Amongst the many claims about proof of divinity in Islam, the Qu’ran is held up as one. Many aspects of it are put forward, such as its eloquence, its failure to conform to common literary standards of the time, it’s grammatically perfect, and much more. One of the more ambiguous, and arguably most important, is that it is simply ‘perfect’; that no error can be found in it. How does one objectively measure a standard of perfection in a book though?
Luckily, as mentioned previously, there are many claims about the miraculous nature of the Qu’ran. There is of course the claim that the Qu’ran contains perfect grammar. There are arguments on both sides of the fence, by very educated people, and that’s where we will leave that argument, as it is not the argument we will be discussing. Even if we concede perfect grammar the Qu’ran is still flawed. Which is true for all other arguments for ‘perfection’ that can be made about the Qu’ran, for it could be perfect in almost every other superficial way and still be fundamentally flawed. Which is why for this argument we shall be looking at whether or not the Qu’ran fulfills its ‘purpose’, for can a tool that does not fulfill its purpose really be considered ‘perfect’?
So first we must determine the purpose of the Qu’ran. The best place to turn to find the purpose of the Qu’ran is the Qu’ran itself, along with Islamic apologetics of course. Here we find a common theme running through, that the purpose of the Qu’ran is to guide humanity and to be Allah’s final revelation to humanity . If this is what is declared to be the purpose of the book by the book, then it is by this standard that we should judge this book. After all, we would not judge the quality of the Lord of the Rings based on its ability to teach us how to code in C++.
In order of fairness we should also evaluate its ability to fulfill both purposes individually and together. As the first purpose of the Qu’ran is to guide humanity, we should begin there. So does the Qu’ran effectively guide humanity, both individually and collectively?
Well that, unfortunately, is all down to how you interpret an effective guide for humanity; as it is a very subjective opinion. There is much that the Qu’ran attempts to guide us in. There is law, science, morality, government, taxation, inheritance and much more. To discuss its effectiveness in each of these areas would be very time consuming, and again, it would become subjective. The very existence of apologetics covering all of the topics and questions raised is evidence enough that the topic is one of a personal nature.
However, we could argue that its ability in each individual area is a secondary argument. What we must first look at is the ability of the Qu’ran to effectively share the information contained in the book. As the Qu’ran could be considered an instruction manual, it is by these standards that we must judge it. This argument is also strengthened by the subjective nature of the other arguments. For if an instruction book can be interpreted in many different ways, some of them in complete conflict with each other, and all can be supported by arguments from the Qu’ran itself, then it is not an effective guide or instruction book.
An effective guide would not offer confusion about the instructions being given. They would be clear, concise and not open to interpretation. If we were to be given an instruction manual for the construction of a personal computer where the instructions were vague enough that they would lead to the building of a faulty computer, even by those who have studied the instructions over a great length of time, then the instructions would be considered faulty. For effective instruction is clear, concise and offers no room for interpretation. The same logic can be applied to a map, or even an analogy as simple as a compass. As the Qu’ran cannot effectively guide the people it is supposed to, can it be considered perfect?
The answer to that question of course is no, it could not be considered perfect any more than a car that cannot drive efficiently could not be considered perfect. If perfection is without flaw, and the Qu’ran cannot effectively guide as it is supposed to, then the Qu’ran is flawed and therefore not perfect. It becomes even more imperfect when you consider the threats that it brazenly throws around about eternal suffering for not believing it. A guide that threatens us with eternal torture for its own mistakes is imperfect.
This also means that the Qu’ran fails in its second purpose, that of being the last revelation of the creator of the universe to humanity. For if it needs clarification, then it cannot be considered perfect as a final revelation. A final revelation would clearly and concisely lay itself out, especially if the being knew the future of the book, and how it would be misinterpreted, when he was writing it. It makes both the guide and the writer of the guide imperfect, which also effectively counters the argument that Allah is perfect in all of his attributes. A perfect intelligence would know these were flaws and repair them before releasing them and declaring them ‘perfect’.
This also means that the Qu’ran is ineffective at fulfilling both purposes at the same time, for the failure of its ability to fulfill its first purpose is one of the causes of its inability to fulfill its second purpose. Meaning that the Qu’ran completely fails to fulfill its purpose. Can a book that completely fails to fulfill its purpose really be considered perfect and without flaw?
Of course not, for that would be a contradiction. A flawed object cannot be considered without flaw. Therefore the only conclusion we can draw about the Qu’ran is that it does not fulfill its purpose even at the most basic level. Therefore the answer to the question of whether or not the Qu’ran is perfect is no, it is far from perfect.