The Literary Miracle

Muslims tell us that the Quran is a literary miracle. The verses are so eloquent that it cannot come from any human being, neither can it be imitated. Muslims believe only a supernatural being can write something so perfect and beautiful.

Logically, literary eloquence does not imply it is divine. There are numerous works of art, literature, music, poetry, etc that are eloquent, beautiful, inspiring and inimitable. It is irrelevant whether the text of the Quran is beautiful because beauty does not logically imply divine inspiration.

In reality though, many who read the Quran would find it incoherent, disjointed, disorganized, repetitive, jarring, incomprehensible and tiresome.

Muslims will counter by saying, “Well that’s because you don’t know Arabic!”
You mean, the Quran is only a miracle to those who can read and understand Arabic? That does not sound like an impressive miracle at all. It is not a miracle if you need to read, understand, explain, interpret, translate. A miracle is recognized even by the uneducated! A lame man being able to walk again! That’s a miracle! Anyone can see it. Even if they don’t speak his language!

Actually, even those during Muhammad’s time, were not impressed by the Quran. Here is what Allah himself admitted:

“And when Our revelations are recited unto them they say: We have heard. If we wish we can speak the like of this. Lo! this is naught but fables of the men of old.”

Sura 8:31

In other words, the people who heard the Quran first hand, in Arabic, directly from Muhammad’s mouth, did not consider it a miracle! In fact, they disparaged it as fables!
Think about this. Muhammad’s own people rejected it and did not recognize it as a miracle then. Then what would cause anyone else to see it as a miracle?

Don’t forget that those folks spoke the language of the Quran everyday! If anyone can recognize any supposed literary Quranic miracle in Arabic, it would have been them! (By the way, the Arabic of the Quran is not even the Arabic spoken today. The Quran uses Classical Arabic, which no one even uses in daily conversations today.)
Instead, they called him a fraud. “This is a magician and a liar.” (Sura 38:4)

So the argument of literary eloquence as evidence of divine inspiration is a sad fallacy that does not hold water. Neither in the 7th century nor now.

Ali Dashti, the Iranian scholar who studied Islamic theology, history, Arabic and Persian grammar, and classical literature wrote:

“The Qor’an contains sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid of commentaries; foreign words, unfamiliar Arabic words, and words used with other than the normal meaning; adjectives and verbs inflected without observance of the concords of gender and number; illogically and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referent; and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from the subjects. These and other such aberrations in the language have given scope to critics who deny the Qor’an’s eloquence. The problem also occupied the minds of devout Moslems. It forced the commentators to search for explanations and was probably one of the causes of disagreement over readings.”

(Ali Dashti, Twenty-Three Years: A study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, Allen and Unwin, London, 1985, pp. 48-49)

He goes on to say:

“To sum up, more than one hundred Qor’anic aberrations from the normal rules and structure of Arabic have been noted. Needless to say, the commentators strove to find explanations and justifications of these irregularities. Among them was the great commentator and philologist Mahmud oz-Zamakhshari (467/1075-538/1144), of whom a Moorish author wrote: ‘This grammar-obsessed pedant has committed a shocking error. Our task is not to make the readings conform to Arabic grammar, but to take the whole of the Qor’an as it is and make Arabic grammar conform to the Qor’an.’”

Ibid., p. 50

Gerd R. Puin of Saarland University, Germany is a renowned specialist on Arabic calligraphy and Quranic paleography. For decades he has extensively examined numerous Quranic manuscript parchment fragments including the famed and historic Sanaá manuscript.

This is his description of the Quranic text.
“My idea is that the Quran is a kind of cocktail of texts that were not all understood even at the time of Muhammad. Many of them may even be a hundred years older than Islam itself. The Quran claims for itself that it is ‘mubeen’, or clear. But [contrary to popular belief] if you look at it, you will notice that every fifth sentence or so simply does not make sense…the fact is that a fifth of the Quranic text is just incomprehensible. If the Quran is not comprehensible, if it can’t even be understood in Arabic, then it’s not translatable into any language. That is why Muslims are afraid. Since the Quran claims repeatedly to be clear but is not—there is an obvious and serious contradiction. Something else must be going on”.

Learn more:
Is The Quran A Miracle?

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