Different aspects of the Qur’an’s miraculous nature
Apart from the literary miracle of the Qur’an there are some other manifestations of its miraculous nature. If the literary miracle of the Qur’an can only be grasped by one who has some mastery in the Arabic language, the other miraculous qualities can, fortunately, be grasped by everyone.
1. The person who brought the Qur’an was unlettered and unlearned, not having been schooled; nor had he studied at the feet of a great master; nor had he read a single book, as it is stated:
And you did not recite before it any scripture, nor did you inscribe one with your right hand. Otherwise the falsifiers would have had [cause for] doubt. (Sura al-‘Ankabut, 29:48)
The Holy Prophet recited this verse to people who were well aware of his life-history. Naturally, had he studied previously, he would have been contradicted by those who knew of his past; so if he was accused by some of having had the Qur’an ‘taught to him by a man’, we know for sure that it is baseless, as are all the other accusations made against him. The Qur’an refutes this accusation, saying that the one who was supposed to have taught him was a non-Arab; while the Arabic of the Qur’an is classical, eloquent Arabic. 1
2. The Qur’an was revealed in recitation to the Holy Prophet over the course of twenty-three years, under various conditions (peace and war, whilst journeying or residing at home, etc.). The nature of such an oral discourse normally imposes at least two or more different styles or modes upon the speaker. Even authors who compose their works under unvarying, stable conditions, and who attempt to maintain thematic consistency and stylistic harmony, are often unable to avoid discrepancies and disharmony in their works; such problems are even more likely to befall one who delivers a verbal discourse gradually, and under extremely variegated conditions and circumstances.
It would be appropriate here to recall that the Qur’an contains discourses on themes as diverse as theology, history, religious law and legislation, ethics, the natural world and other matters; but despite this immense variety of subject-matter, it maintains, from beginning to end, the most supreme harmony, its style of discourse flowing marvellously through its diverse contents. The Qur’an itself mentions this aspect of its own miraculous nature:
Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction.( Sura al-Nisa’, 4:82)
3. The Qur’an recognizes the capacity of human nature for farsightedness, and on that basis establishes laws. Given this fundamental capacity for insight, all aspects of the spiritual and material life of man are encompassed by the Qur’an; universally applicable principles-ones which will never fade or become outmoded-are also given in this Scripture. One of the special features of the universal laws of Islam is that they are valid in the most diverse conditions and environments. When Muslims had conquered vast parts of the world, they were able to rule with authority and dignity over generations of different human collectivities by virtue of these laws. Imam Baqir said:
‘Everything of which mankind has need and has asked for is given by God in this Holy Book, and has been explained by Him to His Prophet; and He has established for everything a limit, and for each limit, a rationale has been given.’2
4. In different verses, the Qur’an explains the intricate relationships between the mysteries of the created universe, relationships and connections of which the people of the time had no inkling. The disclosure of these mysteries, by an unlettered individual, living in the midst of people ignorant of all such things, could only have come about by means of divine revelation. Many examples of this can be given, but we shall restrict ourselves here to one alone:
The discovery of the law of universal polarity is a major finding of modern science; the Qur’an, at a time when there was not even the slightest information on such matters, refers to this law as follows:
And of all things We created two mates; perhaps you will remember. (Sura al-Dhariyat, 51:49)
5. The Qur’an has prophesied events, giving precise and definite information about them before they unfolded, exactly as predicted. There are several examples of this, but we shall refer to just one, When the God-fearing Christian Byzantines (al-Rum) were defeated by the fire-worshipping Sassanids, the pagan Arabs took this as a good omen, declaring that they, too, would prevail over the God-fearing Arabs of the peninsula. As regards this event, the Qur’an gives precise information:
The Romans have been defeated in the nearer land, and they, after their defeat, will be victorious in afew years- to Allah belongs the command before and afterr- and on that day believers will rejoice. (Sura al¬Rum, 30:4)
The events took place exactly as predicted, and both God-fearing groups, the Byzantine Christians and the Arabian Muslims, prevailed over their respective enemies (Iranian Sassanids and the pagans of Quraysh), Thus we find at the end of the verse a reference to the happiness of the believers, for these two victories were simultaneous.
6. The Qur’an has spoken of the lives of the Prophets and of past communities, in a number of Suras and in various ways. It might be said that, being the final Revelation, the Qur’an clarifies much of the information found in previous Scriptures pertaining to the Prophets of the past, their missions, and their communities. In the Qur’anic accounts of the lives of the Prophets, there is not the slightest divergence either from the dictates of the intellect or of innate human nature, on the one hand, or from what the supreme status of the Prophets implies, on the other.
1. See Sura al-Nahl, 16:103.
2. al-Kulayni, al-Usul min al-kafi, vol. 1, p. 59.