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wordVision Student

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  1. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    This thread aims to answer a previous post on the 'Why Must an Uncaused Cause be a God' thread. The post in question, by Wattle, is reproduced below: I'll address the issue of the 'scientific arguments' first, though I place greater importance on the issue of the Quran's miraculous eloquence. Arguments from Scientific Accordance The Quran does not purport to be a book of science, but rather, a book of guidance. None the less, Allah mentions certain phenomena in the Quran which many commentators have felt represent a miraculous accordance with what we have recently learnt in science about those phenomena. Like yourself, I am not an Arabic speaker and therefore rely on renditions of the meaning of the Quran. I say 'renditions of the meaning' because the Quran is such that a perfectly accurate translation is not possible. A certain word in Arabic may have various meanings depending on the context in which it is used. Notwithstanding this, it is possible for a skilled Arabic linguist to determine what particular translation of a word is most accurate in a given circumstance. So when we wish to assess the validity of any of the 'scientific accordance' arguments made by Muslims, we ought to be careful to refer to proper authorities in deciding what a given word in the Quran means. But persons wishing to attack the Quran often maliciously apply inappropriate translations of words in an attempt to refute 'scientific accordance' arguments. I have seen a few blatantly anti-Islamic websites where they do just this. A person unfamiliar with Arabic could be easily misled here. Given the above, I believe arguments of 'scientific accordance' deserve investigation. Notable scientists, including Bucaille, Persaud, Marshall Johnson, Goeringer, Kroner, Armstrong, Husam, Rao, and Tejasen to name but a few, have accepted that the Quran does contain verses which accord with science, in remarkable fashion. Some have gone further and said publicly that they can not see how the Quran could be the word of 14th Century man. But does this mean all scientists in the fields in question will accept the Quran? Not necessarily. A person could accept that a given verse accords with what we know in science, but may choose on other grounds to believe that the Quran might still be the concoction of man. An example which is often referred to is the description of embryonic development in the Quran. The famous embryologist Keith Moore was convinced enough about the scientific validity of these verses to declare the fact publicly and to rewrite an edition of his popular textbook, 'The Developing Human' with what he called 'Islamic Additions'. This, notwithstanding the fact that he did not immediately become a Muslim. (I'm not sure whether or not he accepted Islam later.) Of particular note is the Quran's mention of an embryo's bones forming first, and being subsequently clothed with flesh. When science earlier believed that it was muscle that was formed before bones, commentators pounced on the Quran's 'inaccuracy'. But later, science found that bones actually do form before their surrounding flesh. So the Quran was vindicated on this point, but we didn't see mass conversions on the part of embryologists world wide. It is easy, if a person so desires, to put such things down to chance. Or to muse that perhaps such knowledge was not as new as originally thought. Where this seems implausible, detractors tend to resort to re-translating the offensive words. On what authority? Usually none. So the dilemma for the Quran's detractors remains. How did the Quran's author come to describe these phenomena correctly. Even if we disregard the verses which prima facie seem too vague to be relied upon on for scientific accordance arguments, there are still many more which are not vague. Even one such accuracy ought to be cause for consternation for the Quran's detractors. It is not valid to arbitrarily claim, "I don't read it that way. This is being misinterpreted." Rather than embarrass themselves with this type of poor argumentation, its detractors would be better served looking to authorities who might offer some other, non-miraculous explanation. This would be more credible, if it could be done. So we come now to an interesting point made by Wattle. If an authority agreed that a verse in the Quran was miraculous, they would probably already be a Muslim. This implies that Wattle considers the word of any Muslim authority on the matter as being subject to clear bias and therefore invalid. So he sets up a quandary for himself. He will only take the word of a non-Muslim authority. But since most authorities on Arabic are in fact Muslims, there is a lack of what he views as credible authorities. But this is a salient point. Why are most Arabic authorities Muslims in the first place? We need to look to the history of Islam for an answer. The Miraculousness of the Quran's Eloquence Even prior to his Prophethood, friend and foe alike knew Muhammad the Arabian, a.k.a Muhammad the Trustworthy (pbuh), to be an illiterate person. Renowned for his honesty in all dealings, he came to the people of Quraysh with a remarkable claim: That Allah, Creator of all the Worlds, had communicated to him via the angel Gabriel. He was able to recall the words communicated to him verbatim. These words formed what we call the Quran. But the words were not just any old words. The Quran's word order was so excellent in terms of eloquence that the people of Quraysh were dumbfounded by it. Why is this so remarkable? It is because the people of the Arabian Peninsula were a people who valued eloquence above all. Their heroes were their most eloquent poets. This is evidenced by the fact that their most holy site (even in pre-Islamic times), the Kaaba, was decorated with inscriptions of the Qasidas of their seven most famous poets. Even though many Arabs could not read or write, they had a highly developed appreciation for the spoken word. It is fair to say that the Arabs were world leaders in the art of eloquence. Then came the Quran. The Quran was viewed as being so superior to anything that they had ever heard or read, that it could not be the word of the illiterate Muhammad (pbuh). Nor could it even be the word of a group of skilled poets. The poets themselves were dumbfounded at its elevated literary style. It was inimitable, unmatchable - and the Arabs were most qualified to make this assessment. Therefore, the overwhelming majority accepted Islam. So the Quran came to a people of eloquence, with matchless eloquence. This was necessary to win the hearts of the people who would become the first Muslims. If it were inferior, Islam would not be alive today. It would have been discarded years ago. The Quran challenged all people, foremost the eloquent people of Arabia, to beat its eloquence. Eloquence was such an artform in Arabia, that it was quite possible to objectively judge the relative quality of various writings. There was definite criteria within the science of rhetoric, upon which the experts could base their assessment. But of course, all challengers failed miserably. Knowing that they could not beat the Quran, its detractors chose the more costly option of war. This too they lost. And so, the Arabs became a Muslim nation and later a world power. A salient point that I should mention here is that despite the Quran's marvellousness, not every listener accepted it as being the word of Allah. There were numerous reasons for this, beyond the scope of this discussion. Suffice to say that humans do not always behave rationally. They have the ability to choose the wrong option despite it being obviously wrong. A person might steal or kill, knowing it to be wrong. A person may lie for personal gain, despite knowing the truth. Similarly, a person might see a miracle and for various reasons, call it sorcery, or whatever else. For this reason, not all the Quraysh became Muslims. But certainly the vast majority, including their most eloquent poets, did. It is for the foregoing reason that there is a lack of non-Muslim authorities on the issue of the inimitable eloquence of the Quran. But if one is sceptical of the testimony of present day Muslim authorities, they need only look to the combined testimony of the very first Muslims. These first Muslims were prepared to give up centuries of belief in polytheism, to offend their forefathers and all their sensibilities and to give up the most heinous of cultural habits, on the evidence of the inimitable eloquence of the Quran. Yes, as Said Nursi puts it, it takes massive human and financial resources to encourage a community to give up the simplest of bad habits. How long have governments struggled for their people to quit smoking? Yet the Quran, relying on its miraculous eloquence, caused a then savage people to give up customs as heinous as female infanticide, or as addictive as alcoholism, in a few short years. For the foregoing reasons, I say that the Quran is not the word of man. Muhammad (pbuh) was not deluded and did not lie. Indeed, the Quran is the Word of Allah.
  2. The Meaning Of Life And Existence In The View Of Nursi

    I'm pleased that you acknowledge the beauty in things. Some non-theists have told me that they see no beauty in things, that even 'consciousness' is nothing special. Of course, most would take the view that beauty can not come from chance processes. I suspect that this is why the non-theists in question have been forced to resort to such an indefensible view as denying all beauty. But your view seems to differ from all this. It seems that you feel beauty can arise through chance. Obviously, I don't agree with you, but I'm not here to argue the point. Instead, I wish to point out Nursi's view that if a given thing is the result of chance, it can never be as beautiful as something created purposely, simply because it lacks the meaningfulness of created things. Things in the universe, when viewed as missives describing their Maker, become beautifully meaningful. For example, a rain cloud expresses a certain meaning. It was not created just to give rain, it was primarily created to act as a meaningful book describing the Attributes of the Creator, such as Mercy, Compassion, Bestowal. In other words, it was created to enable us to know our Lord, which is the purpose of our creation. The cloud's value and beauty therefore, is in its possessing these meanings. Its other aspects of beauty, such as its appearance and functionality, are merely secondary. Peace. Baqi, antal Baqi! The Enduring One, He is the Enduring One!
  3. The Meaning Of Life And Existence In The View Of Nursi

    Yes, the free-will is used in choosing to take the effort to look for the beauty. Or the effort expended in learning to appreciate the beauty. For example, the works of Chaucer may be beautiful, but if I don't take the time or effort to learn how to read and understand this type of literature, I will not see the beauty. The same reasoning can be applied to the beauty in the works of the universe at large. In relation to your latter point, my view is that if a thing is ascribed to chance, its value as a wisely crafted work of art is diminished. As Wattle will tell you, what wisdom can be ascribed to something created by chance? So free-will here is applied in choosing to accept that things are wisely crafted, by a Wise Craftor, as opposed to being the playthings of chance. Now, referring to something in the universe, such as the workings of quantum mechanics, as wise may be an anthropomorphisation - but this is only problematic if you assume a priori the non-existence of a Sentient Creator. In fact, a believer will say that part of the reason why we have been given faculties such as wisdom, intelligence, free-will even, is so that we can use these to understand and know the the One who is true owner of Wisdom etc.
  4. Overwhelming Support Of Violent Jihadists

    It's not my habit to discuss politics but I'll make an exception on this occasion. Islam denounces terrorism. The rules of war are clear. We must not resort to unacceptable means to achieve an acceptable end. Fight with the word. Sharpen your mind, it's your most effective sword. And if for the time being, the enemy is smarter than you, just fight with your mind until you die. To paraphrase the words of the famous warrior Salahuddin: "For me is just to fight. The result is Allah's concern."
  5. The Meaning Of Life And Existence In The View Of Nursi

    Sure, why not. It will force me to do some refresher reading, which I am sorely in need of! But in the mean time, I wanted to add the following point on the relationship between the observation of beauty and free-will. These words are mostly mine, so any errors are attributable to me...: As I had said in the original post, the purpose of creation is to manifest Allah's beauty so that He can behold it Himself. The purpose of us conscious beings is to manifest beauty, as well as to be observers of beauty. But apart from enabling us to be examined in the usual sense, why the need for free-will? I see it as follows. Let's imagine a nasty dictator with a penchant for art. The dictator likes to dabble in a little painting from time to time. Naturally, he fancies his own artwork. But what he really likes is for others to fancy it. He displays his artwork in a gallery and when his loyal subjects are not slaving away in the salt mines, they come to see his work. The dictator loves nothing more than to hear his people express their appreciation for his art. But the problem is, (unless he is delusional) he knows that these expressions of appreciation are not really genuine. His people are afraid of him and are acting in accordance with that. They are not freely discerning observers, so the pleasure the dictator receives at hearing their appreciation is quite limited. He knows that his subjects have little choice but to pretend to like his art. In the case Allah Almighty however, the situation is quite the opposite. He has given us humans limited free-will. With this free-will we can freely choose to see, acknowledge and appreciate beauty. How do we have this choice? Let's take the example of our own selves, that it, our living bodies. A person can choose to look at a 'human body' and marvel not just at it's aesthetic beauty - it's symmetry and proportion - but also at the beauty of the wisdom apparent in its construction and make up. A person can remark at how beautifully well ordered the body is, what amazing faculties it is endowed with and how remarkable it is that it possesses consciousness and intelligence. A person can look appreciatively at how the human being possesses elevated and beautiful qualities like compassion, love and mercy. He studies and contemplates upon this and finally declares, "Look how beautifully this human being has been made!" On the other hand, using their free-will, a person may choose to see a human being as nothing more than the product of undirected, chance processes. He may choose to deny its beauty thus, claiming that the human being was not beautifully, wisely made - that it is simply the culmination of 15 billion years worth of accidents. That even consciousness and intelligence are unremarkable. He may go so far as to say, "There is no real beauty anywhere. Beauty is merely a construct of the human brain. It has no independent reality. It therefore deserves no further attention." Or, if a person is apathetic, he may choose to not even search for beauty. Content to amuse himself with his Play Station 3 and DVD collection, in between mind numbing work to service a mortgage only just within his means, he chooses not to concern himself with beauty. With a full tummy and dulled mind - what need has he of exerting himself to read, think, study, travel, enquire, reflect or contemplate? So we humans, possessing free-will, are not bound to see, much less appreciate, the countless manifestations of Allah's beauty in the universe. Much of this beauty is discernible only after considerable effort and study, such as through scientific discovery, followed by inner contemplation. (It is for this reason that Islam commands us to seek knowledge of the universe.) Therefore, when a human being appreciates beauty, especially the non-aesthetic kinds of beauty, he does so freely and genuinely. If the expression may be pardoned, Allah Almighty, in a manner appropriate to His Dignity, feels an elevated, Divine pleasure at seeing us freely appreciate and love His Beauty. Happily for humans, there is an additional aspect here. Because Allah is Love, Mercy and Compassion (Wadud, Rahman and Rahim), He loves for us to truly experience the pleasure of beauty. In other words, He loves for us to experience His Beauty, not only for His sake, but also for our sake. And because He is Enduring (Baqi), He requires the existence of enduring observers of His Beauty. Hence the need for the existence of an enduring Afterlife. [using large font size is not allowed]Baqi, antal Baqi! - The Enduring One, He is the Enduring One![using large font size is not allowed][using large font size is not allowed]
  6. The Meaning Of Life And Existence In The View Of Nursi

    Yes, it is a deduction from the concept of Allah. Largely, what I have said about free-will is acceptable only if you assume that Allah exists, and has the characteristics described by believers. Of course, this thread is more forum for discussing varying views on the possible meanings of life and the universe, rather than place for argument. You are right that things would otherwise get messy - a non-theist will never accept the theistic view and vice-versa. With my comments above in mind, I'll elaborate the Muslim view as follows. The ability of a human to reject Allah and commit wrongdoing (I assume you're referring to 'committing wrongdoing' here) after actually seeing Him, is dependent on that human's capacity for withstanding fear. As Allah has created us and knows us better than ourselves, He knows that if He showed himself, we would be unable to withstand the fear of His punishment. Therefore we would not sin and there would be no examination. There are other forms of conscious life, such as angels, that do not have free-will. They love all of Allah's art for its beauty and do not sin. So they are not 'tested', they do not endure difficulty. Their station is therefore fixed. Humans on the other hand have limited free-will. They have the power to choose right or wrong and are tested on this. Therefore, their station is not fixed - they have the ability to rise to the highest of the high, or fall to the lowest of the low. Since humans have limited free-will, they more comprehensively mirror Allah, since Allah too has free-will. Allah is Most Merciful, Compassionate and Generous. He wishes to see humans, using their limited free-will, to choose also be merciful, compassionate, generous etc. He wishes to see the beauty of these attributes of His, reflected in the conduct of man.
  7. The Meaning Of Life And Existence In The View Of Nursi

    Thanks for your reply. I will endeavour to have a close look at your link, Allah willing. In relation to your point on Allah not forcing us to believe, I'll make this clarification. Any apparent equivocation was unintended. I absolutely agree that Allah will not use coercive force to cause belief. But nor will He provide (to most people) totally irrefutable evidence of His existence. This is somewhat different to what you have referred to as 'compelling reasons' for belief. Compelling reasons do exist. Those reasons are not the topic of this thread, but I'll mention some of them very briefly for the sake of other readers. You have, for example, spoken of something resembling 'personal experience of God' in some of your posts. Indeed, a personal experience of Allah is one compelling reason to believe. (Indeed, this 'Argument from Religious Experience' has been discussed at length by various religious philosophers and theologists and for some, is the most compelling evidence for the existence of God.) In addition, there are various teleological and cosmological arguments including the famous Kalam argument of Mutakallim scholars like Ibn Rushd. So certainly for me, Allah has provided compelling reasons to believe. But He has provided these in such a way that a person is not forced to accept them, for their total undeniability. He has left the door to unbelief ajar, for those wishing to enter through it. As I have said, this is necessary so that humans retain their limited free-will. Understanding this requires an appreciation of the overwhelming Majesty and Grandeur of Allah. Suffice to say that if Allah somehow physically showed Himself to us, we would be robbed of our free-will. We would be so overwhelmed by the vision of Him, that we would find ourselves unable to choose wrong over right. But this would operate contrary to Allah's setting up this life in the form of an examination. As I have also mentioned, the loss of free-will would mean we were no longer freely discerning observers weighing up the varieties and degrees of Allah's Beauty in the universe. In relation to choosing disbelief, Said Nursi makes this interesting point. He refers to a 'strategy of Satan' as being to take something improbable, and highlight that it might be possible. I try to understand this as follows. To us believers, it is highly improbable that intelligent, conscious life could have evolved without Allah's will and direction, or His 'fine tuning' of the physical constants of the universe to make carbon based life possible. But this does not force me to believe in Allah. The door is left open for Satan to highlight to me that it might still be possible that the universe is just one of an infinite Multiverse of universes, so that the value of the physical constants or the 'fine tuning' is no longer remarkable. Of course, there is no evidence for the existence of a Multiverse, but none the less, one can still claim that it just might be true! If I choose to rely on this remote possibility to deny Allah, I do so of my own freewill. A final important matter that I wish to point out is that while Allah does not force me to believe (instead providing me with 'compelling reasons' to do so), He also does not force me to disbelieve. It is for this reason that there is, and never will be, any evidence that disproves Allah's existence. Indeed, most non-theists would admit that they are either agnostics or weak atheists. Few would claim to be 'strong atheists', as doing so would require them to prove that Allah does not exist. This of course, is much different to arguing that He need not exist for the universe to exist.
  8. The Qur'an As Literature

    Thanks for your time in putting all this together brother. Jazakullahu khayr.
  9. The Meaning Of Life And Existence In The View Of Nursi

    Sorry pal! :sl: Hard to squeeze a matter like this into any fewer words... Looking forward to your views.
  10. An Interesting Difference Of Perspective

    Yes, this is a good point. I can see how the 'normalisation' of sins would be a likely by-product of freely speaking about past transgressions. In the husband-wife context, I guess it would be important to consider firstly, why the sin needs to be revealed, and then, how. In some cases, it may be that revealing a past sin to your partner would be the lesser of two evils. If I felt that I had to reveal a sin in these circumstances, I would try to do so in a way that highlighted my embarrassment and shame at having committed the sin. Thanks for the relevant hadith, I'll discuss it with my wife post haste!
  11. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    Not at all, your views are always of value in these forums. I will commence a thread tomorrow, Allah willing.
  12. An Interesting Difference Of Perspective

    Personally, I see nothing in Islam which compels me to keep secrets from my wife. What Islam instead requires of me, is that I refrain from disclosing things which I might know about others. Barring certain exceptional circumstances, I must never say something about a person, even if true, if that disclosure would cause the person to feel hurt, should they learn of it. In fact, avoiding hurting people (regardless of their faith) has special importance in Islam. With this in mind, I feel that I should be open with my wife about my past, lest she be hurt at later hearing about my past from someone else. Yet in the same vain, I needn't tell my wife every sordid detail about my past, lest this hurt her worse. It is matter to be decided on a case by case basis.
  13. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    You are quite right. The fact that the Quran is considered the best, and has remained so for 1400 years, does not of its own force us to believe in its divine origin, even if it continues to be the best for another 14000 years. A person is left free to ponder why it has remained the best. And from there, the person may choose to believe or not believe in its divine origin. A person's freedom to believe is in keeping with what I see as the wisdom in the creation of the universe. But what is this wisdom? For me, this question is among the most worthwhile things a human being can ask. If the universe and everything in it, including me, was willed and created by Allah, what is the purpose in it? I think a thread on this topic would be useful, as I would be interested in people's views on this. What is the 'meaning of life', if there is any meaning? This is a vitally important matter, on a number of fronts. If believers can not offer a coherent answer to the question, it will cast doubt on their claims that the universe was created by God. After all, if there is no real purpose in the creation of man and the universe, why should God have bothered creating them? And if there is a purpose or purposes, what are the implications of these for man? My view is that if we can satisfactorily resolve these questions in our minds, we can obtain a properly informed basis for belief, or unbelief, as the case may be.
  14. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    As I have previously said, a challenger may try to use the Quran's style if it wishes, or it may come up with a wholly unique style. But in any case, your statement above is completely invalid. Two books could have different literary styles, but both be concise. Conciseness does not go to style, it is a basic quality of good writing. Scholars could determine the numbers you seek. It's irrelevant that I have not stipulated all of these. What is relevant is that the numbers are obtainable, should someone put in the time and effort to obtain them. I have already told you, for example, that 50% of all the Quran's verses rhyme with the sound nun. So clearly, someone has gone to the effort of analyzing this particular point. Scholars of literature have remarked that no writer employing rhyme in a work of comparable length, in any language, has ever managed to rhyme 50% of all their verses with a single sound. And remember, the Quran does this whilst still delivering its intended meaning. No one will ever write a better modernist novel than Ulysses? You can say this with certainty can you? As you have said yourself, the Quran is the best book in Arabic. This is agreed. But if the Quran is the word of man, it should not remain the best for all time. It should be possible to better it, yet still, this has not been done. No, the miracle disappears when it can be demonstrated that another piece of literature betters it on those 'numbers'.
  15. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    Thank you also Sad Clown. I appreciate your suggestion to argue from intersubjectivity, however to my mind, we as Muslims have no need of it. We believe that the superiority of the Quran is an objective reality, so we needn't concern ourselves with any standard of truth that falls short of this. To underline the Islamic view, we reject the notion that there can be no objective truth to things like 'beauty', 'best book', or 'best man'. We feel that such views implicitly (and moreover, illicitly) assume the non-existence of Allah, whereas the non-existence of Allah is far from proven. To reiterate an earlier point, our scholars of the Quran have found it to be miraculous in various respects. A prime example is its conciseness - in that its verses express their numerous ideas using the fewest words. We see no subjectivity in this - it is an objective and verifiable fact. Other aspects of its miraculousness, such as its amazing proportion of rhyme, are also objective facts. We continue to challenge the Quran's detractors to produce writing that betters it on these points. For as long man can not achieve this, we will remain justified to say that the Quran is not the word of man.
  16. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    Twoswordali said: Nice analogy brother, beautifully insightful! :sl:
  17. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    Well, we'll have to agree to disagree on this. Your stand point reflects your view that beauty is relative, and merely a human construct, with no independent reality. Various schools of philosophy dispute a lot of this and posit for example, that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder (see Kant for example). Some say that our dis-ingenuity in accurately quantifying the degree of something's beauty does not detract from the fact that it may, in reality, be more or less beautiful than something else. As believers in Allah, we side with this view and add the following. We believe that Absolute Beauty is manifested in Allah, and that He imbibes some of this beauty, in deliberate measure, in the things He has created. All beauty in the world is merely a shadow of His Beauty. When he imbibes things with beauty, He does so in a certain measure, in accordance with His Wisdom and Justice (through His names Hakim and Adl). Our incompetence in judging the extent of beauty in things with sufficient accuracy does not detract from the reality that some things manifest greater beauty than others. But one of our duties as conscious, discerning observers of the universe is to appreciate and weigh up the beauty apparent in things and to affirm the Beauty of the Creator of those things. This will result in us loving Him and expressing this love through various forms of worship. Hence Allah says: "I did not create jinn and man, except that they might worship Me." (Quran 51:56)
  18. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    My apologies pal, I have been remiss in responding to you. I am not insisting that the challenger conforms to the Qurans particular unique style. It should ideally innovate an entirely new literary style. But this doesn't mean it can not employ the use of basic qualities such as rhyme, rhetorical devices and conciseness. How about this. I'll relax my rules a little and give the challenger a choice on the matter. They may either employ a whole new style, as the Quran does, or may try to emulate the Quran's style. The latter, however, will be much more difficult than the former. It may seem that the task is not 'superhuman' as you say. But so far, those who have tried have been assessed by non-Muslim experts as having failed.
  19. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    You're not a relativist, yet you make a relativist argument: "One piece of writing can never be objectively assessed as being better than another". The rejection of absolute truth in favor of the view that truth is merely subjective, is a relativist view. Major problems with this view are that it involves double think, and is self-defeating. If all truth is subjective, then you can not assert that Relativism is more true than an opposite view, such as Absolutism. Yet both can not be true at the same time. If one piece of writing can not objectively be assessed as being better than the other, then as a relativist you are forced to make the untenable assertion that all writing is of equal quality, as there is no such thing as 'better' or 'worse' literature. You call yourself a pragmatist. But you exhibit closet-relativism like 'pragmatists' such as Richard Rory. I'm amused that you doubt whether relativism has been challenged. You make a thinly veiled argument from authority: "I am a philosophy graduate, so show me your list of critics!" As though your qualification in philosophy somehow confers truth upon your assertion. And anyway, if you've studied philosophy and didn't sleep through the course, you ought to know who the critics of relativism are. Have you not heard of Plato or Socrates? Or even (funnily enough) Dawkins? Is this your subjective opinion, or the objective truth? If it's your subjective opinion, then by your own logic it's invalid. Recall that your entire argument is based on the idea that the Quran's challenge is invalid, because it could only be judged subjectively. If the assessor's standards are based on his cultural biases and personal preferences, then those standards are flawed and he has not assessed competently. His incompetence as an objective assessor in no way negates the truth that Shakespeare's work is better than the average school boy's. Again, you persist in evading the Quran's challenge by relying on your claims of subjectivity. You are forced to maintain this untenable position, as it is easier to do than actually face the challenge. Others have had the courage to face the challenge, and those challenges have been assessed comprehensively by non-Muslim experts (such as von Grunebaum and St Clair Tisdall). So your view that the challenge is invalid is nothing more than your personal view on the matter. You may feel that the criteria are subjective or inadequate, or that others may prefer different criteria. But the reality is that most of the criteria rely on little more than basic arithmetic to assess. If the Quran is really the word of man, it should be quite easy to produce a work which, for example, employs the same proportion of rhyme as the Quran, whilst still remaining coherent and conveying meaning. Recall that over 50% of the Quran's verses rhyme with the Arabic sound nun. Regardless of what you might think of this attribute, whether you think it makes for good writing or not, the reality remains that man is unable to produce a book that does this. Feel free to leave the discussion any time you wish. But you do so without having shown that the Quran is the word of man, nor that the Quran's challenge is invalid. I was asked to provide criteria against which to judge any challenger. I have done this. A competent group of Arabic linguists could easily and objectively assess whether a challenging book employs the same proportion of rhyme, the same number of rhetorical devices, and just as few words per idea expressed, as the Quran. They could easily determine whether the writing employed a unique literary style, by not resembling any of the presently known categories of writing in that language. Even if you disagree that these characteristics make for good writing, the fact remains that unless man can produce something that matches the Quran on all these points, the challenge remains unmet.
  20. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    This is irrelevant. My point is that we should not take a given philosophical view as a given. But in most cases, this style still fits into the various categories of prose or poetry. The Quran is unique in that it does not fit into any previously known category. 'Effective' can be objectively judged. Thing 'A' works, in that it achieves the purpose it was designed for. Thing 'B' does not. This can be judged objectively by observing the result. Depth here can be viewed as 'the amount or number of messages' conveyed by a given number of words. If you know anything of poetry or verse, you will understand the importance and value of rhyme. You can dismiss it as easy to do, but talk is cheap. I was asked to provide objective criteria. I have done this. Perhaps an expert can add some more objective criteria, I don't know. The fact is, I have provided you with some criteria. The fewer the criteria, the easier it ought to be for the challenger. And again, I am not the issuer of the challenge. It is the Quran. If it can be demonstrated that it is beyond human ability to 'score better' than the Quran on those criteria, it clearly points to it not being written by man.
  21. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    Your position that it is not possible to objectively judge between two pieces of literature is arguable. It seems to derive itself from Relativism, whereas Relativism and its various permutations such as Subjectivism have been severely challenged on philosophical grounds by a long list of thinkers. To bandy the notion about as being a universally accepted truth is at best a mistake, and at worst deceptive. Is there really any consensus among thinkers on the question of 'objective reality'? I'd say not. So we return to the Quran's challenge and your allegation that the challenge is invalid. To reiterate your stance, you say that it is impossible to judge whether one piece of writing is objectively better than another. But this seems counter-intuitive. A qualified assessor can easily distinguish the work of Shakespeare as being better than a poem written in haste by a school student. You would be hard pressed to assert that this view was merely the subjective opinion of the assessor. Such an assertion illicitly assumes the non-existence of an objective reality to 'greater quality'. Again, this is a view from Relativism, whereas Relativism is far from being universally accepted. I have been asked to specify the criteria upon which the Quran could be objectively judged for literary quality against other pieces of literature. It may be useful to take another look at the challenge, as it appears in various places in the Quran: "And if you are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down to Our servant, then produce a chapter like it and call your witnesses besides God if you be truthful." (part of Sura Baqara 2:23) "Or do they say 'He has forged it.' Say: 'Then bring a chapter like it and call whoever you can besides God if you are truthful'." (10:38) The Quran possesses various literary characteristics which together, give it an elevated eloquence. It is possible to assess objectively whether a given challenger to the Quran possesses these characteristics to the same or a greater extent. 1. A unique literary style. The Quranic style does not fit into any of the 16 categories of Arabic poetry, nor the 3 styles of Arabic prose, nor the style of spoken word. Therefore, any challenger would also need to possess a totally original literary style, by being distinct from any of the known literary styles of the language in which it is written. It must do this whilst maintaining coherence and meaning. 2. The use of rhetorical devices such as grammatical shift. An objective assessment could be made by determining the number of valid rhetorical devices used effectively throughout the text. Further, these should be used in a logical and structured manner, as in the Quran. 3. Conciseness whilst maintaining depth. The number of words used to express a particular meaning should be as short as that in the Quran. (A landmark treatise on this topic, Isaratul Ijaz - 'Signs of Miraculousness - The Inimitability of Quran's Conciseness' - Said Nursi - with English translations freely accesible on the web - provides a useful insight into this aspect of the Quran.) 4. The use of rhyme resulting in rhythm and cadence. The Quran's unique style, for lack of an existing descriptor, was dubbed 'rhyming prose'. It seamlessly combines a sort of prose with an astounding amount of rhyme. For example, in excess of 50% of all verses in the Quran rhyme with the Arabic sound nun. Any challenger would need to demonstrate that it could match or better this amount of rhyme, whilst remaining coherent and meaningful. The above is by no means an exhaustive list of the Quran's attributes and I'm sure experts in the field could add several more criteria. I believe I have provided a list of objectively assessable criteria against which any challengers could be judged. Remember that the Quran possesses all of these attributes whilst still achieving its purpose, and still conveying its intended meaning. Again, these criteria are not an exhaustive list of the Quran's eloquent qualities, but none the less, provide us with sufficient material for objective comparison. So I ask you again, is there any book that can match the Quran on these criteria? If not, if it is beyond the ability of humankind to do so, we can say that the Quran is not the word of man.
  22. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    You are of the view that it is not possible to objectively judge between two pieces of literature. But you proffer this view only because it is convenient for your present purposes. It is far easier for you to play the (old) subjectivity card, than deal with the reality that nothing can be found in Arabic literature which can match the Quran's eloquence. When a group of experts in Stockholm sit around for two months and then award a certain book the Nobel Prize for Literature for that year, most people are be happy to accept that that book is in fact, the best example of literature that year. Granted, the majority of people wouldn't know any better, and maybe wouldn't even find the winning book enjoyable. But those who understand literature will appreciate the fact and even herald the victor. Few would complain that the granting of the Prize is invalid, a total sham, because you could never possibly make such a judgment with even a hint of objectivity. This is so, because the relevant experts at the Stockholm Academy are considered competent, impartial and reliable judges of literature. The fact that some might disagree with their decision does not invalidate the Prize, nor diminish its value. In the case of the Quran, we see that an overwhelming majority of experts in Arabic literature hold that nothing in Arabic comes close to matching its eloquence. You can dismiss this on the basis of what you perceive to be the subjectivity of judging eloquence and rhetoric, but this is pure dogmatism. Yes, taste may be a subjective thing, but if 100 billion people, past and present, all agree that chocolate tastes better than blue cheese, we can safely say that chocolate tastes better than blue cheese. It matters not that a few crazies dislike chocolate! You accuse Muslims of the very dogmatism which you yourself commit. You refuse to entertain the Quran's challenge on the basis of something as weak as perceived subjectivity. Even if another 1400 years passed, and an overwhelming majority of Arabic literature specialists agreed on the Quran's superior eloquence, you would hold fast to your feeble claim that, "No, such a judgement is invalid, because eloquence is a subjective thing". This is a total cop out my friends. If there did exist a book which bettered the Quran's eloquence, as agreed upon by most experts in Arabic, no doubt you would hold it high above your heads, claiming victory over the Quran. But such a book does not exist, so you are forced to resort to arguments about subjectivity.
  23. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    I would have thought the criteria were self explanatory, but none the less, I have outlined them in my previous post. To briefly reiterate, the quality of a piece of writing or an example of speech can be judged on the basis of the limited rules of rhetoric. Remember that 'rhetoric' is eloquent expression that convinces and influences, whilst conforming to the appropriate rules of language such as grammar. So yet again, it is possible for scholars of rhetoric and literature to assess whether a given example of writing or speech is better than others. In the case of the challenge issued by the Quran (such as at Sura Baqara 2:23), it is not even asking for challengers to beat - just to match it. Attempts have been made to match it, so seemingly, I'm not the only one who believes the challenge is valid. And the challenge is open to all comers, for all time. That allows plenty of time.
  24. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    You turn the argument into one of semantics here. I'm sure you know what I'm trying to convey. If not, I'll spell it out again: It is possible to rank the quality of a range of things of the same kind on an objective basis. In rhetoric, it is quite possible to determine, upon the basis of a set of rules, whether one piece of writing is better than another. An essential component of rhetoric is eloquent expression that influences and convinces. For scholars of rhetoric therefore, it is certainly possible to compare two pieces or writing, or two examples of speech, and determine which best conforms to and achieves the aims of the rules of rhetoric. The Quran's rank as the best writing in Arabic, in terms of rhetoric, is evidenced by various factors. Certainly, authorities on literature are in agreement on the matter. And its ability to convince and influence is self-evident. But the Quran goes much further than this and claims that its eloquence and ability to convince is so elevated that it can not be matched by the human mind. How can we disprove this? By showing that a certain human authored book better conforms to the rules of rhetoric, and more thoroughly achieves the aims of rhetoric in terms of its ability to convince and influence persons. Well, that would make perfect sense to me and other Muslims, as we know the Bible and other Scripures (in their original form) to also be the Word of God. I have no issue with Arberry and others attributing the Quran to man. My aim was to show the esteem in which the Quran is held by authorities on Arabic, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, as a starting point for my argument. As I have argued in other threads, it is not intended by Allah that any given thing in the universe should indubitably prove His existence, in a way that forced us to believe. More on this later. Had I have quoted only Muslim authorities, you would have claimed that these were biased. I seek to demonstrate that authorities on Arabic, if they are to be fair, must acknowledge the Quran's rank as the finest example of Arabic literature in existence, regardless of their religious beliefs. It ought to be noted also, that various previously non-Muslim authorities on Arabic have accepted Islam on the basis of their study of the Quran. Pickhall is a notable example, as are Leopold Weiss, Goethe and Lings and Irving to name but a few. This further demonstrates the powerful eloquence of the Quran. Again, I stress that one is never forced to accept that the Quran's eloquence is Divine. This would be contrary to Allah's wisdom in the creation of universe as a testing ground. So it is no surprise that not every reader of the Quran will believe in its Divine authorship. But what authorities on Arabic must admit, if they are unbiased, is that so far, the Quran has not been matched in terms of rhetoric, by any other book (at least in Arabic). This is the starting point for the The criteria to be used are the rules and aims of rhetoric. Consider this: 1. The Quran is considered the best example of Arabic writing in existence so far. (If you disagree, do produce whatever you feel is better than the Quran). 2. Further still, the Quran challenges all comers, claiming that it will always remain the best, because it is from Allah and beyond human ability. As I have discussed above, this audacious claim could be discredited by the production of an example of writing that better conformed to, and achieved the aims of, rhetoric. Unbiased, non-Muslim scholars of Arabic rhetoric could assess this as far I'm concerned. Should such an example ever emerge, the challenge would be met. In the absence of this, you are forced to concede at the very least, that you can not disprove the claim. Outstanding! You have understood an important concept. Belief is not forced upon you, nor is it something that may be granted to you automatically. But this is a topic for another discussion - the mystery of limited free-will.
  25. The Quran Is Not The Word Of Man

    You have misunderstood the argument. It is quite possible to judge the relative quality of various writings on an objective basis. I am not a scholar of rhetoric nor an authority on literature. But I can still form an opinion on the matter on the advice of scholars in the field. Numerous non-Muslim authorities on Arabic attest to the Quran's superiority (at least in Arabic): I have been at pains to study the intricate and richly varied rhythms which - apart from the message itself - constitute the Koran's undeniable claim to rank amongst the greatest literary masterpieces of mankind..." - Arthur Arberry. “It is by far the finest work of Arabic prose in existence.†- Alan Jones. "Its style, in accordance with its contents and aim is stern, grand, terrible - ever and anon truly sublime - thus this book will go on exercising through all ages a most potent influence." - Goethe. If there was ever a general consensus among scholars of Arabic that some new book met or excelled the Quran, the challenge would be met. The Quran would begin to lose influence rather than gain it. Islam would be discredited and eventually, discarded. This would happen regardless of any dogmatism or blind faith on the part of Muslims. However, what we instead see is that the Quran is, and always has been, regarded as the most eloquent Arabic writing in existence by Arabic scholars of all persuasion. We see that this literary masterpiece gains influence at an increasing rate, among people of all languages and cultures. We see that the passage of time, 1400 years of it, has done nothing to diminish the Quran's superiority. In short, the Quran is inimitable, is beyond the ability of man to match and is therefore the Word of Allah.
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