24) It is said that literature becomes truly meaningful when the winds of change blow hard within the mind of the listener. From this perspective can it be said that the Qur’an is a work of great literary merit?

If the yardstick that literature should be that which is able to so transform the individual as to become the reason for all social change itself is used as the basis of an examination, it can be said that the Qur’an is indeed, a faultless work. Along with providing the intellect of its listener with contentment and his mind with peace, the verses of the Qur’an initiates changes in his heart also. Indeed, the ability of the Qur’an to influence the mind of man and to induce in it the powerful waves of change is but one of its specialities which makes it unequalled. Prophet Muhammad () was once reciting the Qur’an near the Ka`aba. There were Muslims and non-Muslims amongst the listeners. As he came to the aayat of the prostration while reciting Sura Najm, the Prophet, forthwith, prostrated himself as instructed by Allah. All the other people present – whether Muslim or otherwise – too were compelled by themselves to bow down in postration along with the Prophet,except for the arrogant Ummayath bin Khalaf. How strong was the influence of the Qur’an! Even the hardest of its opponents bowed to its commands!! Labeed bin Rabia was one of the greatest exponents of Arabic literature during the time of the Prophet (). On a certain occasion one of his more beautiful poems was hung on the doors of the Ka`aba. The call was made to challenge this poem by producing another of greater merit. However so perfect was the poem that not one among the other poets who was present, even so much as dared to lay another poem by its side. The companions of the Prophet had, in the meantime, sought to hang a few verses of the Qur’an near it. It was with contempt which he explicitly showed for him who had challenged his poem that Labeed came over to read the verses of the Qur’an. He had read just a few of the verses before he became intensely attracted by the rhetoric of the Qur’an and embraced Islam. It was the ability of the Qur’an to create a transformation even in the mind of the one who had held it in contempt that was displayed there. The entry of Umar bin al Khattab (r) into the fold of Islam is of historical importance.. Indeed, it had been the elegance and majesty
of the topics that it dealt with, which made Umar (r), who had proceeded, sword in hand, to take the life of Prophet Muhammad
), to change his mind, upon reading a few verses of the Qur’an from the parchments in his sister’s possession. Once Jubair bin Makthoom, who was a polytheist, passed by while Prophet Muhammad () was reciting surah Toor in the course of his Maghrib prayer. This he happened to overhear. Each one of its verses left a deep imprint upon his heart. Its beauty greatly influenced
him. He wondered at its marvellous power to transform his attitude. Thereupon, he embraced Islam. How many, indeed, are the incidents of such nature! The Meccan polytheists were fully conscious of the eloquence and rhetorical style of the Qur’an. They knew that it was this magnificence which had caused the people to drift away from their traditional faith and practice. The Meccans had told Ibn Dughuna, who had stopped and brought back Abu Bakr (r) who was on the verge of leaving his native land, thus: “It should not happen that Abu Bakr recites the Qur’an aloud and our wives and children should chance upon hearing it themselves. For it will be only then that we shall allow Abu Bakr to reside here.”It was, in fact, this power of the Qur’an to influence and persuade that had attracted people greatly to Islam. The simple truth has been that it was this supernatural aspect of the Qur’an which was the primary reason behind the transformation of a people, steeped, as they were, in the depths of darkness, into becoming the torch bearers of an exemplary civilization and culture within a short span of just twentythree years. Indeed, this was what R.V.C. Bodley had in mind when he wrote:
“This book transformed the simple shepherds, the merchants and nomads of Arabia into warriors and empire builders.” (R.V.C Bodley, The messenger: The life of Mohammed, New York, 1943, Page 239) Of the Qur’an’s surpassing ability to influence and persuade, Morgan wrote:
“The Qur’an succeeded so well in captivating the mind of the audience that several of the opponents thought it the effect of witchcraft and enchantment.” (K.W. Morgan, Islam interpreted by Muslims, London, 1955, Page 27).

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