Some pagan Arabs alleged that the Qur’an was forged by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Allah (swt) challenges these Arabs in the following verse of Surah Al-Isra: "Say: If the whole of Mankind and Jinns were together to produce the like of this Qur’an they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support."
Later the challenge was made easy in the following verse of Surah Al-Hud:
"Or they may say, "He forged it." Say, "Bring ye then ten Surahs forged, like unto it, and call (to your aid) whomsover ye can, other than Allah, if ye speak the truth!’."
It was made easier in the following verse of Surah Yunus:
"Or do they say, "He forged it"? Say: "Bring then a Surah like unto it, and call (to your aid) anyone you can, besides Allah, if it be ye speak the truth!’."
Finally in Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah (swt) further simplied the challenge:
And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Surah
like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah if your (doubts) are true.
But if ye cannot – and of a surety ye cannot – then fear the Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones – which is prepared for those who reject faith".
Thus Allah (swt) made the challenges progressively easier. The progressively revealed verses of the Qur’an first challenged the pagans to produce a book like the Qur’an, then challenged them to produce ten Surahs
(chapters) like those in the Qur’an, then one Surah
and finally it challenges them to produce one Surah somewhat similar (mim mislihi)
to the Qur’anic Surahs
. This does not mean that the later verses that were revealed i.e. of Surah Baqarah chapter 2 verses 23 and 24 contradict the earlier three verses. Contradiction implies mentioning two things that cannot be possible simultaneously, or cannot take place simultaneously.
The earlier verses of the Qur’an i.e. the abrogated verses are still the word of God and the information contained in it is true to this day. For instance the challenge to produce a recital like the Qur’an stands to this day. Similarly the challenge to produce ten Surahs
and one Surah
exactly like the Qur’an also holds true and the last challenge of producing one surah somewhat similar to the Qur’an also holds true. It does not contradict the earlier challenges, but this is the easiest of all the challenges posed by the Qur’an. If the last challenge cannot be fulfilled, the question of anyone fulfilling the other three more difficult challenges does not arise.
Suppose I speak about a person that he is so dumb, that he would not be able to pass the 10th standard in school. Later I say that he would not be able to pass the 5th standard, and further say that he would not be able to pass even the 1st standard. Finally I say that he is so dull that he would not even be able to pass K.G. i.e. kindergarten. One has to pass kindergarten before one can be admitted to school. What I am stating is that the person is so dull as to be unable to pass even kindergarten. My four statements do not contradict each other, but my last statement i.e. the person would not be able to pass the kindergarten is sufficient to indicate the intelligence of that person. If a person cannot even pass kindergarten, the question of him passing the first standard or 5th or 10th, does not arise.