excellence in proportion as they, more or less, successfully imitated its style.' 1 There is, however, by no means a consensus of Muslim opinion as to wherein this alleged superiority exists. Some say it lies in its eloquence, or in its subject-matter, or in the harmony of its parts (kitaban mutashabiha).2 The sect of the Mu'tazilis hold that if God allowed it men could produce a Sura equal to it in eloquence and arrangement.3

As the i'jaz, or miraculous nature of the Qur'an, is not dependent on the much-disputed question of its eternal nature, it follows that all classes and sects of Muslims accept as a dogmatic truth the miracle of the Qur'an.

Sura Ash-Shura (xlii), a late Meccan one, shows that the charge of forgery was kept up by the Meccans to the last days of the Prophet's residence there. Thus:—

Will they say he hath forged a lie of God ? If God pleased, He could then seal up thy very heart. 23.4

1 Sacred Books of the East, vol. vi, pp. lxxvi.
2 Muir, Beacon of Truth, p. 26.
3 Shahrastani, al-Millal wa'n-Nihal, p. 39 and Nöldeke Geschichte des Qorans, p. 44.
4 The interpretation of this verse is not easy. It probably means God could, if thou didst such a thing, take away thy prophetic mission, or if the accusation is false seal up thy heart, that is, strengthen it to bear this unmerited calumny. Husain explains 'seal up thy heart,'
يختم على قلبك as follows:—
مهر نهد بر دل تواكر افترا كنى با مهر نهد بر دل تو بصبر وشكيبائى تا از آزارو جفاى ايشان متضرر نشوى

'He will seal up thy heart, if thou inventest lies, or will seal thy heart with patience and long-suffering that thou mayest receive no injury from their wrath and anger.' Tafsir-i-Husaini, vol. ii, p. 295.
'He can withhold from thee, the Qur'an and wahi (inspiration), or give thee patience that their troubling does not distress thee.' Baidawi, vol. ii, p. 230.
Nadhir Ahmad explains the sealing of the heart to mean that the Prophet could not do such a thing.


It was at this period of the Prophet's career that a connexion sprang up between Muhammad and the followers of the Jewish religion. During the Meccan period it seems quite clear that he looked upon both Christianity and Judaism as co-ordinate religions, the followers of which would in them find salvation, and even later on in Madina he could say:—

Verily, they who believe (Muslims), and the Jews and the Sabians and the Christians,—whosoever of them believeth in God and in the Last Day And doeth what is right, on them shall come no fear, neither shall they be put to grief. Sura Al-Baqarah (ii) 59.

In one of the latest Meccan Suras, he even says that the Jews were very glad when they heard of his revelations:—

They1 to whom we have given the Book rejoice in what hath been sent down to thee. Sura Ar-Ra'd (xiii) 36.

But although there was during the Meccan period an apparent friendliness with the Jews, yet Muhammad even then had begun to hint at the subordinate nature of Judaism, a point in his teaching more fully worked out in Madina. Still, in two Suras of the middle Meccan period the absolute nature of the claims of Islam are asserted:—

Truly this, your religion, is the one religion. Sura Al-Mu'minun (xxiii) 54.

1 That is the Jews, who, at this period of Muhammad's prophetic functions, must have been highly gratified at the strong leaning towards, and respect for, their scriptures and histories, which is shown in the later Meccan Suras. Rodwell, Qur'an, p. 427.
Baidawi is more definite. He says that the passage refers to the Jews and Christians who became Muslims. They were 'Abdu'llah ibn as-Salam, Najashi and others, eighty men in all, of whom forty were from Najran, eight from Yemen and thirty-two from Abyssinia. They were glad with what they found in accordance with their own book, vol. i, p. 483.