By Farhat Amin
What can we learn about the miracles of the Quran?
This is the first of a two-part series on the miracle of the Holy Quran and discussing it as proof of it being the word of Allah (swt). This piece discusses divine miracles sent to the previous Prophets and Messengers, and the divine miracle in the linguistics of the Quran itself.
Once you’re convinced that Allah (swt) is your creator, how do you know how to worship Him? Why did He create you and how are you going to find out? Some people believe they can decide how they are going to worship their creator through choosing their own spiritual path. They see belief as a personal journey and everyone should be free to ‘find God’ in their own way and do what makes them spiritually happy.
There is a big problem with personalized spirituality and making up your own religious rituals. What if your religious practices cause harm to others? For example, the Aztecs worshipped many gods, the most important was their sun god, Huitzilopochtli, they believed that their ‘good’ gods should be kept strong to keep away the ‘bad’ gods. Unfortunately, they kept them strong by making human sacrifices. The Ancient Egyptians also chose to sacrifice people as part of their Pharaoh’s burial rites. The Pharaoh’s servants would be killed after the Pharaoh died so they could accompany him to the afterlife. They believed that what belonged to the Pharaoh on Earth, also belonged to him in the next life and he should be able to enjoy his ‘possessions’ in the afterlife. These two examples illustrate that when people decide how to worship their creator it can lead to irrational and gruesome rituals.
So how can we communicate with our Creator?
People can’t directly talk to Allah (swt) so it makes sense that He will then communicate with us to answer all the questions that we naturally have regarding our purpose in life. Throughout time and even today, there are people who claim they are messengers of God. If someone came to you today and said “I am a messenger from God, I will tell you how God wants you to live your life, you should follow me,” what would you say to them? Of course, you would be skeptical and ask for proof, a sign, something miraculous that could only be from God; a magic trick or lucky charm would not suffice. As we know, there are con-artists who pretend they can communicate with God and charge people for praying for them or making amulets (ta’with). These self-styled saints prey on desperate people who are trying to communicate with God. In the Quran, we are told about genuine messengers and how Allah (swt) gave them miraculous signs to prove their authenticity. Here are just two examples:
PROPHET SULAIMAN (AS)
Prophet Sulaiman (as) was given many special abilities from Allah (swt). He was granted the power to understand the speech of birds, animals and control the wind and Jinn.
“So, We subjected to him the wind blowing by his command, gently, wherever he directed.” [Surah Saad. 38:36]
“[Sulaiman said] O people, we have been taught the language of birds.” [Surah An-Naml. 27:16]
“And gathered for Sulaiman were his soldiers of the Jinn and men and birds.” [Surah An- Naml. 27: 17]
PROPHET MUSA (AS)
Allah (swt) said to Musa (as):
“Go then to Pharaoh and say to him, we’ve been sent by the Lord of All the Worlds, so send the Children of Israel with us.” [Surah Ash Shuara. 26:16-17]
When Musa (as) met with the Pharaoh. He rejected Musa’s (as) call to obey Allah and said to his subjects,
“If any of you choose a god other than me, then I’ll put you in prison!” [Musa replied] “Even if I showed you clear proof?” [Surah Ash Shuara. 26:29-31]
[Pharaoh said] “If you’ve really come with a sign, then show it if you’re telling the truth. Then Moses threw his staff down and suddenly it became a snake in plain sight. Then he pulled out his hand and it glowed white.” [Surah Al-Araf. 7:106-109]
The previous messengers (as) have passed away, and their miracles were only seen by their people. The final messenger that Allah (swt) sent was the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the miracle that Allah gave him was the Quran which we can witness today. So how can we know for sure that the Quran is the word of God and is miraculous?
Linguistic miracles in the Quran
If you’re not fluent in Arabic, it can be difficult to appreciate the linguistic miracles in the Quran but the Arabs at the time could appreciate it and many became Muslim just by hearing the Quran. Here is an example that is easy for a non-Arabic speaker to understand: the Quran contains palindromes. A palindrome is a word or phrase which reads the same backward as forward, such as madam or racecar. Sentence-length palindromes may be written when allowances are made for adjustments to capital letters, punctuation, such as “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!”, “Was it a car or a cat I saw?” Palindrome sentences are notoriously difficult to write in any language. It’s easy to write nonsensical palindromes, and children do it all the time!
As mentioned previously, the Quran is an oral text, when an ayah of Quran was revealed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would recite it to his companions but he would not write it down. In Surah Mudhathir [74:3] Allah (swt) says the phrase:
“Declare the greatness only of your Lord.” The transliteration of the ayah is ‘wa rabbaka fakabir.’
The letter (و) in the beginning with a fatha (وَ ) is “wa” which means the word “And.” According to Arabic grammar, the letter (و) can be used for over 21 things, one of them is to start a new sentence. You can see the (و) being used in this way in the subsequent ayahs of Surah Mudhathir [verses 4-8]. If you sound out the letters in the ayah and write them out, you notice something, it’s spelt backwards and forwards the same way.
ر ب ك ف ك ب ر
Allah (swt) gave the Messenger (peace be upon him) words that he did not write down. He says in the Holy Quran:
“You never recited any scripture before, We revealed this one to you; you never wrote one down with your hand.” [Surah Al-Ankabut. 29:48]
Receiving revelation was an entirely oral exercise for the Prophet (peace be upon him) and once he recited something he didn’t edit or correct it, Allah (swt) revealed it and he said it exactly the way He instructed him to. So, the question arises that is it possible for any person to replicate what the Quran brought? Can they produce a similar sentence “Declare the greatness only of your lord” in any language: German, Chinese, or even Spanish. It must be a palindrome, without writing it down, in one attempt and it must make sense. Try it yourself. When you’re writing a palindrome, you are concentrating on the spelling, the meaning is secondary, it’s difficult to get both right at the same time. However, remarkably the Quran manages to achieve both perfectly.
Divine Symmetry in the Quran
Many Christians believe Isa (as) is the son of God. However, if Isa (as) is the son of God because he was born without a father, then shouldn’t Adam (as) be even more miraculous since he was born without a father and a mother? Allah (swt) says in the Quran:
“Indeed, the example of Jesus to Allah is like that of Adam. He created Him from dust; then He said to him, “Be,” and he was.” [Surah Alee Imran. 3:59]
What is amazing is that in the Quran, Isa (as) is mentioned 25 times throughout the Qur’an and Adam (as) is also mentioned 25 times! This symmetry could not have been a coincidence.
Important facts you should know about the Quran
The Quran was revealed over a period of 23 years. A full surah would not be revealed all in one go; they were revealed partially, a few ayahs at a time. During the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him), the Quran did not exist in book form as we know it today. There were no ayah numbers or surah numbers and this came later. Each year during Ramadan, he would recite all the Quran that had been revealed so far with Angel Jibrael and he who would tell Muhammad (peace be upon him) the place and order of each ayah. This was all done orally. The Prophet would memorize an ayah and teach it to the Muslims. The Quran is not organized in chronological order, i.e. Surah Alaq, 96 is not the first surah of the Quran even though the first ayahs to be revealed were from this surah.
Having understood the above facts let’s look at the longest surah in the Quran which is Surah Al Baqarah, it has 286 ayat, this surah was revealed in stages over the course of almost 10 years. In ayah 143 of Surah Al Baqarah, Allah (swt) says:
“And like that, we made you all a middle nation…”
The word ‘wasat’ means middle and it is only used once in the Quran, miraculously this word middle (wasat) comes in the middle ayah of this surah, there is no way Muhammad (saw) could have organized this ayah to be exactly in the middle of this surah, as he didn’t have the Quran in written form and he couldn’t read or write