Qur’an: Whose Speech is It? Part 1

By Dr. Nabil A Haron

Source : Qu’ran, The Miracle of Islam

1/1 The Basic Issue:

When each one of us embarks with this mission, which Allah (SWT) and the Prophet (SAWS) charged us with, to call anyone to Islam, whether he is atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Jewish, or secular, we address each one with the language he understands and according to his intellect and knowledge.  After we reveal to him some of the luminous aspects of Islam, the splendor of its book, the reasonableness of its law[1], the greatness of its Prophet (SAWS), and the goodness of its ummah, the first thing comes to his mind, if he listens to you, is to ask you or ask himself, “What proves that this right guidance and the good wordings you relate to it, meaning the Qur’an, are the wordings of Allah, according to your belief, and that it is revealed to your Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), and that it is not the wordings he himself composed and declared to his people?”

Hence, we answer the inquirer with the same answer the Prophet (SAWS) stated to the polytheists when they asked for a sign that the discourse, which they appreciated its eminence and sublimity, is really Allah’s wordings.  They asked for a sign and an evidence, so the sign and the evidence were the Qur’an itself.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And does it not suffice them that We have sent down upon you the Book (that is) recited to them? Surely in that is indeed a mercy and reminding to a people who believe.” (TMQ, 29:51).

 For the one who listens with his heart and contemplates with his mind:

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Will they then not contemplate the Qur’an? Or are there locks upon (their) hearts?” (TMQ, 47:24).

 Then Allah (SWT) challenges them if they can come up with a discourse like it:  

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Or even do they say, “He talked it foolishly?” No indeed, (but) they do not believe.  Then let them come up with a discourse like this, in case they are sincere.” (TMQ, 52: 33-34).

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Say, “Indeed in case humankind and the jinn gathered together to come up with the like of this Qur’an, they would not come up with its like, even if they were backers of one another.”” (TMQ, 17:88).  

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Or (even) do they say, “He has fabricated it!” Say, “Then come up with ten surahs[2] the like of it, fabricated; and invoke whomever you are able, apart from Allah, in case you are sincere.”” (TMQ, 11:13).

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Or (even) do they say, “He has fabricated it”? Say, “Then come up with a su‍rah like it and call on whom you can call apart from Allah, in case you are sincere.” (TMQ, 10:38).

It happened that they admitted their impotence, then resigned to the right call, and embraced Islam in troops, except arrogant obstinate persons, or errant ones who deafened their ears and defused their minds, or pontiffs and monks, who feared from losing their money and authority.  Polytheists realized by their linguistic intuition, at the first glance, that the Qur’an is not the speech of human beings; for they were skilled with the human beings’ speech since they were eloquent persons.  They were not just in awe by the eloquence of the Qur’an and the purity of its style, for it is extremely pure and eloquent.  Additionally, they were not merely delighted by listening to it or appreciating its pleasantness, since nothing is more pleasant and delighting to be heard than it.  Admiration and delight do not emerge independently out of faith, but out of certitude.  Moreover, they do not exceed providing a person with temporary satisfaction and entertainment, which wipe out soon.  They realized with their linguistic intuition that the style of the Qur’an and the context of its discourse inform about its heavenly source.  For instance, Allah (SWT) declares about Himself using the first person pronouns like “We” or “We will show them”.  This style is repeated successively throughout the Qur’an according to the situation and the position suitable for the Majesty of the Speaker.  Additionally, Allah (SWT) addresses the Prophet (SAWS) directly several times, using the vocative article like “O you Prophet”, “say”, or other styles.  Thus, the style and context of discourse in the Qur’an prove that it is not the Prophet’s speech, but it is conveyed to him from an external source.  It addresses him (SAWS) as well as all mankind from heaven.  Neither the Prophet (SAWS) nor anyone else, whoever he is, has anything to do with the Qur’an.

With this right logic of figuring out the source of the Qur’an from its essence, style, and context of discourse, as we will explain in this message, many people embraced Islam.  Not only Arab nations, but also foreign nations embraced Islam in troops when they gradually realized that the Qur’an cannot be from anyone, but Allah (SWT).  Both the Arabs who tasted the excellence of its language as well as the foreigners who know nothing about it equally realized so.

1/2 The Method of Deduction

 Let us now explain in detail how the style of the Qur’anic discourse was an introduction and a proof of the belief that the Qur’an is the words of Allah, The Lord of the worlds, either through examining its Arabic text or through what is deduced from its meaning in other languages.

Suppose that someone has found a book with no cover or an old anonymous document.  If he tries to identify its author and verify its origin, he will review it to deduce such information from its context, subject, the proceeding of its discourse, and its style.  Moreover, he may compare it against equivalent writings of ancestors and contemporaries, so that he may discover who wrote that book and to whom it addresses, in addition to the occasion, the place, and the time of its composition.  The style of the author is a mirror reflecting his identity, rank, knowledge, and qualities.  In fact, fingerprints and hereditary codes reveal and determine the identity of each human being.  Likewise, style informs about its owner, so that it becomes difficult for anyone else to imitate other person’s style.  It is impossible for a writer to ascribe to himself the position of another writer, fabricating speeches and discourses and attributing it to him without being exposed by the readers.  It requires nothing from the reader except a little bit of insight, without delving into the secrets of linguistic expressions, or penetrating deeply into the linguistic psychoanalysis.  Consider then how it would be in fabricating the speech and the discourse of Allah, The Omnipotent, The Creator of mankind, The All-Knowing.

Let us start together tackling the text of the Qur’an by a similar method without the need to use a great deal of linguistic tools, cosmic and historical knowledge, and without wading into its interpretation, analyzing its eloquence, the miraculous nature of its style, and the details of its subjects.  Let us verify and then prove that the Qur’an itself, with its context, style, and the proceeding of its discourse resolves that the narrator of this text is an external source independent from the attainment of the Prophet (SAWS) as well as all the addressed human beings.  Hence, we postulate that such good wordings, from A to Z, originated from the niche of The Creator, The All-Knowing, The One, The Everlasting Sovereign (SWT).

1/3 Directing Speech in the Qur’an

 Any vigilant reader of the Qur’an will easily notice the continuous change and variation in its style of speech.  Speech styles in the Qur’an change according to the context, the intended meaning, the intended effect, and the nature of the addressees.

Speech Styles in the Qur’an

  1. Speech from Allah (SWT) in the form of the speaker/addresser:
  2. Using the personal pronouns, “I” and the royal “We”:

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “We, Ever We, created them, and We have upheld their frames; and when We (so) decide, We will exchange their likes, an (easy) exchange” (TMQ, 76:28).

 “Fully inform My bondmen that I, Ever I, am The Ever-Forgiving, The Ever-Merciful, And that My torment is the (most) painful torment” (TMQ, 15:49-50).

 “Surely We, Ever We, have been sending down the Remembrance, and surely We are indeed Preservers of it” (TMQ, 15:9).                                                                                    

  1. Using the possessive pronouns, “My” and the royal “Our”:

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And in no way is Our Command anything except one (Word), as the twinkling of the eye. (Literally: the power of beholding)” (TMQ, 54:50). “And when My bondmen ask you concerning Me, then, surely I am near; I answer the invocation of the invoker when he invokes Me; so let them respond (to) Me, and let them believe in Me, so that possibly they would respond right-mindedly” (TMQ, 2:186).

  1. Speech from Allah (SWT) in the form of the absentee:

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “He (is The One) Who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of Truth that He may make it topmost over all religion, though the associators (Those who associate others with Allah) hate (that)…” (TMQ, 9:33).

  1. Speech from Allah (SWT) directed to Prophet Muhammad (SAWS):
  2. Using “O you”:

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “O you Prophet, surely We have sent you as a witness, and a bearer of good tidings, and a constant warner; And a Caller to   by His permission, and as an enlightening luminary” (TMQ, 33:45-46).

  1.  Using “Say”:

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Say, “Surely my prayer, and my rites, and my living, and my dying are for Allah, The Lord of the worlds” (TMQ, 6:162).

  1.  Using the 2nd person singular, “You”:

 Allah says what can be translated as, “So, you did not kill them, but Allah killed them; and in no way did you (i.e., the prophet) throw when you threw, but Allah threw, and that He might try the believers by a fair trial from Himself. Surely Allah is Ever-Hearing, Ever-Knowing” (TMQ, 8:17).

  1.  Using the possessive, “Your”:

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “In no way has your Lord disregarded you, and in no way has He disfavored you” (TMQ, 93:3).

  1. Speech directed to specific audience:
  2. To the believers:

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “O you who have believed, do not betray Allah and the Messenger, and do not betray your deposits and you know that” (TMQ, 8:27).

  1. To the People of the Scripture[3]:

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “O population of the Book, (Or: Family of the Book, i.e., the Jews and Christians) why do you confound the Truth with the untruth and keep back the Truth, and you know (that)?” (TMQ, 3:71).

  1. To the Israelites:                        

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “O Seeds (Or: sons) of Israel) remember My favor wherewith I favored you, and fulfill My covenant (and) I will fulfil your covenant, and do have awe of Me (only)” (TMQ, 2:40).

  1. To all mankind:

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “O you mankind, surely We created you of a male and a female, and We have made you races and tribes that you may get mutually acquainted. Surely the most honorable among you in the Providence of Allah are the most pious; surely Allah is Ever-Knowing, Ever-Cognizant” (TMQ, 39:13).

  1. To the humans and the jinn:

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “O company of the jinn and humankind, in case you are able to penetrate through the regions of the heavens and the earth, then penetrate (them)! You will not penetrate except with an all-binding authority” (TMQ, 55:33).

  1. Speech of the Prophets:

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And as Ibrahîm said, “Lord! Make this a secure land, and provide its population with (various) products, such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day” (TMQ, 2:126).

  1. Speech of other people:

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And Firaawn (Pharaoh) said, “O you chiefs, in no way do I know that you have a god other than me” (TMQ, 33:38).

  1. Speech of other creatures:

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Till, when they came up to the Valley of Ants, an ant said, “O you ants, enter your dwellings so that Sulayman and his hosts would not definitely crush you, (while) they are not aware” (TMQ, 27:18).

  1. General speech using 3rd person pronouns throughout the rest of the Qur’an:
  2. Relating incidents and Qur’anic stories:

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “So, when they went with him, they agreed (Literally: and they agreed) together to set him down in the unseen (bottom) of the pit; and We revealed to him, “Indeed you will definitely (fully) inform them of this, their command, (Or: their affair) and they are not aware” (TMQ, 12:15).

  1. Describing different characters and deeds:

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and (the ones) who are with him are strict against the steadfast disbelievers, constantly merciful among themselves. You see them constantly bowing themselves, (and) constantly prostrating themselves, seeking Grace from Allah and all-blessed Satisfaction. Their mark is on their faces, (being) the trace of prostration…” (TMQ, 38:29).

 “And when you see them, you admire their figures; and in case they speak, you hear their speech as if they were propped-up timbers. They reckon every shout is against them. They are the enemy, so beware of them. Allah assail them! However are they diverged (from the Truth)!” (TMQ, 63:4).

 “And who is more unjust than he who, being reminded of the signs of his Lord, (yet) veers away from them and forgets what his (two) hands have forwarded? Surely We have made lids on their hearts so that they do not comprehend it, and in their ears an obstruction. And in case you call them to guidance, (then), they will never be guided at all” (TMQ, 18:57)

c. Mentioning facts of life and the hereafter:

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Wealth and sons are the adornment of the present life; and the enduring deeds of righteousness are more charitable in the Providence of your Lord for requital, and more charitable in aspiration” (TMQ, 16:46).

 “An enactment of Allah with the ones who passed away earlier; and you will never find any alteration to an enactment of Allah” (TMQ, 33:62).

 “So whoever does an atom’s weight of charity will see it, And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it” (TMQ, 99:7-8).

  1. Passing juristic laws:

Allah (SWT)  says what can be translated as, “And the male thief and the female thief: then cut (off) the hands of both, as a recompense for what they (both) have earned, as a torture from Allah; and Allah is Ever-Mighty, Ever-Wise” (TMQ, 5:38).

  1. Referring to certain notions and concepts:

 Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And He has cast in the earth anchorages (i.e., mountains) so that it should not reel with you…” (TMQ, 16:15).

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