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The Eternal Challenge


The Eternal Challenge – The Limits of Science and the Linguistic Miracle of the Qur’an 

You are either at work, university or watching a documentary. You can’t help but feel that Islam is being dismissed as irrational and incoherent.

You are not happy with what you find on the internet or what is available for you to learn on how to respond. So what do you do?

Well, iERA’s research team has developed a whole range of Islamic thought workshops to empower you with the right tools and concepts to successfully articulate the rational foundations of Islam.

The Eternal Challenge workshop has been designed to take you from not knowing anything about how to provide a strong case for the Qur’an to someone who can discuss it confidently with Professor Richard Dawkins.

  • Is science the only way to truth?
  • How do we understand science and revelation?
  • What is a miracle?
  • What is the intellectual challenge of the Qur’an?
  • How do we respond to academic, orientalist and popular objections?
  • What makes the Qur’an a literary miracle?
  • What are the philosophical implications?
  • How do we articulate the miracle to non-Arabs?

This research workshop will cover:

1. The scientific method and the philosophy of science

  • Attendees will understand that science is not the only method to verify truth claims. By understanding the philosophy of science attendees will appreciate the “limited” nature of the scientific method.  This will provide the tools to understand “scientific miracles” of the Qur’an in the their correct context, and it will also bring to light the problematic approach of the science and Qur’an narrative.
  • Attendees will understand that there are other epistemic routes (or ways to knowledge) that can verify truth claims, such as authentic and valid testimony.

2. The Rationality of Language

  • Attendees will understand the rationality of language by discussing the innate nature of language. This will be highlighted by showing that using the classical Arabic tradition as a basis to prove the Qur’an is far more rational as it does not suffer from the limitations of the scientific method, in other words, the problem of induction and time-bound experimentation.
  • Modern studies in language and linguistics will be used to explain the innate rational nature of language.

3. What is a Miracle?

  • Attendees will understand the coherent definition of a miracle. They will appreciate the difference between an exception to natural law and a miracle. This will be clarified using examples of miracles from the Qur’an.

4. The Qur’an Defined

  • Attendees will understand what is the Qur’an, its method of emotional and intellectual engagement.

5. The Challenge

  • Attendees will understand the challenge of the Qur’an, its exegesis (tafsir) and commentaries from the classical scholars.

6. The Unique Literary Form

  • Attendees will understand that the Qur’an is not prose or poetry, but a unique literary form. Scholarly definitions will be given of each key category of Arabic literary forms, with an explanation of how the Qur’an achieves its uniqueness.
  • Attendees will understand why the Qur’an is inimitable.
  • Attendees will understand Qur’anic stylistics and how its use of language transcends any form in the Arabic language.
  • A detailed linguistic analysis of the shortest chapter in the Qur’an will be provided and a structural analysis of the longest chapter in the Qur’an (surah al-Baqarah).

7. Philosophical Implications

  • Attendees will be able to articulate how the Qur’an is a miracle due to its literary and linguistic uniqueness and inimitability. Two methods will be used: rational deduction and the philosophy of miracles.
  • Attendees will be able to see how past and contemporary challenges to the Qur’an have failed.
  • Attendees will understand the epistemology of testimony, and how using this valid source of knowledge we can articulate this miracle of the Qur’an without even knowing the Arabic language.

8. Contentions

  • Attendees will be able to address key academic and popular contentions. For instance they will be able to address the so-called grammatical errors in the Qur’an, linguistic borrowing, subjective criteria, Shakespeare’s uniqueness, and much more.

9. The Argument Simplified

  • Attendees will be able to articulate the argument for the layman and general public. Examples will be used using “stickiness” principles.

The next time this workshop will be held will be in early 2014.