By Khalid Baig
Night after night in Ramadan, the believers witness a unique spectacle at mosques around the world. They stand in special Taraveeh prayers in which the prayer leader will recite the entire Quran from memory. Those who have accomplished this extraordinary feat of memorizing all of the 6246 verses are not a handful of devotees but there are hundreds of thousands of them. Most, just like most Muslims in the world today, do not speak Arabic. Yet they have painstakingly learnt to pronounce each and every word of the Quran correctly. The phenomenon is not a result of some religious resurgence that would pass. From the very first day that the Quran was revealed, it was memorized. And the number of those who have memorized it has been increasing ever since. Memorization of Quran has been going on all through the centuries, all over the globe wherever Muslims are.
There are other religions that claim to possess the Word of God. There are none that can show a book that has commanded anything remotely comparable to this level of devotion. Quran is the most read and the only completely memorized book in the whole world. It is also the most studied book in the world. It has stimulated development of entire disciplines of knowledge dealing with its reading, writing, and interpretation.
Miraculous as it is, this is not the only unique aspect of the Quran.
Quran was the first book in the Arabic language. Yet fourteen centuries later, its language is as alive as it was when it was revealed. And there is no other example when the very first book in a language became any masterpiece let alone the eternal masterpiece that Quran is.
This Book is meant to command and guide humanity until the end of time. That the passage of fourteen centuries has not made the slightest dent in its language or literary beauty is only one evidence of that unique role; its contents have also been unassailable by the passage of time. It makes statements of scientific facts that science would discover centuries later but none that science could ever refute. It tells about ancient history, like the civilization of the 'Aad people in the Empty Quarter of the Arabian desert that no other historical sources, then or since, contain any information about. Yet, its veracity has only recently been verified by scientific discoveries. Above all, it provides a system of beliefs and a code of conduct for life which is as relevant, illuminating, and true today as it was fourteen centuries earlier and during all the centuries in between.
The believers know that this Book had to be above space and time because this is the Word of the Creator of space and time. And He has promised that it will always be above space and time. But those who are looking from the outside and are just curious may consider these additional facts:
Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, did not go to any school, study from any teacher, or even learn how to read and write. He even had no interest in poetry, which was one of the most prized disciplines of his time. Yet suddenly at age forty, he began to recite this marvelous revelation.
The style of Quran is very distinct from the words of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself, which also have been preserved in Hadith collections. His own sayings are embodiments of eloquence, but they have a different style. Moreover, they clearly are the words of a human being. Although never deviating from the truth, they do show human emotions and the effects of the circumstances in which they were said. Quran, on the other hand, never shows the slightest trace of these effects. It always speaks from above.
It was revealed over a twenty-three year period and covers a very wide range of subjects yet it shows neither a gradual development of style nor any self- contradictions in the voluminous text.
The twenty-three years of Prophetic life was not a period spent in isolation. He did not retire to a cave to produce this miraculous work. The Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, did spend long periods of time in quiet meditation in Cave Hira before becoming a Prophet. But after Prophethood was conferred upon him, his life was one of constant struggle with the pagans, and later the Jews, of Arabia who spared no effort to stop and persecute him. It was during this period of persecution, wars, campaigns, and solving problems associated with the bringing about of greatest civilizational revolution of all times --- an extremely busy and challenging period --- that Quranic Revelation was also received and compiled.
The Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself was most deeply moved by the Book. He used to stand for hours in solitary midnight prayers reciting from the Book until his feet used to get swollen. How preposterous that one should attempt to attribute the Book to him. Has there ever been another example of somebody getting so moved by his own words?
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all the evidence that proves Quran to be the Word of God. Scholars have written books expounding the miracle of miracles that Quran is. But even this small sampler may propel an inquiring mind to go and read the Book himself.
To read this Book with an open mind is to believe in it. Those who sincerely seek guidance will find their questions answered, their confusions removed, their problems solved in its pages. From the beginning until the end, every word in the Quran tells the reader that it is the Word of Allah. And those who ignore it do so at their own peril.
"And if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to Our servant, then produce a Sura like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true. But if you cannot - and of a surety you cannot - then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones which is prepared for those who reject Faith." [Al-Baqarah 2:23-24]