Ubaidah’s “Majaz Al-Qur’an” as the Beginning of a New Trend in the Practice of Tafsir, by Mamedova K.
 Literary Structures of Religious Meaning in the Qu’ran, by Issa J Boullata, pg. 278
 Tawīl Mushkil al-Qurān, by Ibn Qutaybah, pg. 20-21
 The present-day name for al-Bust is Lashkargah – a city in Southern Afghanistan
 This is a reference to a principle known as al-naẓm – it will be explained further in future posts
 Sayyid Qutb: The Life and Legacy of a Radical Islamic Intellectual, by James Toth, pg. 45
Waseem162 reacted to Ibn al-Hussain for a blog entry, Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 2)
Miraculousness of the Qurān – A Historical Overview (Part 2)
Original source: http://www.iqraonline.net/miraculousness-of-the-quran-a-historical-overview-part-2/
In this post, we will begin looking into six different approaches scholars have put forth to explain how the miraculous nature of the Qurān can be attested.
Taste and Feel
This approach says that in order to sense the beauty of a text, one must develop the ability to differentiate between good and bad speech. This taste and feel can either be attained by living in a certain environment, alongside making use of one’s intellect and emotions, or it can be attained by learning the principles of speech used by a group of people in any given environment. A person with such experience would eventually develop the ability to critique speech which isn’t up to par with the language constructs laid down by any given group of people.
In other words, in order to experience the miracle of the Qurān, one would be required to develop a taste of the Arabic language. Ibn Khaldūn alludes to this in his work:
Something of it may be understood by those who have a taste for it as the result of their contact with the (Arabic) language and their possession of the habit of it. They may thus understand as much of the inimitability of the Qur’an as their taste permits. Therefore, the Arabs who heard the Qur’an directly from (the Prophet) who brought it (to them) had a better understanding of its (inimitability than later Muslims). They were the champions and arbiters of speech, and they possessed the greatest and best taste (for the language) that anyone could possibly have.
Based on this approach, the miraculous nature of the Qurān was first and foremost realized by the Arabs living at the time of the Prophet (p). Perhaps not every Arab living around the Prophet (p) was on the same level of literary expertise, but many of them would have had a strong affinity with the language. Hence, we see the polytheists discouraging and preventing others from even simply listening to the Qurān:
[41:26] The faithless say, ‘Do not listen to this Qur’ān and hoot it down so that you may prevail [over the Apostle].’
Perhaps they were fully aware of the consequences simply listening to the Qurān could have had on a person, as they would have been able to experience and feel the beauty of the verses. One of the scholars who was a proponent of this view was Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. al-Ṭayyib al-Bāqilānī (d. 403 AH/1013 CE). He has dedicated a whole work on the subject, titled I’jāz al-Qurān, in which he claims that anyone who has a strong feel for the language will be able to tell that the Qurān is a miracle the moment they hear its verses. Through this, he also critiqued one of the prevailing theories at his time which claimed that the Qurān was only a miracle for the Arabs living during the time of the Prophet (p).
He considered the miracle of the book to be rooted in the way its verses are organized and its high degree of eloquence. In his work, he explains the difference between poetry, rhymed prose and other technicalities regarding speech generally studied in Arabic rhetoric and eloquence and then goes on to say what preliminaries need to be understood in order to understand the miraculous nature of the Qurān. Below is a summary of what he puts forth in his work over the course of 20 pages:
1) The literary style of the Qurān along with varying forms is beyond the prevailing literary styles in Arabic literature.
2) Arabs had no literary legacy that might be equated with the Qurān in its rhetoric so much as it might have preserved the beauty of style as well as the length in the measurement as that of the Qurān.
3) The Qurān interacted a variety of subjects ranging from the orders and the prohibitions, the promises and the warnings, to the stories and the historical events; all this was brought in the style unmatched by the best selection of the prose and poetry. The poets and the orators might do excellence in any one or few subjects. The Qurān, in contrast, performed excellently in all the subjects simultaneously.
4) We find the kinds of expression varying in the writings of dignitaries and celebrities even though they interact a single subject especially when they move from one idea to the other. The Qurān, in contrast, combines all the varying dimensions and brings them out in a method that demonstrates them as a harmonious unit.
5) The literary style of the Qurān is not only higher than the style of the human being, but it also supersedes the style of the Jinn cited by the Arabs.
6) Different styles of expression available in Arabic literature like bast (the elaboration) and ījāz(the conciseness); jam’ (the hold together) and tafrīq (the separation); isti’ārah (the metaphor) andtasrīh (the clarification), etc. These styles are, however, higher and more impressive as well as more communicative than others if compared with.
7) Composing the words and sentences in a novel idea is difficult than composing them in a familiar one. The Qurān interprets the newer thoughts in a method inaccessible to the human being.
8) The excellence of the order and exaltedness of the rhetoric incorporated in the Qurān exhibits when any word of the Qurān is borrowed to be accommodated in any prose or poetry and attracts the attention of the reader or listener forcefully.
9) The Alphabets in Arabic are 29 in number, and the number of chapters that being with the disjointed letters total 28. 14 letters of the Arabic Alphabet have been used in these disjointed letters and signifies that the miracle of the Qurān is through the organization and ordering of these letters.
10) The language of the Qurān is convenient, and its meaning may be easily understood, and no abstruse word or construction disturbs them. But there is no scope for the human style to be in conformity with the Qurānic one.
Numerous other scholars agreed that the Qurānic miracle is one that is to be experienced, and not one that can be simply described for others. One would need to acquire the taste of the language and only then would they be able to attest that it is a miracle. Someone like Ibn Sinān al-Khafājī (d. 466 AH / 1073 CE) in his Sirr al-Faṣāḥah, al-Zamakhsharī (d. 538 AH / 1143 CE) in his al-Kashshāf, al-Sakkākī (d. 626 AH / 1229 CE) in his Miftāḥ al-‘Ūlūm, and others all point towards this literary nature of the Qurān being miraculous in it and of itself and that its attestation is dependant on one’s feel and taste of the language. In fact, al-Khafājī argues that even if one happens to be a proponent of the theory of al-ṣarfah, one would still need to possess a strong familiarity with the sciences of Arabic rhetoric and eloquence and an affinity with the language in order to even enter the discussion concerning the miracle of the Qurān.
In our next post, we will give an overview of another approach taken by scholars, which though remains within the realm of linguistics, but is concerned more with the semantics of the Qurānic text.
 The science of syntax and style and literary criticism, in The Muqaddimah, of Ibn Khaldūn. Translated by Franz Rosenthal
 I’jāz al-Qurān, by Abū Bakr Muḥammad bin al-Ṭayyib, pg. 51-71, ed. Al-Sayyid Aḥmad Ṣaqir
 Translation is taken from The I’jāz al-Qurān: A Study of the Classical Scholars, by Obaidullah Fahad pg. 18-19 – with minor changes made by myself
Waseem162 reacted to Ibn al-Hussain for a blog entry, Miraculousness of the Qurān (Part 1)
I have been uploading posts on my own personal blog (IqraOnline.net) regarding the miraculousness of the Qurān (I'jāz al-Qurān). These are posts where I have tried to avoid technical jargon as much as possible and the posts are also not super lengthy either. I am writing these for a very general audience - especially those who have absolutely no information regarding the subject - to get introduced to the matter. I have decided to put up these posts on the ShiaChat Blog as well since it may attract readers that are not following my blog already. Feel free to share feedback and comments, although I cannot promise responses to all or any of the comments due to other priorities.
Miraculousness of the Qurān – A Historical Overview (Part 1)
What follows is the first of a series of posts going over the discussion on the miraculousness of the Qurān. I will try to keep the posts as simple and non-technical as possible so that non-seminarians can benefit as well. This of course also means I will have to leave out a lot of details. The information is being taken from a few different works, but the overall outline is being taken from the work Sayr Tarikhi I’jāz-e Qurān by Sayyid Ḥusayn Sayyidi.
That the Qurān is a miracle, is a belief not disputed by the Muslims. The belief remains a central pillar for them and denying such a belief could possibly render the book irrelevant. What remained contested, however, was the nature of its miracle. What aspect of the Qurān was miraculous? What was understanding its miracle dependant on? Was the miracle in the way words were employed or in the meanings they implied? It was these questions that forced Islamic scholarship to discuss these various aspects of the Holy Book and provide explanations.
Before looking at the miraculous aspect of the Qurān as explained by Muslim scholars over the centuries, what needs to be known is that no book revealed on a previous Messenger has been deemed a miracle. This is all the while different Prophets (p) were given miracles, yet these miracles remained of an empirical nature. Even though numerous empirical miracles have also been attributed to the Messenger of Islam (p), it appears that the Qurān – if it is to be considered an everlasting miracle – is not merely an empirical miracle, rather there is an aspect to it which demands intellectualization. As human intellectual capacity grows and their knowledge with regards to their selves and their surroundings increases, the Qurān is still meant to remain a miracle. As such, while most miracles of the Prophets (p) ceased to exist after a certain period of time, or with the demise of a Prophet (p) himself, the miracle of the last Messenger (p) is considered to be everlasting and accessible by all those who come after him (p).
Another major difference between the Qurān and other miracles, as pointed out by Ibn Khaldūn in his al-Muqaddimah, is that unlike other Prophetic miracles, the Qurān is revelation itself. This is all the while other miracles demonstrated by previous Prophets (p) or even Prophet Muḥammad (p) himself were not divine revelation. Though these and other qualities are what makes the Qurān stand out, the question regarding what constitutes its miraculous aspect remains to be explained.
The opinions of Muslim scholars with respects to the Qurān and its miraculous dimension can be divided into two very general categories. Firstly, those who believed that the miracle of the Qurān is not in its text, but rather it is something external to it. Secondly, those who believe that the miracle is contained within the text of the Qurān itself.
The first opinion upholds the view that what makes the Qurān miraculous is not its literary style and nor its text, rather the great poets and eloquent individuals of the time were literally rendered incapable to produce anything like it. This incapacitation was bestowed upon them through Divine interference and it was this external aspect that makes the Qurān a miracle. This view is famously known as al-ṣarfah and we will get into it more in subsequent posts.
The second opinion – which constitutes the opinion of the majority – is that the miracle of the Qurān is contained within the text itself. Some of the scholars in this camp argue against the view of al-ṣarfah saying such a view would mean that the Qurānic text is not any different than the books revealed upon previous Prophets (p).
However, what do the scholars in this second camp understand the miracle of the Qurān to be? We can narrow down their opinions into four general notions:
1) Its eloquence
2) It being clear and understandable
3) Its organization and style
4) Its reports regarding the unseen and absence of contradictions
A second aspect of any miracle is its accompanying challenge. Āyatullah Jawādī Āmulī explains how the Qurān puts forth this challenge to mankind:
If this book is not the word of God, then it is the word of a human. If it is a word of a human, then since you are also a human, bring forth something like it. If you are able to bring something like it, it will prove that the book is the word of a human. If you are unable to bring something like it, it will prove that it is not the word of a human – and it being a miracle will be shown, subsequently proving the claim of Prophethood and the message.
The Qurān puts forth its challenge in a number of verses. We will list them below:
[17:88] Say, ‘Should all humans and jinn rally to bring the like of this Qur’ān, they will not bring the like of it, even if they assisted one another.’
[10:38] Do they say, ‘He has fabricated it?’ Say, ‘Then bring a sūrah like it, and invoke whomever you can, besides Allah, should you be truthful.’
[11:13] Do they say, ‘He has fabricated it?’ Say, ‘Then bring ten sūrahs like it, fabricated, and invoke whomever you can, besides Allah, should you be truthful.’
[52:33-34] Do they say, ‘He has improvised it [himself]?’ Rather they have no faith! Let them bring a discourse like it, if they are truthful.
[2:23-24] And if you are in doubt concerning what We have sent down to Our servant, then bring a sūrah like it, and invoke your helpers besides Allah, should you be truthful. And if you do not—and you will not—then beware the Fire whose fuel will be humans and stones, prepared for the faithless.
There are a number of points that can be extracted from these verses.
1) The earliest chapter in which a challenge is put forth is Sūrah al-Isrā, a Makkī chapter revealed during the final years of the Prophet (p) in Makkah. The last chapter in which we find a challenge is Sūrah al-Baqarah, which was revealed soon after the Prophet’s (p) migration. This shows that the challenges revealed in the Qurān were during the time period when the polytheists had increased their pressure on the Prophet (p) up until his migration to Medīnah.
2) All the verses are addressing the polytheists and in context of establishing the truth of the Prophet’s (p) message.
3) What they are being challenged on is different, at times being asked to bring something like the Qurān itself, or 10 chapters like it, or even just 1 chapter.
It thus appears that the challenge put forth to the Arab polytheists of the time is to bring something like the Qurān, in terms of its prose, literary style and eloquence. In the next post, we will look at six different approaches scholars have taken to identify the ways by which the miracle of the Qurān can be identified and experienced.
 Tafsīr Mawḍū’ī Qurān, vol. 1, pg. 138 – by Ayatullah Jawādī Āmulī