The Miraculous Qur’an

Shaikh Mustafa Abdulhussein

Fourteen hundred years ago, a great miracle took place in the land of Hijaz. On Laylat al-Qadr, the final revelation of Allah descended onto the heart of the Lord of the Messengers, Muhammad al-Mustafa (SAW), and as it unfolded into a clear Arabic language over a span of 23 years, the early muslimin were seized by it. Their hearts were overcome; their eyes overflowed with tears and their souls trembled as they heard the words of revelation. The worshippers of idols advised each other not to listen to these words for surely the words would capture them. Muslimin, mu’minin, on the other hand, imbibed every syllable and integrated each word into their lives and were completely transformed by them. Those who grazed sheep, herded camels and traded in petty merchandise became leaders of mankind. This was and still is the miracle of al-Qur’an al-Majid.

The miracle of guidance and salvation

The Qur’an is the final revelation of Allah unto mankind, completing and superseding all revelations before it. It holds the same position amongst the revelational scriptures as its bearer, the Seal of the Prophets, holds amongst the prophets. In the words of Al- Da`i al-Fatimi, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS),

“Allah explains the attributes of al-Qur’an as the Light (Nur) from Allah. A Mercy (Rahmat) unto us. A Guidance (al-Huda) in the wilderness of life. A Cure (al-Shifa) for doubting hearts and for lost souls. The Qur’an is the Criterion (al-Furqan) between right and wrong. It contains manifest signs, which will never lead its follower astray. It is an insight (al-Basair) to the mysteries of creation. It is glad tidings (al-Bushra) for the worlds. It is the Spirit emanating from Allah’s Command (al-Ruh min amrillah).”

[International Islamic Conference on Aspects of Islamic Studies, London, 5th April 1976]

Its status within creation is “afzalo kulle shayin dunallah“, the best in existence in the sight of Allah. Amir al-Mu’minin, Ali ibn Abi Talib (SA) says:

“The Qur’an is a light whose lamp cannot be extinguished, an ocean whose depth cannot be fathomed, a path which never leads astray, a criterion whose validity is irrefutable, a cure that banishes the fear of illness, a spring of knowledge and also its ocean, the trivet of Islam and its foundation, quenches the thirst of the scholar, a clear path of the virtuous.”

[Nahj al-Balagha, sermons of Ali ibn Abi Talib]

The miracle of revelation & preservation

The Qur’an was revealed in single or multiple verses at a time. As each verse was recited, Rasulullah (SAW) would place the verse in the context of ayats revealed beforehand. The miracle of the Qur’an is this, that as each ayat was given its place in an apparently random order of revelation, the end product was a consistent whole of supreme excellence and beauty, the like of which has not been seen.

The wise say that one of the strengths of Islam is that its success did not depend upon miracles but a straight appeal to the heart and mind of man. If Islam did sport a miracle, then it is the ever living Qur’an. The Qur’an is the only scripture that has been preserved in its original form in the original language. As it was revealed, various scribes put down verses onto parchments. After the shahadat of Rasulullah (SAW), Amir al-Mu’minin (SA) exhorted the early khalifs to collect the parchments and organise them into a book as intended by Rasulullah (SAW) himself. This was finally accomplished during the time of Uthman, under the supervision of Amir al-Mu’minin (SA). A number of hafiz al-Qur’an existed who made the task of collection and organisation easier. Although all of his recommendations were not followed, the Qur’an in the form that we see today was accepted by Amir al-Mu’minin, who besides being responsible for its collection, also facilitated its recital by introducing enhancements such as the ihrab (vowel signs). Like Islam itself, the miracle of the Qur’an’s preservation was the station of the Lord of Wasiyyin.

The miracle of words

The revelation that descended into the pure heart of Rasulullah (SAW) was transcribed by him into Lisan al-Arabi al-Mubin (manifest Arabic language) by a divine process. Arabic thus became the language of revelation, not by accident but by purposeful design. A language that, like the Message it holds, is for mankind as a whole, not just for the Arabs. The language of revelation was itself taught to Prophet Isma’il (SA) by a divine process of revelation. The pristine language was carefully nurtured and prepared for the coming, many centuries later, of the Qur’an. Imam Ahmad al-Mastur (SA) says of the language:

“Just as the human form is the last phase of the development of living being, so the Arabic language is the perfection of all languages and its script the perfection of calligraphy.”

[Ikhwan al-Safa]

Is it any surprise then that the stroke of pen required to write every letter of the Qur’an and the sound rendered by every word has the barakat of revelation? Even today, the sound of perfectly rendered tilawat has the capacity to move the most uncommitted muslim into tears. It is this miracle that has impelled all muslimin to write and recite in Arabic alone and consider any translation of the Qur’an as nothing more than its cursory representation.

The miracle of knowledge

The Qur’an itself says it holds the knowledge of everything! Everything in creation and beyond. If this fact is accepted, it is unimaginable that such colossal amounts of information could be put down in a few pages, except by divine intervention. Thus, knowledge exists in the Qur’an in everything, from its narrative and poetry to its script and sounds. It is said that the totality of the mysteries of creation and its return to Allah is stored in the word “Allah”, as written in Arabic script. Even the dot under the letter ‘be‘ of the bismillah holds enough information for Amir al-Mu’minin (SA) to spend an entire night elaborating upon without exhausting the subject. That is not all – along with the knowledge is its divine blessing. So much so that it is said that the recitor of the Qur’an, no matter how little he understands of what he recites, is perceived by the angels as if a shining star! The Qur’an’s potential is not only to fill the seeker with knowledge – to its recitor is the promise that the Qur’an will take the form of a companion at death.

Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS) has said:

“Syedna Taher Saifuddin performed such khidmat of Quran-e-Natiq (Imam al-Zaman) that the Qur’an now provides a shelter to his resting place.”

[Zikra Majlis, Surat 1415H, 1994]

The miracle of the Imam (SA)

A famous hadith of Rasulullah (SAW) says:

“I leave behind two things, the Qur’an and my itrat (progeny). Whosoever holds fast to them both will never go astray.”

With these words and many others, Rasulullah (SAW) permanently joined the guidance of Allah contained in the Qur’an to the living Imam (SA) from his progeny. Amir al-Mu’minin (SA) described himself as Qur’an al-natiq (voiced Qur’an) and the Book of Allah as Qur’an al-samit (silent Qur’an). When one considers the vastness of knowledge contained within the Qur’an, is it any wonder that it would require a heavenly process to unlock its potency in each age? The Imam is not only the perfect interpreter of the Qur’an but its very embodiment. It is the imam’s ismat (inerrancy and sinlessness), his maqam (high spiritual station), his wirathat (special inheritance) that makes him one with the Qur’an, like a mirror to it. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS) has said:

“A Mu’min may understand very little of the Qur’an, but reciting it brings him much barakat. An alim will understand more of it. And as the ‘ilm increases, so does the understanding of the Qur’an, until finally the Imam – his very being is the Qur’an.”

[Maqdam Majlis, Burhani Centre, London, 1978]

The miracle of transmutation

For many, the Qur’an has become simply a sacred symbol to be kissed everyday and to be placed in a position of dignity in the house. It has no place in the making and shaping of their lives. Others are perplexed at the apparent loss of power of the Qur’an to touch their lives and affect them as it did the ashab (companions) of the Prophet and blame the changed time and circumstance; yet others even dare think that some aspects of the Qur’an has lost relevance to this age or that it has lost its tranformative quality. This is an ailment of the heart and a sickness of the mind that denies the pristinity, divinity and permanency of the Qur’an. The reality is that they have lost touch with the Imam from the progeny of Rasulullah (SAW) who is united to the Qur’an, who can breathe life into its words and give them the meaning and relevance for their age. What wonder that they have gone astray?

Al-Da’i al-Mutlaq, the Da’i of the Imam, his representative and vicegerent, exercises all the Imam’s powers whenever the Imam is in satr (seclusion). If the Imam is the Qur’an, his Da’i is a surat of the Qur’an. How simple it is for the mu’min! The Da’i fashions his life according to the Qur’an and asks the mu’min to emulate him; to do what he says and what he does; so that the mu’min too may receive the supreme boon of patterning his life according to the Qur’an. The fact that such an embodiment of the Qur’an exists and will always exist is then the ultimate miracle of the Qur’an.

Reciting the Qur’an in Shehrullah has special merit, for the Qur’an itself descended in Shehrullah. Reciting just one ayat in this month is equivalent to reciting the Qur’an in its entirety.