The Miracle Is The Quran Itself

article picked 4U by - Mohammad Shahrour

May 27, 2020

The miracle that Muhammad performed occurred on a different, more abstract level.
His miracle was the Quran itself. No extratextual miracle was required to prove that his message came from God. the text’s ambiguous quality, shows three characteristics:

1- Muhammad’s prophethood, embodied in al-Quran and seven-mathani, is the result of a rational deduction based on empirical perception of objective reality. It is inscribed in ambiguous ways inside the textual features of the prophetical verses. As time progresses, the rational deductions of the text mix with the ever more sophisticated empirical perception of reality and produce what is defined as ‘unmediated apprehension’ ( al-ta”wil al-mubashir). As Allah says: ‘We shall show them Our signs in every region of the earth and in themselves, until it becomes clear to them that this is the truth (al-Haqq). Is it not enough that your Lord witnesses everything?’ [Fussilat:53]. ‘For every prophecy is a limit of time, and soon shall you know it’ (An’am:67). ‘Nay, they charge with falsehood that whose knowledge cannot compass, even before the interpretation thereof has reached them… (Yunus:39).

2- The Quran of Muhammad’s prophethood possesses the quality of both expressing the entirety of knowledge and allowing a partialm understanding of it. It is a truly textual miracle that no human author could ever have produced. It implies, however, that no human interpreter can ever reflect the total knowledge of the Quran in his exegesis. Every interpretation reflects, instead, the standards of thinking of the time when the exegesis was written. If we want to see the paradigms of the seventh century, we only need to read Ibn Abbas’s commentary. If we want to know the paradigms of thinking in the fourteenth century, Ibn Kathir’s tafsir will tell us. Their understanding of the text was partial, relative, and context related, whereas the text’s knowledge is absolute, total, and transhistorical. This synthesis is the real ‘miracle’ of the Quran.

3- The Quran combines the perfect style of literary poetry with the accuracy and precision of the best scientific writing. The beauty of its poetic expressions, its melodic rhythm and its rhetoric symbolism is not compromised by its scientific reflections and discursive, objective exposition of scientific laws. In a way, it combines all the poetic masterpieces by Shakespeare, Pushkin, and al-Mutanabbi with the sum of scientific genius in the writings of Newton, Einstein, and Ibn al-Haitham. To write, as traditional exegetes did, about the miraculous nature of the Qur’an only in terms of its literary style and rhetorical beauty is surely a sign of disrespect for and disloyalty towards the much more complex nature of the Qur’anic text. The Interpretation [or Better: Apprehension] of the quran ( al-ta”wil )

If the Quran represents the truth and the totality of knowledge, and if human beings can only partially participate in this knowledge, their human interpretations of the Quran will always be limited, selective, and relative, as opposed to perceiving the full truth. With the increase in scientific knowledge, however, they will eventually come closer to the truth, but the entirety of knowledge about objective reality will only be revealed on the Day of Resurrection. Allah says: ‘On the day when it is fulfilled ( ya’ti ta’wiluhu), those who have forgotten it will say: “The messengers of our Lord did indeed bring true (tidings) (bil-Haqq)’ (A’raf:53).

Until then, human beings will have to rely on the dynamics of tashabuh and constantly attempt to harmonize the absolute nature of the Qur’anic verses with their relative understanding (nisbiyat al-fahm). This harmony is achieved by synchronizing the text’s content (meaning) with its interpreters’ changing and progressing knowledge which they gain from the most advanced scientific achievements of each period, and vice versa, by deducing scientific theories from the text of the Quran itself. The ultimate aim of each act of ta’wil is to establish perfect congruence between humans’ sensory perception of objective reality and their interpretation of al-Quran. Ta’wil is therefore both a hermeneutical process (reading the Quran) and a scientific-philosophical task (exploring nature, the cosmos and history).

Since ta’wil is only linked to the prophetical verses, the quran, and not to the legal verses of umm al-kitab, can be interpreted by everyone, believers or unbelievers, Arabic speakers or non- Arabic speakers, Islamicists or non-Islamicists. Verse 7 of al ‘Imran in which Allah says: ‘…for its interpretation (ta’wilihi). But no one knows its true meanings except Allah and those who are firmly grounded in knowledge ( al-rasikhun fi’l-‘ilm)…’, does not refer, as conventionally assumed, to the most learned and devout among the So called ‘ulama” and fuqaha clerics”, but rather to the scholars and philosophers who occupy the most eminent place in society. It is absolutely vital to invest in the authority of progressive science rather than in regressive tafsir (which is based on the assumption that earlier commentaries are more authoritative than later ones).

The inclusion of modern science and philosophical theories and the exclusion of traditional exegetes will secure a constant assimilation of contemporary episteme into the text and a progressive extraction of knowledge from the text.