Inimitability of the Qur'an is the belief that no human speech can match the Qur'an in its content and form. According to this doctrine the Qur'an is a miracle and therefore it is the the proof granted to Muhammad in authentication of his prophetic status. The doctrine of miraculousness of the Qur'an waited for two centuries until the middle of the 9th century that it became inappropriate to find fault with the Quran's style and in the late 10th century the first works on the doctrine were composed. The arabic term used to describe the inimitabilty of the Qur'an is "I'jaz" (اعجاز).
Qur'anic basis 
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The concept of inimitability originates in the Qur'an where in 5 different verses challenges opponents to produce something like the Qur'an. So the suggestion is that if there are doubts concerning the divine authorship of the Qur'an come forward and create something like it:
- "if men and sprites banded together to produce the like of this Qur'an they would never produce its like not though they backed one another"(17:88)
- "Say,Bring you then ten chapters like unto it, and call whomsoever you can, other than God, if you speak the truth!"(11:13)
- "Or do they say he has fabricated it? Say bring then a chapter like unto it, and call upon whom you can besides God, if you speak truly!"(10:38)
- "Or do they say he has fabricated it? Nay! They believe not! Let them then produce a recital like unto it if they speak the truth"(52:34)
- "And if you are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down to Muhammad, then produce a chapter of the like" (2:23)
According to the above mentioned verses Muhammad's opponents are invited to produce a book like the Qur'an, the challenge is subsequently reduced to ten chapters then to a single chapter. It is understood among Muslims that that condition has not been met.
Muslims accepted Islam on the basis of evaluating the Qur'an as a text that surpasses all human production. This literary quality of the Qur'an is considered the decisive factor for the spread and development of Islam in the 7th century. Numerous scholars devoted time to finding out why the Qur'an was inimitable. The majority of opinions was around eloquence of the Qur'an both in wording and meaning. Thus the inimitability of the Qur'an resides in the manner in which words have been arranged accompanied with flawless meaning.
Al-Baqillani (d.1013CE) wrote a book named I'jaz al-Qur'an ('inimitability of the Qur'an') and emphasized that the style of the Qur'an cannot be classified, and eloquence sustains throughout the Qur'an in spite of dealing with various themes. Al-Baqillani's point was not that the Qur'an broke the custom by extraordinary degree of eloquence but that it broke the custom of the existing literary forms by creating a new genre of expression. According to Sophia Vasalou a contemporary scholar in theology, the reports about the arabs bewildered reception of the the Qur'an is crucial in Baqillani's method: "the arabs, upon hearing it , were lost for words in trying to classify it:'is it poetry?' 'is it magic?' 'Is it soothsaying?' they could not find a literary form to which the Qur'an corresponded".
The most famous works on the doctrine of inimitability are two medieval books by the grammarian Al-Jurjani (d. 1078CE), Dala’il al-i'jaz ('the Arguments of Inimitability') and Asraral-balagha ('the Secrets of Eloquence'). Al-Jurjani argued that the inimitability of the Qur'an is a linguistic phenomenon and proposed that the Qur'an has a degree of excellence unachievable by human beings. Al-Jurjani believed that Qur'an's eloquence must be a certain special quality in the manner of its stylistic arrangement and composition or a certain special way of joining words. He studied the Qur'an with purely literary proofs and examined the various literary features and how they were utilized.
Ibrahim al-Nazzam of Basra (d.846) was among the first to study the doctrine. According to Al-Nazzam Qur'ans inimitability is due to the information in its content which as divine revelation contains divine knowledge. Thus, Qur'an's supremacy lies in its content rather than its style. Sharif al-Murtaza (d. 1044) had similar views, turning to divine intervention as the only viable explanation as to why the challenge was not met.
Rummani, Khattabi, Al-Qadi Abd Al-Jabbar, and Zarkashi are also among notable scholars in this subject. Zarkashi in his book Al-Burhan proposed that miraculousness of the Qur'an can be perceived but not described.
Contrary views 
Theodor Nöldeke criticized the Qur'anic text as careless and imperfect. He questioned the Qur'an's divine origin by critically searching for linguistic defects. Schwally (1919) and Wansbrough had similar opinions.
- Leaman, Oliver (2008). The Qur'an : an encyclopedia (Reprinted. ed.). Routledge. ISBN 9780415326391.
- Vasalou, Sophia (2002). "The Miraculous Eloquence of the Qur'an: General Trajectories and Individual Approaches". Journal of Qur'anic Studies 4 (2): 23–53.
- "Qur'an verse 17:88".
- "Qur'an verse 11:33".
- "Qur'an verse 10:38".
- "Qur'an verse 52:34".
- "Qur'an verse 2:23".
- Kermani, Naved (2006). The Blackwell companion to the Qur'an. Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-1752-4.
- Nasr, Abu-Zayd (2003). "The Dilemma of the Literary Approach to the Qur'an". Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 23: 8–47.
- Larkin, Margaret (1988). "The Inimitability of the Qur'an: Two Perspectives". Religion & Literature 20 (1): 31–47.
- Zadeh, Travis (2008). "'Fire cannot harm it', Mediation, Temptation and the charismatic power of the Qur'an". Journal of Qur'anic Studies 10 (2).
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