Proof of Authenticity: An Approach
It must be stressed here that the Quran is accurate about
many things, but accuracy does not necessarily mean that a book is a divine revelation. In fact, accuracy is only one of the criteria for divine revelations. For instance,
the telephone book is accurate, but that does not mean that
it is divinely revealed. The real problem lies in that one must establish some proof of the source the Quran's information. The emphasis is in the other direction, in that the burden of proof is on the reader. One cannot simply deny the Quran's authenticity without sufficient proof. If, indeed, one finds a mistake, then he has the right to
disqualify it. This is exactly what the Quran encourages.
Once a man came up to me after a lecture I delivered in
South Africa. He was very angry about what I had said, and so he claimed, "I am going to go home tonight and find a mistake in the Quran." Of course, I said, "Congratulations. That is the most intelligent thing that you have said." Certainly, this is the approach Muslims need to take with those who doubt the Quran's authenticity, because the Quran itself offers the same challenge. And inevitably, after accepting its challenge and discovering that it is true, these people will come to believe it because they could not disqualify it. In essence, the Quran earns their respect because they themselves
have had to verify its authenticity.
An essential fact that cannot be reiterated enough
concerning the authenticity of the Quran is that one's
inability to explain a phenomenon himself does not require his acceptance of the phenomenon's existence or another person's explanation of it. Specifically, just
because one cannot explain something does not mean that one has to accept someone else's explanation. However, the person's refusal of other explanations reverts the
burden of proof back on himself to find a feasible answer. This general theory applies to numerous concepts in life, but fits most wonderfully with the Quranic challenge, for it creates a difficulty for one who says, "I do not believe it." At the onset of refusal one immediately has an obligation to find an explanation himself if he feels others' answers are inadequate.
In fact, in one particular Quranic verse which I have
always seen mistranslated into English, Allah mentions a man who heard the truth explained to him. It states that he was derelict in his duty because after he heard the information, he left without checking the verity of what he had heard. In other words, one is guilty if he hears something and does not research it and check to see whether it is true. One is supposed to process all
information and decide what is garbage to be thrown out and what is worthwhile information to be kept and
benefited from immediately or even at a later date.
One cannot just let it rattle around in his head. It must be
put in the proper categories and approached from that point of view. For example, if the information is still speculatory, then one must discern whether it's closer to being true or false. But if all the facts have been presented, then one must decide absolutely between these two options. And even if one is not positive about the authenticity of the information, he is still required to process all the information and make the admission that
he just does not know for sure. Although this last point
appears to be futile, in actuality, it is beneficial to the arrival at a positive conclusion at a later time in that it forces the person to at least recognize research and review the facts.
This familiarity with the information will give the person
"the edge" when future discoveries are made and additional information is presented. The important thing is that one deals with the facts and does not simply discard
them out of empathy and disinterest.