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Against the Claim of the Inimitability of the Qur'an

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  • Against the Claim of the Inimitability of the Qur'an

    Hello guys!

    Some years ago I worked on the historical origins of Islam, attempting to show that it arose from its time and place and was a product of its circumstances - i.e. Muhammad created it. I still need to finish that, but I don't really have anywhere to put the text. A few days ago, I don't know what possessed me, but I kind of looked up the "Inimitability of the Qur'an" i'jaz al-Qur'an - the idea that the Qur'an is the best thing ever produced. I found a really informative article for free on jstor: https://www.jstor.org/stable/4183221?seq=1 (you can register with Google and read 100 articles for free per month). Last night I worked on it till 6 am (only to wake up at 7:30am for work, even though I had a long nap yesterday afternoon), I really got into it.

    There's only like 1 Muslim apologist who even knows of the article above by Devin J. Stewart - Hamza Tzortzis - and he cites the one or two places it seems to praise it as unique (it's only unique in the sense that it's deficient). Anyway, I wanted to give you guys a read over what I wrote. I know there's two books I reference very incompletely, whose citations are buried somewhere in my notes. Also there's two books Stewart mentions that I want to go to for further information (a 19th century examination of style by Noldeke, and another more recent one by a Muslim scholar, who cites Westerners I believe). But Stewart did such amazing and on-point work, a rough draft was possible almost entirely from his information.

    I tried presenting this article to some clergy at a local community. But aside from indifference, someone actually called it "hateful and vile," probably because I didn't dance around the issue enough, and essentially told me to get away with it from there because it was the opposite of bridge-building (they didn't really like me there to begin with, more obscurity than dislike).

    I am welcoming all criticism without argument. And if anyone wants to copy it, feel free: if it's worth anything, I'd prefer the contents get spread. Because Devin J. Stewart hints and dances around the fact that the Qur'an is by no means inimitable, and there isn't really that much in-depth information on its style. He wrote that in 1990, and he was devoid of a lot of Western scholarship on the issue - most of his references are to Medieval Arabic rhetoricians. Goes to show you how obsessed the critics have been with the Bible

    So anyway, please give me some thoughts :) :
    Qur'anic Literary Structure






    One of the main claims specific to Islam is that the Qur'an is superbly eloquent and unmatched by literature before or since. This doctrine, i'jaz al-Qur'an, is espoused by the Qur'an itself, where Muhammad challenges his critics to "produce one chapter like it," if they were right that he's lying about it being genuine revelations, resulting in the doctrine staunchly defended since Medieval times.

    However, this claim is not based on aesthetics. No Muslim scholar compares it to Shakespeare or Milton. The criteria seems to oscillate between "importance of message" and, on a more technically-minded level: originality in literary type. Most religions concern themselves with the important topics of the origin and destiny of man, so the former aspect is neither unique nor possibly specific enough by its necessarily general and, without supporting evidence, unverifiable nature. Much can become important to someone if it touches them in a way they can relate: books, art, personal relationships. It's the second idea, more emphasized for its more specific nature, that I want to consider.

    Claims of Qur'anic Uniqueness of Style
    • Is its own genre: other writings follow specific rules for poetry or prose, but the Qur'an can't be grouped into these
    • Cannot be imitated better: the Medieval Arabs held it as the best example of literature
    • Eloquent: "It is almost impossible for the listener to detect the shift from one form [of metrical structure in a verse] to the other, nor does this exquisite mingling impinge on the fluidity of expression or impair its meaning." [Mitwalli al-Sharawi, The Miracles of the Qur’an. Dar ul Taqwa, p. 32]
    I want to explore each of these.

    GENRE

    Saj

    Saj is possibly the earliest beginnings of Arabic poetry. Simple prose was predated by poetry in many cultures, including Greece where prior to Herodotus, poets and historians were synonymous (e.g. Simonides in the 5th century BC), for the same reason that we don't like reading books as much as movies: it can get boring.

    But saj is not strictly poetry. It doesn't have to follow any meter at all, unlike its more developed cousin, rajaz. Essentially saj is two or more lines (no real limit) that end in a rhyme, which has to have the last syllable stressed. As long as the two lines aren't extremely different in length (though this happens a lot in saj including in the Qur'an), it's ok if one of the lines (called sajah; plural saja'at) is a bit (or more than a bit) longer. It's neither prose, nor poetry, and even the definition of "rhymed and rhythmic prose" isn't good enough for Stewart.

    The later Muslim rules of poetry, maqamat, do not allow saj to conform in it: if anything, it's saj that's the unique literary genre, not the Qur'an: "Arabic's second poetry" [p.134]
    "Arabic composition should be divided into three categories, prose, verse and Qur’an, saj’ forming a part of prose but the Qur’an being a category of its own." [Hussein, Taha. Saj’ in English Renditions of the Qur’an: A Close Reading of Surah 93 (al-Duha) and the basmala, p.64]

    Contrary to the claim of a unique genre, the Qur'an has saj. Not just a little: almost entirely: 85.9%. [Stewart, Devin J. “Sajʿ in the ‘Qurʾān’: Prosody and Structure.” Journal of Arabic Literature, vol. 21, no. 2, 1990, p.108] This earliest of Arabic literature was denied by some of the Medieval critics as being in the Qur'an for its primitiveness. Its undeveloped character is illustrated by the etymology of the word "saj": supposedly the sound doves made, where their cooing sounded similar but had no content. [Stewart, p.105]

    It's not so much that saj can have no meaning or organized, logical content. However, the diviners and soothsayers of pre-Islamic Arabia, so frequently chastised by the Qur'an, Hadith, and earliest Muslims starting with Muhammad, frequently employed such "meaningless" and mysterious saj such as:

    "The sky and the earth,
    the loan and the debt,
    the flood and the trickle"
    Sure, these are opposites, but what do they relate to and how do we know it?

    This connection between saj and the Arabian soothsayers, or kahins, is probably the main reason some of the later Muslim commentators denied its presence in the Qur'an. The episode where the guardian of a woman who fought a pregnant woman and caused a premature abortion defends her by employing rhyming saj and is chastised for it shows this. [Stewart, p.104]

    But as Stewart notes, "it is wrong to impose existing conventions on the material, whether they be Arabic-Muslim or Western Orientalist, for this can only advance our understanding in a limited fashion...Is it not more fruitful to take the doctrine of i'jaz [Marvel, i.e. of the Qur'an] as a challenge to investigation and comparison rather than a declaration of the futility of independent thinking? Did not the greatest Muslim literary critics do just that?" [pp.107-8]

    Al-Taftazani's [d. 791/1389] statements show just that: one doesn't refer to the Qur'an as saj, not because it isn't saj, but out of respect [Stewart, p.107]. So we see that since Medieval times the Qur'an was known to be pretty much all saj and other lines that are just statements or prose (no poetic structure, except rarely as dividers, "refrain ayah" - between saj units - Stewart, p.128). Hence Stewart concludes (pp.108, 133):

    "It is not surprising that the medieval critics who so plainly recognize Qur'anic saj' as such are those who have produced the best analyses of saj' that have come down to us...Notwithstanding considerable reluctance to use the term saj' in reference to the Qur'an, most medieval rhetoricians realize that the Qur'an contains a great deal of saj'."
    Of course, this is not denied by most Muslims arguing for i'jaz al-Qur'an. They maintain that the mixture of the various poetry throughout each chapter makes it unique and not adhering to any literary form, including saj. But this is neither true, nor relevant. Al-Athir considers entire chapters are completely saj such as Surah 53, 54. Al-Qalqashandi adds Surah 55 to this list. There are others, and to deny their entirety is saj, is just one step away from forcing oneself to deny any saj in the Qur'an like mentioned above.

    And a mixture of "poetry and prose" does not make a unique genre, anymore than a mixture of fluid and non-fluid makes a different state of matter. This is simply grasping at straws for uniqueness. If anything, the Gospels have a bigger claim on this, where sometimes Mark is considered to have invented the genre of the Gospel, but these were also quite clearly modelled on the ancient Greco-Roman bioi or "lives of illustrious men" genre, prevalent at the time.

    INIMITABILITY

    The earliest Muslim rhetoricians were neither uniform nor unbiased. Not to mention the parameters of saj are so loose, that they're close to nonexistent at times. Clearly not everyone could have considered the Qur'an inimitable objectively. Ibn Athir's criteria for the best saj is 2-3 sajahs of equal length [p.124], which is very frequently not the case in the Qur'an.

    Saj and Rules

    It's hard to call anything inimitable, when saj barely has rules. It's perfectly allowed to constantly employ full declensions (e.g. "T'was" instead of "it was") in the end rhyme to achieve the stress needed. [Stewart, p.110] Al-Qayrawani says it has no meter or form and is different from poetry [Stewart, p.131], a bit inaccurate but mainly true: those are employable but not necessary. But its meter was measured in words, not syllables, And even that's not really a good measuring stick as the number of words may not correspond to the number of syntagmatic beats. [Stewart, p.114] And words are sort of shortened to eliminate word stresses. [p.115] Hence there was "some leeway in determining whether or not something should be considered one 'word' using Ibn al-Athir's terminology, or as having one 'beat'..." [Stewart, p.115]

    Stewart notes [p.115] that Blacheré counts the syllables in each sajah between 4 and 10, but calls it a "misunderstanding" because of the forced, artificial word-stress count in saj mentioned above: "...to misunderstand the metrical essentials of saj" - there is no meter!

    In addition, the whole ayat doesn't need to be part of the saj [p.116] and this happens commonly ("introductory phrase...not obligatory, is very common in saj, including Qur'anic saj" - e.g. 1:1-3). On the same page, "small parts of breaking the length (by a lot)" is forgivable in saj - Al-Askari (who did not understand the introductory part).

    And although the Muslim rhetoricians say that the different lines of a saj should be of similar length, an example of a Bedouin saj where the first sajah is more than twice as long as the second, breaking two cardinal rules of al-Athir's, is still called "forgivable" by Al-Askari [p.116] since it was a small part of the whole poem. But the case where the guardian defended a woman with saj that Muhammad associates with kahins is called "stilted and unnatural". [p.104]

    Al-Athir's "short" saj is 2-10 words! Long is 11+ words; no word limit for him. [pp.118-9] So by what rules are we judging inimitability? How do you have anything meaningfully unique when there are no rules? Neither al-Athir could figure out (or know of) any rules for saj, nor Al-Qazwini with his arbitrary "short, medium, and long" (medium: 4-7 word). [p.119] So, what objective criteria are we using to determine inimitability when everyone contradicted each other with all the "leeway" in the world?

    The basic unit of the saj is two saja'at, not one: in other words, the rules don't apply to each sajah, so you can do as you please with each, while the whole remains a saj, unlike the hemistrichs in Western poetry. Saj can have as many sajahs per unit, though they felt most comfortable with 2 or 3 - again, not much rules. [Stewart, p.121]

    This also allows for a very wide deviation in its lines. Al-Qalqashandi, for instance, says that the length of the line is ok as long as it doesn't go on a new line, impeding visual ease, and Stewart notes this means a sajah's maximum length depended upon the size of the paper used! [p.120] Will Muslims now tell us we need to know the size of the parchment the Qur'an was written on to "prove/appreciate" its inimitability?

    The whole argument from "balance", or "eloquence," depending on word counts is as subjective as calling a Haiku improper because of this. Judgment on saj by numerical count (syllables instead of word stresses) is the very misconception Stewart chides some of the older Western authors on the Qur'an's literary style.

    Subjective Criteria

    For the Arabs of Muhammad's day, merely employing saj was eloquent. [Stewart, p.103] Al-Rummani (d. 384/994) considered the content to determine the eloquence, not the style. [Stewart, p.105] This isn't a mark against the Qur'an. Edith Hamilton notes that the Gothic sculptures and buildings of the Middle Ages were far superior in elegance, intricacy, and mastery than the ancient Greek ones, but because the Greek came first and developed the art, they were in that sense superior: like Newton's comment about standing on the shoulders of giants.

    But if one tries to look at it technically the way the Muslim inimitability argument goes, then it's clearly subjective: the content can revolutionize for its day, but many movies whose story we consider redundant and special effects comical today were new and amazing back in their day.

    In fact, the whole challenge Muhammad gave to the Meccan scoffer, to produce one chapter like the Qur'an if it's so easy, was a genuine challenge not because the Qur'an was such a literary miracle, but because most of them didn't have a lick of education! In fact, Muslims frequently mention how in Mecca there were only 17 people who could read and write, implying Muhammad couldn't have learned any biblical stories from them to write the Qur'an. [he learned them from Syrians he traded with during the bi-annual caravan trades he'd been doing for years prior. there are numerous stories of his being given shelter and clothes by Nestorian monks. This is how one of his "miracles" took place - describing Jerusalem in detail as if looking at (an invisible) map of it in front of people]

    The Muslim rhetoricians simply don't agree whether saj is okay when properly employed, employed moderately, or if the whole is utter nonsense no matter what. Even the rules for saj, loose as they are, completely differ between them. Al-Athir considers a sajah (one of the lines ending in a rhyme of a saj unit) that exceeds the length of another sajah by too much to be imbalanced; Al-Qazwini doesn't because Surah 103 and 93.1-3 does it. [Stewart pp.126-7] Al-Athir says it's best if all the saja'at are the same length, but noting Surah 56.28-30, says it would be ok if the last sajah in verse 30 was 3-4 words longer; if the first two saja'at are 3-4 words, the third could be 10-11 words, contradicting himself. [Stewart, p.126]

    Bias

    The problem of concluding that the Qur'an is inimitable is that the starting point for the theory's proponents is always that the Qur'an is the model literature. For example, on the maximum number of words in each sajah, Al-Qalqashandi concludes that it is 19 because that's the biggest number of words found in a Qur'anic sajah - Surah 8.43-4. [Stewart, p.119] That's like asking the magic mirror on the wall, "Who's the prettiest of them all?" and giving yourself as the epitome of beauty: with such guidelines every mirror becomes your answer!

    The final rhyme in saj is called either a fawasil - if it places content over superficial pleasing sound like rhyme - or asja if it does the opposite. Naturally, they automatically consider every such end-rhyme in the Qur'an a fawasil [Stewart, pp.106,120] to the point where they only refer to it as fawasil, even though "there are many examples of the use of formal devices in the Qur'an where the meaning is somewhat subordinated for aesthetic or rhetorical reasons." [Stewart, p.106]

    Many saj in the Qur'an are of different lengths - Al-Taftazani explains that it's improper per Al-Qazwini's statement if it were "much shorter/longer" to avoid the criticism of the Qur'anic saj. [Stewart, p.117]

    Stewart notes that, e.g. Surah 2.281-3 has three ayat (verses) with wordcounts: 15, 127, and 32 respectively, which rhyme at the end. The bias is shown by Al-Qalqashandi who cites Surah 8.43-4 as the highest number of words in a saj, and that more than this is not saj: (1) to preserve the eloquence in the Qur'an seeing the abberations in 2.281-3, (2) to set the Qur'an as the standard of eloquence (alongside the arbitrary reasoning like #1), and then judge it perfect by judging it by itself! [Stewart, pp.119-120]

    Uniqueness

    Uniqueness by itself is relevant only in the proper context. Everyone's fingerprint is unique for no special reason. On a minute enough level, all mistakes are unique. This is what the famous quote from Heraclitus means, "No man steps in the same river twice": the water molecules are different the second time.

    Aside genre, the literary style of the Qur'an is presented as unique. Let's ignore the fact that the Qur'an itself says it's for Arabs in "plain Arabic speech." This might seem at first like it's only saying that it's in non-fancy language - unpretentious, without jargon. But the implication is that it's not a soothsayer's speech, which we've seen it can't really be so certain with its emphasis on saj.
    But the few features that can be pointed to merely differ from the main style of saj. Stewart writes that the Qur'an is "more saj than not." [p.109] The rhymes are usually one syllable [pp.110-1], and these are common endings that allow irregular rhymes which frequently occur.

    Other stylistic rhetorical devices are the "refrain" ayah. Also verses that have more than one sajah each (Surah 69.30; 112:3). But these are rare [pp.126, 128], so hardly the mark of a master stylist.
    Many could employ saj, not just the Qur'an or the kahins. Al-Jahiz reports an anecdote about a man who only spoke in saj: not just rhymes, but also regular meter, unlike the Qur'an which is frequently not in meter. To tout the break from meter as a relevant uniqueness is like saying the random splashes of paint I throw on a canvass are as descriptive as a photograph: certainly not in any objective sense. So when Abdulla el Tayib calls the Qur'an's style "beyond probing," he's certainly right but not in the sense he means.

    A good question is why the Qur'an didn't use rajaz, which had meter and could also vary its rhymes? Surely that would prove the inimitability, while also being even more pleasing to the ear!

    ELOQUENCE

    There are already some hints of not only non-eloquence, but deficient style above. Here I'll give some fuller details.

    Mono-rhyming was considered dull ("repetitive and stilted" - p.121) by the Medieval Islamic authorities. Yet, in many places the end rhyme is the same for over 50 Qur'anic lines! [p.123] These form different units throughout, showing it's easy to rhyme but not easy to keep the same meter as your topic is developed/changed: "Another extremely common device for separating saj' units is change in the length of the saj'ahs without change in the rhyme. That this is much more common in the Qur'an than in other saj' compositions such as maqamat is another aspect of the tendency to maintain mono-rhyme." [p.128 - and he cites Surah 114]

    Inexact rhymes and rhymes unallowed in poetry or saj. [p.109] And the medieval Muslim rhetoricians' claim that all of the rhyme-types are either exact or inexact, as if that was something special, in the Qur'an is also incorrect. [p.109] This just gives the impression that the text is mix-and-match patchwork and that the author didn't know the rules or was bad at them - would God write like this? Stewart concludes on this:

    "Qur'anic saj' has a much greater tendency to mono-rhyme than does later saj'. A small number of rhymes, including un/in/um/im and il/ir, are predominant in the Qur'an whereas rhyme in later saj' shows greater variation. The Qur'an allows inexact rhymes which are not found in later saj'. The saj'ahs in Qur'anic saj' are in many cases much longer than those found in later saj', though the shorter Meccan surahs tend to have fairly short saj'ahs. Saj' units in the Qur'an reach much greater lengths than those found in later saj'. The formation of saj' units in Qur'anic saj' also exhibits a greater degree of variety...units of the ruba'i type [short, short, very long sajah] and the pyramid type [short, medium, long] being much more common. Later saj' tends to consist primarily of parallelism and multiple rhymes become much more important effects...than they are in the Qur'an" [pp.133-4]
    But as Stewart himself notes, the pyramid type, which is just an extension of the ruba'i type, is not very common. [p.126] In effect, the greater range of the Qur'an's saj' is very limited, while its incessant, simple, and often inexact mono-rhymes with no form in the sajahs are throughout. Obviously, many of the sajahs in the Qur'an are longer - many of the verses in Paul's letters are a single sentence: theology can be wordy! And the fact that the Meccan chapters are shorter is why Vernon O. Egger (Islam till 1405) says that the earlier prophecies were kahin-like, whereas he became more politically and theologically-minded later at Medina.

    The balance that Al-Athir and others propose is frequently broken (e.g. Surah 2.281-3: wordcount is 15, 127, 32 respectively).

    Stewart calls the surah more "flexible" than the qasidah (which had same meter and rhyme throughout) [p.120], but that just strikes one given the above as another way of saying "less capable". Though not mono-rhyme, sometimes the Qur'an just doesn't bother with any symmetry. For example, Surah 110 has 4 rhymes in 11 verses. It just comes off as an artificial attempt: the saj change by changing the rhyme and word length, yet the final sajah is five words and no rhyme. [p.127] So either there are no rules and we're freestyling it (hence how can we claim inimitability when we're comparing random things?), or the Qur'an is deficient in its poetry - this clearly violates the already infinitely loose rules of saj! If one wants to cite this as an example of uniqueness and difference from other genres like saj, then one is simply claiming that a collection of purpose-oriented sentences are their own unique style. That's not a unique genre, that's simply no genre: like a long announcement or flier.

    Because of all this, Al-Khalil's standards and later maqamat (Arabic rules for poetry) clearly do not even consider the Qur'an as poetry. [p.134] Many could not do this analysis due to the doctrine of i'jaz al-Qur'an, and led to various machinations of definitions (e.g. Ibn Athir's 'accent poetry'), so the "supremacy of quantitative poetry" [over the saj such as the Qur'an's] - could not be stated. [p.134]

    "[Q]uantitative parallelism is restricted to the last word...However, critics prized more complete parallelism, and considered saj of even higher merit if it had this property" [p.131] This is why Stewart notes that:

    "Scheindlin believes that this type of saj', as used by al-Hamadhani and al-Hariri, is the most advanced stage of saj' in the history of Arabic literature. It is clear that many medieval rhetoricians and writers of saj' shared his opinion." [p.132][For Scheindlin's opinion, his Form and Structure in the Poetry of al Mu'tamid Ibn 'Abbad, p.58]
    The morphology of the last rhyming word should be similar:

    "Critics pay a great deal of attention to the last word of the saj'ah...Not only is it important for the word to have rhyme (qafiyah), it is also considered important that the fasilah [last word which rhymes] be of the same morphological pattern (wazn) as those of neighboring saj'ahs. Medieval critics classify saj' according to the presence or absence of this property." [p.129]
    Yet this is not the case in Surah 71.13-14 or 88.13-14, an imperfection even the Muslim medieval rhetoricians note. Al-Qalqashandi considers this type "lop-sided"[p.129]:

    "Although waqaran and atwaran rhyme, they are not of the same morphological pattern. As regards syllabic quantity, waqaran scans short-long-long, but atwaran scans long-long-long. The critics consider this type of saj' inferior to saj' mutawazi 'parallel saj'', which has both rhyme and identical pattern in the final words of the saj'ahs." [p.129]

    If there was ever a chance to objectively impress with style, it was here. And it falls flat. There must have been a good reason for the medieval rhetoricians to consider those kinds of rhymes "skewed", especially writing hundreds of years after the Qur'an with Qur'anic verses in mind. Of course, they defend the Qur'an, considering the above simply something that "deviates...from the norm". [p.130]

    There's other types of style found in the Qur'an considered deficient by some. Muwazanah was essentially saj' with proper morphological form but with either no rhyme or inexact rhymes at the end:

    "Others, such as al-Askari, do not consider it saj', but deem it slightly inferior saj' in literary merit. Al-Qalqashandi and others give the following Qur'anic example: [Surah 88.15-16]" [p.130]

    Other times, the style is arbitrary: the number of lines in each "strophe" in Chapter 54 varies from 5-11, as well as the words (4-10 words). [pp.128-9] This is not uniqueness, but randomness.

    Most of the Qur'anic saj is two ayat (verses) [p.117], which again confirms its simple and non-unique character to me. The introductory phrase (sometimes part of a line was not part of the sajah) can be of very different lengths - p.117 (Sheynin quote). - this introductory phrase ("matla") is part of the "irregular" thing Muslims will cite, but it's not unique to the Qur'an, and also shows that saj is just an irregular rhyme. Stewart notes it distinguishes it from poetry - it's like half-baked poetry, honestly. He says the matlas typically one or two words, but that's already a number of syllables. Sometimes the matla is as long as the following sajah (p.118 - Surah 112.1-2). He notes that no matla exceeded the size of the following sajah because it would upset the metrical balance - something no one would simply invent, not that the Qur'an is special. Later writers used almost exclusively 2-4 sajahs, mostly 2. [p.122] More than 4 sajahs is strained per Al-Askari, yet the Qur'an has 5 (Surah 111), and in one case 14! (Surah 81.1-14) "...without any clear subdivisions..." [Stewart, p.123]


    Cultural Milieu of the Qur'an

    Here I just point out some additional supporting points that don't really belong up there, but that contribute to the idea that the Qur'an is a product of its time:
    • Saj was immediately criticized and recognized as kahin-like (pp.102-4), and these were the Meccan accusations, aside from saying he invented it and heard stories from Jews and Christians.
    • The saj of the kahins was stilted and unnatural (p.104). Numerous Qur'anic parallels (trades meaning for rhyme; bad rhymes)
    • No difference between the kahins and other saj except for the message's point. [p.105]
    • Many places the Qur'an subordinates the meaning to form, like the kahins. [p.106]
    • The random way the saj rules set out by Al-Athir et al (based on balance - pp.125 and on) are broken by the Qur'an shows an arbitrary literary nature unbecoming of God. Just as Muslims contend that only the Arabic captures the true eloquence, so also one should judge it by its cultural milieu: so if it broke the rules of its day, then even if we can justify it to our ears, it's either ineloquent or incapable.
    • Al-Isba says of Surah 55.33-6 like having two meters simultaneously, clearly showing the arbitrariness of the medieval Arab rhetoricians, Saj itself, and the Qur'an - because it's not a common device in it. [p.128]
    • Muhammad immediately associates saj with kahins, to eliminate competition (Musaylimah the Liar; the guardian defending the woman who caused an abortion). [Stewart, p.104]
    Last edited by dida_jabal; 07-09-2021, 06:31 PM.

  • #2
    Whether about the so-called miracle of the Quran, it’s doubtful preservation or it’s assumed semantic-linguistic “wonder” etc, all these desperate propaganda from Muslim proselytisers have been debunked and refuted in answering-Islam.net or answering-Islam.org-

    https://www.answeringislam.net/Respo...ghtreasons.htm

    https://www.answering-islam.net/Green/uthman.htm

    https://www.answering-islam.net/Quran/Contra/

    The latter article outlines many contradictions in the Quran, which shows that it is impossible to be something that came down from the true God Who is perfect and unblemished truth.

    Comment


    • #3
      hello

      It is commendable that you went to such effort to work on this project.

      "Prophet Muhammed created Islam"----I could also say "Islam" is the product of generations of Muslims, living and adapting, it to their life experiences and circumstances....therefore, Islam belongs to all sincere Muslims...they are all "creators" to some degree.....

      Quran---Both the message itself (content) and its attribute that it cannot be replicated (literary techniques) stand today...neither Muslims, nor non-Non-Muslims have been able to replicate even a Surah of it.
      Perhaps someday you might want to give it a try...?.....(would be easier to prove your point if you actually attempted it?)

      I am sure you hold firmly to your set of beliefs. It is to be expected that others are like you and hold firmly to their beliefs too. A degree of certainty helps us to navigate life....but it can also lead us into circumstances called "echo chambers"/bubbles. Therefore it is commendable that you want to seek out a variety of opinions on what you wrote.



      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by dida_jabal View Post
        Hello guys!

        Some years ago I worked on the historical origins of Islam, attempting to show that it arose from its time and place and was a product of its circumstances - i.e. Muhammad created it. I still need to finish that, but I don't really have anywhere to put the text. A few days ago, I don't know what possessed me, but I kind of looked up the "Inimitability of the Qur'an" i'jaz al-Qur'an - the idea that the Qur'an is the best thing ever produced. I found a really informative article for free on jstor: https://www.jstor.org/stable/4183221?seq=1 (you can register with Google and read 100 articles for free per month). Last night I worked on it till 6 am (only to wake up at 7:30am for work, even though I had a long nap yesterday afternoon), I really got into it.

        There's only like 1 Muslim apologist who even knows of the article above by Devin J. Stewart - Hamza Tzortzis - and he cites the one or two places it seems to praise it as unique (it's only unique in the sense that it's deficient). Anyway, I wanted to give you guys a read over what I wrote. I know there's two books I reference very incompletely, whose citations are buried somewhere in my notes. Also there's two books Stewart mentions that I want to go to for further information (a 19th century examination of style by Noldeke, and another more recent one by a Muslim scholar, who cites Westerners I believe). But Stewart did such amazing and on-point work, a rough draft was possible almost entirely from his information.

        I tried presenting this article to some clergy at a local community. But aside from indifference, someone actually called it "hateful and vile," probably because I didn't dance around the issue enough, and essentially told me to get away with it from there because it was the opposite of bridge-building (they didn't really like me there to begin with, more obscurity than dislike).

        I am welcoming all criticism without argument. And if anyone wants to copy it, feel free: if it's worth anything, I'd prefer the contents get spread. Because Devin J. Stewart hints and dances around the fact that the Qur'an is by no means inimitable, and there isn't really that much in-depth information on its style. He wrote that in 1990, and he was devoid of a lot of Western scholarship on the issue - most of his references are to Medieval Arabic rhetoricians. Goes to show you how obsessed the critics have been with the Bible

        So anyway, please give me some thoughts :) :
        Qur'anic Literary Structure






        One of the main claims specific to Islam is that the Qur'an is superbly eloquent and unmatched by literature before or since. This doctrine, i'jaz al-Qur'an, is espoused by the Qur'an itself, where Muhammad challenges his critics to "produce one chapter like it," if they were right that he's lying about it being genuine revelations, resulting in the doctrine staunchly defended since Medieval times.

        However, this claim is not based on aesthetics. No Muslim scholar compares it to Shakespeare or Milton. The criteria seems to oscillate between "importance of message" and, on a more technically-minded level: originality in literary type. Most religions concern themselves with the important topics of the origin and destiny of man, so the former aspect is neither unique nor possibly specific enough by its necessarily general and, without supporting evidence, unverifiable nature. Much can become important to someone if it touches them in a way they can relate: books, art, personal relationships. It's the second idea, more emphasized for its more specific nature, that I want to consider.

        Claims of Qur'anic Uniqueness of Style
        • Is its own genre: other writings follow specific rules for poetry or prose, but the Qur'an can't be grouped into these
        • Cannot be imitated better: the Medieval Arabs held it as the best example of literature
        • Eloquent: "It is almost impossible for the listener to detect the shift from one form [of metrical structure in a verse] to the other, nor does this exquisite mingling impinge on the fluidity of expression or impair its meaning." [Mitwalli al-Sharawi, The Miracles of the Qur’an. Dar ul Taqwa, p. 32]
        I want to explore each of these.

        GENRE

        Saj

        Saj is possibly the earliest beginnings of Arabic poetry. Simple prose was predated by poetry in many cultures, including Greece where prior to Herodotus, poets and historians were synonymous (e.g. Simonides in the 5th century BC), for the same reason that we don't like reading books as much as movies: it can get boring.

        But saj is not strictly poetry. It doesn't have to follow any meter at all, unlike its more developed cousin, rajaz. Essentially saj is two or more lines (no real limit) that end in a rhyme, which has to have the last syllable stressed. As long as the two lines aren't extremely different in length (though this happens a lot in saj including in the Qur'an), it's ok if one of the lines (called sajah; plural saja'at) is a bit (or more than a bit) longer. It's neither prose, nor poetry, and even the definition of "rhymed and rhythmic prose" isn't good enough for Stewart.

        The later Muslim rules of poetry, maqamat, do not allow saj to conform in it: if anything, it's saj that's the unique literary genre, not the Qur'an: "Arabic's second poetry" [p.134]
        "Arabic composition should be divided into three categories, prose, verse and Qur’an, saj’ forming a part of prose but the Qur’an being a category of its own." [Hussein, Taha. Saj’ in English Renditions of the Qur’an: A Close Reading of Surah 93 (al-Duha) and the basmala, p.64]

        Contrary to the claim of a unique genre, the Qur'an has saj. Not just a little: almost entirely: 85.9%. [Stewart, Devin J. “Sajʿ in the ‘Qurʾān’: Prosody and Structure.” Journal of Arabic Literature, vol. 21, no. 2, 1990, p.108] This earliest of Arabic literature was denied by some of the Medieval critics as being in the Qur'an for its primitiveness. Its undeveloped character is illustrated by the etymology of the word "saj": supposedly the sound doves made, where their cooing sounded similar but had no content. [Stewart, p.105]

        It's not so much that saj can have no meaning or organized, logical content. However, the diviners and soothsayers of pre-Islamic Arabia, so frequently chastised by the Qur'an, Hadith, and earliest Muslims starting with Muhammad, frequently employed such "meaningless" and mysterious saj such as:



        Sure, these are opposites, but what do they relate to and how do we know it?

        This connection between saj and the Arabian soothsayers, or kahins, is probably the main reason some of the later Muslim commentators denied its presence in the Qur'an. The episode where the guardian of a woman who fought a pregnant woman and caused a premature abortion defends her by employing rhyming saj and is chastised for it shows this. [Stewart, p.104]

        But as Stewart notes, "it is wrong to impose existing conventions on the material, whether they be Arabic-Muslim or Western Orientalist, for this can only advance our understanding in a limited fashion...Is it not more fruitful to take the doctrine of i'jaz [Marvel, i.e. of the Qur'an] as a challenge to investigation and comparison rather than a declaration of the futility of independent thinking? Did not the greatest Muslim literary critics do just that?" [pp.107-8]

        Al-Taftazani's [d. 791/1389] statements show just that: one doesn't refer to the Qur'an as saj, not because it isn't saj, but out of respect [Stewart, p.107]. So we see that since Medieval times the Qur'an was known to be pretty much all saj and other lines that are just statements or prose (no poetic structure, except rarely as dividers, "refrain ayah" - between saj units - Stewart, p.128). Hence Stewart concludes (pp.108, 133):



        Of course, this is not denied by most Muslims arguing for i'jaz al-Qur'an. They maintain that the mixture of the various poetry throughout each chapter makes it unique and not adhering to any literary form, including saj. But this is neither true, nor relevant. Al-Athir considers entire chapters are completely saj such as Surah 53, 54. Al-Qalqashandi adds Surah 55 to this list. There are others, and to deny their entirety is saj, is just one step away from forcing oneself to deny any saj in the Qur'an like mentioned above.

        And a mixture of "poetry and prose" does not make a unique genre, anymore than a mixture of fluid and non-fluid makes a different state of matter. This is simply grasping at straws for uniqueness. If anything, the Gospels have a bigger claim on this, where sometimes Mark is considered to have invented the genre of the Gospel, but these were also quite clearly modelled on the ancient Greco-Roman bioi or "lives of illustrious men" genre, prevalent at the time.

        INIMITABILITY

        The earliest Muslim rhetoricians were neither uniform nor unbiased. Not to mention the parameters of saj are so loose, that they're close to nonexistent at times. Clearly not everyone could have considered the Qur'an inimitable objectively. Ibn Athir's criteria for the best saj is 2-3 sajahs of equal length [p.124], which is very frequently not the case in the Qur'an.

        Saj and Rules

        It's hard to call anything inimitable, when saj barely has rules. It's perfectly allowed to constantly employ full declensions (e.g. "T'was" instead of "it was") in the end rhyme to achieve the stress needed. [Stewart, p.110] Al-Qayrawani says it has no meter or form and is different from poetry [Stewart, p.131], a bit inaccurate but mainly true: those are employable but not necessary. But its meter was measured in words, not syllables, And even that's not really a good measuring stick as the number of words may not correspond to the number of syntagmatic beats. [Stewart, p.114] And words are sort of shortened to eliminate word stresses. [p.115] Hence there was "some leeway in determining whether or not something should be considered one 'word' using Ibn al-Athir's terminology, or as having one 'beat'..." [Stewart, p.115]

        Stewart notes [p.115] that Blacheré counts the syllables in each sajah between 4 and 10, but calls it a "misunderstanding" because of the forced, artificial word-stress count in saj mentioned above: "...to misunderstand the metrical essentials of saj" - there is no meter!

        In addition, the whole ayat doesn't need to be part of the saj [p.116] and this happens commonly ("introductory phrase...not obligatory, is very common in saj, including Qur'anic saj" - e.g. 1:1-3). On the same page, "small parts of breaking the length (by a lot)" is forgivable in saj - Al-Askari (who did not understand the introductory part).

        And although the Muslim rhetoricians say that the different lines of a saj should be of similar length, an example of a Bedouin saj where the first sajah is more than twice as long as the second, breaking two cardinal rules of al-Athir's, is still called "forgivable" by Al-Askari [p.116] since it was a small part of the whole poem. But the case where the guardian defended a woman with saj that Muhammad associates with kahins is called "stilted and unnatural". [p.104]

        Al-Athir's "short" saj is 2-10 words! Long is 11+ words; no word limit for him. [pp.118-9] So by what rules are we judging inimitability? How do you have anything meaningfully unique when there are no rules? Neither al-Athir could figure out (or know of) any rules for saj, nor Al-Qazwini with his arbitrary "short, medium, and long" (medium: 4-7 word). [p.119] So, what objective criteria are we using to determine inimitability when everyone contradicted each other with all the "leeway" in the world?

        The basic unit of the saj is two saja'at, not one: in other words, the rules don't apply to each sajah, so you can do as you please with each, while the whole remains a saj, unlike the hemistrichs in Western poetry. Saj can have as many sajahs per unit, though they felt most comfortable with 2 or 3 - again, not much rules. [Stewart, p.121]

        This also allows for a very wide deviation in its lines. Al-Qalqashandi, for instance, says that the length of the line is ok as long as it doesn't go on a new line, impeding visual ease, and Stewart notes this means a sajah's maximum length depended upon the size of the paper used! [p.120] Will Muslims now tell us we need to know the size of the parchment the Qur'an was written on to "prove/appreciate" its inimitability?

        The whole argument from "balance", or "eloquence," depending on word counts is as subjective as calling a Haiku improper because of this. Judgment on saj by numerical count (syllables instead of word stresses) is the very misconception Stewart chides some of the older Western authors on the Qur'an's literary style.

        Subjective Criteria

        For the Arabs of Muhammad's day, merely employing saj was eloquent. [Stewart, p.103] Al-Rummani (d. 384/994) considered the content to determine the eloquence, not the style. [Stewart, p.105] This isn't a mark against the Qur'an. Edith Hamilton notes that the Gothic sculptures and buildings of the Middle Ages were far superior in elegance, intricacy, and mastery than the ancient Greek ones, but because the Greek came first and developed the art, they were in that sense superior: like Newton's comment about standing on the shoulders of giants.

        But if one tries to look at it technically the way the Muslim inimitability argument goes, then it's clearly subjective: the content can revolutionize for its day, but many movies whose story we consider redundant and special effects comical today were new and amazing back in their day.

        In fact, the whole challenge Muhammad gave to the Meccan scoffer, to produce one chapter like the Qur'an if it's so easy, was a genuine challenge not because the Qur'an was such a literary miracle, but because most of them didn't have a lick of education! In fact, Muslims frequently mention how in Mecca there were only 17 people who could read and write, implying Muhammad couldn't have learned any biblical stories from them to write the Qur'an. [he learned them from Syrians he traded with during the bi-annual caravan trades he'd been doing for years prior. there are numerous stories of his being given shelter and clothes by Nestorian monks. This is how one of his "miracles" took place - describing Jerusalem in detail as if looking at (an invisible) map of it in front of people]

        The Muslim rhetoricians simply don't agree whether saj is okay when properly employed, employed moderately, or if the whole is utter nonsense no matter what. Even the rules for saj, loose as they are, completely differ between them. Al-Athir considers a sajah (one of the lines ending in a rhyme of a saj unit) that exceeds the length of another sajah by too much to be imbalanced; Al-Qazwini doesn't because Surah 103 and 93.1-3 does it. [Stewart pp.126-7] Al-Athir says it's best if all the saja'at are the same length, but noting Surah 56.28-30, says it would be ok if the last sajah in verse 30 was 3-4 words longer; if the first two saja'at are 3-4 words, the third could be 10-11 words, contradicting himself. [Stewart, p.126]

        Bias

        The problem of concluding that the Qur'an is inimitable is that the starting point for the theory's proponents is always that the Qur'an is the model literature. For example, on the maximum number of words in each sajah, Al-Qalqashandi concludes that it is 19 because that's the biggest number of words found in a Qur'anic sajah - Surah 8.43-4. [Stewart, p.119] That's like asking the magic mirror on the wall, "Who's the prettiest of them all?" and giving yourself as the epitome of beauty: with such guidelines every mirror becomes your answer!

        The final rhyme in saj is called either a fawasil - if it places content over superficial pleasing sound like rhyme - or asja if it does the opposite. Naturally, they automatically consider every such end-rhyme in the Qur'an a fawasil [Stewart, pp.106,120] to the point where they only refer to it as fawasil, even though "there are many examples of the use of formal devices in the Qur'an where the meaning is somewhat subordinated for aesthetic or rhetorical reasons." [Stewart, p.106]

        Many saj in the Qur'an are of different lengths - Al-Taftazani explains that it's improper per Al-Qazwini's statement if it were "much shorter/longer" to avoid the criticism of the Qur'anic saj. [Stewart, p.117]

        Stewart notes that, e.g. Surah 2.281-3 has three ayat (verses) with wordcounts: 15, 127, and 32 respectively, which rhyme at the end. The bias is shown by Al-Qalqashandi who cites Surah 8.43-4 as the highest number of words in a saj, and that more than this is not saj: (1) to preserve the eloquence in the Qur'an seeing the abberations in 2.281-3, (2) to set the Qur'an as the standard of eloquence (alongside the arbitrary reasoning like #1), and then judge it perfect by judging it by itself! [Stewart, pp.119-120]

        Uniqueness

        Uniqueness by itself is relevant only in the proper context. Everyone's fingerprint is unique for no special reason. On a minute enough level, all mistakes are unique. This is what the famous quote from Heraclitus means, "No man steps in the same river twice": the water molecules are different the second time.

        Aside genre, the literary style of the Qur'an is presented as unique. Let's ignore the fact that the Qur'an itself says it's for Arabs in "plain Arabic speech." This might seem at first like it's only saying that it's in non-fancy language - unpretentious, without jargon. But the implication is that it's not a soothsayer's speech, which we've seen it can't really be so certain with its emphasis on saj.
        But the few features that can be pointed to merely differ from the main style of saj. Stewart writes that the Qur'an is "more saj than not." [p.109] The rhymes are usually one syllable [pp.110-1], and these are common endings that allow irregular rhymes which frequently occur.

        Other stylistic rhetorical devices are the "refrain" ayah. Also verses that have more than one sajah each (Surah 69.30; 112:3). But these are rare [pp.126, 128], so hardly the mark of a master stylist.
        Many could employ saj, not just the Qur'an or the kahins. Al-Jahiz reports an anecdote about a man who only spoke in saj: not just rhymes, but also regular meter, unlike the Qur'an which is frequently not in meter. To tout the break from meter as a relevant uniqueness is like saying the random splashes of paint I throw on a canvass are as descriptive as a photograph: certainly not in any objective sense. So when Abdulla el Tayib calls the Qur'an's style "beyond probing," he's certainly right but not in the sense he means.

        A good question is why the Qur'an didn't use rajaz, which had meter and could also vary its rhymes? Surely that would prove the inimitability, while also being even more pleasing to the ear!

        ELOQUENCE

        There are already some hints of not only non-eloquence, but deficient style above. Here I'll give some fuller details.

        Mono-rhyming was considered dull ("repetitive and stilted" - p.121) by the Medieval Islamic authorities. Yet, in many places the end rhyme is the same for over 50 Qur'anic lines! [p.123] These form different units throughout, showing it's easy to rhyme but not easy to keep the same meter as your topic is developed/changed: "Another extremely common device for separating saj' units is change in the length of the saj'ahs without change in the rhyme. That this is much more common in the Qur'an than in other saj' compositions such as maqamat is another aspect of the tendency to maintain mono-rhyme." [p.128 - and he cites Surah 114]

        Inexact rhymes and rhymes unallowed in poetry or saj. [p.109] And the medieval Muslim rhetoricians' claim that all of the rhyme-types are either exact or inexact, as if that was something special, in the Qur'an is also incorrect. [p.109] This just gives the impression that the text is mix-and-match patchwork and that the author didn't know the rules or was bad at them - would God write like this? Stewart concludes on this:



        But as Stewart himself notes, the pyramid type, which is just an extension of the ruba'i type, is not very common. [p.126] In effect, the greater range of the Qur'an's saj' is very limited, while its incessant, simple, and often inexact mono-rhymes with no form in the sajahs are throughout. Obviously, many of the sajahs in the Qur'an are longer - many of the verses in Paul's letters are a single sentence: theology can be wordy! And the fact that the Meccan chapters are shorter is why Vernon O. Egger (Islam till 1405) says that the earlier prophecies were kahin-like, whereas he became more politically and theologically-minded later at Medina.

        The balance that Al-Athir and others propose is frequently broken (e.g. Surah 2.281-3: wordcount is 15, 127, 32 respectively).

        Stewart calls the surah more "flexible" than the qasidah (which had same meter and rhyme throughout) [p.120], but that just strikes one given the above as another way of saying "less capable". Though not mono-rhyme, sometimes the Qur'an just doesn't bother with any symmetry. For example, Surah 110 has 4 rhymes in 11 verses. It just comes off as an artificial attempt: the saj change by changing the rhyme and word length, yet the final sajah is five words and no rhyme. [p.127] So either there are no rules and we're freestyling it (hence how can we claim inimitability when we're comparing random things?), or the Qur'an is deficient in its poetry - this clearly violates the already infinitely loose rules of saj! If one wants to cite this as an example of uniqueness and difference from other genres like saj, then one is simply claiming that a collection of purpose-oriented sentences are their own unique style. That's not a unique genre, that's simply no genre: like a long announcement or flier.

        Because of all this, Al-Khalil's standards and later maqamat (Arabic rules for poetry) clearly do not even consider the Qur'an as poetry. [p.134] Many could not do this analysis due to the doctrine of i'jaz al-Qur'an, and led to various machinations of definitions (e.g. Ibn Athir's 'accent poetry'), so the "supremacy of quantitative poetry" [over the saj such as the Qur'an's] - could not be stated. [p.134]

        "[Q]uantitative parallelism is restricted to the last word...However, critics prized more complete parallelism, and considered saj of even higher merit if it had this property" [p.131] This is why Stewart notes that:



        The morphology of the last rhyming word should be similar:



        Yet this is not the case in Surah 71.13-14 or 88.13-14, an imperfection even the Muslim medieval rhetoricians note. Al-Qalqashandi considers this type "lop-sided"[p.129]:




        If there was ever a chance to objectively impress with style, it was here. And it falls flat. There must have been a good reason for the medieval rhetoricians to consider those kinds of rhymes "skewed", especially writing hundreds of years after the Qur'an with Qur'anic verses in mind. Of course, they defend the Qur'an, considering the above simply something that "deviates...from the norm". [p.130]

        There's other types of style found in the Qur'an considered deficient by some. Muwazanah was essentially saj' with proper morphological form but with either no rhyme or inexact rhymes at the end:




        Other times, the style is arbitrary: the number of lines in each "strophe" in Chapter 54 varies from 5-11, as well as the words (4-10 words). [pp.128-9] This is not uniqueness, but randomness.

        Most of the Qur'anic saj is two ayat (verses) [p.117], which again confirms its simple and non-unique character to me. The introductory phrase (sometimes part of a line was not part of the sajah) can be of very different lengths - p.117 (Sheynin quote). - this introductory phrase ("matla") is part of the "irregular" thing Muslims will cite, but it's not unique to the Qur'an, and also shows that saj is just an irregular rhyme. Stewart notes it distinguishes it from poetry - it's like half-baked poetry, honestly. He says the matlas typically one or two words, but that's already a number of syllables. Sometimes the matla is as long as the following sajah (p.118 - Surah 112.1-2). He notes that no matla exceeded the size of the following sajah because it would upset the metrical balance - something no one would simply invent, not that the Qur'an is special. Later writers used almost exclusively 2-4 sajahs, mostly 2. [p.122] More than 4 sajahs is strained per Al-Askari, yet the Qur'an has 5 (Surah 111), and in one case 14! (Surah 81.1-14) "...without any clear subdivisions..." [Stewart, p.123]


        Cultural Milieu of the Qur'an

        Here I just point out some additional supporting points that don't really belong up there, but that contribute to the idea that the Qur'an is a product of its time:
        • Saj was immediately criticized and recognized as kahin-like (pp.102-4), and these were the Meccan accusations, aside from saying he invented it and heard stories from Jews and Christians.
        • The saj of the kahins was stilted and unnatural (p.104). Numerous Qur'anic parallels (trades meaning for rhyme; bad rhymes)
        • No difference between the kahins and other saj except for the message's point. [p.105]
        • Many places the Qur'an subordinates the meaning to form, like the kahins. [p.106]
        • The random way the saj rules set out by Al-Athir et al (based on balance - pp.125 and on) are broken by the Qur'an shows an arbitrary literary nature unbecoming of God. Just as Muslims contend that only the Arabic captures the true eloquence, so also one should judge it by its cultural milieu: so if it broke the rules of its day, then even if we can justify it to our ears, it's either ineloquent or incapable.
        • Al-Isba says of Surah 55.33-6 like having two meters simultaneously, clearly showing the arbitrariness of the medieval Arab rhetoricians, Saj itself, and the Qur'an - because it's not a common device in it. [p.128]
        • Muhammad immediately associates saj with kahins, to eliminate competition (Musaylimah the Liar; the guardian defending the woman who caused an abortion). [Stewart, p.104]
        Welcome to tweb

        Look around, you'll find several threads that cover some of the things you brought up and might provide you with additional information.

        I'm always still in trouble again

        "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
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        "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by siam View Post
          hello

          It is commendable that you went to such effort to work on this project.

          "Prophet Muhammed created Islam"----I could also say "Islam" is the product of generations of Muslims, living and adapting, it to their life experiences and circumstances....therefore, Islam belongs to all sincere Muslims...they are all "creators" to some degree.....

          Quran---Both the message itself (content) and its attribute that it cannot be replicated (literary techniques) stand today...neither Muslims, nor non-Non-Muslims have been able to replicate even a Surah of it.
          Perhaps someday you might want to give it a try...?.....(would be easier to prove your point if you actually attempted it?)

          I am sure you hold firmly to your set of beliefs. It is to be expected that others are like you and hold firmly to their beliefs too. A degree of certainty helps us to navigate life....but it can also lead us into circumstances called "echo chambers"/bubbles. Therefore it is commendable that you want to seek out a variety of opinions on what you wrote.




          I exactly stated I’m looking for a variety of opinions. As far as surah replication, the much better saj of Al-Hariri was cited. I do not pretend to be a poet - math and science for me

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Dan Zebiri View Post
            Whether about the so-called miracle of the Quran, it’s doubtful preservation or it’s assumed semantic-linguistic “wonder” etc, all these desperate propaganda from Muslim proselytisers have been debunked and refuted in answering-Islam.net or answering-Islam.org-

            https://www.answeringislam.net/Respo...ghtreasons.htm

            https://www.answering-islam.net/Green/uthman.htm

            https://www.answering-islam.net/Quran/Contra/

            The latter article outlines many contradictions in the Quran, which shows that it is impossible to be something that came down from the true God Who is perfect and unblemished truth.
            Thanks, yeah that site has some really good info, I’d say it tops any other site I’ve seen. I feel like nobody really bothers with a lot of Islam’s claims simply because it’s so different from anything Western: both content and expression

            I generally avoided the question of Quranic contras in the other thing I was writing because like the claims against the Bible they can get pretty subjective. But the claims of quranic “miraculous scientific knowledge” is almost as annoying as the inimitability claim

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by dida_jabal View Post



              I exactly stated I’m looking for a variety of opinions. As far as surah replication, the much better saj of Al-Hariri was cited. I do not pretend to be a poet - math and science for me
              Not a poet---may I also assume you do not know Arabic?

              Nothing comes close to replicating the literary and audio beauty of the Quran---the general opinion is that the Mathnavi by Rumi (a poet) is the best work in Persian---(the Quran is Arabic---which is a different language than Persian)

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by siam View Post

                Not a poet---may I also assume you do not know Arabic?

                Nothing comes close to replicating the literary and audio beauty of the Quran---the general opinion is that the Mathnavi by Rumi (a poet) is the best work in Persian---(the Quran is Arabic---which is a different language than Persian)
                Have you read every single Arabic piece of literature? Do you know anyone who has? I can't use personal subjectivity about my readings to prove anything to you, or I'd be doing the same thing the pro-Inimitabilists are with the i'jaz al-Qur'an doctrine.

                You keep turning this into a question about me: the authorities (who also know Arabic) that I cited do not impress you? Especially the Medieval Arabic rhetoricians, many of whom consider Al-Hariri (Arabic) as amongst the most eloquent? Stewart cites him and a Al-Hamadhani; what do you think about them?

                You say nothing comes close to replicating the literary (and audio?) beauty of the Qur'an. based on what? Where is your positive case for this?

                The whole idea that the Qur'an is inimitable led to the idea that, since it was God's Word, Arabic itself is a divine language! Then, foreign loanwords (Persian, Greek, even Ethiopian, etc) were considered and...well if Arabic could've borrowed from them, maybe it was they who borrowed from Arabic!

                So in the end, God speaks Arabic in Heaven, and since His Word is uncreated, the Qur'an had to be pre-existent, which meant it wasn't compiled by post-Muhammad Muslims from various scraps of palm leaves, stones, etc....oh wait... - You see where this logic leads?

                Interesting info about Rumi, I knew he was a persian poet, but did not think he was so highly regarded
                Last edited by dida_jabal; 07-12-2021, 12:40 AM.

                Comment


                • #9

                  Realistically, that "echo chamber/bubble" you claim about is entirely found in the Koran and in Islam itself.

                  For example the "inimitability" claim you and other muslim propogandists like you keep harping on, is nothing more than a shameless echo-chamber claiming and singing false praises of nothing there that is great nor commendable, but a self-praising that is conceited and loathsome.

                  Muslims are so insecure of their scripture that they must reassure themselves of the "inimitable Quran verses/ayats" to remind themselves of its self-claimed miraculous nature! When it is really nothing and a big, fat ZERO.

                  Even Muslim luminaries and honest thinkers like ibn Khaldun and Ali Dashti already admitted to the terrible incoherence of the Koranic text, readings and reciting structure that yields meaningless emptiness and faulty grammar, language and syntax! Those gross defectives DO NOT endear themselves to become shining examples of anything to be emulated, followed or modelled after, do they?!?

                  And BTW, as mentioned recently, al-Hamadhani and al-Hariri, in the Poetry of al Mu'tamid Ibn 'Abbad, are the most advanced stage of saj' in the history of Arabic literature. It is clear that many medieval rhetoricians and writers of saj' shared in this opinion. Whose beauty, elegance and eloquence surpass the Koranic equivalents easily.

                  So the bubble and chambers are only totally Islam's


                  Originally posted by siam View Post
                  hello

                  It is commendable that you went to such effort to work on this project.

                  "Prophet Muhammed created Islam"----I could also say "Islam" is the product of generations of Muslims, living and adapting, it to their life experiences and circumstances....therefore, Islam belongs to all sincere Muslims...they are all "creators" to some degree.....

                  Quran---Both the message itself (content) and its attribute that it cannot be replicated (literary techniques) stand today...neither Muslims, nor non-Non-Muslims have been able to replicate even a Surah of it.
                  Perhaps someday you might want to give it a try...?.....(would be easier to prove your point if you actually attempted it?)

                  I am sure you hold firmly to your set of beliefs. It is to be expected that others are like you and hold firmly to their beliefs too. A degree of certainty helps us to navigate life....but it can also lead us into circumstances called "echo chambers"/bubbles. Therefore it is commendable that you want to seek out a variety of opinions on what you wrote.


                  Comment


                  • #10
                    But the only thing is, the contradictions found abundantly in the Koran are not as "subjective" as the Biblical kind. There are many explicit claims the Koran makes relating to facts of science, history and nature that call for closer examination and can be investigated objectively.

                    For instance, it tries to describe the formation of the human embryo in the female body/womb. And gets both the facts and biological sequencing ALL WRONG!

                    In sura al-mukminun 23:12-14 the sequence of the embryonic formation is listed out and described. Which is all wrong and erroneous. The muslims claim then, that the quran is not a scientific book/text, and yet it makes references to some pseudo (false) - scientific descriptions.

                    Here is a rebuttal to such a false and echo-chamber "scientific miracle" claim: https://www.answering-islam.org/Qura...nce/alaqa.html

                    There are glaring historical errors in the Koran too. Like the confusing of and time-conflating Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ (in the New Testament) with Mary/Miriam the sister of Aaron (in the Old Testament) found in sura al-Mariam 19:27, 28.

                    This is discussed here: https://www.answering-islam.org/Silas/mary.htm

                    Many self-contradicting verses exist in the Quran - verses that conflict with one another. Like here-

                    https://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/#internal

                    Other are contradictions of the Koran with external facts-of science, history and general known knowledge

                    https://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/#external

                    These are all not subjective notions but verifiable by open objective examination.





                    Originally posted by dida_jabal View Post

                    Thanks, yeah that site has some really good info, I’d say it tops any other site I’ve seen. I feel like nobody really bothers with a lot of Islam’s claims simply because it’s so different from anything Western: both content and expression

                    I generally avoided the question of Quranic contras in the other thing I was writing because like the claims against the Bible they can get pretty subjective. But the claims of quranic “miraculous scientific knowledge” is almost as annoying as the inimitability claim

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by siam View Post

                      Not a poet---may I also assume you do not know Arabic?

                      Nothing comes close to replicating the literary and audio beauty of the Quran---the general opinion is that the Mathnavi by Rumi (a poet) is the best work in Persian---(the Quran is Arabic---which is a different language than Persian)
                      Its Arabic, except for all the loan words from over a dozen different languages that are found throughout the text. Words that there were usually Arabic equivalents but for some reason were rejected in favor of words from other languages.

                      I'm always still in trouble again

                      "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                      "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                      "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                        Its Arabic, except for all the loan words from over a dozen different languages that are found throughout the text. Words that there were usually Arabic equivalents but for some reason were rejected in favor of words from other languages.
                        Very interesting, and very good evidence, esp if a native etymology can be established for the Arabic equivalent (which it probably can or one wouldn't know the others are loan words). Do you have any examples that I can shamelessly steal?
                        Last edited by dida_jabal; 07-12-2021, 05:59 PM. Reason: oops, quoted wrong person

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Dan Zebiri View Post
                          But the only thing is, the contradictions found abundantly in the Koran are not as "subjective" as the Biblical kind. There are many explicit claims the Koran makes relating to facts of science, history and nature that call for closer examination and can be investigated objectively.

                          For instance, it tries to describe the formation of the human embryo in the female body/womb. And gets both the facts and biological sequencing ALL WRONG!

                          In sura al-mukminun 23:12-14 the sequence of the embryonic formation is listed out and described. Which is all wrong and erroneous. The muslims claim then, that the quran is not a scientific book/text, and yet it makes references to some pseudo (false) - scientific descriptions.

                          Here is a rebuttal to such a false and echo-chamber "scientific miracle" claim: https://www.answering-islam.org/Qura...nce/alaqa.html

                          There are glaring historical errors in the Koran too. Like the confusing of and time-conflating Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ (in the New Testament) with Mary/Miriam the sister of Aaron (in the Old Testament) found in sura al-Mariam 19:27, 28.

                          This is discussed here: https://www.answering-islam.org/Silas/mary.htm

                          Many self-contradicting verses exist in the Quran - verses that conflict with one another. Like here-

                          https://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/#internal

                          Other are contradictions of the Koran with external facts-of science, history and general known knowledge

                          https://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/#external

                          These are all not subjective notions but verifiable by open objective examination.


                          That's right, I forgot about the Mary one, it's a really good one. I publicly, informally debated some Muslim handing out leaflets at this mall 8 years ago, and since I didn't mention the Surah, he simply chuckled. But when I mentioned how the Hadith shows clearly remnants of variations in the Qur'an he couldn't comprehend higher textual criticism and said, "Is the Hadith, Qur'an?"

                          The only defense I've seen on it from Muslims is that "sister of Aaron" meant something like descendant (because her cousin/relative Elizabeth was married to a Levite, implying one or both of them were too). Of course, that's clearly not the case, why would one write "sister", but as this 16th century Italian writer I read (Ricordi something) said, "Deny, deny, deny: even if completely caught, unswerving denial will at least cause some doubt."

                          And the embryo is a good one, I classified that one under foreign influences (Galen)


                          I recently found a really good refutation of an alleged Qur'anic scientific miracle knowledge - where it says God put mountains like pegs in the Earth, and lo and behold I see a Muslim diagram with the mountain's fold (from plate tectonics) as if it's a peg. But according to Surah 21:30-32 the sky and Earth were physically joined and God spread them out, but put mountains as pegs like for a tent so the Earth doesn't move - lol !

                          One could try and cite similar terminology in the Bible, but the Bible uses words of its day (e.g. firmament, etc) - it doesn't necessitate to hold their etymology anymore than our usage of "sunset" implies we believe the Sun moves around the Earth and sets. This is clear because, for example, Philo calls the celestial spheres around the Earth "circles" and "spheres" alternatively (reminiscent of Isaiah 40;22) - the Roman elite all believed in a round Earth, even if they couldn't comprehend how people on the other side had their "feet facing ours" (antipodes), they even have coins depicting: I have two with a phoenix standing on top of a ball, and a Roman emperor holding one.

                          Whereas in the Qur'an the concept is clearly elucidated, it's not just words out of convenience.
                          Last edited by dida_jabal; 07-12-2021, 06:19 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dida_jabal View Post

                            Very interesting, and very good evidence, esp if a native etymology can be established for the Arabic equivalent (which it probably can or one wouldn't know the others are loan words). Do you have any examples that I can shamelessly steal?
                            Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                            Muhammad declared that Arabic is the divine language (that is it is the language of Allah) and proclaimed on numerous occasions that the qur'an was sent down in Arabic (surahs 12:2; 13:37; 39:28; 42:7; 46:127[1]), and surah 41:44 is often put forth by Muslims as evidence that there are no non-Arabic words contained within the qur'an.

                            But the fact is that there are many foreign words and phrases that are used in the qur'an -- some of which have no Arabic equivalent, and others that do. For example the Egyptian word for king, "Pharaoh," is used used nearly 50 times and the Accadian word for garden, "Eden" (which does have an Arabic equivalent -- "Janna"), is used something like two dozen times.

                            Other words that have been borrowed from foreign languages include Assyrian (Abraham or Ibrahim, with an Arabic equivalent in "Abu Raheem), Aramaic, Greek, Persian, Romanian, Indian, Syriac, Hebrew, and Christian Ethiopic. All in all there are something like 270 foreign loanwords to be found in that so-called perfect Arabic document.

                            Furthermore, while mentioned three times in the qur'an (suras 6:85; 37:123, 130) , Elijah is called Ilyas or Ilyasin, which has no connection with the original Hebrew name for the prophet, but rather is the same as the Greek and Syrian translation of his name. Similarly, Jonah, is mentioned four times in the qur'an and is referred to as Yunus, which comes from the Greek Septuagint version of his name (Yunas), whereas in Hebrew it is Yonah. So why are these prophets referred to in the Greek and Syriac translations of their names rather than their names in Hebrew? Didn't Allah know what their names were and was forced to use other versions of their Hebrew name?

                            So why are these words borrowed? Why are these words from other languages found in the supposedly pure Arabic qur'an? Was Allah unable to sufficiently express himself in the perfect language of Arabic? Considering the large number of foreign loanwords can it be honestly said that that the qur'an was written in the Arabic tongue?

                            Muslim scholars have sought to explain away this inconsistency by claiming, like the Arab philologist, lexicographer and founder of tajwid (rules for the correct pronunciation of words in the qur'an), Abu Ubaid al-Qasim bin Salam c.770-838 A.D. did, that those words had been incorporated into Arabic and therefore are Arabic.

                            But these words only became considered to be Arabic after they were borrowed and used in the qur'an. That they may have later been considered to be Arabic does not help the claim that when it first written down it was in pure Arabic.






                            1. All in all there are something like 9 places in the qur'an where this claim is made

                            As I said, have a look around. There's a number of really good threads.

                            I'm always still in trouble again

                            "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                            "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                            "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dan Zebiri View Post
                              But the only thing is, the contradictions found abundantly in the Koran are not as "subjective" as the Biblical kind. There are many explicit claims the Koran makes relating to facts of science, history and nature that call for closer examination and can be investigated objectively.

                              For instance, it tries to describe the formation of the human embryo in the female body/womb. And gets both the facts and biological sequencing ALL WRONG!

                              In sura al-mukminun 23:12-14 the sequence of the embryonic formation is listed out and described. Which is all wrong and erroneous. The muslims claim then, that the quran is not a scientific book/text, and yet it makes references to some pseudo (false) - scientific descriptions.

                              Here is a rebuttal to such a false and echo-chamber "scientific miracle" claim: https://www.answering-islam.org/Qura...nce/alaqa.html

                              There are glaring historical errors in the Koran too. Like the confusing of and time-conflating Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ (in the New Testament) with Mary/Miriam the sister of Aaron (in the Old Testament) found in sura al-Mariam 19:27, 28.

                              This is discussed here: https://www.answering-islam.org/Silas/mary.htm

                              Many self-contradicting verses exist in the Quran - verses that conflict with one another. Like here-

                              https://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/#internal

                              Other are contradictions of the Koran with external facts-of science, history and general known knowledge

                              https://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/#external

                              These are all not subjective notions but verifiable by open objective examination.
                              One of the laughable great scientific truths in the qur'an has to be what they claim wrt surah 78: 6-7 (about the earth being a bed and the mountains pegs) with that explained at 21:31

                              We placed firmly embedded mountains on the earth, so it would not move under them…


                              IIRC, several great Muslim scholars such as the al-Baidawi, Jalalan, and al-Zamakhshari (Jar Allah) have confirmed it, and yet mountains do not prevent earthquakes. In fact the process of mountain creation actually causes earthquakes. Many earthquakes occur near mountains and mountainous regions.

                              Religious texts of any nature aren't science textbooks and should never be approached that way.


                              I'm always still in trouble again

                              "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                              "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                              "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                              Comment

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