Challenge of the Qur’an
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

The Qur’ān at various places has thrown a challenge to its disbelievers to produce a discourse like it. My question is that how will a person judge the Arabic of the responses to this challenge to be substandard because there can be answers to this challenge which are in eloquent Arabic?


Answer: The following two aspects of the challenge thrown by the Qur’ān need to be kept in consideration:

First, its basic stress is that if the Idolaters think that the Qur’ān is the product of Muhammad’s fancy, then they should realize that what they are implying is that Muhammad (sws) who they know as an unlettered person has produced such a magnificent literary masterpiece. Is that possible? Can a person who is not even conversant with Arabic author such a matchless piece of literature? If they think that it is, then they have people among them who, unlike Muhammad (sws), are well read and well versed in Arabic language and its literature: can they produce such a masterpiece?

Second, the challenge thrown here does not mean that its rejecters have been asked to imitate one sūrah or some parts of the Qur’ān. The words “produce one sūrah like it” actually imply that they should try to produce some discourse which is similar in its grandeur and magnificence as the Qur’ān. In other words, what it says is that the rejecters should come up with something as unique as the Qur’ān: it should of course not be a copy of the Qur’ān, rather something which has its own distinctive features that can place it in parallel with the Qur’ān. People of later periods who undertook this challenge failed to realize what it meant and all their efforts hinged upon imitating the style and diction of the Qur’ān.

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