OTHER MIRACLES OF THE QUR’AN
Below are examples of the number of repetitions of certain words in the Qur’an. Some related words are surprisingly repeated the same number of times.
• The statement of “seven heavens” is repeated seven times. “The creation of the heavens (khalq as-samawat)” is also repeated seven times.
• “Day (yawm)” is repeated 365 times in singular form, while its plural and dual forms “days (ayyam and yawmayn)” together are repeated 30 times. The number of repetitions of the word “month” (shahar) is 12.
• The word “payment or reward” is repeated 117 times, while the expression “forgiveness” (mughfirah), which is one of the basic morals of the Qur’an, is repeated exactly twice that amount, 234 times.
• The number of times the words, “world” (dunya) and “hereafter” (akhira) are repeated is also the same: 115
• The word “satan” (shaitan) is used in the Qur’an 88 times, as is the word “angels” (malaika).
• The word faith (iman) (without genitive) is repeated 25 times throughout the Qur’an as is also the word infidelity (kufr).
• The words “paradise” and “hell” are each repeated 77 times.
• The words “trouble” and “peace” are both repeated 13 times in the Qur’an.
• The words “man” and “woman” are also employed equally: 23 times.
Will they not ponder the Qur’an? If it had been from other than Allah, they would have found many inconsistencies in it.
• The number of times the words “man” and “woman” are repeated in the Qur’an, 23, is at the same time that of the chromosomes from the egg and sperm in the formation of the human embryo. The total number of human chromosomes is 46; 23 each from the mother and father.
• “Human being” is used 65 times: the sum of the number of references to the stages of man’s creation is the same: i.e.
Human being 65
Soil (turab) 17
Drop of Sperm (nutfah) 12
Embryo (‘alaq) 6
A half formed lump of flesh (mudghah) 3
Bone (‘idham) 15
Flesh (lahm) 12
• The word “salawat” appear five times in the Qur’an, and Allah has commanded man to perform the prayer (salat) five times a day.
• The word “land” appears 13 times in the Qur’an and the word “sea” 32 times, giving a total of 45 references. If we divide that number by that of the number of references to the land we arrive at the figure 28.888888888889%. The number of total references to land and sea, 45, divided by the number of references to the sea in the Qur’an, 32, is 71.111111111111%. Extraordinarily, these figures represent the exact proportions of land and sea on the Earth today
“HAMAN” AND ANCIENT EGYPT MONUMENTS
One such example of this wisdom can be found in the Qur’anic references to Haman: a character whose name is mentioned in the Qur’an, along with the Pharaoh. He is mentioned in six different places in the Qur’an, in which it informs us that he was one of Pharaoh’s closest allies.
Surprisingly, the name “Haman” is never mentioned in those sections of the Torah pertaining to the life of the Prophet Moses. However, the mention of Haman can be found in the last chapters of the Old Testament as the helper of a Babylonian king who inflicted many cruelties on the Israelites approximately 1,100 years after the Prophet Moses.The Qur’an, far more in tune with recent archaeological discoveries, does indeed contain the word “Haman” in reference to the life of the Prophet Moses.
In 1799, much to the delight of historians and other learned people, the mystery of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics was solved by the discovery of a tablet called the “Rosetta Stone.” This amazing find dated back to 196 B.C. The importance of this inscription was that it was written in three different forms of writing: hieroglyphics, demotic (a simplified form of ancient Egyptian hieratic writing) and Greek. With the help of the Greek script, the ancient Egyptian writings were decoded. Through the decoding of hieroglyph, an important piece of knowledge was revealed: The name “Haman” was indeed mentioned in Egyptian inscriptions. This name was referred to in a monument in the Hof Museum in Vienna. This same inscription also indicated the close relationship between Haman and the Pharaoh.
The result revealed a very important truth: Unlike the false assertion of the opponents of the Qur’an, Haman was a person who lived in Egypt at the time of the Prophet Moses. He had been close to the Pharaoh and had been involved in construction work, just as imparted in the Qur’an.
Pharaoh said, “Council, I do not know of any other god for you apart from Me. Haman, kindle a fire for me over the clay and build me a lofty tower so that perhaps I may be able to climb up to Moses’ god! I consider him a blatant liar.” (Qur’an, 28:38)
The verse in the Qur’an describing the event where the Pharaoh asked Haman to build a tower is in perfect agreement with this archaeological finding. Through this brilliant discovery, the irrational claims of the opponents of the Qur’an were demonstrated to be false and intellectually worthless.
In a miraculous way, the Qur’an conveys to us historical information that could not have been possessed or understood at the time of the Prophet Muhammad. Hieroglyphics could not be deciphered until the late 1700s so the information could not have been ascertained from Egyptian sources. When the name “Haman” was discovered in the ancient scripts, it was further proof of the infallibility of Allah’s Word.
We sent Noah to his people and he remained among them for fifty short of a thousand years; yet the Flood engulfed them while they were wrongdoers. (Qur’an, 29:14)
The Prophet Noah was sent to his people by Allah. They had distanced themselves from the commandments of the Lord and ascribed partners to Him. The Prophet Noah warned them that they should serve Allah alone and abandon the false worship which they had established in their community. Although the Prophet Noah called on his people with great eloquence and wisdom, and warned them against the punishment of Allah, they rejected the Prophet and continued to associate partners to Him. At this, Allah told the Prophet Noah that He would punish the deniers by drowning them. But He also informed His Messenger that His mercy would save the believers, those who embraced true religion and worshipped the One and Only God. The destruction of the people of Noah and the salvation of the believers is described thus in the Qur’an:
But they denied him so We rescued him and those with him in the Ark. And We drowned the people who denied Our Signs. They were a blind people. (Qur’an, 7:64)
In recent times, the discovery of a large amount of evidence concerning Noah’s Flood has come to the attention of the world’s most prominent archaeologists and historians. The Flood, believed to have occurred around 3000 B.C., destroyed an entire civilisation and allowed an entirely new one to be founded in its place. That evidence of the Flood was preserved for thousands of years provides a deterrent to those people who have come after this punishment of the wicked.
Many excavations have been carried out to study the flood, which was localised on and around the Mesopotamian Plains. Digs in the region have encountered traces of a flood in four main cities on the Mesopotamian Plain: Ur, Erech, Kish and Shuruppak. Excavations in these cities have shown that these cities were hit by flooding around 3000 B.C.
THE CITIES OF SODOM AND GOMORRA
The Prophet Lot lived at the same time as the Prophet Abraham and was sent as a Messenger to a neighbouring tribe to the Prophet Abraham. That tribe, according to the Qur’an, practiced a perversion never before seen in the world: homosexuality. When the Prophet Lot told the people to abandon one of the greatest sins and delivered to them the message of Allah, they rejected him. They denied that he was a Prophet and continued with their horrid lifestyle. As a result of this, the tribe was destroyed in a terrible disaster by Allah.
And Lot, when he said to his people, “Do you commit an obscenity not perpetrated before you by anyone in all the worlds? You come with lust to men instead of women. You are indeed a depraved people.” (Qur’an, 7:80-81)
We rained down a rain upon them. See the final fate of the evildoers! (Qur’an, 7:84)
[Our Messengers said to Lot,] “We will bring down on the inhabitants of this city a devastating punishment from heaven because of their deviance.” We have left a Clear Sign of them behind for people who use their intellect. (Qur’an, 29:34-35)
This city, in which the Prophet Lot lived and which was later destroyed, is called “Sodom” in the Old Testament. It appears that this people, who lived to the north of the Red Sea, was destroyed in a manner compatible with the description in the Qur’an.
Archaeological excavations have revealed that the city lay close to the Dead Sea on the present-day Israeli-Jordanian border. According to scientists, the area is covered in large deposits of sulphur. For this reason, no life in the form of animals or plants is to be found there and the region stands as a symbol of destruction. Sulphur is an element which appears as a result of volcanic eruptions. Indeed, there is clear evidence in the Qur’an that the method of destruction was earthquake and volcanic eruptions.
PREDICTIONS IN THE QUR’AN
THE PRESERVATION OF PHARAOH’S BODY
As we shall see later on, Pharaoh regarded himself as a deity and responded with slanders and threats to Prophet Moses’ calls for him to believe in Allah. This arrogant attitude lasted until he was faced with the threat of death through drowning. The Qur’an relates that Pharaoh immediately turned to belief when faced with Allah’s punishment:
We brought the tribe of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his troops pursued them out of tyranny and enmity. Then, when he was on the point of drowning, he [Pharaoh] said: “I believe that there is no god but Him in Whom the tribe of Israel believes. I am one of the Muslims.” (Qur’an, 10:90)
However, this last-minute conversion was not accepted, for it was not sincere. According to the Qur’an, Allah exclaimed:
“What, now! When previously you rebelled and were one of the corrupters? Today we will preserve your body so you can be a Sign for people who come after you. Surely many people are heedless of Our Signs.” (Qur’an, 10:91-92)
The information that Pharaoh’s corpse would serve as a sign for later generations may be regarded as an indication that his body would not decay. On display in the Royal Mummies Chamber of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is a mummified body believed to be that of this tyrant.
THE VICTORY OF BYZANTIUM
An astonishing prediction is found in the first verses of the chapter ar-Rum, which refers to the Byzantine Empire, the eastern part of the later Roman Empire: The Byzantine Empire, which had met with a great defeat, would soon gain victory.
Alif, Lam, Mim. The Romans have been defeated in the lowest land, but after their defeat they will be victorious within three to nine years. The affair is Allah’s from beginning to end. On that day, the believers will rejoice. (Qur’an, 30:1-4)
These verses were revealed around 620, almost 7 years after the idolatrous Persians had severely defeated Christian Byzantium in 613-14. In fact, Byzantium had suffered such heavy losses that it seemed impossible for it even to survive, let alone be victorious again. Following their defeat of the Byzantines at Antioch in 613, the Persians seized control of Damascus, Cilicia, Tarsus, Armenia, and Jerusalem. The loss of Jerusalem in 614 was particularly traumatic for the Byzantines, for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was destroyed and the Persians seized the “True Cross,” the symbol of Christianity. In short, everyone was expecting Byzantium to be destroyed. But during this time, the first verses of the chapter ar-Rum were revealed, announcing that Byzantium would triumph in 3 to 9 years. This predicted victory seemed so impossible that the Arab polytheists thought it would never come true.
Like all the other predictions in the Qur’an, however, this one also came true. In 622, Heraclius gained a number of victories over the Persians and conquered Armenia.177 In December 627, the two empires fought a decisive battle at Nineveh, some 50 kilometres east of the Tigris river, near Baghdad. This time too, the Byzantine army defeated the Persians. A few months later, the Persians had to sue for peace with Byzantium, which obliged them to return the territories they had taken from it.
The Byzantine victory was completed when Emperor Heraclius defeated the Persian ruler Khosrow II in 630, recaptured Jerusalem, and regained the “True Cross” for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In the end, “the victory of the Romans” proclaimed by Allah in the Qur’an miraculously came true within the verses’ stated “three to nine years” time frame.
Another miracle revealed in these verses is the announcement of a geographical fact that could not have been known by anyone at that time: that the Romans had been defeated in the lowest region of Earth. This Arabic expression adna al-Ard is interpreted as “a nearby place” in many translations. However, this is not the literal meaning, but rather a figurative interpretation. The word adna, derived from the word dani (low), means “the lowest”. The word ard means “the world.” Therefore, adna al-ard means “the lowest place on Earth.”
Some interpreters of the Qur’an, considering the closeness of the region in question to the Arabs, prefer the “closest” meaning of the word. However, the actual meaning indicates a very important geological fact: The Dead Sea, one of the regions in which the Byzantines were defeated in 613-14, is the lowest region on Earth. However, as only modern measuring methods and equipment can prove this fact, it would have been impossible for anyone living at that time to realise this truth. Yet, the Qur’an states clearly that this region was the “lowest land” on Earth and thereby provides further evidence that it is the Word of Allah.
THE LITERARY MIRACLES OF THE QUR’AN
THE INIMITABILITY OF THE QUR’AN
We have made the Qur’an easy to remember… (Qur’an, 54:22)
Despite having such an easily comprehensible style, it has never been possible to imitate the Qur’an from any point of view. Some of the verses in which Allah draws attention to the inimitable nature of the Qur’an are:
If you have doubts about what We have sent down to Our servant, produce another chapter equal to it, and call your witnesses, besides Allah, if you are telling the truth. (Qur’an, 2:23)
Do they say, “He has invented it”? Say: “Then produce a chapter like it and call on anyone you can besides Allah if you are telling the truth.” (Qur’an, 10:38)
One of the reasons that the Qur’an is described as miraculous stems from the fact that, as emphasised in the verses above, nothing like it can ever be written by human endeavour: The greater the scale of that impossibility, the greater the size of the miracle which we see before our very eyes. Therefore, the fact that the style of the Qur’an has been incapable of imitation by even one out of the billions of people down the centuries is one of the proofs of its miraculous nature. In his book, The Construction of the Bible and the Qur’an, F. F. Arbuthnot makes the following comment about the Qur’an:
From the literary point of view, the Koran is regarded as a specimen of the purest Arabic, written on half poetry and half prose. It has been said that in some cases grammarians have adopted their rules to agree with certain phrases and expressions used in it, and that though several attempts have been made to produce a work equal to it as far elegant writing is concerned, none has as yet succeeded.
Another of the elements which make the Qur’an inimitable stems from its literary structure. Despite being in Arabic, the Qur’an bears no similarity to the forms used in Arabic literature.
The rhyming system in the Qur’an is known as “rhymed prose” and linguists describe the use of this rhyme in the Qur’an as a miracle. In his book Science Miracles, a work prepared to demonstrate that the Qur’an is a linguistic miracle, the well-known British scientist Professor Adel M. A. Abbas carried out a wide-ranging study of the letters and rhyming scheme used in the Qur’an by means of graphics and diagrams. Some rather striking facts were established in this book with regard to the rhyming system in the Qur’an.
29 Suras in the Qur’an begin with one or more symbolic letters. These letters are known as “muqatta’ah-letters” or “initial letters.” Fourteen of the 29 letters in Arabic comprise these initial letters: Qaf, Sad, Ta, Ha, Ya, Sin, Alif, Lam, Mim, Kaf, ‘Ayn, Nun, Ra, Ha.
Of these letters, when we look at the use of the letter “Nun” in Surat al-Qalam we see rhyming with the letter “Nun” in 88.8% of the verses. 84.6% of Surat ash-Shu’ara’, 90.32% of Surat an-Naml and 92.05% of Surat al-Qasas are rhymed with “Nun.”
When applying these studies to the whole Qur’an, 50.08% is rhymed with the letter “Nun.” To put it another way, more than half the verses in the Qur’an end with the letter “Nun.” In no literary work of comparable length has it been possible to rhyme with a single sound in more than half the text. This applies to all languages, not just to Arabic.
The formation of rhymed prose with just two or three sounds in a poem of 200-300 lines may give that work an important quality, sufficient for it to be described as a masterpiece by literary critics today. However, bearing in mind the length of the Qur’an, the information it contains and its wise exposition, the extraordinary manner in which its rhymed prose system is used becomes even clearer and more beautiful. The Qur’an indeed contains an ocean of information relating to a wide variety of subjects. They include: religious and moral guidance, lessons from the lives of the peoples of the past, the message of the Prophets and Messengers of Allah, the physical sciences and historical accounts of important events. But all of this, although wonderful in itself, is delivered with the most fantastic literary rhythm and excellence. It is simply not possible for so much rhymed prose by use of so few sounds in the Qur’an, with its varied and knowledgeable subject matter, to be achieved by human endeavour. From that point of view, it is not surprising that Arab linguists describe the Qur’an as “very definitely inimitable.”
AN example of Qur’anic precision is found in a verse that mentions two of the attributes of Allah; al-Ghafoor (The Forgiving) and ar-Raheem (The Merciful). In the Qur’an we find that these two names of Allah are mentioned together more than seventy times, with the word al-Ghafoor always preceding ar-Raheem. However, in Surah Saba verse 2 (see below), we find that ar-Raheem is mentioned before al-Ghafoor. So the question arises as to why this might be.
“In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All praise and thanks are to Allah, to Whom belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. His is all praise and thanks in the Hereafter, and He is the All-Wise, the Well-Acquainted (with all things). He knows that which goes into the earth and that which comes forth from it, and that which descends from the heaven and that which ascends to it. And He is the Most Merciful, the Oft-Forgiving.” Surah Saba (Sheba) 34: 1-2.
If we examine the content and structure of the whole verse in detail we see that the two attributes of Allah ‘Mercy and Forgiveness’ alternate as shown in the representation below. Allah begins verse two with the word “He knows” which has a direct connection with why ar-Raheem is mentioned first in this case.
If we carefully analyse this verse Allah says that “He knows that which goes into the earth…” If we consider the types of things that go into the earth such as seeds that are buried in the ground, worms, insects, drops of rain and the fact that human beings will also go into the earth when they die. Once in the ground we will need to rely on the Mercy of Allah. Then Allah says, “and that which comes forth from it”. Vegetation, springs and rivers gushing forth are examples of all the types of things that come out of the earth. Similarly human beings will too come out from the earth when they are resurrected from their graves. At that time we will need to rely on Allah’s attribute of al-Ghafoor (forgiveness).
The verse continues and Allah says “and that which descends from the heaven”. Consider for a moment what comes from the skies such as drops of rain, Divine commandments in the form of revelations, Allah’s graces, favours and provisions. We see that all of these things are a mercy from Allah. Rain is a mercy, revelation is a mercy and provisions are a mercy. The verse then ends with “and that which ascends to it. And He is the Most Merciful, the Oft-Forgiving”. Our deeds, supplications, and souls depart this word and all ascend to heaven and what is required in these instances from Allah is his forgiveness. Thus, each part of the verse connects with these two names and the verse has to end on ar-raheemul ghafoor in contrast to all other occurrences, in order to maintain the correct sequence.
This verse provides another excellent example of the precision and balance present throughout the Qur’an, coupled with a level of awareness of what is being said and the implications behind the words that would have been impossible for Prophet Muhammad to produce by himself and remain consistent over a period of twenty three years.
Surah al-Kawthar is the shortest surah in the Qur’an with only three short verses and like all of the other chapters in the Qur’an, has an unmatched selection of words, pronouns, word order and meaning. Moreover, anyone attempting to take up the challenge of the Qur’an only needs to produce something comparable to it. By briefly analysing this chapter’s first verse it provides an insight into how this matchless and eloquent discourse is achieved.
i. Emphasis and choice of pronoun
Verily, We have granted you al-Kawthar.
Inna a’tayna kal kawthar
Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice.
Fasalli li rabbika wanhar
For he who hates you, he will be cut off.
Inna shani-aka huwal abtar
The use of the words (Verily, We) at the start of al-Kawthar is emphatic; also the plural is used to indicate power, certainty, ability, greater quantity or sometimes to stress the status and greatness (li-ta’zim al-mutakallim aw ihtimaman bidhikr rabbika wa ta’ziman). This is an apt choice of pronoun as its persuasive force can not be matched by any other pronoun. The effect is “The Creator, who has power to do anything, has indeed given you….”
ii. Word choice
The term a’tayn has been used instead of aataaina’ because of a subtle difference. The difference as defined by Ibn Manzoor in his Lisan al-Arab is that the Qur’anic choice indicates ‘to hand over with one’s own hand’ whereas the non Qur’anic selection does not provide this meaning.
This choice of word is apt as it strengthens the sentence emphasizing the surety of giving, ability, greatness, power and intimacy (to console and strengthen Prophet Muhammad ). The verb has also been used in the past tense which indicates that it has already happened and makes it definitive. This further accentuates the meaning of surety, power and greatness. This also expresses certainty of a promise; in this case Prophet Muhammad will have al-Kawthar, or abundance.
The root stem for the word al-Kawthar are the letters kaf, tha and ra (kathara). This signifies plentiful, multitude, overflowing, rich, unstinting and unending. Other derivations of this root include:
1. katha-ratun: Multitude
2. katheerun: Much, many, numerous
3. ak’tharu: More numerous (emphasis)
4. kath-thara: To multiply
5. takathur: Act of multiplying
6. is-thak-thara: To wish for much
Al-Qurtubi states that the Arabs used ‘kawthar’ to denote anything which is great in quantity or value. This word can not be replaced with another, as its meaning can not be matched equally with any other Arabic word.
iii. Word arrangement
The placement of al-Kawthar is an attribute; plentiful and abundance. However, this word has been placed at the end of the verse with no word after to be attributed to it, as al-Qurtubi points out, this indicates that Prophet Muhammad has been given an abundance of everything. Islamic scholars state that if Allah had bestowed one thing in great multitude then that would have been mentioned. How-ever, due to giving Prophet Muhammad an abundance of everything, nothing is mentioned to indicate everything or many things. Also, within the science of eloquence and rhetoric, mentioning all things would be superfluous and not a good use of language.
iv. Multiple meaning
The word al-Kawthar has been given multiple meanings by the scholars. These meanings include:
1. A river of Paradise from which rivers flow.
2. The fountain on the Day of Judgement from which Prophet Muhammad will quench the thirst of his people.
3. His prophethood.
4. The Qur’an.
5. The way of life called Islam.
6. The multitude of his companions; no other prophet had as many companions as Prophet Muhammad.
7. Elevated status. No one is more researched, more mentioned, more praised and more loved than Prophet Muhammad.
8. It is a multitude of goodness.
Just by briefly looking at Surah al-Kawthar’s first line it can been seen that the words, word order and pronoun have been carefully selected to enhance the meaning. Any attempt to change the words or word order will truly cease to sound like the Qur’an, and the powerful meaning would be lost. As we have discussed, the Qur’an is unique in that it does not follow the normal pattern of Arabic poetry and prose. The flow of the Qur’an is not interrupted by the repeated detail contained in many of its verses. In fact, part of the beauty of the Qur’an can be attributed to its precise detail and accuracy.
Hence, the overview presented here shows how the Qur’an transcends all forms of Arabic rhymed prose (saj’). In fact theologians and Arab linguists hold that the Qur’an does not contain just ordinary saj’, and is in fact unique to all types of saj’. Their reasoning is that in the Qur’an, the use of language is semantically orientated and its literary structure is distinct, whereas in saj’, conformity to style is a primary objective.
No human being has ever composed a book that discusses such diverse topics in a language with so much rhythm, beauty and style. Further examples of the Qur’an’s unique literary form are too many and varied to list and are beyond the scope of this book, but can be found in a multitude of other works on this subject.
In conclusion, the Qur’an is a literary and linguistic miracle. It has challenged those who doubt its Divine authorship and history has shown that it is indeed a miracle as there can be no natural explanation to comprehensively explain its unmatched unique expression. As tangible signs, Qur’anic verses are expressive of an inexhaustible truth. They signify meanings layered within meanings, light upon light and miracle after miracle.