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. 2:23
Or do they say, "He forged it"? say: "Bring then a Sura like unto it, and call (to your aid) anyone you can besides Allah, if it be ye speak the truth!" 10:38
Or they may say, "He forged it," Say, "Bring ye then ten suras forged, like unto it, and call (to your aid) whomsoever ye can, other than Allah.- If ye speak the truth! 11:13
If anything proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the Qur'an is the product of a vain human, then this foolish and meaningless challenge, beloved of a certain type of Muslim, does.
Can anyone produce a play like King Lear or a poem like The Wasteland or a novel like Ulysses (actually, would anyone want to write a novel like Ulysses?)? Or for that matter a van Gogh painting or a Rodin statue or a Mozart opera? Of course not! And what does that prove exactly? Nothing more than, at its best, the product of human creativity is inimitable.
Can anyone make a pizza exactly like my wife? No. Is she therefore a divinely inspired pizza dough chef. Well she's good but , hell - it's asking an awful lot of a Margherita.
But let's imagine, for just one moment, that Mrs Spinoza's claim to divinity was reliant upon such a judgement. Let's further imagine that, as an understandable fan of Mrs. S and her pizzas, I had decided I was to be the sole judge of any pizza challenger.
"Whoa! Hold on just a moment!" I hear you say. "What about objectivity? What about a fair and level playing field? Aren't you just a little bit biased"
And yet this is nothing more than what the miracle seekers are asking us to accept. "No-one has been able to meet the challenge in fourteen centuries!" they confidently announce.
"And, er, who has judged the challengers?"
"Well, my friend, Muslims of course!"
al-Kawthar (reproduced below) which tells Muhammad to pray and sacrifice animals and that if he does so his enemies will be made destitute is the shortest surah. Is it really inimitable? :
1. Indeed, We have granted you, [O Muhammad], al-Kawthar.2. So pray to your Lord and sacrifice to Him Alone [i.e. by way of slaughter of animal livestock].3. Indeed, your enemy will be cut-off (from future hope).
1. Inna a'taynaka al-kawtharI was going to have a go at the challenge but for the reasons above and the fact the Muhammad was in the habit of assassinating poets, I'll resist.
2. Fa-salli li-Rabbika wanhar
3. Inna shaani-aka huwal abtar
The challenge to write a surah like one in the Qur'an is ultimately futile. An omniscient creator would surely not make such an empty gesture.