It has been Allaah the Most High's way that whenever He sends a prophet, He gives that prophet certain miracles and signs to prove his prophethood to his people (for example, the miracles of Moses and Jesus).
In the case of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), he was given the Qur'an as the ultimate proof of his prophethood. Note, however, that it wasn't the only miracle of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), but it is the only one which is permanent i.e. not restricted to a particular time or place. It is a miracle for all generations after the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to see and realise.
We can therefore appreciate that there must be something about the Qur'an that makes it stand out from all other scriptures proclaimed to be divine, something that indicates it is the truth, something that proves it is indeed the very Words of Allaah (swt).
The beauty of the Qur'an is that it is not miraculous in only one facet, but rather from all facets and angles that one can look at it. Thus the miraculous nature of the Qur'an cannot be limited to one list. Examples of these are the following:
1. The language and style of the Qur'an
2. The incapability to produce anything similar to it by the disbelievers during the Prophet's (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) time and those after them.
3. The stories and accounts of the nations and prophets of old, since the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had no recourse to such information.
4. The predictions which occurred in the Qur'an, and which later came true
5. The perfect belief of Monotheism - the attribution of all that befits Allaah and the negation of all that does not befit Him, and the call of the Creator to the created to worship Him. All of this is not possible for a human to bring forth unless he was inspired by Allaah.
6. The laws and sharee'ah that the Qur'an came with, and the morals and conduct that it called for. All of this leads to the betterment of life in this world and in the Hereafter. The perfection of a set of laws that can be applied to any society at any time and place is humanly impossible, and the sharee'ah is the only example of such a set of laws.
7. Scientific facts mentioned in the Qur'an that were unknown at that time.
8. The fact that it has been protected and remained unchanged over such a long period of time, despite the fact that all other religious books have been distorted.
9. The compilation of the Qur'an and the diligence with which all the knowledge essential for its understanding has been preserved (such as the causes of revelation behind specific verses, verses revealed in Makkah/Madeenah, abrogation etc.)
10. The miraculous nature of the various ways and manners of reciting the Qur'an (the ahruf and qira'aat).
11. The ease by which it is memorised, and this is known by experience and observance.This is in contrast to all other religious books, for none of them are memorised like the Qur'an.
12. The deep meanings that are present inside it, and the fact that a reader never tires of reading the Qur'an, no matter how many times he has heard it or read it. This is in contrast to any other book, since a person cannot read it more than a few times without it getting monotonous and mundane.
13. The impact that the Qur'an has on those who hear it and the euphonious quality of the Qur'an.
The Quran is the backbone of Islam. On this Sacred Book of Allaah depends the Islamic call, state, society and the civilisation of the Muslim world. It is the last Divine revelation, which was sent down to Prophet Muhammad , the last and final of all Prophets, may Allaah exalt their mention. His task was to convey the message of worshipping the One God, Allaah, without ascribing any partners to Him. The Noble Quran, which is the source of guidance and mercy to mankind, is divided into one hundred and fourteen (114) Soorahs (chapters) of varying lengths. Ninety-three chapters were revealed in Makkah, while the remaining twenty-one were revealed in Madeenah.
The first revelation that the Prophet received was Soorat Al-'Alaq, which was in Makkah where Soorat An-Najm was to later became the first to be recited openly to the people. In Madeenah, Soorat Al-Mutaffifeen was the first one revealed after the Hijrah (migration). The Prophet had to flee to Madeenah to save his own life and the lives of his followers, upon the command of Allaah.
The last verse sent down to the Prophet was the saying of Allaah which means: “…This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion...” [Quran: 5:3]
Some chapters in the Quran focus on the call to Islam as guidance for humanity. They focus upon monotheism and the fight against polytheism and idolatry. Thus, stress is laid on all that is related to faith. In other chapters, attention is given to legislation, acts of worship, relationships among people and the laws that regulate matters within the Muslim community, government, and family.
A number of chapters inform about Resurrection, the Hereafter and the unseen; others relate the stories of various prophets and their calls to their people to return to Allaah. We see how the previous nations were severely punished when they disobeyed Allaah and denied the messages of previous prophets, may Allaah exalt their mention.
In addition, several chapters focus on the story of creation and the development of human life. In fact, Makkan revelations made the Muslims' faith in Allaah firmly established. On the other hand, Madeenan revelations were meant to translate the faith into action and give details of the Divine Law.
Allaah will forever preserve the Quran against all attempts to destroy or corrupt it. Being guarded by Allaah, it will always remain pure. There does not exist a single copy with any variation from the recognised text.
Any attempt of alteration has resulted in failure.
Upon the command of the Prophet his Companions would write down what was revealed of the Noble Quran. They used, for this purpose, palm branches stripped of leaves, parchments, shoulder bones, stone tablets, etc. About forty people were involved in this task. Among them was Zayd Ibn Thaabit who showed his work to the Prophet . Thus, the Quran was correctly arranged during the Prophet’s life, but it was not yet compiled into one book. In the meantime, most of the Prophet’s Companions memorised the Quran.
When Abu Bakr became Caliph after the Prophet died, a large number of the Companions were killed during the War of Apostasy. 'Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab went to the Caliph and discussed the idea of compiling the Quran into one volume. He was disturbed, as most of those who memorised it had died. Then, Abu Bakr called for Zayd and commissioned him to collect the Quran into one book, which became known as the 'Mus-haf.'
After Zayd accomplished this great task and organized the Quran into one book, he submitted the precious collection to Abu Bakr who kept it in his possession until the end of his life. During the caliphate of 'Umar it was kept with his daughter Hafsah who was also a wife of the Prophet .
During the Caliphate of 'Uthmaan Islam reached many countries, and readers began to recite the Quran in different ways (dialects). 'Uthmaan then had various copies made and sent them out to the different Muslim lands, lest these dialects would cause alterations to the Quran, and kept the original copy with Hafsah . Thus, the Quran remained preserved and the Caliph was very much pleased with his achievement.
Today, every copy of the Quran conforms with the standard copy of 'Uthmaan . In fact, Muslims over the ages excelled in producing the best manuscripts of the Noble Quran in the most wonderful handwriting. With the introduction of printing, more and more editions of the Noble Quran became available all over the world.
The Quran is truly a living miracle. Going deeper into it, one finds amazing characteristics from every perspective.
1. In Language
The Arabs of the 6th and 7th centuries CE were masters of the Arabic language. Eloquence and rhetoric were their lifeblood. The liveliness that marked their gatherings, the gaiety of their fairs, and the virtues of which they boasted, all found expression through poetry and literature. They were so proud of their literary accomplishments that they disdainfully dubbed all the other peoples of the world as “’Ajam” or “Dumb.” It was in this atmosphere that there appeared on the scene an unlettered person, Muhammad . He presented before them an oration, and declared it to be the Word of Allaah, which claimed (what means):
“If mankind and the jinn were to gather together to produce the like of this Quran, they could never produce the like thereof, even if they backed up one another.” [Quran 17:88]
Such a proclamation was an amazing thing. It came from a person who had never learned anything from the renowned poets and scholars of the time, had never recited even a single piece of poetry in their congregations, and never attended the company of soothsayers. And far from composing any poetry himself, he did not even remember the verses of other poets. This proclamation, repeated several times in the Quran, was therefore the greatest challenge to their literary expertise, and at the same time a fatal stab at their polytheist creed and beliefs. Following this, a hush fell over the whole galaxy of these stirring orators and fiery poets. Not a soul stepped forward to accept the challenge of producing the like of the Quran. They persecuted the Prophet called him insane, a sorcerer, poet and soothsayer, but failed utterly in composing even a few sentences like the Quranic verses. To this day, the challenge has remained unmet, although throughout history and even in modern times, many people have made feeble attempts to do so.
2. In Prophecies
Among other things, the Quran contains prophecies of future events, many of which have come to pass. We reproduce here a discussion of one such prophecy, which was fulfilled within the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad .
While the Prophet was still in Makkah, after having been entrusted with prophethood, and was being subjected to all sorts of persecutions by the Makkan idolaters, exactly at the same time the two great powers of Rome and Persia were involved in repeated wars. The Romans were beaten, vanquished and suffered a great loss in men and material. At last, the Romans were so utterly exhausted that, far from being in a position to launch a counter-attack, they could not even take a firm stand anywhere. This situation was a matter of jubilation for the pagans of Arabia, as they identified the Persians, being fire-worshippers, with themselves and the Romans, as “people of the Book,” with the Muslims. In their eyes, the dominance of the Persians, presaged their own victory and the defeat of the Muslims. It was under these circumstances that these initial verses of the chapter called Ar-Room (The Romans) were revealed (which mean):
“…The Romans have been defeated, in the land close by. And after (this) defeat of theirs, they will soon be victorious within a few years. To Allaah belongs the command before and after and on that day the Believers will rejoice in Allaah’s help…” [Quran 30:2-4]
For those who were aware of the military situation concerning the Romans and Persians, this prediction was absolutely incredible. In fact, the Persians kept marching forward until they reached the city walls of the Roman capital, Constantinople. The renowned historian Edward Gibbon has commented on this prediction thus:
“When this prophecy was made, no prediction could be more unbelievable because the initial twelve years of Heraclius were evidently declaring an end to the Roman Empire.” [Fall of the Roman Empire, v.5, p.73-74]
But exactly seven years after his first defeat, the Roman emperor sallied forth from the capital and inflicted crushing defeats on the Persians at several places, and after that the Roman armies were victorious everywhere.
Meanwhile, a large number of Muslims had migrated to Al-Madeenah and their wars with the idolaters of Makkah had already begun. The day on which 313 ill-equipped Muslims were decisively beating their enemy -- 1000 heavily armed Makkan warriors -- at the battlefield of Badr, came the news that the Romans had defeated the Persians. It was then realized that the Quranic verse, (which means): “…on that day the Believers will rejoice in Allaah’s help” [Quran 30: 4-5] was meant to denote the twin happiness of the Romans’ victory as well as their own victory at Badr.
3. In Science and History
Apart from prophecies, the Quran has pointed out many scientific and historical facts which were not only unknown at that time, but could not even be imagined given the development of civilization. Entire books have been written (by both Muslims and non-Muslims) confirming the correspondence of scientific discoveries to the truths expressed in the Quran. Again, we suffice here with two examples:
The Quran has stated that as Fir’awn (Pharaoh) was drowning in the sea he made a confession of faith orally, just to save his life. In response, Allaah Said (what means):
“What! Now? And indeed before this you did rebel and were of the corrupt. So this day We shall rescue you with your body that you may be a sign to those who come after you.” [Quran 10: 91-92]
At the time of revelation of this verse, and even centuries afterwards, nobody knew that the body of Fir’awn had been preserved, but it has been discovered only recently and is preserved in a museum at Cairo.
The Quran has stated (what means): “And of everything We have created pairs that you may take heed.” [Quran 51: 49]
When this verse was revealed, the general concept was that male and female pairs existed only among human beings and animals or in some vegetation. However, with the advancement of science, the Quranic reality is becoming manifest that male and female pairs exist in everything. In some instances they are termed as male and female, and elsewhere as positive and negative, as electron and proton, or neutron and positron. In another verse, the Quran has also clarified that the occurrence in pairs in many other things is still unknown to people. It says (what means):
“Glorified be He Who created pairs of all things which the earth grows, and of themselves (humans), and of that which they know not.” [Quran 36: 36]
4. A Miracle For Us!
Looking back through history, it has been observed that the prophets, may Allaah exalt their mention, were sent with miracles that reflected the society and knowledge of the people they were sent to. Thus, Moosaa (Moses) was sent with a staff that truly turned into a snake, baffling the trickster magicians of the Pharaoh. ’Eesaa (Jesus) was given the power to cure diseases and give life to the dead, astonishing the Jewish doctors who felt proud of their limited knowledge of healing, and who had begun to disregard and deny the supernatural powers of God.
Similarly, the Quran was an immediate miracle for the Arabs so many years ago, since it challenged and far surpassed the limits of their literary expression. Unlike the miracles of previous prophets, which were only applicable for a limited time, to this day the Quran -- the Final Testament given to the Last Prophet -- is still a relevant miracle for humanity and will remain so as long as the world exists. We live in an age of science and technology, of knowledge, logic, and reason. Yet, in spite of all the human advancement in every sphere of life, the principles of the Quran have not been proven wrong nor have they become “out-of-date.” This is really the great miracle of the Quran, it has proven itself a timeless, universal message for humankind, relevant to every facet of our life — be it politics, economics, ethics, science, literature, arts or entertainment. In fact, even non-Muslim scholars have admitted that the entire “Western” civilization today, thriving from the “rebirth of humanity” (i.e. the “Renaissance”), would not have been so, had it not been for the message brought by Muhammad . As the celebrated English writer, Robert Briffault, says in The Making of Humanity:
“The ideas of freedom for all human beings, of human brotherhood, of the equality of all men before the law of democratic government, by consultation and universal suffrage, the ideas that inspired the French Revolution and the Declaration of Rights, that guided the framing of the American Constitution and inflamed the struggle for independence in the Latin-American countries were not inventions of the West. They find their ultimate inspiration and source in the Holy Quran. They are the quintessence of what the intelligentsia of medieval Europe acquired from Islam over a period of centuries through the various societies that developed in Europe in the wake of the Crusades in imitation of the brotherhood associations of Islam. It is highly probable that but for the Arabs, modern European civilization would never have arisen at all, it is absolutely certain that but for them, it would never have assumed that character which has enabled it to transcend all previous phases of evolution.”