AN ORIGINAL METHOD OF BEDIUZZAMAN SAID NURSI PROVING THE QUR'AN TO BE GOD'S WORD
The discipline of the Qur'an's miraculousness sets out to prove that the Holy Qur'an is God's Word and that it is beyond man's power to produce anything similar. Numerous of the Qur'an's verses state that the Qur'an is Divine revelation and Muhammad (PBUH) is God's Messenger, and call on doubting literary figures to produce something similar to the Qur'an. But since its challenge has remained unanswered throughout history, both in the time of the Prophet, and subsequently, the Qur'an's miraculousness has become an established fact. Scholars studying miraculousness, have sought its miraculous qualities chiefly in its eloquence. Eloquence means speaking in conformity with the requirements of the situation and expressing the intended meaning in the most effective way.
The sciences of eloquence, metaphor, and good style were developed in order to define the characteristics of eloquent speech, and speech was judged according to the criteria of these sciences. However, it should not be forgotten that the subjective criteria of eloquence are something difficult to appreciate and explain.
If those who have had a good education in language and eloquence and broad experience of them say the above, one inevitably asks who it is that will be able to appreciate the Qur'an's eloquence in an environment in which there are very few people knowledgeable of Arabic literature.
In earlier periods, non-Arabs relied on Arabs for understanding the Qur'an's eloquence. That is, they used to say: we are not so knowledgeable about Arab literature, but the Arabs know that the Qur'an has no equal among works in Arabic, and no work has been able to match its manner of expression and style. But now, Arabs say that they lack their former literary taste, and knowledge of the possibilities of the Arabic language and eloquence, and styles of expression, and that they too are incapable of appreciating the Qur'an's eloquence. A result of this I have observed in many Arabs: they have in their minds that the chief way of understanding the Qur'an's miraculousness is through its predictions of the future, its 'giving news of the Unseen,' and allusions to scientific discoveries, yet they see that time has not diminished the Qur'an in any way despite its wearing away all other books, so say that this extraordinary characteristic can only be explained by its being God's revealed Word. I want to say that to a great extent I agree with this. Ustad Bediuzzaman Said Nursi endeavoured to expound every aspect of the Qur'an's miraculousness, particularly dwelling on its comprehensiveness, perpetual youth, sufficiency for man's needs, and predictions of scientific discoveries, in addition to its aspects of word-order and eloquence. In this paper, however, while describing its miraculousness, I want to draw attention to a method and dialectic particular to him. The Muslims of this age, whether Arab, Turk, or others, all Muslims, are evidently in need of this method. For many doubts are raised about the Qur'an, in consequence of which it is even denied that it is Divine revelation, let alone miraculous, and doubts are deliberately being spread among believers concerning this matter.
It is said that the subjects in the Qur'an are similar to those in works written by man; the way in which it explains things is similar to that of man; that if it is looked at objectively and without prejudice, that is how it will be understood; even that sometimes the harmony is lost in its exposition; that it jumps from subject to subject, and that as a result numerous reasonable people, thinkers and scholars do not accept it to be God's Word; and that even many Muslims do not understand the elevated nature of the Qur'an in the way required by Islam, and that they are therefore beset by doubts.
These questions are traps set up by Satan before the Muslims of the 20th century, and in general before all mankind, and in truth numerous people have been crushed by the weight of them. However, Ustad Bediuzzaman analyzed these questions in such a way that he exposed their incongruities, turned around these trick questions which are not in fact questions, and hung Satan's noose round his own neck. As a result, he made the questions, which Satan had wanted to make a means of people denying the Qur'an's miraculousness, ways leading to proving that it is God's Word. Moreover, since they are not matters connected with language, it was not necessary to know Arabic and he made it possible for people speaking any language to grasp them.
The questions and answers arose in a sort of vision he had, and therefore are expressed with the power and excitement of a true experience, and are very effective. While in a mosque listening in reverence to the Qur'an being recited, Satan whispered these doubts, then having received the answers, retreated completely crestfallen. Immediately after refuting the Satanic suggestions, he wrote a summary of the debate in Leme?t in 1920. Then, so that more people could profit from it, ten years later he rewrote it in expanded form and more detail and included it in his work Mektûbat (Letters).
The author wrote it as question and answer in the form of a debate, which is clearly a very effective and exciting style. It would boring if I was to change this into a monotonous analysis in the form of indirect speech. As is known, sometimes writers and orators present a boring idea in the form of question and answer in order to hold the attention of their readers or listeners. This, however, was written in question and answer form. I shall therefore use the direct form, summarizing and simplifying the language. Those I address may therefore have the opportunity of experiencing the excitement of the debate.1
"You consider the Qur'an to be extremely elevated and brilliant. Be unbiased for a minute and consider it again. That is, suppose it to be man's word. I wonder whether you would still see the same qualities and beauty in it?"
In truth, I was deceived by the voice; I thought of the Qur'an as being written by man. Just as Bayezid Mosque is plunged into darkness when the electric switch is turned off, I observed that with that thought the brilliant lights of the Qur'an began to be extinguished. At that point I understood that it was the Devil who was speaking to me; he was drawing me towards the abyss.
I sought help from the Qur'an and a light was at once imparted to my heart giving me firm strength for the defence. I began to argue back at the Devil, saying:
"O Satan! Unbiased thinking is to take a position between two sides. Whereas what both you and your disciples from among men call unbiased thinking is to take the part of the opposing side; it is not impartiality, it is temporary unbelief. Because, to consider the Qur'an to be man's word and to judge it as such is to take the part of the opposing side; it is to favour something baseless and invalid. It is not being unbiased, it is being biased towards falsehood."
The Devil replied: "Well, in that case, say it is neither God's Word nor man's word. Think of it as between the two." To which I rejoined:
"That is not possible either. For if there is a disputed property for which there are two claimants, and the claimants are close both to one another and to the property, the property will then either be given to someone other than them, or will be put somewhere accessible so that whoever proves ownership can take it. If the two claimants are far apart with one in the East and one in the West, then according to the rule, it will remain with the one who has possession of it, as it is not possible for it to be left somewhere between them.
"Thus, the Qur'an is a valuable property, and however distant man's word is from God's, the two sides in question are that far apart; indeed, they are infinitely far from one another. It is not possible for the Qur'an to be left between the two sides, which are as far apart as the Pleiades and the ground. For they are opposites like existence and non-existence or the two magnetic poles; there can be no point between them. In which case, for the Qur'an, the one who possesses it is God's side. It will be accepted as being in His possession, and the proofs of ownership will be regarded in that way. Should the opposing side refute all the arguments proving it to be God's Word, it may claim ownership of it, otherwise it may not. God forbid! What hand can pull out the nails fastening that vast jewel to the Sublime Throne of God, riveted as it is with thousands of certain proofs, and break its supporting pillars, causing it to fall?"
"And so, inspite of you, O Satan!, the just and the fair-minded reason in this equitable and rightful manner. They increase their belief in the Qur'an through even the slightest evidences. While according to the way shown by you and your disciples, if just once it is supposed to be man's word and that mighty jewel fastened to the Divine Throne is cast to the ground, a proof with the strength of all the nails and the firmness of many proofs becomes necessary in order to raise it from the ground and fasten it once more to the Throne, and so be saved from the darkness of unbelief and reach the lights of belief. But because it is extremely difficult to do this, due to your wiles, many people are losing their faith at this time by imagining themselves to be making unbiased judgements."
The Devil turned and said: "The Qur'an resembles man's word. It is similar to the way men converse. That means it is man's word. If it was God's Word, it would be appropriate to Him and would be altogether out of the ordinary. Just as His art does not resemble man's art, so should His Word not resemble man's word." I replied:
"It may be understood as follows: apart from his miracles and special attributes, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a human being in all his actions, conduct, and behaviour. He submitted to and complied with the Divine laws and commands manifested in creation. He too suffered from the cold, experienced pain, and so on. So that he could be the leader of his community through his actions, its guide through his conduct, and instruct it through all his behaviour, his deeds and attributes were not all made out of the ordinary. If he had been out of the ordinary in all his conduct, he could not himself have been the leader in every respect, the total guide of everyone, the 'Mercy to All the Worlds' through all his attributes.
"In just the same way, the All-Wise Qur'an is the leader to the aware and the conscious, the guide of jinn and men, the teacher of those attaining to perfection, and instructor of those seeking reality. It is of necessity and of a certainty, therefore, in the same form as man's conversation and style. For men and jinn take their supplications from it and learn their prayers from it; they express their concerns in its language, and learn from it the rules of social behaviour, and so on. Everyone has recourse to it. If, therefore, it had been in the form of the Divine speech which the Prophet Moses (Peace be upon him) heard on Mount Sinai, man could not have borne listening to it and hearing it, nor made it the point of reference and recourse. Moses (Peace be upon him), one of the five greatest prophets, could only endure to hear a few words. He said:
"'Is Your speech thus?' God replied: 'I have the power of all tongues.'"
Next, the Devil said: "Many people speak of matters similar to those in the Qur'an in the name of religion. Is it not possible, therefore, that a human being did such a thing and made up the Qur'an in the name of religion?"
Through the light of the Qur'an I replied as follows:
"F i r s t l y : Out of love of religion, someone who is religious may say, 'The truth is thus, the reality of the matter is this. Almighty God commands that.' But he would not make God speak to suit himself. Trembling at the verse,
Who, then does more wrong than one who utters a lie concerning God?,
he would not overstep his mark to an infinite degree, imitate God, and speak on His behalf.
"S e c o n d l y : It is in no way possible for a human being to be successful in doing such a thing on his own, in fact, it is completely impossible. Individuals who resemble one another may imitate one another, those of the same kind may take on one another's forms, those who are close to one another in rank or status may imitate one another and temporarily deceive people, but they cannot do so for ever. For in any event, the falseness and artificiality in their behaviour will show up their imposture to the observant, and their deception will not last. If the one who is attempting to imitate another under false pretences is quite unlike them, for example, if an uneducated man wants to imitate in learning a genius like Ibn Sina, or a shepherd assume the position of a king, of course they will not deceive anyone at all, they will only make fools of themselves. Everything they do will proclaim, 'This is an impostor.'
"Thus, to suppose -God forbid!, a hundred thousand times- the Qur'an to be man's word is utterly impossible, no rational being can accept it as possible, to do so is a delirium like imagining to be possible something that is self-evidently impossible like a fire-fly being seen by astronomers as a real star for a thousand years; or a fly appearing to observers in the true form of a peacock for a year; or a bogus common private posing as a famous lofty field marshal, taking over his position and remaining in it for a long period without giving away his deception; or like a slandering, unbelieving liar affecting the manner and position of the most truthful, trustworthy, upright believer throughout his life and being completely unruffled before even the most observant while concealing his fraud from them.
"In just the same way, if the Qur'an is supposed to be man's word, then it has to be supposed, God forbid, that that Perspicuous Book, which is considered to be clearly a most brilliant star, rather, a sun of perfections perpetually scattering the lights of truth in the heavens of the world of Islam, is like a fire-fly, a spurious sham made up by a counterfeiting human. And those who are closest to it and study it most carefully do not realize this, and consider it to be a perpetual, exalted star and source of truth. Together with this being impossible a hundred times over, even if you went a hundred times further in your diabolical machinations, O Satan, you could not make such an assertion, you could not deceive anyone of sound reason! Only sometimes you trick people by making them look from a great distance, thus making the star appear as small as a firefly.
"T h i r d l y : Also, if the Qur'an is imagined to be man's word, it necessitates that the hidden reality of a criterion of truth and falsehood, which is miraculous in its exposition, and through the testimony of its fruits, results, and effects, is gilded with the most spiritual and life-giving, the most truthful and happiness-bringing, the most comprehensive and exalted qualities in the world of mankind, is, God forbid, the fabrication of a single unaided and unlearned man's mind. And that the great geniuses and brilliant scholars who observed that being closely and studied him meticulously at no time saw any trace of counterfeit or pretence in him and always found him serious, genuine, and sincere.
"This is completely impossible, an idea so nonsensical as to shame the Devil himself, like dreaming up an utterly impossible situation. For it entails supposing one who throughout his life demonstrated and taught trust, belief, confidence, sincerity, seriousness, and integrity through all his conduct, words, and actions, and raised eminently truthful and sincere followers, and was accepted to possess the highest and most brilliant and elevated virtues to be the most untrustworthy, insincere, and unbelieving. Because in this question there is no point between the two.
"If, to suppose the impossible, the Qur'an was not the Word of God, it would fall as though from the Divine Throne to the ground, it would not remain somewhere between. While being the meeting-point of truths, it would become the source of superstition and myth. And if, God forbid, the one who proclaimed that wonderful decree was not God's Messenger, it would necessitate his descending from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low, and from the degree of being the source of accomplishments and perfections to the level of being a mine of trickery and intrigue; he could not remain between the two. For one who lies and fabricates in God's name falls to the very lowest of degrees.
"However impossible it is to permanently see a fly as a peacock, and to all the time see the peacocks's attributes in the fly, this matter is that impossible. Only someone lacking all intelligence could imagine it to be possible.
"F o u r t h l y : Also, if the Qur'an is imagined to be man's word, it necessitates fancying that the Qur'an, which is a sacred commander of the community of Muhammad, mankind's largest and most powerful army, is -God forbid- a powerless, valueless, baseless forgery. Whereas, self-evidently, through its powerful laws, sound principles, and penetrating commands, it has equipped that huge army both materially, and morally and spiritually, has given it an order and regularity and imposed a discipline on it that are such as to conquer both this world and the next, and has instructed the minds, trained the hearts, conquered the spirits, purified the consciences, and employed and utilized the limbs and members of individuals according to the degree of each. To imagine it to be a counterfeit necessitates accepting a hundredfold impossibility.
"This impossibility entails the further complete impossibility of supposing that one who, through his deliberate conduct throughout his life taught mankind Almighty God's laws, and through his honest behaviour instructed man in the principles of truth, and through his sincere and reasonable words showed and established the straight way of moderation and happiness, and as all his life testifies, felt great fear of Divine punishment and knew God better than anyone else and made Him known, and in splendid fashion has for one thousand three hundred and fifty years commanded a fifth of mankind and half the globe, and through his qualities of renown is in truth the means of pride of mankind, indeed, of the universe, God forbid a hundred thousand times, neither feared God, nor knew Him, nor held back from lying, nor had any self-respect. Because in this matter there is no point between the two. For if, to suppose the impossible, the Qur'an is not the Word of God, if it falls from the Divine Throne to the ground, it cannot remain somewhere in between the two. Indeed, it then has to be accepted as the property of the very worst of liars. And as for this, O Satan, even if you were a hundred times more satanic, you could not deceive any mind that was not unsound, nor persuade any heart that was not corrupted."
The Devil retorted: "How should I not deceive them? I have deceived most of mankind and their foremost thinkers into denying the Qur'an and Muhammad" I replied:
"F i r s t l y : When seen from a great distance, the greatest thing appears the same as the smallest. A star may even appear as a candle.
"S e c o n d l y : Also, when seen both as secondary and superficially, something which is completely impossible may appear to be possible.
"One time an old man was watching the sky in order to see the new moon of Ramadan when a white hair fell on his eye. Imagining it to be the moon, he announced: 'I have seen the new moon.' Now, it is impossible that the white hair should have been the moon, but because his intention was to look for just the moon and the hair was by the way and secondary, he paid it no attention and thought that impossibility was possible.
"T h i r d l y : Also, non-acceptance is one thing and denial is something quite different. Non-acceptance is indifference, a closing of the eyes to something, an ignorant absence of judgement. Many completely impossible things may be concealed within it, and the mind does not concern itself with them. As for denial, it is not non-acceptance, but an acceptance of non-existence; it is a judgement. The mind is compelled to work. So a devil like you takes hold of the mind of a person, then leads it to denial. And, showing the false as truth and the impossible as possible through satanic wiles like heedlessness, misguidance, fallacious reasoning, obstinacy, false arguments, pride, deception, and habit, you make those unfortunate creatures in human form swallow unbelief and denial, although they comprise innumerable impossibilities.
"F o u r t h l y : Also, if the Qur'an is supposed to be the word of man, it necessitates imagining to be its opposite a book which has self-evidently guided the purified, veracious saints and spiritual poles, who shine like stars in the heavens of the world of mankind, has continuously instructed every level of the people of perfection in truth and justice, veracity and fidelity, faith and trustworthiness, and has ensured the happiness of the two worlds through the truths of the pillars of belief and the principles of the pillars of Islam, and through the testimony of these achievements is of necessity veracious, and pure, genuine truth, and absolutely right, and most serious -it necessitates imagining, God forbid, that this Book comprises the opposites of these qualities, effects, and lights. And that, regarding it as a collection of fabrications and lies, it is a frenzy of unbelief that would shame even the Sophists and the devils, and cause them to tremble.
"And this impossibility necessitates the further most ugly and abhorrent impossibility that One who, according to the testimony of the religion and Shari'a of Islam which he proclaimed, and the unanimous indications to the extraordinary fear of God and pure and sincere worship which he demonstrated throughout his life, and as necessitated by the good moral qualities unanimously witnessed in him, and according to the affirmation of the people of truth and perfection whom he raised, was the most believing, the most steadfast, the most trustworthy, and the most truthful, was -God forbid, and again, God forbid- without belief, that he was most untrustworthy, did not fear God, nor shrink from lying. To imagine this necessitates imagining the most loathsome form of impossibility and perpetrating the most iniquitous and vicious sort of misguidance.
"I n S h o r t : As is stated in the Eighteenth Sign of the Nineteenth Letter, the common people, whose understanding of the Qur'an is gained by listening to it, say, 'Were the Qur'an to be compared with all the books I have listened to and the other books in the world, it would not resemble any of them; it is not of the same sort as them nor of the same degree.' The Qur'an, then, is of a degree either above all of them or below all of them. To be below them is impossible, and no enemy nor the Devil even could accept it. In which case, the Qur'an is above all other books, and is therefore a miracle. And in just the same way, we say according to the categorical proof called 'residue,' taken from the sciences of method and logic:
"O Satan and O disciples of Satan! The Qur'an is either the Word of God come from the Supreme Throne of God and His Greatest Name, or, God forbid, and again, God forbid, it is a human forgery fabricated on earth by someone without belief who neither feared God nor knew Him. In the face of the above proofs, O Satan, you can neither say that, nor could you have said it, nor will you be able to say it in the future. Therefore, the Qur'an is the Word of the Creator of the universe. Because there is no point between the two; it is impossible and precluded that there should be. Just as we have proved in the most clear and decisive manner; and you have seen it and heard it.
"In the same way, Muhammad (Upon whom be blessings and peace) is either God's Messenger and the highest of the prophets and the most superior of creatures, or, God forbid, he has to be imagined to be someone without belief having fallen to the lowest of the low because he lied concerning God, and did not know God, and did not believe in His punishment.4 And as for this, O Devil, neither you nor the philosophers of Europe and hypocrites of Asia on whom you rely could say it, nor could you say it in the past, neither shall you be able to say it in the future, for there is no one in the world who would listen to it and accept it. It is because of this that the most corrupting of those philosophers and the most lacking in conscience of the hypocrites, even, admit that 'Muhammad the Arabian (PBUH) was very clever, and was most moral and upright.'
"Since this matter is restricted to these two sides, and the second one is impossible and no one at all claims it to be true, and since we have proved with decisive arguments that there is no point between them, for sure and of necessity, in spite of you and your party, Muhammad the Arabian (Upon whom be blessings and peace) is the Prophet of God, and the highest of the prophets and the best of all creatures."
Satan replied: "I cannot oppose what you say, nor defend myself. But there are many foolish people who listen to me; and many devils in human form who assist me; and many pharaohs among philosophers who learn things from me which flatter their egos, and prevent the publication of works like yours. Therefore I shall not lay down my arms before you!"
* * *
A very brief summary of Bediuzzaman's proof is this: the Qur'an is either the Word of the Sustainer of All The Worlds or is the fabrication of the most false, stupid, shameless fraud who neither recognized God nor feared him. However, such a possibility was not claimed by even his bitterest enemy or the most obdurate disbeliever. On the contrary, those who did not accept that Muhammad (PBUH) was God's Messenger said that he was intelligent, far-sighted, honest, and with good morals. Moreover, there are numerous evidences, powerful and weak, in favour of the first possibility. That is, the Qur'an is fitting to be the Word of the Sustainer of the All The Worlds. So since the second possibility is false, the first has to be true. In this way, students of the Qur'an with no knowledge of the Arabic language and its eloquence have at their disposal a proof with which to silence the party of Satan.
*Prof. Dr. SUAD YILDIRIM
Prof. Suad Yildirim was born in Diyarbakir in 1941, and graduated from Diyarbakir High School in 1959, and Ankara University Theology Faculty in 1964. He received his Doctorate from the same faculty (1973). He worked for the Dept. of Religious Affairs as an Assistant Mufti, Mufti, and Inspector, then in 1968 was appointed Assistant in the Islamic Sciences Faculty of Atat?rk University, Erzurum. He was promoted to Professorship in 1987. Following this, he taught for a while in the Medina Faculty of Islamic Da'wa in Imam Muhammad Univ., Riyadh. In 1993, he was appointed Dean of Sakarya Univ. Theology Faculty. Besides publishing articles in the magazines, Yeni Devir, Sizinti, Altinoluk, Isl?m, Yeni ?mit, and Zaman newspaper, among his published works are: Kitab-i Mukaddes, Kur'an, ve Bilim (The Bible, the Qur'an, and Science) Maurice Bucaille- trans., 1981; Peygamberimizin Kur'an'i Tefsiri (The Prophet's Expounding of the Qur'an), 1981; Kur'an Ilimlerine Giris (Introduction to the Qur'anic Sciences), 1983; En M?him Mesaj: Kur'an (The Greatest Message: The Qur'an), M. Draz-trans., 1985; Mevcut Kaynaklara G?re Hiristiyanlik (Christianity According to Extant Sources), 1988; Tefsir-i Kebir, Fakhruddin Razi- trans. with others, 1988.
1. The translation here is of the original, since there would be little difference between its translation and that of the simplification. See, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Letters 1928-1932, S?zler Publications 1994, pp. 365-73. [Tr.]