You would be told: If it had been possible some people would have striven to do so since the provocations were [severe] and the need was intense. And if they had disputed it, it would have been known, for it was much sought after and there were many reasons for its being known. And if it had become known, there would have been many who supported [such an attempt to dispute it], and to defend it, and they would have said that it had been disputed, particularly at that time. And had there been opposers and defenders, even if only out of bigotry, it would have become famous, for it was a matter of great import. And if it had been famous, it would have been reported in the chronicles, just as they reported the ravings of Musaylima [the Liar] when he said [in imitation of the Qur’an]: “An elephant, what is an elephant? How can you recognize an elephant? It has a short tail and long trunk.”
• If you were to ask: Musaylima was an eloquent orator, so how is it that his words have been so mocked and scorned by people?
You would be told: Because he was [his words were] compared with something far higher than himself. Haven’t you noticed that if someone is compared with Yūsuf (Joseph) (Upon whom be peace), he appears ugly even though he may be good looking? It is therefore not possible to dispute the Qur’an, so it must be miraculous.
• If you were to ask: The sceptics have voiced many objections and doubts on grammatical grounds about the Qur’an’s phrases and words, such as, “in hādhān – these two,”(20:62) “al-ṣābi‘ūna – Sabeans,(5:69) and “alladhī istawqaḍa nāran – who kindle a fire”(2:17)?
You would be told: You should consult the conclusion of al-Sakkākī’s al-Miftāḥ, for he effectively silences [such objectors] saying: “Don’t they understand that a person whose eloquently correct speech is unanimously acknowledged would know whether or not what he had repeatedly stated over a long period of time contained the errors noticed it by unthinking people like them?”
The second aspect of the verse’s positioning [and relationship
with the previous verses]:
When the previous verse commands worship, the listener asks in his mind: “How should we worship?” And it as though answers: “As the Qur’an teaches you!” So then the person asks: “How can we know that it’s the word of Allah the Most High?” And it replies saying: “And if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed, step by step, to Our servant...”(2:23)