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The Qur’an (1)
Victor M. Eskew
The religion of Islam has its holy book that is the basis of its beliefs and practices. This book is called the Qur’an or Koran. It is a book that is held in high esteem by all Muslims throughout the world. Seyyad Hussein Nasr said “it constitutes the alpha and the omega of the Islamic religion” (The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran, Robert Spencer, p. 25). Caesar Farrah acknowledges that the Qur’an “constitutes the Muslim’s main reference not only for matters spiritual but also for the mundane requirements of day to day living” (Ibid.). Another Muslim tells us that the Qur’an “cures the heart’s fears, and makes just determinations when there is doubt. It is lucid speech, and final word, not facetiousness, a lamp whose light never extinguishes…an ocean whose depths will never be fathomed. Its oratory stuns reason…it combines concise succinctness and inimitable expression” (Ibid.).
The importance of the Qur’an to the Islamic faith cannot be over emphasized. Thus, it is necessary for a person to have some knowledge of this book that is said to have come from Allah through the prophet Muhammad. Let’s consider some interesting aspects of the Qur’an in this article and the one to follow.
The Qur’an is “the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God” (Wikipedia.com, “Quran”). “For more than a billion Muslims, The Koran is the unadulterated, pure word of Allah, eternal and perfect, delivered through the angel Gabriel to the prophet Muhammad” (Infidel’s Guide, Spencer, p. 1). “The Koran is the perfect book of Allah, sent from Paradise in perfect form and preserved without any variants or modifications at all” (Ibid., p. 37).
The Qur’an is said to be a “divine book.” “…it is not such as can be produced by other than Allah (Qur’an 10:37). This book is supposed to be an exact copy of “the Mother of the Book.” “The Mother of the Book” is the Preserved Tablet, the copy of the Qur’an that has existed from all eternity with Allah (Qur’an 85:21-22). The angel Gabriel was the one charged by Allah to deliver the Qur’an to Muhammad. We are told he made his first appearance to the prophet in 610 A.D.
The word “Qur’an” means “recite” in Arabic. When Gabriel appeared to Muhammad in Hiram, he commanded him, saying: “Recite!” It is interesting that Muhammad himself never penned one word of the Qur’an. Muhammad recited, that is, orally spoke forth the Qur’an over a number of years as the message was revealed to him.
The Qur’an is still a book that is recited by Muslims. “For easy daily recitation, the Qur’an is divided into thirty equal parts. One part takes only twenty-four reading minutes, and the whole book requires twelve reading hours” (www.al-islam.org, “Facts about the Qur’an”). There is a special group of Muslims known as the hafiz who have memorized the Qur’an in full. They are very highly regarded by their fellow Muslims. The recitation of the Qur’an is important because it is believed that it “permits believers to become, in a sense, one with God (www.desertnews.com, “Muslims view the Koran as purely divine,” William J. Hamblin & Daniel Peterson).
The following are some of the basic facts about the Qur’an.
1. The first revelation of the Qur’an was given to Muhammad in 610 A.D.
2. The revelation came in the month Ramadan.
3. The revelations continued for the next 23 years.
4. The divisions of the Qur’an:
a. The chapters are called “surahs.”
1) There are 114 surahs in the Qur’an.
a) 86 surahs were revealed at Mecca.
b) 28 surahs were revealed at Medina.
2) The surahs are laid out in terms of their length (longest to shortest), not in chronological order.
b. Each surah has a heading (www.religiousfacts.com, “Qur’an”).
1) A title (e.g. “The Bee,” “The Cow,) taken from a prominent word in the surah, but one that does not usually represent its overall contents.
2) The basmalah, a formula prayer (e.g. “In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate”).
3) An indication as to whether it was received at Mecca or Medina.
4) In 29 of the surahs, fawatih, or “detached letters” of unclean significance. They may be abbreviations, initials of owners of early manuscripts, or have esoteric meaning.
c. There are 6,226 verses in the Qur’an called ayahs.
d. The Qur’an contains 99,464 words and 330,113 letters.
Every book has a theme, a golden thread that runs throughout its pages tying every-thing together. The Qur’an also has a theme. “The oneness of Allah and the necessity to obey and worship him are the Koran’s central theme” (Infidel’s Guide, Spencer, 27). Two other themes that standout in the Qur’an are: 1) the sin of idolatry, and 2) the judgment, especially of infidels.