one thing which surprises non-muslims who are examining the book very closely is that the quran does not appear to them to be what they expected. what they assume is that they have an old book which came fourteen centuries ago from the arabian desert; and they expect that the book should look something like that - an old book from the desert. and then they find out that it does not resemble what they expected at all. additionally, one of the first things that some people assume is that because it is an old book which comes from the desert, it should talk about the desert. well the quran does talk about the desert - some of its imagery describes the desert; but it also talks about the sea - what it’s like to be in a storm on the sea.
some years ago, the story came to us in toronto about a man who was in the merchant marine and made his living on the sea. a muslim gave him a translation of the quran to read. the merchant marine knew nothing about the history of islam but was interested in reading the quran. when he finished reading it, he brought it back to the muslim and asked, “this muhammad, was he a sailor?” he was impressed at how accurately the quran describes a storm on a sea. when he was told, “no as a matter of fact, muhammad lived in the desert,” that was enough for him. he embraced islam on the spot.
he was so impressed with the quran’s description because he had been in a storm on the sea, and he knew that whoever had written that description had also been in a storm on the sea. the description of
“…a wave, over it a wave, over it clouds” (surah nur, 24:40)
…was not what someone imagining a storm on a sea to be like would have written; rather, it was written by someone who knew what