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Who authored the Quran?  Someone must have produced it!  After all, how many desert men have stood up in the history of man and given the world a book like the Quran?  The book has amazing details of past nations, prophets, and religions as well as accurate scientific information unavailable at the time.  What was the source of all this?  If we were to deny the divine origin of the Quran, we are left with only a few possibilities:

- The Prophet Muhammad authored it himself.

- He took it from someone else.  In this case, he either took it from a Jew or a Christian or one of the foreigners in Arabia.  The Meccans did not bother to accuse him of having taken it from one of them.

A brief response from God is:

"And they say, ‘Legends of the former peoples which he has written down, and they are dictated to him morning and afternoon.’  Say, [O Muhammad], ‘It has been revealed by He who knows [every] secret within the heavens and the earth.  Indeed, He is ever Forgiving and Merciful.’" (Quran 25:5-6)

It was well known to his detractors that Muhammad, who was raised among them, never learned how to read or write from the time of his birth.  They knew whom he befriended and where he had traveled; they acknowledged his integrity and honesty by calling him ‘Al-Ameen,’ the Reliable, the Trustworthy, the Honest.[1]  Only in their revulsion against his preaching did they accuse him – and then it was anything they could dream up: He was accused of being a sorcerer, a poet and even an imposter!  They could not make up their minds.  God says:

"Look how they strike for you comparisons; but they have strayed, so they cannot [find] a way." (Quran 17:47)

Simply, God is aware of what is in the heavens and the earth, He knows the past and the present, and reveals the truth to His prophet.

Could Muhammad Have Authored It?

It is impossible that Muhammad could have authored the Quran due to the following reasons:

First, several occasions presented themselves where he could have fabricated revelation.  For example, after the first revelation came, people awaited to hear more, but the Prophet did not receive anything new for months.  The Meccans began making fun of him, ‘His Lord has abandoned him!’  This continued until the 93rd chapter, Ad-Doha, was revealed.  The Prophet could have compiled something and presented it as the latest revelation to end the mockery, but he did not.  Also, at one point during his prophethood, some of the hypocrites accused his beloved wife Aisha of being unchaste.  The Prophet could have easily fabricated something to free her of blame, but he waited for many excruciating days, all spent in pain, mockery, and anguish, until revelation came from God freeing her from the accusation.

Second, there is internal evidence within the Quran that Muhammad was not its author.  Several verses criticized him, and were on occasion strongly worded.  How can an imposter prophet blame himself when it may run him into the danger of losing the respect, perhaps following, of his followers?  Here are some examples:

"O Prophet!  Why do you prohibit [yourself from] what God has made lawful for you, seeking the approval of your wives?  And God is Forgiving and Merciful." (Quran 66:1)

"…while you concealed within yourself that which God is to disclose and you feared the people, while God has more right that you fear Him.." (Quran 33:43)

"It is not for the Prophet and those who have believed to ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even if they were relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of Hellfire." (Quran 9:113)

"But as for he who came to you striving [for knowledge] while he fears [God], from him you are distracted.  No!  Indeed, they [these verses] are a reminder." (Quran 80:8-11)

If he were to hide anything, he would have hid these verses, but he recited them faithfully.

"And he [Muhammad] is not a withholder of [knowledge of] the unseen.  And it [the Quran] is not the word of a devil, expelled [from the heavens].  So where are you going?  It is nothing but a reminder to the worlds." (Quran 81:24-27)

The Prophet is cautioned, perhaps warned, in the following verses:

"Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth so you may judge between the people by that which God has shown you.  And do not be an advocate for the deceitful.  And seek forgiveness of God.  Indeed, God is ever Forgiving and Merciful.  And do not argue on behalf of those who deceive themselves.  Indeed, God loves not the one who is a habitually sinful deceiver.  They conceal [their evil intentions and deeds] from the people, but they cannot conceal [them] from God, and He is with them [in His knowledge] when they spend the night in such as He does not accept of speech.  And God ever is encompassing of what they do,.  Here you are – those who argue on their behalf in [this] worldly life – but who will argue with God for them on the Day of Resurrection, or who will [then] be their representative?  And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself but then seeks forgiveness of God will find God Forgiving and Merciful.  And whoever earns [i.e., commits] a sin only earns it against himself.  And God is ever Knowing and Wise.  But whoever earns an offense or a sin and then blames it on an innocent [person] has taken upon himself slander and manifest sin.  And if it was not for the favor of God upon you, [O Muhammad], and His mercy, a group of them would have determined to mislead you.  But they do not mislead except themselves, and they will not harm you at all.  And God has revealed to you the Book and wisdom and has taught you that which you did not know.  And ever has the favor of God upon you been great." (Quran 4:105-113)

These verses explain a situation in which a man from the Muslim inhabitants of Medina stole a piece of armor and hid it in the property of his Jewish neighbor.  When the owners of the armor caught up with him he denied any wrongdoing, and the armor was discovered with the Jewish man.  He, however, pointed to his Muslim neighbor, also denying his involvement in the crime.  The people from the Muslim’s tribe went to the Prophet to plead on his behalf, and the Prophet began to incline towards them till the above verses were revealed clearing the Jewish man of wrongdoing.  All this despite the Jew’s rejection of Muhammad’s prophethood!  The verses instructed Prophet Muhammad himself not to side with the deceitful!  The verses:

"…and do not be an advocate for the deceitful and seek forgiveness of God…and if it was not for the favor of God upon you, [O Muhammad], and His mercy, a group of them would have determined to mislead you."

If Muhammad himself authored the Quran, thus being a lying imposter, he would have made sure that there was nothing in existence which could jeopardize the gaining of followers and supporters.  The fact that the Quran, on various occasions, reprimands the Prophet in certain issues in which he had made in incorrect judgment is in itself a proof that it was not authored by him.

Initially, the Meccan unbelievers said Muhammad is the author of the Quran.  God responded to them:

"Or do they say, ‘He himself has composed this [message]’?  No, but they are not willing to believe!  But then, [if they deem it the work of a mere mortal,] let them produce another discourse like it - if what they say be true!  [Or do they deny the existence of God implicitly by denying the fact of His revelation?]  Have they themselves been created without anything - or were they, perchance, their own creators?" (Quran 52:33-35)

First, God challenged them to produce ten chapters like the Quran:

"Or they may say, ‘He forged it,’ Say, ‘Bring ye then ten suras forged, like unto it, and call (to your aid) whomsoever you can, other than God! - If you speak the truth!’  If then they answer not your (call), know you that this revelation is sent down with the knowledge of God, and that there is no god but He!  Will you then submit (to Islam)?" (Quran 11:13-14)

But, when they were unable to meet the challenge of ten chapters, God reduced it to a single chapter:

"And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down on Our slave, then produce a surah thereof and call upon your witnesses other than God, if you should be truthful.  But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the unbelievers." (Quran 2:23-24)

Finally, God foretold their eternal failure to meet the divine challenge:

"Say: ‘If all mankind and all jinn[1]  would come together to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce its like even though they were to exert all their strength in aiding one another!’" (Quran 17:88)

The Prophet of Islam said:

"Every Prophet was given ‘signs’ because of which people believed in him.  Indeed, I have been given the Divine Revelation that God has revealed to me.  So, I hope to have the most followers of all the prophets on the Day of Resurrection." (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

The physical miracles performed by the prophets were time-specific, valid only for those who witnessed them, whereas the like of the continuing miracle of our Prophet, the Noble Quran, was not granted to any other prophet.  Its linguistic superiority, style, clarity of message, strength of argument, quality of rhetoric, and the human inability to match even its shortest chapter till the end of time grant it an exquisite uniqueness.  Those who witnessed the revelation and those who came after, all can drink from its fountain of wisdom.  That is why the Prophet of Mercy hoped he will have the most followers of all the prophets, and prophesized that he would at a time when Muslims were few, but then they began to embrace Islam in floods.  Thus, this prophecy came true.

Explanation of Quran’s Inimitability

State of the Prophet Muhammad

He was an ordinary human being.

He was illiterate.  He could neither read nor write.

He was more than forty years old when he received the first revelation.  Until then he was not known to be an orator, poet, or a man of letters; he was just a merchant.  He did not compose a single poem or deliver even one sermon before he was chosen to be a prophet.

He brought a book attributing it to God, and all Arabs of his time were in agreement it was inimitable.

The Challenge of the Quran

The Quran puts a challenge out to anyone who opposes the Prophet. The challenge is to produce a chapter (surah) similar to it, even if it were to be a cooperative effort.  A person may summon all the help he can from the physical and spiritual realms.

Why this Challenge?

First, Arabs were poets.  Poetry was their supreme ornament and their most representative form of discourse.  Arabic poetry was rooted in the oral; it was a voice before it acquired an alphabet.  Poets could compose intricate poems spontaneously and commit thousands of lines to memory.  Arabs had a complex system of evaluating a poet and the poetry to meet rigid standards.  Annual competition selected the ‘idols’ of poetry, and they were engraved in gold and hung inside the Kaaba, alongside their idols of worship.  The most skilled served as judges.  Poets could ignite wars and bring truce between warring tribes.  They described women, wine, and war like no one else.

Second, the opponents of the Prophet Muhammad were strongly determined to quash his mission in any way possible.  God gave them a non-violent approach to disprove Muhammad.

Inability to Meet the Challenge and its Consequences

History is a witness that the pre-Islamic Arabs could not produce a single chapter to meet the challenge of the Quran.[2]  Instead of meeting the challenge, they chose violence and waged war against him.  They, of all people, had the ability and the motive to meet the Quranic challenge, but could not do so.  Had they done so, the Quran would have proven false, and the man who brought it would have been exposed as a false prophet.  The fact that the ancient Arabs did not and could not meet this challenge is proof of Quran’s inimitability.  Their example is of a thirsty man next to a well, the only reason he dies of thirst is if he was unable to reach the water!

Furthermore, the inability of previous Arabs to meet the challenge of the Quran implies later Arabs are less competent to meet the challenge, due to their lack the mastery of classical Arabic that the previous, ‘classical’ Arabs had.  According to linguists of the Arabic language, the Arabs before and during the time of the Prophet, in exclusion to subsequent generations, had the most complete mastery of the Arabic language, its rules, meters, and rhymes.  Later Arabs did not match the mastery of classical Arabs.[3]

Lastly, the challenge is for Arabs and non-Arabs alike.  If the Arabs cannot meet the challenge, the non-speakers of Arabic cannot claim to meet the challenge either.  Hence, the inimitability of the Quran is established for non-Arabs as well.

What if someone were to say: ‘perhaps the challenge of the Quran was met by someone in the time of the Prophet, but the pages of history did not preserve it.’?

Since the beginning, people have reported important events to their succeeding generations, especially in that which captures attention or what people are looking out for.  The Quranic challenge was well spread and well known, and had someone met it, it would have been impossible for it not to have reached us.  If it has been lost in the annals of history, then, for the sake of argument, it is also possible that there was more than one Moses, more than one Jesus, and more than one Muhammad; perhaps many scriptures were also revealed to these imaginary prophets, and it is possible the world knows nothing about it!  Just like these suppositions are unfounded historically, it is also unreasonable to imagine that the Quranic challenge was met without it reaching us.[4]

Second, had they met the challenge, the Arabs would have discredited the Prophet.  It would have been their biggest propaganda tool against him.  Nothing like this happened, instead, they chose war.

The fact that no effort of the non-Muslim has succeeded in ‘producing a verse’ like a verse of the Quran means that either no-one has taken the Quran seriously enough to make the effort, or that they made the effort, but were not successful.  This shows the inimitability of the Quran, a unique and everlasting message.  The uniqueness of the Quran combined with the divine message it brings to mankind is a sure indication of the truth of Islam. In the face of this, every person is faced with one of the two choices.  He either openly accepts the Quran is God’s Word .  In doing so he must also accept that Muhammad was sent by God and was His Messenger.  Or else he secretly knows the Quran is true, but he chooses in his heart to refuse it.  If the seeker is honest in his seeking, he need but explore this question of its inimitability to nurture the inner certainty that he has really found the final truth in the religion it predicates.

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