Why the Need for a Miracle?
There have been numerous claims to prophet hood throughout time. Some of the claims were rightful, and others were motivated by want for power, wealth or status. How were the people of those times to know the difference? How can we tell?
There are at least two characteristics which distinguish the true prophets. When Allah raised a prophet among a people, he would equip them with miracles by which the people could identify them. At times, false prophets would arise and resist them. The false prophets would produce feats of magic designed to sway the people to their way. But Allah would strengthen His prophets with His miracles which would defeat the magic. An example of this is the story of Prophet Moses, in which the magical 'snakes' of Pharaoh's magicians were devoured by the true miracle of Moses' staff. A further testimony to the distinction between magic and miracle was the conversion of the magicians themselves to the religion of Moses upon seeing the miracle of his staff.
The second characteristic is the righteous content of the prophets' Message, and their unwavering personal adherence to its guidance.
We will focus on the first distinction, and discuss how Allah has preserved and sent forward a miracle which is with us today.
The miracles of the true Messengers of Allah were primarily for the people immediately exposed to them. Jesus' raising of the dead, by the permission of Allah, was undoubtedly a convincing spectacle to those who witnessed it. The staff of Moses, truly made into a snake by the Permission of Allah, caused the magicians to fall prostrate in awe of Allah's power.
The prophets have died or been raised up by Allah, and with them went their miracles. But if Allah calls us to believe in Him, we who live centuries after the prophets, do we suppose that He would leave us without a similar opportunity to witness the proofs and signs of His Might and Mercy? Allah is Most Just, and He has indeed sent forward a single blazing miracle - perfectly preserved.
What is this miracle?
Allah revealed Books containing His Guiding Speech to some of His prophets. After the passing of some of the prophets, people changed some of the texts by adding or deleting things according to their whims. But, how are we to know which if these Books have remained intact as they were revealed?
Part of our criterion for determining authenticity is that the Book should not contain contradictions and it should not conflict with established scientific fact.
We have today those Books which people claim are from Allah. (i.e., the Torah, Bible, Quran, etc.) Our focus here is not to test each book and discover its mistakes (see Islamic Selections, Deedat, Ahmed: The Islamic Propagation Center, Durban, South Africa). We will only put to test the Quran, as we believe it to be the last miracle.
What is the Quran?
Precisely, it is the Words of Allah revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel. It was memorized, over a period of 23 years, by the Prophet Muhammad , who taught it to his companions. In turn, his companions committed it to memory until there were hundreds of his followers reciting the self-same text. Today, there are perhaps millions of Muslims, men and women, who have memorized the Quran. Each one eventually able to trace his teacher back to the Prophet Muhammad .
By this massive corroboration, in Arabic 'mutawaatir', we can verify that not one word of the Quran has been altered since it was revealed to Muhammad over fourteen centuries ago. We believe the Torah and the Bible are also books originally from Allah, but they have both been changed (ibid. Deedat) by man over the ages. The Quran is the only book of Allah which remains unchanged, and was the final revelation of Allah to mankind.
The Quran is the first source of belief and practice for Muslims. It provides guidance for living all aspects of life, and deals with all subjects that concern mankind.
Closer Examination of the Evidence for the Quran
Both the Torah and the Bible were of equal merit to the Quran in the sense that they were all from Allah. However, Allah, in His wisdom, took it upon Himself to preserve His final revelation from alteration. He said:
* One of the usages of 'we' in Arabic is for glorifying and indicating the greatness of a person. Here it indicates greatness and not plurality.
And if you are in doubt concerning that which We send down to Our servant, then produce a chapter of its like and call your witnesses, besides Allah, if you are truthful. And if you cannot, and surely you cannot, then fear the fire whose fuel is men and stones prepared for the disbelievers. (2:23-24)
More than 1400 years have passed and not a single fulfillment to this challenge has been produced. Although the Arabs were among the most advanced in poetry and speech, they failed miserably in their efforts.
The second part of our criterion was that a Book from Allah should agree with established scientific fact. This obviously must hold because the One who revealed the Message and the Creator are the same. The Quran does more than just passively agree. Over 1400 years ago, predating the advent of most modern tools of scientific observation, the Quran spoke in detail about natural phenomena not discovered until recent centuries.
53. We (Allah) shall show them Our Signs on the horizons and within themselves, until it becomes manifest unto them that it (the Quran) is the Truth. Is it not sufficient that the Lord is witness over all things?
Scientific Observations of the Quran
The Quran, which was revealed fourteen centuries ago, mentioned facts only recently discovered or proven by scientists. This proves without doubt that the Quran must be the literal word of Allah, revealed by Him to the Prophet Muhammad , and that the Quran was not authored by Muhammad or by any other human being. This also proves that Muhammad is truly a prophet sent by Allah. It is beyond reason that anyone fourteen hundred years ago would have known these facts discovered or proven only recently with advanced equipment and sophisticated scientific methods. For example:
We are sure that such will serve to convince the reader that the Quran could not have been produced by any human being. We appeal to all open-minded thinkers to study the Quran in the light of the aforementioned points. Although some of the following statements do not coincide with Islamic beliefs, we felt that including the opinions of Western writers about the Quran would be beneficial.
"However often we turn to it [the Quran] at first disgusting us each time afresh, it soon attracts, astounds, and in the end enforces our reverence... Its style, in accordance with its contents and aim is stern, grand, terrible - ever and anon truly sublime -- Thus this book will go on exercising through all ages a most potent influence." --Goethe, quoted in T.P. Hughes' DICTIONARY OF ISLAM, p. 526.
"The Koran admittedly occupies an important position among the great religious books of the world. Though the youngest of the epoch-making works belonging to this class of literature, it yields to hardly any in the wonderful effect which it has produced on large masses of men. It has created an all but new phase of human thought and a fresh type of character. It first transformed a number of heterogeneous desert tribes of the Arabian peninsula into a nation of heroes, and then proceeded to create the vast politico-religious organizations of the Muhammadan world which are one of the great forces with which Europe and the East have to reckon today." --G. Margoliouth, Introduction to J.M. Rodwell's, THE KORAN, New York: Everyman's Library, 1977, p. vii.
"A work, then, which calls forth so powerful and seemingly incompatible emotions even in the distant reader - distant as to time, and still more so as a mental development - a work which not only conquers the repugnance which he may begin its perusal, but changes this adverse feeling into astonishment and admiration..." --Dr. Steingass, quoted in T.P. Hughes' DICTIONARY OF ISLAM, pp. 526-527.
"The above observation makes the hypothesis advanced by those who see Muhammad as the author of the Quran untenable. How could a man, from being illiterate, become the most important author, in terms of literary merits, in the whole of Arabic literature? How could he then pronounce truths of a scientific nature that no other human being could possibly have developed at that time, and all this without once making the slightest error in his pronouncement on the subject?" --Maurice Bucaille, THE BIBLE, THE QURAN AND SCIENCE, 1978, p. 125.
"Here, therefore, its merits as a literary production should perhaps not be measured by some preconceived maxims of subjective and aesthetic taste, but by the effects which it produced in Muhammad's contemporaries and fellow countrymen. If it spoke so powerfully and convincingly to the hearts of his hearers as to weld hitherto centrifugal and antagonistic elements into one compact and well-organized body, animated by ideas far beyond those which had until now ruled the Arabian mind, then its eloquence was perfect, simply because it created a civilized nation out of savage tribes, and shot a fresh woof into the old warp of history." --Dr. Steingass, quoted in T.P. Hughes' DICTIONARY OF ISLAM, p. 528.
"In making the present attempt to improve on the performance of my predecessors, and to produce something which might be accepted as echoing however faintly the sublime rhetoric of the Arabic Koran, I have been at pains to study the intricate and richly varied rhythms which - apart from the message itself - constitute the Koran's undeniable claim to rank amongst the greatest literary masterpieces of mankind... This very characteristic feature - 'that inimitable symphony,' as the believing Pickthall described his Holy Book, 'the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy' - has been almost totally ignored by previous translators; it is therefore not surprising that what they have wrought sounds dull and flat indeed in comparison with the splendidly decorated original." --Arthur J. Arberry, THE KORAN INTERPRETED, London: Oxford University Press, 1964, p. x.
"A totally objective examination of it [the Quran] in the light of modern knowledge, leads us to recognize the agreement between the two, as has been already noted on repeated occasions. It makes us deem it quite unthinkable for a man of Muhammad's time to have been the author of such statements on account of the state of knowledge in his day. Such considerations are part of what gives the Quranic Revelation its unique place, and forces the impartial scientist to admit his inability to provide an explanation which calls solely upon materialistic reasoning." --Maurice Bucaille, THE QURAN AND MODERN SCIENCE, 1981, p. 18.
Muslims affirm that the Torah, Bible and the Quran were revealed by Allah for the Guidance of humanity. However, both the Torah and the Bible has been edited by mankind, whereas the Quran has remained in its original form since its revelation.
The Quran is from Allah (Arabic meaning: "the One True God") is a claim supported by its own contents. The Quran offers many accurate observations about natural phenomena accurately described only recently by modern science. Aside from this, the Quran contains knowledge about Allah Himself, about His Law, and about previous Prophets and nations. The best way to experience the miracle of the Quran contained within it is to read it, intending to draw closer to Allah.
Indeed, the first command revealed to Prophet Muhammad was:
"Read in the Name of your Lord who Created. Created the human from a clinging blood-clot. Read and your Lord is Most-Generous - taught humans what they knew not.