Questions and Answers > Qur'an > General Questions

Does the Qur'an have beauty?

1. What is beauty?

The Arabic word most often translated with “beauty” is “jamal”, however this word occurs only one time in the Qur’an and it has an aesthetic dimension: “You find beauty in them when you bring them home in the evening and when you put them out to pasture” (Qur'an 16:5-6) [1]. Also other forms of beauty are part of the Qur’an, including:

(1) Human delights in their children – Qur’an 28:13
(2) Fair winds – Qur’an 10:22, 30:46
(3) Rain – Qur’an 30:48
(4) The earth – Qur’an 57:20
(5) Seed that grows – Qur’an 48:29
(6) Fine animals – Qur’an 2:69
(7) Fertile pairs – Qur’an 22:5, 26:7-8
(8) Nice clothes and pure things – Qur’an 7:31-32
(9) God has perfected all things – Qur’an 27:88, 22:6, 95:4, 15:16, 37:6-7, 50:6, 67:3-5

In the Qur’an, beauty is like a glittering show: “That which is on earth we have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them - as to which of them are best in conduct” (Qur’an 18:7). The earthly beauty is therefore a contradiction with temptation and test [2]. Only eternal beauty is pure beauty and the Qur’an is more focused on earthly beauty than eternal beauty. The contemplation, surrender and being rational acceptable in the Qur’an had the result that Islam is just an aesthetic religion, not complete oriented to eternal life like in the Gospel (e.g. Matthew 5).

2. What Muslims say about the beauty of the Qur’an

According to many Muslims, the Qur’an is to regulate and govern human life and it contains perfect knowledge of the Supreme Being. A holy book should be the source for higher spiritual development and divine beauty. The beauty of the Qur’an is represented in:

(1) Forgiveness:
“Say , ‘O My servants who have committed excess against themselves, do not despair of Allah’s mercy. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins, for it is He who is the Ever-forgiving, Merciful.”(Qur’an 39:53)
“Indeed, Allah loves those who repent , and He loves those who purify themselves.” (Qur’an 2:222)
The Qur’an supports the possibility of forgiveness sin and repentance. However no guarantee or final conditions are given to be sure about going to Paradise: “they hope for His Mercy and fear His Wrath” (Qur’an 17:57). A Muslim will always be uncertain: “He punisheth whom He pleaseth, and He forgiveth whom He pleaseth” (Qur’an 5:40). A balance between good deeds and bad deeds is the decision to enter Paradise in the Qur’an, not forgiveness: “Then, as for him whose scales are heavy (with good works), He will live a pleasant life. ” (Qur’an 101:6-7). Forgiveness is therefore not an indication of beauty in the Qur’an.


(2) Justice:
“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as just witnesses; and let not the hatred of a people make you avoid justice. Be just; what is next to piety, an fear Allah for Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. “ (Qur’an 5:8)
The origin of the Qur’an is within Muhammad’s society in 7th century Arabia. Although there are guidelines for “neighbor protection” (Qur’an 24:88), they can only be explained to non-Arabs with much background knowledge of Arabia [3]. There is no common guideline that the Qur’an doesn’t educate absolute and unconditional justice and morality free of egocentric behavior as the Gospel does: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

(3) Instruction to Muslims to protect their own and others
Killed mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.”( Qur’an 5:32)
“There is no compulsion in religion…”( Qur’an 2:256)
“… and let not the hatred of a people make you avoid justice. Be just; that is next to piety …” (Qur’an 5:8)
Although above mentioned verses refer to human rights, many other verses in the Qur’an are against human rights, including “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves.”(Qur’an 48:29). The violent verses against mankind (e.g. Qur’an 2:190-191, 9:5) show that the Qur’an reflects a violent character.

(4) Equality
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed the most noble of you in the sight of God (Allah) is the most righteous of you. Indeed God (Allah) is knowing and Acquainted.” (Qur’an 49:13) Unfortunately, the Qur’an support slavery and therefore inequality. In the Qur’an most slaves are women and mentioned as “that which your hands own”. According to Qur’an 16:77 and 30:28, the position of a slave is not equal to his master. To take slaves as a Muslim is supported by Qur’an 5:89 and 33:50. The claim that the Qur’an has beauty because of a message of equality has been refuted.

(5) Unity of Message
“Say: We believe in God (Allah) , and the revelation given to us, and that given to Abraham, Ishmael , Isaac, Jacob and the tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to all Prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them and we submit to God” (Qur’an 2:136). Muslims believe that the Qur’an is a miracle given to Muhammad, unique and perfect. Therefore it should be beautiful. However, no Muslim scholar was ever able to prove that there is something in the Qur’an that didn’t exist before Muhammad’s time. A perfect book is a book without any error. But a book will always have errors. Therefore the Qur’an contains many errors. There are more than 100 errors in the Qur’an not refuted by Muslims. One of the first errors in the Qur’an were the Satanic verses about the support for polytheism [4]. They show that the creation of the Qur’an without beauty. There is no rational argument to conclude that the Qur’an has beauty by unity.

(6) Universality of Message

The claim that the Qur’an is universal can be verified by reading Qur’an 41:44: “And if We had made it a non-Arabic Qur’an, they would have said, ‘Why are its verses not explained in detail [in our language]? Is it a foreign [recitation] and an Arab [messenger]?’” See also Qur’an 2:7, 12:1-2, 20:113, 39:28, 41:3, 41:44 and 43:3.. They tell us that the Qur’an is for those who understand Arabic. Therefore the Qur’an cannot be universal.There is no rational reason to conclude that the Qur’an has beauty by universality.

3. Beauty of the Qur’an compared with the New Testament

Big difference between the Qur’an teachings and the guidelines in the Gospel is that Christian faith has with the Holy Spirit an answer to modern society problems (Romans 8:26). The Qur’an has no other answer to new drugs, women rights, sex addiction, and atheism than forced control. More and more people are aware that forced control is not compatible with human rights. Therefore the only mechanism the Qur’an has, is to go back to 7th century society in Muhammad’s days. Jesus Christ is the standard of moral values, not Muhammad. Jesus Christ is the biggest miracle worker (Qur’an 3:49; 5:110 and 4:158), while Muhammad did not perform any miracle (Qur’an 29:50). The Gospel of Jesus Christ makes possible to experience true forgiveness of all sin on eath, while a Muslim will never be sure with the Qur’an. God is not only perfect in righteousness, but also perfect in goodness: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the personal will to start a new life by following Jesus Christ opens a new perspective of a reborn man. The New Testament has beauty by an encouraging message about the eternal future of every human being, while the Qur’an promotes an ugly earthly 7th century society with the result that Muslims feel powerless and a stranger in society.

4. Conclusion

Human rights and the Bible have guidelines that killing is wrong. Only God as the Creator has the right to take life. Fundamentalist Muslim refuse freedom of religion, because in that case, many Muslims will convert to Christian faith [5]. Some Muslims even want to use violence, supported by Qur’an verses. However they only show the moral inferiority of the Qur’an and illustrate that the Qur’an has earthly beauty, but not the eternal beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Notes:

1. Rosalind Ward Gwynne, Beauty, in: Jane Dammen McAuliffe (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Qur’an, Volume One, A-D, Brill, Leiden, 2001, 213.
2. Ibid.
3. W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad, in: Mircea Eliade, The Encyclopedia of Religion, Volume 10, MacMillan, New York, 1987, 144.
4. Sahab Ahmed, Satanic Verses, in: Jane Dammen McAuliffe (ed.), Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an, Volume Five, Brill, Leiden, 2002, 531-536.
5. Kenneth Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, 2003, 309.

Does Jesus Christ have beauty?