sab‘a), inscribed in gold [hanging] on the walls of the Ka‘ba. Despite their being eloquent orators – the commanders of rhetoric and eloquence and rulers of correct Arabic – they could not dispute the Qur’an nor utter a single word in argument, despite the severe taunts of the Messenger (UWBP) and his rebuking and chiding them, and discrediting their intelligence, and provoking them over a long period, and his humiliating them although some of their orators’ heads touched the skies in their pride and others reached the stars. So if they had not wanted to dispute [the Qur’an] and put it to the test and if they had not been aware of their impotence, they surely would not have remained silent. Their total inability [to dispute the Qur’an] was therefore proof of its miraculousness and inimitability.
The Second Way: Punctillious scholars and critics with knowledge of all the parts of speech and their properties and fine points, have studied the Qur’an sura by sura, passage by passage, verse by verse, and word by word, and they have testified that it brings together truths, qualities, and subtleties not found all together in human speech. There are thousands of such [scholars]. Evidence for the veracity of their testimony are the momentous changes that the Qur’an wrought in the world of humanity, and the widespread religion it founded, and its perpetuating down the ages what it contains of the sciences, and its growing younger as time grows older, and its becoming sweeter the more it is repeated. Hence “It is only revelation inspired.”(53:4)
The Third Way: As is pointed out by al-Jāḥiẓ, despite the intense need of the masters of oratory and rhetoric to invalidate and frustrate the Messenger’s (Upon whom be peace) cause, and in spite of their hatred of him and obduracy, they gave up disputing him verbally, which was the safest, easiest, and most direct way, and they took up arms against him, despite this being the most difficult and lengthy way, beset with dangers and of uncertain end. Moreover, their political acumen was such that the differences between these two ways could not have escaped them. So the person who avoided the first way although it was possible [to attempt it] and would have been more effective at thwarting the [Messenger’s] cause, and took the way that threw his property and life into peril, must have been either stupid – and this could not be ascribed to those who ruled the world after they were rightly-guided – or he felt powerless to take the former way and was compelled to take the latter.
• If you were to ask: It was possible to dispute [the Qur’an], but perhaps for some reason or other it was not attempted?