Grammatical errors in Quran
Fatwa No: 81188

  • Fatwa Date:16-8-1999 - Jumaadaa Al-Oula 5, 1420
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Question

I have come across a website which says that there are grammatical errors in Quran. I would highly appreciate it if you can give the answer to this allegation.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

 

May Allaah reward you for your deep concern for the Quran and Islam and enable you to help Islam and Muslims through your efforts. The Quran is in the pure Arabic language, nobody could challenge the Quran in the period of Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) when they were well-known for their literary prowess and were peerless orators. How could people imagine now, after centuries, that they have suddenly discovered grammatical errors in Quran? Such an attack is a futile attempt by its very nature, to any person with a minimal knowledge of the Arabic language and its history.

If a person writes an article claiming that a concrete beam has been designed incorrectly, we expect him to be qualified in the field he is discussing, and that he passes its most basic tests. However, if we find in his article obvious and repeated errors in simple mathematical operations like addition and multiplication, we conclude that he does not have the minimal qualifications to discuss the subject. We are not claiming expertise in the Arabic language, nor are we requiring it for unrelated subjects, such as history or mathematics. We believe that a critic in any subject must pass its preliminary tests, otherwise his discussions would not deserve any consideration.

Our point is this: while reading through sources that attack Islam on this issue, we were surprised to find elementary errors in the Arabic language that prove beyond the least doubt, that the person writing them would not pass elementary grade. To mention just one "eliminating" factor: the recurring interchange of the Arabic letters "Zaay" and "Thaal" in the very pages where the grammar of the Quran is criticized. Enemies of Islam who are well versed in the Arabic language have usually avoided the topic of the Arabic language, as they know better. The attacks that occurred are proven to originate from people not even qualified to discuss it (as mentioned above, and as will be shown below). Yet we have decided to discuss the issue anyway, for the benefit of the curious reader.

From a historical perspective, due to the singular feature of "Juthoor" (deriving words from root meanings) and "Tasreef" (morphology) of the Arabic language, the early Arabs used to derive the words and compose sentences according to rules that they knew first-hand. They would judge a person's literary abilities by his dexterity with the language and how well he used its features to construct words and sentences. The people known to be the most proficient in Arabic were the Arab Bedouins. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) was raised away from the city in the Baadiyah (the dwelling place of the desert Arabs), as was the norm then, specifically to acquire the superior rules of the language.

The oratorical style of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) was testified by his contemporaries and by later analysts to be the most eloquent among Arabs, yet it was still "human". However, when the Quran was revealed, its literary style was recognized by many to be beyond the powers of man. Several Arabs and especially "Bedouins" accepted Islam only upon hearing the Quran. This is history, annotated and related with an authenticity far superior to the Bible and the New Testament (and we challenge comparison on any level, provided it is rational).

Chapter Al-Kawthar was written on a wall (the smallest Chapter of the Quran). Upon reading it, a man wrote next to it: Maa haatha bi-qawlil bashar (this is not human speech). This is a qualified testimony, not that of a person who cannot even differentiate between "Za'y" and "Tha". Another instance is that of a desert Arab who accepted Islam upon hearing the verse (which means): {"Then declare what you are commanded and turn away from the polytheists."} [Quran, 15:94]. He was asked for the reason and he answered that there was no word in the whole Arabic language stronger to use in that specific instance than "fasda`" (the literal meaning of "fasda`" is "crack down", which implies total submission far beyond normal obedience).

The enemies of Prophet Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) attempted to seize any opportunity to attack this claim of credibility – this is a well known fact in history. If they had spotted the least flaw in any grammatical construct of the Quran, they would have jumped at the opportunity and the Companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them would themselves have deserted Islam in masses, as the Arabic language and poetry were the foremost and dearest facets of their culture. Whether pondering alone, happy or sad, rejoicing or complaining, remembering a loved one, proposing for marriage, addressing a group of people, praising somebody, addressing an opposing army before battle, criticizing an enemy, undergoing mortal torture, moaning at their death beds, the Arabs' favored mode of expression was through poetry (unlike any other culture).

Thus, any text purporting to be revealed from Allaah The Almighty needed to pass their uncompromising scrutiny. The opposite was the case as witnessed by history, as even those who refused to accept Islam, implicitly accepted the supernatural literary nature of the Quran and confirmed that it was beyond the powers of man to produce it. How then, did they explain it to themselves and maintain their rejection? Simply by saying that it was witchcraft and that they were bewitched by it (thus implicitly accepting its unparalleled superiority). Although this approach is invalid and reprehensible in itself, this is by far a more sophisticated attempt at discrediting the Quran than citing imaginary mistakes, grammar and literature.

Allaah Knows best.

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