WITHOUT A DOUBT, it is common knowledge that the Quran is associated with a man from Arabia, born in sixth-century Makkah (in Common Era calculation), and that his name is Muhammad, the son of ʿAbdullah, the son of ʿAbd Al-Muṭalib. This much is not subject to dispute, neither among Muslims or non-Muslims. It is simply the testimony of history, handed down through the ages by an overwhelming, unexceptionable, unbroken chain of reporters (tawâtur). None of the other scriptures, nor any other such human event, compares with the historical certainty of either the Quran or Muhammad.
Having said this, there remains a question: From where did Muhammad get the Quran? From himself? That is, did he himself author it? And if so, did he consciously generate it, or did he receive it from a teacher, and who would that teacher be?
The Book itself says that it was not manufactured by Muhammad, but rather a noble Messenger, himself a trustworthy reporter—namely, the Arch-Angel Gabriel—received it from the All-Wise, the All-Knowing and conveyed it to him. Accordingly, it was revealed in clear Arabic to the heart of Muhammad, who received it as a pupil does a text from his teacher. That is to say, Muhammad ﷺ had nothing at all to do with it in so far as its production. His activity with it and responsibility for it come in certain stages after its reception: He keeps it. He understands it. And he memorizes it. He proclaims it and conveys its message. He explains it and elucidates it. And he fulfills its applications and implements it. As to innovating its meanings and constructing its Text, however, this has nothing whatever to do with him. Thus the Quran is, indeed, Divine Revelation.
Here is how the Quran describes its relationship with Muhammad ﷺ:
And if you do not come forth to them with a sign, they say: Why do you not concoct one? Say: I but follow what is revealed to me from my Lord. This [Quran] has manifest proofs [that verify it is] from your Lord, and [that it is divine] guidance and a mercy for a people who believe. [Sûrat Al-Aʿraf, 7:203]
But when Our verses were recited to them as clear evidences, those who do not hope for Our Meeting [on Judgment Day] said: Bring to us a [quran] other than this, or change it. Say [to them, O Prophet]: It is not for me to change it of my own accord. I but follow what is revealed to me. Indeed, I fear—were I to disobey my Lord— the torment of an awesome Day! [Sûrat Yûnus, 10:15]
There are many other verses that describe the Quran’s relationship with Muhammad.
The Quran’s language is also mentioned in the Book itself:
We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran, so that you may understand. [Sûrat Yusuf, 12:2]
We shall make you recite [the Quran, O Prophet] such that you shall not forget [it]. [Sûrat Al-Aʿla, 87:6]
Do not move your tongue [hurriedly] with [the Quran while receiving] it, to hasten it. Indeed, it is incumbent upon Us to collect it –in your heart] and [to ease for you] its recitation. So when We recite it [to you] then follow [closely] its recitation. Then incumbent upon Us is its explanation. [Sûrat Al-Qiyâmah, 75:16-19]
Recite [O Prophet] in the name of your Lord who has created! [Sûrat Al-ʿAlaq, 96:1]
So recite [O Prophet] all that has been revealed to you from the Book of your Lord. For there is none to replace His words… [Sûrat Al-Kahf, 18:27]
For We shall, most surely, cast upon you [O Prophet] a weighty word. [Sûrat Al-Muzzammil, 73:5]
Notice how the Quran uses ‘recite,’ the motion of the ‘tongue,’ and the fact that what is uttered are ‘Arabic’ ‘words.’ All these describe actual words not intuitive meanings. The Quran, then, is wholly explicit that Muhammad did not manufacture this, nor did any other created being. On the contrary, the Quran has come down [from Heaven] in both word and meaning.
Thus it is very strange that there remain people who need evidence that the Quran is not authored by Muhammad. The truth is that if this issue were taken before a fair and just judge, it would be sufficient for him to hear testimony from the one who received the Revelation about his role in this. Such a judge would not seek traditional or rational evidence beyond this testimony, for it does not resemble in any way common cases, which need precedent evidence. Instead, it is a profession, a statement of affidavit that must be taken from its source.
Indeed, neither friend nor adversary should hesitate to accept that witness from him. What interest does a sane person have in claiming for himself the right to lead and in challenging people with wonders and miracles to support his leadership? What would he gain from relating his own creation or work to others, declaring that he has nothing to do with it? On the contrary, the tendency would be to claim it for oneself so as to be praised and honored by people. If one did so, what person would be able to object to this claim and counter-claim such a work for himself?
Experience shows us that many people of letters steal the efforts of others, or steal their most valued portions—a theft that often goes undetected. Some may as well dig into the graves of the dead and wear their very shrouds, the way they cloak themselves in ‘borrowed’ material.
But for someone to relate the opposite of this—that the most valued and important contribution of his mind is another’s!—this has yet to be seen. Even if we indulge ourselves with this supposition, it has no rational explanation, nothing approaching the rational, save one that may come to the mind of the ignorant: The leader thinks that relating the Quran to divine Revelation will help him move the people and smooth the way for their obedience and responsiveness to his commands, since relating it to a divine source would lend his words sanctity and an awe that exceed what would occur were he to relate them to himself.
This is a false analogy in itself as well as in its rational foundation. It is corrupt per se because the Prophet ﷺ uttered both words of his own and the Speech of Allah, the Exalted, though claiming his own utterances does not contradict necessary obedience due him from his followers. Thus, relating some speech to Allah cannot increase his followers in obedience to him, since it is obligatory upon people to obey him in both types of utterances equally. So the sanctity of both kinds of statements in the minds of the people are the same, for obeying the Prophet ﷺ is, in fact, obeying Allah and disobeying him is likewise His disobedience. Once this is established, one must ask why the Prophet ﷺ didn’t relate all his utterances to Allah instead of saying, as he did: “This is from me, and this is from Allah.” Since he did not attribute everything he said to Allah, it can only mean that the Quran is from Allah.
As for this analogy’s corrupt foundation, it is based on a false assumption, namely, the possibility that the Prophet was like those who care less if they reach their religious ends on a bridge of lies and deceit. This is strongly refuted by historical realities. Anyone who examines the life of the Prophet ﷺ in his movement, his lifestyle, his expressions, his dispositions (whether he was pleased or angry, alone or with people) can have no doubt that he was further than all from deceit and lying. In both his private and public life he was truthful with equal precision in all matters, great and small. In fact, this was his most striking character—before his prophethood and after it. This much has been attested not only by his supporters but also by his adversaries, and until this very day.
Say [to them, O Prophet]: Had Allah so willed, I would not have [received this Quran and] recited it to you. Nor would He have made it known to you. For, truly, I have dwelled among you a lifetime before it. Will you not, then, understand? [Sûrat Yûnus, 10:16]