If they are truthful in this), then let them produce a discourse of similar splendor.(The Quran, 52:34)
That is, not only is the Quran not the word of Muhammad (peace be upon him) but the truth is that it is not human at all; it is beyond the power of man to compose and produce it. If you think it is human, you are challenged to produce the like of it, which should also be human. This challenge had been given not only to the Quraish but to all the disbelievers of the world first of all in this verse. Then it was repeated thrice in Makkah and then finally in Madinah. (Please see (Surah Younus, Ayat 38); (Surah Houd, Ayat 13); (Surah Bani-Israil, Ayat 88); (Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayat 23). But no one could dare meet this challenge of the Quran at that time, nor has anyone else had so far the ability to compose and produce a man-made work like the Quran.
Some people, because of lack of understanding the real nature of this challenge, say that not to speak of the Quran, no one has the power to write prose or compose poetry in the style of another person. Homer, Rumi, Shakespeare, Goethe, Ghalib, Tagore, Iqbal, all are unique in their styles. It lies in no one’s power to produce poetry like theirs by imitation. Those who give this answer to the challenge of the Quran are, in fact, involved in the misunderstanding that the meaning of “let them produce a statement like it”, is a challenge to man to compose and write a book like the Quran, in the style of the Quran; whereas it does not imply any resemblance in literary style but it implies this: Bring a book of the same sublimity and quality and rank, not only in Arabic but in any language of the world, that may be regarded as a match for the Quran in respect of the characteristics for which the Quran is a miracle. The following are in brief some of the main characteristics because of which the Quran has been a miracle before as it is a miracle today:
(1) The Quran is the highest and most perfect model of the literature of the language in which it was revealed. No word and no sentence in the entire Book is sub-standard. Whatever theme has been presented in it, has been presented in the most appropriate words and in the most suitable style. One and the same theme has been presented over and over again but every time in a new style avoiding the defect of repetition everywhere. The entire Book, from the beginning to the end, is set in the choicest words, like chiseled and polished gems, that cannot be replaced. The discourses are so impressive that no one who knows the language, even if he is a disbeliever, can help being moved to ecstasies on hearing them. Even after 1,400 years this Book is still the model of Arabic literature and no other Arabic book can approach it in literary excellence not to speak of equaling it. Not only this, this Book has so controlled the Arabic language that even after the passage of 14 centuries the standard of this language’s beauty and eloquence is the same that had been set by it; whereas in such long periods languages change out of recognition. No other language of the world has remained in the same state in so far as its spelling and diction, idiom, rules of language and usages are concerned. But it is only the power of the Quran that has held the Arabic language in place each idiom of it is still in use in Arabic literature; its literature is still the standard literature of Arabic; and in writing and speech still the same language is regarded as good Arabic that had been used in the Quran 1,400 years ago. Is there any man-made book in any language of the world that bears the same characteristics?
(2) This is the one single Book in the world, which has so extensively and so universally influenced mankind’s thoughts, morals, civilization and way of life as has no precedent in history. In the first instance, its impact changed one nation; then that nation rose and changed a major part of the world. No other Book has proved to be so revolutionary. This Book has not remained confined to writing on paper but in the practical world its each word has formed and molded ideas and thoughts and built up a lasting civilization. Its influence has continued being operative for 1,400 years and its circle of influence and impact is still expanding every day.
(3) The theme that this Book discusses is the most extensive theme which comprehends the whole universe, from eternity to eternity. It deals with the reality of the universe, its beginning and end, its system and law. It tells as to who is the Creator and Controller and Disposer of this universe, what are His attributes, what are His powers, and what is that essence and basis on which He has established this entire system of the world. It specifies man’s position and his place which he cannot change. It tells what is the right and correct way of thought and action for man in view of this place and position, which corresponds to the reality, and what are the wrong ways which clash with the reality. Then to prove why the right way is right and the wrong way is wrong, it presents countless arguments from various phenomena of the earth and heavens, from different aspects of the system of the universe, from man’s own self and existence and from man’s own history. Besides, it also tells how and for what reasons man adopts the wrong ways, by what means he can find out the right way, which has always been one and shall remain one, and how he has been guided to it in every age. It does not merely point to the right way but presents a plan of the complete system of life for following that way, which contains a detailed and systematic code concerning beliefs, morals, purification of self, worship, social life, civilization, economy, politics, justice, law and every other aspect of human life. Furthermore, it also tells in full detail what are the results of following this right way and of adopting the wrong ways in this world and what consequences of this will appear in the next world after the present system of the world has come to an end. It depicts fully the coming to an end of the present world and of the establishment of the new world; it gives every detail of the process of change; it portrays the next world and describes fully how man will find a totally new life there, how his deeds from worldly life will be subjected to accountability, what things he will be questioned about, how his complete record, which lie will not be able to deny or dispute, will be placed before him, what strong evidence will be produced in proof thereof, why the culprits will be punished and the righteous rewarded, what rewards will be bestowed on the righteous and in what forms will the culprits suffer the evil consequences of their misdeeds. The way this vast theme has been dealt with in this Book is not of the nature of some conclusions that its author might have reached from some syllogistic premises but its nature is that its author has the direct knowledge of the reality.
He sees everything happening from eternity to eternity. All the realities are manifest for Him and the entire universe is like an open book before Him. He sees the entire life of mankind, from its origin to its end, even beyond the present life into the second life simultaneously, and He is guiding man not on the basis of conjecture and speculation but on the basis of knowledge. Not a single truth that He presents as knowledge has been proved to be wrong so far. The concept of the universe and man that He presents fully explains all the phenomena and events and can become the basis of research in every branch of knowledge. His Word contains the answers to all the ultimate problems of philosophy and natural and social sciences, and they are so coherent and consistent logically that a perfect, consistent and comprehensive system of thought can be built on their basis. Then from the practical aspect the guidance that He has given to man about various spheres of life is not only highly rational and pure but countless men have been living according to it in a real fact in different parts of the earth for 1,400 years and have found it by experience to be the only valid way. Is there any man made book of this unique quality present in the world, or has ever been, which may be produced to match this Book?
(4) This Book was not composed and written all at once and presented before the world, but a reformatory movement was started with some basic and initial instructions and then for 23 years as the movement passed through different stages of its development its parts were presented by the tongue of the leader, sometimes as lengthy discourses and sometimes as brief sentences, as the conditions and requirements of the occasion demanded. Then, when the mission was brought to completion, these parts that had been issued at different times were compiled in the form of a complete Book which has been known by the name of the Quran. The leader of the movement states that these discourses and sentences are not his original work but were sent down to him by the Lord of all Creation. If a person asserts that they are the original work of the leader himself, he should produce a precedent from history to prove his contention. He should show whether it is possible that the speeches made and the instructions given by a man at different times while leading a powerful collective movement for years continuously by himself in different capacities, sometimes as a preacher and teacher of morals, sometimes as a leader of an oppressed class, sometimes as the ruler of a state, sometimes as the commander of a fighting army, sometimes as a victor, sometime as a lawgiver and legislator, could form a complete and consistent and comprehensive system of thought and action, which should be free from every contradiction and inconsistency, which should appear to be dominated by the same central idea and pattern of thought, which should show that the leader has been building up a universal system of belief and action on the basis of the same foundation of his message with which he had started his work, and which should be a system each clement and part of which is in perfect harmony and consistency with the other parts, Then the one who reads this collection of the discourses with a discerning eye cannot help realizing that the founder of the movement at the outset had a full plan of the movement in view till the last stage, and it never happened that a new idea might have struck him at some later stage, which was unknown to him before, or which he had to change later. If ever there has been a man of this caliber, his name should be made known to the world.
(5) The leader who had been made to give these discourses and speak these sentences did not suddenly emerge from a hidden place to present these before the people nor would disappear after he had done so. He had lived his life in full view of society before he started his movement as well as continued to live in the same society after that till his last breath. The people were well aware of the language and style of his conversation and speech. Hadith still presents a major part of it and by going through it the people who know Arabic can easily find out even today what was the leader’s own style of speech and conversation. His contemporaries who spoke his language felt then and those who know Arabic feel today that the language and the style of this Book is very different from the language and style of that leader. So much so that whenever in the midst of a sermon delivered by the leader there occurs a sentence or two of this Book, the distinction between the two becomes all too obvious. The question is: Has a man in the world ever had the power, or can he have the capability, that he should go on conversing in two absolutely different styles consistently for years at a stretch and it should never become known that the two separate styles are, in fact, of one and the same person? It is possible that one may succeed in such affectation temporarily but it is not at all possible that for twenty-three years continuously a person should have a different diction and style when he recites the revelations from Allah and a wholly different diction and style when he speaks in his personal capacity.
(6) The leader while leading and guiding the movement met with different sorts of conditions. Sometimes he became the target of ridicule, humiliation and severe persecution of his fellow-countrymen and the people of his own tribe and clan; sometimes his companions were so harshly treated that they were compelled to emigrate from the country; sometimes the enemies plotted against his life; sometimes he himself had to leave his home and city; sometimes he had to pass through extreme poverty and starvation; sometimes he had to fight wars successively in which he suffered defeats as well as won victories; sometimes he overcame the enemies and the same enemies who had persecuted him, came before him humbled; sometimes he achieved such power which few people in the world have been able to achieve. Under all such conditions a person’s feelings obviously cannot remain the same. When on these different occasions the leader spoke in his personal capacity, his words, and speeches carried the clear impression of his personal feelings. which naturally arise in the heart of a man on such occasions. But the discourses that were heard from him as Allah’s revelations in these different conditions, are wholly devoid of human feelings. At no place can even an acute observer and critic point out the play of human feelings in them. The vast and comprehensive knowledge that is contained in this Book, is not possessed even by any of the distinguished learned people of this 20th century, not to speak of the people of Arabia and Rome and Greece and Iran of those days. The condition today is that after a man has spent his whole lifetime studying a branch of philosophy or a natural or social science, he comes to know what ultimate problems of his field of study are, but when he studies the Quran seriously he comes to know that this Book contains a clear answer to those problems. This thing is not confined to any one branch of knowledge but holds good in respect of all those sciences which have anything to do with the universe and man. How can one believe that 1,400. years ago an unlettered man in the Arabian desert possessed such deep insight into every branch of knowledge, and he had thought over every basic problem and thought out an absolute and final answer to it?
Although there are several other aspects also of the Quran's being a miracle, if a man ponders over these few aspects only, he will realize that the Quran’s being a miracle is far more evident today than it was at the time when it was revealed and, if Allah so wills, it will go on becoming more and more evident and manifest as time passes till the Day of Resurrection. (Tafheemul Quran)