New Catholic Encyclopedia
It is this very sort of thing - confronting people with facts - that had captured the attention of many non-Muslims. In fact, there exists a very interesting reference concerning this subject in the New Catholic Encyclopedia. In an article under the subject of the Quran, the Catholic Church states:
“Over the centuries, many theories have been offered as to the origin of the Quran... Today no sensible man accepts any of these theories!!”
Now here is the age-old Catholic Church, which has been around for so many centuries, denying these futile attempts to explain away the Quran.
Indeed, the Quran is a problem for the Catholic Church. It states that it is revelation, so they study it. Certainly, they would love to find proof that it is not, but they cannot. They cannot find a viable explanation. But at least they are honest in their research and do not accept the first unsubstantiated interpretation which comes along. The Church states that in fourteen centuries it has not yet been presented a sensible explanation. At least it admits that the Quran is not an easy subject to dismiss. Certainly, other people are much less honest. They quickly say, “Oh, the Quran came from here. The Quran came from there.” And they do not even examine the credibility of what they are stating most of the time.
Of course, such a statement by the Catholic Church leaves the everyday Christian in some difficulty. It just may be that he has his own ideas as to the origin of the Quran, but as a single member of the Church, he cannot really act upon his own theory. Such an action would be contrary to the obedience, allegiance and loyalty which the Church demands. By virtue of his membership, he must accept what the Catholic Church declares without question and establish its teachings as part of his everyday routine. So, in essence, if the Catholic Church as a whole is saying, “Do not listen to these unconfirmed reports about the Quran,” then what can be said about the Islamic point of view? If even non-Muslims are admitting that there is something to the Quran - something that has to be acknowledged - then why are people so stubborn and defensive and hostile when Muslims advance the very same theory? This is certainly something for those with a mind to contemplate - something to ponder for those of understanding!
Testimony of an Intellectual
Recently, the leading intellectual in the Catholic Church - a man by the name of Hans - studied the Quran and gave his opinion of what he had read. This man has been around for some time, and he is highly respected in the Catholic Church, and after careful scrutiny, he reported his findings, concluding,
“God has spoken to man through the man, Muhammad.”
Again this is a conclusion arrived at by a non-Muslim source - the very leading intellectual of the Catholic Church himself!
I do not think that the Pope agrees with him, but nonetheless, the opinion of such a noted, reputed public figure must carry some weight in defense of the Muslim position. He must be applauded for facing the reality that the Quran is not something which can be easily pushed aside and that, in fact God is the source of these words.
As is evident from the aforementioned information, all of the possibilities have been exhausted, so the chance of finding another possibility of dismissing the Quran is nonexistent.
Burden of Proof on the Critic
If the book is not a revelation, then it is a deception; and if it is a deception, one must ask, “What is its origin? And where does it deceive us?” Indeed, the true answers to these questions shed light on the Quran’s authenticity and silence the bitter unsubstantiated claims of the unbelievers.
Certainly, if people are going to insist that the Quran is a deception, then they must bring forth evidence to support such a claim. The burden of proof is on them, not us! One is never supposed to advance a theory without sufficient corroborating facts; so I say to them, “Show me one deception! Show me where the Quran deceives me! Show me; otherwise don’t say that it is a deception!
Origin of the Universe and Life
An interesting characteristic of the Quran is how it deals with surprising phenomena which relate not only to the past but to modern times as well. In essence, the Quran is not an old problem. It is still a problem even today - a problem to the non-Muslims that is. For everyday, every week, every year brings more and more evidence that the Quran is a force to be contended with - that its authenticity is no longer to be challenged! For example, one verse in the Quran (Surah al-Anbiya 21:30) reads:
“Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, then We clove them asunder, and made from water every living thing? Will they not then believe?”
Ironically, this very information is exactly what they awarded the 1973 Noble Prize for - to a couple of unbelievers.
The Quran reveals the origin of the universe - how it began from one piece - and mankind continues to verify this revelation, even up to now. Additionally, the fact that all life originated from water would not have been an easy thing to convince people of fourteen centuries ago. Indeed, if 1400 years ago you had stood in the desert and told someone, “All of this, you see (pointing to yourself), is made up of mostly water,” no one would have believed you. Proof of that was not available until the invention of the microscope. They had to wait to find out that cytoplasm, the basic substance of the cell, is made-up of 80% water.
Nonetheless, the evidence did come, and once again the Quran stood the test of time.
A Mathematical Approach
All of the examples so far given concerning the various angles from which one can approach the Quran have undoubtedly been subjective in nature; however, there does exist another angle, among others, which is objective and whose basis is mathematical.
It is surprising how authentic the Quran becomes when one assembles what might be referred to as a list of good guesses. Mathematically, it can be explained using guessing and prediction examples. For instance, if a person has two choices (i.e., one is right, and one is wrong), and he closes his eyes and makes a choice, then half of the time (i.e., one time out of two) he will be right. Basically, he has a one in two chance, for he could pick the wrong choice, or he could pick the right choice.
Now if the same person has two situations like that (i.e., he could be right or wrong about situation number one, and he could be right or wrong about situation number two), and he closes his eyes and guesses, then he will only be right one-fourth of the time (i.e., one time out of four). He now has a one in four chance because now there are three ways for him to be wrong and only one way for him to be right. In simple terms, he could make the wrong choice in situation number one and then make the wrong choice in situation number two; or he could make the wrong choice in situation number one and then make the right choice in situation number two; or he could make the right choice in situation number one and then make the wrong choice in situation number two; or he could make the right choice in situation number one and then make the right choice in situation number two.
Of course, the (only instance in which he could be totally right is the last scenario where he could guess correctly in both situations. The odds of his guessing completely correctly have become greater because the number of situations for him to guess in have increased; and the mathematical equation representing such a scenario is ½ x ½ (i.e., one time out of two for the first situation multiplied by one time out of two for the second situation).
Continuing on with the example, if the same person now has three situations in which to make blind guesses, then he will only be right one-eighth of the time (i.e., one time out of eight or ½ x ½ x ½ ). Again, the odds of choosing the correct choice in all three situations have decreased his chances of being completely correct to only one time in eight. It must be understood that as the number of situations increase, the chances of being right decrease, for the two phenomena are inversely proportional.
Now applying this example to the situations in the Quran, if one draws up a list of all of the subjects about which the Quran has made correct statements, it becomes very clear that it is highly unlikely that they were all just correct blind guesses. Indeed, the subjects discussed in the Quran are numerous, and thus the odds of someone just making lucky guesses about all of them become practically nil. If there are a million ways for the Quran to be wrong, yet each time it is right, then it is unlikely that someone was guessing.
The following three examples of subjects about which the Quran has made correct statements collectively illustrate how the Quran continues to beat the odds.
The Female Bee
In the 16th chapter (Surah an-Nahl 16:68-69) the Quran mentions that the female bee leaves its home to gather food. Now, a person might guess on that, saying, “The bee that you see flying around - it could be male, or it could be female. I think I will guess female.” Certainly, he has a one in two chance of being right. So it happens that the Quran is right. But it also happens that that was not what most people believed at the time when the Quran was revealed. Can you tell the difference between a male and a female bee? Well, it takes a specialist to do that, but it has been discovered that the male bee never leaves his home to gather food. However, in Shakespeare’s play, Henry the Fourth, some of the characters discuss bees and mention that the bees are soldiers and have a king. That is what people thought in Shakespeare’s time - that the bees that one sees flying around are male bees and that they go home and answer to a king. However, that is not true at all. The fact is that they are females, and they answer to a queen. Yet it took modern scientific investigations in the last 300 years to discover that this is the case.
So, back to the list of good guesses, concerning the topic of bees, the Quran had a 50/50 chance of being right, and the odds were one in two.
In addition to the subject of bees, the Quran also discusses the sun and the manner in which it travels through space. Again, a person can guess on that subject. When the sun moves through space, there are two options: it can travel just as a stone would travel if one threw it, or it can move of its own accord. The Quran states the latter - that it moves as a result of its own motion (Surah al-Anbiya 21:33). To do such, the Quran uses a form of the word sabaha to describe the sun’s movement through space. In order to properly provide the reader with a comprehensive understanding of the implications of this Arabic verb, the following example is given.
If a man is in water and the verb sabaha is applied in reference to his movement, it can be understood that he is swimming, moving of his own accord and not as a result of a direct force applied to him. Thus when this verb is used in reference to the sun’s movement through space, it in no way implies that the sun is flying uncontrollably through space as a result of being hurled or the like. It simply means that the sun is turning and rotating as it travels. Now, this is what the Quran affirms, but was it an easy thing to discover? Can any common man tell that the sun is turning? Only in modern times was the equipment made available to project the image of the sun onto a tabletop so that one could look at it without being blinded. And through this process it was discovered that not only are there spots on the sun but that these spots move once every 25 days. This movement is referred to as the rotation of the sun around its axis and conclusively proves that, as the Quran stated 1400 years ago, the sun does, indeed, turn as it travels through space.
And returning once again to the subject of good guesses, the odds of guessing correctly about both subjects - the sex of bees and the movement of the sun - are one in four!
Seeing as back fourteen centuries ago people probably did not understand much about time zones, the Quran’s statements about this subject are considerably surprising. The concept that one family is having breakfast as the sun comes up while another family is enjoying the brisk night air is truly something to be marveled at, even in modern time. Indeed, fourteen centuries ago, a man could not travel more than thirty miles in one day, and thus it took him literally months to travel from India to Morocco, for example. And probably, when he was having supper in Morocco, he thought to himself, “Back home in India they are having supper right now.” This is because he did not realize that, in the process of traveling, he moved across a time zone. Yet, because it is the words of Allah, the All-Knowing, the Quran recognizes and acknowledges such a phenomenon.
In an interesting verse it states that when history comes to an end and the Day of Judgment arrives, it will all occur in an instant; and this very instant will catch some people in the daytime and some people at night. This clearly illustrates Allah’s divine wisdom and His previous knowledge of the existence of time zones, even though such a discovery was non-existent back fourteen centuries ago. Certainly, this phenomenon is not something which is obvious to one’s eyes or a result of one’s experience, and this fact, in itself, suffices as proof of the Quran’s authenticity.
Returning one final time to the subject of good guesses for the purpose of the present example, the odds that someone guessed correctly about all three of the aforementioned subjects - the sex of bees, the movement of the sun and the existence of time zones - are one in eight!
Certainly, one could continue on and on with this example, drawing up longer and longer list of good guesses; and of course, the odds would become higher and higher with each increase of subjects about which one could guess. But what no one can deny is the following: the odds that Muhammad (peace be upon him), an illiterate, guessed correctly about thousands and thousands of subjects, never once making a mistake, are so high that any theory of his authorship of the Quran must be completely dismissed - even by the most hostile enemies of Islam!
Indeed, the Quran expects this kind of challenge. Undoubtedly, if one said to someone upon entering a foreign land, “I know your father. I have met him,” probably the man from that land would doubt the newcomer’s word, saying, “You have just come here. How could you know my father?” As a result, he would question him, “Tell me, is my father tall, short, dark, fair? What is he like?” Of course, if the visitor continued answering all of the questions correctly, the skeptic would have no choice but to say, “I guess you do know my father. I don’t know how you know him, but I guess you do!”
The situation is the same with the Quran. It states that it originates from the One who created everything. So everyone has the right to say, “Convince me! If the author of this book really originated life and everything in the heavens and on the earth, then He should know about this, about that, and so on.” And inevitably, after researching the Quran, everyone will discover the same truths. Additionally, we all know something for sure: we do not all have to be experts to verify what the Quran affirms. One’s Imaan (faith) grows as one continues to check and confirm the truths contained in the Quran. And one is supposed to do so all of his life.
May God (Allah) guide everyone close to the truth. Amen.
An engineer at the University of Toronto who was interested in psychology and who had read something on it, conducted research and wrote a thesis on Efficiency of Group Discussions. The purpose of his research was to find out how much people accomplish when they get together to talk in groups of two, three, ten, etc. The graph of his findings goes up and down at places, but it reaches the highest point at the variable of two. The findings: people accomplish most when they talk in groups of two. Of course, this discovery was entirely beyond his expectations, but it is very old advice given in the Quran (Surah Saba 34:46):
“Say, ‘I exhort you to one thing - that you stand for Allah, [assessing the truth] by twos and singly, and then reflect...’”
Addendum 2: ‘Iram
Additionally, the 89th chapter of the Quran (Surah al-Fajr 89:7) mentions a certain city by the name of ‘Iram (a city of pillars), which was not known in ancient history and which was non- existent as far as historians were concerned. However, the December 1978 edition of National Geographic introduced interesting information which mentioned that in 1973, the city of Elba was excavated in Syria. The city was discovered to be 43 centuries old, but that is not the most amazing part. Researchers found in the library of Elba a record of all of the cities with which Elba had done business. Believe it or not, there on the list was the name of the city of ‘Iram. The people of Elba had done business with the people of ‘Iram!
In conclusion I ask you to consider with care the following (Surah 29:50-51):
“And they say, ‘Why are not signs sent down to him from his Lord?’ Say, ‘Indeed, the signs are with Allah, and I am but a clear warner.’ But it is sufficient for them that We have sent down to you the Book [i.e., Quran] which is rehearsed to them? Verily,in that is mercy and a reminder to people who believe.”