Introduction & Mission

September 26, 2008

This blog is intended to inform as to the details and correct and accurate understanding of the miracle of the Qur’an as meant by the challenge in the Qur’an to reproduce a chapter. As the Muslims progress to learning into Islam there are some errors and misunderstandings as to the correct details of the miracle, some say it is mentioning of science, some that it is in its poetic arrangement and genre, some that it is its historical predictions.We wish to clarify this understanding that the true miracle as understood unanimously by all classical scholars is that the challenge is meant in it’s eloquence only. This is mentioned in all the works on aqeedah (belief) and language by scholars such as Baqillani, Zamakhsahri, Baydawi, Sakkaki, Qazwini, Juwayni and others. The blog uses their works and how they understood the challenge as well as the Arabs from Muhammad (Saw) until now.

We wish to say at this point that this is a humble attempt to pass on what has been read, researched and found out and ask forgiveness from Allah (swt) for any errors and apologise to our readers if there are any and are willing to be corrected if pointed out to us. We have done our upmost to have the text checked from experts in educational institutions and present the information in good faith and intention.

And Allah (swt) said:

“And if you are in

doubt concerning that

which We have sent down

(i.e. the Qur’an) to our slave

(Muhammad (saw)) then bring

a surah (chapter) of the like thereof

and call your witnesses

(supporters and helpers)

besides Allah if

you are truthful”

[Quran 2:23]

The Miracle of the Qur’an is not due to it’s ‘unique bihar’ and ‘poetic genre’ but only it’s Eloquence

March 29, 2009


The Qur’an challenged the Arabs and the world to produce 1 chapter in terms of eloquence (balaghah). This is unanimous from all the narrations and tafsir such as Tabari, Qurtubi and the like. However, there is a misnomer amongst some well meaning Muslims that the miracle often Qur’an it’s language is due to it’s unique ‘poetic genre’ and differing from he usual 16 styles of literary forms (‘bihars’). This is not correct for the following reasons and represents a dilution and danger to the call. The reasons this is so are:

1st Reason – none of the experts say that the miracle is in the uniqueness of the Qur’an’s bihars (genres) or 16 ‘seas’ of poetry

The issue of the ijaz (miracle) is universally attributed to eloquence and not to bihar and saj (genres) . This is clear from all of the experts on the ijaz:

· Imam Jurjani in Asrar al Balagha and Dal’il al Ijaz (miracle) does not mention bihar or saj (genres)but eloquence in these books.

· Imam Zamakshari in his famous tafsir that discusses Ijaz (miracle) verse by verse does not analyse on the basis of saj’ or bihar but in terms of eloquence

· Imam Sakkaki & Qazwini (In the books Miftah and Talkhis) who are well known experts on the matter discuss the issue in terms of Meaning, Grammar and Style which they say make up eloquence without mention of bihar or sa’j or anything related to this.

· Imam Ibn Khaldun when he analyses the ijaz mentions again in the same way as above and does not mention at all as a main component anything to do with bihar and saj’

· Imam Suyuti much the same in Itqan

and there are many more

Hence the issue of bihar and saj is absent in the most starkest of ways, two places on the internet you can check to check this: See Ibn khaldun in Muqaddimah under the section: The science of syntax and style and literary criticism.

You will see that his whole discussion on the issue is absent of the issue of bihars or 16 styles.

2nd Reason – Using the unique Bihars argument is not objective but eloquence is

Eloquence is an objective criteria that is subdivided into Style, Meaning and Grammar. These are defined. Even the definition of eloquence is objective that is: “the most amount of meaning in the shortest amount of words”. This definition is widespread in all the linguistics texts and even all sects such as the Shia’ ,Mu’tazila etc. Hence one can say that a piece of poetry or literature is more or less eloquent than another. This can be measured. I have yet to see somewhere that can do the same for the qur’anic bihar.

3rd Reason – The Experts and Ulema compare and contrast the Qur’an’s inimitability based on eloquence and not on ‘bihars’

The experts on ijaz and also the theologians such as Baqillani use to compare the best human poetry such as Buhturi and Imru Qays (pre-Islamic) and compared the Qur’an to them based on eloquence and not saj’ or bihars. This means they sensed the miracle purely in these terms.

4th Reason – The Origin of the idea of teh qur’an being miraculous due to it’s unique genre and ‘bihar’ is dubious

There is a problem tracing the origination of the idea of bihars and such to the Qur’an. We need to know who originated it and when. It certainly seems apparent if there seems to be not discussion about it at the time of even the first 3 or 4 generations. As such they must have had another yardstick to judge the Qur’an as inimitable. On the other hand all early commentators on the miracle all mention it purely on eloquence terms e.g. Jahiz, Tabari, Khattabi etc.

5th Reason – the details of what is meant by bihars and what constitutes a separate and unique bihar is dubious

What constitutes the exact pattern of the qur’anic unique bihar doesn’t seem to be entirely clear. As such it may aid those that claim the quran’ic miracle is subjective as it is hard if not nearly impossible to communicate to them what exactly is this new or unique bihar or arrangement. This can have an ability to weaken the call.

For all the above reasons it is advisable that Muslims do not use this angle as it may have negative consequences in the long run and is not intellectually coherent for these reasons.

This is advice and meant in the humblest of ways and not a criticism as a brother and represents our understanding at the current time. We are willing to change our views to add this as an angle if proof is shown and criticisms above are answered coherently.


Tafsir Baydawi – Imam Baydawi

March 8, 2009


Click to enlarge




Kashaaf – Imam Zamakhsari

March 8, 2009


Click to enlarge




Talkhis al Miftah – Imam Qazwini

March 8, 2009


Click to enlarge




Asrar al Balagha – Imam Jurjani

March 8, 2009


Click to enlarge




Dala’il Ijaz – Imam Jurjani

March 8, 2009


Click to enlarge




Ibn Khaldun’s View of the Ijaz of the Qur’an

March 2, 2009


The science of syntax and style and literary criticism


This is a ‘science which originated in Islam after Arabic philology and lexicography. It belongs among the philological sciences, because it is concerned with words and the ideas they convey and are intended to indicate. This is as follows:

The thing that the speaker intends to convey to the listener through speech may be a perception (tasawwur) regarding individual words which are dependent and on which (something else) depends 1282 and of which one leads to the other. These (concepts) are indicated by individual nouns, verbs, and particles. Or, (what the speaker intends to convey) may be the distinction between the things that are dependent and those that depend on them and (the distinction between) tenses. These (concepts) are indicated by the change of vowel endings and the forms of the words. All this belongs to grammar.

Among the things that are part of the facts and need to be indicated, there still remain the conditions of speakers and agents and the requirements of the situation under which the action takes place.1283 This needs to be indicated, because it completes (the information) to be conveyed. If the speaker is able to bring out these (facts), his speech conveys everything that it can possibly convey. If his speech does not have anything of that, it is not real Arabic speech. The Arabic language is vast. The Arabs have a particular expression for each situation, in addition to a perfect use of vowel endings and clarity.

It is known that “Zayd came to me” does not mean the same as “There came to me Zayd.” Something mentioned in the first place (such as “Zayd” in the first example) has greater importance in the mind of the speaker. The person who says: “There came to me Zayd,” indicates that 1284 he is more concerned with the coming than with the person who comes. (On the other hand,) the person who says: “Zayd came to me,” indicates that he is more concerned with the person than with his coming, which (grammatically) depends on (the person who comes).

The same applies to the indication of the parts of a sentence by relative pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, or determinations appropriate to the situation. It also applies to “emphatic” 1285 connection in general. For instance, (the three sentences): “Zayd is standing,” “Behold, Zayd is standing,” and “Behold, Zayd is indeed standing,” all mean something different, even if they are alike as far as vowel endings are concerned. The first (sentence), without the emphatic particle, informs a person who has no previous knowledge as to (whether Zayd is standing or not). The second (sentence), with the emphatic particle “behold,” informs a person who hesitates (whether he should acknowledge the fact of Zayd’s standing or not). And the third (sentence) informs a person who (persists in) denying (the fact of Zayd’s standing). Thus, they are all different.1286

The same applies to a statement such as: “There came to me the man,” which is then replaced by the statement: “There came to me a man.” The use of the form without the article may be intended as an honor (for the man in question) and as an indication that he is a man who has no equal.

Furthermore, a sentence may have the structure of a statement and thus be a sentence that conforms, originally (at least), to something in the outside world. Or, it may have the structure of a command 1287 and thus be a sentence that has no correspondence in the outside world, as, for example, requests and the different ways they (can be expressed).

Furthermore, the copula between two (parts of a) sentence must be omitted, if the second (part) has an integral place in the sentence structure.1288 In this way, the (second part) takes the place of an individual apposition and is either attribute, or emphasis,1289 or substitute 1290 (attached to the part of the sentence to which it belongs), without copula. Or, if the second (part of the) sentence has no such integral place in the sentence structure, the copula must be used.

Also, the given situation may require either lengthiness or brevity. (The speaker) will express himself accordingly.

Then, an expression may be used other than in its literal meaning. It may be intended to indicate some implication of it. This may apply to an individual word. For instance, in the statement: “Zayd is a lion,” no actual lion, but the bravery implicit in lions, is meant and referred to Zayd. This is called metaphorical usage. It also may be a combination of words intended to express some implication that results from it. The statement: “Zayd has a great deal of ash on his pots,” 1291 is intended to indicate the implied (qualities) of generosity and hospitality, because a great deal of ash is the result (of generosity and hospitality). Thus, it indicates those (qualities). All these things are meanings in addition to the (original) meaning of the individual word or combination of words. They are forms and conditions that the facts may take and that can be expressed by conditions and forms of speech that have been invented for that purpose, as required by the particular situation in each case.

The discipline called syntax and style (bayan) expresses the meaning that the forms and conditions of speech have in various situations. It has been divided into three subdivisions.

The first subdivision has as its subject the investigation of forms and conditions of speech, in order to achieve conformity with all the requirements of a given situation. This is called “the science of rhetoric” (balaghah).1292

The second subdivision has as its subject the investigation of what a word implies or is implied by it-that is, metaphor and metonymy,1293 as we have just stated. This is called “the science of style” (bayan).

(Scholars) have added a (third) subdivision, the study of the artistic embellishment of speech. 1294 Such embellishment may be achieved through the ornamental use of rhymed prose (saj’), which divides (speech) into sections; or through the use of paronomasia (tajnis), 1295 which establishes a similarity among the words used; or through the use of internal rhyme (tarsi’), which cuts down the units of rhythmic speech (into smaller units); or through the use of allusion (tawriyah) to the intended meaning by suggesting an even more cryptic idea which is expressed by the same words; 1296 or through the use of antithesis (tibaq);1297 and similar things. They called this “the science of rhetorical figures” (‘ilm al-badi’).

Recent scholars have used the name of the second subdivision, bayan (syntax and style), for all three subdivisions 1298 because the ancient scholars had discussed it first.

The problems of the discipline, then, made their appearance one after the other. Insufficient works on the subject were dictated by Ja’far b. Yahya,1299 al-Jahiz,1300 Qudamah,1301 and others. The problems continued to be perfected one by one. Eventually, as-Sakkaki 1302 sifted out the best part of the discipline, refined its problems, and arranged its chapters in the manner mentioned by us at the start. He composed the book entitled al-Miftah fi n-nahw wa-t-tasrif wa-l-bayan “On Grammar, Inflection, and Syntax and Style.” He made the discipline of bayan one of the parts (of the book). Later scholars took the subject over from (as-Sakkaki’s) work. They abridged it in authoritative works which are in circula­tion at this time. That was done, for instance, by as-Sakkaki (himself) in the Kitab at-Tibyan, by Ibn Malik 1303 in the Kitab al-Misbah, and by Jalal-ad-din al-Qazwini 1304 in the Kitab al-Idah and the Kitab at-Talkhis, which is shorter than the Idah. Contemporary Easterners are more concerned with commenting on and teaching (the Miftah) than any other (work).

In general, the people of the East cultivate this discipline more than the Maghribis. The reason is perhaps that it is a luxury,1305 as far as the linguistic sciences are concerned, and luxury crafts exist (only) where civilization is abundant, and civilization is (today) more abundant in the East than in the West, as we have mentioned.1306 Or, we might say (the reason is that) the non-Arabs (Persians) who constitute the majority of the population of the East occupy themselves with the Qur’an commentary of az-Zamakhshari, which is wholly based upon this discipline.1307

The people of the West chose as their own field the (third) subdivision of this discipline, the science of rhetorical figures (‘ilm al-badi’). They made it a part of poetical literature. They invented a detailed (nomenclature of rhetorical) figures 1308 for it and divided it into many chapters and subdivisions. They thought that they could consider all that part of the Arabic language. However, the reason (why they cultivated the subject) was that they liked to express themselves artistically. (Furthermore,) the science of rhetorical figures is easy to learn, while it was difficult for them to learn rhetoric and style, 1309 because the theories and ideas of (rhetoric and style) are subtle and intricate. Therefore, they kept away from those two subjects. One of the authors in Ifrigiyah who wrote on rhetorical figures was Ibn Rashiq. 1310 His Kitab al-‘Umdah is famous. Many of the people of Ifriqiyah and Spain wrote along the lines of (the ‘Umdah).

It should be known that the fruit of this discipline is understanding of the inimitability of the Qur’an. 1311 The inimitability of (the Qur’an) consists in the fact that the (language of the Qur’an) indicates all the requirements of the situations (referred to), whether they are stated or understood. This is the highest stage of speech. In addition, (the Qur’an) is perfect 1312 in choice of words and excellence of arrangement and combination. This is (its) inimitability, (a quality) that surpasses comprehension. Something of it may be understood by those who have a taste 1313 for it as the result of their contact with the (Arabic) language and their possession of the habit of it. They may thus understand as much of the inimitability of the Qur’an as their taste permits. Therefore, the Arabs who heard the Qur’an directly from (the Prophet) who brought it (to them) had a better understand­ing of its (inimitability than later Muslims). They were the champions and arbiters of speech, and they possessed the greatest and best taste (for the language) that anyone could possibly have.

This discipline is needed most by Qur’an commentators. Most ancient commentators disregarded it, until Jar-Allah az-Zamakhshari appeared. 1314 When he wrote his Qur’an commentary, he investigated each verse of the Qur’an according to the rules of this discipline. This brings out, in part, its inimitability. It gives his commentary greater distinction than is possessed by any other commentary. However, he tried to confirm the articles of faith of the (Mu’tazilah) innovators by deriving them from the Qur’an by means of different aspects of rhetoric (balaghah). Therefore, many orthodox Muslims have been on their guard against his (commentary), despite his abundant knowledge of rhetoric (balaghah). However, there are people who have a good knowledge of the orthodox articles of faith and who have some experience in this discipline. They are able to refute him with his own weapons, or (at least) they know that (his work) contains innovations. They can avoid them, so that no harm is done to their religious beliefs. Such persons do not risk being affected by the innovations and sectarian beliefs. They should study (as-Zamakhshari’s commentary), in order to find out about certain (aspects of) the inimitability of the Qur’an.

God guides whomever He wants to guide to “an even road.”


Ibn Khaldun, Muqadimmah, Section on Literature.