Surah Baqarah Ayat 23 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 23
And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant [Muhammad], then produce a surah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than Allah, if you should be truthful.
“And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Sura like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (If there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true.
And if you be in doubt whether the Book We have sent down to Our Servant is from Us or not, then produce, at least, one Surah like this. You may call all your associates to assist you and avail yourselves of the help of any one other than Allah. If you are genuine in your doubt, do this.
And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Quran) to Our slave (Muhammad Peace be upon him), then produce a Surah (chapter) of the like thereof and call your witnesses (supporters and helpers) besides Allah, if you are truthful.
And if ye are in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a surah of the like thereof, and call your witness beside Allah if ye are truthful.
And in case you are suspicious (Literally: in suspicion) about what We have been sending down upon Our bondman, (i.e., the prophet. A bondman or slave is the highest title conferred by Allah upon his chosen men) then come up with a srah of like (manner), and invoke your witnesses, apart from Allah, in case you are sincere.
If you have doubts about the revelation We have sent down to Our servant, then produce a single sura like it- enlist whatever supporters you have other than God- if you truly [think you can].
Quran 2 Verse 23 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Baqarah ayat 23, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(2:23) If you are in any doubt whether it is We Who have revealed this Book to Our servant, then produce just a surah like it, and call all your supporters and seek in it the support of all others save Allah. Accomplish this if you are truthful.
24. Before this, in Makka, opponents had often been challenged to produce anything of comparable merit if they believed the Qur’an to be the work of a human being. In Madina the same challenge was reiterated. (For similar challenges made elsewhere in the Qur’an, see (10: 38); (11: 13); (17: 88) and (52: 33)
23. And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Qur’an) to Our servant (Muhammad ), then produce a Surah (chapter) of the like thereof and call your witnesses (supporters and helpers) besides Allah, if you are truthful. 24. But if you do it not, and you can never do it, then fear the Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.
Allah begins to prove the truth of prophethood after He stated that there is no deity worthy of worship except Him. Allah said to the disbelievers,
(And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Qur’an) to Our servant) meaning, Muhammad ,
(then produce a Surah (chapter)) meaning, similar to what he brought to you. Hence, if you claim that what he was sent with did not come from Allah, then produce something similar to what he has brought to you, using the help of anyone you wish instead of Allah. However, you will not be able to succeed in this quest. Ibn `Abbas said that,
(your witnesses) means “Aids.” Also, As-Suddi reported that Abu Malik said the Ayah means, “Your partners, meaning, some other people to help you in that. Meaning then go and seek the help of your deities to support and aid you.” Also, Mujahid said that,
(and call your witnesses) means, “People, meaning, wise and eloquent men who will provide the testimony that you seek.”
Allah challenged the disbelievers in various parts of the Qur’an. For instance, Allah said in Surat Al-Qasas (28:49),
(Say (to them, O Muhammad ): “Then bring a Book from Allah, which is a better guide than these two (the Tawrah (Torah) and the Qur’an), that I may follow it, if you are truthful”). Also, Allah said in Surat Al-Isra’ (17:88),
(Say: “If mankind and the Jinn were together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they helped one another.”) Allah said in Surat Hud (11:13),
(Or they say, “He (Prophet Muhammad ) forged it (the Qur’an).” Say: “Bring you then ten forged Surahs (chapters) like it, and call whomsoever you can, other than Allah (to your help), if you speak the truth!”), and in Surat Yunus (10:37-38),
(And this Qur’an is not such as could ever be produced by other than Allah (Lord of the heavens and the earth), but it is a confirmation of (the revelation) which was before it (i.e. the Tawrah, and the Injil), and a full explanation of the Book (i.e. Laws decreed for mankind) ـ wherein there is no doubt ـ from the Lord of all that exists.) (Or do they say: “He (Muhammad ) has forged it” Say: “Bring then a Surah (chapter) like it, and call upon whomsoever you can besides Allah, if you are truthful!”). All of these Ayat were revealed in Makkah.
Allah also challenged the disbelievers in the Ayat that were revealed in Al-Madinah. In this Ayah, Allah said,
(And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in Rayb) meaning, doubt.
(Concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Qur’an) to Our servant) meaning, Muhammad ,
(then produce a Surah (chapter) the like thereof) meaning, similar to the Qur’an. This is the Tafsir of Mujahid, Qatadah, Ibn Jarir At-Tabari, Az-Zamakhshari and Ar-Razi. Ar-Razi said that this is the Tafsir of `Umar, Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Al-Hasan Al-Basri and the majority of the scholars. And he gave preference to this view and mentioned the fact that Allah has challenged the disbelievers as individuals and as groups, whether literate or illiterate, thus making the challenge truly complete. This type of challenge is more daring than simply challenging the disbelievers who might not be literate or knowledgeable. This is why Allah said,
(Bring you then ten forged Surahs (chapters) like it) (11:13), and,
(They could not produce the like thereof) (17:88).
Therefore, this is a general challenge to the Arab disbelievers, the most eloquent among all nations. Allah challenged the Arab disbelievers both in Makkah and Al-Madinah several times, especially since they had tremendous hatred and enmity for the Prophet and his religion. Yet, they were unable to succeed in answering the challenge, and this is why Allah said,
(But if you do it not, and you can never do it), indicating that they will never be able to answer the challenge. This is another miracle, in that, Allah clearly stated without doubt that the Qur’an will never be opposed or challenged by anything similar to it, for eternity. This is a true statement that has not been changed until the present and shall never change. How can anyone be able to produce something like the Qur’an, when the Qur’an is the Word of Allah Who created everything How can the words of the created ever be similar to the Words of the Creator
Whoever reads through the Qur’an will realize that it contains various levels of superiority through both the apparent and hidden meanings that it mentions. Allah said,
(Alif Lam Ra. (This is) a Book, the verses whereof are perfect (in every sphere of knowledge, etc.), and then explained in detail from One (Allah), Who is Wise and well-acquainted (with all things)) (11:1)
So the expressions in the Qur’an are perfect and its meanings are explained. Further, every word and meaning in the Qur’an is eloquent and cannot be surpassed. The Qur’an also mentioned the stories of the people of the past; and these accounts and stories occurred exactly as the Qur’an stated. Also, the Qur’an commanded every type of righteousness and forbade every type of evil, just as Allah stated,
(And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice) (6:115). meaning, true in the stories it narrates and just in its Laws. The Qur’an is true, just and full of guidance. It does not contain exaggerations, lies or falsehood, unlike Arabic and other types of poems that contained lies. These poems, conform with the popular statement, “The most eloquent speech is the one that contains the most lies!” Sometimes, one would find a long poem that mainly contains descriptions of women, horses or alcohol. Or, the poem might contain praise or the description of a certain person, horse, camel, war, incident, fear, lion, or other types of items and objects. Such praise or descriptions do not bring any benefit, except shed light on the poet’s ability to clearly and eloquently describe such items. Yet, one will only be able to find one or two sentences in many long poems that elaborate on the main theme of the poem, while the rest of the poem contains insignificant descriptions and repetitions.
As for the Qur’an, it is entirely eloquent in the most perfect manner, as those who have knowledge in such matters and understand Arabic methods of speech and expressions concur. When one reads through the stories in the Qur’an, he will find them fruitful, whether they were in extended or short forms, repeated or not. The more these stories are repeated, the more fruitful and beautiful they become. The Qur’an does not become old when one repeats reciting it, nor do the scholars ever get bored with it. When the Qur’an mentions the subject of warning and promises, it presents truths that would make solid, firm mountains shake, so what about the comprehending, understanding hearts When the Qur’an promises, it opens the hearts and the ears, making them eager to attain the abode of peace – Paradise – and to be the neighbors of the Throne of the Most Beneficent. For instance, on the subject of promises and encouragement, the Qur’an said,
(No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do) (32:17), and,
((There will be) therein all that inner selves could desire, and all that eyes could delight in and you will abide therein forever) (43:71).
On the subject of warning and discouragement;
(Do you then feel secure that He will not cause a side of the land to swallow you up) (17:68), and,
(Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allah), will not cause the earth to sink with you, and then it should quake Or do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allah), will not send against you a violent whirlwind Then you shall know how (terrible) has been My warning) (67:16-17).
On the subject of threats, the Qur’an said,
(So We punished each (of them) for his sins) (29:40). Also, on the subject of soft advice, the Qur’an said,
(Tell Me, (even) if We do let them enjoy for years. And afterwards comes to them that (punishment) which they had been promised. All that with which they used to enjoy shall not avail them) (26:205-207).
There are many other examples of the eloquence, beauty, and benefits of the Qur’an.
When the Qur’an is discussing Laws, commandments and prohibitions, it commands every type of righteous, good, pleasing and beneficial act. It also forbids every type of evil, disliked and amoral act. Ibn Mas`ud and other scholars of the Salaf said, “When you hear what Allah said in the Qur’an, such as,
(O you who believe!), then listen with full attention, for it either contains a type of righteousness that Allah is enjoining, or an evil that He is forbidding.” For instance, Allah said,
(He (Muhammad ) commands them for Al-Ma`ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained); and forbids them from Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden); he allows them as lawful At-Tayyibat(i.e. all good and lawful things), and prohibits them as unlawful Al-Khaba’ith (i.e. all evil and unlawful things), he releases them from their heavy burdens and from the fetters (bindings) that were upon them) (7:157).
When the Ayat mention Resurrection and the horrors that will occur on that Day, and Paradise and the Fire and the joys and safe refuge that Allah prepared for His loyal friends, or torment and Hell for His enemies, these Ayat contain glad tidings or warnings. The Ayat then call to perform good deeds and avoid evil deeds, making the life of this world less favorable and the Hereafter more favorable. They also establish the correct methods and guide to Allah’s straight path and just legislation, all the while ridding the hearts of the evil of the cursed devil.
The Two Sahihs record that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said,
(Every Prophet was given a miracle, the type of which brings mankind to faith. What I was given is a revelation that Allah sent down to me. Yet, I hope that I will have the most following on the Day of Resurrection.)
This is the wording narrated by Muslim. The Prophet stated that among the Prophets he was given a revelation, meaning, he was especially entrusted with the miraculous Qur’an that challenged mankind to produce something similar to it. As for the rest of the divinely revealed Books, they were not miraculous according to many scholars. Allah knows best. The Prophet was also aided with innumerable signs and indications that testify to the truth of his prophethood and what he was sent with, all thanks and praise is due to Allah.
(Then fear the Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers) (2:24).
`Fuel’ is wood, or similar substances, used to start and feed a fire. Similarly, Allah said,
(And as for the Qasitun (disbelievers who deviated from the right path), they shall be firewood for Hell) (72:15), and,
(Certainly you (disbelievers) and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell! (Surely) you enter it. Had these (idols) been alihah (gods), they would not have entered there (Hell), and all of them will abide therein) (21:98-99).
The stones mentioned here are the giant, rotten, black, sulfuric stones that become the hottest when heated, may Allah save us from this evil end. It was also reported that the stones mentioned here are the idols and rivals that were worshipped instead of Allah, just as Allah said,
(Certainly you (disbelievers) and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah,are (but) fuel for Hell!) (21:28).
(prepared for the disbelievers)
It appears most obvious that it refers to the Fire that is fueled by men and stones, and it also may refer to the stones themselves. There is no contradiction between these two views, because they are dependent upon each other. `Prepared’ means, it is `kept’ and will surely touch those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger . Ibn Ishaq narrated that Muhammad said that `Ikrimah or Sa`id bin Jubayr said that Ibn `Abbas said,
(prepared for the disbelievers),
“For those who embrace the disbelief that you (disbelievers) have embraced.”
Many of the Imams of the Sunnah used this Ayah to prove that the Fire exists now. This is because Allah said,
(prepared) meaning, prepared and kept. There are many Hadiths on this subject. For instance, the Prophet said,
(Paradise and the Fire had an argument..)
Also, the Prophet said,
(The Fire sought the permission of her Lord. She said, ‘O my Lord! Some parts of me consumed the other parts.’ And Allah allowed her two periods to exhale, one in winter and one in summer.)
Also, there is a Hadith recorded from Ibn Mas`ud that the Companions heard the sound of a falling object. When they asked about it, the Messenger of Allah said,
(This is a stone that was thrown from the top of Jahannam seventy years ago, but only now reached its bottom.) This Hadith is in Sahih Muslim.
There are many Hadiths that are Mutawatir (narrated by many different chains of narrations) on this subject, such as the Hadiths about the eclipse prayer, the night of Isra’ etc.
(Then produce a Surah (chapter) of the like thereof) (2:23), and,
(A Surah (chapter) like it) (10:38) this includes the short and long Surahs of the Qur’an. Therefore, the challenge to creation stands with regards to both the long and short Surahs, and there is no disagreement that I know of on this fact between the scholars of old and new. Before he became Muslim, `Amr bin Al-`As met Musaylimah the Liar who asked him, “What has recently been revealed to your fellow (meaning Muhammad ) in Makkah” `Amr said, “A short, yet eloquent Surah.” He asked, “What is it” He said,
(By Al-`Asr (the time). Verily, man is in loss,) (103:1-2)
Musaylimah thought for a while and said, “A similar Surah was also revealed to me.” `Amr asked, “What is it” He said, “O Wabr, O Wabr (i.e. a wild cat), you are but two ears and a chest, and the rest of you is unworthy and thin.” `Amr said, “By Allah! You know that I know that you are lying.”
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