Third Point: This is the wonderful uniqueness of its style. Indeed, the Qur’an’s style is both strange, and original, and wonderful, and convincing. It has imitated nothing and no one. And no one has been able to imitate it. Its style has always preserved the freshness, youth, and singularity it possessed when it was first revealed and continues to preserve it. For instance, the unique style of the cipher-like muqatta’at, the ‘disjointed letters,’ like, Alif. Lam. Mim., Alif. Lam. Ra., Ta. Ha., Ya. Sin., Ha. Mim. ‘Ayn. Sin. Qaf., at the beginning of some of the Suras. We have described five or six of the flashes of miraculousness they comprise in Isharat al-I’jaz.

For example, these letters at the start of certain Suras have taken half of each category of the many well-known categories of letters, like the emphatic letters (Kaf, Qaf, Ta, Alif, Jim, Dal, Ta, Ba), the sibilants, the stressed letters, the soft letters, the labiolinguals, and tremolo (qalqala) letters (Qaf, Ta, Dal, Jim, Ba). Taking more than half from the light letters and less than half from the heavy letters, neither of which are divisible, it has halved every category. Although the human mind would be capable of it, halving all those categories overlapping one within the other, hesitant among two hundred possibilities, in the only way possible, which was hidden to the human mind and unknown to it, and organizing all the letters on that way, over that broad distance, was not the work of the human mind. And chance could not have interfered in it. Thus, in addition to these letters at the beginning of the Suras – Divine ciphers – displaying five or six similar flashes of miraculousness, scholars versed in the mysteries of the science of letters and the authorities from among the saints deduced many secrets from these ‘disjointed letters.’ They discovered such truths that they declared that on their own these letters form a brilliant miracle. Since we are not party to their secrets and also we cannot provide proofs clear to everyone, we cannot open that door. We shall therefore suffice with referring readers to the explanation in Isharat al-I’jaz of five or six flashes of miraculousness related to them.

Now we shall point out the Qur’anic styles with regard to Sura, aim, verse, phrase, and word.

For example, if the Sura About what are they disputing?1 is studied carefully, it shows the events of the hereafter, the resurrection of the dead, and Paradise and Hell in a style so unique and wonderful that it proves the Divine acts and dominical works in this world as though looking at each of those events of the next world, and convinces the heart. To expound the style of this Sura fully would be lengthy, so we shall merely indicate one or two points, as follows:

At the start of the Sura, to prove the resurrection, it says: “We have made the earth a beautifully decked-out cradle for you, and the mountains masts and poles full of treasure for your house and your lives. We have made you as couples, loving and close to one another. We have made the night a coverlet for your sleep of comfort, the daytime the arena in which you earn your livelihood, the sun a light-giving, heat-supplying lamp, and from the clouds We pour down water as though they were a spring producing the water of life. And We create easily and quickly from the simple water the various flower-bearing and fruit-bearing things which bear all your sustenance. Since this is so, the Day of Resurrection, the day when good and evil shall be separated out, awaits you. It is not difficult for Us to bring about that Day.” In a veiled way it points to proofs that after this at the resurrection, the mountains will be scattered, the skies shattered, Hell readied, and the people of Paradise given gardens and orchards. It says in effect: “Since He does these things related to the mountains and the earth before your very eyes, He shall do things resembling these in the hereafter.” That is to say, the ‘mountain’ at the beginning of the Sura looks to the state of the mountains at the resurrection, and the garden to the gardens and paradises in the hereafter. You may compare other points to this and see what a beautiful and elevated style it has.

And, for example:

Say: O God, Holder of All Power! You grant dominion to whomever You wish and You remove dominion from whomever You wish. You exalt whomever You wish and You bring low whomever You wish. In Your hand is all good. Indeed, You are Powerful over all things. You enter the night into the day and enter the day into the night, and You bring forth the living from the dead and bring forth the dead from the living, and You grant sustenance to whomever You wish without measure.2

These verses describe the Divine acts in human kind, and the Divine manifestations in the alternations of night and day, and the dominical acts of disposal in the seasons of the year, and the dominical deeds in life and death on the face of the earth and in the resurrections in this world in a style so elevated that it captivates the minds of the attentive. Since its brilliant, elevated, and wide-reaching style is clearly understood with little study, we shall not open that treasury for now.

And for example,

When the sky is rent asunder Heeding the command of its Sustainer, as in truth it must. And when the earth is levelled And casts out what is within it and becomes empty And it heeds the command of its Sustainer, as in truth it must.1

This explains in a truly elevated style the degree of submission and obedience to Almighty God’s command of the skies and the earth. It is like this: just as a commander-in-chief opens two offices to accommodate the matters necessary for fighting, like one for strategy and one for the enrollment of soldiers, and when those matters are accomplished and the fighting is over, he addresses himself to the two offices in order to convert them into something else for some other business, they both say, either through the tongues of those employed in them or through their own tongues: “O Chief! Give us a short respite so that we can clean up the bits and pieces of the former business and throw them out, then you may honour us with your presence. There, we have thrown them out, we await your command. Order what you wish. We hear and obey! Everything you do is true, good, and beneficial.”

In the same way, the heavens and the earth were opened as two arenas of obligation, trial, and examination. After the allotted period is finished, they will put aside the things pertaining to the arena of trial and say: “O our Sustainer! The command is Yours, employ us now in whatever You wish. Our right is only to obey You. Everything You do is right.” Consider carefully the majestic style of those sentences!

And for example,

Then the word went forth: “O earth, swallow up your water! And o sky withhold your rain!” And the water abated and the matter was ended. The ark rested on Mount Judi, and the word went forth: “Away with all those who do wrong!”2

In order to point to a mere drop from the sea of eloquence of this verse, we shall show one aspect of its style in the mirror of a comparison. On the victory being won in a great war, the commander says “Cease fire!” to one firing army and “Halt!” to another, assaulting, army. He issues the command, and at that moment the firing ceases and the assault is halted. He says: “It is finished, we have beaten them. Our flag is planted at the top of the high citadel at the enemies’ centre. Those mannerless tyrants have met with their reward and been cast down to the lowest of the low.”

In just the same way, the Peerless Sovereign issued the command to the heavens and the earth to annihilate the people of Noah. When they had carried out their duty, He decreed: “Drink up your water, O earth! Cease from your work, O skies! It is finished. Now the waters are receding. The Ark, which is a Divine official performing its duty as a tent, is settled on the top of the mountain. The wrongdoers have received retribution.” See the elevated nature of this style. It is saying: “The heavens and earth obey the command like two highly disciplined soldier.” It is thus alluding to the fact that the universe becomes angry at man’s rebellion. The heavens and the earth become incensed. And with this allusion it is saying: “One Whose commands the skies and the earth obey like two disciplined soldiers may not be rebelled against,” restraining man in awesome fashion. Thus, it describes a universal event like the Flood with all its consequences and truths in a few sentences in a concise, miraculous, beautiful, and succinct manner. You can compare this droplet from the ocean with other drops. Now consider the style displayed by the window of the words.

For example, consider the words like an old date-stalk, withered and curved in,

And the moon We have determined mansions for till it returns like an old date-stalk, withered and curved;1

see what a subtle style it displays. It is like this: one of the moon’s mansions is in the Pleiades. The Qur’an likens the moon when it is a crescent to a withered and whitened old date-stalk. Through this simile it depicts for the eye of the imagination a tree behind the green veil of the skies; one of its white, curved, luminous branches has rent the veil and raised its head; the Pleiades are like a bunch of grapes on the branch and the other stars all luminous fruits of that hidden tree of creation. If you have any discernment, you will understand what an appropriate, graceful, subtle, and elevated style and manner of expression this is in the view of the desert-dwellers, for whom the date-palm is the most important means of livelihood.

And for example, as is proven at the end of the Nineteenth Word, the words runs its course in,

And the sun runs its course to a place appointed2

opens a window onto an elevated style, as follows: with the words runs its course, that is, ‘the sun revolves,’ it puts in mind the Maker’s tremendousness by recalling the orderly disposals of Divine power in the alternations of winter and summer and day and night, and directs one’s gaze to the missives of the Eternally Besought One inscribed by the pen of power on the pages of the seasons. It proclaims the wisdom of the All-Glorious Creator.

And with the word lamp in,

And set the sun as a lamp,1

it opens a window onto the style like this: it makes one understand the Maker’s majesty and Creator’s bounty by recalling that the world is a palace and the things within it are adornments, food, and necessities prepared for man and living creatures and that the sun is a subservient candle, demonstrating that the sun is an evidence of God’s unity, and that the idolators’ greatest, most brilliant object of worship is merely a subjugated lamp, an inanimate creature. That is to say, the word lamp calls to mind the Creator’s mercy within the grandeur of His dominicality; it recalls His favours within the breadth of His mercy, and in so doing informs of His munificence within the majesty of His sovereignty, thereby proclaiming Divine unity, and saying indirectly: “An inanimate and subservient lamp is in no way fit to be worshipped.”

And in the course of runs its course it calls to mind the wondrous orderly disposals of Divine power in the revolutions of night and day and winter and summer, and in so doing makes known the grandeur of a single Maker’s power in His dominicality. That is to say, it turns man’s mind from the points of the sun and moon to the pages of night and day and winter and summer, and draws his attention to the lines of events written on those pages. For the Qur’an does not speak of the sun for the sake of the sun, but for the One Who illuminates it. Also, it does not speak of the sun’s nature, for which man has no need, but of the sun’s duty, which is that of mainspring for the order of dominical art, and centre of the order of dominical creativity, and a shuttle for the harmony and order of dominical art in the things the Pre-Eternal Inscriber weaves with the threads of day and night. You can compare others of the Qur’an’s words with these. While all are simple, ordinary words, each performs the duty of a key to treasuries of subtle meanings.

It is because the Qur’an’s style is for the greater part elevated and brilliant in the ways described above that on occasion Arab nomads were captivated by a single phrase, and without being Muslims would prostrate. One nomad prostrated on hearing the phrase:

Therefore proclaim openly what you are commanded.2

When asked: “Have you become a Muslim?”, he replied: “No. I am prostrating at the eloquence of these words.”