By Mass L. Usuf –
“Are those who know equal to those who do not?” (The Quran, Chapter 39 Verse 9).
What is the Quran? It is the scripture revealed by Allah to His Messenger Prophet Muhammed (Peace and blessings be on him) and is the religious Book of the Muslims. In reality, are there forty Qurans? The simple answer is, “NO”. How many Qurans are there? There is, only “ONE” Quran. How come some monks and others are speaking about forty Qurans, after Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thero’s Kandy rally, comes the next question? On the heels of the continuing meaningless hostility towards their community, the Muslims are wondering whether this type of misinformation is deliberately spread to deprecate the sanctity of the Quran and to mock at the religion of Islam.
If that is so, such people should desist from making false claims. If not, they will be indulging in deceitfully uttering falsehood violating the virtue (sila):
“Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.”
If they are innocent, then they are talking in absolute ignorance, which also as venerable monks they should not have done. One who speaks must speak facts or maintain noble silence. The Buddha said: “Monks, speech endowed with four characteristics is well-spoken, ….. . Which four? There is the case where a monk says:
Only what is well-spoken, not what is poorly spoken;
Only what is just, not what is unjust;
Only what is endearing, not what is unendearing;
Only what is true, not what is false.
(Sn 3.3 – Subhasita Sutta: Well-Spoken)
This column will attempt to give some highlights into what the Quran is. For those who do not know, this would be knowledge acquired and for those who are inclined towards creating mischief let the public be the jury.
Quran, The Pure Text
It is a known fact among scholars of various classifications that the Quran is the only religious scripture on the face of this earth, which remains in its purest form. Therefore, there is no room for there to be a second Quran.The renowned Scottish Orientalist, Sir William Muir wrote, “There is probably no other book in the world which has remained twelve centuries (now fourteen) with so pure a text”. (Sir Williams Muir, Life of Mohamet, Vol. I. Introduction).
For sake of clarity, it must be mentioned that quoting Sir Willian Muir above is not to prove the purity of the Quran but, only to help understand a learned opinion. The inimitability of the Quran does not require any external sources to prove its purity because the Quran by itself is able to do so independently. Therefore, the statement that the Quranic text still remains in its pure form is not an unsubstantiated blind claim that is being made. It’s authenticity and purity can be verified scientifically, linguistically, logically, historically, philosophically, rationally, mathematically and epistemologically (relating to the theory of knowledge, validation). Again, it is not that these disciplines validate the authenticity or purity of the Quran. On the contrary, these disciplines are validated by the norms embedded in the Quran.
Experimental Science, Embryology
A classic example is the detailed stages of the embryological development that is referred to in the Quran which experimental science discovered only in the last century. Internationally recognized leader in the teaching of human anatomy and embryology, Professor Keith Moore, Professor of Anatomy at the Toronto University was amazed that the Quran 1,400 years ago had made mention of it. He said, “At first I was astonished by the accuracy of the statements that were recorded in the 7th century AD, before the science of embryology was established.” (See the seminal work of Professor Keith Moore – The Developing Human with Islamic Additions – where he makes reference to the relevant verses of the Quran). The clip below is a scientific presentation made by him on the subject.
This is what the French Physician/Scientist Dr. Maurice Bucaille, delivering a lecture on 9th November 1976, at the French Academy of Medicine, titled ‘Physiological and Embryological data in the Quran’ said, “Our knowledge of these disciplines is such, that it is impossible to explain how a text produced at the time of the Quran could have contained ideas that have only been discovered in modern times.”
Moving forward, empirical studies reveal without any shade of doubt that from the very beginning of the revelations of the Quran, more than 1,400 years ago, up to now, the entire Quranic text has been committed to memory by millions of Muslims around world. This in itself is singularly valid proof of the purity of the Quran. Moreover, once a year, during the month of Fasting (Ramadan), Muslims listen to the complete recitation of the Quran by thousands of Huffaz (memorizers of the entire Quran) in almost all the mosques of the world. These people have literally memorised, the more than six thousand verses and over seventy-five thousand words of the Quran verbatim. When the Quran is being recited by the memorisers, the others listening to it can immediately point out an omission of a word or even an incorrect pronunciation of a word. In fact, even a single letter in a word which is mispronounced phonetically can easily be detected. Incidentally, the Quran consists of 114 Chapters.
In the study of scriptural theology, it is noteworthy that the Quran is the only revealed scripture which by Divine command has been guaranteed that it will be protected. Interestingly, there is no other book which has expressly guaranteed its preservation against distortion, interpolation or manipulation. The Quran states:
“Indeed, We have revealed the Quran and We will most surely be its Preserver (Laḥāfiẓūna).” (Chapter 15 Verse 9).
“Falsehood cannot approach it from before it or from behind it; It is sent down by One Full of Wisdom, Worthy of all Praise.” (Chapter 41 Verse 42).
When analysing the rationale for such guaranteed protection, one finds clarity in the internal logical consistency of the Quran. The foremost of which is that the Quran is meant as a book of teachings guiding humanity for all times – for many, many eons to come. Hence, it cannot be a subject of defeat by the passage of time. It cannot become archaic or obsolete. If it is exposed to change or alteration by man or obsolete by time, then it cannot be Divine guidance. It is, therefore, logical to keep God’s final book of wisdom and guidance free from permutation and to ensure its continuity.
The beauty of the preservation is that even if all the hard and soft copies of the Quran in the world are destroyed, yet the Quran will be preserved in the memories of hundreds of thousands who have committed it to immaculate memory.
Another distinct phenomenon one comes across when reading the Quran is the challenge to produce a similar book like the Quran. In fact, the verse below simplifies the challenge by asking to produce only one Chapter like in the Quran. This should be the easiest thing for anyone to do since the shortest Chapter in the Quran has only three verses in it, which is Chapter 108. Also, this Quran permits whoever taking up this challenge to get the support of everyone. For more than 1,400 years up to date no one has succeeded in taking up this simple challenge. The Quran states:
“And if you are in doubt about what We have revealed to Our Servant [Muhammad], then produce a Chapter like it and call all your supporters, besides Allah, if you are truthful.” (Chapter 2 Verse 23).
This short essay is only a scratch on the surface of the copious amounts of researches and studies that had been undertaken thus far and, is still continuing to be undertaken by scholars, intellectuals, scientists etc. The belief and faith of a Muslim is primarily based on this religious scripture. It is little wonder that they are much disturbed by the wild statements made, knowingly or unknowingly, about their religious scripture – The Quran. To do so will naturally hurt them.