Answering Common Muslim Claims: The Quran's Ultimate Test of Inspiration
I had hoped to title this article “Moose, Muhammad, Superman, and Me!” However, I thought it wiser to name it more appropriately “The Quran’s Ultimate Test of Inspiration,” and so it is.
The Test would be to find out if the Quran was truly inspired of Allah. But before we discuss the main topic, I hope to introduce the subject by taking you back to my schoolboy days! When I was in elementary school, there was a big boy nicknamed "Moose." He was very big, and he was very, very strong. He was one of the best football players, and everyone wanted him on their side while playing dodgeball. Moose could do more pull-ups than anyone in the school, he could do more push-ups than anyone, and the fact is, he could bully anyone that he wanted. (I found out later that he had been held back for two years. But that is beside the point of this story.)
When I was in the 6th grade, Moose started calling himself "Superman." In my small sixth-grade mind, I assumed that he actually believed he was Superman, and, well… I just wouldn’t have it.
So, one day, I chided him for saying he was Superman, and assured him that he was, in fact… not Superman. He then began to challenge me back. He told me he was Superman, and after a few choice words, he said that he could prove it. He said he would challenge me to a duel of sorts.
He knew I wouldn’t fight him, and he had been in enough trouble that fighting was probably not going to be in his best interest anyway. So the challenge he gave me was this: "If you can do more pull-ups than me, then you are right, and I will admit that I am not Superman. But if you cannot do more pull-ups than me, then it is true—I am Superman, and you will have to admit it.
So, we agreed. We set the date for the following Friday afternoon at recess.
I went home and started trying to do pull-ups, and started going to the monkey bars during recess to practice. My buddy Brian kept telling me I was silly, and assured me that no matter who won, it wouldn’t really prove anything. But I wouldn’t listen.
Friday finally came, and the stage was set. Moose had found some of his friends to be judges of the “Superman pull-up contest.” And soon, it was time to begin.
Recess! Friday afternoon... “Superman Challenge”…ON!
Moose dropped, dangled, and raised… dropped, dangled and raised…dropped and raised… He did 14 pull-ups in a row, and on number 15 he stopped. Now, up until that time I had only done 10 meager and struggling pull-ups... but it was my turn, and I would show him!
So I began, up…down, ONE... Up… down, TWO… Up…down, THREE... I got to 6 and I was feeling strong, stronger than when I was practicing. Up…down….sev… But then one of the judges said, “Nope, that doesn’t count!” Bewildered, I pulled up again, and this time I made sure my chin was all the way over the bar. Another judge said, “No, that doesn’t count—you still only have 6." So again I pulled up, my chin over the bar, and one of the judges said, “Nope… you are done, that doesn’t count.” “C’mon down,” they said.
I saw Brian out of the corner of my eye…shaking his head, because he could see what was going on, as much as I could. We both knew the jig was up, and that no matter if I did more than 14 pull-ups, no matter if I did 50 pull ups—since his friends were the judges, it didn’t matter how many pull-ups I actually did, I would lose, because of the extreme bias against me since Moose’s pals were the judges.
Needless to say, I lost; he won...and he proclaimed once and for all that he was Superman. And unfortunately, against everything I knew to be the truth… I had to begrudgingly say that he was indeed Superman.
There were plenty of things that I did wrong. In fact my whole way of thinking was flawed.
- First, no matter who did more pull ups, that would not establish whether or not either of us was Superman.
- Second, it is silly to claim that a person is Superman (supposing him to be real) and to prove it by a contest of strength.
- Third, it was incredibly unfair, and a very foolish agreement, considering that the "judges" of the contest were Moose's friends.
I know what you are thinking, how silly, foolish, and simple-minded sixth-grade boys are to act in such a fashion. And yet, you probably understand it, and may have had a good chuckle at such a silly situation between little boys.
Enter Muhammad! (Yes, that Muhammad.)
The challenge is to prove that he is inspired by God, and that the Quran is his revelation! Here is the challenge: “I am inspired, and to prove that I am inspired, I challenge you to write a single passage that is as excellent as any writing found in the Quran!”
The exact passage in the Quran is:
And if ye are in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a surah of the like thereof, and call your witness beside Allah if ye are truthful. And if ye do it not - and ye can never do it - then guard yourselves against the Fire prepared for disbelievers, whose fuel is of men and stones.Surah 2:23-24
Notice the instruction from Allah: If you are in doubt about whether or not Allah actually sent word to Muhammad, then the challenge is: Just try to write a surah (chapter) that would equal it!
So, can any person today (or ever) write a chapter that is as great as any single chapter in the Quran? For reference, we will simply pick a random chapter from the Quran to see the “Ultimate Standard” that is set for us.
Quran chapter 108:
Indeed, We have granted you, [O Muhammad], al-Kawthar.
So pray to your Lord and sacrifice [to Him alone].
Indeed, your enemy is the one cut off.
For sake of space we will only list that one complete chapter, although there are plenty more we could list.
Could any writing that has ever been written match those "incredibly beautiful" words? Of course we could quote passages of scripture from the Old and New Testaments to show that there are much, much greater passages than those found in the Quran (Psalm 23, Isaiah 53, Matthew 5-7, 1 Corinthians 13 etc.).
However, some might argue back, that they would agree that these are also inspired writings. So, we then must find some writing that is definitely uninspired, or perhaps even write something that is uninspired, that could rival those "majestic" words in the Quran.
In a book entitled A Book of Jewish Thought, on page 213 a Jewish Rabbi (Rabbi Hertz) included the words of a Jewish poet named Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai as part of the hymnology used in association with Pentecost. Here are the words:
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
You can be the judge of these two passages, as to which you believe is the more beautiful writing! Again, we could write and quote line upon line, and show that indeed people can write better passages than those found in the Quran. There are numerous examples to prove this fact. But, to be honest—I learned my lesson in the sixth grade!
- First, no matter who writes a better passage, that does not prove either one to be inspired.
- Second, it is silly to claim to be inspired, and try to prove it by one’s ability to write—essentially having a writing contest.
- Third, it would be incredibly unfair and foolish to agree to such a challenge, when the judges of the contest would all be Muslim, and friends of Muhammad.
I know what you are thinking. How silly, foolish, and simple-minded for sixth-grade boys—scratch that… adult, grown, mature, “spiritually minded” men, to act in such a fashion. And indeed it was, and it is!
That is not how inspiration is to be proven. Men of God have always had an absolute standard of proof. And these silly games are not part of God’s proofs of inspiration. God gave His people the main test to find out if one is a true prophet:
And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.(Deuteronomy 18:21-22)
He basically says: “If you want to know whether or not to trust a person who claims to be a prophet, if what he says comes true, then he was a true prophet. But if he misses—if even one single time he prophesies and it does not come to pass, then he is not a true prophet.”
Seriously? It is quite silly to argue for inspiration with an idea such as “You cannot write as well as me, therefore I am inspired.”
Suppose Usain Bolt claimed that he is inspired by God, because he runs faster than anyone in the world ever has. To carry on with the Quran’s ideology, he would then say “If you think I am not inspired, then challenge me to a race, if you cannot run faster, then I am inspired by God.” He might go one step further, as Muslims have over the years, and similarly say, “After the race, I will get my pals together, and we will watch the video of the race and we will pronounce who the winner is!”
Would Muslims agree that this type of reasoning proves that Usain Bolt is inspired by Allah? Absolutely not! Yet, they fully trust that if a person does not have the ability to write a passage as well as some passage in the Quran, then it automatically proves inspiration. Yet, it is simply foolish to conclude such.
The fact that this claim is found in the Quran should at the very least cause one to be suspicious that it was inspired by God. It smacks of human reasoning—in fact it smacks of 6th grade schoolboy reasoning.
Friends, just because Moose could do more pull-ups than me, that did not prove that he was Superman. And supposing it is the case (which it clearly is not) that no one could write anything as "great" as the Quran, that does not prove that it is inspired by God!