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Quranic Incoherence? 2 Miracles Respond

One of the claims brought about against the Qurʾān is the claim that it is incoherent, and the stories are scattered around. I wanted to share some notes on a few things that Nouman Ali Khan (one of the instructors at Bayyinah Institute) touched upon in this regards that I thought were absolutely beautiful. The first miracle is amazing, but the second one I mention here completely blew my mind.

Rhyming Scheme

The first miracle is regarding the rhyme scheme used in the Qurʾān. In Surah Maryam the rhyming pattern is very distinct and consistent throughout the beginning of the Surah all the way up until the point that it begins to address Isa (alayhis Salam). After that part is finished and it starts talking about Ibrahim (alayhis Salam) it returns back to the original pattern.

Part of the characteristics of the Qurʾān is that it is something meant to be recited and heard by the people. When someone is listening to this, and they notice an abrupt change they will automatically pay more attention. The rhyme scheme is not beautification only, but it serves a very real purpose in drawing attention to a very important point in the Surah.

Coherency between Surah Isra and Surah Kahf

Surah Isra and Surah Kahf are the 17th and 18th Surahs in the Qurʾān. Isra has 111 ayaat, and Kahf has 110 ayaat.

Surah Isra begins with:

سبحان الذي أسرى بعبده

And Surah Kahf begins with:

الحمد لله الذي أنزل على عبده

Notice the similarities and differences here. Both are glorifying and praising Allāh, and both are discussing revelation. In Surah Isra, the Prophet (sal-Allahu alayhi was-Sallam) is ascending up to receive the revelation, and in Surah Kahf the revelation is being sent down. Both of them have the word 'abdihi.

In the middle of both surah's is also an āyah talking about the story of Iblis refusing to prostrate to Adam (alayhis Salam).

In Surah Isra the āyah is as follows:

And (remember) when We said to the angels: “Prostrate unto Adam.” They prostrated except Iblis (Satan). He said: “Shall I prostrate to one whom You created from clay?”

In Surah Kahf it reads:

And (remember) when We said to the angels; “Prostrate to Adam.” So they prostrated except Iblis (Satan). He was one of the jinns; he disobeyed the Command of his Lord.

This is an example of something that some Non-Muslims may claim is an incoherency. Why is the same story split up into different places with different details? Good question.

Let's take a quick step back. We know that Surah Isra is also sometimes called Surah Bani Israa'eel. It also contains a series of ayaat that Ibn Abbas(ra) mentioned were similar to the 10 commandments given to Musa (alayhis Salam). So this surah is primarily addressing Bani Isra'eel, who had knowledge but became arrogant.

Surah Kahf is addressing the Christians. We can see this from āyah 4, “And to warn those who say, 'Allāh has begotten a son (or offspring or children).'” The Christians disobeyed their Lord.

So when the surah is addressing those who were afflicted with arrogance, the part of the story mentioned is the one pertaining to them. When the surah is addressing a different audience, it uses the part of the story most pertinent to them. SubḥānAllāh!!

If that was not enough, there is still more (and this is only touching upon a small treasure of the many treasures of the Qurʾān). The second to last āyah in each surah is,

Surah Isra:

Say (O Muḥammad SAW): “Invoke Allāh or invoke the Most Beneficent (Allāh), by whatever name you invoke Him (it is the same), for to Him belong the Best Names

Surah Kahf:

Say (O Muḥammad SAW to mankind). “If the sea were ink for (writing) the Words of my Lord, surely, the sea would be exhausted before the Words of my Lord would be finished, even if we brought (another sea) like it for its aid.”

There are 2 primary ways in which we get to know Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla). First is by His Names and Attributes, and this is mentioned in Surah Isra. The other way is by recognizing Allāh by His creation, and this is what is mentioned in Surah Kahf. It is amazing the way that they line up together. These 2 sets of ayaat form a foundation of Tawheed. Knowing and recognizing the Oneness of Allāh(swt).

Also His Words actually are manifested in two ways, and both of these meanings are indicated in the verse from Surah Kahf:

  1. His Creation (as in how Allāh says “kun fa yakoon” i.e. “be and it is”, so His Words are immediately apparent in Creation)
  2. His Revelation (as in the Qur'an itself, the literal Word of Allāh)

The last āyah in each surah takes it to the next step and gives a protection from shirk. The last ayaat of each surah are as follows,

Surah Isra:

And say: “All the praises and thanks be to Allāh, Who has not begotten a son (nor an offspring), and Who has no partner in (His) Dominion, nor He is low to have a Wali (helper, protector or supporter). And magnify Him with all the magnificence, [Allahu-Akbar (Allāh is the Most Great)].”

Surah Kahf:

Say (O Muḥammad SAW): “I am only a man like you. It has been inspired to me that your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God i.e. Allāh). So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.”

Lastly, the last āyah of Surah Isra begins with,

وَقُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ الَّذِي

And this is exactly what Surah Kahf begins with. When one ponders on this, it is amazing that anyone could then come and make a claim against this book, and surely had it not been from Allāh we would have found within it much discrepancy, not the uncovering of gem after gem, jewel after jewel, and miracle after miracle.

*Bonus Miracle

One other thing we discussed in the class was the use of the royal We (nahnu), and proving that it is really not the plural. In the Qurʾān, Allāh refers to Himself by using, Nahnu (We), Ana (I), and the pronoun meaning He. If it was truly meant in the sense of the plural, then the pronouns referring back to Allāh would also have to be in the plural, but they are not, and are in the singular.

This is just a small point that never crossed my mind before, and I find it to be a much easier (and maybe stronger) answer than trying to always explain the historical etymology of the royal we.

Also see this post: Ibaadah, Taqwa, Shukr… Mindblowing Relationship

allah ayah muhammad quran subhanahu wa ta'ala subhanallah

About ibnabeeomar

Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters, Qalam Institute, Muslim Strategic Initiative, and Debt Free Muslims. He is a regular khateeb and has served in different administrative capacities in various national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow him on Google+ or on Twitter @ibnabeeomar.

21 comments

  1. Jazzakum Allah khayran. This really motivates you to learn Arabic.

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  2. I took some classes with Bayyinah Institute and Br. Nouman is an excellent teacher. He also recommended to us the book Verbal Idioms of the Quran by Mustansir Mir with many more examples of the eloquence of the Quran.

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  3. Beautiful. Even as an Arabic speaker, it is easy to read through the Quran without appreciating those gems.

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  4. yeah he is editing the book on idioms and it should be out soon inshallah. there are more details at bayyinah.com in their projects section.

    inshallah i will be writing more about bayyinah in another upcoming post

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  5. mashaAllah I agree with Muslim Apple, we took the 10 day seminar together and he is finishing up the 10 seminars now. InshaAllah next weekend is our 4th seminar. may Allah azza wa jal reward him, he is an awesome teacher mashaAllah. I always look forward to his explanation of the miracles and parables that he tells us about the Qur’an.

    One parable that stuck in my mind was:

    وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَكَأَنَّمَا خَرَّ مِنَ السَّمَاء فَتَخْطَفُهُ الطَّيْرُ أَوْ تَهْوِي بِهِ الرِّيحُ فِي مَكَانٍ سَحِيقٍ
    “…and whoever assigns partners to Allah, it is as if he had fallen from the sky, and the birds had snatched him, or the wind had thrown him to a far off place.” (ETM, 22:31)

    Orientalists always have something to say about the Qur’an, one of their main arguments is that the Qur’an doesn’t have “good” parables audubillah, and they use the above ayah as evidence.
    If people have taqwa Allah ta’ala will open the door to understanding for them.
    The first audience of the Qur’an was the Quraysh, and they didn’t believe in the akhirah, but they believed in honor, war, wealth, glory–basically their name and status. When someone was fighting on a cliff and fell off of it, the arabs would say “he fell from the sky”–which implies two things:
    1) that he was a noble warrior who lost his nobility (he fell from a high place–cliff—to a low place–the ground).
    or 2) he died the death of a coward or loser (either he ran away from his enemy and fell, or lost the war). Since they didn’t believe in the hereafter, the worst thing is losing their nobility.

    The second part of the ayah says, ‘and the birds had snatched him’, meaing that his corpse was abandoned–he wasn’t rememered, no one buried his body, and then the wind blows him to a far off place–he is just trash on the earth that no one cares about.

    What a better way to tell the Quraysh how ugly shirk is?

    SubhanAllah…if the people have taqwa, Allah will open for them a door to understanding…May Allah azza wa jal grant us understanding of His Book and allow us to implement it in our lives and make us among its companions. ameen

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  6. I have no understanding of the arabic language, but a few years ago i started listening to the quran recitation on avery regular basis, in the car , at work , at home and even reciting surahs i have memorised. but the more i listen to it the more i love it, imagine trying to listen to the same songs or poems for years sureley you would end up mad, but with the quran the more i listen the more beutifull it sounds it some times sends shivers through me by its sheer power or some times my heart melts but every time i listen only one thing comes to mind to me “NO MAN COULD EVER HAVE PRODUCED THIS” the sheer power is over whelming there are no words to describe fully the effects the quran has on the beleivers. i truly believe that if ALLAH allowed us to feel all its power our weak bodies would just give up. the quran is truly a miracle. and with that I BEAR WITNESS THAT THERE IS NOTHING WORTHY OF WORSHIP BUT ALLAH AND I BEAR WITNESS THAT MUHAMED(pbuh) IS THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH AND I BEAR WITNESS THAT THE QURAN IS TRULY THE LITERAL WORD OF ALLAH. ALL PRAISES ARE TO TO ALLAH, ALLAH IS THE SUPREME THE MOST HIGH. AND I THANK ALLAH FOR GIVING ME A SMALL ACCESS TO THE SIGNS OF THE QURAN.

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  7. [One other thing we discussed in the class was the use of the royal We (nahnu), and proving that it is really not the plural. In the Quran, Allah refers to Himself by using, Nahnu (We), Ana (I), and the pronoun meaning He. If it was truly meant in the sense of the plural, then the pronouns referring back to Allah would also have to be in the plural, but they are not, and are in the singular.

    This is just a small point that never crossed my mind before, and I find it to be a much easier (and maybe stronger) answer than trying to always explain the historical etymology of the royal we.]

    Just a clarification: It is not a “stronger” answer than “trying to always explain the historical etymology of the royal we”. It is a supplementary point to the indisputable fact that all Semitic religious scriptures utilize Pluralis Majestatis.

    In the very first verse of the very first chapter of Genesis, the very first book of the Bible it states:

    בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ.
    B’reshit bara Elohim et ha-Shamayim wa et ha-Aretz.

    The word for God is “Elohim” and the verb for “created” is “bara” which is singular.

    There are no attempts to explain this. It is an uncontested fact since time immemorial.

    w-Allahu A`lam. was-salam

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  8. Assalamu Alaykum,

    Where can I buy “Verbal Idioms of the Qur’an”? I searched at Islamicbookstore.com, amazon.com, and other book stores, but I was not able to locate it.

    Could you please direct me where I can get this book from?

    Thank you,

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  9. i think its available from amazon – if its not there, i think you might have to order directly from the publisher (u. michigan if i remember right)

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  10. Regarding the bonus miracle, is the article saying that since there is a “HE” but not a “THEY”, it proves the the WE/NAHNO genuinely is a Royal/singular ‘We’.

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  11. Is brother Nauman no long blogging for Muslimmatters?…i was doing a search on the website for him and couldn’t any of the articles he had posed
    Wasalamualaikum

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  12. he is.. wait a few days for site reorg. and you will be able to more easily find his articles inshallah

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  13. well its wonderful and great ,always a delight to hera something from brother nouman ,, im very very much pleased and feel honoured to hear him and at last IM PROUD VERY PROUD TO BE A MUSLIM ,, inshalllah allah subhanhutallah help one and all to get back to the rightous path and tht is the deen islam and the most glorious and undoubtly the best book frm allah QURAN sharief

    AND I WOULD TO BE GLAD IF I CAN GET TO TALK TO BROTHER NOUMAN ,, INSHALLLAH SOME DAY ,,,,GREAT JOB BROTHER WISH U ALLL THE BEST AND U SUCEED AT EVERY BIT OF ATTEMPT U DO
    AMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN
    ALLAHAFIZ

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