Responding to Allah’s Challenge
22 Jul, 2006
According to Islamic teaching, Allah produced only three books. The first two books: the Old and the New Testaments were subjected to considerable editing, revisions and manipulations by humans. This happened soon after their ‘revelations’ and without any intervention from Allah, perhaps because they were not protected by divine copyright laws. But when it came to the third production, the Quran, Allah loved it, promising to preserve it forever. Allah considered the Quran to be His best composition and challenged mankind and Jinn (invisible Islamic creatures) to produce a work like it (Q.17: 88). This challenge is still in force in our time, as most Muslims will attest to this.
Well, I am afraid Muslims cannot be more wrong on this one, because the challenge was successfully met even before the Quran’s revelations were completed! This is not a claim I make but is a confession clearly recorded in the Quran itself. Ever since that first win, the challenge has been met regularly up to our time, the results, though, are not recorded in the Quran.
Allah’s challenge is open to all humans and jinn (Q.17: 88). The first winner was the jinn and that happened when the Satan, who belongs to the jinn, suggested to Mohammed to include some of his verses in sura al najm (Q.53). Mohammed himself couldn’t tell the difference and recited the verses in his prayers until they were spotted and removed by Allah. Humans may argue that the victory trophy should go to them, because a few Arabs had already used the Quran-style in pre-Islamic Arabia, like Quess Ibn Saeda.
Since that first winning, scored by the jinn, many humans had a go and met the challenge openly. It takes a great courage for a Muslim to accept such a challenge because other Muslims feel deeply offended by it. We know what Muslims do when they feel offended. They are so sensitive not only to the composition but also to reading (reciting) anything using the recitation style (Tajweed) reserved only for the Quran. Their sensitivity goes even further and doesn’t allow writing anything using the writing/script style reserved exclusively for the Quran.
We cannot comment on the past attempts to mimic the Quran because they just disappeared from history in accordance with the Islamic tradition of abolishing everything that is not Islamic. All we know is that great Arab poets (like Al Mutanabbi and Abu Alala’ Al Ma’arri) and some great prose writers had enough courage (or madness) to imitate the Quran only to be forced to withdraw their works and repent. Those who didn’t were killed, like the famous poetry writer Ibn al-Muqaffa who was murdered in 756 AD.
Furthermore, there are historical evidences to suggest that even the early Muslims were unable to distinguish between the words of Allah and the words of men. This happened after Mohammed’s death and during the process of collection of the Quran by a committee headed by Zaid Ibn Thabet. The committee used to insist on a witness before accepting a verse as part of the Quran, which only means: to them, the words of Allah resembled very much the words of men. True to this fact, the well-known Islamic sect Almutazella rejects the idea of the Quran being a miracle.
In our time, the Internet has provided an excellent opportunity for the dedicated writers to publish their works without fear of Islamic murder. While browsing the World Wide Web during the last few months, I came across a number of excellent ‘suras’. I read only few of them like this one named Sura Al shajara (the Tree) and this one, named Sura Zakaria. I found them to be very impressive in their resemblance to the Quran. The only difference is their lack of grammatical and scientific mistakes. Just like me, many readers too liked them and a few of them were able to extract scientific and numerical miracles from them, believe it or not! Not surprisingly, Muslim readers, condemned them as absolute rubbish. Strangely, many of those who posted their condemnations were unable to write their comments in proper Arabic! But that did not stop them from condemning the style as too inferior to that of the Quran.
A few years ago, an Arab Christian website posted some pages mimicking the Quranic style. The standard of the language was considerably inferior to the ones I quoted above. The subjects were related to the current Muslim affairs, which meant they couldn’t be mistaken about the real Quran. Despite the absolute truth spelt out, various Muslim’ organizations attacked the website with hundreds of protest letters and condemnations. Needless to say, the major reason for such Islamic purgation is ‘the fear of being mixed with the Quran!’
History is filled with examples of great people producing great works, but none of them ever challenged the others to produce a work as great as theirs. Leonardo De Vinci produced his masterpiece the Mona Lisa, but he never challenged anyone to replicate his work. Indeed, other great artists never bothered to mimic the Mona Lisa, they just produced their own great works. It is certainly possible to create an exact copy of the Mona Lisa but this will just be a copy, while the Mona Lisa keeps its value as the original.
Even if we assume that a great writer has put such a challenge and all readers (an impossible assumption) agreed that nobody could meet it, what does that mean? It only means that so far, the writer is a winner, but it does not mean s/he is a God!
other hand, if a novice writer produces a book with a boring
style, filled with factual and linguistic mistakes, and then makes
a challenge for the others to emulate his/her work, would any
decent writer bother to respond?
Who will be the judge?
Presumably, it is up to mankind to make their own judgement about the similarities between the Quran and the imitation. Muslims are more biased towards the Quran than Allah himself. Their judgement, or rather pre-judgement, is already known. Furthermore, it is almost guaranteed that Muslims will not accept non-Muslims’ judgement unless it is in agreement with theirs. Allah has already made his judgement in that same verse (Q.17: 88) when He said that any imitation is doomed to fail.
The next tricky situation is that although the challenge is open to all mankind and jinn, but it cleverly excluded the vast majority of mankind. This is because the Quran is an Arabic book and only Arabs are expected to read it fluently. This fact alone will reduce the number of those who are challenged to about five percent of mankind. This number will come down even further because only a tiny proportion of the Arabs have reasonable command of the Arabic language.
The only logical conclusion from the above is that Allah wanted to challenge only the Arabs, which brings us to the next question: why? Judging from the achievements of the Arabs then (in the seventh century) and now, the Arabs are evidently not the most intelligent nation. It seems that Allah did not pick the top players to His challenge.
The Muslims’ reaction
A true Muslim will never doubt any part of the Quran. He will never question its perfection in language or content. When an infidel asks (it has to be an infidel because a Muslim will never dare to ask) Muslims questions like: do you enjoy reading the Quran? Or do you believe the Quran is a miracle? Or do you feel happier after reading the Quran? The answer will certainly be a big ‘yes’ and they will claim honesty in describing their real feelings.
To explain this bizarre behaviour we must understand the Muslim mindset. Unaware, Muslims live in constant and profound fear. They are always in the denial. They call it iman or taqwa or makhafatu Allah or anything, but it is actually the intense fear in which they are inured. The word taqwa means avoidance or getting out of the way, which a person does when confronted with a charging tiger or a bullish boss. It is a kind of intense fear. makhafatu Allah plainly means fear of Allah. Muslims are aware in their unconscious minds that Allah is a very difficult god to please, but again, they deny it. They can only say that Allah is kind and merciful while they know that all their prayers and fasting and observing the rest of furudhs will not stop Allah from sending them to hell before they eventually taste paradise. This is true even if they never commit a sin (Q.19: 71). They know that Allah will not wait to the judgement day to torture them and He will send his agents (I mean angels) to start torturing them in the darkness of their graves.
Muslims read the challenge verses in the Quran, but they know that Allah means to say ‘don’t you dare’. Allah Himself says: they are doomed to fail so why bother trying?
We can only draw one logical conclusion from the Quranic challenge; and that is: Allah is comparable to humans. Winning or loosing the challenge is of little consequence and only means that Allah is a worse writer than humans in the eyes of those who make the judgement. It does not mean that Allah is God or the Quran is a miracle.
Attributing the Quran to God is an unforgivable insult to God. Claiming miracles from such a book is an insult to human intelligence. The Quran is a collection of ancient myths and contradictions. It contradicts itself in numerous places: it contradicts science on almost every occasion; it contradicts other holy scriptures which it claims to support and contradicts human logic all the way through. It has no connection with science or logic, apart from defying both.
If the Quran is truly a miracle it would be a book written in a way that can be read and easily understood by all people, irrespective of their language, background or intelligence and without having to refer to third parties of humans for its interpretation. Say that to Muslims and they will ask you with disbelief: how can you write a book that is equally understood by the Arabs and Europeans and Chinese and all the others?
Well I certainly cannot, but if Allah is God then I suppose He certainly can. The only reality is: that book will not be called the Quran.
Mumin Salih is a Middle Eastern ex-Muslim.