The Holy Quran

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The Holy Quran is often described as Islam’s “living miracle”. A “miracle” is the inability or incapability to imitate an extra-ordinary feat. One who is capable of doing something which nobody else can do is the doer of a miracle. None other than the Almighty is capable of doing so or being as such. He, and only He, is the One Who decrees, Who manifests His might over others, including, of course, the natural phenomena, the cosmos at large, anything and everything. A miracle is something that challenges what is already established, proving what is out of the ordinary, violating the rules of normalcy.

Consider the miracle of the Israa’ (the night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem) and Mi’raaj (the ascension to the heavens). It is one of the most glorious miracles, one whereby Muhammad (pbuh) became the only human ever to be raised so high. How could the Messenger of God travel, all alone and during part of the evening, the lengthy distance from Mecca to Jerusalem without any means of transportation? How could he, moreover, traverse the domain of the heavens and physically go through all these barriers and distances, leaving the earth without a plane, a spaceship or a rocket?  Actually, even the spaceships launched nowadays to relatively limited distances, compared to the distance the Messenger of God (pbuh) had reached when he went through the seven heavenly strata, are liable to develop malfunctions. How could this Messenger (pbuh), then, describe in minute details all what he had seen in the seven heavens in one single night, his observations, and the places which he had reached? Is there any human being who can refute his description or contest his documented statements? Even his contemporary opponents could not disprove his statements.

The Eternal Miracle

The Holy Quran remains to be the eternal miracle of our most beloved and revered Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), one whereby he challenged the Jinns and mankind to produce a book like it, or a chapter, or even ten fabricated “verses.” This happened at the time when just about everyone was a genius in mastering the language. Yet none was able to face this challenge; so, the Arabs resorted to once fighting the Prophet and once offering him position and wealth.

The Holy Quran (Surah 29:Ayah 50-51) is a miracle in the true sense of the word:

And they say: Why are no Signs (miracles) sent down upon him from His Lord? Say: The Signs (miracles) are With God alone, and I am only a plain warner.Is it not enough for them that We have revealed to you the Book which is recited to them? Most surely there is mercy in this and a reminder for people who believe.

 

The Holy Quran was the evident miracle which sufficed all mankind as proof testifying to the truth of the message brought by Muhammad (pbuh). Every syllable in it is a miracle by itself (Quran, 17:88-89):

“Say: If men and Jinns should join (forces) together in order to bring the like of this Quran, they will never be able to bring the like thereof, even if some of them were to aid the others. And certainly We have explained for men in this Quran every kind of similitude, but most men do not consent to anything but denying”

 

No human being can ever be acquainted with all the knowledge embedded in the Holy Quran, for it is the speech of the Almighty, the Praised and the Glorified One, Who has said (Quran, 18:109):

“Say: If the seas were ink for the words of my Lord, the seas would surely be consumed before the words of my Lord are exhausted even if We were to bring the like of it to add thereto”

 

There are miracles in the Holy Quran which are continuous, perpetual, eternal, ever present, defying all beings, time and place and impressing one generation of humans after another: Each generation will by itself discover the miracles of this Book and may come to know that the miracles of the Holy Quran never end, nor will its wonders. All the miracles which violated the laws of nature and whereby God strengthened His messengers and Prophets, who were sent by Him to mankind before Muhammad (pbuh), had taken place within the sphere of the earth, and they are now history and tales told. But the Almighty revealed to this messenger, Muhammad (pbuh), the most enduring of all miracles, one that will always shine through each and every age and time, thus granting him the very uppermost kingdom of the heavens. Other heavenly books have been distorted, altered, tampered with, yet nobody can ever attribute the same to the Holy Quran. This by itself is, indeed, a miracle, a divine proof of Providence’s watchful and caring eyes.

Some Predictions in Quran

God Almighty has said in the Holy Quran (Quran, 41:53):

 “We will soon show them Our Signs in the universe and in their own selves till it becomes quite clear to them that it is the truth”

 

The Quran’s challenge, and the fact that it tears down the veil separating us from the future, is another difficult front which the enemies of God have to face. Its knowledge of the future may be divided into two time categories: 1) the present and the near future, which is not distant from the time when the Holy Quran was revealed, and 2) the distant future. Let us deal with these categories in a little more detail.

The Holy Quran states the following (Quran, 30:1-5):

Aleef, Laam, Meem. The Romans have been defeated, in a near land, and they, after having been defeated, shall be the victors, within a few years. To God belongs the command before and after, and on that day the believers shall rejoice, with the help of God; He helps whosoever He pleases, and He is the Mighty, the Merciful.

 

Let us now review history in reference to the verses cited above.

Muhammad (pbuh) was in Syria twice: 1) in about 582 A.D. when he was twelve years old in the company of his uncle Abu Talib, and 2) in 595 A.D., thirteen years later, as a businessman trading on behalf of Khadija daughter of Khuwaylid who shortly thereafter became his wife. During his presence there, one of his observations was the historical fact that a feud was brewing between the then mightiest “superpowers” on earth, the Persian and the Roman empires, each vying for hegemony over Arabia’s fertile crescent. Indeed, such an observation was quite accurate, for after only a few years, a war broke out between them that ended with the Romans losing it, as the Holy Quran tells us in the verses cited above of Chapter 30 (The Romans, a reference to the Byzantine Romans). This Chapter was revealed in 7 A.H./615-16 A.D., only a few months after the fall of Jerusalem to the Persians. Only four years prior to that date, the Persians had scored a sweeping victory over the Christians, spreading their control over Aleppo, Antioch, and even Damascus. Muhammad (pbuh) was concerned about either of these two empires extending its control over the land inhabited by his then fiercely independent Pagan people. The loss of Jerusalem, birthplace of Christ, Jesus son of Mary (peace be upon them both), was a heavy blow to the prestige of Christianity. This war was between the emperor of Byzantine (Eastern Holy Roman empire) Heracleus (575 – 641 A.D.) and the Persian king Khusrau (Khosrow) Parwiz (Parviz) or Chosroes II (d. 628 A.D.). It was one of many wars in which those mighty nations were embroiled and which continued for many centuries. The hands of Divine Providence were already busy paving the path for Islam: The collision between both empires paved the way for the ultimate destruction of the last Persian empire, the Sassanian (or Sassanid), and in Islam setting root in that important part of the world. Moreover, the offspring of Muhammad (pbuh) came to marry ladies who were born and raised at Persian as well as Roman palaces. Imam Husain (a.s.), younger son of Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (a.s.), grandson of Muhammad (pbuh), married the daughter of the last Persian emperor Yazdajird (Yazdegerd) III son of Shahryar and grandson of this same Khusrau II. Yazdajird ruled Persia from 632 – 651 A.D. and lost the Battle of Qadisiya to the Muslim forces in 636 A.D., thus ending the rule of the Sassanians. Having been defeated, he fled for Media in northwestern Iran, homeland of Persian Mede tribesmen, and from there to Merv, an ancient Central Asian city near modern day Mary in Turkmenistan (until recently one of the republics of the Soviet Union), where he was killed by a miller. The slain emperor left two daughters who, during their flight attempt, following the murder of their father, were caught and sold as slaves. One of them, Shah-Zenan, ended up marrying Imam Husain (pbuh), whereas her sister married the renown scholar and acclaimed Muhaddith (traditionist) Muhammad son of caliph Abu Bakr. Shah-Zenan was awarded a royal treatment and was given a new name in her Persian mother tongue: “Shahr Banu”, which means “head of the ladies of the city.”

Now let us ask the following: “Could Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) predict the result of a war that would be waged a few years later between two giant nations of that time? Can the leader predict the outcome of a war and guarantee the victory of one army over another? Let us suppose that the Romans had lost the war after a few years, and that the Persians were the victors; what would the fate of the Holy Quran then be?” In the latter case, the Holy Quran would have committed a grievous error if the Romans had been defeated; so, how could the Messenger of God, Muhammad (pbuh), put all the creed of Islam and the credibility of the Holy Quran in jeopardy just like that, making statements like these and asserting that the Romans would defeat the Persians? But he is not the one who is doing so; it is the Almighty Who knows what is, what was, and what will be.

The challenge of the Holy Quran

Now let us discuss the challenge the Holy Quran posed during the lifetime of the Prophet (pbuh).

The nature of this type of challenge is that it confronted the unbelievers, including an uncle (one of ten) of Muhammad (pbuh), namely Abu Lahab, God condemn him, since he disbelieved and ferociously fought the Islamic call. Because of that, the Almighty revealed the following verses condemning Abu Lahab (Quran, 111:1-5):

Perdition overtake both the hands of Abu Lahab, and he will perish. His wealth and what he earns will not avail him. He shall soon burn in a fire that flames, and so will his wife, the bearer of (fire) fuel; upon her neck (there shall be) a halter of a strongly twisted rope.

 

When these verses were revealed, Abu Lahab was still alive, and he never retreated from his disbelief; so, what stopped him from retreating and claiming to embrace the faith just to disprove his nephew’s truthfulness? What could the consequences of a mistake like this have been? But these verses are not statements made by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); rather, they express the speech of Muhammad’s Lord, the speech which suffers no alteration. The Quran’s facts can never be changed simply because this greatest of all Books challenges all times till the Day of Judgment.

There is another fiery challenge which puts an end to any confusion, forcing the unbelievers to recognize the fact that there is no doubt in this speech, the speech of God, the One and Only God, and that it is capable of facing the unknown regarding the past, the present, and the future. This additional challenge is embedded in the verses saying, (Quran, 84:19)

You will most certainly ride in a stratum (of sphere) over a stratum.

 

This statement was made about one thousand and four hundred and fifty years ago when there were no planes, rockets, spacecraft, nor attempts to probe the earth’s outer sphere, and when means of transportation were confined to riding the backs of animals. God, Glory and Praise are His, has included in His miracle called the Holy Quran many cosmic mysteries in order to give it the chance for a continuous output till the Time of the Hour, and so that each generation may derive such an output from it “… till it becomes clear to them that it is the truth,” that is, till they realize that the Holy Quran is the truth revealed by God. Thus can we indicate that cosmic wonders are in harmony with the verses of the Holy Quran. The verse saying “We will soon show them Our Signs (or miracles, Ayaat)” means that God Almighty will reveal to us the wonders and mysteries of the universe. These can be demonstrated to both believers and non-believers alike “till it becomes clear to them that it is the truth.”

Surat al-Inshiqaq states the following (Quran, 84:18-25):

By the moon when it grows full, you will most certainly ride one stratum (of sphere) after stratum. But what is the matter with them that they do not believe, and when the Quran is recited to them, they do not prostrate? Nay! Those who disbelieve belie the truth. And God knows best what they hide; so announce to them a painful punishment except those who believe and do good deeds; for them there is a reward that shall never be cut off.

 

The Almighty promised the humans that they would “ride one stratum (of sphere) after stratum,” that is, that they would be able to traverse the universe and move from one orbit of the sphere, the outer space, to another. This is quoted from the Tafseer (exegesis) of Ibn Abbas in his book Al Miqyas li Ibn Abbas… By the way, Ibn Abbas was one of Prophet Muhammad’s cousins: He was Abdullah ibn (son of) Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib, of Banu Hashim, of Quraish. Referred to as the Islamic nation’s scribe, he was a highly respected Sahaabi whose Hadiths are classified by al-Bukhari and Muslim as “Sahih,” accurate, authentic. He was born in Mecca, and he kept the Messenger of God company and narrated his traditions. In his later years, he became blind, so he retired to Ta’if where he died in 68 A.H./687 A.D. In both al-Bukhari’s and Muslim’s Sahih books, there are 1,160 Hadiths transmitted by Ibn Abbas alone. Verses 18 – 25 of Chapter 84 of the Holy Quran clearly refer to space exploration; so, where did Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) obtain this knowledge from?! Airplanes had not yet been invented. Now they have become a reality, and they are traversing the air layers, moving humans from one layer to another, while spaceships are now moving them from one sphere, orbit, stratum, or pathway, to another.

Another Quranic Challenge

Let us bring another Quranic challenge, a miracle in the breach of the veils that separate us from the future. This challenge speaks to the pedants who profess knowledge, who know a little and are ignorant of a lot, yet who think that they know it all. In it, the Holy Quran proves that they do not know anything except what God has taught them, for He is the One Who knows everything, and that the Holy Quran is His speech which falsehood cannot approach at all. In Surah Dukhkhan, (Quran, 17:88-89) we read,

 “Say: If men and Jinns should join (forces) together in order to bring the like of this Quran, they will never be able to bring the like thereof, even if some of them were to aid the others. And certainly We have explained for men in this Quran every kind of similitude, but most men do not consent to anything but denying”

 

God Almighty is saying here that the Holy Quran is the speech of the Creator, God, Glory to Him and all Praise, which He revealed to His Messenger Muhammad (pbuh) in a blessed night in order to warn all people, and so that He may determine in it every decree of what will come to pass. To the skeptics who doubted the truth in the Message revealed to Muhammad (pbuh) does the Lord of Dignity and Honor, the Praised One, say, through His servant and Messenger, Muhammad (pbuh) (Quran, 44:1-16):

Haa, Meem. I swear by the Book that makes (the truth) manifest. Surely we revealed it (Quran) on a blessed night; surely We are ever warning; therein every wise affair is made distinct. (It is) a command from Us; surely We are the senders (of messengers as) mercy from your Lord; He is the Hearing, the Knowing, the Lord of the heavens and the earth and what is between them, if you believe. There is no god but He; He gives life and causes death, (He is) your Lord and the Lord of your fathers of yore. Nay! They are in doubt; they sport. Keep waiting, therefore, for the day when the sky brings an evident smoke that shall overtake men; this is a painful punishment. (They shall plead:) Lord! Remove from us the punishment; surely we are believers! How shall they be reminded, and there came to them a Messenger making (the truth) clear, but they turned their backs to him and said: (He is only) One taught (by others), a madman? Surely We will remove the punishment a little (but) you will surely return (to evil). On the day when We seize (them) with a most violent seizing, surely We will then inflict retribution.

 

“Keep waiting, therefore, for the day when the sky brings an evident smoke that shall overtake men” (Quran, 44:10–11). The Prophet, in a tradition dealing with the signs denoting the approach of the Day of Judgment, is quoted as having said, “The first of such signs is the smoke (referred to in these verses).” He was asked what smoke it would be. He said, “It will cover the east of the earth and the west; it will remain for forty days and nights. It will affect the believer just as a cold (catarrh) affects him. As to the unbeliever, he will feel as though he is intoxicated; it (smoke) will come out of his nostrils, ears and rear ends.” Imam Ja’far al-Saadiq (a.s.) is quoted as saying, “There will be smoke that will overwhelm both ends (east and west or north and south) of the earth, causing the death of two thirds of the world population.” This smoke can now be said as caused by the explosion of nuclear and hydrogen bombs and by the poison gases which they release. “Evident” in this verse means it can be easily seen and identified. It will cover all people and fill the earth. It will be, as the verse describes it, “a painful punishment.” How it will punish people is explained above by the Hadith of the Prophet (pbuh), that is, it will come out of the nostrils, ears and rear ends of the unbelievers, and they (the two thirds of the world population) will all perish.

Defying People

Just as it defies the past and the future, the Holy Quran defies the present as well, putting people on the spot, giving them the choice to either submit and recognize the Power of God Almighty and the admission that His speech, which He revealed to His servant and Messenger Muhammad (pbuh), is the truth from God, or to remain in their stubbornness, disbelief, and renunciation of the truth and thus continue straying; the truth is veiled from their visions and hearts.

Is there another example which we can or need to bring about the Holy Quran defying the present? Yes, there is. Here below the Holy Quran challenges us with regard to the creation of humans. God Almighty says in the Holy Quran (Quran, 86: 5–8):

“So let man consider what he is created of. He is created of fluid pouring forth, coming from between the back and the ribs. Most surely He is able to bring him back (to life)”

 

and Allah also says (Quran, 23:12-15):

 “We certainly created man of an extract of clay, then We made him a small seed in a firm resting-place, then We made the seed a clot, then We made the clot a lump of flesh, then We made in the lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, then We caused it to grow into another creation; so, blessed be God, the best of creators”

 

Is there any description of our creation more eloquent than this? Is there anyone who can alter this sequence in our creation? If all human beings are unable to come into this world in any way other than the one stated in these verses, then it is the speech of the Almighty, the Creator of everything and everyone, the Lord of the Worlds. So Praise be to God and Exalted is He above what they describe.

Let us now quote these verses (Quran, 3:185) then (Quran, 4:78).:

 “Every soul shall taste of death”

 

“Wherever you may be, death will overtake you, though you may be in lofty towers”

 

This by itself is a challenge which God Almighty includes in the Holy Quran, He Who decrees death to His creation, for who among the humans can run away from death? Are these verses the speech of humans? Does this challenge end at any period of time?

The majority of Muslim scholars are of the view that the Holy Quran, in its entirety, in the rules and regulations it contains, and in its order and organization, wisdom, eloquence and clarity, and because of the legislation it contains, the reports about the unseen, and due to other considerations, is, indeed, a miracle the like of which mankind is unable to produce. There are many proofs in and aspects of the miraculous nature of the Holy Quran embedded in the Book itself. One such miraculous aspect is its logic and eloquence; it tells about the unseen, its legislative miracle, its scientific miracles in their various forms such as the medical, cosmic, geographical, physical, numerical, and many other aspects.

Miraculous aspects of the Holy Quran

Among the miraculous aspects of the Holy Quran is the fact that no other book, religious or secular, has ever received as much attention as the Holy Quran has. Since its revelation, Muslims learned its verses and chapters by heart, taking time and effort to explain them and record what the Messenger of God (pbuh) has commented in their regard and what other scholars of exegesis have. As time passed by, a new class of scholars of exegesis was created, and books were written by commentators. There are now books dealing with verses with a fixed meaning, and with verses bearing similar meanings. There are studies that deal with the causes of revelation and classifications dividing the Quranic chapters into either Meccan or Madani, and there are studies dealing with the arts of its recitation, and books in the methods of its reading, and others in its miraculous aspect. Books have been authored dealing with the grammar of the language of the Holy Quran, others with its imagery, and yet others compute its verses and divide its chapters and hizbs, the half and the quarter of the latter, in addition to books classifying which verses abrogate others and which ones are abrogated. There are linguistic studies confined to the study of the Holy Quran, to its eloquence, organization, clarity of argument and to the meanings of words and diction, the tribal accents in its recitation, the virtues of its chapters, the rewards of reciting it, and the etiquette of such recitation. The attention paid to the Holy Quran reached the degree that its words and letters were computed and the ratio between these words and letters, verses and chapters, was determined. In Medina, there is a manuscript that dates back to the first Hijri century and quotes a group of scholars explaining how they were computing the letters of the Holy Quran using barley grains and recording their statistics in a small dissertation placed in old containers preserved till the present time. The dissertation contains the total number of the verses and letters, and the total number of characters in the Holy Quran, in addition to other data.

A review of the past fourteen centuries or more during which Islam was fought with various norms of wars in which different nations on earth participated, wars wherein every possible weapon was used with the exception of accepting the challenge…, all this proves that all those opponents proved to be unable to face the challenge of the Holy Quran. The perfect definition of the Holy Quran can be found only in the Holy Quran itself, and nobody can attain such knowledge except those whose breasts God Almighty has expanded for such a task, enabling them to comprehend and absorb such knowledge.

It is for the seekers of such knowledge, for the open-minded non-Muslim reader as well as the Muslim readers who wish to be closer to their Maker, that we publish this edition of the English translation of the Holy Quran, hoping and praying that it will be blessed by the Almighty and appreciated by you, the reader.

 

Yasin T. al-Jibouri

al-Kadhimiyya, Baghdad, Iraq

Thul-Qa’da 21, 1428/December 1, 2007