Let me state at the outset that, after being Muslim for many years now, if I were given the topic of “The Miraculous Quran,” as I see it now, I would be emphasizing and discussing aspects that were completely unknown to me at the time that I was studying Islam as a non-Muslim. I have been studying the Quran for over thirty years now and it never fails to fascinate me. In fact, the phenomenon of continually finding new fascinating aspects of the Quran has been true for the Muslim scholars throughout the years. Over the centuries, as they have spoken about the Quran, later scholars recognize the miraculous aspects that the earlier scholars mentioned while coming across other aspects that they consider no less remarkable and amazing. Thus, for example, in the past century, we have had Aishah bint al-Shaati, Sayyid Qutb and Mustafa Saadiq al-Raafi’ee all adding components to the overall theory of the miraculous nature of the Quran. Lately, many have emphasized what are called the “scientific miracles of the Quran,” a topic we shall try to visit toward the end of this lecture.
However, this lecture is about “my story” and my path to Islam via the Quran. Therefore, I will be emphasizing those aspects of the Quran that influenced me the most at that time and I will give less time to other aspects that I have studied in detail since then.
I am sure that most of you have some familiarity with the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, and the Quran but for some points that I will make later, I believe a very brief introduction to the two is in order.
Muhammad was born around 570 years after the birth of Jesus Christ. He was born in Mecca, in the Arabian Peninsula. The people of Mecca were devoted to idol-worship. The area was not known as a place of advanced civilization or learning at its time. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad was illiterate. At the age of forty, Muhammad received his first revelation. Although he was known among his people as “the trustworthy,” the majority of the Arabs belied him and soon after started a massive campaign to persecute those who believed in him. After thirteen years of preaching in Mecca, the Prophet himself left for the city of Medina, where he already had some followers. They made him the leader of the city. The disbelievers of Mecca did not rest and attempted to militarily squash the new faith. However, what was originally a small band of Muslims grew in number and were able to withstand the onslaught of the disbelievers. Within ten years, the Prophet himself led an army back to Mecca and conquered it in a bloodless victory. Thus, Islam became victorious in Arabia and began spreading throughout the world. The Prophet Muhammad finally died in 632.
As for the Quran, it was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of twenty-three years. It was revealed directly to him via the angel Gabriel. He would receive the revelation and then convey it to his followers. Thus, the Quran is very different from the Bible. There are no human contributions to the Quran; it is only the revelation from God. In other words, you will not find any stories about the Prophet written by his Companions in the Quran. In fact, you will not even find in the Quran any of the Prophet’s speech outside of what he stated to be the revelation of the Quran. The Prophet’s own words have been kept completely separate from the Quran.
One final note, the Quran is only in Arabic. The best translation is not the Quran. Once you lose something in its original wording and rely only on translation, the original is truly lost.
The story of my conversion is not the most fascinating. However, one aspect is of interest: the affect that the Quran had on me.
My family moved to California from Spain. Thus, we were nominally Catholic. I had very little exposure to any religion until a friend of mine in school invited me to their church. I started attending and this was the first time that I began to read the Bible. I was definitely taking everything very seriously. There then came the time to be baptized. I had no problem with it except that I decided that, since this was the first religion I was exposed to, I should just look around at other religions to make sure that I was certain about what I was doing. I did not think this would actually affect my final decision while, in reality, that near baptism led me to becoming a Muslim.
I started studying about all religions I could find. This, obviously, is what led me to the Quran.
 For a discussion of these recent additions to the concept of the miraculous nature of the Quran, see Muhammad Rafii Yunus, “Modern Approaches to the Study of I’jaz al-Quran (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Michigan, 1994), pp. 78-91 and 118-125.
You should keep in mind that this took place in 1976. This was before the Iranian Revolution and Islam being plastered all over the media. I didn’t know any Muslims at the time. (I was living in a relatively small college town and I incorrectly assumed that there were no Muslims there.) Thus, there was no one trying to convince me of the truth of Islam. In fact, I eventually converted to Islam before ever meeting a Muslim, doing my best to learn the prayers from a book written by a missionary, T. P. Hughes’ The Dictionary of Islam.
Therefore, the information I was receiving about Islam came mostly from non-Muslims writing about Islam. There were very few books available to me at that time written by Muslims. In fact, I only recall coming across one work written by a Muslim, a relatively small work by Maudoodi. However, I was able to find a couple of copies of the Quran translated by Muslims. In particular, I was reading the translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali.
In essence, it was truly the Quran versus a number of works written by non-Muslims. In general, these non-Muslims were forced to praise Islam every now and then but always tried to find some fault with the very basis of the faith. Thus, they came up with many theories about the Prophet Muhammad and the Quran. I would be reading their critique side-by-side with the Quran.
Most of the authors I was reading were clearly saying that the Quran was not a revelation from God but simply written by the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him. Such was the view expressed by Richard Bell in The Qur'an: Translated With a Critical Re-arrangement of the Surahs, Arberry in his introduction to his translation of the Quran, Kenneth Cragg in The Call of the Minaret, ad nauseum.
However, as Montgomery Watt noted, this in itself presented a host of questions. If Muhammad were a phony, did he do what he did maliciously? He was not known to be an insincere or malicious person beforehand, what then led to his change? Furthermore, if he did it maliciously, how did he come up with all of the information contained in the Quran, especially while living in a place like Mecca? Did he have teachers; if so, who were they and where is it documented that he had teachers?
To be frank, I was not very impressed with those who claimed that the Prophet had some teacher who gave him all of the information that later made up the Quran. In general, those authors would refer to chance or one-time meetings between the Prophet and specific individuals. Thus, for example, Muir and Margoliouth attributed the information found in the Quran to Baheerah, a monk that the Prophet may have met in Syria during his youth while part of a trading caravan, long before he claimed to be a Prophet. Such arguments are flatly illogical and extremely far-fetched. I did not spend much time with them.
Some critics were forced to admit that the Prophet Muhammad was known to be an extremely honest and sincere person. They also noted how he did not really materially benefit from his actions, as he continued to live a very sincere and humble life. Therefore, they concluded that he was honest and sincere but terribly deluded. But still, if he were deluded, where did this information come from? Some made it seem like it was from his subconscious. Anderson even called it “wishful thinking.” Others actually said that he was suffering from epileptic seizures and that the revelations were the result of such seizures. These theories may have been convincing to anyone who simply read what these authors wrote without taking the time to read and study the Quran itself. As shall be noted later in this lecture, there is simply too much information in the Quran that could not have possibly have come from one’s own subconscious.
Another common claim that I had read was that the Prophet Muhammad was some kind of “nationalist” leader whose main goal was to unite the Arabs. Typical of this way of thinking is what was stated in The New Catholic Encyclopedia: “About the age of 40 he received his ‘prophetic call’ to unite Arabs under a monotheism.” This approach can be considered more complementary, as it does not seek to ridicule the Prophet in any way. Yet, at the same time, it made no sense to me just on the basis of one reading of the Quran. It is sufficient to note that there is not one passage in the Quran that is addressed to the Arabs. In the Quran, God speaks to humankind or the people, believers and disbelievers. If this book were meant for the Arabs only, why are they never addressed directly and, instead, these general terms that cross all of humanity are used?
In any case, the plethora of their different views concerning the Prophet was a sign to me that something unfathomable to those authors had occurred. This was all evidence to me that there was really something to the Quran, as otherwise just could have just discounted it as a trivial work, not worth the effort of refuting or discussing. It actually got me even more interested in the Quran. This is something that you will see again later: The works that should have dissuaded me from further pursuing the Quran made me more convinced that I need to pursue it further.
 Not too long afterwards I came across a book written by someone with a Muslim name. This book was The Spirit of Islam written by Sir Syed Ameer Ali. This book was written by a notorious modernist and, even at that time, I found it in contradiction to everything that I had learned about Islam. Most prominently, Syed Ameer Ali clearly believed that it was the Prophet Muhammad himself who had written the Quran.
 For a review and critique of many of the views of the Orientalists (non-Muslims writing about Islam), the interested reader may consult the following works: Mohammad Khalifa, The Sublime Quran and Orientalism (London: Longman, 1983); Muhammad Mohar Ali, The Quran and the Orientalists (Ipswich, England: Jamiyat Ihyaa Minhaaj al-Sunnah, 2004).
 New Catholic Encyclopedia (Washington: The Catholic University of America, 1981), vol. 1, p. 715. Quoted from Hamza Mustafa Njozi, The Sources of the Quran: A Critical Review of the Authorship Theories (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: World Assembly of Muslim Youth, 1991), p. 17. Obviously, not all the books that I read at that time are available to me at this time, some thirty years later. However, I do recall the basic works that I read and the basic messages that they gave. For the most part, though, the direct quotes have been “reconstructed” through sources available to me at the time of this writing.
In my study of other religions, one of my goals was to read each religion’s sacred scriptures directly, in order to understand directly from the source what the religion was all about. This is obviously what piqued my curiosity in the Quran.
I already had a strong belief in God and was convinced of the existence of a Supreme Being. In fact, for a while, I was sometimes a Christian and sometimes simply a deist, following in the footsteps of Voltaire and many of the “founding fathers” of the United States.
Already believing in God, therefore, my first parameter for a true religion was that the religion must have God as its original source. No one can know the details about God except God. He is above and beyond the realm of human experience. More importantly, no one knows how He should be worshipped except Him. No one knows what way of life is pleasing to Him except Him. Although humans are able to come to many sound conclusions about God, no human could logically claim that he has somehow—independent of revelation from God—discovered the way in which God should be worshipped and the way that is pleasing to God. Thus, if the ultimate goal in one’s heart is to truly please and worship God as He should be worshipped, then one has no alternative but to turn to Him for guidance and direction.
Based on this first premise, any man-made religion is not a logical alternative. No matter how hard humans may try, they cannot authoritatively speak about how God is supposed to be worshipped.
It is important to note that this parameter does not mean that one time God played a role in the formation of a specific religion. No, this parameter means that the entire scope of the teachings come from God. There are some religions that may have originated from God but, afterwards, their adherents felt free to rely upon human reasoning to adjust, modify or alter the religion. In the process, they actually created a new religion, different from that which God had revealed. This, once again, completely defeats the purpose. What God revealed does not need any improvement or change from humankind. Any such change or alteration means a deviation away from what God revealed. Thus, any change or alteration will only take humankind away from the true and proper way of worshipping God. Furthermore, God is more than capable of revealing a perfect revelation for any time or circumstance. If there were any need to alter or change any of God’s laws, the authority for that also rests only with God. In other words, God is free to change some of His laws due to His wisdom and knowledge, for example, out of mercy or as a form of punishment upon His servants. He may do this by sending a new revelation or even by sending a new prophet. With that, there is no logical problem. But there is a grave problem when humans take it upon themselves to “fix” God’s revelation.
Thus, the first parameter states that the religion originates with God. However, this is not sufficient. The second parameter is that the teachings from God must be preserved in their original form. The logic behind this point should be obvious. If the original revelation came from God but was then later tampered and distorted by humans, one now has a mixture of God’s religion and human interpolation. This is no longer God’s pure religion. Although this may seem like an obvious premise, it is amazing to see many people who have not even considered this point, blindly following scriptures or teachings that cannot be historically authenticated.
In fact, this is one of the first things that impressed me concerning the Quran. Even those who were clearly anti-Islam in their writings, such as Sir William Muir, would admit that the Quran that we have today was preserved since the time of the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him. In fact, even those who tried to be most critical and cast doubt upon the complete authenticity of the Quran, such as Jeffery, impressed me even further as to the amount of information that we have concerning the history of this text.
To fully appreciate this point, one must put it into the context of my Christian background. Incidentally, this paper is in no way meant to be a critique of Christianity. However, it is the background from which I came and it was the litmus test by which I examined other religions. Therefore, I did a lot of cross comparisons between Christianity and other religions, including Islam. Hence, I have no choice but to refer to Christianity during the course of this paper as this is a paper about my experience.
 For quotes from numerous non-Muslim writers affirming the authenticity of the Quran, see Dialogue Between Islam and Christianity: Discussion of Religious Dogma Between Intellectuals from the Two Religions (Fairfax, VA: Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America, 1999), pp. 295f.
I was painfully aware of much of the history of the Bible and it was one of the main problems that I had with Christianity. I had asked pastors and the like about this question and most of them at that time, this was before the fundamentalists became very mainstream, were very open about it and would admit that there were problems with the historical authenticity of the Bible. At the same time, though, most of them proclaimed that the “teachings” have been preserved although the details may not have been. In other words, the Bible was clearly not God’s word; they would claim that the Biblical writers were “inspired” by God. That is the most that they could claim, although even that they could not prove. This seemed to me to be blind faith because if you do not know if the details have been preserved, how can you be so certain that the main teachings have truly been preserved. In reality, we do not even know who Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were and why exactly their names were attached to those famous Gospels.
In the light of this, I found Jeffrey, while trying to prove that there are some minor difficulties with the Quran, demonstrating that the compilation of the Quran from its earliest years is known in great detail, as most of his work was concerning the time of the Companions of the Prophet. I was very impressed and this supposed attack on the Quran simply, again as I alluded to earlier, made me continue in my study of the Quran. (Of course, much later I would read responses to Jeffrey’s arguments, totally refuting his claims of the Quran not being preserved in tact.)
In any case, it caught my eye that the Quran says about itself:
“We have revealed the reminder and We shall preserve it.” (Quran 15:9)
This was interesting to me because within the Quran there is a clear reference as to how the previous peoples fail to preserve completely the message that they received. Hence, in the light of what the Quran was saying about previous revelations, this was a very bold statement. And, incidentally, it can be considered one of the prophecies of the Quran- coming from a Judeo-Christian perspective, prophecies were somewhat important to me. If they did not come to pass, they would be very damaging in my eyes while if they did come to pass, I would consider that a very good sign.
Once again, the history of Islam presents a different scenario than that of the earlier revelations. The Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, lived just over 1400 years ago. He is definitely the most “historical” of the various prophets. Thus, the history of the Quran is known and documented.
The Quran was preserved with meticulous care. The Quran describes itself as both a “reading” (Quran) and a book (kitaab). In fact, it was via both of these means that the Quran was meticulously preserved.
During the life of the Prophet, the Prophet had specific scribes whose job was to record the revelation when the he received it. The Quran was not revealed all at once. It was revealed and recorded over a period of twenty-three years. During that time, revelation could come to the Prophet at any time. When it did, it would be recognized by physical signs on the Prophet (a point that led some to claim that he was simply epileptic). He would then call for his scribes and tell them what had been revealed and exactly where the new passage fits vis-à-vis what had already been revealed by God.
The Quran, which is not a large book, was also preserved in memory as well as written form from the time of the Prophet Muhammad himself. Many of the Companions of the Prophet had memorized the entire Quran and, fearing what had happened to earlier religious communities, they took the necessary steps to protect it from any form of adulteration. The Quran continues to be memorized today—another amazing aspect of the Quran. In fact, God says about the Quran:
“And We have indeed made the Quran easy to understand and remember…” (Quran 54:17)
To this day, millions of Muslims have the Quran memorized. If Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 were to be a reality today and all the books were to be burned to ashes, the Quran would still survive. Muslims would be able to rewrite the entire Quran from memory.
Soon after the death of the Prophet, the Quran was all compiled together and shortly afterwards official copies were sent to the distant lands to ensure that the text was pure. To this day, one can travel to any part of the world and pick up a copy Quran and find that it is the same throughout the world.
Even the language of the Quran, which is essential to keeping a true understanding of the text, has been preserved. Such cannot be said for earlier prophets such as Moses and Jesus, whose Hebrew and Aramaic no longer exist.
As noted earlier, the greatest care was taken to make sure that anything that did not belong to the revelation directly from God—even the Prophet’s own statements—were kept completely out of the Quran. The Quran was nothing but the words that the Prophet received as revelation and informed his followers that they formed part of the Quran. Hence, the Quran is completely different from the Bible, which includes stories about the prophets, comments on their lives and teachings, letters and writings by non-prophets and so forth. No such human interpolations and additions can be found in the Quran whatsoever.
Thus, the Quran originally impressed me in two ways: First, it clearly proclaimed itself to be the word of God and was not interlaced with words from humans. Second, it was minutely preserved from the time of its revelation. These two points meant that the Quran met my logical parameters for religion and revelation. I was therefore ready to move on to further study and analyze its teachings.
By the way, someone may rightfully ask as to why it is that God allowed his earlier revelations to be distorted and not preserved. One can actually think of a lot of important reasons behind this. First, as is clear in their own scriptures, the earlier prophets, such as Moses and Jesus, were not sent for all of mankind. Their messages were clearly for the Tribe of Israel and for their particular times. Actually, God teaches us that all peoples had messengers who were sent to them and whose purposes were limited. The Prophet Muhammad, and therefore his revelation, is meant for all of humankind from his time until the Day of Judgment. Secondly, if their revelations were preserved, their followers could use that as a reason for continuing to follow their prophets and refusing to follow the Prophet Muhammad. Since it is very clear via many means, such as historical evidence, contradictory statements within the text and so on, that their scriptures have not been preserved in detail and that they cannot claim to be following what is purely God’s religion—not mixed with human interpolation—they have no valid excuse not to abandon their non-preserved revelation for the true, complete and exact revelation from God found in the Quran.
 Unfortunately, space does not permit a detailed discussion of this topic although it was extremely important to my comparison between the Bible and the Quran. For the sake of brevity, the conclusions of one author concerning the Old Testament will be presented. After a lengthy discussion of the history of the Torah, Dirks concludes,
The received Torah is not a single, unitary document. It is a cut-and-paste compilation…with additional layering… While Moses, the person who received the original revelation, which the Torah is supposed to represent, lived no later than the 13th century BCE, and probably lived in the 15th century BCE, the received Torah dates to a much later epoch. The oldest identifiable substrata of the received Torah, i.e., J, can be dated no earlier than the 10th century BCE… Further, these different substrata were not combined into a received Torah until approximately 400 BCE, which would be approximately 1,000 years after the life of Moses. Still further, the received Torah was never totally standardized, with at least four different texts existing in the first century CE, which was approximately 1,500 years after the life of Moses. Additionally, if one adopts the Masoretic text as the most “official” text of the received Torah, then the oldest existing manuscript dates to circa 895 CE, which is about 2,300 years after the life of Moses. In short, although the received Torah may well contain some portions of the original Torah, the provenance of the received Torah is broken, largely unknown, and can in no way be traced to Moses. [Jerald F. Dirks, The Cross & the Crescent (Beltsville, MD: Amana Publications, 2001), p. 53. Other important discussions of the authenticity of the Old Testament may be found in Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, the Quran and Science (Indianapolis, IN: American Trust Publications, 1978), pp. 1-43; M. M. Al-Azami, The History of the Quranic Text from Revelation to Compilation: A Comparative Study with the Old and New Testaments (Leicester, United Kingdom: UK Islamic Academy, 2003), pp. 211-263.]
Although Jesus came many centuries after Moses, the revelation that he received did not fare much better. A group of Christians scholars known as the Fellows of the Jesus Seminar tried to determine which of the sayings attributed to Jesus can actually be considered authentic. They stated, “Eighty-two percent of the words ascribed to Jesus in the gospels were not actually spoken by him.” [Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover and the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels: What did Jesus Really Say? (New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1993), p. 5.] In describing the history of the gospels, they wrote, “The stark truth is that the history of the Greek gospels, from their creation in the first century until the discovery of the first copies of them at the beginning of the third, remains largely unknown and therefore unmapped territory.” [Funk, et al., p. 9.] Bart Ehrman’s work The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture has identified how the scripture has been changed over time. He states his thesis, which he proves in detail, at the outset, “My thesis can be stated simply: scribes occasionally altered the words of their sacred texts to make them more patently orthodox and to prevent their misuse by Christians who espoused aberrant views.” [Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. xi.] That is something like putting the cart before the horse: The beliefs should be based on the transmitted texts and the texts should not be altered to fit the beliefs.
Note that these first two premises concerning the sound religion are closely related to each other. It is a general recognition on the part of many Christians that their texts have not been exactly preserved. This implies human interpolation and distortion. Since the text has been distorted in some way, it leads them to believe that they must “correct” the text. Hence, they give themselves ultimate authority to decide what the religion should be. Thus, in October 2005, the bishops of England could come up with a paper stating that there are many aspects of the Bible that one should not consider true. They go on to delineate what is true in the Bible and what is not true. If the original texts were minutely preserved, there would be no need for any correction or new authority to state what is acceptable and what is rejected.
 The Quran itself refers to the distortion of the earlier books by the previous peoples as well as their attempts to conceal some of the revelation. See, for example, Quran 5:14-15 and 4:46.
 A detailed history of the Quran and its preservation may be found in M. M. Al-Azami, The History of the Quranic Text from Revelation to Compilation: A Comparative Study with the Old and New Testaments (Leicester, United Kingdom: UK Islamic Academy, 2003), pp. 1-208.
 The differences between Classical Arabic (the language of the Quran) and Modern Standard Arabic are slight and inconsequential. One completely unfamiliar with Arabic can skim through the following book that points out when such differences occur: Elsaid Badawi, M. G. Carter and Adrian Gully, Modern Written Arabic: A Comprehensive Grammar (London: Routledge, 2004).
I was very impressed with the Quran’s teachings about God and found it unlike any other scripture that I had studied. This was once again proving to me that this scripture was free of all human interpolation. I was also very impressed with the way that it handled belief about God in particular and its belief system as a whole.
Let me explain what I mean by this.
Coming from a Christian background, I experienced what many experienced concerning matters of belief and how to understand them. It was virtually impossible to get straight answers concerning the very basics of Christian beliefs from the pastors and priests. The reality is that the concepts of belief were meant to be a “mystery” and belief in what one cannot truly understand is what proved a person’s faith.
That approach simply did not sit well with me and I found it, and still find it, illogical. It does not seem that the truth as revealed by the Merciful and Wise God, who has given so many marvelous signs in the creation, should lead one to have to say, as the 2nd-century North African Church Father Tertullian is well known for saying: credo quia absurdum est, “I believe because it is absurd.” Religion should not be simply “faith-based”—a leap of faith, as such. Actually, it should be first as well “knowledge-based,” so that both the heart and the mind find solace in it and submit to it with a firm resolution. And this is what I found in Islam.
You should recall that the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, first encountered a people who were indulged in idol worship. Furthermore, they, in general, did not believe in the Hereafter. Some of them, it seems, did not have a clear perception of the Supreme Being.
It was in this environment that the Quran was revealed. The Quran did not simply give them a command to believe. No, indeed! The Quran gave them proof after proof, lesson after lesson, sign after sign that should make anyone believe that there is a Creator and that the Creator created humans and all of this wonderful working of the Universe with a purpose, as He is not a foolish or ignorant Creator.
Hence, the Quran is filled with passages demanding that humans think. In essence the message was this: Allah knows that if humans do use their mental capabilities properly, they will come to recognize the truth of what Allah is saying in the Quran. In fact, Islam teaches that the recognition of such facts is innate within the souls of humans.
The fact is that one’s belief in Allah, the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad is not based on mere emotion or a blind leap of faith. It is based on real reasons and evidence.
Coming from my background, this boldness in propagating the belief and challenging humans to think and ponder was nothing short of miraculous.
One concept that many of the non-Muslim writers were claiming was that the Prophet Muhammad simply stole most of his teachings from the Jews and Christians. Take, for example, the title of Bell’s book, The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment—which, by the way, if you tell any Arab that Islam developed in a Christian environment, it would be a real shock to them!
I recognized that there were two possibilities:
(1) the Prophet Muhammad did steal his material or
(2) the revelation he received was from the same God who sent Moses, Jesus and the earlier prophets, as the Prophet Muhammad himself claimed. If it were the latter, it would explain why there would be much overlap in the teachings and message. The same God sent the earlier prophets and is simply recounting their stories again in the new revelation.
However, I immediately started to notice some glaring differences between the Quran and the Bible, even with respect to the teachings about God. If the Prophet Muhammad was “editing” what he was hearing from the Bible—and by the way, at that time, there was no Bible available in Arabic—then he was doing an excellent job.
I found that the strange teachings about God that one finds throughout the Bible are completely and unequivocally missing from the Quran.
For the sake of brevity, only a few examples illustrating this point shall be given.
The New International Version of Genesis 3:8-11, reads,
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” 11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
Here, God is pictured as walking in the garden in the cool of the day. What is even more astonishing is that Adam and Eve were able to hide from God and he had to ask, “Where are you?” If a human is able to hide from Him in the garden, how is it that this Lord is going to have knowledge of the sins that people commit? It would be difficult for any human to gender in his heart the kind of love and fear of God that he should have when he believes that his God is so faulty and weak that an event like this could occur to him.
In Genesis 32:24-28, there is the story and literal description of Jacob wrestling with and defeating God. In verse 28, it says, “You [Jacob] have wrestled with God and with men, and you have won.” In other words, the creator of the universe whom mankind is expected to worship and submit to was defeated by a mere mortal in a wrestling match.
The Old Testament even pictures God as one who intended to do evil but then repented. Exodus 32:14 states, “And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people” (King James Version). It would not be surprising for anyone to turn away from God and not consider Him worthy of worship if He himself has to repent from His own evil.
 The New King James Version reads: 24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” 27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
 Of course, this begs the question of to whom is it that God must or should repent?
Furthermore, in the Talmud—and some non-Muslim scholars, such as Rodinson, claimed that the Quranic material came from the Talmud—it states that there was a dispute between God and the Jewish scholars. After a lengthy debate with no resolution, they decided to refer the matter to one of the rabbis. After the rabbi’s decision, God was forced to admit that He was mistaken. Thus, God, according to them, is not even perfect with respect to His knowledge.
The Christian conception of God and God having a son is, of course, completely blasphemous from an Islamic perspective. I often wondered how there could have been a semi-human son of God or how Jesus in particular could be the son of God. As Jesus is pictured in the New Testament, besides performing some miracles that earlier prophets performed, there is nothing special about him. He lived like a human being, eating and drinking. He suffered like a human and even prayed out to God. The Romans and Jews defeated God’s supposed son and he could not save himself, even crying out to his father. Beyond that, there are also of the difficult questions encountered by Christians: was he partially divine and partially human, was he completely divine, he was completely human, was he divine since birth, was he divine at a time and then that divinity left him and so on. In the Islamic conception of God, there is nothing of this nature whatsoever. In fact, the Quran even denies the crucifixion—surely if the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, were simply copying from the Bible, he would have included that story.
In the Quran, on the other hand, God is depicted in such a way that one realizes that He is deserving of worship. One feels gratitude to Him and hope in Him. God truly becomes beloved to the individual as He understands more about Him via the Quran. Some passages in the Quran describing God are noteworthy:
“God is He, other than Whom there is no other god; Who knows (all things) both secret and open; He, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. God is He, other than Whom there is no other god; the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace (and Perfection), the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Safety, the Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme: Glory to God! (High is He) above the partners they attribute to Him. He is God, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names: whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare His Praises and Glory; and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (Quran 59:22-24)
“God! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission? He knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter. And they will never compass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills. His Footstool extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. And He is the Most High, the Most Great” (Quran 2:255).
“Say [to them, O Muhammad], ‘He is God, (the) One. God, The Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need. He begets not, nor was He begotten; And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him” (Quran 112:1-4).
By the way, even when describing the Prophets, many important, yet rather despicable, stories that are prominent in the Bible have been completely ignored in the Quran. For example, Exodus 32:1-6 has the story of Aaron, the brother of Moses and one of the religious leaders of the tribe of Israel, making a golden calf as an idol for worship. In 2 Samuel, chapter 11, verses 1-17, the leader of the Jewish people David, whom the Muslims consider a prophet, is shamelessly pictured as committing adultery, doing his best to conceal it and then doing his best to have the woman’s husband killed. Solomon is also accused of committing idolatry simply out of love for his many wives.
In addition, the Bible also claims the following: Jacob committed deceitful tricks towards his father Isaac. The drunken Prophet Lot committed incest with his daughters. Judas committed incest with his daughter in law. Pharez and Zarah who were the result of that incest are honored as the great grandfathers and great grandmothers of Jesus. Jesus is reported to have rebuffed his own mother when he said, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?”
All of these stories are not found in the Quran and a Muslim does not believe such ignoble accusations concerning the noble prophets selected by God to guide humanity.
 The Talmud is, “An authoritative, influential compilation of rabbinic traditions and discussions about Jewish life and law.” Larousse Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions (Edinburgh: Larousse, 1995), p. 513.
 Cf., Anas Karzoon, Manhaj al-Islaam fi Tazkiyah al-Nafs (Jeddah: Daar Noor al-Maktabaat, 1997), vol. 1, p. 97.
 So that this author may not somehow perversely be accused of anti-Semitism, the following quote should be noted. Israel Shahak writes, “According to the Talmud, Jesus was executed by a proper rabbinical court for idolatry, inciting other Jews to idolatry and contempt of rabbinical authority. All classical Jewish sources which mention his execution are quite happy to take responsibility for it: in the Talmudic account the Romans are not even mentioned.” Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years (London: Pluto Press, 1997), pp. 97-98. He also wrote (pp. 20-21) about Jesus’ fate, “the Talmud states that his punishment in hell is to be immersed in boiling excrement.”
 The King James Version reads: 1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. 6And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
 The New International Version reads: 1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, "Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, "I am pregnant." 6 So David sent this word to Joab: "Send me Uriah the Hittite." And Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, "Go down to your house and wash your feet." So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master's servants and did not go down to his house. 10 When David was told, "Uriah did not go home," he asked him, "Haven't you just come from a distance? Why didn't you go home?" 11 Uriah said to David, "The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord's men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!" 12 Then David said to him, "Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back." So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David's invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master's servants; he did not go home. 14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, "Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die." 16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David's army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.
 I Kings, chapter 11, verses 1-10 of the New International Version reads: 1 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh's daughter-- Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods." Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. 4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done. 7 On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. 8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods. 9 The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD's command.
 For the accounts of these accusations, see, respectively, Genesis 27:16, Genesis 19:30-38, Mathew 1:3 and John 2:4.
I noticed almost immediately that the Quranic teachings are very comprehensive, complete, balanced and practical. For the sake of brevity, I will not go into this aspect in any detail but it was something that impressed me quite a bit. The range and flexibility of the laws of the Quran are impressive. It was clear to me that this book was not revealed just for a people at a specific time but was meant for people of very different times and places.
The Quran is very comprehensive in that it touches upon and gives clear guidance concerning such diverse issues as ritual acts of worship, business transactions, marriage, divorce, the laws of warfare and so on. There is a definite balance that one feels when one reads the Quran. A human’s spiritual and mundane needs are met simultaneously in the same passage. Even the most detailed passages concerning law still contain admonition, remembrance of Allah and exhortation to behave in the best manner possible.
The scope of the Quranic teachings is not just for the individual himself. It is not the case that Allah has given him some kind of spiritual guidance to, perhaps, only guide his morals and character. Instead, Allah has also revealed a law that is meant for society as a whole. Humans do not have to grope about trying to decide what is best for the community at large. It has been given by Allah to guide mankind to the best way of life.
It covers the individual’s personal practice and piety as well as his relationship with his parents, spouse, children, neighbors, community and humanity as a whole. All of this with a proper balance and within the overall framework of making one’s life a true and complete form of worship of God alone. There is clearly one only goal for humans—the worship of God—and all of the deeds of this worldly life fall within the scope of that goal. There is no schizophrenia in a person’s life. He is not trying to please God and Caesar at the same time or even at different times. He does not even need to resort to chasing after vain desires and compromise his ethics to live a rewarding life in this world. He simply needs to live his life in this world in a wholesome manner under the shade of the comprehensive guidance of the Quran.
The practicality of Islamic Law is one particular aspect that truly impressed me at that time, coming, again, from my Christian background. It is a great blessing that in Islam one finds detailed teachings that result in their desired goals while, at the same time, being extremely practical and consistent with human nature. The lack of such teachings is one of the greatest dilemmas faced by Christianity. For example, with respect to societal cohesion and interaction, the greatest teachings found in the New Testament are what are known as “the hard sayings” of Jesus. They are as follows:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).
Christian scholars themselves are perplexed. How are such obviously impossible or impractical teachings to be applied? Just one example of a discussion of these words will suffice to show how perplexing they are to those who staunchly believe in them:
[For interpreting these words, t]he model proposed by Joachim Jeremias is simple, representative, and of continuing influence. According to this model, the Sermon usually is seen in one of three ways: (1) as a perfectionist code, fully in line with the legalism of rabbinic Judaism; (2) as an impossible ideal, meant to drive the believer first to desperation, and then to trust in God's mercy; or (3) as an ‘interim ethic’ meant for what was expected to be a brief period of waiting in the end time, and which is now obsolete. Jeremias adds his own fourth thesis: The Sermon is an indicative depiction of incipient life in the kingdom of God, which presupposes as its condition of possibility the experience of conversion. More complex or comprehensive schematizations have been offered, but most major interpreters can be understood in relation to the options posed by Jeremias.
In Islam, there are no such dilemmas. The teachings are easy, flexible, practical and completely suited to everyday life, even for a new Muslim living in a completely non-Islamic environment, such as I was. The famed author James A. Michener also noted and appreciated this aspect of Islam. In one of the earliest writings that I had read about Islam, entitled “Islam—the Misunderstood Religion,” Michener wrote,
The Koran is remarkably down-to-earth in its discussion of the good life. In one memorable passage it directs: ‘When ye deal with each other in transactions involving future obligations reduce them to writing… and get two witnesses…’ It is this combination of dedication to one God, plus practical instruction, that makes the Koran unique.
 Lisa Sowle Cahill, Love Your Enemies: Discipleship, Pacifism, and Just War Theory (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994), p. 27.
 Quoted in Islam—The First and Final Religion (Karachi, Pakistan: Begum Aisha Bawany Waqf, 1978), pp. 86-87.
The next aspect that caught me eye—and this again was something that non-Muslims were mentioning in their works—was the effect that the Quran had on the generation of the Prophet. May the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, and afterwards.
It is clear that the Arabs at the time of the Prophet were wont to drink, make merry and engage in tribal battles. They were known to sometimes kill their female babies. However, one finds that in a short span of close to twenty years a movement that started with just one man was able, due to the grace of God and the miraculous effect of the Quran, to change almost all of the Arabs and non-Arabs in the Arabian peninsula and bind them together into a brotherhood of faith and mercy which was so strong that if any one part of this brotherhood was in anguish, the whole brotherhood would be affected negatively. At that time, one could find two people who were from previously antagonistic tribes sharing their wealth and willing to give up their lives for each other. Indeed, one was willing to split half of his wealth and divorce one of his wives for the sake of his new brother who was from a “foreign” tribe.
Perhaps one of the best descriptions of the change that took place among the Muslims can be seen in the famous statement of the Companion Jafar ibn Abu Talib who was asked by the Negus of Abyssinia about the mission of the Messenger. He told him,
O king, we were an ignorant people, worshipping idols, eating carrion and indulging in sexual pleasures. We ridiculed our neighbors, a brother oppressed his brother, and the strong devoured the weak. At this time a man rose among us, who had already been known to be truthful, noble and honest. This man called us to Islam. And he taught us to give up worshipping stones, to speak the truth, to refrain from bloodshed, and not to defraud the orphans of their property. He taught us to provide comfort to our neighbors and not to bring a slander against chaste women. He enjoined upon us to offer prayers, observe fasts and give alms. We followed him, gave up polytheism and idolatry and refrained from all evil deeds. It is for this new way that our people have become hostile to us and compel us to return to our old misguided life.
That generation, in turn, took the message to the rest of the world. They were clearly a people who were taken from darkness into light and to the straight path of God. When asked by the Emperor of Persia what brought the Muslims to their lands, two different Companions answered in similar terms: “God has sent us to take whoever wishes from the servitude of mankind to the servitude of God and from the tightness of this world to its expanse and from the injustice of the ways of life [in this world] to the justice of Islam.”
During the lifetime of the Prophet one can see how these people were turned into a pious generation, fearing God and hoping for God’s reward. Even when they, as humans, slipped and committed sins, they eagerly repented and turned to God for His forgiveness. They would much rather face a severe penalty in this life, such as death, than face God with their sins on their hands. This can be seen in the cases of Maaiz ibn Maalik al-Aslami and the woman called al-Ghaamidiyah. Both of them came to the Prophet to admit that they had committed adultery and each asked the Prophet for the worldly retribution to erase their sins. In the case of al-Ghaamidiyah, the Prophet asked her to go back after her confession and to return to the Prophet after she had given birth. She came back with her child in her arms and asked the Prophet to purify her from her sins. The Prophet then asked her to return after she had weaned the child. Then she returned after some time and told the Prophet that the child was no longer in need of her breastfeeding. She once again asked for her expiation from her sin. Then, finally, the Prophet implemented the legal retribution as an expiation for her sin of adultery. The Prophet then praised her act of repentance.
The effect of this change in the Companions continued long after the death of the Prophet. Note the following accounts of the Companions as they sought to spread the message of Islam to the rest of the world:
The sterling character and qualities of the Muslim soldiers were once praised by a Roman officer in these words: “At night you will find them prayerful; during the day you will find them fasting. They keep their promises, order good deeds, suppress evil and maintain complete equality among themselves.”
Another testified thus: “They are horsemen by day and ascetics by night. They pay for what they eat in territories under their occupation. They are first to salute when they arrive at a place and are valiant fighters who just wipe out the enemy.”
A third said: “During the night it seems that they do not belong to this world and have no other business than to pray, and during the day, when one sees them mounted on their horses, one feels that they have been doing nothing else all their lives. They are great archers and great lancers, yet they are so devoutly religious and remember God so much and so often that one can hardly hear talk about anything else in their company.”
The benefits of the civilization developed upon the teachings of the Quran went well beyond the Muslim lands. Many are familiar with the Muslims’ influence on Europe and how Islamic influences eventually led to the Renaissance. The author of A History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, John Draper wrote, “Four years after the death of Justinian, A.D. 569, was born at Mecca, in Arabia, the man who, of all men, has exercised the greatest influence upon the human race.” This work was quite an eye opener for me at the time of my conversion to Islam. Draper, writing in the 19th century, was very disappointed and seemingly angered that Muslims continually failed to receive their proper accolades for all that they contributed to European society and civilization. For instance, he writes "To these Saracens we are indebted for many of our personal comforts. Religiously cleanly, it was not possible for them to clothe, according to the fashion of the natives of Europe, in a garment unchanged till it dropped to pieces of itself, a loathsome mass of vermin, stench and rags... They taught us the use of the oft-changed and oft-washed under-garment of linen and cotton, which still passes among ladies under its old Arabic name...”
Many scholars have recognized the importance of Islam and the Quran’s teachings for the betterment of humanity. The famous intellect George Bernard Shaw once stated,
“I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality… I have prophecied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today. Mediaeval ecclesiastics, either through ignorance or bigotry, painted Muhammadanism in the darkest colours. They were, in fact, trained to hate both the man Muhammad and his religion. To them Muhammad was anti-Christ. I have studied him, the wonderful man, and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ he must be called the saviour of Humanity.
The translation of this statement was taken from Allama Shibli Numani, Sirat-un-Nabi (Lahore, Pakistan: Kazi Publications, 1979), p. 211. The incident was recorded by ibn Ishaq in al-Maghazi and Ahmad. And its chain is sahih according to al-Albaani. See al-Albaani's footnotes to Muhammad al-Ghazaali, Fiqh al-Seera (Qatar: Idaarah Ihyaa al-Turaath al-Islaami, n.d.), p. 126.
Ismaaeel ibn Katheer, Al-Bidaayah wa al-Nihaayah (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyya, n.d.), vol. 7, pp. 39-40.
The story of both Maaiz and al-Ghaamidiyyah are recorded by Muslim.
Quoted from Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Islam and the World (International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, 1983), p. 81. Also see ibn Katheer, al-Bidaayah, vol. 7, p. 53.
 Quoted in Islam—The First and Final Religion, p. 39. Of course, more recently, Michael H. Hart’s The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History put the Prophet Muhammad r number one among all the world’s influential leaders.
 Draper’s work is not available to me at the current time. Therefore, this quote was taken from Aslam Munjee, The Crusades: Then and Now (Arlington, VA: First Amendment Publishers, 2004), p. 3.
 “A Collection of Writings of Some of the Eminent Scholars,” published by the Woking Muslim Mission, 1935 edition, p. 77. Quoted in Islam: The First & Final Religion (Karachi, Pakistan: Begum Aisha Bawany Waqf, 1978), p. 57. In reality, many non-Muslim, Western thinkers have had words of great praise for the religion of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, or the Quran. The work just cited compiles numerous such quotes and is interesting reading.
Coming from a Christian perspective, I was anxious to see what kind of prophecies were related to the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him. I was taught that if a prophet’s prophecies do not come to pass, he could not be a true prophet of God.
There are a number of such prophecies in the Quran but I will highlight only one of them—actually I have already made mention of one, the fact that the Quran would be preserved. (Similarly, God promised, although the Prophet had many adversaries who wanted to see him dead, that He would protect the Prophet Muhammad until his mission was concluded. Indeed, the Prophet did not die until after God had revealed the verse, “This day I have completed your religion for you…”)
I am highlighting this one prophecy because it had to do with events that were completely out of the control of the Prophet or the Arabs.
There is a passage in the Quran that reads:
“The Roman Empire has been defeated in a land close by: but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious, within three to nine years. With God is the Decision, in the past and in the future. On that Day shall the Believers rejoice, with the help of God. He helps whom He will, and He is Exalted in Might, Most Merciful.” (Quran 30:1-5)
This revelation came to the Prophet at a time when the Muslims were being heavily persecuted in Medina. In fact, it was around the same time as the first migration of Muslims from Mecca to Abyssinia—a migration that took place due to that persecution. This was in the year 615 C.E. At the same time, the Byzantine Empire was being completely overpowered by the Persians. The idol-worshippers of Mecca identified themselves with the Persians, who were Zoroastrians and worshipped a god of light and a god of darkness while the Muslims identified with Christian Byzantine as they believed in revelation from God, prophets and the like. In fact, the war between the Byzantine Empire and the Persians has been described as something of a crusade as many of the Christian holy sites were destroyed. Hence, the disbelievers of Mecca were very happy with what was occurring. It was in this context that this revelation came from God.
Actually, even after this revelation came, the Byzantines continued to lose ground to the Persians. The situation got so bad that the Byzantine emperor was forced to move his capital from Constantinople to Tunis in North Africa. However, God had stated that they would be victorious within three to nine years.
In short, as the British historian Gibbon wrote, “Even seven to eight years after this prediction of the Koran, the conditions were such that no one could even imagine that the Byzantine Empire would ever gain an upper hand over Iran. Not to speak of gaining domination, no one could hope that the Empire, under the circumstances, would even survive.”
However, Heraclius started his counter attack in 623 C.E. from Armenia and by 624 C.E. he ravaged the principal fire-temple of Iran and defeated the Persians. This was the same year in which the Battle of Badr took place. After the Muslims were forced to flee to Medina and after the Prophet himself migrated and set up an Islamic state there, the disbelievers of Mecca continued to pursue the Muslims and attempted to bring an end to Islam. The first military conflict between the two sides took place at the Battle of Badr. Badly out-armed and out-numbered, the small band of Muslims was able to achieve a stunning victory over the polytheists of Mecca. Maudoodi writes, “Ibn 'Abbas, Abu Sa'id Khudri, Sufyan Thauri, Suddi and others have stated that the Romans’ victory against the Iranians and the Muslims’ victory at Badr against the polytheists took place almost at the same time. The Muslims, therefore, were doubly pleased. The same is supported by the histories of Byzantium and Iran. 624 A.D. is the year in which the Battle of Badr was fought and the same is the year in which the Byzantine Emperor destroyed the birth-place of Zoroaster and ravaged the principal fire-temple of Iran.”
 Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (New York: Modern Library), Vol. II, p. 788. Quoted from S. Abul A’la Maudodl, The Meaning of the Quran (Lahore, Pakistan: Islamic Publications Ltd., 1981), vol. IX, p. 184.
 Ibid., vol. IX, p. 191.
The “scientific miracles” of the Quran is a topic that many people are talking about nowadays, as the research in many fields continues. The source for this is probably the fact that there are literally hundreds of verses of the Quran in which God points to different aspects of this creation and encourages humans to reflect and learn from what they are seeing.
Shortly after I became Muslim, I became aware of Maurice Bucaille’s The Bible, the Quran and Science. For the sake of brevity, I wish to share with you the important conclusions that he reached:
The Quran follows on from the two Revelations that preceded it and is not only free from contradictions in its narrations, the sign of the various human manipulations to be found in the Gospels, but provides a quality all of its own for those who examine it objectively and in the light of science i.e. its complete agreement with modern scientific data. What is more, statements are to be found in it (as has been shown) that are connected with science: and yet it is unthinkable that a man of Muhammad's time could have been the author of them. Modern scientific knowledge therefore allows us to understand certain verses of the Quran which, until now, it has been impossible to interpret.
In view of the level of knowledge in Muhammad's day, it is inconceivable that many of the statements in the Quran which are connected with science could have been the work of a man. It is, moreover, perfectly legitimate, not only to regard the Quran as the expression of a Revelation, but also to award it a very special place, on account of the guarantee of authenticity it provides and the presence in it of scientific statements which, when studied today, appear as a challenge to explanation in human terms.
In his discussion of the Quran, Bucaille emphasizes three important points:
a) First, there is nothing in the Quran that contradicts modern science;
b) second, there is no mention of some of the false beliefs that people had at that time of the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, concerning the creation, the universe and science in general; and,
c) three, there is no way that the Prophet Muhammad could have known at his time many of the facts alluded to in the Quran.
For the sake of brevity, though, it will be possible to discuss only one verse in some detail here demonstrating the “scientific miracles” of the Quran.
Upon reading the Quran, one topic that catches many a reader’s eye is the discussion of the creation of the human within the womb of the mother. God says in the Quran:
“We created man from an extract of clay. Then We made him as a drop in a place of settlement, firmly fixed. Then We made the drop into an alaqah (leech, suspended thing, and blood clot), then We made the alaqah into mudghah (chewed-like substance)…” (Quran 23:12-14)
This brief passage is outstanding in its precise description of the actual process as well as its freedom from all of the incorrect theories and views that were prevalent at the time of Muhammad. As noted in the translation, the Arabic word alaqah can imply leech, suspended thing or blood clot. In reality, all of these terms are descriptive of the embryo. In fact, in its earliest stage, the embryo not only actually physically looks like a leech but it “obtains nourishment from the blood of the mother, similar to the leech, which feeds on the blood of others.” Alaqah, again, can also mean, “suspended thing,” which is also true of the embryo in this stage as it sits hanging in the womb of the mother. Finally, alaqah can also mean blood clot. Again, the relationship to the actual physical process is miraculous. Ibrahim writes:
We find that the external appearance of the embryo and its sacs during the alaqah stage is similar to that of a blood clot. This is due to the presence of relatively large amounts of blood present in the embryo during this stage… Also, during this stage, the blood in the embryo does not circulate until the end of the third week. Thus, the embryo as this stage is like a blood clot.
The verse states that the next stage is that of a mudghah or “chewed-like substance.” This is also an amazingly accurate description of the next embryonic stage. At this stage, the embryo develops somites at its back and these “somewhat resemble teeth marks in a chewed substance.”
The kind of information described above has only been “discovered” and seen by humans since the development of powerful microscopes. Ibrahim notes that Hamm and Leeuwenhoek were the first to observe human sperm cells, in 1677 due to the help of an improved microscope. This took place some 1000 years after the time of the Prophet Muhammad.
In fact, the details and the analysis of the Quranic verses related to embryology are so great that Keith Moore, Professor Emeritus of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Toronto, has included them in a special edition of his textbook The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology. This is an interesting work that is comprised of Moore’s complete textbook with insertions describing some of the same topics from the point of view of the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet. After discussing advanced topics in embryology—most of which are the result of research in the past few decades—this textbook would then have pages inserted describing what the Quran has stated concerning the same issues. Can you imagine taking the best medical book from even just 200 years ago and doing something of this nature? It would be absurd and ludicrous as the material of the old textbook would be completely irrelevant. However, they could do this with the Quran, a book that does not even claim to be a medical textbook. Of course, it has a much stronger claim: it claims it is from God.
Commenting on the miraculous consistency between statements in the Quran and the historical development of Embryology, Dr. Moore stated in 1981, “It has been a great pleasure for me to help clarify statements in the Quran about human development. It is clear to me that these statements must have come to Muhammad from God, because almost all of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later. This proves to me that Muhammad must have been a messenger of God.”
In fact, the Quran touches upon many sciences other than embryology, such as astronomy, physics, geography, geology, oceanography, biology, botany, zoology, medicine and physiology. Thus, numerous other scientists from various fields have made similar conclusions concerning the Quran.
How could it be that this illiterate man of some fourteen hundred years ago, the Prophet Muhammad, produced a book of this nature having so many scientific facts and details with perfect accuracy in it? Could it have been the case that this was all a coincidence and that the Prophet was an imposter? At least in my opinion, the answers to questions like these were very clear. Indeed, the claim that the Quran is not a revelation from God becomes more and more difficult to hold once one learns more about the Quran itself.
Incidentally, there are other historically related miraculous aspects of the Quran. For example, as opposed to the Bible, the Quran refers to the ruler at the time of Joseph as a “king” and never refers to him as a Pharaoh, although that term is used in the Bible in the story of Joseph, and the Quran uses that term in the story of Moses. It seems, from the best of what can be determined now, that Joseph lived among the Semitic Hyksos kings of Egypt and that his ruler was indeed not a Pharaoh. The Quran also makes it clear that the body of the Pharaoh of the Exodus would be recovered and preserved. Now, it is considered that all of the Pharaohs of that time have actually been preserved as mummies, something the Prophet also could not have known at that time. This has led two researchers to state:
If the Holy Quran was derived from the Bible [as some people falsely claim, then] those many Biblical errors would have passed into it. Why, for instance, would the Holy Quran describe the Israelites as a small nation when the Bible claims that they were 2-3 million, an enormously inflated number that no scholar would accept?... Why did the Holy Quran not go along the Biblical, and indeed logical belief that Pharaoh was swallowed by the sea, to state instead that Pharaoh’s “body” was rescued? And why would the Holy Quran say this about Pharaoh in particular but not about other people who were also destroyed by God?...
Finally, Muslim scholars have noted that the particular miracle given to each prophet was related to issues that their people were most fascinated with. Thus, for example, during the time of Moses, sorcery was very popular, and one of his signs was directly related to outdoing the weak tricks of humans. During Jesus time, medicine was a popular issue and some of Jesus’ signs included healing the sick, raising the dead and so on. The Arabs at the time were very proud of their literary skills and, as shall be noted shortly, the Quran is an Arabic masterpiece beyond what they could match. However, the Prophet Muhammad was not sent only to the Arabs or only to the people of his century. In this day and age, science has practically become a “god” to replace the traditional God of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Prophet Muhammad’s miracle is actually completely relevant to the field of science that captivates so many people today, once again indicating that the Prophet Muhammad was truly a prophet for all of humanity until the Day of Judgment.
 Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, the Quran and Science (Indianapolis, IN: American Trust Publications, 1978), pp. 251-252.
 For more details concerning the different stages of human development, the interested reader may also consult Keith L. Moore, Abdul-Majeed A. Zindani and Mustafa A. Ahmed, Quran and Modern Science: Correlation Studies (Bridgeview, IL: Islamic Academy for Scientific Research, 1990), pp. 15-47.
 See I. A. Ibrahim, p. 7, Figure 1.
 I. A. Ibrahim, p. 6.
 See I. A. Ibrahim, p. 7, Figure 2.
 Ibrahim, p. 8.
 Quoted by Ibrahim, p. 8, from Moore and Persaud, The Developing Human, 5th ed., p. 8. Also see Ibrahim’s figures on page 9.
 Ibrahim, pp. 8-10.
 See Keith L. Moore [along with Abdul-Majeed Azzindani], The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology [with Islamic Additions: Correlation Studies with Quran and Hadith] Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: Dar al-Qiblah for Islamic Literature, 1983, in conjunction with W. B. Saunders Company.
 Quoted in I. A. Ibrahim, A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam (Houston: Darussalam, 1997), p. 10.
 For examples concerning these different fields, see Zakir Naik, “The Quran and Modern Science: Compatible or Incompatible?” www.ahya.org.
 See I. A. Ibrahim, A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam (Houston: Darussalam, 1997), pp. 10ff. This work, in its entirety, is available at www.islam-guide.com. Ibrahim reviews and summarizes the conclusions of Moore and a number of others.
 For more details on this point, see Louay Fatoohi and Shetha al-Dargazelli, History Testifies to the Infallibility of the Quran: Early History of the Children of Israel (Delhi, India: Adam Publishers & Distributors, 1999), pp. 81-93.
 God says, “So this day We shall deliver your (dead) body (out from the sea) that you may be a sign to those who come after you! And verily, many among mankind are heedless of signs” (Yoonus 10:92). For more on this point, see Fatoohi and al-Dargazelli, pp. 141-145.
 Fatoohi and al-Dargazelli, pp. 247-248.
There is another important aspect that Muslim scholars have traditionally considered the greatest miraculous aspect of the Quran, this is the linguistic miracle. Unfortunately, though, before becoming a Muslim (and even afterwards), I had no way to truly appreciate this topic. I could only read what some scholars had written about the language and beauty of the Quran. For example, John Naish wrote:
The Quran in its original Arabic dress has a seductive beauty and charm of its own. Couched in concise and exalted style, its brief pregnant sentences, often rhymed, poses an expressive force and explosive energy which is extremely difficult to convey by literal word for word translation.
Similarly, Arberry yearned for his earlier days when he would hear the Quran being recited during Ramadhan in Egypt. I actually had no access to hearing the Quran being recited and therefore did not know what a moving experience it is. Furthermore, without knowledge of the Arabic language, the impression of the English translations could not possibly be like that of the original Arabic. However, I must discuss this miraculous here, however briefly, because it is truly one of the most amazing aspects of the Quran.
Again, traditionally, Muslim scholars have considered the linguistic miracle of the Quran as perhaps the most important miraculous aspect of the Quran—and it is definitely the one that had the most influence at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him. The Arabs were very proud of their language. The very word that they used for foreigner, ajami, basically meant one who is barbarous in speech or lacking clarity in his speech. However, even they were no match for the Quran. Before the Quran, they used to have fairs and competition to see which of them could produce the most beautiful work in Arabic. However, according to Draz:
But when the Quran was revealed all such fairs came to an end, and literary gatherings were defunct. From now on, the Quran was the only work to command people's attention. None of them could challenge or compete with it, or even suggest that a single word be changed, moved, added or omitted from the sentence where it occurs. Yet the Quran did not close the door to competition. Indeed, it left it wide open, calling on them, individually and collectively, to take up its challenge and produce anything similar to it. It repeated the challenge in different forms, berating their inability to do so, and reducing the task for them time after time.
Arabic scholars have identified many linguistic aspects that distinguish the Quran from all other works and sets it apart as a miracle. Herein, only a few shall be mentioned briefly:
(1) Each word that is used in its precise place and cannot be moved or exchanged for a close synonym without its beauty or meaning being loss.
(2) The Quran has a unique sentence structure and rhythm that sets it apart from both prose and poetry, sometimes resembling one more than the other but never being completely one or the other.
(3) The sentences use the smallest number of words without losing any necessary meaning. In other words, they are concise, which adds to their beauty, while at the same time they convey all that needs to be conveyed.
(4) There is a perfect balance as well as a consistency in style between emotional and intellectual passages of the Quran. Draz noted that this beauty can only truly be found in the Quran:
Two forces are always active within a human being: the intellectual and the emotional. They have different roles and directions. The first aims to know the truth, and to identify what is good and beneficial so as to adopt it. The other records its feelings of pain and pleasure. A perfect style is that which satisfies both needs at the same time, giving you intellectual satisfaction and emotional pleasure…Do we find such perfection in human style? We have seen the writings of scientists and philosophers, and works of poets and fine prose [yet they cannot meet this goal]…
Scholars have noted many other miraculous aspects of the Quran, such as its perfect consistency and freedom from contradiction even though it was revealed over a span of twenty-three years, the effect the Quran has on the individuals who listen to it and so. However, what we have discussed here is definitely sufficient for our purposes, as I have covered the issues that most influenced me on my path to Islam. Furthermore, I believe that what has already been discussed is sufficient to demonstrate that the Quran is indeed miraculous.
According to Muslims, the Quran is the speech and word of God. Therefore, it is not surprising that it is inimitable. However, God has willed to make this point very clear to all of humankind, leaving them no room to argue, doubt or excuse themselves. In the Quran, God challenges humankind to produce anything similar to the Quran. In fact, the challenge from God goes even further than that: There is a challenge to produce even one chapter like the chapters of the Quran.
This challenge is still open to humankind today. Anyone is free to attempt to rebuke the Quran by producing something similar to even a portion of the Quran. In reality, though, God even makes it clear that all of humankind will never be able to produce anything comparable to the Quran—anything amazing prophecy of the Quran.
The challenge from God occurs in five different places in the Quran. Here are the relevant verses in the order that they were revealed by God:
“And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Quran) to Our servant (Muhammad), then produce a chapter the like thereof and call your witnesses (supporters and helpers) besides God, if you are truthful. But if you do it not, and you can never do it, then fear the Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.” (Quran 2:23-24, emphasis added)
“Or do they say, ‘He (Muhammad) has forged it?’ Say, ‘Bring then a chapter like unto it, and call upon whomsoever you can, besides God, if you are truthful!’” (Quran 10:38)
“Or do they say, ‘He (Muhammad) forged it.’ Say, ‘Bring you then ten forged chapters like unto it, and call whomsoever you can, other than God (to your help), if you speak the truth.’” (Quran 11:13)
“Say (to the people), ‘If all of humankind and jinns were together to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they helped one another.’” (Quran 17:88)
“Or do they say, ‘He (Muhammad) has forged it?’ Nay! They believe not! Let them then produce a recital like unto it if they are truthful.” (Quran 52:33-34)
In sum, if anyone still has any doubt about the Quran, let him rise to this challenge.
It was not an afterthought that this Quran is miraculous. It was not that scholars after the time of the Prophet looked at it and declared that it was a miracle. No, indeed, this Book was meant to be the miracle of the Prophet Muhammad and his greatest sign. The disbelievers at the time of the Prophet were seeking some other kind of miracle—perhaps more tangible or requiring less thought—but God made it clear that this Quran should be sufficient as a sign testifying to the veracity of the Prophet. God says:
“And they say, ‘Why are not signs sent down to him from his Lord?’ Say, ‘The signs are only with God, and I am only a plain warner.’ Is it not sufficient for them that We have sent down to you the Book which is recited to them? Verily, herein is mercy and a reminder for a people who believe.” (Quran 29:50-51)
Indeed, this Book should be sufficient for any sincere, truth-seeking individual. There is no need for any other signs or miracles after this Book. This is the gist of what God has said in this passage and this is what my heart and mind concluded as I studied the Quran in the face of all the writers who claimed that it was not a revelation from God.
The Prophet also made a very important statement concerning this sign and miracle that God had given him. Since he was the final prophet, the nature of his sign and miracle had to be different from all that preceded him. It had to be a miracle that could have a lasting affect until the Day of Judgment. Indeed, it is. Even more so, it is a very different type of miracle. It is one upon which humans can reflect and be completely convinced of its truth. Thus, the Prophet said, “There has been no prophet except that God gave him miracles due to which people believed in him. I have been given (as my miracle) the revelation which God revealed to me. I hope, thereby, that I will have the largest number of followers on the Day of Judgment.” (Recorded by Al-Bukhari.) Given the nature of the sign that the Prophet has received, there is no excuse for people of other times not to follow the Prophet. Hence, he will, God willing, have the greatest number of followers on the Day of Judgment.
The Quran demanded a decision on my part—as it actually demands a decision on everybody’s part. The signs pointing to its miraculous nature and that it must be a true revelation from God were simply overwhelming to me. None of the theories opposing the Quran or denying the sincerity of the Prophet were strong enough or logical enough to convince me otherwise. Hence, I, via the Quran, embraced Islam and all praise and thanks are due to God.
 John Naish, The Wisdom of the Quran (Oxford, 1937), p. viii. Quoted in Islam—The First and Final Religion, pp. 87.
 See his feelings expressed in A. J. Arberry, The Koran Interpreted (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1955), p. 28.
 E. W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon (Cambridge, England: The Islamic Texts Society, 1984), vol. 2, pp. 1966-1967.
 Muhammad Abdullah Draz, The Quran: An Eternal Challenge (Markfield, United Kingdom: The Islamic Foundation, 2001), p. 69.
 For more details, one can consult Draz, passim.
 Draz., p. 97.
 God says in the Quran, “Do they not then consider the Quran carefully? Had it been from other than God, they would surely have found therein much contradictions” (al-Nisaa 4:82).
 Be they believers or unbelievers, the Quran is bound to affect them. For example, concerning the believers, God says, “God has sent down the best statement, a Book (this Quran), its parts resembling each other in goodness and truth, oft-repeated. The skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it (when they recite it or hear it). Then their skin and their heart soften to the remembrance of God. That is the guidance of God. He Guides therewith whom He pleases and whomever God sends astray, for him there is no guide” (al-Zumar 39:23). On the other hand, concerning the disbelievers, God says, “And surely, We have explained [Our Promises, Warnings and (set forth many) examples] in this Quran that they (the disbelievers) may take heed, but it increases them in naught save aversion” (al-Israa 17:41).
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