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.
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,
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
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:
- His Creation (as in how Allāh says “kun fa yakoon” i.e. “be and it is”, so His Words are immediately apparent in Creation)
- 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,
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)].”
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.
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