By Sikandar Azam
Every true message is bound to meet opposition, often fierce but pointless. The same was the case with the Divine Message, the Qur’ān being revealed to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. When the revelation commenced in 610 CE, a number of Makkans started opposing and ultimately rejecting the Message. They tried to float many misconceptions about the Divine Message as well as the Messenger. They said that the Qur’ān was ‘invented’ and ‘fabricated’ by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. They called the Prophet a magician, a poet and a madman, among other names besides harassing, torturing and boycotting those who dared to believe in the Message and follow the Messenger ﷺ.
As for the charge that the Prophet ﷺ had ‘invented’ or ‘fabricated’ the Message, it was in fact an attack on and a disbelief in the Power and Omnipotence of God. For it was God Who revealed the Message to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as He had revealed it to earlier Prophets (peace be to all of them). Therefore, it was in the fitness of things that God intervened in the matter to assert that it was He Who had revealed the Message: “This Qur’ān could not have been devised by anyone other than God.” (The Qur’ān 10:37)
To drive His point home, the Author of the Qur’ān presents arguments, one after another. First, He says that it is ‘a confirmation of the revelations’ to earlier Prophets. Secondly, that it is ‘a full explanation of God’s Book’. Thirdly, that ‘there is no doubt’ about it. And, lastly, again in a tone of forceful assertion, God says that ‘it certainly comes from the Lord of all the worlds’. These solid arguments silenced the unbelievers who assumed that the Qur’ān was an ‘invention’.
The Divine Book does not leave the defiant opposers at this stage. It goes a step further, issuing a challenge to them. It says: “If they say: ‘He has invented it,’ say: ‘Produce, then, one sūrah like it, and call for help on all you can other than God, if what you say is true’.” (The Qur’ān 10:38)
The Qur’ān issues this challenge at many other places as well. For example, Surah Baqarah: 23 challenges the opposers in a likewise manner: “If you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to Our servant, then produce one sūrah comparable to it and call upon all your witnesses, other than God, if what you say is true.” This challenge is repeated in 11:13; 17:88 and 52:33 as well.
Why does the Qur’ān issue the same challenge time and again? It is because the Qur’ān is a distinguished book, revealed by the Lord and Creator of human beings and the entire universe. The wise and farsighted realised the truth and believed in the Message. But the Makkan opposers failed rather miserably to realise this truth. Therefore the Qur’ān asserts it again and again so that the defiant people might come to senses. More than fourteen centuries have passed since the issuance of this challenge, but no one could, nor can anyone in the future, compose a sūrah comparable to the Qur’ān. Thus the challenge still stands intact.