Second: Unmatchable Eloquence

Auther : Dr. ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Al-Muslih
Article translated to : العربية Français

The inimitable miracle of eloquence is found when the perfect word is conveyed along with the perfect meaning, in such a way that the most eloquent speakers are unable to imitate it,  or come up with what is similar to it. The prominent scholar As-Suyuti (in al-Khasaa’is Al-Kubra, 1/187) explained that there was none from Quraysh, the tribe of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam,, who even attempted to match its eloquence. Allaah Says in the Quran (what means): {A book—its verses fortified then detailed—from one wise and aware.} [Quran 11:1]

Allaah The Almighty Challenged the disbelievers of Quraysh and the other Arabs—rather, even all men and jinn—and no one in existence then would even dare accept this challenge, despite Quraysh, at the time the Quran was revealed, having reached the highest peak of eloquence and oration. Truly, Allaah did Pour the language’s beauty and eloquence into the tongue of Quraysh, making them dominant over the Arabs in their markets, where poetic challenges were exchanged, like at ‘Ukaath, Thul-Majannah, and Thul-Majaaz.

Therefore, He gave them an open challenge, while they were the most desirous of people to reject and nullify the claim of Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, ; He even Lowered the expectations of this challenge, first by seeking them to produce something wholly like the Quran—for they speak its language and know its meanings—then He Requested but ten surahs the like thereof. But they were unable. So He Challenged them to bring forth just one surah like it. But they could not even try.

Al-Bayhaqi quoted Al-Khattaabi (d. 388 AH) in Dalaa’il An-Nubuwwah (1/16) as saying:

Some scholars have held: That which the chosen one, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, presented to the Arabs of speech, that which disabled them to produce something the likes thereof, is more amazing a sign and more apparent an indication of truth than raising the dead and healing the blind and leprous, because it came to the folk of fluency, the lords of language, the masters of eloquence, those advanced in linguistics. Yet this was a speech, the meaning of which was clearly understood to them. Their disability is even more amazing than the disability of one who watched Christ raise the dead, because they were never before able to do that; or healing the blind and the leper, as they had no knowledge of treating these illnesses. But Quraysh were given this fluency, eloquence, and oratory skill, so being unable to even attempt matching it truly indicates the knowledge behind his message and the truth behind his prophethood. This is a clear-cut case and a plain proof.

This miracle of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam,  conveys more perfectly than the miracles of those prophets who preceded. The previous prophets challenged their peoples with things they fundamentally could not do. As for the Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, , he challenged a superbly eloquent people regarding their own speech and the eloquence thereof; but they could not respond. Furthermore, those who saw the miracles of the other prophets have died, so these miracles only remain in their reports—and hearing is not like seeing. The miracle of Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is different. His challenge to all Arab laureates, throughout the ages, to produce but a single Surah, remains for all people in every time and in every place—yet none are able to compete. Allaah Says (what means): {If you are in doubt about what We revealed upon Our slave, then bring a surah of its like and call upon your witnesses, other than Allah, if you are truthful.} [Quran 2:23] So He even gave them respite to seek help from the people of fluency and eloquence!

Al-Bayhaqi said in Dalaa’il An-Nubūwah (1/12):

This evidence concludes that he could not have told the Arabs to bring something like it if they are able, while he claimed that they would never be able, unless he was truly certain that they would not be able. It is not possible that he could have had this certainty unless he was thus inspired by his Lord, being given His word.

As truly Allaah Says (what means): {Then if you do not do so, and you will never do so.} [Quran 2:24] Further, from another perspective, Allaah revealed that which their hearts concealed, making clear to His prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, that they actually knew this was true and that it is impossible to be an invention of man; and that nothing prevented them from recognizing his prophethood except arrogance, envy and stubbornness. He Says (what means): {Indeed they do not consider you a liar, but the tyrants stubbornly reject the signs of Allaah.} [Quran 6:33] This was the case with Abu Jahl. It is reported in Al-Maghaazi (1/27) by al-Waaqidi and by at-Tabarani in al-Mu‘jam Al-Kabeer (24/346/860) that Abu Jahl commented on the dream of ‘Aatikah bint ‘Abd Al-Muttalib, saying to Al-‘Abbas, may Allaah be Pleased with him:

We and you are like two horses on a bet. We competed in glory for some time. Then, when the riders came parallel, you say, “We have a prophet!” All that remains is for you to say, “We have a prophetess!”

Despite the disbelief of Quraysh and their opposition, their masters and chiefs would eavesdrop at night, listening to the recitation of Allaah’s Messenger , sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, out of amazement, bewilderment and perplexity at the splendor and beauty of this Quran. Ibn Hisham reported in his Seerah (1/315) that:

Abu Sufyaan ibn Harb, Abu Jahl ibn Hishaam, and Al-Akhnas ibn Shariq […] all went out one night to listen to the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, while he was praying in his home. Each of them took a seat, listening intently, not knowing the place of one another. They spent all night listening, until the dawn broke and they departed. They met on the road and found fault with each other for what they did. It was said, “Do not return to this, for if some of the fool among us saw us, something undesirable might enter their souls.” They split up until the second night, when they all returned to their same places, listening all night until the dawn broke again. They left and then met again on the road, so it was said, “We should not depart until we all make a pact that we will not return again.” So they made a pact upon that and then went their separate ways.

This was due to the clarity of the Quran, the beauty of its style, and the high level of its language. It thus affected them greatly and they were unable to oppose such eloquence, except through combat and oppression. Rather, their avoidance of the truth was out of arrogance and conceit. Look at the case of ‘Utbah—Abu al-Waleed—ibn Rabee‘ah when Quraysh sent him to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam,  to demand that he stop insulting their gods and to curb his call, until he even offered him some spoils in the process. When he finished speaking, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, having listened to his speech, “Have you finished, Abu al-Walid?” He replied, “Yes.” He said, “Then will you listen to me?” He said, “I will.” The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, then recited to him: {Ha. Mim. A revelation from the gracious, the merciful; a book—its verses detailed—as an Arabic recital for a people who know; heralding and warning, but most of them turn away so they will not hear. They have said, “Our hearts are sheltered from that to which you call us. We are deaf to it. There is a veil between us and you. Work what you will, for we are also working.” Say: I am only a mortal man like you. It has been inspired unto me that your god is one god, so go straight to Him and seek His forgiveness. Woe then to the partner-makers, those who do not give the poor-due (zakaah), and the afterlife they deny. Verily those who believe and work righteous deeds, for them is a reward uninterrupted. Say: Will you indeed disbelieve in He who created the earth in two days and will you make others equal to Him? That is the Lord of the worlds. He made therein mountains towering above. He blessed it and proportioned its sustenance in four days—for those who ask. Then He turned to the heaven while it was as smoke, then said to it and to the earth, "Come both, willingly or by force." They said, "We come willingly!" He completed them as seven heavens in two days, and He inspired into each heaven its command. We have adorned the nearest heaven with lamps and protection. That is the measure of the mighty, the knowing. But if they turn away, then say: I have warned you of a scourge like the scourge of ‘Aad and Thamood.} [Quran 41:1-13]

Ibn Hisham narrated this in his Sīrah (1/294), and then continued:

Then ‘Utbah went to his companions. Some of them said to each other, “We swear by Allaah that Abu al-Walid returned with a face different than when he left.” When he sat with them, they said, “What is behind you, Abu al-Walid?” He said, “Behind me is that I have heard a word—by Allaah!—I have never heard the like thereof. By Allaah!—it is not poetry, it is not sorcery, and it is not fortune-telling.”

He was overwhelmed and overtaken by the beauty and splendor of this clear speech. He even warned Quraysh to leave Muhammad , sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam,  alone, but they would not listen due only to their arrogance and false pride.

NB: The translator has skipped a part of the source text for the reasons which he mentions in his comment on the skipped part.


 

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