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Kader Abdolah: A wise or foolish man?

We live in an age where scholarly writing is withering away. Where, instead of healthy, counteractive journalism, we have Twitter rampages and memes that entertain us momentarily before we dismiss the issues altogether. At Dar Nafisa Academy, we're trying to bring it back: thoughtful, thought-provoking, well researched, well-reasoned writing, as inspired by notable figures such as Mehdi Hassan.


So here it is, first off the rank, a piece by Nisa, from our Senior Youth class. They explored the divinity within the language of Qu'ran, and here, Nisa presents a sassy argument as to why any human attempts of revision or replication of the Holy Book is impossible.

There is a difference between intelligence and pure stupidity. And Kader Abdolah, who is a Persian-Dutch writer, columnist and poet, is the epitome of the latter. His pathetic attempt at re-writing and re-ordering the Quran has sparked controversy in the media in the recent months, especially amongst the Muslim community. It is undoubtedly preposterous that he believes the Quran has flaws that need to be fixed, when in reality, it is not the Quran that is blemished, but his own belief which is extremely fallacious. In Surah Isra, ayat 88, it declares that even

“If all mankind and the jinn would come together to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce its like even though they exerted all their strength in aiding one another.”

So how can one person, Kader Abdolah, re-create the likes of the Quran if all of mankind and jinn can’t do the same? It’s easy. He simply can’t.


Abdolah claims that the Quran is too difficult to be understood by non-Arabs and thus, he re-wrote the Quran using repetition techniques and simplified language to allow accessibility to those who are illiterate. However, the Quran is transcribed in such a way that it not only has mathematical and scientific precision, but its Arabic inscription embodies the nature of science which therefore can’t be replicated by the works of a mere individual. The linguistic style of the Quran renders grammatical rulings which have their own precise formula – the active with the passive principle, the complex with the simple verbs and whether it be a dual or singular word. To illustrate, the ‘f’ sound in the Arabic words, نفس and نفخ which both mean ‘soul’ and ‘wind’ respectively, denotes an unseen yet subtle force in both its meaning and pronunciation. Thus, the Quran’s scripture upholds the concept of symmetrical pairings, with precision and no contradictions, unlike other sacred books. In other words, the Quran is perfect and flawless.


Every single word, every single dot, every single symbol. They all have a particular position within the Quran with a sole significance and importance in their underlying meaning. Words from the Quran are derived from a ‘root’ set of words that formulate a base meaning and hence, when put into patterns to create different words, they create vocabulary which are comparable to one another. Take the words salam, Islam, Muslimann, Muslim and Yussalim for example. These five words all have the root letters of ‘s’, ‘l’ and ‘m’ which convey the idea of peace. Or the words kitab, kaatib, maktab and yaktub, with the root letters of ‘k’, ‘t’ and ‘b’, which express the idea of knowledge. In this way, it goes to show that every creation has a source, and, in this case, it is Allah, and that it is essential that we return to Him. Abdolah’s weak attempt at simplifying the Arabic language is ludicrous due to the sole reason that in doing so, it takes away the deep meanings behind a word, no matter how simple or complicated the actual word is. Hence, when criticisers try to find a flaw in the teachings of the Quran, they will be able to do so based on information that is inaccurate and misleading and in return, form a negative impression of Muslims.


The Quran’s language is expressed in such a way that its linguistic complexity and richness can only be deciphered by wisdom. In other words, anybody can verbalise and read this holy book, but it cannot be understood by all. Furthermore, the Quran consists of palindromes which are words that can be read the same backwards and forwards and thus, Prophet Muhammad, who was unlettered, could not have possibly written the Quran, let alone come up with a palindrome. For example, in Surah Yasin, verse 40, the complex palindrome it comprises is beyond doubt a linguistic miracle, magnifying Allah’s greatness and how aesthetically rich the Quran is.



Due to the Quran’s mathematical and scientific precision, foundational roots and its aesthetically rich content, Abdolah’s attempt at its recreation is simply a failure. Those who wish to follow Abdolah’s footsteps should reconsider this decision and not follow through. Instead, they should decipher the Quran in its original form if they are concerned about non-Arabs and illiterates not being able to understand it. Consequently, the Quran is not only unique in the way it presents itself, but it is also a miracle that cannot be duplicated by humans.

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