Opinion Editorials, November 2004, To see today's opinion articles, click here: www.aljazeerah.info
The Inimitability of the Qur’anic Style
Arab News, 11/9/04
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent
Ta Seen Meem. These are verses of the Book that makes things clear. Would you, perhaps, torment yourself to death (with grief) because they would not believe? If We will, We can send down to them from the skies a sign before which their necks will remain bent in submission. Yet whenever any fresh reminder comes to them from the Most Merciful, they always turn their backs on it. They have indeed denied (the truth of revelation); and they will in time come to understand what it was they were wont to deride. Do they not see the earth, how much of every noble kind We have caused to grow on it.
Indeed, there is in this a sure sign; yet most of them will not believe. And indeed it is your Lord who is the Mighty One, the Merciful. (The Poets: Al-Shu’ara: 26: 1-9)
God Almighty has not chosen to associate a compelling sign with His last message. He has made its overpowering sign the Qur’an, a complete and perfect code of living that is miraculous in every aspect.
The Qur’an is miraculous in its construction and artistic presentation, maintaining the same features of excellence at the same level throughout. Thus, it is totally unlike human works where we note variation of excellence, power and level even by the same author and within the same work. By contrast the Qur’an maintains its artistic characteristics at the same level throughout, which indicates that it is the work of the One who is not influenced by changing situations and temporary circumstances.
The Qur’an is also unique in its intellectual structure and the mutual complementarity of its parts. Nothing in it occurs by mere coincidence; nothing occurs out of place. All its directives and legislative orders are in full harmony, address human life and regulate all its aspects. There is absolutely no contradiction even at the level of minute details. Not a single detail or provision in its full volume of legislation is incompatible with human nature. They all turn around the same pivot, serving the same aim, and maintain full harmony, which could have never been achieved by human experience. It must be the product of limitless knowledge that is free of the constraints of time and place. It is only such absolute knowledge that could produce such complete and flawless code, set in perfect order.
The Qur’an is exceptionally unique in the way it penetrates into hearts and souls, opening every lock and touching every point of effect. The way it provides simple and easy solutions to intractable problems is remarkable. On the other hand, its method of educating and molding people in accordance with its own system, using only the lightest of touches, free of complexity, irregularity or deception, is also exceptionally impressive.
The Islamic message is designed by God to remain open to all communities and all generations. It is not meant for any particular group or location. Hence, its miracle should also remain available to all in every community and generation. Hence God made the Qur’an its miracle, rather than providing a physical miracle that leaves the onlookers speechless, having no counter argument. Physical miracles silence only those who see them, but they subsequently become no more than a piece of history. While the Qur’an remains today, more than 13 centuries after its revelation, an open book outlining a code for life. People today find in it all that they need to put their lives on the right course, should they but determine to implement it. It leads them to a better world, higher horizon and an infinitely superior destiny. Future generations will find in the Qur’an much that we have not been able to discover, because the Qur’an gives every seeker what that seeker needs, while its treasures remain self-renewing, never exhausted. The unbelievers remained unaware of this central issue. Therefore, they continued to turn a deaf ear whenever Qur’anic revelations were read out to them. “Yet whenever any fresh reminder comes to them from the Most Merciful, they always turn their backs on it.”
We note that God’s attribute mentioned here is ‘the Most Merciful’ indicating His great act of mercy, namely the revelation of the Qur’an. Thus, their turning away from it appears in its reality: An abhorrent act that rejects God’s care and grace. They deprive themselves of such mercy when they are the ones who need it most.
Their attitude of rejecting God’s mercy merits a threat of incurring God’s punishment: “They have indeed denied (the truth of revelation); and they will in time come to understand what it was they were wont to deride.” The threat is expressed in general, unspecified terms, with a touch of sarcasm that suits their derision of God’s warnings. A more literal translation of this verse is: ‘they will in time receive the news of what it was they were wont to deride.’ Needless to say, they will not receive any piece of news; rather, they will be enduring the punishment they have been deriding, and they will themselves provide the news as people will be relating what happens to them.
They demand a miracle while ignoring the numerous miraculous signs God has placed all around them. These are sufficient for anyone with open heart and mind. Indeed in every aspect of this marvelous universe there is a great sign to give people all they need of reassurance: “Do they not see the earth, how much of every noble kind We have caused to grow on it. Indeed, there is in this a sure sign; yet most of them will not believe.”
The growth of plants as they come out of the earth is there to watch at every moment. Moreover, plants are made in male and female, with the two growing separately in some plant species or mostly growing together in the same shoot. Yet it only need people to look in order to appreciate.
The Qur’an establishes a direct relation between the human heart and universal scenes so as to awaken people’s minds and faculties of perception. It demonstrates the great aspects of God’s creation all around us so that we look at the living universe with an alert mind and a beating heart. This will enable us to recognize God through His marvelous creation, and make us appeal to Him whenever we see His creation. Thus we feel His presence at every moment of day and night. We will also realize that we are only one type of God’s creatures, subject to the same natural laws that shape existence. We also recognize that we have a special role in the universe that must be fulfilled on earth, the planet in charge of which we have been placed.
“Do they not see the earth, how much of every noble kind We have caused to grow on it.” The nobility is imparted through life that is given by God, who is most noble and most generous. The phraseology of this verse suggests that we should look at God’s creation with honor and respect, and not ignore or belittle it: “Indeed, there is in this a sure sign.” They have been demanding a sign while in all this there is a great sign, but few are those who take heed of it: “Yet most of them will not believe.”
The introduction to the surah ends with a comment that is repeated every time a point is concluded: “And indeed it is your Lord who is the Mighty One, the Merciful.” He is able to provide all signs and to inflict punishment on those who deny the truth. He is also ‘the Merciful’ who shows His signs to those who are willing to believe.
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