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Inimitability (i'jaz) of the Qur’an

The Message of Islam Team
3/24/2009
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Inimitability is reflected in at least four aspects of the Qur’an. First, in its linguistic excellence: many scholars have pointed out that there exists no piece of literature that can match the literary excellence of the Qur’an with respect to both content and form.[1]

 

It is neither poetry nor prose; its rhythm and its genre and word structure are unique. It is the spiritual miracle of the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him), who never learned to read or write, and it is considered to have been far beyond his own ability to produce a linguistic artifact of this kind. 

 

In more than one place, the Qur’an challenges those who deny its divine origin by asking them to produce anything to match it. 

 

The second aspect of i’jaz in the Qur’an is its narration of events which took place centuries ago. The accuracy of the Qur’anic narratives concerning such events is generally confirmed by historical evidence.[2]

 

The third aspect of i’jaz in the Qur’an is its accurate prediction of future events, such as the victory of the Muslims in the battle of Badr[3], the conquest of Makkah[4]  and the eventual defeat of the Persians by the Roman empire: “The Romans were defeated in a land near-by, but even after this defeat, they will be victorious in a few years”[5] The Romans were defeated by the Persians when the latter took Jerusalem in 614 A.D. But seven years later the Persians were defeated when the Romans won the battle of Issus in 622. 

 

The fourth aspect of i’jaz in the Qur’an is manifested in its scientific truth concerning the creation of man, the earth and the planetary system. The tenets thus inform us:

 

 

'We created man from an extract of clay, then We placed him as a drop of semen in a secure resting-place. Then We turned the drop into a clot; next We turned the clot into tissue; and then We turned the tissue into bones and clothed the bones with flesh'.[6]

 

 

‘That the earth was previously a part of the sun, and only after it was separated from the sun did it become suitable for human habitation.[7]

 

That all life originated in water’.[8]

 

That originally the universe consisted of fiery gas.[9] That matter is made up of minute particles.[10]

 

 

That fertilization of certain plants is facilitated by the wind.[11]

 

 

Another manifestation of i’jaz in the Qur’an is to be seen in its humanitarian, legal and cultural reforms that were unprecedented in the history of nations. Thus in the sphere of government, the ruler and the ruled were both equally subjected to adjudication under the rule of law.[12]

 

 

In the area of civil transactions and commerce, the Qur’an established mutual agreement as the norm and essence of all contracts. The principal Qur’anic reform in the area of property was the introduction of the doctrine of istikhlaf: the Qur’an declares that all property belongs to God, and that man, in his capacity as the vicegerent of God, is a mere trustee, whose exercise of the right of ownership is subjected to the benefitof society to be supervised by the government.

 

 

In the sphere of international relations, treaty relations, the conduct of war, and treatment of prisoners of war; all were regulated by a set of principles which aimed at the realization of justice and respect for human dignity. Relations among individuals were to be governed by the principles of freedom and equality, and the state was equally subjected to the observance, and indeed the protection, of these values.

 

 

EndNotes

 

 

[1] Note for example sura al-Baqarah (2:23) which reads: 'If you are in any doubt about what We have sent to Our servant, then bring a chapter like it and call in your witnesses besides God, if you are truthful.'

 

[2] Von Denffer, ‘Ulum, P. 152.

 

[3] Qur’an, 8:7

 

[4] Qur’an, 48:27

 

[5] fi bid’i sinin; literally in a period lasting upto ten years.  (Qur’an, 30:2)

 

[6] Qur’an, 23:12-14.

 

[7] Qur’an, 21:30

 

[8] Qur’an, 21:30.

 

[9] Qur’an, 41: 11.

 

[10] Qur’an, 10:62.

 

[11] Qur’an, 15:22.

 

 

[12] For further details on the principles of government under the rule of law - also referred to as the principle of legality - see my article 'The Citizen and State', P. 30ff.

 

 

The main source for this article was Mohammad Hashim Kamali book Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence”.  

 

 






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