Category Archives: Interesting Facts

The Origin of Handshake

Shaking hands when meeting someone is a generally accepted and praiseworthy practice in all societies. In Islam, it is a Sunnah.

Imam An-Nawawi said: “It is recommended to shake hands when meeting. It is a sunnah without any difference of opinion.” [Al-Minhaaj Sharh Muslim 9/115]

Handshake was a common practice among the Sahaba and it is a way through which our sins are forgiven.
Anas (radhiyallahu anhu) said: “When they (the Sahaba) would meet they would shake hands.” [At-Tabarani, Al-Awsat 1/37]

Abu Hurayra (radhiyallahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Verily, when the Muslim shakes hands with his brother, both of their sins fall away like the falling of leaves from a tree.” [Al-Bazzaar 8335]

This practice has many benefits. It dispels hatred, rancour and grudges among the Muslims. It is an expression of brotherhood, love and frienship. [See for example: Ibn Muflih, Adaab ash-Shar’iyya 2/257]

The origin of this beautiful practice is from the blessed country, Yemen.
Anas (radhiyallahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “The Yemenis have come to you. They are the first (nation) to practice handshake.” [Abu Dawud 5213]

There are many Hadiths regarding the virtues of Yemen and its people. They have the best of characters.

Abu Hurayra (radhiyallahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “The people of Yemen have come to you and they are more gentle and soft-hearted. Iman is from Yemen and Wisdom is from Yemen.” [Al-Bukhari 4070]

May Allah protect Yemen from all those who wish to harm it and its beautiful people.

It should be noted here that shaking hands with non-mahram is strictly prohibited.

Ifran Nauyock
Al-Kawthari Academy

How the Relics of the Prophet ﷺ Reached Turkey

Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid and the Train Project

Train connecting Istanbul to Madinah al-Munawwarah

Al Hejaz Railway Project

– Built by the order of Sultan Abdul Hamīd II of the Ottoman Empire.

– Mukhtar Bey was the engineer appointed by the Sultan.

He saw that the path of the camel caravan from Shaam to Madinah and vice versa is suitable for the train railway.

– It started on September 1900 and took seven years till it was completed.

– The 1st train to reach Al Madinah Al Munawwarah was on August 23 1908.

– The length of the Hejaz Railway is 1320 km. 705 km inside the Saudi Lands.

– There were 40 stations inside the Kindgom.

– 25 stations inside Madinah and 15 stations in Tabuk region.

– The length between two stations is approx. 20 km.

– There were 3 main stations inside the Kingdom: Madinah, Al Hajar and Tabuk.

– It continued to operate until 1916 and was destroyed during World War One by rebels led by T. E. Lawrence/Lawrence of Arabia.

When people would call him the ruler of Makkah and Madinah – he would say,
‘I am nothing but a servant of Makkah and Madinah.’

When he began the Hijaz railway project in Madinah, he made the workers wrap the end of their hammers with leather in order to avoid noise – for he feared disturbing Rasūlullāh ﷺ.

Likewise, the train tracks were covered in a special material which prevented excessive noise. And all heavy labour work was done out of the city – out of adab/respect for the Master of Madinah.

Abdu’l-Ḥamīd placed a great degree of significance on the Holy Sites – Makkah and Madīnah.

This started with renovations of the sites themselves to prevent flooding, and then the routes for Ḥajj were looked at and hospitals and barracks were built along the routes for pilgrims.
His flagship policy however was the Ḥijāz Railway.

It would begin in Istanbul travelling through Syria, Palestine and much of the Arabian desert and end in Makkah.
The aim was to better connect the Holy sites with Istanbul, and also make the pilgrimage easier.

Experts state that a journey from Istanbul to Makkah would now take only 5 days.

It was designed to strengthen the empire militarily and their control over the Arabian peninsula.

Soldiers could reach the Holy Sanctuaries in no time if it were to come under attack.

Such was his desire to protect these sites, that it was decided the railways themselves should be slightly narrower than the standard European ones. Why?

If Istanbul were to ever fall to European imperialists, he wanted to make sure they could not use the Ḥijāz Railway with European trains to easily invade Makkah and Madīnah.

Sadly, the Ḥijāz rail network was never completed and it did not reach Makkah due to the outbreak of World War One. Nonetheless, it did reach Madīnah; a great deal of care was taken completing the final stages of the route to Madīnah, each hammer was covered with leather and similarly, the trains wheels were also covered with felt to avoid excessive noise out of respect for the Prophet ﷺ .

When Madīnah finally fell to forces loyal to Ibn Sa’ūd many sacred relics such as the Prophet’s ( ﷺ ) rings were transported for safekeeping via the Ḥijāz Railway and currently reside in places like Topkapi Palace.

Why does Saudi Arabia have no Rivers?

Ever wondered why does Saudi Arabia have no rivers? If you search it on Google, you will find only 17 Countries in the World operating without a River and Saudi Arabia is the biggest of all.
It is an established fact that Saudi Arabia has no rivers which do not need my article for any support. But have you ever thought why Allah has not kept any river in Saudi Arabia? Well, there is a deep logic behind it and I will prove it by the end of this article.

What happens around the river?

Before going into details, let’s try to understand what happens around a river? The history of human beings is almost 10,000 years old. In ancient times, people used to live around the clean and drinkable water. It is also an established fact that there is no water cleaner than the water of rivers.

This is the reason; all the old cities of the world are on the bank of rivers. Alexandria, Amsterdam, Baghdad, London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, all of them are situated on the edge of rivers. When people start living at one place near to the water, many other people from surrounding areas also migrate to those cities and hence mix together.

I would not be wrong in stating that their culture, language, and lifestyle are also affected by the migrants. With the passage of time, the pure culture of primary inhabitants becomes obsolete and a new culture and language take its place which is a mixed culture.

The story starts from Prophet Ibraheem (Alayhis Salaam)

Now coming back to the basic question raised in this article, why there is no river in Saudi Arabia? This story starts 5,500 years ago when Prophet Ibraheem (Alayhis Salaam) was asked to leave his wife Hazrat Hajirah (Alayhas Salaam) and his infant son Prophet Ismail (Alayhis Salaam) in Makkah near to the house of Allah.

Prophet Ibraheem (Alayhis Salaam) and his wife used to speak the Hebrew language. It is also important to mention here that Prophet Ismail (Alayhis Salaam) and Prophet Ibrahim (Alayhis Salaam) are among the forefathers of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and the language in which Allah wanted to reveal the Holy Qur’an was Arabic, so it was important that the language of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is changed to Arabic.

Makkah was a Barren Land

When Prophet Ibraheem (Alayhis Salaam) left Hazrat Hajirah (Alayhas Salaam) and Prophet Ismail (Alayhis Salaam) to the place where the Holy Kaaba is situated today, there were no inhabitants in Makkah. It was an area without water and who would like to live in the barren, black and hard mountains. Allah gave a gift of Zamzam water to Hazrat Hajirah (which kept the mother and infant alive.

A few months later, a caravan was moving in the surrounding areas and they were in search of water. They saw some birds flying around Makkah. They knew that birds are found near the water so they continued their journey towards Makkah and finally reached to the place where Hazrat Hajirah (Alayhas Salaam) was living with his son Prophet Ismail (Alayhis Salaam) around the Zamzam well.

Why does Saudi Arabia have no Rivers?

They sought the permission of Hazrat Hajirah (Alayhas Salaam) to live around the Zamzam well which was granted. The language this tribe used to speak was Arabic and in this way, Prophet Ismail (Alayhis Salaam) was brought up speaking Arabic language and this is how the language of Prophet Muhammad’s (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) forefathers changed to Arabic.

Allah wanted to reveal the Holy Qur’an in pure Arabic language, had He given any river in Saudi Arabia, the inhabitants of surrounding areas would have migrated here which could have a negative impact upon the purity of Arabic language.

Date Palm – “The Tree of Life”

Called the “Tree of Life,” the date palm is said in Arab Muslim legend to have been made from the dust that was left over after the creation of Adam, and it was the first cultivated tree in history, having been grown in Arabia for at least 8,000 years.

Directions for the date palm’s husbandry are recorded on sun-baked bricks made in Mesopotamia (Iraq) more than 5,000 years ago, and the date palm is mentioned in the Holy Quran and in the poetry and proverbs of the Middle East. It is used as a symbol in the Arab world, particularly in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and is the architectural inspiration for columns in the Arab world – mistakenly referred to as Corinthian columns – at both ancient and more recent sacred sites in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, East Jerusalem, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya among other places. Ancient Phoenician coins have images of date palms.

Islam tradition regards the date palm tree as the ”Tree of Life’”, and ancient traditions place it in the Garden of Eden. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) salutations and blessings be upon him said “There is among the trees, one which is blessed – it is the date palm, for it was created from the earth left over from the creation of Adam.”

Via Ahmed Khan

The Originator of the Term “Amma Ba`d” used in Khutbah of Yaumul Jumu’ah

By Bilal Muhammad

During the days of Jahiliyyah, there was a righteous preacher by the name of Qus bin Sa`ida al-Iyadi.

Qus was the chief of his tribe, and he was either a Christian or a Haneef. He was the first Arab to use the phrase “amma ba`d” (as for what comes after this), which became enshrined in our Friday sermons.

Qus gave a memorable speech in the `Ukath Market near Ta’if, which was the largest Arab souq at that time. A young Muhammad b. `Abdullah (s) heard the speech, which was recorded by Ibn Kathir, Bayhaqi, Haythami, and Saduq. It reads:

“O people,
Assemble, listen, and understand.
Whosoever lives shall die,
and whosoever dies has gone,
and whosoever is gone shall never return.
Verily, in the heavens there are news (khibra) and in the Earth there are lessons
– an elevated ceiling, and a spanned cradle.
The stars pass and the night turns.
The seas of water subside.
Qus swears that this is not play, but rather, there is something astonishing behind it.
I see people leave and not return.
Are they satisfied with the place they have gone to;
or left to and slept in?
Qus swears by his right hand and is not lying
– for Allah there is a religion,
and it is better than the religion that you are upon.”

ﻳﺎ ﺃﻳﻬﺎ ﺍﻟﻨﺎﺱ ﺍﺟﺘﻤﻌﻮﺍ ﻭﺍﺳﺘﻤﻌﻮﺍ ﻭﻋﻮﺍ ، ﻣﻦ ﻋﺎﺵ ﻣﺎﺕ ، ﻭﻣﻦ ﻣﺎﺕ ﻓﺎﺕ ، ﻭﻛﻞ ﻣﺎ ﻫﻮ ﺁﺕ ﺁﺕ ، ﺇﻥ ﻓﻲ ﺍﻟﺴﻤﺎﺀ ﻟﺨﺒﺮﺍ ، ﻭﺇﻥ ﻓﻲ ﺍﻷﺭﺽ ﻟﻌﺒﺮﺍ ، ﻣﻬﺎﺩ ﻣﻮﺿﻮﻉ ، ﻭﺳﻘﻒ ﻣﺮﻓﻮﻉ ، ﻭﻧﺠﻮﻡ ﺗﻤﻮﺭ ، ﻭﺑﺤﺎﺭ ﻻ ﺗﻐﻮﺭ ، ﻭﺃﻗﺴﻢ ﻗﺲ ﻗﺴﻤﺎ ﺣﻘﺎ ﻟﺌﻦ ﻛﺎﻥ ﻓﻲ ﺍﻷﻣﺮ ‏[ ﺹ : 301 ‏] ﺭﺿﻰ ﻟﻴﻜﻮﻧﻦ ﺑﻌﺪﻩ ﺳﺨﻂ ، ﺇﻥ ﻟﻠﻪ ﻟﺪﻳﻨﺎ ﻫﻮ ﺃﺣﺐ ﺇﻟﻴﻪ ﻣﻦ ﺩﻳﻨﻜﻢ ﺍﻟﺬﻱ ﺃﻧﺘﻢ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ، ﻣﺎ ﻟﻲ ﺃﺭﻯ ﺍﻟﻨﺎﺱ ﻳﺬﻫﺒﻮﻥ ﻭﻻ ﻳﺮﺟﻌﻮﻥ ﺃﺭﺿﻮﺍ ﺑﺎﻟﻤﻘﺎﻡ ﻓﺄﻗﺎﻣﻮﺍ ، ﺃﻡ ﺗﺮﻛﻮﺍ ﻓﻨﺎﻣﻮﺍ

Qus foretold the coming of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Unfortunately, he died [around] 10 years before the first revelation. But his tribe accepted the Prophet unanimously.

In Ibn Kathir, it is reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said that he will be raised as his own nation on the Day of Resurrection.

گمبد خزرا کو علماء دیوبند نے بچایا


ﻧﺤﻤﺪﻩ ﻭ ﻧﺼﻠﻰ ﻭﻧﺴﻠﻰ ﻋﻠﻰ ﺭﺳﻮﻟﻪ ﺍﻟﻜﺮﻳﻢ ﺃﻣﺎ ﺑﻌﺪ

ﺑﺴﻢ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﺍﻟﺮﺣﻤﻦ ﺍﻟﺮﺣﻴﻢ

1343 ہجری میں سلطان ابن سعود نے حجاز مقدس کی سرزمین پر قبضہ کر لیا اور حرمین شریفین کے جنت معلی اور جنت البقع کے مزاروں کے قبے گرا دیئے- جس کہ وجہ سے عام تور پر عالم اسلام کے مسلمانوں میں سخط ناراضگی پہدا ہوگئی تو سلطان نے 1343 ہجری کے موقع حج پر ایک موتمر منعقد کی- جس میں ہندوستان کے علماء کی طرف سے حضرت مفتی کفایت اللہ رحماللہ صدر جمعیت علماء ہند دہلی، حضرت علامہ شبیر احمد عثمانی، علامہ سید سلیمان ندوی، مولانا محمد علی جوہر، مولانا شوکت علی اور کچھ دیگر علماء بھی شامل ہوئے-

سلطان ابن سعود کی تقریر

اس موقع پر سلطان ابن ابن سعود نے تقریر کرتے ہوئے فرمایا:

(الف) “چار اماموں کے فروعی اختلافات میں ہم تشدد نہیں کرتے لیکن اصل توحید اور قرآن و حدیث کی اتباع کے کوئی طاقت ہمیں الگ نہیں کر سکتی خواہ دنیا راضی ہع یا ناراض-”

(ب) “یہودی و نصارا کو ہم کیوں کافر کہتے ہیں؟ اس لیے کہتے ہیں کہ وہ گیراللہ کی پرستش کرتے ہیں، لیکن ساتھ ہی یہ بھی کہتے ہہں کہ: ما نعبد ھم الا ليقربونآ اليالله زلفا (یعنی ہم انکی پوجا و عبادت اللہ تعالی کے تقریب و رضا حاصل کرنے کے لیے کرتے ہیں) تو جو لوگ بزرگان دین کی قبروں کی پرستش اور ان کے سامنے سجدے کرتے ہیں، وہ بت پرستوں ہی کی طرح کافر و مشرک ہیں-”

(ج) جب حضرت عمر کو پتہ چلا کہ کچ لوگ وادی حدیبیہ میں شجرة الرضوان کے پاس جاکر نمازیں پڑھتے ہیں تو حضرت عمر نے اس درخت کو کٹوا دیا تھا کہ آئندہ خدانخواستہ لوگ اس درقت کی پوجہ نہ شروع کردیں-”

سلطان کا مطلب یہ تھا کہ قبتے گرانا بھی درقت رضوان کٹوانے کی طرح ہی ہے-

ہندوستان کے تمام علماء نے یہ طے کیا کہ ہماری طرف سے شیخ الاسلام حضرت علامہ شبیر احمد عثمانی دیوبندی سلطان ابن سعود کی تقریر کا جواب دیں گے-

مولانا عثمانی کی ایمان افروز تقریر

مولانا عثمانی نے پھلے تو اپنی شاندار پزیرائی اور مہمان نوازی کا شکریہ ادا کیا- اس کے بعد فرمایا:

(الف) ہندوستان کے اہل سنت علماء پوری بسیرت کے ساتھ تصریح کرکے کتاباللہ اور سنت رسول صلی اللہ علی وسلم کے اتبع پر پورا زور صرف کرتے ہیں اور یہ بھی کہتے ہیں کہ رسول اللہ صلی اللہ علی آلہ وسلم کے مکمل اتبع میں ہی ہر کامیابی ہے لیکن کتاباللہ اور سنت رسول اللہ کے مواقع استمال کو سمجھنا ہر کس و ناکس کے بس کی بات نہیں- اد کے لئے صائب رائے اور صحیح اجتہاد کی اشد ضرورت ہے-

(ا) حضور صلی اللہ علی وسلم نے حضرت زینب سے نکاہ فرمایا اور اس بات کا بلکل خیال نہ رکھا کہ دنیا کیا کہے گی- دوسری طرف خانہ کعبہ کو گرا کر بنائے ابراہیمی پر تعمیر کرنے سے نئے نئے مسلمانوں کے جذبات کا لحاظ کرتے ہوئے آپ رگ گئے تا کہ دنیا والے یہ نا کہیں کہ محمد نے خانہ کابہ ڈھا دیا- دونوں موقوں کا فرق حضور کے اجتہاد مبارک پر موقوف ہیں-

(ب) اللہ تعالی نے حکم دیا: جاهد الكفار و المنافقين واغلظ عليهم- (یعنی کفار اور منافقين سے جہاد کرو اور ان پر سختی کرو) ایک طرف تو اس حکم خداوندی کا تقاضا ہے کہ کفار و منافقین کے ساتھ سختی کی جائے اور دوسری طرف آپ نے رئیس المنافقين عبداللہ بن ابی کی نماز جنازہ پڈھا دی- پھر صحابہ نے عرض کیا کہ منافقین کو قتل کر دیا جائے- مگر آپ نے بات منظور نہ فرمائی- خشية ان ليقول الناس ان محمد ايقتل اصحابه (یعنی اس اندیشہ کے پیش نظر کہ لوگ یہ نہ کھنے کگے کی محمد (صلی اللہ علی وسلم) اپنے ساتھیوں کو قتل کرتے ہیں- حالانکہ یہ دونوں باتیں واغلظ عليهم سے بظاہر مطابقت نہیں رکھتے تو اس فرق کو سمجھنے کے لیے بھی مجتہدانہ نظر کی ضرورت ہوتی ہے جو ہما و شما کے بس کی بات نہیں اور ایسے مواقع پر فیصلہ کرنے کے لیے بڑے تفقہ اور مجتہدانہ بصیرت کی ضرورت ہوتی ہے کہ نص کے تقاضے پر کھاں عمل کیا جائے گا اور کس طرح عمل کیا جائے گا- یہ تفقہ اور اجتہاد کی بات ہے-

(ب) سجدہ عبادت اور سجدہ تعظیم کا فرق بیان کرتے ہوئے مولانا عثمانی نے فرمایا:

“اگر کوئی شخس کسی قبر کو یا غیراللہ کو سجدہ کرے تو وہ قطعی طور پر کافر ہو جاتا ہے لیکن یہ ضروری نہیں کہ ہر سجدہ سجدہ عبادت ہی ہو جو شرک حقیقی اور شرک جلی ہے، بلکہ وہ سجدہ تحیت بھی ہو سکتا ہے جس کا مقصد دوسرے کی تعظیم کرنا ہوتا ہے اور ہی سجدہ تعظیمی شرک جلی کے حکم ہیں نہیں ہے- ہاں ہماری شریعت میں قطعا ناجائز ہے اور اس کے مرتکب کو سزا دی جا سکتی ہے، لیکن اس شخس کو مشرک قطعی کہنا اور اس کے قتل اور مال ضبط کرنے کو جائز قرار نہیں دیا جا سکتا- خود قرآن پاک میں حضرت آدم علیہ السلام کو فرشتوں کے سجدہ کرنے اور یوسف علیہ السلام کو ان کے بھائیوں اور والدین کے سجدہ کرنے کا ذکر موجود ہے اور مفسرین کی اظیم اکثریت نے اس سجدہ سے معروف سجدہ (زمین پر ماتھا رکھنا) ہی مراد لیا ہے اور پھر اس کو سجدہ تعظیمی ہی کرار دیا ہے- بہر حال اگر کوئی شخس کسی غیراللہ کو سجدہ تعظیمی کرے تو وہ ہماری شریعت کے مطابق گنہگار تو ہوگا، کیکن اسے مشرک، کافر اور مباح الدم و المال کرار نہیں دیا جاسکتا اور اس بیان سے میرا مقصد سجدہ تعظیمی کو جائز سمجھنے والوں کی وکالت کرنا نہیں بلکہ سجدہ عبادت اور سجدہ تعظیمی کے فرق کو بیان کرنا ہے-

رہا مسئلہ قبوں کے گرانے کا اگر ان کا بنانا صحیح نہ بھی ہو تو پم قبوں کو گرا دینا بھا صحیح نہیں سمجھتے- امیر المؤمنین ولید بن عبد الملک عبشمی (اموی) نے حاکم مدینہ عمر بن عبدالعزیز عبشمی کو حکم بھیجا کہ امہات المؤمنین کے حجرات مبارکہ کو گرا کر مسجد نبوی کی توسیع کی جائے – اور حضرت عمر بن عبدالعزیز عبشمی نے دوسرے حجرات کو گراتے ہوئے ام المؤمنین حضرت عائشہ صدیقہ زضی اللہ تعالی عنہا کا حجرہ بھی گرا دیا- جس سے حضور صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم، حضرت صدیق اکبر اور حضرت فاروق اعظم رضی اللہ عنہما کی قبریں ظاہر ہو گیئں تو اس وقت حضرت عمر بن عبدالعزیز اتنے روئے کہ ایسے روتے کبھی نہ دیکھے گیے تھے- حالانکہ حجرات کو گرانے کا حکم بھی خود ہی دیا تھا- پھر سیدہ عائشہ زضی اللہ عنہا کے حجرے کو دوبارہ تعمیر کرنے کا حکم دیا اور وہ حجرہ مبارکہ دوبارہ تعمیر کرنے کا حکم دیا اور وہ حجرہ مبارکہ تعمیر ہوا-

اس بیان سے میرا مقصد قبروں پر گنبد بنانے کی ترغیب دینا نہیں بلکہ یہ بتانا مقصود ہے کی قبر عاظم کے معاملے کو قلوب الناس میں تاثیر اور دخل ہے جو اس وقت حضرت عمر بن عبدالعزیز کے بے تہاشا رونے اور اس وقت عالم اسلام کی آپ سے ناراضگی سے ظاہر ہے-

(ج) حضرت عمر نے درخت کو اس خطرہ سے کٹوا دیا تھا کہ جاہل لوگ آئندہ چل کر اس درخت کی پوجا نہ شروع کردیں- بعیت رضوان 6 ہجری ہیں ہوئی تھی اور حضور الیہ السلام کا وسال پر ملال 11 ہجری ہیں ہوا- آپ کے بعد خلیفہ اول کے عہد خلافت کے اڑھائی سال بھی گزرے لیکن اس درخت کو کٹوانے کا نہ حضور الیہ السلام کو خیال آیا نہ صدیق اکبر کو- ان کے بعد حضرت عمر کی خلافت راشدہ قائم ہوئی- لیکن یہ بھی متعین نہیں ہے کہ حضرت عمر نے اپنی دس سالہ خلافت کے کونسے سال میں اس درخت کے کٹوانے کا ارادہ کیا- گو حضرت عمر کی صوابدید بلکل صحیح تھی لیکن یہ گنبد تو صدیوں سے بنے چلے آ رھے تھے اور اس چودھویں صدی میں بھی کوئی آدمی ان کی پرستش کرتا ہوا نہیں دیکھا گیا-

(ه) رہا وہاں نماز پڑھنا، تو حدیث معراج میں آتا ہے- کہ جبرائیل علیہ السلام نے حضور صلی علیہ وسلم کو چار جگہ براق سے اتر کر نماز پڑوائی- پھلے مدینہ میں اور بتایا کہ یہ جگہ آپ کی ہجرت کی ہے، دوسرے جبل طور پر کہ یھاں اللہ تعالی نے حضرت موسی علیہ السلام سے کلام فرمایا- پھر مسکن حضرت شعیب پر چوتھے بیت اللہم پر جھاں حضرت عیسی علیہ السلام کی ولادت ہوئی تھی- (نسائی شریف کتاب الصلاة ص٨٠ مطبع نظامی کانپور ١٢٩٦ھ)

  ١ پس اگر جبل طور پر حضور سے نماز پڑھوائی گئی کہ یہاں اللہ تعالی نے حضرت موسی علیہ السلام کے ساتھ کلام کیا تھا، تو جبل نور پر ہم کو نماز سے کیوں روکا جائے کہ جہاں اللہ تعالی کی پہلی وحی حضور الیہ السلام پر آئی تھی-

٢ مسکن شعیب پر حضور سے نماز پڑھوائی گئی تو کیا غضب ہو جائے گا جو ہم مسکن خدیجہ الکبرا رضی اللہ عنہا پر دو نفل پڑھ لیں جہاں حضور الیہ السلام نے اپنی مبارک زندگی کے اٹھائیس نورانی سال گزارے تھے-

٣ جب بیت اللہم مولد حضرت عیسی علیہ السلام پر حضور الیہ السلام سے دو رکعت پڑھوائی جائیں تو امت محمدیہ کیوں مولد نبی کریم پر دو رکعت پڑھنے سے روکی جائے طبرانی نے مقام مولد النبی صلی اللہ الیہ وسلم کو “انفس البقاع بعد المسجد الحرام فى” مکہ مکرمہ میں مسجد الحرام کے بعد مقام مولد النبی کریم علیہ السلام کو کائنات ارضی کا نفیس ترین ٹکڑاقرار دیا ہے-

٤. مسکن شعیب پر حضرت موسی علیہ السلام نے پناہ لی تھی، تو اس جگہ آپ سے دو رکعت نفل پڑھوائے گئے تو کونسی قیامت ٹوٹ پڑےگی جو ہم لوگ غار ثور جہاں حضور الیہ السلام نے تین دن پناہ لی تھی، دو نفک پڑھ لیں-

سلطان ابن سعود کا جواب

مولانا عثمانی رحمااللہ کے اس مفصل جواب سے شاہی دربار پر سناٹا چھاگیا- آخر سلطان ابن سعود نے یہ کہہ کر بات ختم کی کہ:

“میں آپ کا بہت ممنون ہوں اور آپ کے بیان اور خیالات میں بہت رفعت اور علمی بلندی ہے- لہاذا میں ان باتوں کا جواب نہیں دے سکتا- ان تفاصیل کا بہتر جواب ہمارے علماء ہی دے سکیں گے- ان سے  ہی یہ مسائل حل ہو سکتے ہیں-“

Why Cracking Knuckles is Makrooh???

By Mujjahid ul Haq

For us as Muslims, Quran and Sunnah is sufficient to understand what is Right, Wrong, Good, Bad, Disliked and so on. Many times people wonder why there are such opinions when science disagrees or may say otherwise.

As Muslims, Science holds very little value in the sense that it can strengthen our Iman but not decrease it no matter what science finds. Eventually, science can only eventually conclude the truth!

Knuckle cracking is one of them. 

Science may say one thing (to follow with photographic evidence etc), Superstitious people will say another.


I’ve personally heard myths that cracking the knuckles breaks the bones of the deceased of a close relative, SubhanaAllah, where do these come from and how can people believe such things.

Here is some basic info on Superstition:

It was narrated from Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no ‘adwa (transmission of infectious disease without the permission of Allaah) and no tiyarah (superstitious belief in bird omens), but I like optimism.” They said, “What is optimism?” He said, “A good word.”  [Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5776) and Muslim (2224)].

It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Tiyarah (superstitious belief in omens) is shirk.” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1614), Abu Dawood (3910), Ibn Majaah (3538); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood]. 

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: 

The word tiyarah is derived from the word tatayyur, which refers to superstition about something that is seen or heard; or it was said that it refers to superstition about anything, whether it is something that is seen or heard, or a time or place. This is more comprehensive as it includes things that are not seen or heard, such as superstition about certain times. 

Now some understanding into what, where and why…

First the Salafi version (partially taken from here) clearly states that it is only disliked IN salah and not outside of Salah.

What is the interpretation of the hadith that talked about cracking the knuckles? Is forbidden both during and outside prayers?

Praise be to Allah.

Cracking the knuckles is makrooh whilst praying, not all the time. Rather it is makrooh during prayer, because it will either distract the one who does it from the prayer, or it will disturb other worshippers. 

The hadeeth that was narrated concerning that is not the words of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him); rather it is mawqoof and its isnaad ends with ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) and is his words. 

It was narrated that Shu‘bah, the freed slave of Ibn ‘Abbaas, said: I prayed beside Ibn ‘Abbaas and cracked my knuckles, and when I had finished praying, he said: May you have no mother! [This is a word of rebuke] You crack your knuckles whilst you are praying?

Narrated by Ibn Abi Shaybah (2/344). Al-Albaani said in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel (2/99): Its isnaad is hasan. 

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: Does cracking the knuckles absentmindedly whilst praying invalidate the prayer? He replied: Cracking the knuckles does not invalidate the prayer, but cracking the knuckles is a kind of fidgeting, and if that is during a congregational prayer, it will inevitably disturb those who hear it, and that is more bothersome than if there is no one around him.

End quote from Fataawa Arkaan al-Islam (p. 341)

However, here we have a Hadith in which The Prophet (Sallallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) clearly says it and is not the opinion of a companion alone, and the answer also holds a reference from Fuqaha in the foot note to say that it is Disliked in Salah and in the Masjid even when not in Salah! and in general too


I have bad habit of breaking knuckles every few minutes. I cant control my self even in salah. Specially when i stand up after sajda, i automatically push my fingers against floor and also of knee joints. 

Please tell me will it affect my salah, and if yes, how can i control myself against this act.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

It is stated in a hadith:


(سنن ابن ماجه (1/ 310

Translation: Ali (Radiyallahu Anh) narrates that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: Do not crack your knuckles whilst in salah.

The Fuqaha (jurisprudents) have ruled that it is makrooh (reprehensible) to crack ones fingers/knuckles in general and particularly in salah.[1]

Cracking knuckles in salah decreases the quality and value of ones salah. Furthermore, it distracts the salah of others as well.

As Muslims we are advised to perform our salah to the best of our ability, and also be considerate to others. We advise you to exercise restraint in cracking your knuckles.

Once you exercise restraint a few times, the bad habit will stop.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Zakariya Memon

Student Darul Iftaa
Chatham, Canada

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.


(1)   (قَوْلُهُ وَفَرْقَعَةُ الْأَصَابِعِ) هُوَ غَمْزُهَا أَوْ مَدُّهَا حَتَّى تُصَوِّتَ وَتَشْبِيكُهَا هُوَ أَنْ يُدْخِلَ أَصَابِعَ إحْدَى يَدَيْهِ بَيْنَ أَصَابِعِ الْأُخْرَى بَحْرٌ (قَوْلُهُ لِلنَّهْيِ) هُوَ مَا رَوَاهُ ابْنُ مَاجَهْ مَرْفُوعًا «لَا تُفَرْقِعْ أَصَابِعَك وَأَنْتَ تُصَلِّي» ” وَرَوَى فِي الْمُجْتَبَى حَدِيثًا «أَنَّهُ نَهَى أَنْ يُفَرْقِعَ الرَّجُلُ أَصَابِعَهُ وَهُوَ جَالِسٌ فِي الْمَسْجِدِ يَنْتَظِرُ الصَّلَاةَ» وَفِي رِوَايَةٍ «وَهُوَ يَمْشِي إلَيْهَا» وَرَوَى أَحْمَدُ وَأَبُو دَاوُد وَغَيْرُهُمَا مَرْفُوعًا «إذَا تَوَضَّأَ أَحَدُكُمْ فَأَحْسَنَ وُضُوءَهُ ثُمَّ خَرَجَ عَامِدًا إلَى الْمَسْجِدِ فَلَا يُشَبِّكْ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ فَإِنَّهُ فِي صَلَاةٍ» ” وَنَقَلَ فِي الْمِعْرَاجِ الْإِجْمَاعَ عَلَى كَرَاهَةِ الْفَرْقَعَةِ وَالتَّشْبِيكِ فِي الصَّلَاةِ. وَيَنْبَغِي أَنْ تَكُونَ تَحْرِيمِيَّةً لِلنَّهْيِ الْمَذْكُورِ حِلْيَةٌ وَبَحْرٌ (قَوْلُهُ وَلَا يُكْرَهُ خَارِجَهَا لِحَاجَةٍ) الْمُرَادُ بِخَارِجِهَا مَا لَيْسَ مِنْ تَوَابِعِهَا لِأَنَّ السَّعْيَ إلَيْهَا وَالْجُلُوسُ فِي الْمَسْجِدِ لِأَجْلِهَا فِي حُكْمِهَا كَمَا مَرَّ لِحَدِيثِ الصَّحِيحَيْنِ «لَا يَزَالُ أَحَدُكُمْ فِي صَلَاةٍ مَا دَامَتْ الصَّلَاةَ تَحْبِسُهُ» ” وَأَرَادَ بِالْحَاجَةِ نَحْوَ إرَاحَةِ الْأَصَابِعِ، فَلَوْ لِدُونِ حَاجَةٍ بَلْ عَلَى سَبِيلِ الْعَبَثِ كُرِهَ تَنْزِيهًا وَالْكَرَاهَةُ فِي الْفَرْقَعَةِ خَارِجَهَا مَنْصُوصٌ عَلَيْهَا، (الدر المختار وحاشية ابن عابدين (رد المحتار) (1/ 642)

(2)   وَلَا يُفَرْقِعُ أَصَابِعَهُ ؛ لِمَا رُوِيَ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنَّهُ { قَالَ لِعَلِيٍّ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ : إنِّي أُحِبُّ لَك مَا أُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِي لَا تُفَرْقِعْ أَصَابِعَكَ وَأَنْتَ تُصَلِّي } ؛ وَلِأَنَّ فِيهِ تَرْكَ الْخُشُوعِ ،( بدائع الصنائع في ترتيب الشرائع (2/ 335)

(3)  و يكره للمصلي….. و لا يفرقع اصابعه لقوله عليه السلام لا تفرقع اصابعك و انت تصلي (الهداية ج1 ص141-مكتبه رحمانية)

Here’s what science has found so far – Remember, Our way is that of the Sunnah, not Science, so don’t take science as your answer.

In a recent study published in PLOS ONE, a group of researchers found that cracking a knuckle forms a temporary cavity in the body, disproving a long prevalent theory that the crack is due to the collapse of a bubble. The study focused on the fingers of Canadian chiropractor Jerome Fryer, who has the ability to crack the knuckles in every one of his fingers on demand (not everyone can). He also has a particular interest in the science behind knuckle cracking.

To observe what was happening when his knuckles cracked, Fryer inserted each of his fingers into a tube connected to a cable that was slowly pulled until his knuckle joint cracked. An MRI video captured each knuckle joint crack in real time.


MRI video of one of Fryer’s finger joints popping.

Pop goes the knuckle. The researchers observed the same phenomenon occurring in every one of Fryer’s fingers: when a joint separated and made the “cracking” sound, a gas-filled cavity formed within the synovial fluid, a slick substance that lubricates the joints.

“It’s a little bit like forming a vacuum,” said Kawchuk, who holds a doctorate in bio-engineering. “As the joint surfaces suddenly separate, there is no more fluid available to fill the increasing joint volume, so a cavity is created and that event is what’s associated with the sound.”


Images showed that before cracking, joints appeared normal and without any gaseous activity. But upon cracking, a dark void appeared.

Fryer’s finger demonstration may help scientists better study joint problems, including arthritis and injury. Kawchuck said in the statement that the findings have implications for new research into the therapeutic benefit — or harm — of cracking joints. At the moment, there is conflicting data in research: Scientists have found that the force at which knuckles are cracked has enough energy to damage hard surfaces, but also that frequent knuckle cracking doesn’t seem to have any long-term negative effects. Kawuck and his team plan to investigate further.

(habitual knuckle crackers were more likely to have hand swelling and lower grip strength. Habitual knuckle cracking was associated with manual labour, biting of the nails, smoking, and drinking alcohol. It is concluded that habitual knuckle cracking results in functional hand impairment.)

So what will you do, consider it as Makrooh – Disliked by Allah – or that it doesn’t really have an effect on you.

Who knows better? Its obvious. Will you chance it and later find out in older age that it was a cracking error? or try to refrain from it altogether.

There is wisdom into why some things are makrooh, its better left out! Crack the habit not the knuckle.

The Event of the Change of Qiblah

Changing the Qiblah or Religious Authority??

Muslims usually welcome the month of Shabaan with various religious activities. The Prophet ﷺ used to fast much during the month of Shabaan as narrated by A’isha (radhiyallahu anha).

However, a great event which can be regarded as a turning point in the history of Islam has taken place in this blessed month. Though this event might indicate many crucial things, and the surrounding conditions might attest to its deep impact, it did not draw full attention of Muslim historians and biographers.

Amid the events related by the great historian Ibn Hisham after the Prophet’s ﷺ emigration to Madinah, he says in no more than two lines in his outstanding book on the biography of the Prophet ﷺ:

“It is narrated that the qiblah was changed in Shabaan after 18 months of the Prophet’s ﷺ emigration to Madinah.”

However, using this phrase, “It is narrated”, indicates that the event did not draw much attention so that historians become keen on verifying its exact date.

Notwithstanding, the event was so inportant that the Jewish tribes in Madinah waged a psychological warfare against Islam and its first teacher. It is to be noted here that before this event takes place, there was a covenant between the Jews and the Prophet ﷺ which they did not even respect. In fact, though they realized the ramifications of the event well, they went astray in their reaction and opened fire against the true religion of Islam.

They realized that it is not only a matter of changing the qiblah in prayer from one direction to another. Rather, the Divine message and consequently the religious authority has completely shifted from the Children of Israel to those of Isma’il. Accordingly, their claims of religious glory, being the sole mediator between heaven and Earth, and being the only guided nation among an ocean of astray ones; all these allegations have ended.

Now, let us start the story from the beginning… 

The One Original Qiblah

The Prophet ﷺ dealt with the Jews who ised to live around Madinah in a distinguished manner. This stemmed from the fact that the Jews were closer to the divine revelation than any other nation at that time.

After Hijrah, a divine decree that the Prophet ﷺ as well as Muslims should direct their faces in prayer towards Jerusalem was revealed. Most scholars maintain the view that this decree was designed tp test Muslims’ response to the last message as well as its honourable Messenger. This is evidenced by the Qur’an as the Almighty says,

“….and We appointed the Qiblah to which thou wast used, only to test those who followed the Messenger from those who would turn on their heels (from the faith). Indeed, it was a changed momentous, except to those guided by Allah.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:143]

This divine ayah implies, a well-established fact that should be borne in the minds of all, that the Sacred House (i.e. Ka’bah) is the qiblah and there is no other qiblah whatsoever in the true faith but this one. Accordingly, facing Jerusalem in Prayer for about 18 months does not defy this fact and does not mean that Jerusalem has become the qiblah regardless of its sanctity. Though Jerusalem was a landing place for many divine revelations and the abode of many sent prophets, facing it in Prayer was a two-purpose test. First, it was designed to test Muslims’ readiness to desert all their personal or traditional attachments. Secondly, to test the Jews’ willingness to follow the true religion and the seal of all prophets without questioning or objecting to the divine decrees he brings with him.

To make sure that this fact – that the Ka’bah is the original qiblah – the Qur’an does skip it and thus asserts,

“The first house (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakkah; full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings: In it are Signs manifest; (for example), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah, those who can afford the journey; but if they deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures.”   [Surah Aal’ Imran 3:96-97]

Religious Glory Lost

After the Prophet ﷺ was commanded to direct his face in Prayer towards the Ka’bah, the Jews realized something which rigorously upset them; namely, the fading of their religious glory. As they, in the very beginning and due to the Prophet’s ﷺ special treatment to them, fancied he would pursue their very steps. However, after that Divine decree, it became apparent to them that this was nothing but mirage  and that the Prophet’s ﷺ message was a corrective one. Truly, it was revealed to correct and amend what they have falsified of the religion of Allah and the distortions and confusion they have attributed to it.

Th Jews’ self-deceit that they would be guardians of the Muslim faith and that Jerusalem should be the permanant qiblah, made them forget the fact that the Ka’bah is the sole qiblah as stated in the Qur’an and that there should be no qiblah other than this.

However, this intentionally forgotten fact as far as the Jews were concerned, did not escape the mind of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. As he yearned for the Ka’bah all the time and used to turn his face to the sky perhaps a divine decree comes soon taking him back to the qiblah he earnestly longs for with his guiding insight. In this regard, the Almighty says,

“We see the turning of thy face (for guidance) to the heavens. Now shall we turn thee. Turn then thy face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque: Wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction. The People of the Book know well that, that is the truth from their Lord. Nor is Allah unmindful of what they do.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:144]

Total Submission

Consequently, the Prophet ﷺ directed his face towards the Ka’bah and his heart was eased, while the Jews were dying out of malice and wrath. What they feared most in the past has become true especially when Muslims hastened to carry out the Divine ordinance such as the Bani Salim folk who did not even wait until they finish their ‘Asr prayer when they were informed of the news. Instead, they changed their direction towards the Ka’bah while in ruku’ (Arabic for bowing) as a sign of their unquestionable obedience to Allah and His Messenger ﷺ.

Psychological Warfare

As the Jews lost their last hope that they would continue as holders of the divine message, they waged a fierce psychological against Islam and Muslims. They started to circulate rumours and raise false questions such as why did Muhammad ﷺ change the qiblah of all past Prophets and Messengers though he claims to be pursuing their course?

To add fuel to the fire, they wondered, “Maybe he longs for the faith of his forefathers and that is why he turned to their qiblah!”  Given this, they missed the fact that it was prophets Ibrahim and Isma’il (alayhimussalaam) who built the Ka’bah. Moreover, the Qur’an attributes the Ka’bah to Allah Himself as Almighty says,

“….and We covenanted with Ibrahim and Isma’il that they should sanctify my house for those who circumambulate it, or use it as a retreat, or bow, or prostrate themselves (there in prayer).” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:125]

Explicitly, the Qur’an defies the rumours spread by the Jews, refutes their allegations, and even describes them as foolish. Almighty says,

“The fools among the people will say: “What hath turned them from the qiblah to which they were used?” Say: “To Allah belong east and west. He guideth whom He wills to Straight Way.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:142]

Moreover, the Jews misinterpreted the concept of righteousness and twisted it to mean directing one’s face towards Jerusalem. Consequently, according to them, when Prophet Muhammad ﷺ directed his face away from Jerusalem and turned it towards the Ka’bah, he went astray and took a course far from righteousness and the ethics of the Divine message.

Facts vs Fallacies

Duly, the Divine inspiration kept moving the Prophet ﷺ with the Qur’anic aayahs (Arabic for: verses) that reveal the truth about the whole issue. Uninterruptedly, the ayahs were revealed to remove the pain caused by the rumours circulated by the Jews; to defy the psychological warfare they waged against Islam and its prophet, and to refute the false allegations they perpetrated to distort the image of Islam and discourage its followers.

In doing so, the Qur’an made a general statement about ownership of the whole universe and that it is only Allah Who decides to which side one should direct his face in prayer. Almighty says,

“And to Allah belongs the east and the west. So wherever you (might) turn, there is the Face of Allah. Indeed, Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.”   [Surah al-Baqarah 2:115]

In the same vein, the Qur’an established the correct understanding of the concept of righteousness in a great ayah that is called Ayat al-Birr (Arabic for: the Righteousness Verse). The ayah reads,

“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteousness is that one believes in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Book and the Prophets, and gives wealth, despite its love, to relatives, and to orphans, the helpless, the wayfarer, and to those who ask, and (spends) in (freeing) slaves and observes the prayers and pays the Zakah; and those who fulfil their promise when they promise and, of course, the patient in hardships and sufferings and when in battle! Those are the ones who are true and those are the God-fearing.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:177]

These Qur’anic ayahs and the like put to an end to the psychological warfare launched by the Jews against Islam and Muslims.


Losing the banner of the divine message, the Jews could not help divulging their hatred and grudges against Islam and Muslims. In fact, the Jews felt the fading of their religious glory upon the advent of Islam and it became a flagrant fact when the qiblah was changed through divine revelation from Jerusalem to Makkah. They knew then that the torch has irrevocably been passed over to the Children of Isma’il.

In this regard, the Almighty says,

“Quite a number of the People of the Book wish they could turn you (people) back to infidelity after ye have believed, from selfish envy, after the Truth hath become manifest unto them: But forgive and overlook, till Allah accomplish His purpose; for Allah hath power over all things.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:109]

Inimitable Linguistic Feature Proves The Divine Authority Of the Glorious Qur’an

By Hamza Andreas Tzortzis

God’s Testimony – The Divine Authorship of the Qur’an

In this article, we will be looking at the Qur’an as a candidate for Divine revelation. The following chapter will go into detail about the rational basis for Allah’s word.

Most of what we know is based on the say-so of others. This holds true for facts we would never deny. For many of us, these truths include the existence of Amazonian native tribes, photosynthesis, ultraviolet radiation, and bacteria. Let me elaborate further by using your mother as an example. How would you prove to me — a perfect stranger — that your mother did in fact give birth to you? As bizarre as this question sounds, it will help clarify a very important yet underrated source of knowledge. You might say “my mother told me so”, “I have a birth certificate”, “my father told me, he was there”, or “I have checked my mother’s hospital records”. These responses are valid; however, they are based on the statements of other people. Sceptical minds may not be satisfied. You may try to salvage an empirical basis for your conviction by using the ‘DNA card’ or by referring to video footage. The conviction that your mother is who she says she is isn’t based on a DNA home test kit. The reality is that most of us have not taken a DNA test. It is also not based on video footage, as you still have to rely on the say-so of others to claim that the baby is actually you. So why are we so sure? This admittedly quirky example re-emphasises an important source of knowledge: testimony.

Many of our beliefs are based on a form of reasoning which begins with a collection of data, facts or assertions, and then seeks the best explanation for them. Let’s welcome your mother back briefly, again. She is heavily pregnant with you inside her womb and the due date was last week. Suddenly, her waters break and she starts having contractions, so your father and the relevant medical staff safely assume that she’s started labour.

Another example: some years on, your mother notices an open packet of biscuits and crumbs around your mouth and on your clothes. She infers that you opened the packet and helped yourself to some biscuits. In both examples, the conclusions are not necessarily true or indisputable, but they are the best explanations considering all of the facts available. This thinking process is known as inference to the best explanation.

So why have I introduced the above scenarios? Because using the concepts and principles from these examples, this chapter will put forward the case that the Qur’an is an inimitable expression of the Arabic language, and that God best explains its inimitability. What is meant by inimitability is that no one has been able to produce or emulate the Qur’an’s linguistic and literary features. These can include — but are not limited to — its unique literary form and genre, in the context of sustained eloquence. Though this assertion seems quite disconnected to what I have elaborated so far, consider the following outline:

The Qur’an was revealed in Arabia to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in the 7th century. This period was known as an era of literary and linguistic perfection. The 7th century Arabs were socialised into being a people who were the best at expressing themselves in their native tongue. They would celebrate when a poet rose amongst them, and all they knew was poetry. They would start with poetry and end with poetry. The cultivation of poetic skills and linguistic mastery was everything for them. It was their oxygen and life-blood; they could not live or function without the perfection of their linguistic abilities. However, when the Qur’an was recited to them they lost their breath; they were dumbfounded, incapacitated, and stunned by the silence of their greatest experts. They could not produce anything like the Qur’anic discourse. It got worse. The Qur’an challenged these linguists par excellence to imitate its unique literary and linguistic features, but they failed.
Some experts accepted the Qur’an was from God, but most resorted to boycott, war, murder, torture and a campaign of misinformation. In fact, throughout the centuries experts have acquired the tools to challenge the Qur’an, and they too have testified that the Qur’an is inimitable, and appreciate why the best linguists have failed.

How can a non-Arab or non-expert of the Arabic language appreciate the inimitability of the Qur’an? Enter now the role of testimony. The above assertions are based on an established written and oral testimonial transmission of knowledge from past and present scholars of the Arabic language. If this is true, and the people best placed to challenge the Qur’an failed to imitate the Divine discourse, then who was the author? This is where testimony stops and the use of inference begins. In order to understand the inference to the best explanation, the possible rationalisations of the Qur’an’s inimitable nature must be analysed. These include that it was authored by an Arab, a non-Arab, Muhammad ﷺ or God. Considering all of the facts that will be discussed in this essay, it is implausible that the Qur’an’s inimitability can be explained by attributing it to an Arab, a non- Arab or Muhammad ﷺ. For that reason, God is the inference to the best explanation.

The main assumptions in the above introduction are that testimony is a valid source of knowledge, and inference is a suitable and rational method of thinking to form conclusions about reality. This chapter will introduce the epistemology of testimony, and elaborate on the rational use of testimonial transmission. It will highlight the effective use of inferring to the best explanation, and apply both concepts to the Qur’an’s inimitability. This chapter will conclude that God is the best explanation for the fact that no one has been able to imitate the Divine book. All this will be achieved without the reader requiring any knowledge or expertise of the Arabic language.

The epistemology of testimony

Testimony is an indispensable and fundamental source of knowledge. There are some very important questions epistemologists are trying to answer in the field of the epistemology of testimony. These include: When and how does testimony yield evidence? Is testimonial knowledge based on other sources of knowledge? Is testimony fundamental? Although it is not the scope of this chapter to solve or elaborate on all the issues in this area of epistemology, it will summarise some of the discussions to further substantiate the fact that testimony is a valid source of knowledge.

Is testimony fundamental?

This reminds me of a public discussion I had with outspoken atheist Lawrence Krauss. I highlighted the fact that observations were not the only source of knowledge and therefore wanted to expose his empirical presupposition. I raised the issue of testimony and asked him if he believed in evolution. He replied that he did, and so I asked him if he had done all the experiments him self. He replied in the negative. This uncovered a serious issue in his — and by extension, many of our — assumptions about why we believe what we believe. Most of our beliefs are based on the say-so of others and are not empirical simply because they are couched in scientific language.

Until relatively recently, testimony was neglected as an area of in-depth study. This academic silence came to an end with various studies and publications, most notably Professor C. A. J. Coady’s Testimony: A Philosophical Discussion. Coady argues for the validity of testimony, and attacks David Hume’s reductionist account of testimonial transmission. The reductionist thesis asserts that testimony is justified via other sources of knowledge such as perception, memory and induction. In other words, testimony on its own has no warrant and must be justified a posteriori, meaning knowledge based on experience. Coady’s account for testimony is fundamental; he asserts that testimonial knowledge is justified without appealing to other sources of knowledge, like observation. This account of testimony is known as the anti-reductionist thesis. Coady contends the reductionist thesis by attacking Hume’s approach. Hume is seen as the main proponent of the reductionist thesis due to his essay, On Miracles, which is the tenth chapter of his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Hume’s reductionist approach does not entail denying testimonial knowledge. He actually highlights its importance: “We may observe, that there is no species of reasoning more common, more useful, and even necessary to human life, than that which is derived from the testimony of men….” Hume argues that our trust in testimony is based on a conformity between testimonial knowledge and experience. This is where Coady seeks to dismantle the basis of Hume’s approach. His criticism is not limited to the following argument, but elaborating on it here demonstrates the strength of his overall contentions.

Coady argues that Hume’s appeal to collective observation exposes a vicious circle. Hume claims that testimony can only be justified if the knowledge that someone is testifying to is in agreement with observed facts. However, what Hume implies by observed facts is not personal observation, but rather collective experience, and Coady argues that we cannot always rely on personal observed generalisations. This is where the vicious circle is exposed; we can only know what others have observed based upon their testimony. Relying on one’s own direct observations would not suffice, as that knowledge would be too limited and unqualified to justify anything — or at least very little. Therefore, the reductionist thesis is flawed. Its claim that testimony must be justified via other sources of knowledge, such as observation, actually assumes that which it tries to deny: the fundamental nature of testimony. The key reason which affirms this point is that in order to know what our collective observations are, you must rely on other people’s testimony, as we have not observed them ourselves.

Relying on experts

The modern scientific progress we all are proud of could never have happened without trusting an authority’s claim to experimental data. Take evolution as an example. If Richard Dawkins’s belief in evolution required that he must perform all of the experiments himself and personally observe all of the empirical data, he could never be so bold in claiming its truth. Even if he could repeat some of the observations and experiments himself, he would still have to rely on the say-so of other scientists. This area of study is so vast that to verify everything ourselves would be impossible, and to maintain such a claim would make scientific progress unattainable.

The previous example raises an important question: What if the testimonial transmission of knowledge is based on the say-so of an expert? The fact is that we are not all experts and thus must, at times, accept the testimony of others. University lecturer in philosophy Dr. Elizabeth Fricker elaborates:

“But that there are some occasions on which it is rational deferentially to accept another’s testimony, and irrational to refuse to do so, is entailed by her background knowledge of her own cognitive and physical nature and limitations, together with her appreciation of how other people are both like and in other respects unlike herself, hence on some occasions better epistemically placed regarding some matter than she is herself. I may rationally regret that I cannot fly, or go for a week without sleep without any loss of performance, or find out for myself everything which I would like to know. But given my cognitive and physical limitations as parametric, there is no room for rational regret about my extended but canny trust in the word of others, and enormous epistemic and consequent other riches to be gained from it.”


This is where the concept of trust enters the discussion of testimonial transmission. To accept the word of others based on their authority on a particular subject requires us to not only trust them, but to be trustworthy in our assessments of their trustworthiness.

Discussions about the nature and validity of testimony have moved on from the reductionist and anti-reductionist paradigms. Professor of Philosophy Keith Lehrer argues that the justification for testimony is neither of the two approaches. Lehrer’s argument rests on trust. He argues that testimony leads to the acquisition of knowledge under “some circumstances but not all circumstances.” He maintains that testimony is “itself a source of evidence when the informant is trustworthy in the testimony. The testimony in itself does not constitute evidence otherwise.” The person who testifies does not need to be “infallible to be trustworthy’’, but “the person testifying to the truth of what she says must be trustworthy in what she accepts and what she conveys.” Lehrer admits that trustworthiness is not sufficient for the conversion of the say-so of others into knowledge, that the person’s trustworthiness must be assessed (something he refers to as “truth-connected”) and that we must be trustworthy and reliable in our assessments. The assessment of a testimonial transmission can include background information on a topic, the testimonies of others on a particular field of knowledge, as well as personal and collective experiences.

Lehrer claims that in order for us to be trustworthy about the way we evaluate the trustworthiness of others, we need to refer to previous experiences in our assessments and whether we were accurate or mistaken. However, when we learn that the testimony of a person is not trustworthy, it is usually due to relying on the testimony of others about that person.

This may expose a vicious circle, because to assess the testimony of others, other testimonies are relied upon. Lehrer asserts this is more of a “virtuous loop”. How is this the case? The professor provides two answers:

“First, any complete theory of justification or trustworthiness will have to explain why we are justified or trustworthy in accepting the theory itself. So the theory must apply to itself to explain why we are justified or trustworthy in accepting it. Secondly, and equally important, our trustworthiness at any given time must result from what we have accepted in the past, including what we have accepted from the testimony of others. The result is that there is a kind of mutual support between the particular things we have accepted and our general trustworthiness in what we accept, including, of course, the particular things we have accepted. It is the mutual support among the things that we accept that results in the trustworthiness of what we accept.

The right of deferral

Lehrer’s discussion on trustworthiness raises the question of how we can establish trust to rely on the authority or the say-so of others. Professor Benjamin McMyler develops an interesting argument that aids in answering this question. McMyler argues that the epistemological problem of testimony can be “recast as a problem of explaining the epistemic right of deferral.” McMyler argues that if an audience is entitled to defer challenges back to the speaker, it provides a new way in framing the problem of testimony. This requires that both parties acknowledge a responsibility. The speaker must accept responsibility for espousing testimonial knowledge, and the audience must accept that they can defer challenges back to the speaker.

Trustworthiness can be built by exercising this right to defer challenges back to the speaker (or writer). If coherent answers to these challenges are given, this can potentially increase trust. The following example explains this point. A professor of linguistics claims that the Qur’an is inimitable, and elaborates on its eloquence, unique literary form and genre. The audience takes responsibility and challenges the professor. The challenge is in the form of questions, including: Can you give us more examples from the Qur’an? What have other authorities said about the Qur’an’s genre? How can you explain the views of academics who disagree with you? Given the historical background information on the Qur ’an, in what way does it support your assertion? The professor provides coherent answers to the questions, and gradually builds trust.

A note on eyewitness testimony

The discussion so far refers to the testimonial transmission of knowledge, and not the recollection of what was witnessed during an event or a crime. The existing material concerning eyewitness testimony is vast, and this chapter does not intend to discuss the conclusions and implications of such studies and research. However, given that there is an academic concern over eyewitness testimony with regards to its reliability, it should not be conflated with the testimonial transmission of knowledge. These are distinct areas. Eyewitness testimony may suffer due to our imperfect short-term memories and the psychological influences and constraints on recalling the sequence of a particular event. The testimony of knowledge, ideas or concepts does not suffer from such issues because the acquisition of knowledge is usually a result of repetition, a relatively longer duration, internalisation and study.

This point leads to a slight but useful diversion — David Hume’s treatise on miracles. Hume argued that the only evidence we have for miracles is eyewitness testimony. He concluded that we should only believe in miracles if the probability of the eyewitnesses to be mistaken, is greater than the probability for the miracle to occur.

Notwithstanding the concerns over single eyewitness reports, eyewitness testimony can be taken seriously in the context of multiple witnessing (which is related to the concept of tawaatur in Islamic studies). If there exists a large (or large enough) number of independent witnesses who transmitted the testimony via varying chains of transmission, and many of these witnesses never met each other, then to reject that report would be bordering on the absurd. Even Hume himself recognized the power of this type of eyewitness report and maintained that miracles may be possible to prove if the testimonial transmission is large enough:

“I beg the limitations here made may be remarked, when I say, that a miracle can never be proved, so as to be the foundation of a system of religion. For I own, that otherwise, there may possibly be miracles, or violations of the usual course of nature, of such a kind as to admit of proof from human testimony; though, perhaps, it will be impossible to find any such in all the records of history. Thus, suppose, all authors, in all languages, agree, that, from the first of January 1 600, there was a total darkness over the whole Earth for eight days: suppose that the tradition of this extraordinary event is still strong and lively among the people: that all travellers, who return from foreign countries, bring us accounts of the same tradition, without the least variation or contradiction: it is evident, that our present philosophers, instead of doubting the fact, ought to receive it as certain. . . .”

The focus of this chapter is on the testimonial transmission of knowledge and not events or eyewitness reports — the conceptual distinctions between the two are obvious. However, it has been mentioned here to remind the reader of the distinction between the two types of testimony.

To conclude this section, testimony is a necessary source of knowledge. Without testimonial transmission we could not have had the scientific progress characteristic of our era, many of our established claims to knowledge would be reduced to a sceptic’s musings, and we would not be justified in easily dismissing the flat-earther’s assertions. For testimony to turn into knowledge, we must be trustworthy in our assessments of the trustworthiness of others and take responsibility for deferring challenges back to the one testifying. We must also ensure that there is some truth connected to their claims, which can include other testimonies or background information.

Inference to the best explanation

Inference to the best explanation is an invaluable way of thinking. It involves trying to coherently explain a particular set of data and/or background knowledge. For example, when we are asked by our doctor how we are feeling, we present her with the following symptoms: nasal stuffiness, sore or itchy throat, sneezing, hoarseness, coughing, watery eyes, fever, headache, body aches, and fatigue. Based on this information, the doctor attempts to best explain why we are unwell. Coupled with her background knowledge accumulated via her medical education, she concludes that the above symptoms are best explained by the common cold. Professor of History and Philosophy Peter Lipton similarly explains the practical and indispensable role of inference:

“The doctor infers that his patient has measles, since this is the best explanation of the evidence before him. The astronomer infers the existence of motion of Neptune, since that is the best explanation of the observed perturbations of Uranus… According to the Inference to the Best Explanation, our inferential practices are governed by explanatory considerations. Given our data and our background beliefs, we infer what would, if true, provide the best of the competing explanations we can generate of those data.” 

As with most things, we can have competing explanations for the data at our disposal. What filters these explanations is not only their plausibility, but the availability of other pieces of data that could help us discriminate between them. Lipton explains: “We begin by considering plausible candidate explanations, and then try to find data that discriminate between them. . . An inference may be defeated when someone suggests a better alternative explanation, even though the evidence does not change.”

The accessibility to additional data is not the only way to assess which of the competing explanations is the most convincing. The best explanation is one that is the simplest. Simplicity, however, is just the beginning, as there must be a careful balance between simplicity and comprehensiveness. Comprehensiveness entails that an explanation must have explanatory power and scope. The explanation must account for all of the data, including disparate or unique observations.

Another criterion to assess the comprehensiveness of an explanation includes explaining data or observations that were previously unknown, unexpected or inexplicable. An important principle in assessing the best explanation is that it is most likely to be true, compared to competing explanations, given our background knowledge. The academic philosopher at Princeton University Gilbert H. Harman asserts that when alternative explanations exist, one “must be able to reject all such alternative hypotheses before one is warranted in making the inference. Thus one infers, from the premise that a given hypothesis would provide a ‘better’ explanation for the evidence than would any other hypothesis, to the conclusion that the given hypothesis is true.”

In light of the above, inference to the best explanation is an indispensable form of reasoning. It can also lead to certainty. If the data at our disposal is limited and the explanations are finite, then the best explanation would be, to some extent, certain — as there would not be a possibility of another better explanation, or a chance of new data that could change what we consider the best explanation. The Qur’an coming from the Divine is based on this type of certainty. There are no other rational explanations for the Qur’an’s authorship and the data that the explanations are based on are finite. For example, there will never be a new letter of the classical Arabic language and a brand new history of Arabic is untenable.

Formulating an argument

The discussion so far has highlighted the importance of testimony and inference to the best explanation in arriving at knowledge. However, merely quoting testimonies will not suffice, because there are competing expert testimonies about the Qur’an’s inimitability. Therefore, we will need to present well-established background information to show why the testimonies in support of the Qur’an’s inimitability should be favoured.

This background information includes the fact that the Qur’an presents a linguistic and literary challenge, and that the 7th century Arabs achieved mastery in expressing themselves in the Arabic language, yet failed to imitate the Qur’an. Once this is established, adopting the testimony in favour of the inimitability of the Qur’an would be the rational choice, as it provides the basis to accept them. The testimonies that disagree with the Qur’an’s uniqueness are reduced to absurdity, as they deny what has been established (to be explained later). Once the testimonial transmission is adopted, the competing explanations for the Qur’an’s inimitability must be assessed in order to make an inference to the best explanation; the Qur’an was produced either by an Arab, a non-Arab, Muhammad ﷺ or God. A summary of the argument is as follows:

1 . The Qur’an presents a literary and linguistic challenge to humanity.

2. The 7th century Arabs were best placed to challenge the Qur’an.

3. The 7th century Arabs failed to do so.

4. Scholars have testified to the Qur’an’s inimitability.

5. Counter-scholarly testimonies are not plausible, as they have to reject the established background information.

6. Therefore (from 1-5), the Qur’an is inimitable.

7. The possible explanations for the Qur’an’s inimitability are authorship by an Arab, a non- Arab, Muhammad ﷺ or God.

8. It could not have been produced by an Arab, a non-Arab or Prophet Muhammad ﷺ

9. Therefore, the best explanation is that it is from Allah.

The remaining part of this chapter will elaborate on the premises above.

1. The Qur’an presents a literary and linguistic challenge to humanity.

“Read in the name of your Lord”. [The Qur’an, Chapter 96, Verse 1].  

These were the first words of the Qur’an revealed to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ over 1,400 years ago. Muhammad ﷺ who was known to have been meditating in a cave outside Makkah, had received revelation of a book that would have a tremendous impact on the world we live in today. Not known to have composed any piece of poetry and not having any special rhetorical gifts, Muhammad ﷺ had just received the beginning of a book that would deal with matters of belief, legislation, rituals, spirituality, and economics in an entirely new genre and literary form.

The unique literary and linguistic features of the Qur’an have been used by Muslims to articulate a number of arguments to substantiate their belief that the book is from the Divine. The failure of anyone to imitate the Qur’an developed into the Muslim theological doctrine of the Qur’an’s inimitability or al-i’jaaz al-Qur’an. The word i’jaaz is a verbal noun that means ‘miraculousness’ and comes from the verb a’jaza, which means ‘to render incapable’, or ‘to make helpless’. The linguistic meaning of the term brings to light the theological doctrine that Arab linguistics par excellence were rendered incapable of producing anything like it. Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, prolific 15th century writer and scholar, summarises this doctrine:

“. . .when the Prophet ﷺ brought [the challenge] to them, they were the most eloquent rhetoricians so he challenged them to produce the [entire] likes [of the Qur’an] and many years passed and they were unable to do so as God says, Let them then produce a recitation similar to it, if indeed they are truthful. Then, [the Prophet] challenged them to produce 10 chapters like it where God says, Say, bring then ten chapters like it and call upon whomever you can besides God, if you are truthful. Then, he challenged them to produce a single [chapter] where God says, Or do they say he [i.e. the Prophet] has forged it? Say, bring a chapter like it and call upon whomever you can besides God, if you are truthful. . . When the [Arabs] were unable to produce a single chapter like [the Qur’an] despite there being the most eloquent rhetoricians amongst them, [the Prophet] openly announced the failure and inability [to meet the challenge] and declared the inimitability of the Qur’an. Then God said, Say, if all of humankind and the jinn gathered together to produce the like of the Qur ’an, they could not produce it — even if they helped one another. . . .” [Al-Itqan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an, p. 1875]

According to classical exegesis, the various verses in the Qur’an that issue a challenge to produce a chapter like it daringly call for the linguistic experts of any era to imitate the Qur’an’s linguistic and literary features.

The tools needed to meet this challenge are the finite grammatical rules, literary and linguistic devices, and the twenty-eight letters that comprise the Arabic language; these are independent and objective measures available to all. The fact that it has not been matched since it was first revealed does not surprise most scholars familiar with the Arabic language and the Qur’an.

2. The 7th century Arabs were best placed to challenge the Qur’an.

The Qur’an posed a challenge to the greatest Arabic linguists, the 7th century Arabs. The fact that they reached the peak of eloquence is affirmed by western and eastern scholarship. The scholar Taqi Usmani asserts that for the 7th century Arab “eloquence and rhetoric were their life blood. According to the 9th century biographer of the poets, Al-Jumahi, “Verse was to the Arabs the register of all they knew, and the utmost compass of their wisdom; with it they began their affairs, and with it they ended them.” [Ma’riful Qur’an, Vol 1, pp.139-149]

The 14th century scholar Ibn Khaldun highlights the importance of poetry in Arab life: “It should be known that Arabs thought highly of poetry as a form of speech. Therefore, they made it the archives of their history, the evidence for what they considered right and wrong, and the principal basis of reference for most of their sciences and wisdom.”

Linguistic ability and expertise was a highly influential feature of the 7th century Arab’s social environment. The literary critic and historian Ibn Rasheeq illustrates this: “Whenever a poet emerged in an Arab tribe, other tribes would come to congratulate, feasts would be prepared, the women would join together on lutes as they do at weddings, and old and young men would all rejoice at the good news. The Arabs used to congratulate each other only on the birth of a child and when a poet rose among them.” [Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature p. 2]

The 9th century scholar Ibn Qutayba defined poetry as the Arabs saw it: “The mine of knowledge of the Arabs, the book of their wisdom… the truthful witness on the day of dispute, the final proof at the time of argument.” [‘Uyun al-Akhbar, vol. 2, p. 185]

Navid Kermani, a writer and expert in Islamic studies, explains the extent to which the Arabs had to study to master the Arabic language, which indicates that the 7th century Arab lived in a world that revered poetry: “Old Arabic poetry is a highly complex phenomenon. The vocabulary, grammatical idiosyncrasies and strict norms were passed down from generation to generation, and only the most gifted students fully mastered the language. A person had to study for years, sometimes even decades under a master poet before laying claim to the title of poet. Muhammad grew up in a world which almost religiously revered poetic expression.

The 7th century Arab lived in a socio-cultural environment that had all the right conditions to facilitate the unparalleled expertise in the use of the Arabic language.

3. The 7th century Arabs failed to do so.

Their linguistic abilities notwithstanding, they collectively failed to produce an Arabic text that matched the Qur’an’s linguistic and literary features. The linguistics expert Professor Hussein Abdul-Raof asserts, “The Arabs, at the time, had reached their linguistic peak in terms of linguistic competence and sciences, rhetoric, oratory, and poetry. No one, however, has ever been able to provide a single chapter similar to that of the Qur’an.” [Exploring the Qur’an p. 64]

Professor of Qur’anic Studies Angelika Neuwrith argued that the Qur’an has never been successfully challenged by anyone, past or present: “…no one has succeeded, this is right… I really think that the Qur’an has even brought Western researchers embarrassment, who weren’t able to clarify how suddenly in an environment where there were not any appreciable written text, appeared the Qur’an with its richness of ideas and its magnificent wordings.

Labid ibn Rabi’ah, one of the famous poets of the Seven Odes, embraced Islam due to the inimitability of the Qur’an. Once he embraced Islam, he stopped composing poetry. People were surprised, for “he was their most distinguished poet”. [Pondering Over the Qur’an, pp. 25-25]

They asked him why he stopped composing poetry; he replied, “What! Even after the revelation of the Qur’an?” [Ibid]

E. H. Palmer, Professor of Arabic and of the Qur’an, argues that the assertions made by academics like the one above should not surprise us. He writes, “That the best of Arab writers has never succeeded in producing anything equal in merit to the Qur’an itself is not surprising.” [The Qur’an: p IV]

Scholar and Professor of Islamic Studies M. A. Draz affirms how the 7th century experts were absorbed in the discourse that left them incapacitated: “In the golden age of Arab eloquence, when language reached the apogee of purity and force, and titles of honour were bestowed with solemnity on poets and orators in annual festivals, the Qur’anic word swept away all enthusiasm for poetry or prose, and caused the Seven Golden Poems hung over the doors of the Ka’ba to be taken down. All ears lent themselves to this marvel of Arabic expression.

The number of testimonial transmissions from the 7th century that affirm the Arabs’ inability to produce anything like the Qur’an excludes any doubt in this context. It would be unreasonable to dismiss the fact that the Arabs were incapacitated. Similar to what was mentioned in the section on eyewitness testimony, the narratives that conclude the Arabs’ failure to imitate the Qur’an have reached the status of tawaatur (mass concurrent reporting). There exist a large number of experts who have conveyed this knowledge via varying chains of transmission, and many of them never met each other.

A powerful argument that supports the assertion that the 7th century Arabs failed to imitate the Qur’an relates to the socio-political circumstances of the time. Central to the Qur’anic message was the condemnation of the immoral, unjust and evil practices of the 7th century Makkan tribes. These included the objectification of women, unjust trade, polytheism, slavery, hoarding of wealth, infanticide and the shunning of orphans. The Makkan leadership was being challenged by the Qur’anic message, and this had the potential to undermine their leadership and economic success. In order for Islam to stop spreading, all that was needed was for the Prophet’s ﷺ adversaries to meet the linguistic and literary challenge of the Qur’an. However, the fact that Islam succeeded in its early, fragile days in Makkah testifies to the fact that its primary audience was not able to meet the Qur’anic challenge. No movement can succeed if a claim fundamental to its core is explicitly proven false. The fact that the Makkan leadership had to resort to extreme campaigns, such as warfare and torture, to attempt to extinguish Islam demonstrates that the easy method of refuting Islam — meeting the Qur’anic challenge — failed.

4. Scholars have testified to the Qur’an’s inimitability.

Multitudes of scholars from western, eastern, religious and non-religious backgrounds have testified to the Qur’an’s inimitability. Below is a non- exhaustive list of the scholarship that forms the testimony that the Qur’an cannot be emulated:

• Professor of Oriental Studies Martin Zammit: “Notwithstanding the literary excellence of some of the long pre-Islamic poems… the Qur’an is definitely on a level of its own as the most eminent written manifestation of the Arabic language.”

• The scholar Shah Waliyyullah: “Its highest degree of eloquence, which is beyond the capacity of a human being. However, since we come after the first Arabs we are unable to reach its essence. But the measure which we know is that the employment of lucid words and sweet constructions gracefully and without affectation that we find in the Tremendous Qur’an is to be found nowhere else in any of the poetry of the earlier or later peoples.” [Al-Fawz al-Kabir fi Usul at-Tafsir, p.160] 

• Orientalist and litterateur A. J. Arberry: “In making the present attempt to improve on the performance of predecessors, and to produce something which might be accepted as echoing however faintly the sublime rhetoric of the Arabic Koran, I have been at pain to study the intricate and richly varied rhythms which — apart from the message itself — constitutes the Koran’s undeniable claim to rank amongst the greatest literary masterpieces of mankind.”

Scholar Taqi Usmani: “None of them was able to compose even a few sentences to match the Quranic verses. Just think that they were a people who according to ‘Allamah Jurjani, could never resist ridiculing the idea in their poetry if they heard that there was someone at the other end of the globe who prided himself on his eloquence and rhetorical speech. It is unthinkable that they could keep quiet even after such repeated challenges and dare not come forward. . . They had left no stone unturned for persecuting the Prophet ﷺ. They tortured him, called him insane, sorcerer, poet and sooth-sayer, but failed utterly in composing even a few sentences like the Quranic verses. ” [An Approach to the Quranic Sciences, p. 262].

Imam Fakhr al-Din: “It is inimitable because of its eloquence, its unique style, and because it is free of error.” [Al-Itqan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an, p. 1881]

Al-Zamlakani: “Its word structures for instance, are in perfect harmony with their corresponding scales, and the meaning of its phraseology is unsurpassed, such that every linguistic category is unsurpassed in the case of every single word and phrase.”  [ibid]

Professor Bruce Lawrence: “As tangible signs, Qur’anic verses are expressive of an inexhaustible truth, they signify meaning layered with meaning, light upon light, miracle after miracle.” [The Qur’an: A Biography, p. 8]

Professor and Arabist Hamilton Gibb: “Like all Arabs they were connoisseurs of language and rhetoric. Well, then if the Koran were his own composition other men could rival it. Let them produce ten verses like it. If they could not (and it is obvious that they could not), then let them accept the Koran as an outstanding evidential miracle.” [Islam: A Historical Survey, p 8]

The above confirmations of the inimitability of the Qur’an are a small sample from the innumerable testimonies available to us.

Other instances of ‘inimitability Al-Mutannabi and Shakespeare

Abu at-Tayyib Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Mutanabbi al-Kindi was considered an inimitable poetic genius by many Arabs. Some have argued that although other poets have used the same panegyric genre and poetic metre as the great poet, they have not been able to match his level of eloquence and stylistic variance. Therefore, they conclude that Al-Mutannabi is inimitable because we have the blueprint of his work and the linguistic tools at our disposal, but cannot emulate anything like his poetic expression. If this is true, then it undermines the Qur’an’s inimitability. However, this acclamation of Al- Mutanabbi is unfounded. There have been imitations of Al-Mutanabbi’ s work by the Jewish poets Moses ibn Ezra and Solomon ibn Gabriol. Interestingly, the Andalusian poet Ibn Hani’ al-Andalusi was known as the Al-Mutanabbi of the West. [Classical Arabic Literature: A Library of Arabic Literature Anthology, pp. 31-33]

One significant point is that medieval Arabic poetry did not create new literary genres. This was due to the fact that it depended on previous poetic work. The academic Denis E. McAuley writes that medieval poetry largely hinged “more on literary precedent than on direct experience.”

In classical Arabic poetry, it was not unusual for a poet to attempt to match a predecessor’s poem by writing a new one in the same poetic metre, rhyme, and theme. This was considered normal practice. It is not surprising that Professor of Religion Emil Homerin explored the literary expression of Ibn al-Farid, and described his work as “very original improvisations on al-Mutanabbi”.

To highlight further the fact that Al-Mutanabbi can be emulated, he disclosed that he borrowed work from another poet, Abu Nuwas. Many medieval Arab literary critics such as Al-Sahib ibn ‘Abbad and Abu Ali Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Hatimi wrote criticisms of Al-Mutanabbi. Ibn ‘Abbad wrote al-kashf ‘an masawi’ shi’r al-Mutanabbi and Al-Hatimi wrote a biographical account of his encounter with Al-Mutanabbi in his al-Risala al-Mudiha fi dhikr sariqat Abi al-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi The conclusions of these literary criticisms imply that although his work is the product of genius, they can be emulated. Al-Hatimi presents a stronger polemic against Al-Mutanabbi and argues the case that his poetry does not have a unique style and contains errors. Professor Seeger A. Bonebakker, who studied Al- Hatimi’s literary criticism of Al-Mutanabbi, concludes that his “judgement is often well-founded and one almost ends up feeling that Mutanabbi was, after all, a mediocre poet who was not only lacking in originality, but also had insufficient competence in grammar, lexicography, and rhetoric, and sometimes gave evidence of incredibly bad taste.”

Consider the general consensus that Shakespeare is thought to be unparalleled with regards to the use of the English language. However, his work is not considered inimitable. His sonnets are written predominantly in a frequently used meter called the iambic pentameter, a rhyme scheme in which each sonnet line consists of ten syllables. The syllables are divided into five pairs called iambs or iambic feet. Since the blueprint of his work is available, it is not surprising that the English dramatist Christopher Marlowe has a similar style, and that Shakespeare has been compared to Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher and other playwrights of his time.

Testifying to the Qur’an ’s inimitability does not imply accepting its Divinity

A valid contention concerning academic testimonies of the Qur’an’s inimitability is that these scholars agree that the Qur’an cannot be imitated, yet they have not concluded that it is a divine text. The problem with this contention is that it conflates testifying to the Qur’an’s inimitability with inference to the best explanation. The argument I am presenting in this chapter does not conclude the divinity of the Qur’an from the statements of scholars. Rather, it articulates that the best explanation to elucidate the inimitability of the Qur’an is that it came from God. Whether these scholars accept the inference, or the divinity of the Qur’an, is irrelevant. The statements of the scholars are used as evidence for the Qur’an’s inimitability, not that it is best explained by God. The argument infers from the text’s inimitability, not from conclusions the scholars may have drawn from the fact that it cannot be imitated. It must be pointed out that these scholars may not have been presented with an argument that presents an inference to the best explanation, or they may have not reflected on the philosophical implications of the Qur’an’s inimitability. These academics may even deny the God explanation because they adopt philosophical naturalism. The belief in naturalism will deter them from concluding anything about the supernatural.

Also, many academics, especially living in today’s post-modernist culture, have a restricted approach to many of the sciences. Therefore, many of these scholars are interested in the Qur’an not to be convinced of its divinity or to accept Islam, but to appreciate its literature for the sake of literary studies. This is a very common trend in modern academia. So when these scholars probe into the inimitability of the Qur’an, it is very likely that they are focusing exclusively on its literary merit, not on its claim to divinity. They want to find out whether the Qur’an is inimitable or sophisticated, and if so, to what extent. They are entirely uninterested in the question of what inimitability implies about its Divine origin.

5. Counter scholarly testimonies are not plausible, as they have to reject the established background information

In light of the above, the testimonial transmission concerning the inimitability of the Qur’an would be the most rational to adopt. This does not mean there is a complete consensus on the issue, or that all scholarship asserts that the Qur’an is unchallenged. There are some (albeit in the minority) scholarly opinions that contend against the Qur’an’s inimitability. If valid testimony does not require unanimity, why would someone accept one testimonial transmission over another?

The testimony concerning the Qur’an’s inimitability is more reasonable because it rests on strong background knowledge. This knowledge has been discussed in premises 1, 2 and 3, which highlight the fact that the Qur’an presents a literary and linguistic challenge to humanity. The 7 th century Arabs were best placed to challenge the Qur’an, yet these linguistic masters failed to meet this challenge.

Adopting the counter testimonies leads to absurdity. This is because an explanation is required to answer why those who were best placed to challenge the Qur’an failed to do so. Possible explanations would include rejecting the validity of this established history, or claiming a greater understanding and appreciation of classical Arabic than the 7th century linguist masters. These explanations render the counter testimonies without a rational basis. Rejecting the established history would require a remaking of the history of Arabic literature. Assuming superior linguistic abilities than the 7 th century specialists is debased by the fact that these experts had a relatively homogenous linguistic environment. These environments are areas where the purity of the language is maintained, and there is a limited amount of linguistic borrowing and degeneration. Contemporary Arab linguistic environments suffer from excessive linguistic borrowing and degeneration. Therefore, to claim superiority over a people coming from a culture that had the fertile ground for linguistic perfection is untenable.

Despite the weakness of these contentions, when an analysis of the work of the scholars who testify against the Qur’an’s inimitability is performed, the results conclude the linguistic meagreness of this type of scholarship. An example of its inadequacy can be found in the work of the highly acclaimed German orientalist and scholar Thedor Noldeke. He was an academic critic of the linguistic and literary features of the Qur’an, and therefore rejected the doctrine of the Qur’an’s inimitability. However, his criticism brings to light the unsubstantiated nature of such claims. For instance, Noldeke remarks, “The grammatical persons change from time to time in the Qur’an in an unusual and not beautiful way (nicht schoner Weise).”

The Qur’anic linguistic feature that Noldeke refers to is actually the effective rhetorical device known as iltifaat or grammatical shifts. This literary device enhances the text’s literary expression and it is an accepted, well-researched part of Arabic rhetoric. One can find references to it in the books of Arabic rhetoric by Al-Athir, Suyuti and Zarkashi.

These grammatical shifts include: change in person, change in number, change in addressee, change in tense, change in case marker, using a noun in place of a pronoun and many other changes. The main functions of these shifts include the changing of emphasis, to alert the reader to a particular matter, and to enhance the style of the text. Its effects include creating variation and difference in a text to generate rhythm and flow, and to maintain the listener’s attention in a dramatic way.

The 108th Qur’anic chapter provides a good example of the use of grammatical shifts:

“Verily, We have granted you The Abundance. Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice. For he who hates you, he will be cut off.” [The Qur’an, Chapter 108, Verses 1 to 3]

In this chapter, there is a change from the first-person plural “We” to the second person “…your Lord”. This change is not an abrupt shift; it is calculated and highlights the intimate relationship between Allah and the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. The use of “We” is used to emphasize the Majesty, Power and Ability of God. This choice of personal pronoun calls attention to the fact that God has the Power and Ability to grant Muhammad ﷺ.

“…The Abundance”, whereas “your Lord” has been used to emphasise intimacy, closeness and love; the phrase has a range of meanings that imply master, provider, and the One that cares. This is an apt use of language, as the surrounding concepts are about prayer, sacrifice and worship: “Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice ”. Furthermore, the purpose of this chapter is also to console Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as using such intimate language enhances the psycholinguistic effect.

Theodor Noldeke’s criticism of the Qur’an was not only a personal value judgement, but exposed his crude understanding of classical Arabic. It also confirmed his inability to reach the level of expertise that was attained by 7th century Arabs. These grammatical shifts contribute to the dynamic style of the Qur’an and are obvious stylistic features and an accepted rhetorical practice. The Qur’an uses this feature in such a way that conforms to the theme of the text while enhancing the impact of the message it conveys. It is not surprising that in his book, Discovering the Qur’an: A Contemporary Approach to a Veiled Text, Professor Neal Robinson concludes that the grammatical shifts used in the Qur’an, “…are a very effective rhetorical device.”

To conclude, counter testimonies that argue against the Qur’an’s inimitability do not hold water because they create far more problems than they solve. The scholarship that provides a basis for these counter-testimonies is meagre and based on a crude understanding of the Arabic language. Rejecting the inimitability of the Qur’an requires an answer to the following question: Why did the best-placed Arabs fail to challenge the Qur’an? The possible answers to this question are rationally absurd. For these reasons, adopting the counter-testimonies is flawed.

6. Therefore (from 1-5) the Qur’an is inimitable.

It follows from points 1 to 5 that the Qur’an’s inimitability is justified.

7. The possible explanations for the Qur’an’s inimitability are authorship by an Arab, a non- Arab, Muhammad ﷺ or Allah

To articulate the Divine origins of the Qur’an without referring to specifics about the Arabic language, the use of testimony and inference are required. What has been discussed so far is that there is a valid testimonial transmission that the Qur’an is inimitable, and that the possible explanation for its inimitability can be explained by attributing its authorship to an Arab, a non- Arab, Muhammad ﷺ or Allah. However, it can be argued that there are other possible competing explanations, but we do not know what they are. This assertion commits a type of fallacy that some have called “the fallacy of the phantom option”. If there are genuine competing explanations, then they must be presented on the intellectual table for discussion. Otherwise, this kind of reasoning is no different from claiming that the leaves do not fall from trees because of gravity, but because of another explanation that we do not know about.

8. It could not have been produced by an Arab, a non-Arab or Muhammad ﷺ .

To understand who could have possibly produced the Qur’an, the rest of this chapter will break down the three main theories.

An Arab?

There are a few key reasons why the Qur’an could not have come from an Arab. Firstly, they achieved unparalleled linguistic and literary mastery, yet they failed to challenge the Qur’an and the leading experts of the time testified to the inimitable features of the Qur’an. One of the best linguists of the time, Walid ibn al-Mughira, exclaimed:

“And what can I say? For I swear by God, there is none amongst you who knows poetry as well as I do, nor can any compete with me in composition or rhetoric — not even in the poetry of jinns! And yet, I swear by Allah, Muhammad’s speech [meaning the Qur’an] does not bear any similarity to anything I know, and I swear by God, the speech that he says is very sweet, and is adorned with beauty and charm.” [An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an, p. 269].

Secondly, the Arab polytheists in the 7th century initially accused the Prophet ﷺ of being a poet. This was an easier thing to do than going to war and fighting the Muslims. However, anyone who aspired to master the Arabic language and Arabic poetry required years of study under poets. None of them came out to expose Muhammad ﷺ as being one of his students. The very fact that Muhammad ﷺ was successful in his message demonstrates that he succeeded in showing the poets and linguists of the time that the Qur’an is indeed a supernatural genre. If the Qur’an was not inimitable, any poet or linguist could have produced something better or similar to the Qur’anic discourse. The expert in Islamic studies Navid Kermani makes this point clear: “Obviously, the Prophet succeeded in this conflict with the poets, otherwise Islam would not have spread like wildfire.”

An even more fundamental point is that the Qur’an was revealed throughout the Prophet’s ﷺ life. If an Arab other than the Prophet ﷺ had produced it, he would have had to constantly shadow the Prophet ﷺ wherever he went, and spew out revelations whenever the occasion called for it. Is one seriously to believe such a fraud would go unexposed for the entire 23-year period of revelation?

What about today’s Arabs?

To assert that a contemporary Arabic-speaking person might emulate the Qur’an is unfounded. A few reasons substantiate this point. Firstly, the Arabs in the 7th century were better placed to challenge the Qur’an, and since they failed to do so, it would be unreasonable to assert that a linguistically impoverished modern Arab might surpass the abilities of their predecessors. Secondly, modern Arabic has suffered from greater linguistic borrowing and degeneration than the classical Arabic tradition. So how can an Arab who is a product of a relatively linguistically degenerated culture be equal to an Arab who was immersed in an environment of linguistic purity? Thirdly, even if a contemporary Arab learns classical Arabic, his linguistic abilities could not match someone who was immersed in a culture that mastered the language. A non- Arab? The Qur’an could not have come from a non-Arab, as the language in the Qur’an is Arabic, and the knowledge of the Arabic language is a pre-requisite to successfully challenge the Qur’an. This has been addressed in the Qur’an itself: “And indeed We know that they [polytheists and pagans] say: ‘It is only a human being who teaches him (Muhammad).’ The tongue of the man they refer to is foreign, while this is a speech Arabeeyun mubeen [clear Arabic].” [The Qur’an, Chapter 16, Verse 103]

The classical exegete Ibn Kathir explains this verse to mean: “How could it be that this Qur’an with its eloquent style and perfect meanings, which is more perfect than any Book revealed to any previously sent Prophet, might have been learnt from a foreigner who hardly speaks the language? No one with the slightest amount of common sense would say such a thing.” [Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Atheem. Vol 4, p. 603]

What if a non-Arab learned the language?

This would make that person an Arabic speaker, and I would refer to the first possible explanation above. However, there are differences between native and non-native speakers of languages, as various academic studies in applied linguistics and similar fields have concluded. For instance, in the English language, there are differences between native and non-native speakers in reliably discriminating between literal and idiomatic speech. Differences exist between English-speakers with one non-native parent and those with native parents. The speakers with one non-native parent exhibit worse linguistic performance on certain tasks than those with native parents. Even in cases of non-native speakers having indistinguishable linguistic competence with native speakers, there are still subtle linguistic differences. Research conducted by Kenneth Hyltenstam and Niclas Abrahamsson in Who can become native-like in a second language? All, some, or none? concluded that competent non-native speakers exhibit features that are imperceptible except under detailed and systematic linguistic analysis. Therefore, to conclude that the Qur’an, with its inimitable features and as a linguistic masterpiece, is a product of a non-Arab, or non-native speakers, is untenable.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ?

It is pertinent to note that the Arab linguists at the time of revelation stopped accusing the Prophet ﷺ of being the author of the Qur’an after their initial false assertion that he became a poet. Professor Mohar Ali writes:

“It must be pointed out that the Qur’an is not considered a book of poetry by any knowledgeable person. Nor did the Prophet ﷺ ever indulge in versifying. It was indeed an allegation of the unbelieving Quraysh at the initial stage of their opposition to the revelation that Muhammad ﷺ had turned a poet; but soon enough they found their allegation beside the mark and changed their lines of criticism in view of the undeniable fact of the Prophet’s ﷺ being unlettered and completely unaccustomed to the art of poetry-making, saying that he had been tutored by others, that he had got the ‘old-worst stories’ written for him by others and read out to him in the morning and evening.”

Significantly, the Prophet ﷺ was not considered a master of the language and did not engage in the craft of poetry or rhymed prose. Therefore, to claim that he somehow managed to conjure up a literary and linguistic masterpiece is beyond the pale of rational thought. Kermani writes, “He had not studied the difficult craft of poetry, when he started reciting verses publicly… Yet Muhammad’s ﷺ recitations differed from poetry and from the rhyming prose of the soothsayers, the other conventional form of inspired, metrical speech at the time.”

The scholar Taqi Usmani similarly argues, “Such a proclamation was no ordinary thing. It came from a person who had never learned anything from the renowned poets and scholars of the time, had never recited even a single piece of poetry in their poetic congregations, and had never attended the company of soothsayers. And far from composing any poetry himself, he did not even remember the verses of other poets.” [An Approach to the Quranic Sciences, p. 261].

Further, the established Prophetic traditions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ are in a distinct style from that of the Qur’an. Dr. Draz argues the difference between the Qur’anic style and the Prophet’s ﷺ:

“When we consider the Qur’anic style we find it the same throughout, while the Prophet’s own style is totally different. It does not run alongside the Qur’an except like high flying birds which cannot be reached by man but which may ‘run’ alongside him. When we look at human styles we find them all of a type that remains on the surface of the Earth. Some of them crawl while others run fast. But when you compare the fastest running among them to the Qur’an you feel that they are no more than moving cars compared to planets speeding through their orbits.”

Nonetheless, Dr. Draz’s argument on the differences between styles may not have much rational force in light of poets and spoken-word artists. Poets and spoken-word artists maintain key stylistic differences between their normal speech and their work over a long period of time. Thus, to use this as an argument to disprove that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ authored the Qur’an is weak. However, it has been mentioned here because if the styles were the same or even similar, then that would rule out any possibility of the Qur’an being inimitable Divine speech.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ experienced many trials and tribulations during the course of his Prophetic mission. For example, his children died, his beloved wife Khadija (radhiyallahu anhu) passed away, he was boycotted, his close companions were tortured and killed, he was stoned by children, he engaged in military campaigns; throughout all this, the Qur’an’s literary nature remains that of the Divine voice and character. Nothing in the Qur’an expresses the turmoil and emotions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. It is almost a psychological and physiological impossibility to go through what the Prophet ﷺ went through, and have none of the resultant emotions manifest themselves in the literary character of the Qur’an.

From a literary perspective, the Qur’an is known as a work of unsurpassed excellence. However, its verses were many times revealed for specific circumstances and events that occurred during the period of revelation. Each verse was revealed without revision, yet they collated to create a literary masterpiece. In this light, the explanation that the Qur’an is a result of the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ literary abilities is obviously unfounded. All literary masterpieces written by geniuses have undergone revision and deletion to achieve literary perfection, yet the Qur’an was revealed instantaneously and remained unchanged. In the process of making good literature, editing and amending are absolutely necessary. No one can produce sophisticated literature ‘on the go’. However, that is exactly what we see in the case of the Qur’an. Disparate Qur’anic verses were revealed in different contexts and occasions, and once these verses had been recited by the Prophet ﷺ to an audience, he could not take them back to improve their literary quality. This constitutes strong circumstantial evidence that the Qur’an, given its inimitability, could not have been produced by the Prophet ﷺ. When we consider this and other evidences cited above, the cumulative impression we get is that it is extremely unlikely, if not downright impossible, for the Qur’an to have been produced by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

An example to highlight this point is the work of the highly acclaimed poet Abu at-Tayyib Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Mutanabbi al-Kindi. Al- Mutanabbi was considered the greatest of all Arab poets and an unparalleled genius. Therefore, some have concluded that since his work was unparalleled, and that he was a human being, it follows the Qur’an was written by a human author too. This reasoning does not logically follow because Al-Mutannabi would correct his work and produce various versions until he was satisfied.

This was obviously not the case with Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as he did not edit, amend, or change the Qur’an once it was revealed. This can only mean that the Qur’an is not the work of a literary genius, who, in general, would need to revise their work.

To conclude, attributing the authorship of the Qur’an to genius, specifically Muhammad’s ﷺ genius, is unfounded. Even a literary genius edits, amends and improves their work. This was not the case with the Qur’an. All human expressions can be imitated if we have the blueprint and the tools at our disposal. This has been shown for literary geniuses such as Shakespeare and Al-Mutanabbi. Therefore, if the Qur’an had been a result of Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ genius, it should have been imitated.

A central argument that dismisses the assertion that the Qur’an was a consequence of the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ literary abilities concerns the existence of blueprints for human expressions, and the tools required to replicate them. All types of human expression — whether the result of a genius or not — can be imitated if the blueprint of that expression exists, given that the tools are available for us to use. This has been shown to be true for various human expressions, such as art, literature and even complex technology. For example, artwork can be imitated even though some art is thought to be extraordinary or amazingly unique. But in the case of the Qur’an, we have its blueprint (the Qur’an itself) and the tools (the finite words and grammatical rules of the classical Arabic language) at our disposal. Yet no one has been able to imitate its eloquence, unique literary form and genre.

9. Therefore, the best explanation is that the Qur’an is from Allah.

Since the Qur’an could not have been produced by an Arab, a non-Arab or the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, then it follows that the best explanation is that it came from Allah. This provides the best explanation for the Qur’an’s inimitability because the other explanations are untenable in light of the available knowledge. A possible disagreement with this conclusion is that Allah is assumed to exist in order for this inference to work; therefore, it begs the question of the existence of the Divine. Although it will make the argument easier to appreciate, and can work without any previous conviction in the existence of the Divine, this argument is best articulated to fellow theists.

Conversely, the point can be made that a previous conviction in Allah’s existence is not necessary, and that the inimitability of the Qur’an is a signpost to the existence of the Divine. If a human being (an Arab, a non- Arab or the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ could not have produced the Qur’an — and all possible explanations have been exhausted — then who else could be the author? It must be something that has greater linguistic capacity than any known text producer. The intuitive conclusion is that the concept that describes a being with greater linguistic capacity than any human is the concept of God. God is indeed greater. Therefore, the inimitability of the Qur’an provides a rational basis for God’s existence, or at least a signpost to the transcendent.

Similar reasoning is adopted by scientists. Take the recent discovery of the Higgs-Boson. The Higgs-Boson particle is the building-block of the Higgs field. This field was switched on during the early universe to give particles mass. Before the discovery of this particle, it was still accepted as the best explanation for the fact that during the early universe, particles changed state from having no mass to having mass (with the exception of photons). So, the Higgs-Boson particle was the best explanation for the available data even before it was empirically verified. Applying this reasoning back to the inimitability of the Qur’an, the fact that the book has unique literary and linguistic features is best explained by God. All other competing explanations fail, and God is the best explanation for the information and knowledge available to us.

Alternative inferences

Alternative inferences could include the fact that the inimitability of the Qur’an is best explained by a higher being or that it could have come from the devil. These alternative inferences are unlikely; hence they have not been incorporated into the central argument presented in this essay. Nevertheless, addressing them here will demonstrate why they have not been included in the main discussion.

Postulating that the Qur’an comes from a higher being seems to be a semantic replacement for Allah. What is meant by “a higher being”? Is not the best explanation of a higher being Allah Himself? If “a higher being” implies a greater linguistic power, capacity and ability than a human, then who can best fit these criteria than Allah Himself? This book has articulated independent evidence for Allah’s existence, and it is very likely that God would want to communicate with us. This follows from the fact that not only is Allah the creator and designer of the entire cosmos we inhabit, but He has also made it fit for our existence. In addition, He has created us with souls or consciousness, and instilled in us a sense of morality. Clearly, Allah is extremely invested in our existence and flourishing. As such, it is entirely likely that He would want to communicate to us in the form of revelation. So, when we have evidence that the Qur’an — a book that claims to be from God — does have properties that are entirely in line with Divine activity, it makes perfect sense to attribute its authorship to God. To say that the Qur’an could have been produced by some unknown “higher beings” of unknown motives would be tantamount to invoking the existence of any unknown entity to explain anything.

Theistic responses to this discussion usually entertain the possibility of the devil being the author of the Qur’an. This explanation is untenable. The Qur’an could not have come from the devil, or some type of spirit, because the basis of their existence is the Qur’an and revelation itself, not empirical evidence. Therefore, if someone claims that the source of the Qur’an is the devil, they would have to prove his existence and ultimately have to prove revelation. In the case of using the Qur’an as the revelation to establish the devil’s existence, then that would already establish it as a Divine text, because to believe in the devil’s existence would presuppose the Qur’an to be Divine, and therefore this contention is self-defeating. If, however, the revelation that is referred to is the Bible, it must be shown to be a valid basis to justify the belief in the devil. In light of contemporary studies into the textual integrity and historicity of the Bible, this is not feasible. Further, a content analysis of the Qur’an would strongly indicate that the book is not the teachings of the devil, as the Qur’an rebukes him and promotes morals and ethics not in line with an evil worldview. Despite this, the devil objection does not conform to our intellectual practices. We can realistically explain anything by citing the activity of the devil; from this perspective it is an intellectual cop-out.


This chapter has presented an argument for the Divine nature of the Qur’anic discourse using testimony and inference to the best explanation. The crucial and fundamental role of testimony has been highlighted, and inference to the best explanation has been shown to be a rational and valid method of thinking to form conclusions about reality. The Qur’an’s inimitability can be established using testimony. Arabic linguists and literary experts confirm the inimitability of the Qur’an, and their testimonial knowledge on the topic is warranted based on established background knowledge. This knowledge includes the fact that the Qur’an poses an intellectual linguistic and literary challenge to the world, that the Arabs in the 7th century were best placed to challenge the Qur’an, and the fact that they failed to produce anything like the Qur’an’s unique content and literary form. Given that it is reasonable to accept the testimony in favour of the Qur’an’s inimitability — based on established background information — inference is then used to best explain the book’s unique linguistic and literary features. The possible explanations comprise an Arab, a non- Arab, Muhammad ﷺ and Allah. Since attributing this unique discourse to an Arab, a non-Arab or Muhammad ﷺ is untenable in light of the information available to us, the best explanation is that it came from Allah.

To reject the conclusions made in this chapter is epistemically equivalent to rejecting the spherical nature of the Earth and the conclusions of qualified medical staff. The spherical nature of the Earth, for most of us, is ultimately based on testimonial transmission, and the conclusions of trained medical experts are based on inferences to the best explanation. A retort to this assertion may include the fact that trust in the spherical nature of the Earth and the medical diagnosis of experts is justified based on other knowledge we have acquired, and it does not lead to extraordinary claims such as postulating the supernatural. This contention is common. However, it presupposes a naturalistic ontology. This means that a hidden assumption behind such concerns is the rejection of anything supernatural and that all phenomena can be explained via physical processes. Such a daring and presumptuous worldview is unjustified and incoherent in light of modern studies on the philosophy of the mind, the development and acquisition of language, and objective moral truths and cosmology, as the preceding chapters in this book demonstrate. Significantly, we are not postulating the existence of the supernatural here; we have already established His existence on the basis of evidences in the earlier chapters. We are merely claiming that the Being whose existence we have already established serves as the best explanation for certain facts.

To end, if someone with an open mind and heart — without the intellectual constraints of non-negotiable assumptions about the world — has access to the argument presented in this chapter, especially in light of the stage-setting in the previous ones, they should make the most rational conclusion that the Qur’an is from the Divine. Nevertheless, whatever is said or written about the Qur’an will always fall short in describing and exploring its words and their meanings: “Say, ‘If the sea were ink for [writing] the words of my Lord, the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like of it as a supplement.’’’   [The Qur’an, Chapter 18, Verse 109].

Muhammad – The Miraculous Name

By Abu Hudhaifa Muhammad Karolia

Before I tell you who Ibn Abi Kabshah was, whether he was a sahaabi, a taabi’ie or an outstanding wali, let me take you to Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu anhu)’s encounter with the Roman emperor, Heraclius.

Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) had sent a letter to Heraclius inviting him to Islam. This letter was delivered to him in Baytul-Maqdis. Having read its contents, he enquired if there were any Arab visitors visiting Syria that time. Thus, Abu Sufyaan (who was not yet a Muslim) and a group of other Arab traders were summoned to Heraclius’ court. In the court, the rest of the group was instructed to stand behind Abu Sufyaan. They were then informed that Heraclius was going to ask Abu Sufyaan a few questions and if he lied, they should contradict him (by shaking their heads). Thus, Abu Sufyaan was forced to speak the truth. Employing an interpreter, Heraclius thereafter questioned Abu Sufyaan about Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). What is his family status among you? Before him, did anybody else among you claim to be a Nabi? Were any of his ancestors a king? Do the wealthy or the poor follow him? Are his followers increasing or decreasing? Do any of them renege from his religion… After Abu Sufyaan answered the tenth question, Heraclius explained that all Abu Sufyaan’s answers proved that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was definitely talking the truth. “If you are talking the truth, he will soon rule the ground under my feet, I knew that he was going to appear, but I did not know that he would be among you. If I knew that I could reach him, I would go and meet him; and if I was with him, I would wash his feet.” He thereafter read aloud the letter of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Abu Sufyaan narrates that by the time Heraclius finished reading the letter, there was a commotion in the court. The audience was shouting (in disapproval) and the Arabs were removed. “When we were removed, I said to my companions: The case of Ibn Abi Kabshah has gained so much of prominence that even the king of the Romans is afraid of him.”

Now you know who Ibn Abi Kabshah was. He was Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). At least, that is what Abu Sufyaan called him. But Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s father’s name was Abdullah, not Abu Kabshah! In fact, there was no Abu Kabshah in his ancestry. So why did Abu Sufyaan call him Ibn Abi Kabshah (the son of Abu Kabshah)?

The answer is mockery; he was ridiculing Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). One theory is that while the Arabs of that time were idolaters, Abu Kabshah was a star worshipper. He worshipped Sirius, the Dog Star. By referring to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi  wasallam) as Abu Kabshah’s son, Abu Sufyaan meant that with regards shunning idol worship, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is just like Abu Kabshah; kind-of his son.

A second explanation is that Abu Kabshah was one of Rasulullah  (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s maternal ancestors. One of the things that Arabs of those days would do to insult a person is that they would attribute him to one of his maternal ancestors. 

Another explanation is that there was more than one Abu Kabshah among Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam’s paternal and maternal ancestors. However, none of them was commonly known by this name. The reason why Abu Sufyaan called Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) Abu Kabshah’s son is that when pagan Arabs intended defaming someone, they would attribute him to one of his relatively unknown ancestors (or an uncommon name of one of them).

Whatever the case may be, the point that we wish to drive home is that the term Ibn Abi Kabshah was derogatory and slanderous. This also shows us that mockery of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is nothing new. It started a long time ago, in Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s own lifetime.  

Another Example
The Quraysh would call Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) Mudhdham (disgraceful). In this regard, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Are you not amazed how Allah deflects from me the slander and curse of the Quraysh? They slander and curse  a Mudhdham (disgraceful) whereas I am Muhammad   (praiseworthy).” [Saheeh-ul-Bukhaari, Hadith 3340]

The Miraculous Name
This takes us to the topic of this article, The Miraculous Name. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s name is a miracle. By merely calling him Muhammad, you are praising him. Hence, even those who criticize him inadvertently praise him. This is probably why the Jews of Madinah never called him by his name. They always referred to him as Abul-Qaasim. Besides, the extent to which Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is praised in the world and the extent to which he will be praised in the Hereafter leaves no doubt that his name is most befitting. Thus, As-Suhayli describes it as:

“A sign from among the (many) signs of his nubuwwah.” [Abul Qaasim As-Suhaily, Ar-Rawd Al-Unf (V.1 Pg.281)]

The Name Ahmad
One of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s other names is Ahmad. This is his name in the previous scriptures and this is what Sayyiduna Moosa and Sayyiduna ‘Eesa (alaihimas-salaam) called him.

Considering the laws of Arabic morphology, Ahmad could either mean:

1. The one who praises Allah more than anybody else or  

2. The one who is praised more than anybody else. 

One of the reasons behind the first meaning is that on the day of Qiyaamah, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) will be the first person to intercede to Allah. Thinking that commencement of the reckoning may ease their anxiety, the people will eventually request Rasulullah  (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) to intercede to Allah to commence the reckoning. Before doing so, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) will make sajdah to Allah. In this sajdah, he will praise Allah in such a manner regarding which he said, “Allah will inspire me to utter such praises of Himself which presently I also do not know”. [Saheeh-ul-Bukhaari,  Hadith  7072]

The reason behind the second meaning is obvious. How many thousands of people praised and continue to praise Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)! He was praised during his lifetime and thereafter. In his lifetime too, he was praised before nubuwwah and thereafter. After the intercession in the Hereafter, he will again be praised by countless  people. [Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalaani,  Fath-ul-Baari (V.6 Pg.641)]

Another Observation
The Qur’aan and sunnah encourage us to praise Allah upon termination of all activities. Thus, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) would praise Allah after eating and drinking. Upon returning from a journey, he would say:

We have returned making tawbah, worshipping our Rabb and praising Him. [Saheeh-ul-Bukhaari, Hadith 2920]

After judgment will be passed among the creation on the Day of Qiyaamah, it will be said: All praise is to Allah, Sustainer of all the worlds. [Surah Az-Zumar,  Aayah 75]

This will also be the last call of the dwellers of jannah after their entry therein. [Surah Yoonus, Aayah 10]  

Now, did nubuwwah not terminate with Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)? Is he not the last Nabi and Rasool? Furthermore, his appearance is a sign of Qiyaamah and an indication that the end of the world is close. Does this not explain why his name is Ahmad and Muhammad? [Abul-Qaasim  As-Suhaily, Ar-Rawd  Al-Unf  (V.1 Pg.281-282)]

Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was named Muhammad by his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib. Certainly, Abdul Muttalib never knew any of the above. He never knew that his grandson was going to be a Nabi, let alone being the greatest Nabi ever.

The name Muhammad was divinely inspired. Abdul-Muttalib dreamt that a silver chain emerged from his back. It had four ends. One in the sky, another on the earth and the third and fourth were in the east and the west. The chain then became a tree with noor (celestial light) emanating from all its leaves. It seemed as if the inhabitants of the east and the west were clinging to it. Upon enquiring about the interpretation of this dream, he was told that it signified the birth of a child in his progeny who would be followed by the inhabitants of the east and west and who would be praised by the dwellers of the sky and earth. In addition to this, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s mother also informed Abdul-Muttalib that she had heard a voice telling her, “You have conceived the leader of this ummah. When you give birth to him, name him Muhammad”. Thus, when Abdul-Muttalib was asked why he named his grandson Muhammad, he replied, “I hope that all the people of the earth will praise him”. [Abul-Qaasim  As-Suhaily, Ar-Rawd Al-Unf (V.1 Pg.280)]

A Unique Name
The reason for enquiring from Abdul-Muttalib why he kept the name Muhammad is that none of his ancestors had this name. In fact, it was almost non-existent among the Arabs in general. The reason for saying almost non-existent is that there were a few people before Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) by the name Muhammad. However, they were not just few. They were extremely few! According to As-Suhaily, they were only three. Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalaani is of the opinion that there were fifteen of them. [Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalaani, Fath-ul-Baari (V.6 Pg.643)] Are fifteen among an entire nation not negligible?

Nevertheless, the reason why they were named Muhammad was that their parents were informed of a Nabi who would soon appear in the Hijaaz and whose name would be Muhammad. Thus, each of their parents named him Muhammad with the hope that he would be this Nabi.

The ‘ulamaa explain that the rationale behind this unique name was avoidance of confusion with regards Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s identity. Hence, just as so few people before Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) enjoyed the name Muhammad, history is testimony that none of them claimed to be a Nabi. [Qadi ‘Iyaad, Ash-Shifaa  Bi-Ta’reef  Huqooq-il-Mustafa  (V.1 Pg230)] 

Consequently, when Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) announced his nubuwwah, there was little doubt among the scholars of the previous scriptures that he was talking the  truth.

How Many Names
Some ‘ulamaa claim that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) had ninety-nine names. Ibn-ul-‘Arabi has quoted from one of the sufis that Allah and his Rasool (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) have one thousand names each. The truth, however, is that most of these names are actually attributes of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) instead of names. For example, the word labinah (which means brick).

Explaining that he is the last Nabi, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said that a man constructed a beautiful palace. When the building was completed, people visited it and marveled at its beauty. However, they all noticed that one brick was missing. Comparing nubuwwah to this palace, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “I am that brick”. The word that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) used for brick is labinah. Thus, Ibn Dihya regards labinah as  one  of  Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s names. [Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalaani, Fath-ul-Baari (V.6 Pg.644)]

Nonetheless, nobody can deny that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) had many names.

Another Question

What about the hadith:

“I have five names. I am Ahmad and I am Muhammad. I am Maahi by means of whom Allah eradicates disbelief. I am Haashir at whose feet the people will be gathered (on the Day of Qiyaamah) and I am ‘Aaqib (The Last Nabi).” [Saheeh-ul-Bukhaari, Hadith 3339]

Does this hadith not indicate that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) had only five names?


“I have five names” does not mean, “I have only five names”. When Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam said, “I have five names”, he did not mean that he does not have any other names. Instead, he meant that although he has many names, he has five very special names that stand out from the rest of his names. The specialities of these names are:

> They are more famous than the others

> They are mentioned in the previous scriptures

> They were known to the previous nations. [Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalaani, Fath-ul-Baari (V.6 Pg.645)]

Some Names of Allah
No, we are not discussing any names of Allah in this paragraph. The, point, however, is that Allah Ta’aala honoured many Ambiyaa by conferring on them one or more of His names. For example, he called Ishaaq ‘aleem, Isma’il and Ibrahim haleem, Nooh shakoor, Moosa kareem and qawi, Yoosuf hafeedh and ‘aleem, Ayoob saabir and ‘Eesa and Yahya birr. (May peace and salutation be on all the Ambiyaa.) Rasulullah  (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s speciality in this regard is that Allah blessed him with much more of His names than any other Nabi. Qadi ‘Iyaad (rahimahullah)  identified thirty such names. [Qadi ‘Iyaad, Ash-Shifaa Bi-Ta’reef  Huqooq-il-Mustafa (V.1 Pg236)] Ra-oof  (compassionate) and Raheem (merciful) are two  examples.

“Such a Rasool has come to you from among yourselves that your adversity distresses him, he is desirous of your welfare and he is compassionate and merciful unto the Believers.” [Surah At-Tawbah, Aayah 128]

Two Types of Names
Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s names are of two types:

1. Those that were specifically his – Their meanings were not found in any other Nabi. For example: Muhammad, Ahmad, ‘Aaqib, Haashir, Muqaffaa (The one who was sent after everybody else) and Nabi-ul-Malhamah (Nabi of the Battlefield)

2. Those that were not specifically his – Their meanings were found in other Ambiyaa. For example: Rasulullah, Nabiyullah, Abdullah, Shaahid (witness), Mubash-shir (Giver of Glad-Tidings), Nadheer (Warner), Nabi-ur-Rahmah (Nabi of Mercy) and Nabi-ut-Tawbah (Nabi of Repentance).

> The names of the first type are obviously specialities of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).

> Although the names of the second type apply to other Ambiyaa, they do not apply to them as much as they apply to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). In fact, their presence in Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is perfect. Ibn-ul-Qayyim (rahimahullah) says in this regard:

“The name itself is not Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s speciality. His speciality is its perfect suitability (it befits him most perfectly).” [Ibn-ul-Qayyim,  Zaad-ul-Ma’aad  V.1 Pg.54]

In simple words, every Nabi is Basheer, Nadheer and Shaahid, but the greatest Basheer, Nadheer and Shaahid is Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Similarly, every Nabi is a Nabi of Mercy and Repentence, but the greatest Nabi of Mercy and Repentence is Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). 

We commenced this article with reference to Ibn Abi Kabshah and the idolaters’ mockery of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). This discourse on his blessed names proves that such mockery never reduced and will never reduce the lofty status of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Add this discussion to all of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s other specialities and his achievements and you will conclude that his critics are merely shining a torch at the sun.  

The important issue is our imaan. Such mockery and criticism will never harm Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). The question is, ‘Will such critics succeed and harm our imaan?’