and immediately prostrated. They asked him: “Have you become a Muslim?” “No,” he replied, “I was prostrating before the eloquence of this verse.”
Thousands of scholars and litterateurs, like geniuses of the science of rhetoric such as ‘Abd al-Qahir Jurjani, Sakkaki, and Zamakhshari, have unanimously decided that the eloquence of the Qur’an is beyond human capacity and is unattainable.
The Qur’an has also from that time forward invited to the field of combat all arrogant and egoistic litterateurs and rhetoricians, and said to them in a manner calculated to break their arrogance: “Come, produce a single sura like it, or else accept perdition and humiliation in this world and the hereafter.” Despite this challenge, the obstinate rhetoricians of that age abandoned the short path of producing a single sura like the Qur’an, and instead chose the long path of casting their persons and property into danger. This proves that the short path cannot be taken.
Millions of Arabic books are in circulation, some written by friends of the Qur’an in order to resemble and imitate it, others written by its enemies in order to confront and criticize it. Not one of them has been able to attain the level of the Qur’an. Should a common man even listen to them, he is sure to say: “The Qur’an does not resemble these other books, nor is it in the same class as they. It must be either below them or above them.” No one —no unbeliever or fool— in the world can say that it is below them. Hence its degree of eloquence is above all of them. Once a man read the verse,
All that is in the heavens and the earth extols and glorifies God.1
He said: “I cannot see any miraculous eloquence in this verse.” He was told: “Go back to that age like the traveller, and listen to the verse as recited there.” Imagining himself to be there before the revelation of the Qur’an, he saw that all the beings in the world were living in an unstable, transient world in empty, infinite and unbounded space, in confusion and darkness, lifeless and without consciousness and purpose. Suddenly he heard this verse proclaimed by the tongue of the Qur’an and the verse removed a veil from in front of the universe and illumined the face of the globe; this pre-eternal speech, this eternal decree, gave instruction to all conscious beings, drawn up in the ranks of succeeding centuries, in such fashion that the cosmos became like a vast mosque. All of creation headed by the heavens and the earth, was engaged in vital remembrance of God and proclamation of His glory, was joyously and contentedly fulfilling its function.