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JUNE 2004
Volume 17-06 No : 210

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Is the Quran God's Word? - Part 9

Is the Quran God's Word? - Part 9

By Dr. Zakir Naik

In the excerpt that appeared last month in the present series, we spoke of an approach called ‘Exhausting the Alternatives’. The Qur’an says that it is a revelation from the Almighty Creator. If for some reason,one does not believe so, he should explain the origin of the Qur’an. Whatever answers disbelievers and critics have given to this since the time the Qur’an was revealed have all been disproved. The alternatives have been exhausted. The Qur’an earns your respect because you cannot disqualify it.

This month we shall examine the concept of ‘falsification test’.

Falsification Test

The scientific community adopts the following approach. Many people come up with new theories but the scientific community does not even bother to listen to them. Scientists have a reason for doing so – they say, “if you have a theory, do not bother me with it unless you bring with that theory a way to prove that you and the theory are wrong’. This is called a Falsification test.

This is the same reason why they paid attention to Albert Einstein towards the beginning of the century. He came up with the new theory and said, ‘I think the universe works like this and these are three ways to prove me wrong’. Scientists subjected his theory to tests and within 6 years it passed the tests, which he offered. This does not prove that he is great but it proves that he deserves to be paid attention to, because of the falsification tests, which accompanied his theory.

The Qur’an too offers its readers several falsification tests. Some of these were only meant for the past, yet others for all times. The Qur’an says that if it is not what it claims then all you have to do is this or that, to prove that it is false.

I have not come across this unique falsification test presented in any other religious scripture. The next time you discuss with anyone regarding religion, ask them, ‘Is there any thing in your religion which throws up a challenge and says that if I could do this or that I prove that your religion and the scripture wrong? I doubt if anyone else would have anything such as a falsification test to offer. A person should not only present his belief but should also offer the other person a chance to prove the belief wrong. The Qur’an gives several such opportunities to prove it wrong. Some such falsification tests offered by the Qur’an are:

A. The Story of Abu Lahab

The Prophet (Pbuh) had an uncle who was known by the nickname ‘Abu Lahab’ which means ‘Father of the flame’ because of his fiery temper. This uncle was one of the staunchest enemies of the prophet and of Islam.

He used to follow the Prophet and whenever saw him speaking to a stranger, he would wait till they parted and then ask the stranger, “What did Muhammad (pbuh) tell you? Did he say black? It’s white! Did he say its morning? Its night!” He used to state the exact opposite of what the Prophet said.

There is a chapter in the Qur’an called Surah Al-Lahab i.e. chapter 111 named after Abu Lahab. This chapter prophesied that Abu Lahab and his wife will perish in the hell fire – implying he will never become a Muslim and therefore will enter the hell fire.

This Surah was revealed 10 years before Abu Lahab died as an unbeliever in the battle of Badr. Many of Abu Lahab’s friends and other disbelievers accepted Islam in the span of 10 years since this Surah was revealed. Abu Lahab was very intelligent and one of the staunchest enemy of Islam who was always eager to try and prove that the Qur’an was false and was of human invention. All that Abu Lahab had to do to prove the Qur’an and Surah Abu Lahab wrong was state ‘I am a Muslim’ – the Qur’an would have been proved wrong. He did not have to behave like a Muslim. Even if he falsely, for name sake say that he was a Muslim, the Qur’an would have been proved wrong in the eyes of men. It is as though the Prophet was telling Abu Lahab you hate me, you want to finish me, here say these words, ‘I am a Muslim’ and I am finished! Come on say them! Imagine Abu Lahab had 10 years to think over it but yet he never uttered this statement. No logical person will ever put such a claim in his book. The Qur’an is a revelation and not the handiwork of the Prophet.

B. The Jews will not seek Death

In Surah Baqarah chapter 2 verse 94 and 95

“Say (O Muhammad), “If the home of the Hereafter with Allah is for you alone and not the (other) people, then wish for death, if you should be truthful.”

“But never will they wish for it, ever, because of what their hands have put forth. And Allah is knowing of the wrongdoers.”

When the Jews came to the Muslims to have a confrontation, they said the last home with Allah, i.e. paradise, is especially meant for the Jews only and not for anyone else.

The Qur’an asked the Jews to seek death, if they were sincere and spoke the truth. The Qur’an continues and says that they (the Jews) will never seek death, because of the sins that they have committed. The only thing that Jews had to at the time of the Prophet (pbuh) in order to win the argument and to prove the Qur’an wrong was to call for their own death. Even if any one of the Jews would have opted to say, “I beseech the Lord for my death” just for namesake, not that he actually had to die, the Qur’an would have been proved false. It was so easy to prove the Qur’an wrong.

The Qur’an continues in Surah Al-Baqrah chapter 2 verse 96”

“And you will surely find them the most greedy of people for life – (even) more than those who associates others with Allah. One of them wishes that he could be granted life a thousand years, but it would not remove him in the least from the (coming) punishment that he should be granted life. And Allah is seeing of what they do.”

C. Christians will be closer to Muslims than the Jews

There are certain falsification tests in the Qur’an, which are even applicable today and for all times. The Qur’an says in Surah Al-Maidah, Chapter 5 verse 82:

“You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers (to be) the Jews and those who associate others with Allah; and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, “We are Christians.” That is because among them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant.” The Qur’an says that between the two groups of people – the Christians and the Jews – the Christians as a whole will treat Muslims better than the Jews as a whole will treat Muslims. There are several Jews who have accepted Islam while some others are good to Muslims, but as a whole community, the Jews will never be better than the Christians in their treatment of Muslims.

Today the Jews have a good opportunity to prove the Qur’an wrong. They have to organise themselves and decide as a whole that for a couple of years they will treat the Muslims kindly and better than what the Christians do. They can then ask the Muslims: “Who are your best friends in the world? The Jews or the Christians?” The Jews have not done so as yet, but the offer still stands open to them and they can still prove the Qur’an false by doing so – but they never will.

D. Produce a Surah like it

Muslims and non-Muslims alike acclaim that best Arabic literature available on the face of the earth is the Glorious Qur’an. Its language is rich, noble and eloquent.

When the pagans alleged that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had committed forgery and thus produced the Qur’an, the Qur’an immediately challenged them and offered them a falsification test.

(i) In Surah Al-Isra chapter 17 verse 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.”

The Qur’an repeats the challenge to produce a work like the Qur’an in Surah Tur, chapter 52 verse 34.

(ii) Later the falsification test was made easier in Surah Hud, chapter 11 verse 13

“Or do they say, “He invented it?” Say, “Then bring ten Surahs like it that have been invented and call upon (for assistance) whoever you can besides Allah, if you should be truthful.”

(iii) The Qur’an repeats the challenge and further simplifies the falsification test in Surah Yunus chapter 10 verse 38.

Criteria for producing a surah like it

The criteria for producing a Surah like the Qur’an are as follows: since the Qur’an is in Arabic, the Surah so produced should also be in Arabic, which should be equivalent in standards to that of the Qur’an.

(i) The Qur’an maintains throughout the highest possible standard of in its speech.

(ii) The language of the Qur’an is most clear, meaningful, intelligible, unsurpassable and miraculous.

(iii) It does not deviate from the truth and still maintains its eloquence, rhythm and style unlike human poetry and literature.

(iv) The Qur’an repeats several information in different styles and by passages and narrations of varying sizes, all being of a very high standard that one cannot be preferred to another.

(v) The Qur’an encompasses a vast range of meaning in a surprisingly small number of words without losing its charm and majesty.

(vi) The Ability of the Qur’an to address a multitude of people. The same verse of the Qur’an is appreciated by an intelligent person as well as a common man.

“Or do they say, “He invented it?” Say, “Then bring forth a Surah like it and call upon (for assistance) whoever you can besides Allah, if you should be truthful.”

Even this easy challenge was unmet and thus the pagans had no ground to say that Prophet Muhammad had presented the Qur’an through forgery.

Finally the Qur’an put forward a falsification test, which is the easiest of all. In Surah Al-Baqarah chapter 2 verse 23 and 24:

“And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down (i.e. the Qur’an) upon our servant, then produce a Surah like thereof and call upon your witnesses (i.e. supporters) other than Allah, if you should be truthful.

But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.”

The Qur’an says ‘mim mislihi’ ‘i.e. somewhat similar, it does not say ‘mislihi’ i.e. exactly similar, like in the previous challenge.

Certain Surahs of the Qur’an hardly contain three verses which consist of only a few words. Not that people did not take up the challenge – the best poets of Arabia at that time tried their level best but they miserably failed. Some of what they produced has been preserved in historical books to show that they were the laughing stock. They did not have a rhythm similar to verses of the Qur’an. The context of their verses were trivial, they contained no wisdom and were hilarious.

This is yet a standing challenge and a falsification test which is unanswered for the past 1400 years and will not be answered till eternity.

The Quran does not contain a single contradiction

The Qur’an also gives a falsification test in Surah Nisa chapter 4 verse 82 which any one in the world can try.

“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.”

Today if any one wants to prove that the Qur’an is not the word of God, he just has to point out a single contradiction in the Qur’an.

There are many unbelievers who tried to point out several alleged contradictions in the Qur’an but all of their attempts were either out of context, mistranslations or misquotations. A maulana who may be an expert in the historical knowledge of the Qur’an and Islam but who is not well versed in the field of science, and is asked regarding an alleged scientific mistake in the Qur’an, he may not be in a position to clarify it. This does not indicate that the Qur’an contains a scientific discrepancy and is thus not the word of God.

The Qur’an says in Surah Furqan chapter 25:59, “Ask the person who is well–acquainted’ meaning ask the person who has knowledge about that field. Similarly, if you want to enquire about the scientific knowledge mentioned in the Qur’an, you should ask a scientist. Similarly if you ask me a question regarding Arabic recitation of the Qur’an or if you point out a grammatical mistake in the Qur’an, I may not be able to answer your question because I am just a student in the field of Arabic.

Because I am unable to clarify the alleged Arabic mistake in the Qur’an that does not prove that Qur’an contains mistakes and is not the word of God.

The Qur’an says ‘Ask the person who is well acquainted with’. Thus you should enquire with a Qari who is an expert in recitation of the Qur’an or a person who is an expert in Arabic grammar.

If you pose medical and scientific questions related to the Qur’an, I may be in a better position to clarify, not that I claim to be an expert in the field, but because I have studied medicine for over five years before obtaining the MBBS degree.

(To be Continued)

The author, Dr. Zakir Naik, is a well-known orator and scholar of Comparative Religion. He is the President of the Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation.

He may be reached at zakir@irf.net

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