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Can you Compare the Qur’an and Modern Civilization with Respect to Literary Merits each has?


In the same way as modern civilization is defeated before the scientific and practical miraculousness of the Qur’an, when compared to the Qur’an’s literary merits—which may be likened to the uplifting songs of an elevated lover arising from a temporary separation or heroic epics encouraging to victory and lofty sacrifices—the literature and rhetoric of modern civilization are like either the desperate, grief-stricken wailing of an orphan or the clamor of a drunkard.

In regard to effect, styles of literature and rhetoric give either sorrow or joy. Sorrow is of two kinds. It arises from either loneliness and being without protection and support or from separation from the beloved. The first is despairing and of the kind which modern misguided, naturalist and heedless civilization produces. The second is lofty and exhilarating and of the kind which arouses in man a hope and eagerness for reunion, and which is given by the guiding, light-diffusing Qur’an.

As for joy, it is also of two kinds. The first is of the kind which incites the soul to animal desires. This is what the literature and all forms of the arts of modern civilization do—the ‘fine’ arts, drama and cinema, etc. The second kind of joy restrains the carnal self and urges in a mannerly, innocent way the heart, spirit, intellect, and all other inner senses and faculties of man to lofty things and reunion with his original, eternal abode and his friends who have already gone to this abode. This joy is given by the Qur’an of miraculous explanation, which encourages man to Paradise, to eternal happiness and vision of God, for which it arouses in him eagerness.

Thus, the profound meaning and great truth contained in the verse, Say: ‘If man and jinn banded together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they would never produce its like, not though they backed one another’ (al-Isra’, 17.88), is not, as some careless people of little understanding assert, an exaggerated claim. It is a hundred percent truth and reality, which the long history of Islam has proved.

The challenge the verse contains has two principal aspects. One is that in styles, eloquence, rhetoric, wording, comprehensiveness, conciseness and profundity, no beautiful words of men and jinn which do not originate from the Qur’an can resemble or equal the Qur’an. Nor all the most beautiful, most eloquent words of men and jinn composed together in a well-arranged volume by the most capable among them can in any way be equal to the Qur’an. The second aspect is that, however glittering and apparently profound and beautiful, all of the civilizations, philosophies, literatures and laws, which are the product of the minds of men and jinn, and the result of their studies, are dim and helpless in the face of the Qur’anic commandments, wisdom and eloquence.


This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.