Bigotry: The Dark Danger

The inimitability of the Qur'an


We have so far considered the miraculous characteristics of the Qur'an from the scientific and historical points of view. In addition to these, the Qur'an also possesses an astounding, inimitable style from the literary perspective.

It first needs to be stated that the exposition in the Qur'an addresses all human groupings from all ages. No matter what the reader's education and cultural level, the Qur'an is written in a clear, comprehensible language which can be understood by everyone. In one verse, Allah reveals the following about the Qur'an:

We have made the Qur'an easy to remember… (Qur'an, 54:22)

Despite having such an easily comprehensible style, it has never been possible to imitate the Qur'an from any point of view. Some of the verses in which Allah draws attention to the inimitable nature of the Qur'an are:

If you have doubts about what We have sent down to Our servant, produce another sura equal to it, and call your witnesses, besides Allah, if you are telling the truth. (Qur'an, 2:23)

Do they say, "He has invented it"? Say: "Then produce a sura like it and call on anyone you can besides Allah if you are telling the truth." (Qur'an, 10:38)

One of the reasons that the Qur'an is described as miraculous stems from the fact that, as emphasized in the verses above, nothing like it can ever be written by human endeavour: The greater the scale of that impossibility, the greater the size of the miracle which we see before our very eyes. Therefore, the fact that the style of the Qur'an has been incapable of imitation by even one out of the billions of people down the centuries is one of the proofs of its miraculous nature. In his book, The Construction of the Bible and the Qur'an, F. F. Arbuthnot makes the following comment about the Qur'an:

From the literary point of view, the Koran is regarded as a specimen of the purest Arabic, written on half poetry and half prose. It has been said that in some cases grammarians have adopted their rules to agree with certain phrases and expressions used in it, and that though several attempts have been made to produce a work equal to it as far elegant writing is concerned, none has as yet succeeded.245

The words employed in the Qur'an are exceedingly special, both in terms of meaning and also of fluency and effect of style. However, those who are unwilling to believe that the Qur'an is a holy book in which Allah has revealed His commandments and prohibitions, have come up with a variety of excuses as to why they should not follow it. They have attempted to take refuge from its beauty by turning to denial. Allah reveals the following about the deniers' descriptions of the Qur'an:

We did not teach him poetry nor would it be right for him. It is simply a reminder and a clear Qur'an so that you may warn those who are truly alive and so that the Word may be carried out against the disbelievers. (Qur'an, 36:69-70)

The Superior Nature of the Rhyming Scheme in the Qur'an

Prof. Adel M. A. Abbas' book, Science Miracles


Another of the elements which make the Qur'an inimitable stems from its literary structure. Despite being in Arabic, the Qur'an bears no similarity to the forms used in Arabic literature.

The rhyming system in the Qur'an is known as "rhymed prose" and linguists describe the use of this rhyme in the Qur'an as a miracle. In his book Science Miracles, a work prepared to demonstrate that the Qur'an is a linguistic miracle, the well-known British scientist Professor Adel M. A. Abbas carried out a wide-ranging study of the letters and rhyming scheme used in the Qur'an by means of graphics and diagrams. Some rather striking facts were established in this book with regard to the rhyming system in the Qur'an.

As we know, 29 Suras in the Qur'an begin with one or more symbolic letters. These letters are known as "muqatta'ah-letters" or "initial letters." Fourteen of the 29 letters in Arabic comprise these initial letters: Qaf, Sad, Ta, Ha, Ya, Sin, Alif, Lam, Mim, Kaf, 'Ayn, Nun, Ra, Ha.

Of these letters, when we look at the use of the letter "Nun" in Surat al-Qalam we see rhyming with the letter "Nun" in 88.8% of the verses. 84.6% of Surat ash-Shu'ara', 90.32% of Surat an-Naml and 92.05% of Surat al-Qasas are rhymed with "Nun."

When applying these studies to the whole Qur'an, 50.08% is rhymed with the letter "Nun." To put it another way, more than half the verses in the Qur'an end with the letter "Nun." In no literary work of comparable length has it been possible to rhyme with a single sound in more than half the text. This applies to all languages, not just to Arabic.

Distribution of verses ending with the letter "Nun" from those suras beginning with initial letters:

Verse number
Name of Sura
Number of letter “Nun”
al ‘Imran
Ta Ha
Ya Sin

The above table shows the distribution of verses ending with the letter “Nun” in those Suras beginning with initial (symbolic) letters.

When a general examination of the rhyme scheme in the Qur'an is made, we see that around 80% of the rhymes consist of just three sounds (n, m, a) consisting of the letters Alif, Mim, Ya and Nun.246 Excluding the letter "Nun," 30% of the verses are rhymed with "Mim," "Alif" or "Ya."

The four most frequently employed sounds in rhymes:

Verse number
Proportion (%)

The above table shows the proportional distribution of the four letters comprising 79.92% of the rhyme system in the Qur’an.

The following verses are just a few of the many examples of rhymes using these four letters.

Surat al-Muminun
1. Qad aflaha almu/minoona

2. Allatheena hum fee salatihim khashiAAoona

3. Waallatheena hum AAani allaghwi muAAridoona

4. Waallatheena hum lilzzakati faAAiloona

5. Waallatheena hum lifuroojihim hafithoona

6. ... aw ma malakat aymanuhum fa-innahum ghayru maloomeena

7. ... faola-ika humu alAAadoona

8. Waallatheena hum li-amanatihim waAAahdihim raAAoona

9. Waallatheena hum AAala salawatihim yuhafithoona

10. Ola-ika humu alwarithoona

11. ... hum feeha khalidoona

12. Walaqad khalaqna al-insana min sulalatin min teenin

13. Thumma jaAAalnahu nutfatan fee qararin makeenin

14. ... fatabaraka Allahu ahsanu alkhaliqeena

15. Thumma innakum baAAda thalika lamayyitoona

16. Thumma innakum yawma alqiyamati tubAAathoona

17. ... wama kunna AAani alkhalqi ghafileena

Surat an-Nahl

1. ... wataAAala AAamma yushrikoona

2. ... annahu la ilaha illa ana faittaqooni

3. ... taAAala AAamma yushrikoona

4. ... fa-itha huwa khaseemun mubeenun

5. ... wamanafiAAu waminha ta-kuloona

6. Walakum feeha jamalun heena tureehoona waheena tasrahoona

Surat al-An'am

1. ... thumma allatheena kafaroo birabbihim yaAAdiloona

2. ... thumma antum tamtaroona

3. ... wayaAAlamu ma taksiboona

4. ... illa kanoo AAanha muAArideena

5. ... fasawfa ya/teehim anbao ma kanoo bihi yastahzi-oona

6. ... waansha/na min baAAdihim qarnan akhareena

7. ... in hatha illa sihrun mubeenun

8. ... thumma la yuntharoona

9. ... walalabasna AAalayhim ma yalbisoona

10. ... ma kanoo bihi yastahzi-oona

Surat ar-Rum

6. ... walakinna akthara alnnasi la yaAAlamoona

7. ... wahum AAani al-akhirati hum ghafiloona

8. ... wa-inna katheeran mina alnnasi biliqa-i rabbihim lakafiroona

9. ... walakin kanoo anfusahum yathlimoona

10. ... an kaththaboo bi-ayati Allahi wakanoo biha yastahzi-oona

11. ... thumma ilayhi turjaAAoona

12. ... yublisu almujrimoona

13. ... wakanoo bishuraka-ihim kafireena

14. Wayawma taqoomu alssaAAatu yawma-ithin yatafarraqoona

15. ... fahum fee rawdatin yuhbaroona

Surah Yunus

26. ... ola-ika as-habu aljannati hum feeha khalidoona

27. ... ola-ika as-habu alnnari hum feeha khalidoona

28. ... waqala shurakaohum ma kuntum iyyana taAAbudoona

29. ... in kunna AAan AAibadatikum laghafileena

30. ... wadalla AAanhum ma kanoo yaftaroona

31. ... faqul afala tattaqoona

32. ... faanna tusrafoona

33. ... annahum la yu/minoona

34. ... faanna tu/fakoona

Surat al-‘Ankabut

6. ... inna Allaha laghaniyyun AAani alAAalameena

7. ... walanajziyannahum ahsana allathee kanoo yaAAmaloona

8. ... faonabbi-okum bima kuntum taAAmaloona

9. ... lanudkhilannahum fee alssaliheena

10. ... awa laysa Allahu bi-aAAlama bima fee sudoori alAAalameena

11. ... walayaAAlamanna almunafiqeena

12. ... innahum lakathiboona

13. ... walayus-alunna yawma alqiyamati AAamma kanoo yaftaroona

14. ... faakhathahumu alttoofanu wahum thalimoona

Surat an-Naml

12. ... innahum kanoo qawman fasiqeena

13. ... hatha sihrun mubeenun

14. ... faonthur kayfa kana AAaqibatu almufsideena

15. ... min AAibadihi almu/mineena

16. ... inna hatha lahuwa alfadlu almubeenu

17. ... fahum yoozaAAoona

18. ... sulaymanu wajunooduhu wahum la yashAAuroona

19. ... waadkhilnee birahmatika fee AAibadika alssaliheena

245. F. F. Arbuthnot, The Construction of the Bible and the Koran (London: 1985), 5.
246. Dr. Adel M. A. Abbas, Anne P. Fretwell, Science Miracles, No Sticks or Snakes (Beltsville, Maryland, USA: Amana Publications: 2000), 13.

Surat an-Nisa’

23. ... inna Allaha kana ghafooran raheeman

24. ... inna Allaha kana AAaleeman hakeeman

25. ... waAllahu ghafoorun raheemun

26. ... waAllahu AAaleemun hakeemun

27. ... an tameeloo maylan AAatheeman

Surat al-Ma’ida

22. ... fa-in yakhrujoo minha fa-inna dakhiloona

23. ... fatawakkaloo in kuntum mu/mineena

24. ... inna hahuna qaAAidoona

25. ... faofruq baynana wabayna alqawmi alfasiqeena

26. ... fala ta/sa AAala alqawmi alfasiqeena

27. ... qala innama yataqabbalu Allahu mina almuttaqeena

28. ... innee akhafu Allaha rabba alAAalameena

29. ... wathalika jazao alththalimeena

30. ... faqatalahu faasbaha mina alkhasireena

31. ... faasbaha mina alnnadimeena

Surat al-A'raf

2. ... wathikra lilmu/mineena

3. ... qaleelan ma tathakkaroona

4. ... fajaaha ba/suna bayatan aw hum qa-iloona

5. ... ith jaahum ba/suna illa an qaloo inna kunna thalimeena

6. ... walanas-alanna almursaleena

7. ... wama kunna gha-ibeena

8. ... faola-ika humu almuflihoona

9. ... bima kanoo bi-ayatina yathlimoona

10. ... qaleelan ma tashkuroona

11. ... lam yakun mina alssajideena

Surat at-Tawba

7. ... inna Allaha yuhibbu almuttaqeena

8. ... waaktharuhum fasiqoona

9. ... innahum saa ma kanoo yaAAmaloona

10. ... waola-ika humu almuAAtadoona

11. ... wanufassilu al-ayati liqawmin yaAAlamoona

12. ... laAAallahum yantahoona

13. ... ahaqqu an takhshawhu in kuntum mu/mineena

14. ... wayashfi sudoora qawmin mu/mineena

Surat al-Baqara

62. ... wala khawfun AAalayhim wala hum yahzanoona

63. ... waothkuroo ma feehi laAAallakum tattaqoona

64. ... lakuntum mina alkhasireena

65. ... faqulna lahum koonoo qiradatan khasi-eena

66. ... wamawAAithatan lilmuttaqeena

67. ... aAAoothu biAllahi an akoona mina aljahileena

68. ... faifAAaloo ma tu/maroona

69. ... baqaratun safrao faqiAAun lawnuha tasurru alnnathireena

Surat al ‘Imran

130. ... waittaqoo Allaha laAAallakum tuflihoona

131. Waittaqoo alnnara allatee oAAiddat lilkafireena

132. ... laAAallakum turhamoona

133. ... oAAiddat lilmuttaqeena

134. ... waAllahu yuhibbu almuhsineena

135. ... walam yusirroo AAala ma faAAaloo wahum yaAAlamoona

136. ... waniAAma ajru alAAamileena

137. ... faonthuroo kayfa kana AAaqibatu almukaththibeena

138. ... wamawAAithatun lilmuttaqeena

139. ... waantumu al-aAAlawna in kuntum mu/mineena

140. ... waAllahu la yuhibbu alththalimeena

Surat al-Anbiya’

5. ... falya/tina bi-ayatin kama orsila al-awwaloona

6. ... afahum yu/minoona

7. ... in kuntum la taAAlamoona

8. ... wama kanoo khalideena

9. ... waahlakna almusrifeena

10. ... afala taAAqiloona

11. ... waansha/na baAAdaha qawman akhareena

12. ... hum minha yarkudoona

Surat an-Nur

47. ... wama ola-ika bialmu/mineena

48. ... fareequn minhum muAAridoona

49. Wa-in yakun lahumu alhaqqu ya/too ilayhi muthAAineena

50. ... bal ola-ika humu alththalimoona

51. ... waola-ika humu almuflihoona

52. ... faola-ika humu alfa-izoona

53. ... inna Allaha khabeerun bima taAAmaloona

54. ... wama AAala alrrasooli illa albalaghu almubeena

55. ... faola-ika humu alfasiqoona

Surat al-Hijr

5. ... wama yasta/khiroona

6. ... innaka lamajnoonun

7. ... in kunta mina alssadiqeena

8. ... wama kanoo ithan munthareena

9. ... wa-inna lahu lahafithoona

10. Walaqad arsalna min qablika fee shiyaAAi al-awwaleena

11. ... kanoo bihi yastahzi-oona

12. Kathalika naslukuhu fee quloobi almujrimeena

13. ... waqad khalat sunnatu al-awwaleena

14. ... feehi yaAArujoona

15. ... nahnu qawmun mashooroona

The formation of rhymed prose with just two or three sounds in a poem of 200-300 lines may give that work an important quality, sufficient for it to be described as a masterpiece by literary critics today. However, bearing in mind the length of the Qur'an, the information it contains and its wise exposition, the extraordinary manner in which its rhymed prose system is used becomes even clearer and more beautiful. The Qur'an indeed contains an ocean of information relating to a wide variety of subjects. They include: religious and moral guidance, lessons from the lives of the peoples of the past, the message of the Prophets and Messengers of Allah, the physical sciences and historical accounts of important events. But all of this, although wonderful in itself, is delivered with the most fantastic literary rhythm and excellence. It is simply not possible for so much rhymed prose by use of so few sounds in the Qur'an, with its varied and knowledgeable subject matter, to be achieved by human endeavour. From that point of view, it is not surprising that Arab linguists describe the Qur'an as "very definitely inimitable."

2010-07-05 00:23:55

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