The Verses of Challenge
In Sahih Bukhari, Abu Hurairah (radi Allahu anhu) narrates,
The Prophet said, “Every Prophet was given miracles because of which people believed, but what I have been given, is Divine Inspiration which Allah has revealed to me. So I hope that my followers will outnumber the followers of the other Prophets on the Day of Resurrection.”
The Quran is the greatest miracle, and it is an eternal miracle. Allah azza wa jal issued a challenege in the Quran to anyone that doesn’t believe this – let them try to come with something similar to it. There are five verses in the Quran that challenge people to try to produce something similar to it.
They are in chronological order, as follows:
Say, “If mankind and the jinn gathered in order to produce the like of this Qur’ān, they could not produce the like of it, even if they were to each other assistants.” [17:88]
Or do they say, “He has made it up”? Rather, they do not believe. Then let them produce a statement like it, if they should be truthful. [52:33-34]
Or do they say, “He invented it”? Say, “Then bring ten sūrahs like it that have been invented and call upon [for assistance] whomever you can besides Allāh, if you should be truthful.”[11:13]
Or do they say [about the Prophet], “He invented it?” Say, “Then bring forth a sūrah like it and call upon [for assistance] whomever you can besides Allāh, if you should be truthful.” [10:38]
And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant [Muúammad], then produce a sūrah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than Allāh, if you should be truthful. But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers. [2:23-24]
The majority opinion, and the strongest opinion is that the initial challenge was to produce the Quran. When they weren’t able to do that, Allah changed it to ten surahs, and then one and sealed it. This is the opinion held by ibn Katheer, az-Zarkashee, and as-Suyuti, as well as many others.
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