19th May 2010
(2) The Holy Qur'an is, no doubt, a guidance for all men without any distinction of time or place, but the first to be addressed were the Arabs of the Age of Ignorance. In affirming that no human being could produce even a few verses comparable to its own, the Holy Qur'an did not confine the challenge merely to the richness of meaning and the quality of wisdom, but included the mode of expression as well. Now, the 'illiterates' of Arabia had no pretensions to wisdom or knowledge, but they certainly fancied themselves for their eloquence - to them, the aliens were just 'The Dumb' (Al-'Ajam).
And some of them were so mad in their hostility to the Holy Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wasallam) that, if they could see a chance of hurting him in doing so, they would readily have slit their own throats out of sheer spite. And yet no one came forward to accept the challenge. This helplessness in a contest which should have been easy for a people so gifted with a spontaneous eloquence - does it not argue that the Holy Qur'an is not the word of man, but the Word of Allah? As a matter of fact, the most discriminating among the contemporary Arabs did admit, though in private, that the Holy Qur'an was inimitable; some of them had the honesty to say so in public and some accepted Islam, while others in spite of this admission, could not give up the ways of their forefathers, or sufficiently overcome tribal rivalries, particularly their hostility to Banu 'Abd Munaf, the tribe of the Holy Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wasallam) to embrace Islam.
Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti has, in his 'Al-Khasa'is al-Kubra', reported a number of incidents which illustrate the point. When the Holy Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wasallam) and the Holy Qur'an began to attract the attention of people even outside Makkah, the enemies of Islam became worried about the huge crowds that would assemble there for the annual pilgrimage and would be likely to fall under his spell. Their tribal chiefs wanted to find an effective strategem to prevent such a situation from arising, and they referred the problem to Walid ibn Muhgira, the eldest and the wisest among them. To begin with, they suggested that they could tell the Pilgrims that the Holy Qur'an was (May Allah forgive us for reporting a blasphemy) only the ravings of a lunatic. But Walid could foresee that when the Pilgrims heard the Holy Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wasallam) speaking with such lucidity and eloquence, they would immediately know that the allegation was not true.
Next they thought of dismissing him as a mere poet. But Walid warned them that, an understanding of the arts of poetry being innate in most Arabs, the Pilgrims would easily see that he was no poet. Then, they considered the possibility of putting him down as one of the soothsayers. But wafid feared that they would again discover how false the imputation was, and would only turn against the accusers. In summing up his own impression of the Holy Qur'an, he said: "By God, there is not a single man among you who knows more about Arabic poetry than me. And, by God, I find in this speech a kind of sweetness and grace which I have never found in the speech of any poet or of any eloquent man." After a good deal of thought, he finally advised them to accuse the Holy Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wasallam) of being a sorcerer who employed his black art in separating sons from fathers, and wives from husbands.
Exactly the same was the impression made by the Holy Qur'an on many other people, who expressed similar views - for example, Nadr ibn Harith, a tribal chief; Unais, the brother of the blessed Companion, Abu Dharr (radiallahu anh); As'ad ibn Zurarah, another tribal chief, and Qais ibn Nasibah of the Banu Sulaim tribe. Even the vilest enemies of the Holy Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wasallam) like Akhnas ibn shariq, Abu Sufyan and, of all persons, Abu Jahl himself are reported to have stealthily crept in the darkness of night to the house of the Holy Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wasallam) to hear him reciting the Holy Qur'an, and to have been so entranced by the Word of Allah that they could not tear themselves away from the place till it was dawn. Yet they continued to be stubborn in their denial, for, as Abu Jahl confessed in so many words, they had been successfully vying with the tribe of Banu 'Abd Munaf in all possible virtues, but now that their rivals had produced a prophet, they could not come up with something to match the claim.
In short, the Arabs failed to take up the challenge of the Holy Qur'an, and admitted their helplessness; nor has any one else succeeded in the attempt since then - all of which goes to show that the Holy Qur'an can only be the Word of Allah, not of man.
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