Not a word does he utter but there is a sentinel by him, ready to note it. And the stupor of death will bring the truth before his eyes: ‘This was the thing you were trying to escape!’ And the Trumpet shall be blown: that will be the Day whereof warning had been given. And there will come forth every soul: with each will be an angel to drive, and an angel to bear witness. ‘You were heedless of this; now have We removed your veil. And sharp is your sight this Day!’ And his companion will say: ‘Here is his record ready with me!’ ‘Throw, throw into Hell every contumacious rejecter!’1[Qur'an,50:18-24]

One time while reading these verses from Sura Qaf, the Devil said to me: ‘You consider the most important aspects of the Qur’an’s eloquence to lie in its clarity and fluency of style. But in this verse it jumps from one subject to another. It jumps from death agonies to the resurrection of the dead, from the blowing of the trumpet to the Last Judgement, and from that to the entry into Hell of the unbelievers. What fluency of style remains with this extraordinary switching about? In most places in the Qur’an, it brings together subjects that bear little relation to each other like this. Where is its eloquence and smoothness with such discontinuity?’

I answered as follows:

‘After its eloquence, one of the most important elements of the miraculousness of the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition is its conciseness. Conciseness is one of the strongest and most important elements of the Qur’an’s miraculousness. Instances of this miraculous conciseness of the Qur’an are so numerous and beautiful that exacting scholars are left in wonder at it. For example:

Then the word went forth: ‘O earth! swallow up your water, and O sky! withhold your rain!’ And the water abated, and matter was ended. The ark rested on Mount Judi, and the word went forth: ‘Away with those who do wrong!’2[Qur'an,11:44]

‘It describes the Great Flood and its consequences so concisely and miraculously in a few short sentences that it has caused many scholars of rhetoric to prostrate before its eloquence. And, for example:

The Thamud rejected their prophet through their inordinate wrongdoing. Behold, the most wicked man among them was deputed for impiety. But the apostle of God said to them: ‘It is a she-camel of God. And bar her not from having her drink!’ Then they rejected him, and they hamstrung her. So their Lord, on account of their crime, obliterated their traces and made them equal in destruction, high and low! And for Him is no fear of its consequences.1[Qur'an,91:11-15]

‘In these few short sentences and with a miraculousness within the conciseness, fluency, and clarity, and in a way that does not spoil the understanding, the Qur’an relates the strange and momentous events concerning the Thamud people, together with the consequences and their calamitous end. And for example:

And remember Zun-Nun, when he departed in wrath: he imagined that We had no power over him. But he cried through the depths of darkness: ‘There is no god but You; glory be unto You; I was indeed among the wrongdoers.’2[Qur'an,21:87]

‘Here, many sentences have be ‘rolled up’ between the words ‘that We had no power over him’ and ‘but he cried out in the depths of the darkness,’ but these omitted sentences neither spoil the understanding, nor mar the fluency of the style. It mentions the most important elements in the story of Jonah (Peace be upon him), and refers the rest to the intelligence.

‘And for example, in Sura Yusuf, the seven or eight sentences between the words ‘Send me’ and ‘Joseph, O man of truth!’3[Qur'an,12:45-6] have been skipped in conciseness. It neither impairs the understanding, nor mars the smoothness of the style. There are a great many instances of this sort of miraculous conciseness in the Qur’an, and they are very beautiful indeed.

‘However, the conciseness of the verses from Sura Qaf are particularly wonderful and miraculous. For they each point out the truly dreadful future of the unbelievers when each endless day will last fifty thousand years, and the grievous, dire things that will happen to them in the awesome revolutions of the future. It conveys the mind over them like lightning, presenting that long, long period of time to the mind’s eye as a single present page. Referring the events which are not mentioned to the imagination, it describes them with a most elevated fluency and smoothness of style.

When the Qur’an is read, listen to it with attention, and hold your peace: that you may receive mercy.1[Qur'an,7:204]

‘And now if you have anything to say, O Satan, say it!’

Satan replied: ‘I cannot oppose what you say, nor defend myself. But there are many foolish people who listen to me; and many devils in human form who assist me; and many pharaohs among philosophers who learn things from me which flatter their egos, and prevent the publication of works like yours. Therefore I shall not lay down my arms before you.’