among the greatest signs of muhammad's peace be upon him prophethood is the noble qur'an. in it almighty allah challenges the arabs and others, until the day of resurrection, to produce something like it. almigty allah said:
and if you are in doubt about what we have sent down upon our servant [muhammad], then produce a surah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses [i.e., supporters] other than allah, if you should be truthful. (2:23) and:or do they say, "he invented it?" say, "then bring forth a surah like it and call upon whomever you can besides allah, if you should be truthful." (10:38)
ibn al-jawzistated that the qur'an is inimitable in several ways:
1st in its eloquence and precision, its conciseness and comprehensiveness. a story might be related at length and then repeated in condensed form without losing any of its substance.
2nd in its dissimilarity to the styles of prose and poetry which were used by the arabs. they failed in efforts to imitate it and acknowledged its superiority. al-waleed ibn al-mugheerahadmitted, "by allah, indeed, it has a sweetness and indeed, it has a gracefulness."
3rd in its information about previous nations and the prophets who are known to the jews and christians, although the one who conveyed it was illiterate and did not read or write, nor had he met with scholars or soothsayers. in fact, those arabs who could read and write and did meet with scholars did not know the information contained in the qur'an.
4th in its information about unknown events of the future, which is clear-cut evidence, since what it stated proved to be true. to illustrate: the jews were told:
if the home of the hereafter with allah is for you alone and not [other] people, then wish for death, if you should be truthful.(2:94) then almighty allah said:
but never will they wish for it, ever,because of what their hands have put forth. (2:95)
and allah said to the people: then produce a surah the like thereof. (2:23) then he said: and you will never be able to.(2:24) and almighty allah said: say to those who disbelieve, "you will be overcome." (3:12)
and they were overcome. he also said: you will surely enter al-masjid al-haraam, if allah wills, in safety. (48:27)
and they entered it. and he said about abu lahab: he will enter a fire of [blazing] flame, and his wife [as well] – the carrier of firewood.around her neck is a rope of [twisted] fibre.(111:3-5) this was a statement that they would both die in a state of unbelief, and that is what happened.
5th in its freedom from inconsistency and contradiction. almighty allah said: if [the qur'an] had been from other than allah, they would have found within it much contradiction. (4:82) and he said: indeed, it is we who sent down the message,and indeed, we will be its guardian. (15:9)
abu hurayrahmay allah be pleased with him reported that the prophet pbuh said,
"there was no prophet among the [former] prophets but that he was given signs which the people believed in. and indeed, i was given a revelation that allah revealed to me. so i hope to be the one, with the most followers on the day of resurrection."(al-bukhari and muslim)
ibn `aqeelsaid, "from the inimitability of the qur'an is that no one can cite from it a verse whose meaning was taken from previous words, while humans continue to learn things from one another. as it is said, "al-mutanabbi took from al-bohtari."
ibn al-jawzisaid, "i have deduced two important meanings.
one: is that the miracles of former prophets ceased with their death. so if an atheist said today, 'what proof is there that muhammad peace be upon him and moses pbuh were true prophets?' and he was told, 'the moon was split for muhammad peace be upon him and the sea was split for moses pbuh,' he would say, 'that is impossible.' so, almighty allah made this qur'an a miracle for muhammad peace be upon him remaining forever, which shows his truthfulness after his death as well as that of the former prophets, since he confirmed their message and gave information about them.
the second: is that the qur'an told the jews and christians that the description of muhammad peace be upon him was written in the torah and the gospel. it also testified to the faith of hatib and the innocence of `a'ishah, which are testimonies about something unknown. if his description had not been found in the torah and the gospel these testimonies would have been objectionable to them, and if `a'ishah and hatib had known about themselves other than what was stated about them in the qur'an they would have renounced the faith.
the word "firewood" was used by the arabs to allude to slander and backbiting.
condensed from al-wafaa pp.267-273.