Challenge of the Quran

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A verse referencing the challenge of the Quran

The challenge of the Quran or Tahaddi (Arabic: التحدي في القرآن‎, translit. al-tahaddi fi al-Quran), in Islamic theology, refers to a challenge proposed in the Quran. It requests non-Muslims among both humans and jinn to produce either a chapter or multiple chapters like those within the holy book, with the aim of proving the Quran's superiority over any work. Quran 2:23-24 says that this is impossible to achieve.[1]

Challenge types[edit]

Non-Muslims are challenged to produce a "statement" or speech similar to the Quran one verse,[2] and challenged to produce either one (10:38)[3][4] or ten[5] similar chapters in others. Another verse states that neither humans nor jinn could create a book like it, even if they were working together.[6][7]

Some of the verses of Quran which mentioned the challenge:

And if you all are in doubt about what I have revealed to My servant, bring a single chapter like it, and call your witnesses besides God if you are truthful (24) But if you do not do this, and you can never do this, then fear the Fire which has been prepared for the disbelievers and which shall have men and stones for fuel (Quran 2:23–24)

Or do they say that he has invented it? Say (to them), ‘Bring ten invented chapters like it, and call (for help) on whomever you can besides God, if you are truthful. (Quran 11:13)

Say: ‘If all mankind and the jinn would come together to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce its like even though they exerted all and their strength in aiding one another. (Quran 17:88)

Said about the challenge[edit]

Hamilton Alexander Rosskeen Gibb, in his book "Mohammedanism: An Historical Survey" wrote:

"But the Meccans still demanded of him a miracle, and with remarkable boldness and self confidence Mohammad appealed as a supreme confirmation of his mission to the Koran itself. Like all Arabs they were the connoisseurs of language and rhetoric. Well, then if the Koran were his own composition other men could rival it. Let them produce ten verses like it. If they could not (and it is obvious that they could not), them let them accept the Koran as an outstanding evident miracle"[8]

Dr. Maurice Bucaille author of "The Bible, the Quran and Science" wrote in page 86 of his book:

" The above observation makes the hypothesis advanced by those who see Muhammad as the author of the Qur'an quite untenable. How could a man, from being illiterate, become the most important author, in terms of literary merit, in the whole of Arabic literature? How could he then pronounce truths of a scientific  nature that no other human being could possibly have  developed at the time, and all this without once making the slightest error in his pronouncements on the subject? The ideas in this study are developed from a purely scientific point of view. They lead to the conclusion that it is inconceivable for a human being living in the Seventh century A.D. to have made statements in the Qur'an on a great variety of subjects that do not belong to his period and for them to be in keeping with what was to be known only centuries later. For me, there can be no human explanation to the Qur'an." [9]


While the Quran itself does not explain what parameters people are meant to judge works attempting to meet the challenge by, but Implicitly the challenge in the first place about the rhetoric of the Qur’an and its unique style in the Arabic language, at a time in history when eloquence and poetry was most highly prized in the Arabian Peninsula, God revealed the Quran of miraculous exposition to Prophet Mohammad, eloquence was the most suitable miracle for him. Also it was a notable aspect of the Quran. During descending of Quran, it first challenged the literary figures of the Arabian Peninsula and then all the people throughout the ages and at every level of knowledge and understanding until the judgment Day, Islamic scholars state that the challenge can never be fulfilled, as no one can compete with the wisdom of God. This view holds that the Quran is the most perfect book to ever exist.[10] Muslims believe that this challenge was unable to be fulfilled in the era of Muhammad,[11] and will remain unfulfilled until the end times.[12] Some scholars attribute this to divine intervention, stating that God will prevent all those who attempt it from achieving their goal.[13]

A number of people, both atheists and members of other religions, have nonetheless attempted to fulfill the challenge, and others have created their own works to meet it. The True Furqan, a Christian work written in Arabic mirroring and published in 1999, it is one of the attempts that did not get recognition either by Muslims nor non-Muslims.[14]

The classical Arab poet Al-Ma'arri wrote Al-Fuṣūl wa al-ghāyāt ("Paragraphs and Periods") which was criticized by some as an attempt to surpass the Quran. Rhyme on two levels was employed, a short and a long range, in alphabetic series. The idiom has a Quranic flavor while also being exceptionally difficult, with rare and obscure words that required the author to regularly interrupt the text with his explanations. The text praises God and calls for piety. When confronted with the similarity between this work and the Quran, Al-Ma'arri replied "Wait until it has been polished by tongues for four hundred years; then see how it is."[15][16] There are several versions of this anecdote.[17]

Opposing viewpoint[edit]

Iranian scientist Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi (d.925) is quoted criticizing Quran

"You are talking about a work which recounts ancient myths, and which at the same time is full of contradictions. And does not contain any useful information or explanation. Then you say: “Produce something like it?[18]"

This is contrary to the claims of the Quran itself, which asserts in verse 4:82 that it has no internal contradictions:

Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’ān? If it had been from [any] other than Allah [God], they would have found within it much contradiction.(Quran 4:82)

There are who question the attribution of such quotes to Muhammad al-Razi due to such as quotes are from a book called Aʿlām al-nubuwwa (Signs of Prophecy) written by another person called Abu Hatim al-Razi and not in any extant work of Muhammad al-Razi himself.

Abu Hatim was an Isma'ili missionary who debated Muhammad al-Razi, but whether he has faithfully recorded the views of Muhammad al-Razi is disputed.[19] According to Abdul Latif al-'Abd, Islamic philosophy professor at Cairo University, Abu Hatim and his student, Ḥamīd al-dīn Karmānī (d. after 411AH/1020CE), were Isma'ili extremists who often misrepresented the views of Razi in their works.[20][21] This view is also corroborated by early historians like al-Shahrastani who noted "that such accusations should be doubted since they were made by Ismāʿīlīs, who had been severely attacked by Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā Rāzī".[22] Al-'Abd points out that the views allegedly expressed by Razi contradict what is found in Razi's own works, like the Spiritual Medicine (Fī al-ṭibb al-rūḥānī).[20] Peter Adamson concurs that Abu Hatim may have "deliberately misdescribed" Razi's position as a rejection of Islam and revealed religions. Instead, Razi was only arguing against the use of miracles to prove Muhammad's prophecy, anthropomorphism, and the uncritical acceptance of taqlīd vs naẓar.[19] Adamson points out to a work by Fakhr al-din al-Razi where Razi is quoted as citing the Quran and the prophets to support his views.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Quran 2:23–24 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)
  2. ^ Quran 52:34 (Yusuf Ali)
  3. ^ Quran 2:23 (Yusuf Ali)
  4. ^ Quran 10:38 (Yusuf Ali)
  5. ^ Quran 11:13 (Yusuf Ali)
  6. ^ Quran 17:88 (Yusuf Ali)
  7. ^ Soltani biyrami, Ismail (2012). "Secret of the kinds of challenging in Quran" (PDF). Quran Knowledge (Quran Shinakht). 5: 85.
  8. ^ H. A. R. Gibb (1962). Mohammedanism An Historical Survey. Universal Digital Library. A Galaxy Book. pp. 41–42.
  9. ^ "Bucaille, Maurice". doi:10.1163/1875-3922_q3_eqcom_051597. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ "Quran Tafsir Ibn Kathir". Retrieved 2018-08-22.
  11. ^ Julie, Paul; Scott Meisami, Starkey (1998). Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature (1 ed.). Routledge. pp. 654, 876. ISBN 978-0415571135.
  12. ^ Unal, Ali (2008). The Qur'an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English. Tughra Books. p. 1278. ISBN 978-1597841443.
  13. ^ Ghazizade, Kadhim (1995). "outlook on Sarrafah (rejection)". Beneficial Letter. 3.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ al-Mahdy (1999). The True Furqan.
  15. ^ Schoeler, Gregor; van Gelder, Geert Jan (2013). The Epistle Of Forgiveness. New York: New York University Press. pp. xix.
  16. ^ Abū al-ʻAlāʼ al -Maʻarrī; Ameen Fares Rihani (1918). The Luzumiyat. p. 18.
  17. ^ Schoeler, Gregor; van Gelder, Geert Jan (2013). The Epistle Of Forgiveness. New York: New York University Press. pp. xxxvi.
  18. ^ Stroumsa, Sarah (1999-01-01). Freethinkers of Medieval Islam: Ibn Al-Rawāndī, Abū Bakr Al-Rāzī and Their Impact on Islamic Thought. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-11374-9.
  19. ^ a b c The Oxford handbook of medieval philosophy. Marenbon, John. New York: Oxford University Press. 2012. pp. 69–70. ISBN 978-0-19-537948-8. OCLC 727511761.CS1 maint: others (link)
  20. ^ a b Abdul Latif Muhammad al-Abd (1978). Al-ṭibb al-rūḥānī li Abū Bakr al-Rāzī. Cairo: Maktabat al-Nahḍa al-Miṣriyya. pp. 4, 13, 18.
  21. ^ Ebstein, Michael. Mysticism and philosophy in al-Andalus : Ibn Masarra, Ibn al-'Arabi and the Isma'ili tradition. Leiden. p. 41. ISBN 978-90-04-25537-1. OCLC 867868909.
  22. ^ Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and Mehdi Amin Razavi, An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia, vol. 1, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 353, quote: "Among the other eminent figures who attacked Rāzī are the Ismāʿīlī philosopher Abū Ḥatem Rāzī, who wrote two books to refute Rāzī's views on theodicy, prophecy, and miracles; and Nāṣir-i Khusraw. Shahrastānī, however, indicates that such accusations should be doubted since they were made by Ismāʿīlīs, who had been severely attacked by Muḥammad ibn Zakariyyā Rāzī"