In any debate, the challenger demands proof and the one challenged usually responds with evidence. For the debate to conclude there must be agreement on the validity of the evidence provided as proof. Since, the challenger initiates the challenge then he must come forward and state what type of evidence constitutes as adequate proof. Failing that, the challenger has to provide an explanation why the evidence submitted does not constitute adequate proof.
Accordingly, when challengers wish to contest facts accepted by more than a billion people: the divinity of the Quran, they must advise what evidence is accepted by all parties as constituting proof, at the same time making their challenge; a reasonable mind can see the impossible moving target of trying to build proofs which are not accepted by both parties as evidence.
For tangible objects, the process is easy because it can be verified by the human senses, by either repeated observation (Astronomy) or a controlled experiment (Physics, Chemistry etc), and thus independent of any bias. As an example, to prove that a certain object is a motor car, then it is simply a matter of demonstrating - in a process of repeated observations and experimentation - that the essential characteristics of a car, such as engine, wheels, motion etc are present in the object. Take another example, when we see a horse through our senses of sight, we recognise it and accept it at once, because the criteria of what constitutes a horse are already ingrained in our minds, being extracted and abstracted from previous experiences and some conventional linguistic assignments.
However unlike tangible objects: historical events, philosophical questions like the purpose of life, morality, ethics and laws cannot be proven with just sense perception, or with empirical science. You cannot resurrect the battles of Hannibal or Alexander in a laboratory, and none of us witnessed these events. Neither science nor our senses can be used to distinguish between right and wrong. For example, is adultery immoral or is it simply an expression of personal freedom? Is capital punishment or a light prison sentence adequate retribution for murder? Science tells us how reproduction takes place, but cannot tell us the boundaries of with whom you should reproduce.
In the above-mentioned issues, it is a matter of conviction based on the evidences and arguments presented; most human beings are encompassed within a spectrum that goes from blind-faith to absolute conviction.
Often I am asked by arrogant and irrational people who call themselves freethinkers to prove historical events using empirical science. As if every aspect of their lives is governed by empirical science, or they only accept information verified directly by sense perception. Can you resurrect the dead, and ask them to give you a replay of the historical events in a laboratory environment repeatedly? How does a thinking being pose such a question? Perhaps the self-praised label of freethinkers actually reflects their insecurity or inability to think. Hence, they need to tell the world of their ability to think, it is not an irony but an accurate reflection of their mindset.
So people ask: what is the proof that the Quran is divine? Those who ask can be categorised into two camps: genuine-explorers open to debate and the witless-agitators much like pseudo freethinkers, products of personal traumas or scars, who are only interested in all that is negative about the subject.
The former group will usually pose investigative questions; be presented with evidence and debate, and be open to having views or interpretations be adjusted based on the prevailing evidence as true investigators with an open mind. In contrast, the witless-agitators will dismiss any evidence presented. Some of them will try to challenge the evidence, but when they find that the evidence is composed of complete and consistent arguments, then they are forced to run for the hills, either into digression or fall off the edge of an intellectual cliff into absurdity to avoid the uncomfortable truth of a possible adjustment to their prejudices, or losing their opportunities to mock and/or undermine the conviction in Quran being of divine origin.
Therefore, the witless-agitators as cynical challengers should tell us first what would constitute adequate proof to demonstrate that the Quran originates from a divine source. They should elaborate how they came to establish those criteria in the first place, given that many of them do not believe in the divine and none of them has any proven experience of being a Prophet of God. Only then, we can attempt to give them a satisfactory answer, otherwise, no matter what evidence is presented, the witless-agitators have the monopoly position of being simply able to dismiss the evidences without any justification. The witless-agitators can only accept or refuse the evidence we present but they are not in a position to state that we have not provided adequate proof, because nobody has defined what would be adequate proof in the first place.
First step towards answering the question, if the Quran is divine: is to pose the counter question - is the Quran the work of any known human being? Indeed let us ask the very obvious and pertinent question: Who is the author of this Arabic Book that altered the course of history in a manner that is unprecedented in human history? There is no like Arabic book of such impact, prior or after Islam, yet it was brought forward by one simple shepherd and it has now over one billion followers and growing. They are reciting it daily and memorizing it. So let us examine if the Quran was indeed the work of any human being(s).
There is unanimous agreement that this Book (Al-Quran) is not a translation from another scripture written in a foreign language. Furthermore, there is no dispute that it is an Arabic book, and the Quran itself testifies to this point. Anyone disputing this must bring forward the counter evidence; otherwise, it is just a wild speculation on their part. The counter-evidence must present at least the non-Arabic original, or substantial parts there-of, with irrefutable archaeological evidence proving its earlier date!
If the book is an Arabic book, it is rational to exclude non-Arabs or anyone who does not have a good command of the Arabic language. Therefore, non-Arabic speakers are eliminated by reason. Reality shows that nobody can produce even a small formal document or even a letter with punctuation and grammar without any formal education.
So did the Arabs of the time write it? Clearly not, as the contents of the Quran diametrically opposed their way of life, it attacked and threatened their social and economic structure. Naturally, leaders of Arab tribes took steps to curtail the message of the Quran by discrediting it, applying severe pressure on Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and viciously persecuting his followers. Remember that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his followers were subject to severe prosecution, torture, sanctions and embargo for the first thirteen years of his mission. Some of his followers were martyred in the process and a hundred, or so, were forced to flee their homeland seeking refuge and protection for the Abyssinian king. Even after their immigration to Medina, the newly founded Islamic State was under steady attack for its first five years. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his followers gained the upper hand only in the last five years of his life and mission.
No Arab came forward to claim authorship either, since Arabic literature, eloquence, rhetoric and poetry were at their peak , they easily recognised the power of the Quran and anyone claiming to be its author would be recognised and celebrated. Why the real author would conceal his or her identity and not take credit for this shockingly unique work, which was causing havoc in the pagan Arab society culminating into confrontation and war?! Even the most hostile critics of Islam have not advocated this as an argument. Secondly, the Quran actually challenged the Arab nation to produce even one chapter like those of the Quran, what would be the motive for someone doing that while concealing his identity? In fact, this would provide a perfect opportunity to gain fame, money and power.
That leaves only one other remaining sensible possibility: Did Prophet Muhammad (SAW) write the Quran, as many Orientalists over the years have claimed and tried to prove. In fact, during the life of the Prophet (SAW) and after His death, no Arab ever claimed Prophet Muhammad was the author of the Quran. How could he be? How can a publicly recognised illiterate shepherd, who has no history of entering any of the poetry contests regularly held in Arabia , suddenly produce a book that is so powerful in terms of its composition, structure, internal musical rhythm and meaning covering such a wide variety of subjects? Later we will examine some of these amazing aspects of the Quran in detail.
As a matter of fact there are a number of mutually corroborating narrations, reporting various independent incidents, as to produce certitude that he, Prophet Muhammad (SAW), did not possess a "musical ear" and that he was incapable of reciting any verse of poetry without breaking its rhythm and/or meter, save for the simplest songs and nursery rhymes.
The only allegation ever recorded, was made by the Pagan Arabs, that the Prophet was uttering the Quran after having been tutored by a man, Christian slave working as blacksmith, called Jabir, or whatever name he had. This is clearly false and irrational based on the following points.
a) The fact that the Pagan Arabs claimed the source of Quran was a third person called Jabir, actually proves my argument that the pagan Arabs themselves concluded definitely Muhammad could not have produced the Quran alone.
b) Some people suggested that the pagan Arabs were actually attributing the words in the Quran to Muhammad (SAW) but not the ideas! In fact, it is almost the opposite. The reason why the Pagan Arabs were amazed is mainly due to the formulation of the words in the Quran and not just their plain meaning. As we know tales of the old Prophets could be conveyed by storytellers, rules can be pronounced by judges and wise men. But it was not this, rather its entire Arabic composition, especially as Muhammad (SAW) was not known to be one of the men of poetry, rhetoric or particular eloquence out of the ordinary. This sudden production of this material shocked the Pagan Arabs. They would secretly approach the houses of some Muslims to listen to the Quran. In one reported occasion two of the pagan leaders bumped into each other and they both said they were mesmerised by some demonic force or witchcraft. They swore to each other never to do it again; such was their rejection of Islam, yet amazement at the Quran.
c) Subsequently, when the Pagan Arabs started to oppose Muhammad (SAW) and launch a vicious campaign against him in Mecca, in which some of his followers were martyred, why did they not simply go after this "Jabir", if he was the source of the Quran? That would have ended Muhammad’s (SAW) mission and solved all their problems? In fact nothing, more was ever heard about this man, who is supposed to have inspired the Quran, if he ever existed. Such allegations are necessarily baseless, absurd and irrational.
d) Also, the Quran answered the allegations; the Pagan Arabs did not challenge this position after the Quran asserted that Jabir, being of non-Arabic origin, did not speak clear Arabic. Hence, he could not have had any influence in producing the Quran.
e) There is a clear distinction between Hadiths (literal words and composition of the Prophet, but the meaning and the ideas have been divinely inspired) and the Quran. The recognition of the distinction from the very beginning, in fact, when one of the Arabs tried to compose a verse like the Quran, he was laughed at by the rest of the Pagan Arabs. There were no reports of the people being awed by the Hadiths but only by the Quran. They were the experts on this field of the language. The decisive text in Arabic clearly shows that the wording, composition and styles of Hadiths and Quran are fundamentally too distinct as to be from the same author.
It would be very easy to bring the war on terror to an end, as it would have been easy for the pagan Arabs to end the influence of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and His religion of Al-Islam forever by discrediting the authenticity and divine nature of the Quran. Sometime back Newsweek tried to initiate controversy in the authenticity of the Quran as have the Orientalists for centuries by trying to make the case the Prophet Muhammad was the author of the Quran. Clearly they have failed to make any progress in that arena.
The Quran is beyond doubt an original Arabic book; it was neither the work of the Arabs nor the works of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) therefore it is not the work of any known human being. Those who challenge this position must bring forward their evidence not speculation.
Published in May 2006
Copyright © 2006 by Yamin Zakaria
 The ancient Arabs were known for their eloquence and rhetoric. Their culture was essentially a culture of language, linguistic skills and poetry. Their yearly markets and fairs (like: Mijannah, Zul-Majaaz, Ukaaz … etc) had formal poetic and literary competitions ranked by specialist judges and juries, very much like the Greeks, who had sporting and athletic competitions instead. It was customary for the Arab tribes to send an official delegation to congratulate any other tribe for the emergence of a new poet! These facts are historically well established beyond any possible doubt, as recognized by all the Arab linguists and historians, as well as by the Orientalists.