The inability of the disbelievers to address the Quranic challenge, is one of the proofs for Muhammed’s ﷺ prophethood. The challenge being: for the disbelievers to produce a chapter that rivals the eloquence of any the Quran’s chapters:

وَإِن كُنتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِّمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَىٰ عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِّن مِّثْلِهِ وَادْعُوا شُهَدَاءَكُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
And if you doubt about what We have revealed to Our slave, then produce a chapter like it, and call upon your supporters other than Allah, if you are truthful[1].

To this, an opponent might ask: “how do you know that this challenge will not be met in the future? And if you don’t know, then how can you be certain that Muhammed is a true prophet?”

We respond: we know that the challenge will not be met in the future, because we are told in the Quran that it won’t be so. We read in the very next verse:

فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَلَن تَفْعَلُوا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ ۖ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ
So if you cannot fulfil the challenge, and you will never be able to fulfill the challenge, then protect yourself from the Fire, whose fuel is of men and stone, prepared for the disbelievers[2].

In response, the opponent is likely to say: “This is circular! By depending on the Quran to inform you of the future, you are assuming Muhammed’s prophethood. But you are not justified in believing in Muhammed’s prophethood until you first prove that the Quranic challenge will not be met in the future.”

Our response: a circular arguement would be to say “P is true because Q is true, and Q is true because P is true”. And while we did argue that the challenge won’t be met in the future because Muhammed ﷺ is prophet, we never argued that Muhammed ﷺ is a prophet because the challenge won’t be met in the future.

Instead, we argue that Muhammed ﷺ is a prophet because the pagans of his time were unable to address the Quranic challenge[3]. And this is all one needs to prove his prophethood. After Muhammed’s ﷺ prophethood is established, we are then justified in using the Quran to argue that the challenge won’t be met in the future.


 

[1] Quran 2:23

[2] Quran 2:24

[3] This is because it is nomically necessary for the pagan Arabs to have been able to address the Quranic challenge. Their inability to do so, is therefore a negation of nomic necessity. And a claimant to prophethood who is aided by a negation of nomic necessity, is certainly a prophet. More on this here.

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