Calling the Quran amazing is not something done only by Muslims, who have an appreciation for the Book and who are pleased with it; it has been labeled amazing by non-Muslims as well. In fact, even people who hate Islam very much have still called it amazing.
One thing which surprises non-Muslims who are examining the Book very closely is that the Quran does not appear to them to be what they expected. What they assume is that they have an old book which came fourteen centuries ago from the Arabian desert; and they expect that the book should look something like that - an old book from the desert. And then they find out that it does not resemble what they expected at all. Additionally, one of the first things that some people assume is that because it is an old book which comes from the desert, it should talk about the desert. Well, the Quran does talk about the desert - some of its imagery describes the desert; but it also talks about the sea - what it's like to be in a storm on the sea.
Some years ago, the story came to us in Toronto about a man who was in the merchant marine and made his living on the sea. A Muslim gave him a translation of the Quran to read. The merchant marine knew nothing about the history of Islam but was interested in reading the Quran. When he finished reading it, he brought it back to the Muslim and asked, "This Muhammad, was he a sailor?" He was impressed at how accurately the Quran describes a storm on a sea. When he was told, "No, as a matter of fact, Muhammad lived in the desert," that was enough for him. He embraced Islam on the spot. He was so impressed with the Quran's description because he had been in a storm on the sea, and he knew that whoever had written that description had also been in a storm on the sea. Allaah Says (what means): “Or [they are] like darkness within an unfathomable sea which is covered by waves, upon which are waves, over which are clouds darkness…” [Quran 24:40], this description was not what someone imagining a storm on a sea to be like would have written; rather, it was written by someone who knew what a storm on the sea was like. This is one example of how the Quran is not tied to a certain place and time. Certainly, the scientific ideas expressed in it also do not seem to originate from the desert fourteen centuries ago.
Smaller than the atom:
Many centuries before the onset of Muhammad's Prophethood, there was a well-known theory of atomism advanced by the Greek philosopher, Democritus. He and the people who came after him assumed that matter consists of tiny, indestructible, indivisible particles called atoms. The Arabs too, used to deal in the same concept; in fact, the Arabic word "tharrah" commonly referred to the smallest particle known to man. Now, modern science has discovered that this smallest unit of matter (i.e., the atom, which has all of the same properties as its element) can be split into its component parts. This is a new idea, a development of the last century; yet, interestingly enough, this information had already been documented in the Quran, Allaah Says (what means): " And not absent from your Lord is any [part] of an atom’s weight (488) within the earth or within the heaven or [anything] smaller than that…” [Quran, 10:61]. Undoubtedly, fourteen centuries ago that statement would have looked unusual, even to an Arab. For him, the "tharrah" was the smallest thing there was. Indeed, this is a proof that the Quran is not outdated.
In honey there is healing
Another example of what one might expect to find in an "old book" that touches upon the subject of health or medicine is outdated remedies or cures. Various historical sources state that the Prophet gave some advice about health and hygiene, yet most of these pieces of advice are not contained in the Quran.
At first glance, to the non-Muslims this appears to be a negligent omission. They cannot understand why Allaah would not "include" such helpful information in the Quran. Some Muslims attempt to explain this absence with the following argument: "Although the Prophet's advice was sound and applicable to the time in which he lived, Allaah, in His infinite Wisdom, knew that there would come later medical and scientific advances which would make the Prophet's advice appear outdated. When later discoveries occurred, people might say that such information contradicted that which the Prophet had given. Thus, since Allaah would never allow any opportunity for the non-Muslims to claim that the Quran contradicts itself or the teachings of the Prophet He only included in the Quran information and examples which could stand the test of time."
However, when one examines the true realities of the Quran in terms of its existence as a divine revelation, the entire matter is quickly brought into its proper perspective, and the error in such argumentation becomes clear and understandable. It must be understood that the Quran is a divine revelation, and as such, all information in it is of divine origin. Allaah revealed the Quran from Himself. It is the Speech of Allaah, nothing can be added, subtracted or altered.
There was no "home remedies" in the Quran which one could claim to be outdated; nor does it contain any man's view about what is beneficial to health, what food is best to eat, or what will cure this or that disease. In fact, the Quran only mentions one item dealing with medical treatment, and it is not in dispute by anyone. It states that in honey there is healing. And certainly, I do not think that there is anyone who will argue with that!
Not from Muhammads's mind
If one assumes that the Quran is the product of a man's mind, then one would expect it to reflect some of what was going on in the mind of the man who "composed" it. In fact, certain encyclopedias and various books claim that the Quran was the product of hallucinations that Muhammad underwent. If these claims are true - if it indeed originated from some psychological problems in Muhammad's mind - then evidence of this would be apparent in the Quran. Is there such evidence? In order to determine whether or not there is, one must first identify what things would have been going on in his mind at that time and then search for these thoughts and reflections in the Quran.
It is common knowledge that Muhammad had a very difficult life. All of his daughters died before him except one, and he had a wife of several years who was dear and important to him, who proceeded him in death at a very critical period of his life. As a matter of fact, she must have been quite a woman because when the first revelation came to him, he ran home to her afraid. Certainly, even today one would have a hard time trying to find an Arab who would tell you: "I was so afraid that I ran home to my wife." They just aren't that way.
Yet Muhammad felt comfortable enough with his wife to be able to do that. That's how influential and strong woman she was. Although these examples are only a few of the subjects that would have been on Muhammad's mind, they are sufficient in intensity to prove my point. The Quran does not mention any of these things - not the death of his children, not the death of his beloved companions and wife not his fear of the initial revelations, which he so beautifully shared with his wife - nothing; yet, these topics must have hurt him, bothered him, and caused him pain and grief during periods of his psychological reflections, then these subjects, as well as others, would be prevalent or at least mentioned throughout.
Test of falsification
A truly scientific approach to the Quran is possible because the Quran offers something that is not offered by other religious scriptures, in particular, and other religions, in general. It is what scientists demand. Today there are many people who have ideas and theories about how the universe works. These people are all over the place, but the scientific community does not even bother to listen to them. This is because within the last century the scientific community has demanded a test of falsification. They say: "If you have theory, do not bother us with it unless you bring with that theory a way for us to prove whether you are wrong or not."
Such a test was exactly why the scientific community listened to Einstein towards the beginning of the century. He came with a new theory and said: "I believe the universe works like this; and here are three ways to prove whether I am wrong!" So the scientific community subjected his theory to the tests, and within six years it passed all three. Of course, this does not prove that he was great, but it proves that he deserved to be listened to because he said: "This is my idea; and if you want to try to prove me wrong, do this or try that." This is exactly what the Quran has - falsification tests. Some are old (in that they have already been proven true), and some still exist today.
Basically it states: "If this book is not what it claims to be, then all you have to do is this or this or this to prove that it is false." Of course, in 1400 years no one has been able to do "This or this or this, "and thus it is still considered true and authentic. I suggest to you that the next time you get into dispute with someone about Islam and he claims that he has the truth and that you are in darkness, you leave all other arguments at first and make this suggestion. Ask him: "Is there any falsification test in your religion? Is there anything in your religion that would prove you are wrong if I could prove to you that it exists - anything?" Well, I can promise right now that people will not have anything - no test, no proof, nothing! This is because they do not carry around the idea that they should not only present what they believe but should also offer others a chance to prove they're wrong. However, Islam does that. A perfect example of how Islam provides man with a chance to verify its authenticity and "prove it is wrong" occurs in the 4th chapter. And quiet honestly, I was surprised when I first discovered this challenge. Allaah Says (what means): “Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from [any] other than Allaah, they would have found within it much contradiction.” [Quran 4:82]
This is a clear challenge to the non-Muslim. Basically, it invites him to find a mistake. As a matter of fact, the seriousness and difficulty of the challenge aside, the actual presentation of such a challenge in the first place is not even in human nature and is inconsistent with man's personality. One doesn't take an exam in school and after finishing the exam, write a note to the instructor at the end saying: "This exam is perfect. There are no mistakes in it. Find one if you can!" One just doesn't do that. The teacher would not sleep until he found a mistake!
And yet this is the way the Quran approaches people. Another interesting attitude that exists in the Quran repeatedly deals with its advice to the reader. The Quran informs that reader about different facts and then gives the advice: "If you want to know more about this or that, or if you doubt what is said, then you should ask those who have knowledge." This too is a surprising attitude. It is not usual to have a book that comes from someone without training in geography, botany, biology, etc., who discusses these subjects and then advises the reader to ask men of knowledge if he doubts anything.
Yet in every age there have been Muslims who have followed the advice of the Quran and made surprising discoveries. If one looks to the works of Muslim scientists many centuries ago, one will find them full of quotations from the Quran. These works state that they did research in such a place, looking for something. And they affirm that the reason they looked in such and such a place was that the Quran pointed them in that direction. For example, the Quran mentions man's origin and then tells the reader, "Research it!" It gives the reader a hint where to look and then states that one should find out more about it. This is the kind of thing that Muslims today largely seem to overlook - but not always, as illustrated in the following example. A few years ago, a group of men in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia collected all of the verses in the Quran which discuss embryology - the growth of the human being in the womb. They said: "Here is what the Quran says. Is it the truth?" In essence, they took the advice of the Quran, Allaah Says (what means): “So ask the people of the message [i.e. former scriptures] if you do not know.” [Quran 16:43]