The inimitability of the Qur’an


What do the scholars and experts of religions say regarding the following question? Why can’t anyone write a chapter like the Qur’an? People say because the Qur’an has a unique, structure and linguistic style. But isn’t that true for the Arab poets?  So, is the Qur’an’s challenge biased? Ahmed Sajjad


This is a fascinating question often asked about the Qur’an.  Scholars have answered it in different ways. So, what is meant by the inimitability of the Qur’an, ‘Ijaz, which means to make others incapable of responding to its arguments. The Qur’an is a miracle that is impossible to replicate. This is because of its grand eloquence, the clarity of its meanings, the linguistic beauty and the poetic and lyrical arrangement of the words; the assonance, the alliteration and the rhetoric make the Qur’anic style unique that cannot be replicated. Another reason is the Prophet ﷺ was unlettered, neither learned to read or write yet brought an amazing book, that captures imagination, overwhelms senses, and fills the heart with Divine awe.

The English adjective inimitable is a word with precise meaning, it means very unusual or of very high quality and therefore impossible to copy, they say “He was describing, in his own inimitable style, how to write a best-selling novel”. Something unique, irreplaceable, matchless, unrivalled, unsurpassable. The Qur’an is impossible to copy, because of very high quality and unique style. This best describes the inimitability of Allah’s writ, ‘Ijaz. The Qur’an claims its eloquence, literary style and amazing content are matchless, no one in the world can replicate this. Is this claim substantiated? That’s what we will examine now.

The best judge of Qur’anic claim is the person who has devoted their entire life to its study, written its translation, and commentary, taught it for decades.  Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall the translator of the Qur’an admitted his inadequacy, “The Qur’an cannot be translated. That is the belief of the traditional teachers and of the present writer.” Another erudite scholar was Professor AJ Arbrey of Cambridge University, in the introduction to the Qur’an interpreted, he wrote “the rhetoric, and rhythm of the Arabic of the Qur’an are so characteristic, so powerful, so highly emotive, that any version whatsoever is bound in the nature of things to be but a poor copy of the glittering splendour of the original.”

Professor Abdul Halim is regarded as one of the brilliant Qur’an scholars of our time, he has translated the Qur’an, compiled the Dictionary of the Qur’anic terms, and written extensively dozens of articles and essays on the subject. He has been teaching Qur’anic studies for four decades in Cambridge and London university, supervised dozens of PhD and postdoctoral; researchers. In his article “the dynamic style of the Qur’an” (Understanding the Qur’an published by IB Tauris) he mentioned the following features that make it inimitable:

  1. Iltifat, The grammatical shifts, the alternations, and the transitions in the Qur’anic narrative. This involves the texts transition, change in first, second and third person; change in number, between singular, dual and plural.; changing addresses; Changing the tense of the verb; Changing the case marker; Using a noun in place of a pronoun. Why does the Qur’an make these shifts? The scholars think these shifts in different places make it dynamic and lively.
  2. Ellipses, the omission of certain words that can be understood or imagined by the reader, it invites imagination, mystery, and intrigue, this is regarded as feature of good style
  3. Dialogues, between God and the angels, between the angels and the prophets, between the prophets and the people, historically as well as in the future. The conversations are brief but pithy, short but expectant with meanings.
  4. The comments of the Qur’an on its various situations, instructions for personal growth.
  5. The use of Affective sentences, vitality of the language is judged by the frequency of the affective sentences, (Al Jumalah al-Inshaiya) as opposed to the indicative sentence (Al-Jumalah al-Khabariyya). The difference between the two is an important feature: an indicative sentence is either false or true, where is the affective sentence comes in the form of interrogation, command, urging, persuading, etc. Rather than making an assertion to the listener or reader it involves him or her by questioning commanding and so on. The Qur’an abounds in such effective sentences. This spurs the reader to think, imagine and be smart.
  6. Emphasis adds to the intensity of the language. Since the Qur’an was addressing non-believers from various creeds and ideologies who denied or were doubtful about his message it employs the various degrees of emphasis used in Arabic. The Oaths are an example of Qur’an’s emphatic tool.
  7. The frequent use of adjectives, in particular adjectives to describe the divine, the ninety-nine names of Allah, a word portrait of the Lord.

In addition to these linguistic features the Quran’s conceptual language is also amazing. According to Professor Abdul Halim it consists of guidance, clarification of truth and falsehood, signs and proofs it provides from the nature to show the Creator’s creativity. Quranic arguments are rational, appeal to reason. Its instructions are overwhelmingly persuasive. The Quranic exhortation and the remainder are powerful. [Quranic Arabic; the study Quran]


I have shown that the Quran’s language is inimitable no one can match it, its conceptual language and methodology is unrivalled, and its message is unsurpassable. So, what makes the Majestic Qur’an a special book?

The Qur’an is the final revelation to guide humanity till the end of time. The Quran has many unique features and benefits no other book has as described above. Here are eight more features that make it a unique book:

  1. The Majestic Qur’an explains the purpose of your life
  2. The Qur’an teaches the oneness of Allah
  3. Moral, social and spiritual Values for Humanity
  4. The miraculous nature in which the Qur’an was revealed
  5. The Prophet as the perfect role model
  6. The Qur’an’s prophecies
  7. The impact of Qur’an’s teachings on everyday life
  8. The Qur’an’s teachings are based on reason

This Fatwa is written By Dr. Musharraf Hussain Al-Azhari

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